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These lessons will come to you as they are prepared, a month at a time,
toward the end of the prior month. God bless us as we study His Word
together. I am Gratefully yours,
7 Apr 2013 WONDER, WORSHIP,
WAIT, WITNESS LK 24:36-53
36) The scene is Jerusalem; the eleven apostles and the two Emmaus Road
disciples are gathered. The group is discussing the resurrection when the
risen Lord Himself appears among them with a greeting of "Peace."
37) While we would expect joy at His appearing, their reaction was fear,
emphasized by 2 different words. He was just suddenly there! Luke
explains their fear as based on their misconception that He was a spirit
- a phantom.
38), 39) These disciples experienced troubled hearts, just as they had at
Jesus words in John 13 that He was leaving. His sudden return was as
troubling as His announced departure. We, too, have known the troubled
heart, and Christ asks us as He did them, "Why?" Doubts and fears should
be expelled by the presence of Christ. And yet He works with their need.
They thought Him a spirit, so He demonstrates that He has a body. Do not
make too much of His not mentioning "blood." Only the skin could be seen,
anyway, and the skeletal structure is obvious! Resurrection is always
about a body! And Jesus made it clear to them that He had one. He is
40) His 1st proof of resurrection was that they recognized Him, but
thought Him a ghost. Now he shows them the marks in His hands a& feet.
Surely this evidence from the cross would identify Him to them further.
It is often said that these marks will be the only things in heaven that
were put there by sinful men. Eternal reminders of cross.
41), 42), 43) Here is a strange thing indeed - men whom Jesus told He
would rise, & to whom He now appears, still do not grasp with faith that
it is He Who stands before them. Gladness and wonder somehow mysteriously
crowd out faith. Jesus must prove the reality of the thing they see - He
asks if they have anything to eat. Perhaps if they see food disappear
into His mouth, they will know He is real. They had eaten with Him
before; maybe they would recognize the manner in which He partook. Peter
never forgot this incident, and used it as part of his message at the
house of Cornelius in Caesarea, when seeking to illustrate the bodily
resurrection of Jesus in his sermon to those Gentiles. The gathered
disciples gave Him some fish (and the old version adds honeycomb), and He
ate it in their presence, demonstrating His humanity. By the way, since
our glorified bodies will be like His, we have reason to believe that in
eternity we shall eat - a thing most blessed to many of us Christians!
44) Jesus knew He would not remain physically with His followers; it was
important for them to move away from relying on physical nearness to Him.
So, He directed their attention away from His body to the Word of God. He
reminded them that He had emphasized this before the cross - that God's
Word must be fulfilled in its entirety.
45) Faith in & understanding of God's Word are more important than
personal experience. We today can neither see nor touch Jesus physically,
but we can trust His Word. We, too, should wish for Him to open our
understanding, darkened by sin, so that we may grasp the truth of
Scripture. "Blessed is the person who understands Scripture."
46), 47) He now declares to them the essence of the message of Scripture.
The Messiah came to suffer - His death was no accident, it was in the
plan of God all along. His third-day resurrection proved that Jesus was
that Messiah! It also demonstrated that God accepted His cross-work for
sin. Dr. McGee had a message called, "It was Christmas When Jesus Rose!"
Next comes the preaching of the message of repentance and forgiveness -
it is to be found only in Jesus, and it is to be preached in His name.
Jerusalem would be the starting point, but the uttermost parts of the
earth were to hear as well. This takes us to our 3rd movement - "He
48) Though Christ has won the battle over sin and risen from the dead, it
is not time for the disciples to enter their glory with Him. They are
given a commission - "you have seen these things (one meaning of the word
‘witness’), now go and tell them" - the greater meaning of the word. How
excitement must have filled and thrilled them!
49) But they must not go out to this great task in their own strength
(nor must we!). In fact, their next assignment was to sit - yes, sit &
wait for Jesus to give them something they needed for their work. That
something - Someone - is the Holy Spirit & His power to make His Word
effective when we share it. Do not go out unclothed by the Spirit!
50) Jesus then took the disciples out of the city, crossed the Kidron
Valley onto the Mt of Olives, and there in the vicinity of Bethany, a
favorite place of His, ministered to them. Father's and leaders often
blessed their children and followers when they knew they were leaving
them at last. Jesus lifted His hands to pronounce such on them.
51) As He stood there blessing them on Olivet, at the Mt of Ascension, a
strange thing happened. He began to ascend from the earth toward heaven.
His form became faint, & His words grew fainter as He disappeared in
52), 53) At the entrance of Christ into this world, there was joy and
worship. Wonderfully, it was the same at His departure from this earthly
scene. He was alive - so rejoice! He is Messiah - so worship! He is God -
so obey! And they did just those things. In and around the temple, they
worshiped and waited for the promise of the Father made by the Son to
come upon them and to empower them for the great task of being
evangelists - tellers of the good news! Here Luke ends his gospel, and
here he will begin his chronicle called the Acts of the Apostles. And in
this climate of worship and obedience you and I should spend our lives,
telling the good news to souls who need Him!
14 Apr 2013 THE CHURCH IS BORN! Acts 2:1-16
ENTRANCE OF THE SPIRIT
1) The feast of Pentecost came 50 days after the Passover Sabbath. It was
also called the "Feast of Weeks." A large group of disciples obediently
waited together in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the coming of
the Holy Spirit (Lk 24:49). On this special day the deeper meaning of the
feast would be fulfilled - God’s Holy Spirit, Who was already here in the
sense of His omnipresence, would be coming into people’s hearts in new
2), 3), 4) Without a warning, their sense of hearing was stirred. From
above there flowed into & throughout the house where they sat the noise
of violent wind. The words for "wind" and "spirit" in Greek (and Hebrew)
are the same. Did Jesus foretell this sound when He "breathed" on them
and said, "Receive ye the Spirit?" The advent of the Spirit affected
their sight as well: what looked like cloven tongues of fire appeared to
sit on each person in the group. God's presence and blessing had once
come to Moses at a burning bush. Elijah experienced God’s presence and
blessing similarly at Mt Carmel and later in the fiery chariot. Now the
apostles and the church experience it in the upper room. Holy Spirit
filling (or control) first comes upon the church here at Jerusalem on the
day of Pentecost. This power infusion carried with it on that day the
sign of tongues - these were known human languages which were unknown to
the speakers. This first instance of speaking in tongues is followed in
Luke’s record a second time in chapter ten in Caesarea, as well as by a
third time in chapter 19 in Ephesus.
EXPERIENCE OF THE SPIRIT’S POWER
5), 6), 7), 8) Jews outside of Israel are called the "diaspora," those
dispersed among the nations. About 15 nations from 3 continents were
represented here, Jews in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. They saw
a strange thing at this feast - unlettered Galilean Jews speaking of
God’s mighty deeds in the languages of the countries in which these Jews
were sojourning! How could this be?! This brought bewilderment to those
who heard it. Several observations come to mind here. First, God’s power
enabling men to speak in a known language that was unknown to them is a
thing to be praised. Isa. 28:11 came to pass before their very ears and
eyes. Next, a new message has arrived from heaven. It is the word of the
Christ, the cross, the church. God not only confirms that this message as
authentic by the gift of tongues, He also has present men from all over
the Mediterranean world who can now take it back to Jews and Gentiles
alike in their chosen countries! The gospel had a Jewish inception, but
it was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles. God’s gift came packaged in
a Jewish Messiah, but it was too big to be confined to a single nation.
Note: "He might taste death for every man" "God is not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance." "Jesus said to
them, ‘I am the light of the world;’"
9), 10), 11) Again, the Jews of the first century were not all living in
Israel. For various, many unknown, reasons, there was a Jewish presence
in many different places. This had been the case long enough that some
present in Jerusalem for the feast had been born in other lands (see
verse 8). Please note again that this gift of tongues was not some
so-called "heavenly gibberish." It was intelligible speech in known
languages, but languages unknown to the speakers. There was also a
message in the speech: "declaring the wonders of God." God Who confused
tongues at Babel enabled men to transcend the language barriers &
understand them at Pentecost.
12), 13) The confusion at Pentecost was not in the tongues, but rather in
trying to figure out how men could speak in languages they did not know!
No doubt all were puzzled, but rather than give any divine credence to
these religious "outlaws," some mocked and charged that liquor was the
culprit, that these men were drunk. Does this remind you of Eli’s
accusation against Hannah when she prayed for God to allow her to give
birth to a son? When men do not understand the obvious work of God, they
will go to great lengths to explain it away. We all know that a life
transformed by the grace of God is a work that men cannot deny - a strong
witness to the truth.
EXPLANATION OF THE EVENTS BY PETER
14), 15) Fifty-three days earlier, Peter had sworn not to know Jesus
before a handful of people by an evening fire. Now, before a multitude of
many thousands, he boldly offers an explanation of the events just
occurring. He urges the Jews at Jerusalem (in a raised voice) to listen
to the most important words any person on earth had ever before heard.
Does he hint at God’s plan of "Jew first and also to the Gentile" by his
address to "Jews and all residing at Jerusalem?" His passion is evident
in the imperative verbs he uses: "Open your ears, and open your minds to
me!" He is emboldened and empowered by the Spirit. He scoffs at the idea
that these men are drunk.
16) In sending the message of Christ to the Jews 1st, God made great use
of the Hebrew Scriptures in the proclaiming of the message. The Gospels
and the book of Acts are filled with quotations from the law and the
prophets. This was no contradiction of the writings these people held so
dear! These events, and the preaching of this Christ were the fulfillment
of all they had anticipated for so long! Their dreams had come true;
their hopes had become reality; their faith had now turned into sight!
Joel predicted even the miraculous validation of Pentecost; would they
not see, hear, and believe? And will you, dear friend, see, hear, and
believe in Christ?! Please do!
21 Apr 2013 READINESS FOR CHRIST’S RETURN 1 Th 4:13-18, 5:1-11
LOOKING FOR CHRIST
REST FOR THE SAINTS
4:13) It is clear that Paul had word of the death of some Thessalonian
believers, and of the resultant concern among the others as to their
disposition should Jesus come - a hope they no doubt held to. He write to
inform them, in order that their grief should be tempered and not be like
the grief of those who are hopeless without Christ.
14) Paul included his readers in his editorial "we." They had all
received the gospel with faith; they did indeed believe that Jesus died
and was raised from the dead. A natural consequence of that was to also
believe that when He returned, He would bring with Him the ones who sleep
in Jesus - here "sleep" is a euphemism for death.
RETURN OF THE SAVIOR
15) We do not know when or how Jesus revealed this to Paul, only that He
did. Believers yet alive when Jesus comes will not precede those who have
died. It appears here that Paul felt he would be alive when Jesus
16) The order of those future events is revealed here. First, Jesus will
come down from heaven - an event which will be accompanied by three
audible signs (a loudly shouted command, Michael the archangel’s voice,
and a trumpet call from God). Second, the souls of dead believers will
re-enter their bodies, and they shall rise!
REUNION OF THE SAINTS
17) Again the evidence that Paul still thought he would be alive when
Jesus came - "We." Next is a catching away by Christ of all church-age
believers - the living (now glorified according to 1 Cor. 15:51,52) & the
dead, having been raised into glorified bodies also. These clouds of
believers will never again be separated from Christ.
REMOVAL OF SORROW
18) No one but God knows how many believers have found comfort for their
aching hearts from these words when a loved one in Christ has passed
away. I know that I have been so comforted here more than a few times. To
know that such a death is a temporary parting and not a final good-bye,
is a blessing beyond price or words.
LIVING FOR CHRIST
THE DAY OF THE LORD
5:1), 2) Perhaps then, as now, there was an interest in "when are things
going to happen? When will Jesus come? The expression, "day of the Lord,"
speaks of actions by God that bring judgment on unbelievers & blessing on
the saints. In this mention, it speaks of the end-time events that will
do both of these things. The rapture, the tribulation, and the earthly
kingdom of Christ, followed by the great white throne judgement are the
major events yet to come. Each of these can be seen as blessing for
believers and judgment on unbelievers.
3) At this writing, my daughter-in-law has been at the hospital with
labor pains. They came suddenly and unexpectedly. So will God’s
judgements suddenly overtake those who ignore His commands and warnings.
They will feel they are at peace and in safety, but O, how they will be
surprised! Dear friend, turn now to Christ while there is time!
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN SAINTS AND SINNERS
4) While the unprepared will be caught unawares, believers in Christ and
students of God’s Word have all the data we need to be prepared for
Christ’s coming, which will initiate the day of the Lord. We should not
5) Often in Scripture darkness and night are associated with sin and
rebellion. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
were evil." "This is your hour, the power of darkness." But not so with
God’s children! He has brought us out of the darkness and into the light!
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path."
6), 7) It is always true that our position should be matched by our
practice. We should behave in keeping with what we believe. Our creed
should be clearly reflected in our conduct. Alright then, we are children
of the day and of the light; we are to be manifestly different from those
who belong to the night and the darkness. People should look at us and
see a striking difference! We are supposed to be a peculiar people, a
people who evidently belong to God! He speaks specifically here of
believers being alert and self-controlled. Worldlings are seen as drunk
in the night. They have no idea what is about to happen, and they are
under the dominion of Satan.
8) Clouded by darkness, the lost are drunken. Living in the day, let us
be sober. He now uses a favorite metaphor of the Christian life - that of
being a soldier. Here the soldier finds protection in the three great
Christian virtues. Faith & love make up the breastplate, protecting the
heart; salvation’s hope is our helmet, keeping the head.
THE DELIVERANCE OF THE SAINTS BY THE SAVIOR
9) We are standing on the threshold of an event (the rapture) that will
mean sudden translation for some and sudden terror for others. The coming
tribulation is described in Revelation as the"wrath of God." Paul makes
it clear here that we are not destined by God to be participants in that,
but to obtain deliverance through Christ.
10) Again arises the subject of believers awake and asleep, living and
having died. "It makes no difference," says Paul, "In either case we are
going to live with him." His death conquered death for us. It is no
longer an enemy, but now is a friend to usher us into the presence of
Christ. Here, I am with Him; there, I am with Him even more!
11) So, having all this wonderful information has some practical
application. Paul gives a pair of commands: "Keep encouraging each other
and building each other up." Let’s use these great truths to do just
that, even today!
28 Apr 2013 CHRIST WINS OVER ANTICHRIST 2 Thess 2:1-4, 8-17
RESISTING FALSE TEACHING
1), 2) Paul often writes epistles to answer questions or address issues
for the churches. Someone had taught the Thessalonians that the Lord had
already come. Furthermore, they represented this teaching as having come
from Paul! "Do not become unsettled or alarmed! It is not true!" Jesus
used similar language on the Mt of Olives.
3) "Do not let anyone deceive you again, not once! There are things that
must happen before Christ’s glorious return. A distinguishable apostasy
of the professing church must come about, and the revelation of
Antichrist must also happen. The latter is clearly a tribulational event,
and there will be an apostate church then, as well.
4) This greatest arch-fiend of human history will desecrate the temple by
his presence there, claiming that he is very God! And the human race that
rejected and rejects the true God in human flesh, Jesus, will embrace
REVEALING OF THE FALSE CHRIST
8) The revelation of the "lawless one," Antichrist, the Beast, man of
lawlessness, the idol shepherd, awaits the removal of the Spirit’s
restraining power. The word "revealed" is often used of Christ’s
"unveiling." It gives us our word "Apocalypse." Antichrist has his
unveiling, too. But he ends in destruction - and that at the hands of
Jesus (or should I say "His breath") when He comes, which Paul describes
with 2 words, appearance & presence.
9), 10) Paul uses one of those two words here for Antichrist’s presence.
He is a copy, a counterfeit of things that are Christ’s. God
authenticated Christ as Messiah by "miracles, wonders, & signs" (Acts
2:22). The lawless one is energized by Satan to do the same things,
making himself out as a messiah, but clearly a counterfeit one, even as
his "credentials" are counterfeit (the word Paul uses here gives us our
word "pseudo"). See Dan 8:25 & Rev 13:13,14 for similar statements about
miracles and deception connected to the Antichrist and his false prophet.
How sad that the deception of the ones "perishing," headed to a
Christless eternity, contributed to that path. So the question comes,
"Why do men perish?" Paul here says it is because they "did not receive
the love of the truth so as to be saved." This agrees with Christ’s words
in John 3, when He said of him who does not believe that he "stands
condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one
and only Son."
11), 12) Here are thoughts that have generated much debate. John
MacArthur states here that "Those who continually choose falsehood will
be inextricably caught by it." Paul wrote (Rom 1) that when men chose not
to acknowledge God, "He gave them over to a depraved mind..." If men
choose to follow a lie, God will not force Himself upon them. He will
even help them along their chosen path. Thus, He sends a powerful
delusion that helps man believe the lie he has chosen over God’s truth.
The false prophet of Rev 13 could not succeed in deceiving men if God did
not allow it. Man’s wrong is a two-edged sword. It consists of "not
believing the truth" and "delighting in wickedness." God always does
right & is perfectly just to allow men to suffer the end of the path they
choose. Their condemnation is their responsibility. God sent His Son to
save them, and they chose sin over salvation. None who make such choices
will escape condemnation. On the contrary, they "all will be condemned."
RESTING IN FIRM STANDING
13) Peter said that his brother Paul wrote some things "hard to
understand." Was any harder than this? Permanently loved by God, these
saints were the objects of God’s election and the subjects of faith in
Christ. Some will argue that they believed because they were chosen;
others, that they were chosen because they believed. I do not know how
God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility work together, but I know both
14) It was through the good news about Jesus that God called them to this
faith, this salvation, this sanctification. God has told us that when
Jesus comes, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). He is glorified, and so
shall we be. But there is a present glory that we share, as well. To know
Him is a life of glory - enjoying the good things that are provided for
each believer. These things outweigh any minor trouble we may experience
in this present age.
15) Paul had taught these Christians for about three weeks while he was
there. Now he has written two letters to them with instructions
concerning faith and practice. Knowing that the enemy would tempt them to
abandon the faith, to waver, he commands them to stand firm in their
faith, and to hold tightly to all that he has taught them.
16),17) This is a rare occasion when Jesus is mentioned before God, but
goes to point up their equality. They both loved us, a sacrificial laying
down of something valuable for the benefit of the one loved. Jesus laid
down His life; the Father laid down His beloved Son. How great was and is
their love for us! (The Spirit shares in this love, also, Rom 15:30). By
Their grace They imparted to us a consolation that reaches into eternity,
and a hope that goes right along with it. It seems that the believers in
Thessalonica were discouraged and wavering. It was Paul’s desire and
prayer that God would encourage their hearts and strengthen them. The
result of this would be that their words and deeds would have a beautiful
quality about them. It would do us good to examine our words and deeds of
the last days; have they had the quality of beauty? Or have we acted in a
way displeasing to our God?