Paul is in a hurry to get to Jerusalem. He wants to see his friends from the Ephesian church so he sends for the elders to come to him for one last meeting. Paul made two very focused points in his conversation with them, 1) he dedicated his life to deliver to them the whole council of God; and 2) wolves are coming to pervert and divide the church. This week we look at what drives Paul in his mission. Next week we'll be learning more about these wolves he warns of.
The church is gathered. Paul is preaching into the night. Lamps are burning throughout the room. It is then we see a young man named Eutychus fall three stories to his death... until he is given life. It is this tangible miracle that points us to the true work of God in Christ in bringing us from eternal death to eternal life. It is in this newness of life that we rejoice as the church. It is because we are loved by God that we go out into all the world.
Today we take a momentary break in our study through Acts as we reflect on the passion of the Christ. We take some time to reflect on what Holy Week is and why many celebrate it throughout the world. Our focus concludes in Luke 23 as we see the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Open doors. As Christians we're regularly looking for them and frequently talking about them in ministry. In today's passage we look at an opportunity that Paul had and wanted. The Lord opened a door for him... and he left. He didn't take the path that seemed clear and right. We can learn from this story of Paul's and, importantly, how to apply them to real ministry and purpose, rather than just seeing abstract doors in our imagination and only talking about them in theory.
In last weeks passage we saw newer believers hold money in low regard in light of their new lives in Christ. The church was purified and the name of Jesus honored. In today's passage we see the opposite. Money is held in high regard and the gospel is rejected, leading to chaos and foolish behavior and reasoning. This is what it looks like to serve money.
Sometimes it is easy to get distracted by some of the extraordinary miracles we see in the Bible and can miss the point. But we're not the only ones... in today's passage we see God doing powerful works through Paul and observe as others liken the power of God to some wieldable force to be controlled by man.
This week we take some extra time to discuss an important phrase: The Kingdom of God. Luke typically speaks of Paul reasoning with people about Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah. Here, however, he speaks of Paul reasoning with people about the Kingdom of God. What is God's Kingdom? When is it? And how should we be living and speaking in light of it?
Beginning in Acts chapter 19 we see formerly visited topics come back into focus that need careful examination. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? How do you receive the Holy Spirit? Is speaking in tongues a gift we see in the church today? Does the Holy Spirit come through the laying on of hands? These are some of the questions we ask as we look to the Scriptures for answers to these important questions.
Priscilla and Aquila explain a more complete narrative of the work of God in the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many use examples of passages like these to promote a change in the normative and consistent teaching throughout all of Scripture relating to the distinct roles of men and women. We start off with addressing this prooftext and then move to the plainly taught truth in this passage... Spirit empowered boldness.
"If God wills" (thelo). It is both a trendy Christian saying but also one many faithful Christians use and believe on a daily bases. The simple word carries a great deal of weight when used in reference to God's will. In Acts 18.18-23 we see Paul tell the Jews in Ephesus that he will return to them if God wills. We dig deeper into this verse, and the rest of the passage, and explore what it is to live according to the will of God.
How should we be living? What should we be doing? Whether it be the mundane work in our daily jobs or weekend efforts of helping the needy among us. Does God give us direction on how we should live our lives? Let's look past the WWJD bracelets and well-intentioned compassion ministries and bring it back to the Bible to find the answer.
Paul is discouraged... and frustrated. He knows God is sovereign. He knows it is God's ultimate plan that is being done. But nonetheless he laments over the hardheadedness of the Jewish people as they broadly and continuously reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Paul's despair, the Lord gives him a comforting reminder and clear instruction.
In Acts 17:16-34 we journey with Paul to the great city of Athens, Greece. While Paul awaits his partners in ministry, he is greatly troubled by what he sees. What bothered Paul so much in this modern city and how did he respond? This week we get a glimpse at how Paul witnessed to a secular culture.
Paul and Silas are in Berea, once again proclaiming the gospel. The men are met with a different group of Jews than those in Thessalonica. Rather than quickly rejecting the mens claims and seeking to do them harm, they instead put a lot of labor into searching through the Scriptures to validate their claims. As a result, many of the Berean Jews received the Lord Jesus as their promised savior.
All of Scripture points to Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, stories, characters, and prophecies... it is all a shadow cast by Jesus, the Christ. This week we take a look at Paul reasoning with a synagogue full of Jews and Greeks to prove Jesus is the Christ and that he must suffer. He did this using the Scriptures... the writings from the Law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets (which we commonly refer to in our day as the Old Testament). Today we look at what it is like to prove Jesus from the Old Testament.
It is under God's exclusive authority in which anyone is permitted to act or rule, be it civil governments to local churches to parents and us as individuals. Any attempt to subvert or ignore God's law is welcoming His righteous judgement and should be corrected. With this truth in focus, we as a church recognize that our mission doesn't change (though the world constantly wavers around us). We are proclaimers of the Gospel, ambassadors of Christ, advocates for the weak and a voice of reason to the strong... we are God's mouthpiece to the world until Jesus returns.
In today's passage we see a very common and very critical question asked by a man, "What must I do to be saved?". Despite having multiple instances of this question asked and answered, it is still debated today. Today's passage reveals the importance of adhering to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone (Sola Fide). Since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, people have been trying to add to the work Jesus finished on the cross. Listen to the message to be reassured of Jesus' pursuit of his flock through the person of the Holy Spirit and praise him for his grace.
In part 1 of 2 of our last passage in Acts 16 we see the depravity of man at work in the hearts of slave owners; the work of Satan in possessing a young girl to do his crafty work of attempting to distract and discredit the gospel message; and the commitment and perseverance of the messengers of the good news as they continue to be ridiculed, beat, and imprisoned for the sake of Christ and His Church.
God's election—It is a difficult doctrine for many to accept, but one that we must because it is true. In our passage today we see yet another example of this truth when God saves Lydia. While studying this passage and being reminded of the sovereignty of God over all things, we apply this truth to an important time in our history... the 2016 Presidential Election. God is either sovereign or he's not. Will you bless God your words and actions in the coming weeks?
They didn't know exactly where they were going or what would happen... but in Acts 16:6-10 we see Paul, Silas, and Timothy on a mission to proclaim the gospel and strengthen established churches. During their journey we see God stop them from going certain places that seemingly would have been good to go to... but it wasn't God's plan for them. This passage leaves us with some unanswered questions but also provides much guidance and encouragement for the Christian.