Friday, November 30, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 12

Acts 12


-Herod the king (Herod Agrippa I) began to lay violent persecuting hands on 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. He will deliver you from the most strenuous circumstances and conditions when you are accomplishing His will.

-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, right? There very well could be dire consequences for your conceit.

-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 growth 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 increase; His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11).


Verses to Memorize: Acts 12:5

Thursday, November 29, 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 to eat. 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 with steadfast purpose (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, exhort, and strengthen brethren in the Lord. This spirit should be evident in all Christians. Is it in you?

-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 and Judea 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

Wednesday, November 28, 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 who is devout, a God fearer, a giver, and a continual prayer warrior in Caesarea Maritima, a coastal-port city built by primarily Herod the Great. An angel miraculously 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 people, 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, with some of his brothers in Christ, 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

Tuesday, November 27, 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 (Acts 9:31). *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. Be built up in Christ no matter what you go through.

-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

Monday, November 26, 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

Sunday, November 25, 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

Saturday, November 24, 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. *Application* The LORD loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Ananias and Sapphira collaborated to deception, which was the reason for their great downfall in the presence of God’s anointed. It is better to be honest in your assessment of generosity when giving your gifts unto the LORD. He is honored when you do things from a pure heart; He is disgusted when you do things for self-indulgence.

-The numbers kept growing as the message of Christ went out further and further and people lives were being changed. Many signs and wonders were being performed by the apostles, and every one coming for physical and spiritual healing were set free, even from the surrounding areas (Acts 5:12-16).

-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 (Acts 5:29-32).

-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 5:29, 31, 39

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. God has given each part of the body importance and relevance to the Kingdom advancement (1 Corinthians 12). Leaders must first be followers and servants to advance in Christ’s Kingdom. Think of the call Christ gave to Peter, James, John and the rest of the disciples. It was, “Come follow Me (Matthew 4:18; 9:9; 10:38; 16:24, John 1:43; 10:27 to name a few verses, there are many more).” Jesus modeled His leadership by washing His disciples’ feet and giving up His life for them. He followed His Father’s direction even though He was Deity. Followers become leaders if they do it God’s way. Here we see the advancement into leadership by the apostles and their desire to train up more men equipped to make the spiritual journey into church leadership. Always allow yourself time and patience in learning the art and tasks of a spiritual leader in God’s Kingdom. Build for yourself a good reputation, be full of the Holy Spirit and His fruits, and get some wisdom from His Word!

-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 (probably Jews from the Diaspora that were Greek speaking)” 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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

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’ Name, and preaching 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 given to humanity by which men may be saved (Acts 4:12). 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 lived 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 with a unified mind in Christ. 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: 4:11-12, 31

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

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. It was the faith of the disciples primarily that healed the man for a witness to the glory of God and an opportunity to share His resurrection message of salvation for the Jews that were there in the Temple area. *Application* What God has bestowed on us through faith in His Name must be given out everywhere we go with power and conviction. God is still in the business of performing miraculous demonstrations of His power when we act in complete faith and dependence on Him.

-Therefore, Peter takes this 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 from wickedness 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, starting with Moses, all spoke. These were incredible days! *Application* We are also living in incredible prophetic times if we care to observe. Don’t be aloof! Christ is coming soon to restore His Kingdom on this earth (Acts 3:21). This world is passing away (1 Corinthians 2:6-7; 7:31, Hebrews 1:10-2:10, 1 John 2:15-17), but a new time is coming with the Lord in control of all things in complete goodness and righteous. There will be tribulation in the meantime, but Christian brother/sister don’t give up hope. He is the power and glory for those of us who endure to the end and overcome (2 Timothy 2:12, Hebrews 12:1-2, James 5:11, 1 John 5:4, Revelation 3:21; 5:5; 12:11).

Wednesday, November 21, 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)? Have you been baptized (immersed, totally controlled and consumed) by this awesome fullness of God (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 2:16, Acts 1:5; 2:38)? This is the key to eternal and triumphant living.

-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 into the future (Acts 2:39). 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, provision, 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). Our hearts need to be generous and in total worship as we abide in His presence together as the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5, Colossians 3:12-17). This is the kind of church God wants and uses as He leads and directs without interference.


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

Tuesday, November 20, 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 (Acts 1:11).

-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, November 19, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

184. Jesus’ ascension- Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53


-The book of Acts gives us more detail into the ascension of Christ Jesus, but two of the gospel writers make short mention of it for our edification and knowledge (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50, Acts 1:6-12). Mark makes note that He gave them some final instructions and the commission to go into the world with His message to all creation with great power and signs (Mark 16:14-18, 20). He was taken up into Heaven and sat down at the Right Hand of God. After the ascension the disciples went out and preached everywhere just as God had commanded. He was with them in Spirit just as He had promised (Matthew 28:20, John 14:16-17). Luke speaks of the blessing He bestowed upon the disciples as He left earth. He was carried up into Heaven at this point. Afterward, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the Temple area blessing God and expressing His truth living lives of worship (Luke 24:52-53). *Application* The Lord’s ascension completes His first journey to earth, and the mission for the remission of mankind’s sins was made possible by His gracious and sacrificial work. His return allowed for the sending of the Holy Spirit in this current age of the church, His body, who is to proclaim His good news and spread the Kingdom of God in this generation, or age, until His return (Acts 1:10-11). We are to always live our lives in Him on purpose and on mission to fulfill His will, His way. We are to lay our lives down, as He did, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our spiritual act of worship. Our minds are to be transformed with the renewing of His continual presence. We are not to be conformed to this world with its evil practices and its death. In doing this we fulfill and prove the perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2). To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen (Philippians 4:20, 1 Peter 4:11, Jude 1:25, Revelation 1:6)!


Verses to Memorize- Luke 24:51-53

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

183. The great commission- Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15


-Incredible truths on how we are to go about our business as believers are revealed as Jesus gives His disciples, and us, His great commission. He was sent by the Father, called to do a work, which He completed. He was about to send His Hoy Spirit in complete fullness to indwell the believer for amazing power and work in the spreading of the Kingdom. Let’s take a careful look into the aspects of this commission so that we can obey the Lord’s directives and commands.

-As He concludes with the fact that all authority in earth and Heaven had now been given to Him as He had completed His task in saving the world from sin (Matthew 28:18), He tells us what and how to increase His Kingdom the proper way. He begins with the word therefore. This indicates that we are fighting for His purposes through the victory and authority He has already won. The word “go” is a participle and should have the connotation “while you are going.” *Application* This refers to the manner in which we should be operating our lives as believers. We should never put our Savior on the shelf and act like He doesn’t fit in with our lives in any way. We always represent the King in every place. There is to be no dichotomy between the secular and the sacred in our lives. We are to be totally His everywhere we go and in everything that we do. You are just as much a minister in the grocery store or at work as you are in the church building.

-The imperative command in this commission is “to make disciples of all nations.” Disciple making is the key ingredient to building His Kingdom on this earth. *Application* Discipleship is hard work and will take time. We must use the principle laid out by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2 to his young learner, Timothy. We must invest in people that will take the Word and train others for the perpetual increase of the knowledge of the LORD. Pour into people for the purpose of making them disciples of Christ Jesus and followers of the true Way. In time all the world will know of Him and then the end of the age will come (Matthew 24:14).

-The manner we are to make disciples is by baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is immersion. They must not only be baptized by water in obedience to His command, remembering though this is not a requirement for salvation (Luke 23:39-43), but also baptized into His Spirit as a believer sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We are also instructed to teach them to observe everything that the Lord commanded. This all revolves around loving the Lord with all the heart, mind, soul, strength (every ounce of everything), and loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. All else supernaturally flows out of these two commands.

-Christ Jesus finally taught us that He is always with us in this commissioned work in which He sends us. He will never leave us or forsake us in the mission (Hebrews 13:5). He is the paraclete, the “One who comes alongside” through His Spirit.

-*Application* Be renewed and energized by this ancient by very relevant commission today. While you are going along life’s way, make disciples everywhere you can by doing the works of Christ who is with you and gives you the strength to do His perfect will. You can make a difference for His Kingdom!


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 28:19-20

Friday, November 16, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

181. Appearances to the disciples- Matt. 28:16-20, Mark 16:12-18, Luke 24:13-50, John 20:19-29


-We see in the Scriptures a myriad of appearances by the risen Lord Jesus that are in the resurrected state. He has unique abilities and powers not normally associated with flesh as we see Him disappear from places and come into locked rooms with His coming. He is of flesh and bone by His testimony and He walks, eats, and talks just like He did before His death. At times He is unrecognizable, but suddenly He is recognized. *Application* What could this mean? It is interesting to contemplate the possibilities of the resurrected body, which Paul discusses more about in 1 Corinthians 15. This we know is an imperishable body that is put on the believer by God and will glorify Him without sin or corruption any more. We shall be like Christ in our resurrected bodies one day! Not that we are gods or anything like that, but we have the promise of resurrection (John 11:25-26, Romans 6:5, 1 Corinthians 15:40-50, Philippians 3:10-12).

-Jesus speaks peace over those He comes in contact with in these passages. He rebukes unbelief once again we can also see as we read these accounts. Thomas is a major doubter, and his story is told. But there are others that Matthew mentions that saw Him in Galilee, but were still having a hard time coming to grips with this risen Lord. *Application* It is always difficult to believe in the supernatural. We in our flesh have a tendency to attempt to debunk these realities and rationalize the given facts to the point of unbelief. This is always going to be a temptation in the modern-naturalistic age in which we live. Fight this temptation and trust God!

-The Lord also made it a point to instruct in His resurrected state. How awesome it must have been to be those men walking alongside Him to Emmaus or the disciples whom He taught all the Old Testament insights from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:27, 44-47). His primary teaching though looked forward. He commissioned them as He was about to leave earth and initiate this current church age, or dispensation. His principal imperative command was to make disciples in all the nations (people groups) by 1) baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), and 2) teaching them to observe everything He commanded (Matthew 28:20). His promise was His Holy Spirit that would be with us all always as believers until the end of the age. In Mark we see some additions in the power that the Lord says we will have over the enemy and nature itself (Mark 16:17-18). Miracles and signs will follow the true believers in this venture to acclimate the Kingdom in this earth to His Word and the Lord’s Way. *Application* The power that was endowed upon the original believers is still readily abundant to us today. It is sad that lack of belief throughout the church age has quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit from doing more at times. The Lord has promised us His Spirit and all that goes along with it if we will simply tap into His authority. Let nothing hold you back from accomplishing all that He has planned for you. It is more than you can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). You are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37); therefore, build His Kingdom as you go!


Verse to Memorize- John 20:29

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

180. Soldiers paid to lie about Jesus’ resurrection- Matt. 28:11-15


-We see in this intriguing account the cover up to the resurrection that was perpetrated by the religious elders and counselors when some of the guard came to them with the news of what had taken place. These guards were paid off with a sufficient sum of money to keep up the front of a lie in spreading false information that the disciples had come by night and stolen the body while they slept. The guards knew that if they had not taken the money and been found to have not done their job, they would have been in immense trouble quite possibly (Acts 16:27-30). This was a good deal for them to escape possible punishment and make themselves a profit at the same time. To them it must have seemed a win-win situation, but this heresy infected the Jewish people. Who knows how many were affected from hearing the truth of the gospel in a clear-unadulterated fashion even to this day. These guards were more than likely dazed and confused over the appearance of the angel at the tomb and never actually got to see the risen Savior as far as we know. The Scriptures state that they fell as dead men in total shock and fear (Matthew 28:4), so they could have easily convinced themselves that what they experienced was a hoax I suppose. Nevertheless, they had been privy to the most incredible miracle of all time, yet they denounced it for pay.

-Therefore, we see in this passage two parties that were in the wrong. The religious leaders who wanted to cover up the propagation of the revelation and resurrection of Christ were certainly at fault. But also, the guards were of ill character to choose financial gain over the truth in a matter. *Application* There are times in our lives when we also face decisions of this kind. What kind of character do you have? Would you be willing to lay down your job and family’s stability to do the right thing in your place of work? My perception today is that there are cowards everywhere who will not stand up for the things of God for the benefit of the almighty American dollar. Just this morning I heard a man cower under the threat of not being able to share his faith and defend Christianity because he was an employee of the state. It makes me sick to think of where our country is headed because we simply will not take a stand for what is true and right because we are afraid of losing a job and financial security with health benefits. Before you go and judge these guards for selling out, make sure you are not doing the exact same thing. Christ’s Kingdom wants sold-out soldiers willing to leave family and die for the cause, not weak money loving cop-outs who care too much for the pleasures of this world (Matthew 13:22; 19:29, Acts 21:13, 2 Timothy 2:3-4). This may seem radical, but it is certainly what Jesus taught and the early Christians lived out. What are we going to do with that? God wants you to live boldly and speak as you ought (Ephesians 6:20).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 28:15

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

179. Jesus’ resurrection- Matt. 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18


-There are different accounts of the events of the resurrection that are difficult, but not impossible, to coordinate. Matthew and Mark speak of only one angel, and it is sitting in different places. Luke and John tell of two angels that are standing in Luke and sitting in John at the place where Jesus’ Head and Feet were. It is apparent that Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, was, along with James and John’s mother Mary, there first to bring anointing spices for His body. They were wondering how they would get in to the tomb with the large stone in front of it, but they found it had been rolled away. An angel of the LORD came with a great earthquake and rolled the stone away, and the guards who were protecting the site, according to Matthew’s gospel, became incapacitated from fear and were in the state of comatose like dead men. Since they went out it stands to reason they never actually saw the risen Christ and could go along with the deception they were paid off to keep in confidence (Matthew 28:11-15).

-Luke and John focus on the disciples a little bit more with Peter and John running to the tomb finding it empty. This discrepancy of who got there first is best concluded by this. Peter and John both ran to the gravesite. John wins the race and looks in the opening, but it is Peter who first stoops into the tomb to see that no body was present, which John later observes. Luke does not include John in his account.

-This all happened in the early morning hours of the first day of the week after the Sabbath, which was Sunday. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene there in the garden according to John and Matthew’s gospels, but she is told not to cling to Him (a statement meant to say there is much to be done) as she and the other Mary worship at His feet (Matthew 28:9, John 20:11-18), but to go and tell of this resurrection and coming ascension to the Father to the disciples. This is what will initiate the Kingdom eventually in all its fullness with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. If Mary had kept clinging onto this earthly, incarnate One of the Godhead, the Kingdom would be stuck to a single location. But, and this was Jesus’ point, the message must now be spread all over not being contained in one spot.

-The recognition is slow and fear abounds, but the Savior’s appearances begin to erase the unbelief and skepticism as Jesus’ predictive words start to be remembered and joy abounds in this miracle of miracles. He is no longer in the tomb! He is raised and will go before them to Galilee as well as have other appearances in Jerusalem!

-*Application* The resurrection makes all the difference in the world to our faith. If we believe that God is raised from the grave we can be saved (Romans 10:9). Without the resurrection our faith is worthless (1 Corinthians 15). With the resurrection, however, we have eternal hope and joy forever no matter what the situation is here on this earth. We have multiple and detailed accounts of the events of Christ Jesus’ resurrection. Over 500 people witnessed the risen Savior before His ascension back to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:6) including the disciples that surrendered their lives and well-being for the King. They would have never sacrificed so much for a fraud. They had nothing to gain by a deception in this matter. What changed them was real and should strengthen our faith to live boldly for the risen Lord!


Verse to Memorize- Luke 24:7

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

178. Guards placed at the tomb- Matt. 27:62-66


-The religious leaders, the chief priests and Pharisees, went on the Sabbath to Pilate with concerns about the disciples stealing the body of Jesus due to His claims that He would rise in three days. From this statement we can see that the message Christ gave before His death on resurrection was clear, even to the pompous and arrogant leaders of the Jewish manmade traditional system of the time. Jesus had effectively and accurately perpetuated His true gospel so that there was no doubt as to what He had said and what He meant. Christ’s ultimate sign was obvious (Matthew 12:38-42, Luke 11:16-32, John 2:18-21) and these doubting men wanted to make every effort to avoid heresy and fraud by what they thought to be an impostor, which is understandable.

-Pilate gave them a group of guard soldiers, presumably the same military guard assigned to oversee the temple area security, to make the tomb as secure as possible. So they went and sealed the stone over the grave of the Lord and set guards over it (Matthew 27:66; 28:4). After the resurrection, these men were paid off to keep the raising of Jesus a secret, which was widely reported in the region (Matthew 28:11-15).

-*Application* The incident with the guards is yet another opportunity missed to receive the truth of the gospel for the religious leadership. It is kicking against the pricks and foolish to be faced with such an obvious truth, yet reject it. We should not have stubborn hearts in pride that are hard and inflexible. When God reveals Himself to you, don’t rationalize and talk yourself out of His miracles. It is easier to do than we think. Receive all His Spirit has for you and accept His Word spoken over you for fullness of joy. Don’t be like these religious leaders who never could understand the ways of the Lord and made excuses until it was too late.


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 27:66

Monday, November 12, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

177. Jesus’ burial- Matt. 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42


-The veracity of Jesus’ burial is important for us to consider, because if there is no physical death the resurrection could be considered a hoax. The details of the entombment of the Lord are chronicled by all four gospel writers as witnesses to the fact that Christ was officially declared dead and a genuine burial was indeed conducted. Here we summarize the specifics given as to where, when, and how Jesus was laid to rest in His deceased state.

-First, we see the intriguing figure of Joseph of Arimathea (a small Jewish village thought to be 20 miles or so northwest from Jerusalem). He was a rich man, who fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. He was described as a good and righteous member of the Sanhedrin council (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50). He was a secret disciple of Jesus who did not consent with the religious leaders decision and action with the Lord, and he was looking for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 27:57, Luke 23:51, John 19:38). He was rightfully sacred for fear of the Jews, but he took courage by the will of God and asked Pilate’s permission to bury Jesus in his newly hewn tomb in which no one had ever been laid (Mark 15:43, Luke 23:53). He and Nicodemus anointed the Lord for His burial and wrapped Him in a clean linen shroud and placed Him in the tomb quickly because it was the day of Preparation for the Sabbath. Nicodemus was also a ruler of the Jews in the Sanhedrin, and he was the one who came to Jesus seeking how to be saved in John 3 (John 19:39). Here we see evidence of his trusting in Jesus and the coming Kingdom that was not of this world.

-In addition, Pilate, we see from the Scriptures, is surprised that Jesus was already dead in a matter of hours. With all the events of the day, which he more than likely witnessed, including the time of darkness, the earthquake, and the torn veil, he was probably wondering how they could have so quickly carried out an execution. Mark is the gospel writer who gives us the perplexity of Pilate when asked for permission for the body of Jesus. This gospel writer states how Pilate even questioned the centurion as to the genuineness of Christ’s death, which is even more proof of the physical passing of Christ from this earth.

-Jesus was laid in the garden tomb, which was very close in proximity to the place where He was crucified again for the reason of expediency due to the coming Sabbath (John 19:42). The stone was rolled to cover the grave to complete the process. This whole sequence was orchestrated and carried out ultimately by the Hand of God in amazing fashion to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures prophetically. It is as if God had seen the whole drama play out beforehand (which He actually did). Here we see the transcendent nature of the LORD at this pivotal time in human history. God, who is outside of time, works in our earthly order to bring about His plans and purposes for salvation. The fulfillment of these prophecies to the exact degree gives us reliable reason to have faith and trust in His authority over all things. *Application* When we actually sit and contemplate how amazing all this is, we should be astonished and amazed with a heart of worship for this incomparable God of glory.

-The women, particularly Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of James and John), were watching to see where they laid the Savior. They along with other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee had been watching the whole scene at a distance and returned to prepare spices and ointments for His deceased body. They rested on the Sabbath and would return on the first day of the week to find the most incredible event of history! *Application* Consider the facts of Christ’s actual death today and believe in the supernatural. This was the power of God to save the world and we must believe in His work.



Verse to Memorize- Mark 15:46

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

176. Jesus’ side pierced- John 19:31-37


-John gives us further evidence, as if we needed it at this point, that this was indeed the Messiah who fulfilled all of the Old Testament predictions of the prophets. He records two events: 1) The breaking of the bones of the two criminals, but not Jesus’ (Psalm 34:20, Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12), and 2) The piercing of His side (Zechariah 12:10), in fulfillment of the ancient Scriptures that foretold of His passion and foreshadowed His coming with the Passover requirements.

-Ritual cleanness on this significant high day was the reason the Romans customarily broke the bones of the crucified, but when they got to Jesus, they observed that He was obviously already deceased and therefore did not need the breaking of the bones. This was done to expedite the death process by asphyxiation since they would no longer be able to push their bodies up to breathe, or take in air, with broken legs. It was a sick and demented torturing process that gratefully is no longer used for executions. The Jews had to get the bodies down and prepared for their burial before sundown on the Friday before Sabbath to keep the requirements of the Law.

-The spear that pierced Jesus’ side indicates that He fully died as a genuine human body. This spear would have been a wooden pole about 6 feet in length typically with an iron point, or spearhead. John again uses this phraseology of the water and the blood in 1 John 5:5-8 to depict the unity in the incarnation between the Spirit of Christ as God and His human make up as the Messiah who must be trusted in. There was great debate in the early church as to constitution of Christ Jesus as the God-man. Some were saying He was really just Spirit as Divine nature without having true physical qualities. This came from the Platonic philosophy that all matter was evil and the spirit world was the only higher good. John wrote in a time where these heresies would have already been circulated, and he was fighting for the truth about the human nature of the Christ. The blood and water would have been the natural bodily fluids that would have collected in the Savior’s abdomen area where He was pierced as he hung on the cross.

-*Application* John gives us more proof of the humanity of Christ as the living sacrifice for our sins. God made Himself flesh so that payment could be made for the wrongs we have done against our God (John 1:9-14). He has purchased us with His blood and given up His life that we can be set free from the curse of sin and live a life unified and reconciled to the Father forever (Acts 20:28, Romans 5:10, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 2 Corinthians 5:18, Colossians 1:22, Hebrews 9:22). While He was fully human, He was also fully Deity and proved His power and innocence by the resurrection in glorious victory. This gives us hope for our own resurrection and eternal glory with Him. Praise His Holy Name!


Verses to Memorize- John 19:36-37

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

174. Jesus dies- Matt. 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46-49, John 19:30


-The Scriptures describe Jesus’ final few moments in great detail before He gave up His Spirit and returned to the Father victorious without sin or blemish in His earthly mission to rescue and saved mankind. He received the sour wine (John 19:30), uttered a loud cry, claimed “It is finished,” said “Father into Your Hands I commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46),” bowed His head, and gave up His Spirit.

-The centurion who had been taking care of the crucifixion process, much like the penitent thief, turned in his demeanor and attitude based on Luke’s testimony (Luke 23:47). He praised God and claimed Jesus’ innocence, which was a drastic turn from the mockery he inflicted, or at least allowed under his command as a Roman authority. For this to have happened we must conclude that the supernatural events that were taking place (earthquake, darkness, Temple veil torn, graves opening, etc.) and Jesus’ calm and steadfast Spirit as a testimony must have won him over to see what he hadn’t seen before. He had an up close and personal vantage point of all these incredible events, and it changed him radically it appears by his confession that this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39).

-The crowds who had come together for this, as the Bible describes, spectacle returned home beating their breasts (Luke 23:48, cross reference Luke 18:13) as a demonstration of possible grief and repentance. As Jesus had stated, they knew not what they did, and it was now too late at least in their finite-natural minds (Luke 23:34). Perhaps this was a realization of the truth and deep Godly sorrow. Christ had come in peace and they violently put Him to a horrific death on the excruciating cross. He had gone innocently as the Lamb of God to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7) and now these people may have felt deep regret for their actions. His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching all these things (Luke 23:49).

-*Application* The death of our Lord and Savior should have the same impact on us as it did for those who stood by witnessing the scene in all its terror, sadness, and ultimate glory unto God. We in this thanksgiving season should reflect deeply on the cost of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the opportunity it gives us to have new life in Him abundant and free. By His wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24)! Glory unto our Great and Awesome King forever! I am reminded of the words of a song”

This is life.
It's mine to waste or use.
But it's time that I decided.
It's time for me to chose.
Cause who am I?
That You would die to prove.
That the worthless are all worth it.
The curse has been removed.
So this is life.
Although I'm passing through...
I wanna live as if I'm dying.
Dying to get close to You!”

Closer by Philmont


Verse to Memorize- John 19:30


175. Veil of Temple torn, earthquakes & graves opened- Matt. 27:51-54, Mark 15:38-39, Luke 23:45, 47


-At the moment of Christ’s departure, some supernatural events took place that the gospel writers included in their biographies. The earth shook violently (earthquakes are common in this region, but the timing of God was impeccable here as to only be of Him). The veil of Temple tore in two from top to bottom at this time, which was very thick. In fact it was too thick to even be separated by an earthquake or the falling of the lintel (for more precise commentary on the veil a great source is:,%20etc.htm). *Application* This event has incredible theological implications as the legalistic dispensation is concluded and the age of the indwelling Holy Spirit is in many ways initiated by the access to the Holy of Holies, which Jesus’ death provided. We cannot minimize the significance of this moment. Jesus had claimed that He would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it (John 2:19-22). This tearing of the veil from top to bottom was God’s opening up of Himself to every nation and tribe for the spreading of His glory. He would be concealed no longer. His death made a way for the simple plan of salvation to be disseminated across the globe. This was only the beginning. This visible manifestation to the religious leaders would have and should have been a real wakeup call that Jesus was who He claimed to be. The sad thing is even this could not awaken the faith of many of these hard hearted religious stalwarts of tradition.

-We also see the dead resurrected in part and coming into the Holy City being seen by many witnesses after the resurrection of Christ on the third day, Sunday (Matthew 27:53). This is a mystifying and perplexing event that only one biblical author describes in only two verses of Scripture. There is no other biblical or historical account of this event, and Matthew treats it topically out of the order of events here for a theological purpose of emphasizing the resurrection in the midst of the crucifixion. These individuals were no doubt Old Testament believers who had looked forward to the Messiah and His promise and were now resurrected along with the risen Savior (Matthew 27:52 uses the term “raised” to indicate a difference from resuscitations like with Lazarus in John 11:44). We may have some other Scriptural evidence and some shedding of light on this occurrence in Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37, and 1 Peter 3:18-21; 4:6. These resurrected bodies that appeared to many in Jerusalem from their tombs more than likely ascended to Heaven near the time of Christ’s ascension if not simultaneously. Of course this is conjecture because it is not clear in the biblical account. *Application* This resurrection account provides the biblical motif for our own resurrection in Christ, which is best delineated in 1 Corinthians 15. Christ Jesus is the first fruits of the eternal life we can all have in Him by placing our faith in His gracious work on the cross (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:20, James 1:18). This is what makes the gospel so impactful for us concerning the hope of glory. This theme is also foreshadowed in the Old Testament by Moses (Exodus 23:16-19; 34:22-26) and other prophets (Nehemiah 10:35, Ezekiel 44:30). (For more on this topic see:


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 27:54

Friday, November 9, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

172. Darkness falls over the land- Matt. 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44


-This darkness that enveloped the area for three hours from about 12:00pm to 3:00pm would be presumed to be a solar eclipse, but this is not possible since the Passover only occurred during a full moon and a solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon phase. Rather, this was a supernatural act of the Sovereign LORD having a physical manifestation (the sun’s light failed) with spiritual implications for us to consider. Darkness in Scripture represents lament (deep, agonizing sorrow, Amos 8:9-10) and Divine judgment (Exodus 10:21-23, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6, 13). It is often the sign of an eschatological (last things) event taking place (Isaiah 60:2, Joel 2:1-2, 31, Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:15). These spiritual implications are figurative representing the fact that Jesus was bearing God’s wrath for His people, and it was also expressive of the LORD’s displeasure for crucifying His One and Only Begotten Son when we think about it. *Application* While there was darkness in the death of the Christ, we see the end result as His children who have received His grace. This vibrant biblical theme comes alive in us as we realize that in Him we step into marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9, John 12:46, 1 John 1:5; 2:8). He overcomes the darkness of wrath and sin to give us victory and eternal life! Jesus has overcome the grave, which is awesome news for us. He gives us His Spirit to light and illuminate our way (Daniel 2:22, Matthew 5:16, John 1:9; 14:16-18; 16:13), and His Word as a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:44


173. Jesus cries out to the Father, given vinegar- Matt. 27:46-49, Mark 15:34-36, Luke 23:46, John 19:28-29


-Jesus now cries out to the Father because He has been forsaken. God could not look upon the sin, which Jesus was taking on in the spiritual realm, and this separation (which was momentary) frazzled (exhausted and in a very confused or irritable state) the Lord to the point of desperation. This was understandable under His mental and physical duress. We also must consider that this was a new, and undeserved, sensation as He had always been One with God the Father, and now was experiencing, in some way, disunion as a sacrifice for all of mankind. He was taking the penalty as the Just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).

-The observers were confused themselves over the words of Christ Jesus, which were probably moaned in His agony and pain. They thought that He may have been calling on Elijah and wanted to see if he would come in a supernatural event. Someone offered Him sour wine as He thirsted (John 19:28), and Jesus offered up His Spirit proclaiming that “Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46),” and “It is finished (John 19:30)!”

-*Application* It is finished! Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross covers our every sin when we accept His great salvation through repentance and faith. Jesus, through taking on the sinfulness of man, has given us all the unique opportunity to reconnect to the Father and His amazing grace, which gives us all of His benefits in earth and eternity! He has taken pity on us and considered our depraved state and actually done something in love to correct it. Praise the LORD for His compassion and receive His bountiful and abundant gift in this Thanksgiving season.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:46

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

171. The penitent thief on the cross- Luke 23:39-43


-“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise (A place of blessedness above the earth, the same word is used for the Garden of Eden in the Septuagint and indicates complete, intimate, and personal restoration and unification with the Father, Luke 23:43).” What better words could a dying man hear from the Savior of the world and the Sovereign Lord? The penitent thief began, as we see in another gospel account (Matthew 27:44), denouncing and ridiculing Jesus, but he was observant and began to spot the innocence of the Man and power of His message that he no doubt had heard before. He was aware of the Kingdom proclamation and the Lord’s eternal value as we can see in his comments (Luke 23:42). This was a confession of faith in Jesus, a fear of the Lord, and a turning away from his personal sins that he owned up to (Luke 23:40). This, as we conclude from this theologically important passage, is all that is required for a man to be saved eternally. Notice what is not required: water baptism, circumcision, obedience to all the Law, self-works, synagogue attendance, etc. What was required was a humble heart change. This was all it took to include this new born saint of the Spirit into God’s Heavenly Kingdom. So then, we can see from the passage even in Christ’s death there are two types of people: 1) those who reject His message with hard hearts, unbelief, selfish-ambition, mocking, and  ridicule, and 2) those who with deep contrition receive the gospel and trust in Him for forgiveness and remembrance before the Eternal Judge. *Application* What hope and encouragement this should give all of us who have believed in the One and Only Son of God for salvation! It is never too late while you have breath on this earth to inherit eternal life and be with the Savior forever! Give it all to Him and live! Keep sharing the message of the Kingdom to all those around you for you never know whom the Lord may be saving. In Jesus’ final moments before leaving earth in this incarnation, He was still seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10).


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:43

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

170. Jesus mocked on the cross- Matt. 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-39


-Jesus is derided and rudely mocked while on the wooden cross dying by passers by coming in and out of Jerusalem, the religious leaders led by the chief priests, and by Roman soldiers who participating in the ridicule of the Lord of lords. Amazingly, Christ took all the bad mouthing and making fun of without responding or getting angry with revenge. He focused on the mission to save the world in love and did not stray off His course set by the Father in Heaven.

-Some of the remarks reveal what these people thought of Him. They took Him to be a blasphemer who made bold claims about destroying and rebuilding the Temple physically. They misinterpreted the significance of the New Covenant and the Spirit filled age, which was about to be initiated for the spreading of the gospel unto the whole world for the salvation of many lives that were separated from the knowledge and love of the Lord. They scoffed at His claims that He could save, and wanted to see a sign of Him saving Himself as proof of His Divinity. This was a trap and temptation of Satan to get Christ off His mission of an atoning sacrifice, but it didn’t work. Jesus endured and overcame despite every effort to thwart Him. These mockers clearly heard His message that He claimed to be the Son of God, but they were unwilling to accept this message because it seemed so absurd to them. In their minds the Messiah could never humble Himself enough to take this abuse and suffering. They didn’t see Him as the suffering Servant, but the mighty King who would change their own nation for selfish motivations and with self-indulging signs and wonders. They totally missed the point of the Messiah’s incarnation. The blinders remained on and the ears were still deaf. For the Roman soldiers, their arrogance in imperialistic power kept them from realizing that God had visited them. They thought it to be foolishness that a King would be defeated by a humiliating death on a cross (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). Even the thieves on the cross hurled taunts at the Savior, though one would come around and fear the Lord receiving salvation in the end.

-*Application* Don’t take lightly the abuse of the Lord’s Name. This is the third commandment given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and it is sometimes an easy temptation to fall into. These people we have studied today had no clue what they were actually doing and saying about the King of the universe. We also will face temptations to go along with the crowd and deny the Name of the Lord and His power in our lives. This is dangerous and will lead us into unbelief if we are not careful. The world still thinks little of the Lord Jesus Christ and will try to pull you away from Him and His humble wisdom. Don’t succumb to peer pressure and deceit. Seek His truth and live.



Verse to Memorize- Matthew 27:40

Monday, November 5, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

169. Soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothes- Matt. 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24


-First, a word about the initial part of this verse concerning the crucifixion. Crucifixion was widely practiced by the Roman Empire during this era of human history, mostly for the purpose of exposing and ridiculing those who rebelled against their authority. There were stories of Roman soldiers’ exploits of cruelty in different postures and tactics for crucified victims (see Josephus, Jewish War 5.449-551). The use of nails and a crossbar appear to have been common. Modern medical explanations for cause of death by the cross conclude that asphyxiation or shock is the determining factor in killing a hanging victim in this manner. This was widely believed to be the most painful form of death execution style due to the excruciating pain and the public shame it caused. Hanging suspended by one’s arms eventually caused great difficulty in breathing, which could only be alleviated by pushing up with one’s feet to take the weight off of the arms. But that motion itself would cause severe pain in the nailed feet and hands, arms, legs, and back, causing the exhausted victim to slump down again and again unable to breathe in a slow and agonizing death. Eventually, the crucified would succumb to suffocation if the physical trauma hadn’t already killed them. *Application* Magnify the Name of Christ Jesus who suffered a tremendous amount of pain to purchase the believers’ salvation! By His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

-For what seems to be an unimportant side note to the biblical writers in the area of the soldiers obtaining Christ’s clothes, we should notice that every single gospel writer includes this part of the crucifixion. This casting of lots for Jesus’ clothes is a fulfillment of the great crucifixion prophecy of David in Psalms 22 around a thousand years before the time of Christ Jesus. This dividing up of the garments is prophesied in Psalms 22:18, and is one of the many exact fulfillments that Christ providentially achieved under the sovereignty of God’s plan. *Application* Things like this help our faith when we realize that such coordination is impossible without the mighty Hand of God in these Divine circumstances. God is at work to fulfill His overarching will and plan in this world. Praise the LORD who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

-Luke’s gospel reveals the enormity of the Lord’s love for us all as He hung on the cross. His overriding thought was our forgiveness, which we can see based on His words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” *Application* His love is sufficient to cover all our sins. Trust in the crucified Lord to receive His abundant and free gift of salvation and restoration. The compassion of Christ is never failing and always available even when we mistreat our Sovereign. Turn to Him and realize how great a love He has for you. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:34

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

168. Jesus hung on the cross- Matt. 27:31-38, Mark 15:20-28, Luke 23:26-34, John 19:16-22


-Jesus is led out to be crucified with a procession of followers mourning and lamenting His plight. Some were hurling insults and mockery at Him and were pleased to see the Son of Man dying in front of their very eyes. Simon of Cyrene is an interesting aside to the crucifixion drama as he is compelled to carry the cross of the Lord for what was probably a good distance more than likely because Jesus was too weak to go on with this load. Mark’s gospel even includes the names of Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). From this we may infer that at some point Simon became a believer and in some way gave testimony to the crucifixion accounts for its written account by the gospel writers. *Application* Simon of Cyrene was an illustration to us as believers of Christ’s command to pick up your cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). This is a load to bear, but it is worth it to know that we are in partnership with the Lord and doing His will His way. Die to yourself and follow the Master wherever He leads.

-Jesus was taken outside the city gates to a place called Golgotha, which means “Place of the Skull (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, John 19:17).” Some time later Jerome, translating the Scriptures into Latin, used the term which we now translate as Calvary for the Skull (Latin for skull is calvaria).

-Along this Via Dolorosa (the way of suffering, or grief) He told the women who followed and were lamenting and mourning not to do that over Him, but for themselves and their children. He foresaw terrible times coming upon His people prophetically, which is taken up in more detail other passages of Scripture (Zechariah 12:10-14, Matthew 24:15-22, Luke 23:28-31, Revelation 6:16-17). There are two sites held by tradition to be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. The traditional site is west of the Antonia Fortress, built by Herod to oversee the Temple Mount area. It is a steep journey up a mountain; an arduous task for a man who has been beaten and abused such as Christ was. This journey ends at what is now known as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The other site is known as the “Garden Tomb” and is north of the city outside the ancient gates. This place would have been a high traffic area, was in a garden area near the tomb, had a rock formation cut out of the side of the mountain that looked like a skull (this is from the building projects quarried by Herod’s administration). There are convincing proofs that this could very well be the location of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but the exact location is unknown and inconclusive.

-Christ’s inscription read that He was the King of the Jews from Nazareth, written by Pilate (John 19:19). The Jewish leaders were upset with this, but Pilate would not change his sign. This may have been a form of mockery, and it was certainly used as a deterrent to further insurrections by the populace as a sign of Roman domination and authority. The Lord, in His Providence, allowed this appropriate message to be displayed as He died for the sins of mankind upon the wooden cross.

-*Application* Again we are brought to the point of decision when we read accounts of the Lord’s suffering and pain on our behalf. If you never have, receive the Lord’s sacrificial death for the atonement of your personal sins and be set free from the guilt and penalty of separation from God. Trust in Him and His work on the cross for forgiveness.


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:34

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

166. Jesus’ trial before Roman Governor Pontius Pilate- Matt. 27:1-2, 11-26, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-7, 11-25, John 18:28-40; 19:1-16


-Of all the gospels, John is the one who gives us the most interaction between Jesus and Pontius Pilate during the period when He was delivered over to this governor and prefect over Judea in the time of Caesar Tiberius (a marker was found in 1961 in Caesarea Maritima indicating this historical fact). Pilate and Herod both were in Jerusalem at this pivotal moment for the Passover of the Jews. Pilate, we can observe, is respectful of the Jewish customs and traditions. By this demonstration and some of the words of the Gospel writers, we see in many respects his fear of the people and his desire to please them in order to keep a spirit of expedient tranquility. His desire was to release Jesus with some punishment, but he certainly did not want to condemn Him to death based on the charges that were levied and his conversations with the Lord. He was seeking truth, but he never could fully realize that Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, was standing right before him. What a sad description for this man of the world who found himself at the spiritual climax of history with a major decision. This trial had all the intrigue one could ever want with crucial choices and rushed deliberation that typified the chaos of the hour and the mob mentality of group think. In the midst of it all, we are to understand that Jesus had all authority of the situation, but yielded His authority to the Father’s will and went to His death sacrificially without a fight because His Kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36; 19:11). The cries for crucifixion in the end prevailed as Barabbas was released and Jesus was punished and scoffed at.

-*Application* God always gives us choice in the matter of spiritual things. Although He is still sovereign and His will prevails, we have a major part in the drama of this world. Make your decisions carefully realizing the eternal impact of them. Let God use you in your generation as He wills for His glory (Acts 13:36). Follow His Word and submit to His authority just as our Savior did.


Verses to Memorize- Matthew 27:25, John 18:36


167. Jesus beaten and mocked by soldiers- Matt. 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20, John 19:1-3


-Jesus was flogged in the back, beaten with a reed on His head, spit upon, crowned with thorns twisted together and crushed down on His head, and was arrayed in a purple robe to be mocked as a defeated king by the Roman soldiers. He suffered immense verbal and physical torture as He went to His sacrificial death for the sins of mankind. Satan filled these mockers and they acted out in brutality against the King of kings and Lord of lords. *Application* This scene makes most, if not all, of our persecution that we receive pale in comparison to the torment that Jesus endured on our behalf. We should notice His response to every insult and blow. He returned blessing and love for every evil thing done against Him (Luke 23:34). This is the Law of Christ that we love our enemies and bless those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, 35, Romans 12:14).


Verse to Memorize- Matthew 27:29