Commencing, Continuing and Concluding – Acts 1:1-2

We begin, this evening, a new study of an old book. It is not that you haven’t studied the Book of Acts before, But I hope that this one will be just a little bit different. It is my intention to make this a series of informal “sermons,” including some questions and answers. Hopefully we will spend enough time so that you understand the meaning of the verse and its words, But I would like to reach beyond the text to consider the theological implications as it relates to the rest of the New Testament and the Bible. At the same time I don’t want this to become too heavy or complex. In other words, like this to be as delectable to our palates as it is to our minds. This evening our first set of keywords are: “Commencing, continuing,” and “concluding.” And then we’ll compare “commanding” and “conveying.” But first we have that enigmatic man “Theophilus.” How many times is Theophilus mentioned in the Bible? Twice.. I’m not sure if Molly Little has named a sheep after him yet, or not. Both Bible references are in Luke’s introductions – first in his gospel and then here in Acts. And the name means “Lover of God.” For this reason there are some people who think that Luke was playing games with us. They say that he was writing to anyone, and everyone, who loved the Lord. And while this is probably true I agree with the many commentators to who say this was a real person. In Luke 1:3 Luke calls him “most excellent Theophilus.” This was just the...

The Chosen Few – Acts 1:1-2

What do we believe was the membership of the First Baptist Church by beginning Acts 1? (120) Approximately how many disciples saw the risen Lord just a few days prior to close of this chapter? (500) How many Apostles were there before the addition of the Apostle to the Gentiles? ( 12) Do you suppose that there were any of the 500 who had been jealous of the apostles during the days of Jesus’ ministry? In addition to simply being along side the Lord Jesus very often, hearing Him and witnessing His miracles, Those apostles had been granted power work miracles themselves. It doesn’t appear that the rest of the disciples had this great gift. And the apostles had seen many come to Christ through their ministries; what a blessing. So did any of the other disciples, ever get jealous of the inner-circle twelve? We can’t know for sure. Do you suppose that there were any of the 120 who later were jealous of the apostles in the Book Acts? In chapter 8, one of the new disciples, a man named Simon, Saw how the Holy Spirit worked through the Apostles, and he was clearly covetous. If there were any who were jealous, did they have any justifiable grounds for their jealousy? Turning that around, do you suppose that any of the apostles ever had regrets that they were apostles? Did any of the Lord’s prophets want to quit and leave the ministry? Could any of the apostles ever gotten depressed and wished they were merely church members? Ministerial depression is a very common problem. As I have said,...

Many Infallible Proofs – Acts 1:3

Just as it was with our study of Joshua, you are going to hear messages from the Book of Acts morning, noon and night. I mean: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to preach nothing but Acts, But you may have a message from Acts at any time. My primary task as your pastor is to teach you the Word of God, And to exhort you to carry what you know into the world As witnesses and ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that I must use every variety of teaching technique at my disposal. There may be a time and place for hopping through the Bible, There are occasions when a topical study of a theme or idea is beneficial. But it is far more to your benefit to travel through various books in the manner in which the Holy Spirit first gave them – verse by verse. This is the third message in our “Theological Look at the Book of Acts.” And I’ve chosen to use tonight for this message because we have in verse 3 an Apologetics lesson. Apologetics is not the art of making graceful apologies for blunders and embarrassments. I have nothing to be embarrassed at In Acts 1:3, And you have no reason to be embarrassed by your faith in Christ Jesus. No apologies, in that sense, are necessary. Apologetics is the branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrine. We note that Acts 1:3 says that the Lord Jesus showed himself alive after his suffering through...

The Theology of Waiting – Acts 1:4-5

Pretty soon, I’m going to stop referring to this as a “theological study” of the Book of Acts, but not quite yet, Because this “theological study” is not coming from a “theological book.” This is the fifth and last of the history books of the New Testament. Generally speaking, if you want an open study of theology then turn to Romans or Galatians. But obviously, mixed into this history there is both theology and practical instruction. And we probably can’t find a clearer illustration of this than the subject before us tonight. I’ve entitled this message, “The Theology of Waiting.” The resurrected Lord Jesus “being assembled together with them (the apostles), commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father.” We’ll get to that promise in just a minute, but we won’t deal with it much tonight. Suffice it to say, at this point, that this promise of the Father has been fulfilled. But the principle of waiting on the Father’s promises is just as important today as it was 2,000 years ago. What can we learn about waiting? I have three points for you tonight: Wait WHAT; wait WHY and wait WAY. First, wait – WHAT. Jesus commanded – in this case He didn’t exhort, encourage, recommend or suggest – The Lord Jesus commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit hasn’t seen fit to given us a detailed chronology of events since the crucifixion. In fact, I have to admit that I get confused looking at all the bits and pieces of...

Pertaining to the Kingdom of God – Acts 1:1-3

There is nothing as exciting as finding something of value among things that you already own – Something of value, but you didn’t realize that you possessed it. As most of you know I am a stamp collector – a philatelist. As most of you don’t realize, philately is a fascinating hobby for a great many reasons. Each stamp can be considered a work of fine art – so I am an art collector. A great many stamps have some sort of relationship to history – so I’m a history buff. And then there is the fact that each stamp is an investment, although most stamps aren’t worth more than a few pennies. One of the most exciting aspects of my hobby is to discover that within my collection I have a minor treasure which I didn’t know about. Perhaps I bought a handful of stamps for a couple of dollars and found that one of them was worth $10.00. Or maybe as I was looking at them one evening I learned that what I thought was a common stamp, was actually a special variety worth ten times the catalogue price. Within the last year or so, I discovered something in the pages of God’s Word that I hadn’t really considered very valuable up to that point. I knew that it was a common subject of the Lord Jesus, and that was just my problem, I considered it a common subject. But then through a book that was given to me, I was awakened to value of this particular subject. And now I see this little treasure everywhere –...

The Promise of the Father – Acts 1:4-5

The apostles, to whom the Lord Jesus was speaking in these verses, were our spiritual fathers. They were members of the first church, And through them the gospel was brought a generation closer to us. They were commanded by the Lord to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. The Lord explained that that promise was of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. So here we have the first church – the grandmother of our church. We have the Apostles, our spiritual forebears. We have the command that they were to be witnesses, just as we have the command to be witnesses. And we have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So what if some dear saint of God asked you: “Have you been baptized by the Spirit?” – what would you say? Would you answer: “Yes, the day I was saved I was baptized into the body of Christ by Spirit of the Lord”? Would you say, “Yes, years ago I attended a little country church and was baptized by the Spirit, and I spoke in tongues”? Would you say, “Yes, I am currently filled with the Spirit”? Or would you say, “No, I’ve never been baptized by the Spirit, nor do I want to be or ever expect to be”? What would you say? This promise of the Father, as I’ve all ready told you, is explained by Peter as the prophesy of Joel. Last Wednesday we read from Joel 2. But this promise of the Spirit has been reiterated in other places. For example Matthew 3 describes the ministry of John the Baptist. Turn...

Famous Last Words – Acts 1:6-8

All that I have for you this evening are some random thoughts, tying things together. Nothing too heavy; nothing too challenging and not too long. I’m calling this message “Famous Last Words.” These are the very last words out the lips of the Lord Jesus, before His ascension into Heaven. Let’s think about five things: The Ascension, the question; the restoration; the deflection and the occupation. First, the ASCENSION. I plan to deal with this more fully next week, but I want you to see the context. As we have said several times, Jesus had met with His apostles several times in the previous 40 days. After a special breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee the Saviour arranged to meet them again in Jerusalem. I think that verse 4 was kept at the appointment of the Lord Jesus, and He told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise about the Spirit. But that didn’t mean that they couldn’t follow the Saviour out of the city for a brief respite. Verse 6 refers to one last assembly, some time following the meeting in verses 4 and 5. This gathering took place at or just outside the tiny community of Bethany which was just beyond the crest of the Mount of Olives. Turn to the last words of the Gospel of Luke: “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they...

Not a Fiery Chariot – Acts 1:9-11

If I asked you to list, in order, the most important events of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus, I wonder how far up on the list would come His ascension. This is one of those areas of theology, and Christology, that has become secondary to most of us. For many people it is nothing more than an addendum to the resurrection. Whereas we might have to argue Jesus’ resurrection to others and even to ourselves, Once we have implanted that truth, then the ascension is considered redundant. But there is nothing redundant about Christ, And if a subject is taught in the Bible then it needs to be seriously considered, at least once in a while. And we are going to give the ascension that consideration this morning. I would like to bring to your attention four things: The FACT of the ascension, and the FASHION, the FAVOR and the FUTURE aspects of the ascension. First, the FACTS. Forty days after His resurrection from the grave and from His emergence from Joseph’s tomb, Jesus dramatically ascended toward Heaven from the top of the Mount of Olives. At least we think that it was toward Heaven – the third Heaven. Where exactly is the Heaven of God? The body of the Lord Jesus physically rose from the ground and went up higher and higher until His witnesses could no longer see Him. Matthew doesn’t talk about the ascension and neither does the Gospel of John, But that doesn’t give us any cause to doubt, nor does it diminish, the importance of His ascension. Mark describes it and so...

Gazing or Giving? – Acts 1:6-11

This will be a difficult message for me to preach for a couple of reasons: First, because whatever rebuke there is here applies to me as much if not more than it does to you. And secondly, because this message goes against just about everything that I have ever heard preached from this verse before. So far in the course of this study, I have not preached any other man’s outlines. And this not another man’s message, which I have adapted for use here tonight. I won’t tell you that others haven’t preached what I am teaching here, But I will tell you that I haven’t heard or read them. I’d like us to think about GAZING and GIVING. Our first subject is GAZING. The word “gazing” in verse 11, is a nice descriptive word, But it is even more descriptive in Greek than English. When I read this word, I picture the eleven Apostles, with their heads tilting further and further back, as they watch the Saviour slowly rise and disappear into that cloud. “Gazing” almost carries the idea that as their eyes stared, their mouths gaped. But the Greek word, although carrying this idea, also contains a little bit more. It’s the word “emblepo,” and it is found 12 times in the Bible. I’d like to read to you a couple of those references, just to show you the gist of the word In Mark 10: 66-67, after Jesus’ arrest, we read: “And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself,...

The First Prayer Meeting (The Theology of Prayer) – Acts 1:12-14

I am calling this message: “The First Prayer Meeting” even though that is probably not quite true. It was the first church prayer meeting after the departure of the Saviour. And we are looking at the first prayer meeting in the Book of Acts. So depending on our point of view, we can call it the first prayer meeting. And like the people of this scripture, tonight, we make up one of the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. And our gathering this evening is supposed to be primarily a prayer meeting. So these things make this message particularly appropriate. I thought about calling it “The Theology of Prayer,” but I think that I may have used that title before. There are three points to this expository message: Come apart, come together and come agreed. First: COME APART. “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room.” Of course these verses come on the heels of the Lord’s ascension into Heaven from the top of Olivet. A couple of weeks ago I asked you about the distance contained in a sabbath day’s journey. I’ve done a little more research on that subject, and I think that we can be a little more dogmatic – a little. Forget about the commentaries’ talk about 5 furlongs or 7 furlongs, or the difference between English miles and American miles. A sabbath day’s journey was 2,000 cubits or 2,000 medium size steps. It was the distance that Israel was supposed walk...

The First Business Meeting – Acts 1:15-26

Our message last Wednesday was also from Acts 1. In fact this series was first intended to be a Wednesday evening Bible Study, But it’s grown just a little bit. It is not out of control, but the eaglet has spread its wings. And it’s my sincere hope that you are not disappointed in this. Anyway, the message last Wednesday was entitled “The First Prayer Meeting.” As I suggested, it wasn’t actually the very first prayer meeting, but in some ways it was: It was the first prayer meeting after the ascension of the Lord Jesus into Heaven, And it was the first prayer meeting that we can study in the Book of Acts. I’m calling this message tonight: “The First Business Meeting.” It was not only the first business meeting since the ascension of the Lord Jesus, And it was the first business meeting in the Book of Acts, But it very well may be the first actual business meeting of the “First Baptist Church of Jerusalem.” I doubt that we have any of this kind of people here tonight: But there are a lot of people who would quarrel with me about my title and theme. That’s because they have swallowed the propaganda that there were no churches of Christ before Acts chapter 2. I hope that we have dwelled on that subject often enough for the members of Calvary Baptist Church to know that the Lord Jesus started His first church in the early months of His earthly ministry. I hope that you realize that the Lord Jesus gave us some important instruction about the doctrine...

The Biggest Little Day in Ecclesiastical History – Acts 2:1-13

As I was thinking about how to approach this chapter, I had to snicker just a little bit. At first I considered just a verse by verse study rather than using a homiletical approach. And I even thought about skipping right over the first thirteen verses, because there isn’t much theology here which we haven’t already looked at. What made me giggle was the fact that so many Protestants, including the Baptist variety, make the Day of Pentecost the biggest little day in ecclesiastical history. But there was I – tempted to skip over it, because in some ways it is so small. Finally I did decided on an outline, homiletical approach. Let’s think about Pentecost fully coming; Pentecost’s Christian filling and Pentecost’s chaotic fervor. When the Day of Pentecost was FULLY COME. I have read the words of verse 1 so many times, that I have them memorized. And perhaps some of you might say the same thing. But I have to admit that it’s been a long time since I seriously thought about what it says? For example, can you tell me what exactly the Day of Pentecost is? How many of us know how many times the word “Pentecost” is found in the Bible? Pentecost was an Old Testament festival – a Biblically ordained day for the worship of the Lord. And we remember that the New Testament teaches that the Old Testament rites and ceremonies illustrated different things about our Saviour. So how many times is the word “Pentecost” found in the Old Testament? Never. In fact, this word is found only three times in...

These are Not Drunken – Acts 2:5-15

Last Wednesday, when we looked at the first part of this chapter, I pointed out that I don’t hold the Day of Pentecost with the same reverence that most of our Protestant neighbors do. Acts 2 was not the day that the church of Christ originated. Neither was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which we see in the first verses was the way that the disciples became a part of the Lord’s church. I know that we haven’t dealt with that subject lately, but we will before we come to the end of this chapter. No, the Day of Pentecost was not all that many people want it to be. But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it was just another day either. It was a fantastic day, perhaps with only two or three days in the history of man that came close to it. It was the beginning of the fulfillment of one of the prophecies of Joel. We’ve touched on that and we’ll deal with it in more detail when we get into Peter’s sermon. Pentecost was the day that the Lord approved and authenticated His church in the eyes of the world. It was therefore equivalent to the dedication of the Temple and the Tabernacle in the wilderness. And it was perhaps the greatest day of evangelistic in-gathering and reaping in the history of man. Pentecost was not just another day, howbeit it was not what most religious people claim it to be. I want to go back and pick up a little scriptural nugget which most expositors just gloss over....

The Theology of the Sermon – Acts 2:14-36

We have had several people visit our church, who had been members of very good Baptist churches in other parts of the country. In several cases those people agreed with our doctrine 95 to 100 percent, And yet those people are not attending our church. In fact they aren’t attending any church. One explanation for their sinful neglect is that our church was not quite like their church back home. Ours is smaller, our Sunday School is different, or we don’t have the same music program. But more often than these, it is that our preacher is different from the great preacher under whom they were saved and baptized. What those people need to realize is that no two sermons, and no two preachers, are alike. I used to collect books on preaching and pastoring, hoping to find some sort of special magic formula. Philip Brooks, the man who wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem” has a series of lectures on preaching, which is now considered a classic. In the introduction to those lectures, he asked, “What, then, is the preaching of which we are to speak? It is not hard to find a definition. Preaching is the communication of truth by a man to men. It has in it two essential elements, truth and personality. Neither of those can it spare and still be preaching.” Did you catch that? Every sermon contains a little bit of the personality of the preacher. And that may explain why you like to hear some preachers and you don’t like to hear others. If for some reason you don’t like the preacher,...

The Last Days – Acts 2:16-21

Some of the most important scriptures have the word “faith” at their core. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” Our ministry can be characterized as “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we add the word “believe,” our list of important verses doubles or triples. Heb. 11 defines faith this way: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is the tunnel through which we come to the heart of Christianity. But quite obviously, this has to be the right kind of faith and it must be placed in the right Persons & things. A man might have faith that his good looks or good works will take him to Heaven, But that faith is corrupt and will eventually be a part of that person’s eternal condemnation. Contrary to modern philosophy, WHAT we believe is more important than simply believing. And this puts the Bible on an extremely important pedestal. The Bible is the revelation of the One Whom, and in Whom, we are to believe. And the Bible is filled with promise after promise from that One Who cannot lie. A person could very reasonably characterize the Bible as a Book of Promises. It is replete with promises. There are those promises that are clearly declared and others which...