Building the Kingdom A Study of the Book of Acts

Jason Deuman Transit Ministries Creekside Church January 2007 - May 2007

Introduction

This document is a collection of a series of talks that I prepared for our 20’s ministry. These talks are in no way scholarly works, but I did put some research into them. Towards the end of the Document you will notice that we cover more material in less time, just because we were coming up on our summer break. The purpose for preparing these for download is so that anyone who wishes to might have an aid in studying this incredible book. I hope that you find it useful, and inspiring as this book truly is foundational to our faith and to our mission as Christ Followers.

transit Building the Kingdom -- The Book of Acts January 10, 2007 Preparing For the Revolution Acts. 1 Info about Acts Written by Luke Written to Theophilus, Who’s This? Benefactor? Friend? God Fearer who is investigating the Way of Jesus? Purpose of the Book? Convince Theophilus of the validity of Jesus and the Way To chronicle the History of the Church To show that the Gospel is for the whole world Date of Book? Probably between 63AD and 68AD -- No mention of Paul’s or Peter’s Death, no mention of Jewish Revolt around 70AD so Luke probably wrote to his present Day and sent this scroll of to Theophilus. Now The Gospel According to Luke, and The Acts of the Apostles are the two largest books in the New Testament. What would be amazing is if there was ever discovered one more book written by Luke, to see what happened over the next few years. That would be pretty stinking cool. Focus of the Book? Luke Jesus heading to Jerusalem Acts the Apostles going from Jerusalem to the Ends of the Known world. Driving Question? Well with that let’s start looking at the text. Read 1:1-11 Luke recaps what the first book was all about, and where they left off.

Jesus was raised Jesus dwelled with his disciples. Jesus tells his disciples to Wait in Jerusalem Key Question? Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom?

The disciples still didn’t get what the kingdom was going to be. They were expecting some kind of political/military upheaval and they would rule with Jesus in his new Empire. But that isn’t what Jesus had in mind. The Book of Acts is all about building the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, but it’s not a military thing at all. It’s a different kind of thing all together. And they would see this over time. But for right now he told them to wait in Jerusalem. Someday God will finally establish his Kingdom, but that’s up to him. It’s not our responsibility to worry about when, it’s our responsibility to just work on what he wants us to work on to be faithful. Acts 1:8 The Power from the Spirit to Be Witnesses. Witnesses is the same word that we get martyr from. FYI And Jesus Leaves and two angels come down and say, stop staring up into the heavens. Jesus is gone to the Father, Someday he’ll come back but don’t waste your time waiting for him. Get to work, get to what he told you. read 1:12-26 What’s interesting to me is how quickly Peter becomes the leader of the group. Why Replace Judas? Twelve Disciples Correlate with the Twelve Tribes of Israel Jesus chose Twelve Disciples so why not keep the pattern? Requirements Follow Jesus from baptism to Ascension This really narrows it down, and so it came down to two people, and both were qualified so what did they do?

they Prayed and rolled dice and whoever came out would fill the vacant spot. Matthias is the guy, and don’t get to into him because he basically disappears from the book. But all of this chapter was really about the disciples getting ready to Start the revolution. they had no idea what was coming, they didn’t know that in the next few Days their entire world would be radically transformed. They were waiting and praying 120 of them in the upper room. Waiting for the Promise from Jesus.

Building the Kingdom -- the Book of Acts January 24, 2007 Testify So today we are going to be looking at one of the most bizarre and amazing stories in the book of Acts. God shows up through the Holy Spirit and changes everything. Read 2:1-13 So the disciples are all together praying, and The Holy Spirit Shows up In: 1. The Sound of a Violent wind -- pneuma, ruach -- wind, spirit, breath 2. Tounges of fire. 3. Speaking in other Tounges. At the same time that this is happening Jews from around the world are gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. What is Pentecost: - Celebrating the giving of the Law - Celebrating the end of the Harvest So there are all these Jews from around the world who show up, and they see these things happen and instantly there are a few things that might be going through their head. The coming of the Spirit is reminiscent of Sinai -- Loud wind, Fire, God speaks audibly This Pentecost Celebration is a reversal of the Tower of Babel -- Genesis 11 Instead of confusing the languages and sending people out. Through this occurence Languages are unified in the Gospel, and people from all over the world are brought back in to God. This is a precursor of what is going to happen in the rest of the book. Here People are in Jerusalem, and as the book progresses, the gospel will be taken to the Known world. When God shows up it’s sometimes really hard to understand so people start mocking them, saying that they are drunk from Wine. But Peter Gets up and sets the Record straight.

Read 2:14-41 As we read this passage look for things that jump out or surprise you about what Peter says, maybe his tone, whatever. Read it. So what Jumps out? Lets Go through a few Points Peter takes the lead. Maybe he was the oldest, so it fell to him naturally, but maybe God had done a miracle in his life and now he is leading under God’s power and not his own. As I look at my leadership experience I can look back and see that God was in any good thing that happened. When I am trusting God most he shows up greatest. And this may be what is happening to Peter. Peter uses the Scriptures to verify Jesus. The Jews and God-fearers who gathered for the festival had probably heard of Jesus and all that he had done. The Disciples were not a secret. They had heard this Guy was crucified and now people are claiming that he was raised from the Dead. So Peter goes to the Scriptures to make sense of Jesus. Peter tells the crowd that they were responsible for Jesus’ Death. Jesus didn’t stay Dead and now he is at the right hand of God. Peter calls the Crowd to Repent. 3,000 on that day were baptized. And most of those probably went back to their homes and lived for Jesus. Pretty stinking cool. But many probably stayed in Jerusalem. Read 2:42-47 The First Church was a community of love.

Building the Kingdom -- The Book of Acts Chapters 3-4:31 -- Miracles and Consequences January 31, 2007 Read 3:1-10 Peter and John and the Crippled Man were all doing their routine Begging at the temple was a good idea because alms were a way to please God. Most would probably walk by throw the money in the cup, and keep going. But Peter and John stop and look at the man. The Man was given the more important thing - his Livelihood. God changed the routine. Read 11-26 God’s Power healed this man, through Jesus’ name. Interesting note -- A murderer was released and the life giver was killed. Peter points out the crowd’s Ignorance brought about God’s designs. Peter Calls the Crowd to Repent. Read 4:1-12 temple Guard -- Security. 2nd most powerful person in the Temple behind the high preist Sadducces did not believe Jesus and they didn’t believe in the Resurrection and to have these two teaching these people in the Temple was infuriating. The Sanhedrin was a ruling body or religious scholars and political minds who interceded between Rome and the Jews. The Power would shift between Sadducees and Pharisees. It was comprised of 71 Men, and they would govern the people, under Herod and Rome. So they arrest Peter and John but people were still coming to faith. Peter points out that they were arrested for a Good Deed that Jesus did through them.

The Sadducces and Religious experts rejected Jesus, but now he is the most important stone in the House of God. He is the one who will hold the whole kingdom plan together. Read 13-22 Peter and John were country bumpkins so the the Religious leaders must have been furious with them because Peter is using the Sacred Texts in a way that only the most Educated could. The Miracles Speak for themselves The Sanhedrin had not authority to punish or stop the apostles. How did Luke learn what was said in this meeting? perhaps one of the members of the Sanhedrin turned to Christ later on. Perhaps Paul as a Pharisee was sitting in the Room as a student. Read 23-31 Peter and John return to their fellow believers, and pray together. they Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty, they praise him for his miracles God Shakes the Building and the Church is filled with boldness.

Building the Kingdom -- The Book of Acts Acts 4:32-5:42 February 7th, 2007 Deception and Determination Read 4:32-37 The Church was Unified. The Church was filled with Generosity. Barnabas = Mr. Encouragement. Read 5:1-11 Ananias & Sapphira tried to look Good. But they were deceitful. They never had to give anything. Ananias died. Sapphira corroborated the deceit. This event provoked fear. Take God Seriously. Don’t lie about your spiritual piety. Be honest about who you are and what God is doing in you and through you. Read 5:12-16 After the Ananias & Sapphira event God performed many miracles through the disciples. Sometimes the seriousness of God can provoke faith. Read 5:17-26 The religious leaders were Jealous of the Apostles. The Apostles were Jailed and God’s Angel Freed them. They Continued to Preach Read 5:27-42 Peter declares Obedience to God is their Primary Purpose. Gamaliel Points out that Man’s efforts fade, but you can’t fight God.

Transit 02-28-07 Acts 6-8:3 Persecution Setting Up Teams vv 6.1-7 • The Church was not perfect. • They struggled with Discrimination. • The Apostles couldn’t do it all themselves. • Deacons were established to help serve the church. The church was more effective when more people were involved in ministry. The Start of the Persecution 6.8-15 • God used Stephen to do amazing things. • The Opposition could not refute him so they lied • The face of an Angel? • Was it Cute and nice? Was it Serious? Was it Peaceful? Stephen’s Speech 7.1-53 • Went through the Old Testament to reveal Jesus. • Pointed out the stubbornness of the people. • God does something, the people reject it. Death of Stephen 7.54-8:1 • He saw Jesus standing next to the Father. • He was dragged out of the city and stoned. • Saul was there acting as a witness. • The persecution starts.

Transit March 7, 2007 Building the Kingdom -- Acts 8 Philip the Traveling Evangelist read 8:2-8 On the day of Stephen’s Death the Church was Persecuted. One of the interesting things here is that The Apostles were not Scattered. Perhaps because the Sanhedrin had been embarrassed enough. Saul went house to house to find Christians. He was dogged about destroying the church. He took the men and the women and locked them up. It’s one thing to take the men because in this culture they really were the primary movers and shakers, but Saul wanted to wipe out the Church all together so he went after the women too. So the church is scattered, and the first person we follow is Philip and this isn’t Philip the Apostle, this is the Deacon that we were introduced to in Chapter 6. Everyone who was scattered went proclaiming the Gospel. The leaders in Jerusalem tried to shut up the church but everywhere they went the preached the gospel. The message that was inside of them was more powerful than the pressure that was on them. Philip’s ministry was accompanied with miracles. Miracles produced joy. Read 9-13 Samaria was captivated by Simon’s Sorcery. They thought that he had the power of God under his control. When Philip showed up real power caught their hearts. Even Simon repented. read 14-25 The Apostles came to verify the mission in Samaria. Simon tries to buy the ability to give the Spirit. Peter tells Simon to Go To Hell! read 26-40

Philip is is told to by an angel to go south, and along the way he came across a Eunuch from ethiopia, but today it’s the region know as the Sudan. The Eunuch was a man of great influence. He oversaw the treasury. he’s really the first government official to come to Christ, and he’s also the first convert that we know of to go to Africa. The Eunuch is reading from the Isaiah Scroll. Philip Exegetes Isaiah for the eunuch.

transit building the kingdom -- Acts 9 Conversion 3-14-07 Read 1-2 Paul Breathed Murder against the church This is a pretty interesting image. We talk about speaking life to people, and here Paul was literally breathing death to people. It was everything for him. Pretty intense image. Paul was sent to invade an independent state. Damascus was outside of the Sanhedrin’s sphere of influence. And so this could be seen as an act of war. So Saul left with the Sanhedrin’s authority, but he must have also been working under the authority of Rome who over saw the whole region Read 3-9 The Trip to Damascus would take 6 days. distance seemed like a big deal last week so I thought I would throw this in for you. Saul saw the resurrected Christ. the Bright light, the sheer majesty and power of the moment, kind of makes us forget that Jesus actually showed up. This is a literal appearance of Christ postAsencion which is pretty stinking cool. It doesn’t happen again until John receives the book of Revelation. Jesus spoke Hebrew to Saul - his companions heard the voice but didn’t understand. If Paul was traveling with Roman Escorts then it would make sense that they didn’t understand what Jesus said. Because the Romans didn’t have to learn Spanish. They could just Read 10-19 Ananias was understandably hesitant to go to Saul. Saul’s mission was going to cause him suffering.

read the rest of the book and you will see that Paul really was persecuted for the Gospel. He endured much for Jesus. Saul regained his sight both physical and spiritual. He saw the truth of Christ. Read 19b-25 Saul immediately began preaching and met resistance quickly. He goes right out and starts preaching the gospel. This is a dude who had great influence in Synagogues so he had an instant audience. Interim -- Galatians 1:11-24 read 26-31 Paul went to Jerusalem and found an ally in Barnabas. Son of Encouragement went right into encouraging Saul and being his advocate. Often encouragers see things that no one else sees in people. And these are the kind of people that work with students and breath life into them. They are the pastors who encourage and equip volunteers to lead because they see the spark of ministry in them. Paul seemed to take over the role of Stephen. It’s interesting to see that Paul was preaching with the same kind of passion as Stephen the guy who he approved killing, and Paul picked up that mantle and ran headlong into danger and preached the gospel to people who would otherwise be hesitant. read 32-43 Peter’s miraculous deeds echo Jesus. raising people from the dead, healing paralytics. Peter’s ministry is very similar to Jesus’ Ministry.

Building the Kingdom Acts 10-11 - Reaching the Unreachable March 21, 2007 Chapter 10 Read 1-8 Cornelius was a God-Fearing Gentile. He wasn’t a full convert to Judaism, but he had renounced the Pagan idol worship and followed the God is Israel. He was like the Ethiopian Eunuch who had read the Bible and had all kinds of questions. Sometimes people will seek us out for answers. God gives Cornelius a vision to go get Peter. Sometimes our friends will come to us with questions or want prayer or whatever, where do you think that urge came from? It may be a subtle little nudge from the father in your direction. Don’t waste those opportunities. do Read 9-23a Peter’s Vision meant that Jesus was making the Unclean Clean. Cornelius’ Messengers show up right after the vision. This shows a little bit of God’s providence that he sets things into motion that we don’t see. There are no such thing as coincidences. Peter goes to see and Unclean Person. Who in our world would we say is unclean. The truth is that the Gospel can be shared with anyone. But we tend to put our own rules and stipulations on the Gospel, and we say things like that person would never be a christian, or that guy would never want to hear about Jesus. They are too crazy and wild. But the mission of the Gospel, and building the Kingdom of God means that the Gospel needs to go to all the world. And we are the people who take it wherever it needs to go. Read 23b-33 Cornelius’ family was hungry for the truth. Who do we know who is seeking. You might be surprised by their response to the gospel. Cornelius is a military dude and so here he wants to know what God’s commands, his orders are. Read 34-48

During the Gospel message the Holy Spirit fills Cornelius’ family. Later,This is just like at Pentecost, so here we have a gentile pentecost. First we had the 120 on Pentecost, then we had the Samaritans and now the gentiles have received the Holy Spirit. I love the image of the Holy Spirit falling on them. The Kingdom of God will invade our lives in unexpected ways and here we have one of those experiences. This gives validity to the ministry to the Gentiles. Chapter 11 vv 1-14 Are basically peter explaining his actions to the leaders in Jerusalem. Read 15-18 Who do we think we are by not at least sharing the Gospel with lost people? We don’t know how they are going to respond. And too often I feel like Too often we say our friends’ no for them. We need to be mindful that God wants to use us to do amazing things and all we have to do sometimes is open our mouths and God does the rest. If we are going to build the Kingdom of God which is what we are called to do, then we need to open our mouth and let the spirit do the rest. Who knows what doors for the Gospel God is going to use you to open. Maybe there is a family that you work with that has been hurt by the Church, and God wants to use you to heal that wound. Maybe there are people at school or work who are running from God, but He wants to use you to open their hearts. Don’t just say no for them. The life of following Christ is one where we constantly should be saying, “Yes and Amen” Read 19-30 God is moving in Antioch and so the Jerusalem leaders send Barnabas. barnabas verifies and celebrates what God is doing in Antioch, which had a substantial jewish population, and was a major gateway city. It was the third largest city in the Roman empire. And tons and tons of people were coming to put their faith in Christ. Barnabas bring Saul to help lead the Antioch Church. The Church was growing and Barnabas needed an associate pastor. He needed help. there is only so much one person can do by themselves. So Barnabas hunts down Saul and brings him to help. And together they build the church even more and train up more and more people as disciples and for sure people left Antioch and went all over the known world, taking the gospel with them.

One of the really important things that I think the church needs to remember is that we don’t own people and God is moving people where they need to be and the hope is that where ever Christ followers go they should be lights to their community. This is the first place where the Followers of Jesus are called Christians. this may be a derogatory term, little Christs, or perhaps the Jewish disciples needed a name for the Gentile converts. But we all hold this term today as followers of Christ. And it is becoming more and more a derogatory term today, as Christians in the media are misrepresenting Jesus, it the everyday Christians who get the shaft. A lot of people have horrible ideas of what it means to be a Christian and they don’t even know any. Which is tragic. So What are we going to do to change those misperceptions? Well we need to get to know people who don’t have faith in Jesus and show them that we are more then just hateful homophobic money-grubbers with big hair and shiny suits. We need to redeem the image of Christ follower in the world and so we first need to be transformed by the Gospel, and live differently. The Antioch Church responds to the Crisis of the Jerusalem Church. Luke does this every once and a while where he shows some qualities of the early church that we should strive for. As a church we need to be a place where we support brothers and sisters in christ in our neighborhood but really around the world. We’ve been blessed with so much but we’ve been blessed to be a blessing.

Transit Acts 12 -- Escape March, 28, 2007 Last week -- We left the Church in Antioch Taking a collection for the Church in Jerusalem. So from the time the collection started until Saul and Barnabas arrived in Jerusalem, this chapter is a cut-scene to what’s going on in Jerusalem. Herod Agrippa started persecuting the church. This new fresh persecution could be because the Christians were allowing gentiles into the predominantly Jewish assembly. The Jews now hated the new church because it was proclaiming the name of Jesus who they killed but couldn’t keep dead, and now they were welcoming people from around the world, which the Jews were always supposed to do, blessed to be a blessing, but they refused. When you start doing God’s work people start opposing you. James, the Brother of John, is beheaded and it pleased the people. Based on historical records Herod Agrippa was a people pleaser. He loved being loved. And sadly there are still to many leaders who are addicted to approval and so they only want to do what’s popular. So Herod keeps going and he tries to plan these great execution events. And it just doesn’t work that well. Peter is arrested and held under extreme guard. He was chained to two sentries in his cell, and then there were two more outside. And these would change out 4 times a day, every six hours. Peter has already busted out of prison and now Herod isn’t going to take any chances so he is locked up, locked up. The Angel is like Jack Bauer. Angels are not to be messed with. They are extremely powerful. This angel shows up in the cell and smacks peter on the head. Looses the chains, somehow knocks out the guards, and opens the gates, it’s an amazing escape. And Peter doesn’t even know that it’s really happening. Peter basically realizes what’s going on when they are in the middle of the street the angel vanishes and Peter then runs to John Mark’s Mother’s house. The believers have been praying for Peter, and they were surprised that God Answered. Perhaps they were a little Jaded because they certainly prayed for James and for some reason God did not act on James’ behalf. Maybe they were doubting what

God was about in this time during their history. Maybe they were resigned to the fact that they were going to lose Peter sooner or later, and now if this is what God wills then this is what happens. So when Peter shows up, they don’t believe it, they think it’s his angel. Which was a common Jewish belief that every one had a guardian angel. And from time to time that Angel can take human form, even in the form of the one that they are guarding. So Peter who was discreetly knocking on the gate, now starts pounding and everyone runs. He shows up to let them know that he’s safe, but he has to go away. So that he is not in danger from Herod any more. In the meantime the Guards are interrogated and it must have been incredibly difficult to explain how four men lost one guy who was all chained up.

Herod tries to Steal God’s Glory. God gives him worms. Some accounts say that it took Herod 5 days to die. He probably had 10-16 inch roundworms that would basically eat your intestines, and make it impossible to be comfortable, and to go number 2. So this guy spent five days in complete agony. Why? People who try to take glory from God will be brought low. People who try to oppose God will themselves be opposed. God will not be stopped. He will not be mocked, and he doesn’t share his glory with people. God’s glory is his alone. And while we can’t understand all the time how and why God works, he does he is active and compassionate for his people. And he will bring justice. Maybe we will see it, maybe we won’t. But here Herod opposed the Kingdom that God was building through the Apostles, and now God has Stopped Herod.

Transit building the Kingdom - Acts 13 - Sent Out 4-4-07 vv. 1-3 Antioch is the first sending church. I think it’s important to note that it wasn’t the church’s idea to send out Saul and Barnabas. It was the Holy Spirit. That set them apart. Laying hands on someone was a sign of Identification and passing on Authority. When the leaders at Antioch laid hand on these two men they were passing on Identification and Authority. It was a very significant thing to do. Today when we lay hand on people it’s for the same reasons, but I would suggest that we do it more as a means of identification. When we pray for someone and lay hand on them we are saying, I am in this with you. You struggle, I struggle, you hurt, I hurt. We are both in this together and together, through faith it can be over come. So Antioch is sending these two men out at the first major stop isin Cyprus. So let’s keep reading. vv. 4-12 The Governor of Cyprus received spiritual council from a false prophet. Leaders need counsel and it’s not uncommon for a leader to have a spiritual counselor. And so he’s got this guy who is Jewish but he’s also a false prophet. These are the kind of people who always say what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear. leaders who surround themselves with these kinds of people are dangerous. Partly because these counselors can become the people with the real power and that seems to be the situation here in this passage. Elymas really has some sort of spiritual control over the Proconsul. Saul/Paul pulls no punches in confronting Elymas. This is the first intance where Saul is called Paul and it’s pretty much going to carry through the rest of the book. Paul Calls him the son of the Devil. Sometimes we need to tell the truth bluntly. And then Elymas is struck blind. Mist and darkness came over him. I wonder if this occurence was visible to everyone else? Just a thought. The sign led the proconsul to believe.

In the Bible signs and wonders, miracles, are always meant to point to God. Some people will believe and see the sign and then believe whole heartedly. Others will come from complete disbelief and then see the sign and believe whole heartedly. But we can never hope to just be signs and wonders. Because those don’t really last. There has to be some kind of knowledge and direction before and after the miracle. vv. 13-15 Paul’s reputation probably got him this speaking gig. If you heart that Saul of Tarsus was in your synagogue you would want to hear what he has to say. And really that was key for Saul/Paul to build the churches in each city. People wanted to hear for themselves what Paul was all about. And here the synagogue rulers invite him to come and speak encouragement. vv. 16-41 Paul’s first recorded testimony for Jesus.
Egypt Judges David John Jesus Exodus Self-rule God’s King Prophets Son of God Way out of slavery Each did what he saw fit - Priest Rule Promised Future King Culmination of OT Prophets Old Testament elements Fulfilled

Through Jesus we have a prophet, priest, king that is eternal and powerful and able to save us from ourselves. vv. 42-52 Many came to believe in Jesus which made the religious leaders Jealous “You did not think yourselves worthy . . .” I think this is an interesting statement from Paul because he is not saying that you are not welcome into the family of God. He’s placing the responsibility of following Jesus on the people. I think there is a general feel in much of the world when they reject the gospel they are themselves rejecting themselves from the gospel. That they don’t deserve it. The truth is no one deserves it, but it’s offered freely. If we are going to work with the Father to build the kingdom of God then we need to see that people are going to reject Jesus but it might be because they feel rejected. And we need to make every effort to welcome these people in. And that’s the pattern that Paul

is going to set, he’s always going to start by sharing the gospel with the jews before he goes to the gentiles. In this situation the Gentiles are made glad with the news that the Gospel is going to come to them.

Transit 4-11-07 Unstoppable Paul and Barnabas in Iconium. Their preaching was effective and led people to Christ. Man that’s the goal. To have effective preaching, that leads to transformation. It’s not enough just to sound smart but we really want to see lives changed for the Kingdom of God. And it’s not just preaching, day to day how are we leading people to Jesus? There are always people who want to poison the mind of new believers. When people first come to Christ, that is the most potential filled and the most spiritually dangerous time there is. There is always someone who wants pull them back, or confuse, or corrupt what they are hearing. An interesting study of the Billy Graham crusades found that for every person who accepted Christ at a crusade, it’s the ones that were plugged into discipleship quickly that stayed in church. It’s not enough just to win hearts and minds for Christ, but they have to be properly discipled as well. God’s grace was confirmed by signs and wonders. I think it’s interesting that the Grace of God was confirmed, not the power of God, but the grace of God. That he would intervene in the lives of sinful fallen people and do miracles on their behalf. Paul and Barnabas in Derbe and Lystra. The people assumed that the Miracle was the work of the Greek gods. A lot of people think they know what God is up to but they can get easily confused. I worry that Christians will watch Oprah and by into this whole “The Secret” thing, which is just new age mumbo jumbo. And I fear that things like that will lead people awa from following Jesus and trusting him. But that’s not the only thing that can do that. When God moves we need to give clarity as to what God had done. Without proper instruction people will come to the wrong conclusions about God’s Work. Paul uses Creation to point to God’s goodness.

The Greeks here didn’t have a point of Reference for Judaism so Paul used what they did know. Creation, and rain and harvest. All things that affected them, and he used that to show that God loved them and was good to them even though they weren’t serving him. And he went from there to explain how they needed the Grace of God through the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. This is another example of Paul speaking from the language of the people. Paul was stoned and left for dead. But he got up and went back. That’s why the dude is unstoppable. Most people if they survived that kind of attack would turn around and go home. But not Paul. He got up and went back. As if to say, you can’t stop me. The mission God put me on is stronger than your desire to kill me, and when he’s done with me I’ll go but until then I got work to do. The Return Trip Paul and Barnabas followed-up with the churches they had started. Don’t just leave people high and dry. Paul embraced suffering as part of his calling.

Transit 4-18-2007 Building the Kingdom - A Study of the Book of Acts Acts 15 - Religion or Repentance? So We just finished looking at Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary Journey, and on the course of this trip they actually saw many gentile converts. People who had not religious tradition in Judaism. And so that’s going to Cause a bit of a problem for some super traditional religious types. Reaching non-religious people upsets the status quo. The tendency in many churches is to do as much as possible to get comfortable, and build a routine, and you know what that’s not inherently bad, because we are human and we like patterns and regularity. And when things get out of whack that can upset us. So here we have all these Gentiles coming to the faith and this causes turmoil. Read 1-3 Some people want to push the rules instead of grace. Paul is a grace guy, if you’ve read the epistles then you know that grace is a huge deal for Paul because the truth is there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love, he goes back to it over and over again, saying that the only reason that he is anything in this world is because God showed grace. But there’s another camp of Grace by Rules, or morality, but that’s not going to be enough. Morality is never enough to actually save us from our sins. When in doubt seek counsel. The Church at Antioch decided to send Paul and Barnabas as an envoy down to jerusalem to see what the elders there would say about the issue. This is the first major church Council in the history of Christianity. It’s a pattern that has been held throughout history, any time an issue of heresy would arise the church leaders would gather to pray and listen to the Holy Spirt and debate the issue. You should never really do theology alone. We need to surround ourselves with folks who are wiser than us, and we need to be always going to God first with our questions. Go to God for wisdom. Surround Yourself with Wiser People.

Read 4-11 there are two camps in this issue Two Camps: Pharisees - Rule Keepers vs. Peter, Paul, Barnabas - Gentile Witnesses Peter’s testimony basically says that: God sees all humanity as equal. It’s people who build barriers. through the death of Christ, the grace of God is available to everyone. But we are the ones that put the rules on people so that they don’t feel welcome. Yeah there are certain things in our lives that should change when we start following christ, but we don’t have to change first. Put faith in Christ and the transformation will be part of the result. Peter makes an interesting point that, Not even the Jews could keep the whole law. Read 12-21 Paul and Barnabas start to testify about all the Miracles that God did among the gentiles as evidence that God wasn’t just working with one people group. he was active in the world and would continue to be active. And James, Jesus brother, who is leading the church in Jerusalem, gets up and says that We should not make faith in Jesus difficult. And he proposes that they write to the Gentile churches and clarify the whole issue. this is the fastest and greatest way to spread information. You have to get your ideas to spread. We have such great access to information that I think we have a tendency to take it for granted. But how quickly can we send out information about church or stories about what Jesus is doing in the life of our church or in our own lives? We can send information so quickly it’s almost scary. read 22-29

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” The Holy Spirit really should be involved in all the decions that we make. We can’t neglect the Spirit or we will just be acting in our own “Wisdom” Whatever wisdom we may or may not have is know where near the wisdom of the Spirit. We need to constantly be turning back to God and His plans for us, not our own plans. What to Abstain from: 1. Food Sacrificed to Idols 2. Blood - Meat of strangled animals 3. Sexual Immorality All of these things are forms of idolatry. Basically the council determined that The Gentile converts needed to worship God and not idols, and not themselves. They need to put God first. They need to trust in him, and so they should stop going to the temples where they could eat meat sacrificed to Idols, blood or strangled animals and sexual immorality. These were all elements in the worship of Idols. And so what is your Idol? The reason that this passage is so pivotal for us today is because we have to choose between God and our idols. And that could be pleasure, sex, gluttony, greed, whatever, we have a choice to make. And so we need to abstain from Idols and worship Jesus. It’s that simple. So when we come to a situation that leads us away from God, that’s idolatry. We don’t have to follow the Law to the letter, because Jesus fulfilled the law, and we don’t have to make sacrifices because Jesus was the final sacrifce. We need trust God that his grace is enough for us, and we need to remove the idols from our hearts. read 30-35 So they go back to Antioch and share the letter, and the people are encouraged. And this is the biggest understatement of all. These gentile dudes were more than just encouraged. read 36-41 Paul and Barnabas want to go back out, but they part ways over John Mark. But the work keeps going. Even though there is a disagreement, the gospel is still preached.

transit Building the Kingdom Acts 16-17 Prison and Mars Hill

Today we are going to look at two stories in these passages that are pretty important and incredible stories. The first one is in Philipi, which is where Lydia, a rather wealthy woman and a dyer of purple clothe which was the clothes royal people wore, accepted christ and she opened up her house for the first church. So let’s pick up in verse 16 Read 16-24 Demons will harass people who are doing God’s work. What she was saying was true, but it wasn’t helpful. She was trying to cause a scene This went on for a few days, until finally paul was annoyed. The name of Jesus is more powerful than any demon. Paul exorcises the demon and that upsets the girl’s masters because she was a major money maker. So they cause a ruckus, and Paul and Silas get stripped, beaten and thrown in Jail. All in all a bad day for them. They cast out a demon, pretty cool, incredible what God can do. and then they get thrown in jail. At this point many of us would begin to wonder why we got out of bed. Let’s keep reading. 25-34 Worship breaks chains both literally and figuratively. Paul and Silas in the middle of the night begin to worship God. That was their response to their current hardship. Their worship in the middle of the night freed them from prison. But their worship also was the catalyst for the jailer to come to Christ. I think worship is a vital ministry for the church because genuine worship leads people to repentance. Even unbelievers can feel the presence of God. It’s our job as Christians to be the guides that they can trust to lead them to the truth of Christ. And that’s exactly what happened here. Paul and Silas were worshiping God, God set them free, and they didn’t run away, but they showed the Prison Guard

the grace of God, and he and his whole family came to Christ. Pretty Incredible Event. read 35-40 The Next morning the Roman officials sent a messenger to free Paul and Silas because they were roman citizens, and they had the right to a trial, and they never got that so they were going to dismiss them quietly and hope that the whole ordeal would just go away. But Paul’s a genius and he refused to leave until basically the Mayor of Philippi came and escorted them out of Jail. It’s kind of like the Civil Right Movement, we are not moving until you acknowledge the errors that you’ve made. Which is so incredibly brilliant. Because at that moment Paul was in power over the Mayor, because he could have been ruined politically for arresting a roman citizen and not giving a trial. So Paul leveraged that to his favor. Pretty brilliant Maneuver. So Let me sum up what’s happening next They go to Thessalonica and they get the work started many important influential people put their faith in Christ but then some of the Jews got jealous and started a riot, basically to push Paul and Silas out of town. But they established a church, and Paul would later write this church some letters. So the go to Berea and they seem to be having a better time there, the people want to hear what Paul and Silas have to say, they want to learn, they want to reason this out, but the thessalonican haters come and try to put a stop to it. So Paul left to athens and waited for Silas and Timothy to join him later. Read 17:16-21 Paul was troubled by the Idolatry in Athens. Athens was a very spiritual city and Paul saw that, and used their spiritual curiuosity to start talking about Jesus. We live in one of the most spiritual but least cities in the country. We are very similar to Athens in that respect. And it’s not about being an opportunist and beating people over the head with the gospel but we do need to keep our ears and eyes open to address the idolatry that we see around us. Read 17:22-31 Paul tries to present the True God in their own understanding. What does Paul say about God in his presentation of the Gospel? • Made the whole world

• Lord of land and sky • does not live in temples • Gives live, breath, and everything • God made man • God determines where they live • God wants to be found • God is near • We are God’s children (he referenced their own poets) • God wants people to change their hearts • God determined long ago to send Jesus • God raised Jesus from the dead Something interesting here is that Paul never actually never mentions Jesus by name, he talks about God and then hints and Jesus. He uses terms that they understand to eventually lead them to Jesus. Some people respond by laughing others but others wanted to hear more. Paul’s brilliance was his ability to translate culture. This is something that we need to be working on constantly. We should be students of the Word of God, and then also students of the World of God. He created all that is around us and we need to see how culture, creation, and all can point people back to God.

transit Building the Kingdom -- Acts 18-19 Corinth & Ephesus This week we are going to look at Paul’s missionary work in two incredible cities, Corinth and Ephesus. These were both very important cities. Cornith was a port city with this incredible Canal that people would use to avoid going all the way around the peninsula. So people were always coming and going. So planting a church here was a huge momentum builder because it took the gospel from the City to the country to the ends of the earth. And then Ephesus was this Incredible city, where people worshipped artemis this false goddess, and it was another port city that was incredibly spiritual and incredibly important to the countryside it was in. It was another spreader city. So Paul rather than looking for small towns went to places that were the most influential. So let’s look at Acts 18 Read 1-11 Paul understood the power of team. Jesus has people in our cities that he still wants us to reach. Read 12-17 Jesus protects his people in unexpected ways. So Paul then moved on after a while and went traveled a bit and ended up in Ephesus. In the mean time Apollos shows up in the story, and Apollos was a great teacher, and he would later become one of the most influential people in Corinth. He would be one of the Pastors there, and Paul defends his ministry, in the Letter to the Corinthians, and shows that God uses different pastors in different ways. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it but God made it grow.” And that’s a really beautiful picture of the Kingdom that all of us are just doing what we are called to do and God brings about the fruit. We don’t have to worry about the increase, because God does that as we are faithful to his calling. So let’s take a look at Acts 19 -- Paul in Ephesus. Read 19:1-7 Baptism into the family of Jesus is vital. Jesus’ baptism is a baptism of salvation. It’s signifies our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s so important that we live in the resurrection of Christ, That we live in his life and his power. Baptism is something that I think

we forget and take for granted but it’s one of the two things that Jesus instituted for us to, the other is Communion. The Holy Spirit came and the spoke in tongues AND prophesied. Another echo of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is supposed to empower us to proclaim the good news of Jesus. And I think that pentecostals and our denomination in particular put a heavy emphasis on the experience of speaking in tongues, but not as much as on the proclamation that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Here both are true and present and so I think it’s important to keep that in mind. That if we are Christians, and in the Family of Christ the spirit is the Empowerer for ministry. And the Holy Spirit is what compels us to proclaim the Gospel. Read 8-16 Paul spoke in the Synagogue for three months. that’s a lot of Saturdays to preach the gospel. -- Each week he was allowed to preach the gospel in the synagogue which is a long time. Clearly the people in Ephesus wanted to understand what this Jesus thing was all about. Paul was God tool for the miraculous. It wasn’t Paul doing the miracles. It was God doing the Miracles through Paul. Paul was simply an instrument. And I think it’s important for Christians to remember that we are instruments in God’s hand. The sons of Sceva were trying to use Jesus vicariously through Paul. It’s telling that they say, Jesus whom Paul preaches. It indicates that they weren’t really possesing of faith of their own they were trying to go out in someone else’s fiath. And the Demon possessed dude promptly beats the tar out of them. Spiritual Posers will get found out. Read 17-22 Revealing Spiritual realities leads to repentance. These people were compelled to destroy the evil that they had allowed into their lives. Read 23-27 Godliness upsets the local economy. What would happen to the economy if people actually lived their whole life for Jesus? Porn would vanish, alcohol sales would drop because people would break addictions and drunkeness, casinos would dry out because people would stop worship the slotma-

chines, Football would be played on Fridays because no one would be going on sundays. It would be pretty inciredible and that would really upset the people that were making money of this trade. Now, what’s happening here is that Idol makers are losing business because the Church is being effective and people are not buying idols anymore. Where is Artemis now? their first concern was ultimately the money they were losing, and their secondary goal was the glory of aretmis. And this is also telling because where is Artemis now? Artemis is dead, her temple destroyed. She is not worshipped. the truth is that Jesus Christ has trumped and will trump every false religion that tries to set it’s self up against the Kingdom of God. Jesus wins, now and Forever.

Big Trouble in Little Jerusalem Acts 21-23 Chapter 20 is basically, wrapping up some things in Ephesus. there is one story that is particularly interesting and that’s his last night where he preaches the whole night and some dude named Eutychus falls asleep and falls out the window. Paul Leaves Ephesus bound for Jerusalem. Read 21:10-16 And one of the stops he makes is in Cesearea where he meet up with Philip and Also Agabus. Agabus prophesies that Paul will be carried away. If you remember Agabus was the prophet who in Acts 11:28 prophesied that there would be a famine in Jerusalem, and this led the disciples at Antioch to start a collection for the church in Jerusalem. So Agabus is a prophet with some authority. He isn’t just making stuff up as he goes along. He is led by the Lord, and he doesn’t always bring good news. In fact the people, upon hearing this prophecy immediately start begging Paul to not go to Jerusalem but to stay with them. And that’s an natural human response. But Paul would have none of it. He knew what he was called to do. he knew the mission that Jesus had set aside for him. And so he went forward boldly, and in faith and confidence in his calling Paul’s mission is what gave him courage. Paul’s initial call was that he would take the gospel to the Gentiles and that he would suffer much for the name of Jesus. And he embraces it, because he is coming from a place where he had done so much harm to the cause of Christ, and so this is a way to make the most of a bad situation. So he goes to Jerusalem Paul meets with the Elders and gives Report of what the Lord has accomplished. That’s basically what vv 17-25

Read 26-36

Paul wanted to go to the Temple to worship One of the interesting things about the First Disciples is that they didn’t want to remove themselves from Judaism. They didn’t want to be different, they wanted to hold on to their heritage, so they would go to the temple, they would Celebrate the festivals, and when they were on Jewish turf, they followed Jewish rules. The false accusation that he has brought gentiles into the Jewish Courts riles up the crowd. Paul wasn’t trying to defile the temple, he really didn’t break any laws. But the people who hated Paul found a way to bring him down. People who are on mission are always going to have critics. People who are following Jesus will always have people who will try to bring them off mission. Sum-up 37-22:20 Read 22:21-29 Paul’s mission to the gentiles fired up the riot again - Paul was taken away. This was really the final straw. People had enough problems with Jesus, they had enough problem with Paul, but they freaked out at the notion that God wanted Gentiles to be reached and loved and shown the way to God. This freaks people out when we start to reach people who people want to keep seperated from. But God’s mission is to all man kind. I read recently about a distinction that needs to be made. So often we say we are a “seeker-sensitive” church, or we are trying to reach seekers, or whatever. But the truth is the people we are trying to reach are not primary seekers. God is the Primary seekers, and we are the the sought ones. And so are the people in our neighborhoods, the people at work, at school, all of that. These are people who are being Sought. The only real seeker is God. He is the one seeking us out. The Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, there is only one person doing the seeking. And that’s how it is in our lives. God is reaching for us. God is seeking us. We are the sought ones and as he captures our hearts we need to join him in seeking. So Paul tells the truth, and he gets arrested, and he’s about to be beaten, and so he throws down his Citizenship Card and get’s out of a beating but then this move also convinces the guard to get the Sanhedrin together. So they can figure this mess out. Read 23:1-10 Paul knew the Sanhedrin was split theologically and used that to his advantage.

Paul understood the Jewish culture so well. He knew that he could divert this whole issue away from himself and get the people trying him to try each other. And this standstill would be what kept him safe. It bought him time. But Jesus shows up in a vision, and speaks to Paul telling him that he is going to speak to Rome about the gospel. Read 23:11-22 Jesus’ plans for Paul were big, but not easy. Jesus protects Paul from death. But the Jews still wanted him dead. And his family helped him out of that bind. So the long about route to safety. Paul gets protected by the soldiers and brought to Felix, the governor of that region, and he is put up in Herod’s Palace, where he would be safe. There’s a saying that says, “The Safest place to be is in the center of God’s Will.” And really that’s true, but it doesn’t work based on our definition of safe. It should be the securest place is the center of God’s will.

Acts -- Building the Kingdom of God Chapters 24-26 read 24:1-16 Paul’s adversaries bring false charges against him. As we saw last week Paul was going to the Temple to worship and the people who were against him made all kinds of false charges against him. so now he’s on trial. And so his critics accuse him, and then he gets the chance to speak and: Paul can speak with confidence because he speaks the truth. Paul never intended to offend. Paul wasn’t making waves just because he wanted to annoy people or be different because that what his niche market. Paul was committed to Following Jesus where ever Jesus led him, and so he has the dilemma that would should all ask ourselves. Would you rather offend God or Man. the trust offends because it comes at our most vulnerable parts. and Paul has committed to the truth of the Gospel and that is offending people. but to not live up to his calling will offend man. read 24:22-27 Felix was acquainted with the Way. The disciples were making an impact in their world. government leaders were aware of what they were doing and what they were about. The church had a growing reputation. And some places it was incredibly positive, and in others it was looked at as a pesky little group. But people were talking about the Way and Jesus was infiltrating the world. He visited Paul with Mixed Motives. Felix came asking questions but he really wanted Paul to offer him a bribe so that he would release him. I find this interesting because some people still come to church, for what they can get out of it. Or they support church leaders to get votes, Or they oppose the church so that they can make money, but people want to milk the church for their benefit and we need to be wise about these kinds of people. We need to love everyone but we don’t always have to trust everyone. But Paul was a man of convictions and he had nothing else to do so he would preach the gospel and answer questions to the governor and never gave a bribe.

Read 25:1-12 God protected Paul by keeping him in Prison. Paul’s enemies wanted him dead, and they were waiting for him for a vulnerable moment but God was watching out for him and protected him from getting killed by keeping him in prison. Jesus told Paul he would go to Rome so he appealed to Cesar. Paul’s strategy ensured that he would be able to present the gospel to the most influential man in the world. read 26:1-3 (Paul Gives his testimony 4-21) Read 26:22-32 The Disciples did their work in public. They had no secrets. The church followed Jesus method and took the Gospel to the public places. The church should always do everything in public. If you are ever in a secretive church get out because it might be a cult. Secrets are used to control people and the church should never be about secrets. One of the things I love about our church is that as soon as we know something we let our people know. We don’t lie, we tell the truth. We celebrate wins and work through the losses and the tough times. It’s really a great thing about our church. Paul chose his mission over his freedom. Paul often addressed his letters as basically saying, From Paul, slave of Jesus. and this was his heart throughout all of his ministry. the mission was more important than his comfort, than his freedom, than anything. My prayer is that I can have that same kind of commitment and passion, that I will soldier though the tough times so that I can finish the race and hear the Father say that I have done well, and been faithful.

So while it might be uncomfortable, it might be frustrating and you might wonder why, but if you know that you are on mission then you can have confidence in that calling.

Building the Kingdom Extreme Trust -- Acts 27&28 May 23, 2007

Read 27:1-12 Luke and Paul are sent to Rome. Their Journey was difficult. Perhaps the enemy was trying to stop them. Trying to discourage them. Whatever it is, The enemy is in opposition to the work of the Kingdom. As we have seen, Paul’s mission was to go to Rome and proclaim the gospel there and to Caesar the most powerful man in the world. So Paul was going to do whatever it took to get to the Kingdom. So they face all kinds of adversity particulary the sea. There was no wind, so the sails were empty so the boat just wouldn’t go. Opposition is a good sign of obedience. If you are trusting God and doing what he has called you to do, and you are seeing transformation in the lives of people, you can expect to see opposition. Just be ready for it. As a church we have all kinds of opposition that is frustrating and people get discouraged, and critics arise, and we just have to trust God and keep pursuing his mission and his direction. Paul recommended that they wait for better weather in harbor but the majority wanted to keep going. Read 27:13-26 The Crew pursued a good wind, that turned into a horrible storm. During the storm the crew began to panic and yet Paul remained calm. they are throwing all their cargo over board, doing everything they can to save the ship. Paul is a picture of Confidence in God’s Call. God was calling paul to Rome, and he would protect him and he protected the whole crew as well. But they had to crash the ship.

So the ship is destroyed and they crew grabs anything that floats and they all get washed ashore. Read 28:1-10 God does great works despite the hardships. Malta is this tiny little island. Our Church podcast has been downloaded from there which is pretty cool. Paul gets bitten by a snake that has like a 100% mortality rate and yet he lives, and this leads people to believe that he is God, but no, God protected him, and while there on the Island the people bring the sick to Paul and God heals them. Pretty incredible. The people loved Paul and blessed the rest of their trip and gave them all kinds of supplies. In Rome Read vv 11-31 In Rome Paul is received warmly. Paul lives on his own with a soldier to Guard him. Pretty incredible. Jesus is sending him to the capital of the known world, and he stays there for two years. He found some jewish men and met with them and preached the gospel to them.

Acts ends without ending. The work continues.