Friday, April 27, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 17

Acts 17 

-As the team moves out from Philippi they go through Amphipolis and Apollonia (two good sized cities but apparently without a synagogue to connect the gospel with) coming into a city where there was a synagogue of the Jews, Thessalonica. As was the custom, Paul began with the Jews reasoning with them for several weeks of Sabbaths from the Scriptures concerning Jesus as Messiah preaching the suffering of Immanuel and His resurrection. *Application* This has always been how God has worked. He begins with His people in His plan for salvation. The Old Testament focuses primarily on the Hebrew people, who were chosen as His instruments for bringing Jesus the Savior into the world. Jesus was primarily concerned for “the lost sheep of Israel” in His earthly ministry (Matthew 15:24). Even the church begins with the Jewish people in the proclamation of the gospel. So salvation and its message begins with the Jews and extends outward to all the nations (Luke 24:47). We need to thank God for His willingness to include all of us in His plan for redemption and His impartiality (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9).

-Once again we see the conflict that the message of Christ brings eventually with those being confronted with the truth of God. Jealousy springs forth from the unbelieving Jews and a mob scene ensues in an attack on the house of Jason who had welcomed the disciples. The famous quote is mentioned here, “These men who have upset the world (inhabited earth) have come here also (Acts 17:6b).” *Application* May we have the courage, boldness, and tenacity to “upset” our world with the message of Christ Jesus. In other places of Scripture we see why this message was not accepted right away. The cross was the barrier along with unbelief. To the Jews the Messiah would perform signs and wonders and leave no doubt about His Kingdom. Jesus became a stumbling block for them because they could not see the humility of their Messiah. To the Greeks this criminal that was hanged on a cross showed no wisdom and power that they were accustomed to seeing in their saviors. For more read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

-The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas out of Thessalonica to Berea, where there was another synagogue of the Jews. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” Actual reading of God’s word and letting the Spirit of God move how He wanted is what led many to believe here in Berea. *Application* How eager are we to get into God’s Word and examine the Scriptures daily to find His truth?

-Trouble comes from the raging Jews in Thessalonica pretty quickly and Paul departs for Athens, the great city of Greece, which was full of idols. As Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive he observed the city of great prominence and prestige in regard to philosophical debate. He was reasoning with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue and the market place every day. Eventually Paul is given an open door to speak in the Areopagus about the salvation message of Christ Jesus. This he does in brilliant fashion as we get perhaps the best biblical glimpse of his artistry and form for presenting the good news. He connects with his crowd by observation of their worldview and quoting their own poets. He preached repentance and judgment and the righteousness of Christ to save furnishing proof through the resurrection from the dead. Some rejected the message and mocked, but some believed and wanted to hear more from this stranger. *Application* Here is the best biblical example of assimilation into a culture for the missionary purpose. If we are to evangelize an area, any area home or foreign, we must be observant and relevant to the culture we are engaging. Otherwise, our message will have no impact. Notice too that Paul does not compromise the gospel in any form or fashion. He speaks the truth boldly with no concession.

Verses to Memorize: Acts 17:11, 30-31

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 16

Acts 16 

-Paul and Silas come back to Derbe and to Lystra on this second missionary journey of Paul. Lystra is where Paul picks up his son in the faith, Timothy, who is circumcised by him since his father was Greek. Timothy had a Godly heritage from his mom and grandmother and proved to be indispensable in partnership with the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:5). *Application* This narrative proves that Paul was a man of custom who did not desire to cause any offense to the gospel. He knew that the first priority in the cities they would go to would be the Jews in the synagogues. If Timothy was to be effective and accepted by the Jews, he would need to be circumcised to prevent any kind of offense towards the gospel of Jesus Christ. This willingness to be “all things to all men” was a hallmark of Paul and Timothy’s ministry (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). In our lives it is good to know your audience when relating the gospel, and remember to do all you can to prevent any distractions from telling the good news of Jesus Christ.

-The purpose for this second missionary journey is described for us in verse four. They were basically relaying the information discerned and approved of by the Jerusalem Council for the Gentile believers in these areas they had previously evangelized in Asia Minor. Verse five says that they continued to strengthen all the churches in the faith and the church kept increasing in numbers daily. *Application* How awesome to see the early church’s methodology of doing something every single day to affect life change in people. This is something that we’ve gotten away from in our modern culture. Does your church have activity which could daily change lives, or is it primarily a once or twice a week show for the saints? Compare the Scriptural difference we see here and ask, “What can I do to make a difference every single day?” or “What can our church do to make it more effective in the society we live in?”

-The leading of the Holy Spirit is again paramount as these missionaries desire to go one direction, but the Lord directs them another. Paul’s Macedonian vision is an important development as the team goes into Europe for the first time with the gospel. Notice that the action was immediate when the word of the Lord came. They got the call and responded without question and/or rationalization. God had great things in store for them as they went forward in obedience. *Application* When God reveals His will to you it is important to obey. This will not always be easy as we see here in the Scriptures (Paul and Silas were beaten and incarcerated for their faith), but the blessings and the power of God was on their lives through this following of God’s revealed plan. When you turn away from what you know the Lord wants you to do, you rob yourself of blessing, honor, and power in the spiritual realm. Act out your faith, and don’t ever compromise it.

-Philippi is where a majority of the action takes place as the missionaries invade Europe. Lydia is converted with her household and the disciples find a place to stay there with her. A spiritist girl is radically transformed angering her masters and upsetting the city. This leads to the beating and imprisonment, illegally, of Paul and Silas. This sets up the earthquake and dramatic conversion of the jailer and his household. What an array of diverse church members the Philippian church had! The point is that God was at work and He was calling all people to Himself for salvation using a variety of methods and encounters. *Application* God is at work in your life too! Allow Him to direct you through each day and see where He is at work reconciling the world to Himself using you as an instrument for His glory. We are no different than Paul and Silas. Get to work! The simple message you proclaim is this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…(Acts 16:31).”

Verse to Memorize: Acts 16:10

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Acts Bible Study notes Chapter 15


Acts 15

-The Jerusalem Council is the focus of this important biblical chapter. It was vital for the early church to come to some kind of understanding as to the requirements of those coming to faith in Messiah Jesus from Gentile backgrounds and cultural customs. Obviously there were some important differences pertaining to what Moses had laid out under the direction of a Holy God on Mt. Sinai. Pharisaical believers were convinced that new converts must keep all the requirements of Mosaic Law to fully come into salvific faith, but the disciples lead by Peter, Barnabas, and Paul who had actually ministered to the Gentiles expressed a different viewpoint and emphasized belief over the requirements of the Law. James, the elder, brings the council into agreement with four basic requirements that deal primarily with the idolatry Gentiles were being saved from. The council sends out the edict that they should abstain from: 1) things sacrificed to idols (a requirement Paul addresses in I Corinthians 8), 2) things from blood (the life is in the blood, Leviticus 17:14), 3) things strangled, and 4) fornication (any sexual sin, it related to many of the nations idolatrous pagan practices). These requirements were accepted with great joy because they encouraged the Gentile brothers with a light load in regards to following the extensive demands of the Mosaic Law. *Application* Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). The fact remains that God’s Law is perfect and there is no contradiction in it for life, love, and happiness. If a society could ever carry out this Law of the Lord there would be a utopia. But, the reality is that we are marred and corrupted and have no hope for ever keeping God’s perfect commands. This is the point that Peter makes here to the council in stating that the yoke of the Law no man can bear. It is Christ and His work on the cross that makes a way to God, and we grasp that by faith (Acts 15:10-11). For a more detailed look at this theology see Galatians 3:5-29 and the entire book of Romans.

-The church continues to grow and prosper under this new directive in Antioch. Judas and Silas make their way to this developing center of Christianity as prophets, preaching the Word of God. After some time Barnabas and Paul determine to go back west to the churches they had planted on a second missionary journey to see how things were going. This is where a sharp disagreement occurs over John Mark and his usefulness to the mission. Barnabas and Paul end up separating over the matter as Barnabas takes John Mark to Cyprus, and Paul takes Silas along the land route through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. *Application* Sometimes it is best to separate when there is dissension and disagreement. Both sides felt they were in the right in this case, and it proved to be the will of God that they branch out and go different directions in the Lord’s work. In time they were able to reconcile their differences and accept each other’s position (2 Timothy 4:11). If you are having trouble agreeing with a particular spiritual viewpoint, there are times when it makes sense to break apart and find like-minded believers that are better connected to the things that are important to you. However, we always need to maintain the greater unity in the body of Christ and work in love in all situations. Say good and do good! Love one another (John 13:34-35). 

Verses to Memorize: Acts 15:10-11

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 14


Acts 14 

-The missionary journey continued on now to Iconium, where proclamation was made in a way that brought many to faith in Jesus Christ, both Jews and Greeks. However, the Jews who did not believe stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and they became bitter toward the believers. There was a long period here in Iconium to speak out in the Name of Christ and there was boldness with reliance upon the Lord and His grace. There were also many signs and wonders being done by the disciples as the Holy Spirit gave them power to accomplish His will. In time they were driven out of the city by a plot to mistreat and stone them and they dispersed to Lystra, Derbe, Lycaonia, and the surrounding region.

-In Lystra, a man lame from birth was healed as Paul noticed him and his faith to be made well. *Application* Here is another faith healing in the same dispensation in which we find ourselves living today. Do you believe in the power of God for miracles of this nature? Notice that there was a recognition of faith and a command given which preceded this wonder. Notice that the lame man had the faith to heal his condition. Notice that Paul and Barnabas were quick to give proper recognition to the Lord for this miracle and used it to attempt to lead people to Christ. The glory only belongs to the Lord! He is the One who gives the power to heal!

-Again the crowds were stirred up by Jews that came from Antioch and Iconium and this time Paul was dragged out of the city and stoned, left for dead. But while the disciples stood around him, probably praying, he came back to and got up and re-entered the city. It did not take them long to head for another town in this threatening environment.

-The next day Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe. In this city there was more preaching, believing, and many disciples were made. After these things the missionaries returned to Lysta, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch strengthening to souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in their faith. The message was clear enough, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).” Here in these new places, elders were appointed to oversee the newly established churches and they were commended to the Lord with prayers and fasting. *Application* Here we see the Biblical method of planting churches in new areas. First, there is proclamation and believing by lost people. As they come to Christ and are saved they are to be strengthened and encouraged in the Christian walk. There comes a time when leaders are called and chosen to have oversight in the work of the church for the continuation of it (for more detailed description of qualifications see 1 & 2 Timothy and the book of Titus, these are called the pastoral epistles). These should be appointed after careful consideration with much prayer and fasting by the apostles (church planters). Finally the commendation is given and they are given authority to labor in the field in which the Lord has placed them. There should be a unity, partnership, and accountability in all these matters under the direction of the Lord in whom we have believed (Acts 14:23).

-At this point Barnabas and Paul make their way back toward the southern coast and preach in Perga and Attalia. From there they sailed eastward back to Antioch, where they started from, and reported all that the Lord had done with them in opening the door of faith to the Gentiles. Here they spent a long time with the disciples. *Application* One of the best things in the life of a church is to hear testimonies of what God is doing, particularly after mission trips like what we’ve just read about. Take the time to share the great things God is doing on your adventures into lost and dying areas spiritually speaking. This will encourage those who were not able to go. They many times are the ones who have been the prayer supporters as well as the monetary support to make these trips possible. Share what God has done boldly and joyfully!

Verse to Memorize: Acts 14:22

Monday, April 23, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 13

Acts 13 

-During prayer and fasting and ministering to the Lord, Barnabas and Saul were set apart by the Holy Spirit to go on their first major missionary journey to the island of Cyprus and Asia Minor. The narrative describes the miraculous encounters in these places and the unique experiences of bringing the gospel of Christ to Gentile regions. However, notice the strategy that is used in these missionary endeavors. They would always start with the established synagogue in a new city. This was to tie in the known with the unknown and show how Christ Jesus was a fulfillment of Old Testament truth given by God to His people (Remember Romans 1:16). They needed a reference point from which to share the good news of the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection of the Savior of the world. Also, notice that they went to the population centers where there could be a larger audience for their presentations. The idea was to proliferate the message outward towards the rural communities from the epicenters of the larger cities in each region. These proved to be effective methods as they were led by the Lord’s Holy Spirit. *Application* What strategy do you have for winning the lost to Christ Jesus? Seek the Spirit’s guidance and be intentional about evangelizing your world with the good news!

-An interesting tidbit of information is given in verse 13, which would later create tension and controversy between Paul (Saul) and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-40). In fact they would separate as missionary partners over the decision of John Mark to return back to Jerusalem. This was certainly not a move that Paul endorsed for whatever reason. But, Barnabas as was his nature was patient, compassionate, and encouraging of the young and growing brother in Christ. Later, Paul reconciled and approved of the help that John Mark was to the Kingdom work (2 Timothy 4:11). *Application* Let us not be too quick to dismiss and cast away people that make mistakes. John Mark demonstrated immaturity, possibly through fear, fatigue, and failure by his quick return from a missionary adventure. Perhaps he got homesick or the persecution and hardship was too much for him to handle. We are really not sure, but we do know that later Barnabas stuck with this young lad and helped to restore him in the Lord. We should have the same compassion on those who fail us.

-The scene in Pisidian Antioch becomes a familiar response to the gospel as it goes forth into these untapped regions. There is first curiosity and intrigue as the message of Christ is preached. Then comes a Jewish response of jealousy and accusations of this being a false message. This usually ends up in a disturbance of some sort with some believing and receiving the message, but others adamantly against the word of the apostles. The Gentiles are awakened to God’s truth and rejoice, but the Jews drive out the apostles trying to thwart their message. The apostles shake the dust off their feet in protest against the rejection of the gospel and go on joyfully with the Holy Spirit to the next city and adventure. *Application* In your strategy to share the message of Christ you will find diverse responses as well. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guiding and leading when you share your faith. Remember that to some you will be an offense, but to others the fragrant aroma of a saving Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

Verses to Memorize: Acts 13:2, 38-39

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 12

Acts 12 

-Herod the king (Herod Agrippa I) began to lay persecuting hands of the believers in Christ including some of the apostles. James, the brother of John, was killed in this persecution and when Herod saw that it pleased the Jews, he had Peter imprisoned during the feast of Unleavened Bread intending to bring him before the people after the Passover. What must have been the feelings in Peter at this time? He had to have anticipated the same fate as his Savior and fellow brother in Christ, James. These must have been intense days of suffering and other world expectation.

-However, the Bible tell us that the brethren were praying fervently for him and the Lord delivered him miraculously with His angel. The reunion was precious and almost unbelievable for those who were gathered in the house of John Mark’s mother, but Peter had been rescued. God was not finished with His faithful servant-leader yet and delivered him out of certain death. *Application* Our God has His timing for all things and will protect when He has a purpose and a plan for you. Walk in faith, God is sovereign.

-The narrative jumps to Herod Agrippa’s arrogance amidst receiving praise. He accepted man’s applause and the honor of being called a god to the anger and wrath of God Almighty. He was struck down because he did not give God the glory and worms ate his carcass. *Application* Make sure the proper credit is received by our Lord for all your success.

-The word continued to grow and be multiplied. Barnabus and Saul returned to Antioch from Jerusalem after they completed their mission. *Application* Multiplication of God’s Word in His church is a fundamental principle we need to grasp. Have a growing mentality in your personal life as well as the life of your ministry and church. Spread the message of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom wherever you go. It will grow; His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11).

Verses to Memorize: Acts 12:5

Friday, April 20, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 11

Acts 11

-Peter has to defend the work of the Holy Spirit among the Jewish brethren back in Jerusalem upon his arrival because they took issue with breaking the Law to go into a Gentile’s home. Peter’s conclusion was that he could not stand in God’s way because it was the Lord who gave the visions and the Holy Spirit to them according to His will. When the Jewish brethren heard this they quieted down and glorified God for opening up the door for Gentiles to come into the Kingdom of God through the “repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18).”

-Luke describes how the gospel was now going out to regions beyond Israel. He lists Phoenicia, to the north, Cyprus, an island to the west in the Mediterranean, and Antioch, even further north. This again happened as a result of the persecution that broke out in Jerusalem over the martyrdom of Stephen. Even Greeks were becoming obedient to the faith and the word was spreading. As word spread about what was going on in these places, Barnabas was sent out from Jerusalem to Antioch and he strengthened the work there being full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was an encourager with resolute heart and diligently worked to help these new believers remain true to the Lord (Acts 11:23). *Application* The world desperately needs people like Barnabas who are willing to leave their comfort and go to a new place to encourage and strengthen brethren in the Lord. This spirit should be evident in all Christians.

-At some point Barnabas left for Tarsus to find Saul. Tarsus was just west of where he was in Antioch and was not too long of a journey. He found him and brought him back to Antioch, where for an entire year they met with the church and taught them in considerable numbers. It was at this time and in this place that the disciples were first called Christians. Up to that point they had been known as the Way (John 14:6, Acts 9:2).

-Also at this time some prophets came down Jerusalem (Jerusalem’s high elevation and spiritual center point metaphorically speaking causes everything to descend from it. We often would think of going north as going up but this is a different figure of speech here used in the Scripture). Agabus prophesied that there would be a drought and great famine in all the world. This happened a short time later in the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius. It was determined here that any proportion that the disciples had as far as means should be shared with brethren in Jerusalem for their relief. So they sent Barnabas and Saul to the elders in Jerusalem with this gift. *Application* The giving spirit is again manifested in the early church as anyone had need. The same should apply in our lives. If you have the power and ability to do good, you should not withhold it (Proverbs 3:27). Let generosity pervade our Christian lives!

Verses to Memorize: Acts 11:17

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 10

Acts 10 

-Revival in the midst of Gentiles as the Holy Spirit comes upon them is the theme of this remarkable chapter in God’s Word. The narrative begins with a description of Cornelius in Caesarea Maritima, a coastal-port city built by primarily Herod the Great, who is devout, a God fearer, a giver, and a continual prayer warrior. An angel appears to this centurion and he sends men for Simon Peter down south a ways in Joppa. He was staying in this coastal town in the house of Simon the Tanner (A house that is still standing and actually being lived in to this day in what is now known as Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv).

-God gives Peter a vision on the rooftop of this house declaring that what God calls clean is no longer to be considered unholy. He uses foods in the vision, but the meaning is found in verse 28, “God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” This is a departure from the strict separation Jews lawfully adhered to in the ancient times, and many still do to this day. God was showing His faithful, like Peter, that the message of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was for all the nations, not just His chosen people (Acts 10:34-35).

-Peter accompanies the delegation from Cornelius back to Caesarea and meets Cornelius, who wants to worship him; however, Peter reminds him that he too is just a man and not God. A Spirit-filled presentation of Christ is delivered as the Holy Spirit comes upon Gentiles for the first time here in this place. They are baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ as all the circumcised believers are amazed at what God is doing.

-*Application* We must not put limits on what God wants to do in certain and specific situations. He is a God who reaches out to people that fear Him and want Him in their lives. Never cease to be amazed at what the Spirit of the Lord is up to in our generation. He still moves!

Verses to Memorize: Acts 10:2, 34-35

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 9

Acts 9 

-Acts 9 gives us the details in Saul’s (Paul in Greek) conversion on the road to Damascus, where he intend to bind disciples of Christ Jesus and take them back to Jerusalem for punishment. He was attacking the church in an attempt to destroy it and its momentum. However, Jesus shows up along the road and changes everything! His voice spoke and His light shown down and Saul would never be the same. Ananias obeyed the Heavenly vision in Damascus and Saul was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Immediately he began to speak out in the Name of Jesus and became Christ’s most passionate supporter. A miracle had occurred for the sake of the gospel and God called Saul to be a chosen instrument to bear His Name among the Gentiles, kings, and sons of Israel all while suffering for His purpose (Acts 9:15-16). *Application* Our evidence here is that only God can change a life and many times it is a radical rebirth. What is your testimony in the saving saga of our Lord Jesus Christ? If you’ve never experienced His Spirit and presence come upon you, pray to receive and He will in no way cast you out (John 6:37). Believe in Him and call upon His Name for salvation (Romans 10:13, Ephesians 2:8-9).

-Another interesting note here in this chapter is Christ’s identification with His church. Notice the words He uses to Saul along the road to Damascus. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me (Acts 9:4)?” The church is organism not an organization. Notice here that Jesus is one with His body the church. Christ is the Head of all things pertaining to the church and we are His bride (Colossians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 12, Revelation 19:7). There is a vital unity here that we need to understand and there are no unimportant parts to His body.

-After Saul’s dramatic escape from Damascus, he arrives back in Jerusalem to a suspicious and fearful welcome from the disciples. It was Barnabas who brought him to the apostles and explained to them the genuineness of Saul’s conversion. After this, Saul was accepted and began to talk and argue with those in Jerusalem concerning the Lord Jesus. After a period of time some Hellenistic Jews got angry with him and threatened to kill him, which led to his departure to Caesarea Maritima and then on the Tarsus. The church enjoyed peace and growth after this in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. *Application* There will be times of trial and tribulation and war in the Christian walk. There will be other times of peace and relative tranquility where the Lord is prospering you. Be true to Him in both instances and let Him have His perfect way and will in your life.

-Now some information on Peter’s ministry is narrated as he proceeds westward through Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa doing the work of the Lord. There are great accounts of a healing and a resuscitation given as many believe in the Lord Jesus Christ through Peter’s work. *Application* Here is more evidence of the Holy Spirit leading and directing with some amazing results. God’s power is always on his humble, faithful, and obedient servants.

Verses to Memorize: Acts 9:27

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 8

Acts 8 

-Acts 8 marks a turning point in the spreading of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in the church (i.e. the body of Christ, meaning believers in Him). Refer back to Acts 1:8 and we have the structure for the book. First, the witness of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit begins in Jerusalem; it then spreads to Judea and Samaria, and then to the rest of the region and world. Here in this section we see that the murder and subsequent persecution of the church led to the scattering of believers out into other places where they shared their faith in Christ Jesus. This was God’s purpose and plan. From this point on Jerusalem began to stagnate as the rest of the world began to be drawn in to the gospel story for salvation (Romans 11:25). *Application* There are points in our life where we personally stagnate and need a jolt of God-sized proportions to move us and shake us. When the feelings of complacency and mundaneness begin to creep into your being you are one step away from being dull and spiritual growth will stop. We have to be constantly on guard against this. The apostle Paul puts it well in Philippians 3:12-14, as he describes this “pressing on” mentality that will help him realize his “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This is often where faith will kick in and God will stretch us out into new possibilities and challenges that will keep us reliant upon Him alone. Otherwise, we will become lethargic in the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-2) and the battle (Ephesians 6:12-18, 2 Timothy 2:3-4; 4:7). For a good song that depicts this attitude check out Switchfoot’s More than Fine at It is interesting to note here that the church in Jerusalem faded away as a power source for Christianity. Even today all you will find in this city of God is some relic type churches full of religiosity and man-made tradition. The power of the Holy Spirit is present in other parts of the globe much more mightily (see, ). However, God’s glory will one day return to this city (Matthew 25:31-32, Romans 11:26). The Lord will never forget about His people, the Jews.

-The first place that the gospel takes root outside Jerusalem which Acts speaks about is through Philip’s witness in Samaria where many believed and received Jesus as Lord. The narrative on Simon the magician is intriguing and shows a first century perspective on how men reacted to the demonstrations of the Holy Spirit as it went forth.

-Verses 14-16 give us some intriguing interpretative matters. Some theologians will say this is a special occasion in history, as with Cornelius and his family in Acts 10:44-47, where the Holy Spirit makes a dramatic appearance much like the Pentecost experience with the apostles. These would point out that in other, more usual circumstances, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer at the point conversion. There are other theologians who say that there are two baptisms: one for belief in Christ and one for the filling of the Holy Spirit. This is a passage these theologians will use for a proof text. This matter has been debated and is too extensive for discussion in this blog beyond what has been stated.

-The gospel keeps going forth and the apostles were spreading the word in Samaria on the way back to Jerusalem. At this point, Philip was called by an angel to go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is a desert road. Philip obeys the call and goes to this location where he finds an Ethiopian eunuch reading the Scriptures out of Isaiah 53. Right at the appropriate moment Philip is able to clarify his understanding of the Messiah to this worshiper of God. The eunuch believes and receives Christ as his Savior and is baptized. At that point the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away towards the north to Azotus and then even further northward and westward towards Caesarea (Maritima). *Application* Philip’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to move and direct him is an example for us in our modern walk. What is God telling you to do today and how does He want you to do it? His instructions are surprisingly clear and specific when we make the choice to obey.

Verses to Memorize: Acts 8:4

Monday, April 16, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 7

Acts 7 

-Stephen now makes his defense before the high priest and the Council of the Jews. He develops the history of the Jewish nation recounting many of the events of the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and made an argument for their continued disobedience to the Word of God and His prophets. His conclusion was that they were stubborn and unfaithful in heart and had ears that were resisting the work of the Holy Spirit just like their forefathers (Acts 7:51). Stephen practically pronounces his own death sentence by standing up to the hypocrisy and obstinacy of these religious leaders. These leaders are of the spirit to persecute the prophetic Word of the Lord and do not keep the oracles of God (Acts 7:52-53).

-Stephen is caught up in their fury and dragged out of the city to be stoned. He remains full of the Holy Spirit and actually sees the glory of God in Heaven as he is being persecuted with Jesus standing at His right hand. As the stones came crashing on his fragile flesh, he cried out for the Lord to receive his spirit and not hold this sin against them. He departed earth the first Christian martyr in a blaze of Spirit-filled glory.

-Besides all of this a young man by the name of Saul (the Apostle Paul) was with them and the witnesses laid their robes at his feet for the stoning. This man would later become one of the most ardent promoters of Christ in the early church. The Lord had heard and blessed the prayer of Stephen as at least one of these angry men eventually turned to Jesus and received complete forgiveness.

-*Application* The words here of Stephen make me think of how difficult it is for high religious people in authority to receive a prophetic word. What I mean from a prophetic word is a word from Scripture that pertains to an event or circumstance that needs correction. It is hard for men, or women, in power to come into conformity with the Word of God sometimes, especially when it is coming from someone they feel like is beneath them on the authority ladder. However, God calls the prophets to take a stand when no one else will or can. He does this over and over again in the Scriptures and still does this in the modern age. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, teaches not to despise the prophetic utterances, but to examine all things carefully holding fast to what is good. The issue here is pride. Correction on a matter causes one to humble himself or herself. This is exactly what the religious leaders of Stephen’s time, Jesus’ time, many of the kings’ time, and even our current time in the church have great problems with and do not want to accept. Remember this statement that will change your life, “Pride make excuses, humility makes adjustments.” This is what God desires from all of us.

Verses to Memorize: Acts 7:51

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 6

Acts 6

-The necessity for help now arises in the church as it keeps growing and people have needs. Think about the numbers that the text gives us about this early church movement (Acts 2:41; 4:4). There are probably around 10,000 members of the church by now and some complaints arose between the Hellenistic Jews (who held to Greek customs and languages) and the native Hebrews because the Hellenistic Jews felt they were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.

-The twelve brought the congregation of disciples together and mandated that seven men be given charge of the task of this service. They had the requirements of a good reputation, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom. The twelve maintained that they needed to be devoted to prayer and ministry of the word, which necessitated this arrangement of what would later be termed deacons (from diakonos in the Greek). These were servants that helped the work of the church, and they are given qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:12-13. *Application* The modern church in some denominations have given undue power and authority to the deacon body. The term deacon means “servant” and this is to be their function. There is a different group given oversight of the local body of Christ. These are called elders, which have some diverse words describing them in the text of Scripture (pastor- poimen, episkopos, presbyteros). Here we must remember that the church is an organism which has a head, Jesus Christ, and is not an organization like the world operates.

-The word of God kept spreading and the numbers kept growing greatly in Jerusalem. Even a great number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

-Stephen became a great man of God full of grace and power and performing great wonders and signs among the people. There was a newly formed group called the “Synagogue of the Freedmen” that stirred up the people by speaking lies against Stephen by seducing people secretly. This led to Stephen being dragged before the Jewish Council with accusations that he was against Moses, the Law, and the Temple. This sets up Stephen’s defense of the gospel in chapter 7. *Application* Here we see the hand of evil present to disrupt the spreading of the message of Christ as it was gaining great strength and power through the Holy Spirit. Count on this in your life as well. As soon as you move forward with Christ and His Kingdom there will be opposition and persecution trying to thwart, distract, and confuse the work of God. Pray against this, but expect this spiritual warfare. It will come in new and unique ways every time and we must be on our guard to recognize these threats. It is always wise to know the enemy so that he can be combated and overcome through the Lord. 

Verse to Memorize: Acts 6:3

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 5

Acts 5 

-The property being sold and money brought into the church became the source of the first controversy in the church age. Ananias and Sapphira collaborated to lie against the Holy Spirit of the Lord in their contribution from their real estate proceeds. They both fell dead in the presence of the apostles and great fear came upon the disciples of the Lord.

-The numbers kept growing as the message of Christ went out further and further and people lives were being changed.

-The apostles were jailed again because they kept speaking out in the Name of Jesus. Peter stood up and said that they must follow and obey God rather than men in this regard and he again gave them the gospel as an eyewitness.

-The Council is again perplexed over its decision for these men of faith in Christ. Gamaliel finally brings some sense to the chaos with his statements that denote at least some healthy fear of the Lord. The Council takes his advice, has the disciples flogged, and releases them once again ordering them not to speak in the Name of Jesus. The apostles went away rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His Name. “Every day in the Temple and from house to house they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42).” *Application* Jesus told us that we would encounter persecution for His Name sake (Matthew 24:9). Our response should be the same as these role models in the faith. We should consider it a joy and a privilege to suffer like He suffered (Philippians 3:10).

Verses to Memorize: Acts 5:31, 39

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 3 & 4

Acts 3

-Peter, along with John, heals a beggar and lame man near the Temple. This man was praising the Lord for this miracle demonstrated by the apostles and all the people saw him with wonder and amazement.

-This gave Peter opportunity to preach the Lord Jesus Christ to those congregated from the Scriptures. He stressed faith in the Christ crucified as the suffering servant, buried, and risen as eyewitnesses of these facts. His proposition was for them to repent and return so that their sins could be wiped away in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). He said some important things about where Jesus was currently in Heaven until the restoration of all things of which the prophets all spoke. These were incredible days!

Acts 4

 -The religious leaders again, as when Jesus was among them, came to the apostles and were greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming, in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2). They put them in jail for this proclamation until the next day, but many had believed in their message (5,000 in fact). The next day they examined them as to what power and name they were doing their work.

-Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them as a servant of Jesus Christ, the Stone which was rejected yet became the Cornerstone. He proclaimed that there was no other Name under Heaven by which men may be saved. These uneducated and untrained men were amazing the religious leaders by their confidence and power, and they had nothing to say in reply.

-The Council conferred with one another and had a difficult time trying to figure out what to do with them because a noteworthy miracle had taken place and was apparent to all who live in Jerusalem. They determined to command them not to speak or teach any more in the Name of Jesus, but Peter and John told them that they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard. *Application* What about your life and your convictions? Do you fear God over man? In situations like these that we see here it would have been convenient to repudiate their convictions and dismiss the whole thing. The proof of the resurrection is right here in the text. They could not back down. If the resurrection had been a lie, exposure would have quickly come through this persecution. However, they had seen and heard the Risen Savior and would not denounce Him. This should be the same with us in our witness and testimony every day.

-They were released and rejoiced with holy praise. The Holy Spirit filled them with boldness to speak the Word of God. The church was growing steadily and all had a giving spirit holding all things in common. They also had great power and abundant grace was upon them all as they were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33).

Verses to Memorize: Acts 3:13, 19, 24; 4:11-12, 31

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 2

Acts 2

-The Holy Spirit’s coming to indwell believers as Jesus had promised is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as the believers were in the upper room in Jerusalem (John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:7-8). This is the Spirit of Truth and Conviction that draws the whole world to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and gives believers the power over the enemy filling them with His fruits (Romans 15:13, Galatians 5:18-26). *Application* This same Holy Spirit is available to us as we receive the gift of Him at the point of trusting in Jesus Christ to save us. He wants complete control of our lives to do His will. We can grieve or quench Him, but never lose Him (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Have you received the gift and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11)?

-The amazing and miraculous events of Pentecost draw a huge international crowd during this common Jewish festival in which many attended in Jerusalem. Peter is able to stand and declare the fulfillment of prophecies and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The response was incredible. When the message was heard along with these miraculous demonstrations, they questioned the apostles about what they should do to be saved. The apostles’ response was to repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then they also would receive this gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for them, their children, and all those far off. The church age had begun and the ingathering of all the nations to the Lord (Genesis 18:18, Psalm 22:27, Matthew 28:19, and many more).

-The early church had all things in common. They were continually devoting themselves to prayer and the apostles’ teaching. There was a sense of awe and many signs and wonders were taking place through the apostles. God’s power was definitely on them. They had one mind, the mind of Christ, and there was sweet communion and fellowship with each other. The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. *Application* There is no reason why this can’t be the case in the church today. We can be of the same mind only if we all are obedient and conform to the image of Christ (Philippians 2).

Verses to Memorize: Acts 2:32-33, 39

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes Chapter 1

Acts 1

 -Luke continues his historical narrative into the accounts of the early church to Theophilus and all lovers of God everywhere. He ties the work together in brilliant fashion and brings up an important theological point by verse six where the disciples ask Christ if this is the time when the Kingdom of Israel will be restored. They had been under foreign domination and subjection for many hundreds of years (back to approximately 586 BC). This is the time of the Gentiles, and we are still living in it to a degree. The interesting modern day fact in regards to this is that the modern state of Israel became a sovereign nation once again in 1948. Although, it can be argued that the United Nations and in particular America have had a major voice in how Israel has conducted her affairs. This is the first step in the fulfillment of the literal fulfillment of Israel becoming the eternal Kingdom under Christ Jesus’ rule (2 Samuel 7, Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-6).

-The disciples rightly recognized that some incredible prophetic events were taking place in their time and wondered what would be happening next in God’s timetable. Jesus reminded them that it is not for us humans to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority (Acts 1:7). Then Jesus gives them a contrasting statement that will set their, and the church’s course, for the present age in which we live. He tells them that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them to be witnesses of Him in their locale of Jerusalem spreading out to Judea and Samaria (the local region near them), and even to the furthest and most remote parts of the world. Much could be said about this verse. In fact many sermons could be preached from it, but for the purpose of this work it is suffice to say that this is the clarion call to go and make disciples in His strength (Matthew 28:19-20).

-The ascension takes place now as Jesus goes back to His Heavenly realm from the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. The promise of His return is given by two angelic men robbed in white standing beside them as they watched Him depart.

-The command for the disciples was to go back to Jerusalem and wait until they were endowed with power from on high by the Holy Spirit. While they were there praying and continually devoting themselves to the work of the Lord, Peter stood up in a role of leadership and summoned them to select another apostle to add to the eleven since Judas had become the apostate. Matthias was selected by prayer and finally the drawing of lots. *Application* This is evidence that sometimes decisions are simply too difficult to make in our own strength and power. They turned the matter over to God who knows all hearts of men (Acts 1:24). Providential devices (such as the lots here or maybe a coin toss in our age) should become the governing guide only after all thinking and prayer based on the Word of God has been done. Don’t be flippant in making decisions, seek God and His answers. This is what the apostles did.

Verse to Memorize: Acts 1:8

Monday, April 9, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapter 24

Luke 24

-The resurrection account is given with some details and outline in this last chapter of the book. The other gospels have given further and actually a more detailed account of Christ’s resurrection than Luke, but he does give us insight as to some names of the women that went to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away with the vision they saw from the angels.

-Luke is the only gospel writer to share with us the account of the two men, Cleopas and an unidentified man, who encountered Jesus on the road to their village in Emmaus, seven miles basically west of Jerusalem. Jesus comes to them in an unrecognizable fashion at first and gets all the information that is on their hearts as they are talking and discussing the events which had just transpired with a sense of sadness.

-Jesus rebukes them as being foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets had spoken (Luke 24:45). He related to them that is was necessary for the Christ to suffer in order to enter His glory (i.e. The Kingdom has begun!). Then beginning with Moses (the torah, the first five books of the Bible) and then all the other prophets, He explained to them the things concerning the Messiah in all the Scriptures.

-As they came to Emmaus, they implored Him to come in and stay the night with them as He acted as if He would continue on further on His journey. He does go to their house and is about to eat, but as He blesses the food they recognize Him and He vanishes.

-They relate to each other how their hearts were burning while He spoke with them explaining the Scriptures. *Application* This is Holy Spirit fire as it comes upon us and illuminates us to the truth of God’s work in our lives. Oh that we would continually abide in Him and let that presence burn within us (John 15:5).

-the two men arise that very hour and run back to Jerusalem to proclaim what they had experienced to the eleven (disciples) and those who were with them. These were proclaiming how Simon (Peter) had seen the Lord as well. While this was happening, Jesus stood in their midst pronouncing peace upon them. They were startled and frightened and concluded they were seeing a spirit, but Jesus gave them proofs of His flesh and bones. Then He asked them for something to eat. *Application* God will give us all the proof we need to verify our faith in Him as we ask and seek Him (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9).

-Then, in conclusion, Christ tells them that these are His words, which He had previously taught them, that everything written about Him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).” He taught them again that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His Name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem, and that they were witnesses to these things. Then Jesus tells them that He is sending the promise of His Father (i.e. the Holy Spirit) upon them. He gives them instructions to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until they are clothed with power from on high. Then Luke gives us a brief account of His ascension and the joyful atmosphere of the disciples following these events. Luke’s narrative continues in the book of Acts with the early church and the works of God’s Holy Spirit.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 24:45

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapter 23

Luke 23

-The passion of Christ continues as the council brings Him before Pilate who questions Him as to whether or not He considered Himself to be the King of the Jews. Jesus answered in the affirmative, but somehow Pilate is convinced that Jesus is not deserving of the death sentence. However, he is insecure in his position as governor and wants to avoid contention with possible disturbances and riots in this politically charged part of the Roman Empire. His fear is not for the Lord, but for man and this is his great downfall and condemnation. While he is to be commended for trying to release the Savior, he capitulated to the desires of evil men and in fact catered to their demands rather than taking a firm stand. *Application* Pilate was so close to God, yet so far away. His point of grappling was over the truth (John 18:38). He could not get the truth because his loyalties were torn. Peace only comes through full obedience to our God. Have you surrendered your life totally to His will or are you still holding on to your own futile reasons and rationale? You’ll only find the way, the truth, and the life through Christ Jesus (John 14:6).

-Pilate turns Jesus over to Herod’s jurisdiction since He was Galilean. This respect brings the two political enemies together as friends for the first time. Herod, who had John the Baptist killed, wanted to see a miracle and was inquisitive of the Christ, but Jesus answered him nothing and would not appease his mocking spirit.

-Jesus returns and no guilt is found in Him. In fact, Jesus is put on trial six times during these proceedings without any guilty verdict. But the crowds were so stirred up with the spirit of evil, all under God’s Divine providence, that the Son of Man was condemned to die. This was done so that our sins could be forgiven as the climax of human history. Barabbas is released and Jesus was given the cross.

-Jesus was led out to Golgotha, the place of the skull, to be crucified. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross of Christ. This no doubt was because of the flogging He received and the weakness of His body at this point (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15, John 19:1). It took a man of great strength just to pick himself up after a beating like this, much less carry a heavy wooden cross.

-As Christ went to the place of His crucifixion, there were women following Him, mourning and lamenting His predicament. Jesus words were calculated as He warned them of the coming devastation on the land of Israel because of their rejection of their Messiah.

-Two criminals were sentenced to die along with Christ this day. Jesus made a passionate comment to the Father that they all be forgiven because they do not know what they are doing. *Application* What amazing fortitude and love we see in our Savior here as He keeps the proper perspective in His most intense hour of suffering and pain. His compassion fails not, even in the most desperate circumstances.

-As He hung on the cross, many people stood by sneering and mocking Him including the rulers. They taunted Him with raves about getting Himself down from the cross to save Himself. Their illogical reasoning was that if He could claim to save others, why couldn’t He save Himself. The soldiers also mocked Him with sour wine and taunts.

-In the midst of all this was one man who showed extreme faith in the Son of God. This man was a humbled-executed criminal who repented of his malfunction and received paradise with Jesus Christ that very day. He recognized that Jesus had done nothing wrong and by his belief, even at the lowest point of the Savior’s ministry, he asked for pardon, which the Lord granted him. He saw the eternal Kingdom that was coming by faith and entered it.

-Now from 12:00noon to 3:00pm darkness fell upon the region. This is representative of God’s judgment on sin that was being taken on by the Son during these precious hours. It is reminiscent of the darkness that pervaded Egypt before the release of the Hebrew captives (Exodus 10:21-23).

-At last Jesus committed His Spirit to the Father and breathed His last breath. The Son of God had completed the task for our redemption and glory was now His alone. The centurion, who was right there watching all these events, was convinced of Christ’s innocence and began glorifying the Lord. In fact, the rest of the crowd returned beating their breasts, which was done in remorse and probably great bewilderment. His acquaintances, John included, and the women, including His mother (John 19:26-27), saw all these things.

-Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Council, who was a secret disciple of Jesus asked Pilate for the body of the Lord and buried Him after taking Him off of the cross in his own burial plot (Matthew 27:60) near the site of the crucifixion, which was in a garden (John 19:41-42). The women saw where the tomb was and how they laid His body. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes and on the Sabbath day they rested, along with the Savior, according to the commandment.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 23:34

Friday, April 6, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapter 22

Luke 22

-The plot thickens in God’s salvation plan as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called Passover arrives and Jews from all over the world ascended unto the holy city of Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples were also there for the events that would change the course of history and bring the possibility for man to be reconciled to Almighty God.

-Spiritual forces were at work to bring about this redemption as Satan enters into Judas (a temptation that Judas responded to) and he agrees to betray Jesus for a price with the chief priests and officers. He now looks for an opportune time to betray the Lord and finds it at night after the Passover meal in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42).

-Jesus had predicted this betrayal at the Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room as they broke the bread of His body and drank together the wine of His blood, which represented the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). This is to be done in remembrance of Him until He comes again by believers (1 Corinthians 11:23-29).

-In the garden, Jesus prays fervently knowing that His time is at hand to die for the sins of the world. He goes to the Father begging that this cup be removed from Him, yet not His will, but the Father’s will be done (Luke 22:42). *Application* What an example Jesus provides for us here. There will be things that the Lord asks us to do that are hard and in fact impossible in our own strength. We must resign our own personal will and relinquish control to His ultimate authority in our lives if we want to truly accomplish His Divine purpose. Jesus models this submission as He looks forward to the pain and suffering that it will take to cleanse the world of its sin. Accept the challenge of letting God have His way with you and see the miraculous happen.

-The arrest takes place with some violence, but Jesus tells His disciples to stop and have no more of this. His last miraculous healing before His substitutionary death takes place as He heals the ear of a slave of the high priest who had had his ear cut off. Jesus remarks to His captors are poignant and calculated as to their heart motives and intentions. He exposes them as the forces of darkness that they are.

-An impromptu and illegal council is convened at the house of the high priest, Caiaphas (Matthew 25:57-68, Mark 14:53-65). Peter is following the proceedings from a distance and ends up fulfilling the prophecy concerning him that he would deny the Christ three times before the rooster crowed. *Application* This is a stark reminder to us that we can find ourselves in situations very quickly that will tempt us to abrogate and capitulate our faith. Hold strong in those times. If you don’t, Peter is a good example of how the Lord can restore you when you are remorseful and repent of your disobedience (John 21:7-12). He went on to become one of the greatest Christians who defended Christ in the world (See his sermons and public professions in the beginning of the book of Acts).

-Jesus was mocked and beaten in this mock trial that went about in a chaotic and confusing manner (Matthew 26:59-60, Mark 14:55-59). They end up asking Him if He was the Christ to which Jesus replied that it would not be believed if He told them the truth that He was in fact the King of kings and Lord of lords. He also stated that they would not answer His questions (Politicians, i.e. people of authority, haven’t changed much have they? J). Then He claims His Messiahship with a quote from Psalm 110:1, “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” He also answered that He was in fact the Son of God, which was all they needed to hear. The council needed no further testimony. Jesus in their minds was a blasphemer and heretic deserving of death.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 22:70

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapter 21

Luke 21

-This chapter begins with Jesus Christ’s observation of a widow who gave all she had to the Lord in to the treasury. This gift was more blessed in the eyes of God than all the other gifts of the rich who put in their excess out of their surplus. *Application* God continues to look at the heart in each and every situation. Is your heart fully on His Kingdom?

-The subject changes as some were talking of the beauty of the Temple area and Jesus again predicts its collapse and destruction (which occurred in 70 AD). This comment led to questions about when these things would happen and what signs would precede it.

-Jesus offers now His discourse on future events which correlates with Matthew 24 & 25, the entire book of Revelation, and other prophetic Scriptures. He outlines time tables and events that must occur in preparation for the Kingdom of God to be established including wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, persecution, and the surrounding armies around Jerusalem. There will be great fear among men and signs in the heavens and seas. The very powers of heaven will be shaken (Hebrews 1:10-12, 2 Peter 3:10-12). Then they will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in a cloud and power and great glory (Daniel 7:13, Matthew 16:27; 24:30; 26:64, Mark 13:26, Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21). This is when our redemption is drawing near with the Kingdom of God. Jesus gives the parable of the ripening fig tree for discernment of the times and the seasons of His return. *Application* We are basically living in the time of His return according to all the prophetic signs and wonders that have been foretold. There are some events yet to take place, but they could happen almost instantly. The warning is clear from the Lord to us in this time, be on guard, pray, and keep alert for His coming. Trust in Him and endure. His words will not pass away. Do not get weighted down with dissipation (overindulgence, wasteful use), drunkenness, and the worries of this life (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Verse to Memorize: Luke 21:31

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapter 20

Luke 20

-Here in chapter twenty we see the inspection of the perfect Lamb of God continuing in the Temple area of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament Law, the sacrificial lamb was to be inspected carefully to make sure that there were no imperfections before the slaughter. This was a pointing to this time as Jesus was inspected by the religious leaders having no spot or blemish. He answered accurately and wisely putting to shame those trying to trick Him and trip Him up on His words. They had thought they had devised some impossible questions to answer, but somehow Jesus in His perception turned the impetus back on them.

-In the first account we see Jesus dodge the question of His authority by posing an unanswerable question back to the chief priests and scribes and elders. They could not answer him because they did not believe in the message of John the Baptist, and they feared the people too much. This exposes them in the sight of all as frauds and hypocrites. *Application* Always remember this statement…”Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.” The only One to fear is the Lord, not man.

-Next a parable against those who persecuted the prophets and would kill the Son is given. The religious leaders understood that Christ spoke against them and tried to lay hands on Him, but His time had not yet come. Jesus is again prophesying here concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the opening of the Kingdom to the Gentiles because of Jewish rejection of their Messiah.

-The inspections continue with a question about taxes. Jesus astutely answers that we should render to our government leaders what they deserve and to God the things that are His (Romans 13:1-8). *Application* Shame on us if we ever cheat on our taxes willingly and knowingly. This is a direct command in Scripture and we will be held accountable for that. Our government, the Bible says, is there to protect us and help us lead peaceful lives. Humble obedience to their righteous laws is a mandate. Also, don’t rob God by holding back from Him and hording your material possessions (Malachi 3:8-12). Luke continues to make this a theme in his writing.

-Now some Sadducees question Him concerning the resurrection. Jesus answers them from the grammar of the Scriptures (the burning bush passage is using the present tense, Exodus 3:6). *Application* Things like this instance is why I would consider myself verbal-plenary (the very words of Scripture are full and complete in inspiration from God, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16).

-The inspection concludes with the religious leaders having no courage left to ask Him anymore questions about anything. Jesus does go on to make another point from the Scriptures about His Divinity. He uses Psalm 110:1 to make a point about who the proper Lord is that David was speaking of as a Son.

-Jesus ends the chapter with a cautionary word to the people about the pride and deceit and hypocrisy of the scribes who are all about appearance. In other portions of Scripture these religious leaders are referred to as “whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27, Luke 11:43-44).” *Application* Beware in this day and age of pastors and ministers of the church who are all about public show and demonstration with no actual heart for God. There are still fakes and frauds about if you care to pay attention. Watch out for the “bling!”

Verse to Memorize: Luke 20:25

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapters 19

Luke 19

-The conversion of Zaccheus is found at the beginning of this chapter of Luke’s gospel. Jesus is passing through the Jordan River Valley and comes through Jericho in a Divine appointment with a rich, chief tax collector who was small in stature so he climbed a sycamore tree ahead of Jesus’ path in order to see this Man of God. Jesus looks up and calls Zaccheus to come down for He must go and stay at the tax collector’s house. As we have seen before, the Pharisees are grumbling about this sinner and Jesus’ association with the like. However, a miraculous change comes about in this little man’s life as he gives half of his possessions away and returns four fold what he had defrauded. Salvation had come to his house. He too was a son of Abraham (i.e. a man of faith). *Application* Luke’s reiterated theme of the humility of those in need of grace verses the prideful scorning of the self-righteous is crystal clear in this event. God is after life change and the possessions issue is again reinforced here in the text. A person who wants to truly follow after Christ will give generously and not hold any good thing back from righteous causes. This is a major ingredient in Kingdom of God building (Acts 2:42-47). Christ’s point at the end of the matter is paramount, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).”

-Now Jesus relates another parable, which gives us clues into the time between His first incarnation and His return. The people were supposing that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (remember what Jesus said about this in Luke 17:20-21). The parable relates that He would go away for a period of time to receive a Kingdom for Himself (Jesus sits now at the right hand of the Father in Heaven as King until His enemies are made a footstool (Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:41-44, Acts 2:33-36, Hebrews 10:12-14), and that His slaves (i.e. believers bought with a price, 1 Corinthians 6:20) would need to be good stewards of the gifts and talents the Nobleman endowed to them. This points to the giving of the Holy Spirit and His indwelling work (John 14:16-26). *Application* The major thrust of this parable is accountability. We have an exacting Heavenly Father who will hold us responsible for the possessions He entrusts to us. We can use all for His glory or we can foolishly squander our time, talent, and treasure on this earth and its temporal things. There will come a time for reward and rebuke for all God’s servants. Use all that God has given you to build His Kingdom.

-Luke now jumps ahead in the chronology to the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday). He comes humbly on a colt in fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). This was a moment of celebration and excitement as Messianic anticipation was at a fever pitch. Although the Pharisees wanted Jesus to rebuke these in joyful triumph, Jesus reminded them that the stones would cry out in exaltation if their mouths were shut (Psalm 96:11, Isaiah 55:12). Then Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because of their blindness and not recognizing the time of their visitation by God’s own Son. The Lord prophesied over the beautiful city, anointed by God, for its destruction by the enemy. This happened in 70 A.D. as the Romans came in and destroyed every last stone of the Temple Mount. The things which would have made for peace had been forfeited because of the rejection of the Messiah. However, the day will come when Israel will recognize their Lord when He returns again to earth (Zechariah 12:8-10, Romans 11).

-Jesus drives out the money changers and those selling for profit in the Temple area. His concern is that God’s house, which is to be a house of prayer, was being corrupted and perverted for personal gain. His teaching was powerful as He daily went to the Temple area, but the chief priests and scribes and leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him and accuse Him. They could find nothing wrong with this perfect Lamb of God and the people were hanging on every word He said.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 19:10

Monday, April 2, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapters 17 & 18


Luke 17

 -Jesus begins this section of teaching with a warning about being a stumbling block, especially to young ones. *Application* It always grieves my spirit to hear of parents, leaders, and teachers of the young who do not use their influence in a Godly way. In fact the news is filled with horrific crimes that are committed against the young and innocent almost constantly. Take this warning seriously. You have a part in training up the next generation. They will stumble if you neglect the Lord’s command.

-Verse three and four give us some sage advice concerning sin and repentance. *Application* We are to rebuke sin rather than tolerate and accept it. We are also to have a loving and patient spirit with those who are repentant and forgive them even if it is seven times a day.

-The call to increase faith is beckoned for with the disciples. Jesus boldly states that if they had even the faith of a small mustard seed they could uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea. It would obey them.

-Next, Jesus teaches on the expectation of being a slave to the Lord. *Application* We are to do the things that He asks as our duty to a benevolent Master.

-The ten lepers are healed on the way to Jerusalem while passing between Samaria and Galilee. Only one returns to give Him thanks and he was a Samaritan. Jesus plainly told him that it was, again, his faith that had made him well. *Application* May we be a thankful people who recognize the good things that the Lord does for us.

-Jesus answers the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming. Jesus’ response was that it would not come with signs to be observed. In other words, there would not be a distinct change in the earthly political structure and forms of religious worship. This Kingdom was to begin quietly and humbly, a tender shoot (Isaiah 53:2). However, as Daniel predicts (Daniel 2:44-45), this Kingdom will grow and take over the entire earth. This Kingdom was in their midst even though they did not realize it. Jesus goes on to relate some events for His second coming, which will be like lightening in its quickness and suddenness. *Application* Some will use this passage as evidence of an ingathering of believers (i.e. rapture) before the Great Tribulation of the world. The main point however is that we need to lose our lives if we intend to preserve it eternally.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 17:3

Luke 18

-Jesus tells a parable intended to show that people should pray and not lose heart. This is the story of the persistent widow who eventually gets the legal protection she wants from a godless, disrespectful judge. The point is this, if a ruthless, non-God fearing man will do something favorable due to consistent request, how much more will God bring about justice quickly for those who cry out to Him? He won’t delay long over the ones who beseech Him earnestly. However, Jesus’ remark is stark at the end of this parable. Will He find faith on this earth when He returns? *Application* If we are around, Jesus should absolutely find faith.

-Now a parable about the self-righteous with proud contempt is given. The point of this illustration is justification and exaltation through humility. The self-exalted ones will in fact be humbled and unjustified. *Application* Come humbly to Jesus for forgiveness and restoration in His cleansing power.

-The babies were being brought to the Savior for blessing. The disciples were rebuking them and trying to prevent this from happening based on a cultural norm. In their society it was not expected for the humble children to come to a rabbi (teacher, great man) for attention and honor. Jesus again defies the norm by telling them to permit the children to come unto Him and not to hinder them (reference back to Luke 17:1-2). Then He makes an import comment, “for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all (Luke 18:16-17).” *Application* We must consider the ways of children if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Here are some qualities of children that we would need to meditate on for Kingdom acceptance. Children are full of faith, trust, and believing, they want to learn, they are excited and impressionable, they submit to authority or humble, and they are totally dependent on someone for their care.

-After this occurrence with the little children, there is a contrast to the proud and arrogant nature of the rich young ruler who was self-righteous in his own thinking. Jesus broke through his hypocrisy by telling him to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow Him for the possession of the heavenly treasure. This man could not do this because of his love of wealth and lack of compassion for people. In essence the rich young ruler had broken the two most fundamental commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). He loved money (an idol) more than the Lord, and he did not love his neighbor as much as he loved himself. *Application* It is impossible to be saved apart from the life changing gift of God through His Holy Spirit. He allows us to be willing to give everything up for His Kingdom. The promise here is noteworthy too. No one who leaves it all behind to follow Him will lack. They will receive back many times as much in this life and eternal life in the age to come. Not a bad deal, right?

-Jesus takes His twelve aside and began to tell them again of His coming sacrifice and suffering under the Gentiles. He prophesied His death and third day resurrection, but the understanding and comprehension was still not there with the disciples.

Luke 18:8

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapters 16

Luke 16

-Luke stresses the issue of wealth and riches in this chapter as Jesus continues to teach, this time to His disciples, but there were Pharisees present who loved money greatly.

-The stewardship of money is established first. Jesus stresses wise use of it under the Master’s authority and Kingdom building. The key statement here is “He who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Luke 16:10).” *Application* The true riches of the Kingdom of God are given to those who can use wealth to the glory of the Lord. No one can serve two masters; they will love one and hate the other being devoted to one and despising the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

-Jesus accused the Pharisees of justifying themselves in the sight of men, and He related the Old Testament in stating that the Lord knows the heart of a person (1 Samuel 13:14; 16:7). Jesus maintains the Law and the Prophets by his statements here, but He teaches that those seeking to do things their own way are trying to force their way into the Kingdom of God.

-At this point another story is related by Jesus to His listeners with significant afterlife doctrine. The point of the teaching revolved around wealth and the comfort of this life with an eternity of torment compared to the comfort of God in eternity to those enduring pain and suffering in this earthly life. A couple of points need to be made here. First, Jesus teaches a literal place of paradise with an ongoing existence along with the saints of old. There is also a literal place of torment reserved for those who do not trust in the Lord and His salvation. Jesus’ point here is that the rich man rejected God’s goodness and salvation and was buried separated from the love of the Savior. The angels carry those who die in God’s grace to His Kingdom in Heaven, but for those separated from Him there is a great chasm that cannot be crossed. This is a place of agony and eternal suffering, where no one would ever desire to be. *Application* I’ve heard people say, “I want to go to hell cause that’s where all my friends and family will be.” This is skewed thinking and just doesn’t match up with the reality that we see here in this Scripture. The last thing this man would want is for others in his family, that he is close to, to be in this horrible environment. In fact he would do anything to keep them out of this place. Hell will not be a place of community and any type of socializing. Therefore, just because someone you may know or love has ended life without saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and is destined for hell is no reason for you not to receive salvation and redemption. In paradise, Christ will wipe away every tear and there will be no more morning (Revelation 21:4). Those in this place of torment would desire to see you in Heaven.

-Secondly, Jesus tells His listeners that everything needed for salvation is in the Word of God. It, Scripture, is sufficient to save the soul. Jesus is plainly speaking of the Old Testament here to these Pharisees and disciples. The New Testament had not even been written yet. *Application* Moses and the Prophets are enough for us to learn the mysteries of God and come to Him (Colossians 1:25-2:3). They speak of the Messiah Jesus who would come and die for the sins of mankind giving us forgiveness of sin and complete cleansing in the eyes of the Lord to the repentant ones with faith.

Verse to Memorize: Luke 16:10

Luke Bible Study Notes Chapters 15

Luke 15

-Jesus shares three parables related to being lost and found and the diligent search the Father makes for His lost ones and His compassion in receiving them back. The Lord shares this in the context of grumbling Pharisees and scribes who could not understand why the Savior would receive sinners and tax collectors.

-The first parable has to do with lost sheep. The good shepherd will leave 99 in the open pasture to find one that is lost. Rejoicing will come with the finding of the lost sheep in heaven.

-The second parable revolves around a lost coin that is diligently searched for in the house. Rejoicing is also associated with the finding of this lost coin.

-The final parable is the renowned story of the prodigal son. This young man squanders his father’s inheritance on loose living in a distant country and returns to his compassionate father who is looking for him (probably every day) to return home. The grace of the father (who repents our Heaven Father) is demonstrated by his receiving his son back with open arms, extravagant gifts, and a celebration party with all the best. For an excellent exposition on this parable see
Captured By Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God by David Jeremiah. The older son returned from the field indignant that so much love was being poured out on this rebellious brother. He never got the point that God’s love and mercy wins the day. This older son never gets the point that repentance is paramount.

-*Application* The Father in heaven rejoices along with His heavenly hosts when even one sinner, who is dead, begins to live with a spiritual life found in the loving, gracious, and merciful God. For this to happen, repentance is required on our part as the Good Shepherd diligently seeks us out or patiently waits for us to come to our senses and return to Him. Of course faith is also a requirement as we see in other places in Scripture (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Verse to Memorize: Luke 15:32