Peter’s Three-fold Testimony of Jesus – Acts 3:12-26

After years of investigation and $ billions, man does not yet know how many stars there are in the heavens. A nice round number that I have often heard is: a hundred million billion. On a clear winter’s night, when the sky isn’t disrupted with clouds or those disconcerting aurora’s, it seems that the stars go on forever and ever. And from our vantage point and limited eye-sight, other than brightness, minor color variations and the patterns of their arrangements, it looks like a lot of redundancy. If you’ve seen a dozen stars you’ve seen them all. Amen? We know better than that. Every star is unique, and if we had access to the right equipment, we’d recognize that. All the redundancy and duplication of stars, isn’t redundancy or duplication at all. Everyone of them is a finger pointing to its Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. In a similar way, there appears to be a lot of redundancy and duplication in the pages of the Word of God. Some scriptural stars are brighter than others, And likewise we have the miracle of this lame man and another at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. These and other scriptures stand out from among the thousands of others. But in these two examples there are quite a few similarities between them. Are they redundant? And we have prophecies of the second coming of Christ, over and over again. And some of the exhortations are repeated a dozen times. How boring. And yet when we put our telescopes on each of these things, we find there are beautiful variations. In another...

The Times of Refreshing – Acts 3:12-26

Let me begin this morning by telling a story on my wife – a good story. Judy went into a store a couple weeks ago and bought several things, including six of one particular item. They were kind of delicate and the clerk had to individually wrap them so that they wouldn’t be broken. But then when he rang up the sale, he charged her for one rather than six. Later that night Judy realized what had been done, and I encouraged her to return to the store and pay the full price, which she did a couple of days later. The mistake wasn’t hers; it was the clerk’s, but knowing my wife, I’m sure that she was just a little embarrassed by the whole thing. The store manager was so impressed by her honesty that gave her a nice discount. So Judy did the right thing and was, in this case, rewarded for doing so. Of course that is not the same thing as making the mistake yourself and having to return and confess. But that is what I am doing here this morning. Back in November we began our little study of Acts 3 and we ended up with six messages. I have discovered that I walked out of the store with several important sermons in my pocket which I didn’t preach at the time. So it is with my hat in my hand that I return to Peter’s second recorded sermon one more time. On November 30th we looked at most of these verses under the title “Peter’s Threefold Testimony of Jesus.” We spent a few...

The Doctrine of Persecution – Acts 4:1-4

September 11, 2001 has often been compared to December 7, 1941. Both were sneak attacks which brought the United States into war, and both were acts of terrorism. “Terrorism” is the word most often associated with 9/11, and it is certainly appropriate. But I’d like to suggest that there might be a related word which could take us into another level of consideration. I know that it’s not exactly the same thing, but 9/11 was also an act of “persecution.” I may be totally off base with this, but I’ll throw this at you and let you mull this over for a while: “Terrorism” is usually a political word, or a societal word. But “persecution” is usually a religious word. People might be persecuted for other things, but we usually use that word in a religious context. The Bible is filled with examples of persecution. We see it even in the first family and Genesis 4. It seems like every second or third page of the Bible we find another example of persecution. Why was Jeremiah jailed, Elijah hunted, Steven stoned and John the Baptist beheaded? There were different circumstances surrounding every case, but the root cause was someone’s hatred of the truth that these men were preaching. Why was the Lord Jesus crucified? I know that he was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” But He was delivered by the Jewish priests to the Roman government because He was a threat to their corrupted religion. And here we begin to see the rifle barrels of the same religious leaders pointed toward Jesus’ apostles. I thought...

Apostolic Courage – Acts 4:1-14

Do you remember when Peter was accosted by a young lady in the courtyard at the High Priest’s palace? This was not long after he took a sword and tried to cut off a man’s head. When this woman accused him of being a disciple of Christ, he lied and denied. That was the epitome of cowardice. And now, just a couple of month’s later, we see an entirely different kind of heart in this man. It raises an interesting question: Are there different kinds of courage, or is it merely that courage can come from different sources? Oooh, look at the big fisherman, with the sword in his hand, standing beside his hero – Jesus. Peter was a tough guy when he was carrying a big stick. But surround him with people not quite so friendly, and take away his stick, he becomes a wimp. And look at him locking the door to hide himself from the Jewish leadership. But now look at him. Isn’t there a kind of courage which is nothing but foolish impudence? What makes a person high on drugs jump off buildings? Is it courage? No, it’s drugs. Is there a kind of courage which is only brute force? Aren’t there other forms of courage that are mental and spiritual. In a prison camp there may be tough marines who have the courage to fight their guards. And there are others who are smart enough not to raise their fists. But at the same time they are strong enough to resist the mental torture applied against them. I think that there are many different...

There’s Something about that Name – Acts 4:1-12

When I was in Bible School there was a very popular Christian Trio visiting church after church. They came to the church where Judy and I were members, and the building was packed with more than 2,000 people. In those days, before they moved into the current Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), their style was respectful, and for the most part, reverent. They were writing and singing the most popular songs in Christian circles at the time: “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference,” “The King is Coming,” “Something Worth Living For,” “Thanks to Calvary.” They had dozens of fairly decent songs. The group was not, and is not, Baptist, but rather Church of God (Indiana), But they were visiting a lot of the biggest, most important churches of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. In 1970, I was just a young Christian and didn’t know very much. I was singing along with many of their songs, but there was one that just made my skin crawl. It was called “There’s Something about that Name.” There was nothing in the song that appealed to me, but there were several things that repelled me. For example it was sung by the lady in the group; I learned that this woman was an ordained minister. As far as I can remember it was her only complete-song solo. And she sang it in a Bing Crosby style – it was crooned into the microphone. And then there were the words to the song, or perhaps I should say, the lack of words: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; There’s just something about that name. Master, Saviour, Jesus; Like...

The Doctrine of Government – Acts 4:13-22

Please turn to Matthew 21:12. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, And overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Both at the beginning of His ministry and then again at the end, the Lord Jesus went into the temple and physically attacked some of the corruptions of the Jewish religion. He sent the money of the exchangers rolling and scattering around the courtyard. He forced the people selling the sacrificial animals out of the temple. He created a furor, calling the businesses under attack, the work of thieves. And He called the temple, the House of HIS Father. I’m reasonably sure that the businessmen who were working in the temple were there under the authority of the temple government – the priests. They were like Christmas kiosks in the local shopping mall. They were paying rent, and perhaps commissions to the temple officials. And in some cases they were merely managing businesses that were owned by the priests. When those priests caught up with the Lord Jesus, they demanded to know about His authority. Notice verse 23: “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them,...

Association with Jesus – Acts 4:13-14

Let’s picture an award-winning astronomer – He has wild hair, red eyes, disheveled lab coat; ten pens stuck in the plastic protector in his breast pocket. This man has discovered things that no man has ever seen before. He has a constellation named for him and three comets named after his kids. It’s now, 9:00 in the morning and he has just spent ten hours peering into his telescope and another two hours finishing up some paperwork. And as he steps outside the door to his observatory, he says, “Hey, the sun is shining.” Does a person have to be an award-winning astronomer to know that the sun is shining? Not only doesn’t he have to be an astronomer, but he doesn’t even have to be able to see. A perceptive blind person can know that the sun is shining by the direction of the warmeth on his face. Peter and John, along with many other disciples, had spent over a month with the resurrected Jesus. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit, Who had been promised and sent by the Lord Jesus. They were wowed by the miracles on the Day of Pentecost. Peter and John had been involved in the healing of a notable and long time invalid, And they had clearly declared both before and after . . . That it was through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that he was healed. And now they were standing before the Jewish Supreme court telling then learned judges and lawyers: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by...

The Stone Which the Builders Rejected – Acts 4:5-12

When Peter refered to “the stone what was set at nought,” which had “become the head of the corner,” He may have been referring back to any number of different sources. Originally, this theme came from the Psalm which we read earlier. The Lord Jesus picked up this idea and said that it was talking about Him. Turn to Matthew 21:33: – “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone...

Theology 101 – Acts 4:23-31

In the world of higher education there has developed a numbering system used to identify levels of instruction within each subject. For example: There may be a requirement for freshmen to pass a first level Biology class. In the school catalogue that very first class is usually designated “Biology 101.” There may also be Biology 102, 103 and 104, but they are all generally recommended for first year students. Then in the second year there may be Biology 201, 202 and 203. For the Junior class there are the 300’s and the seniors may have the 400 series. Generally, before someone can take a 400 series class he will have to prove to the administration that he’s mastered Biology 301. But if a senior wants to take Biology 204, that is generally approved. The point is: Biology 101 is the rudimentary, basic Biology class. The same numbering system prevails in a great many Christian colleges and Seminaries as well. So the title to tonight’s message, “Theology 101” should suggest that it deals with elementary Theology. Of course, we are dealing with one of the public prayers of the church in Jerusalem, And the subject matter was not for academic study. But, tonight, WE are a seminary of sorts, and it’s my job to help you grow in the things of the Lord. So we shall look at this prayer as the six points of an elemental course in Freshmen Theology. This prayer refers to God as the Creator, Author, Father, Sovereign, Benefactor and Empowerer. I know that none of you are freshmen any longer, but that’s the way that...

Unity in the Church at Jerusalem – Acts 4:32-37

Spurgeon, said that it was the reformer Melanchthon who first told the parable about a war between the wolves and the dogs. The wolves were greatly afraid of going to war with the dogs, because they were vastly outnumbered. The leader of the wolves (the alpha male???) sent out a spy to observe the dogs and report back. The spy said that he found dogs everywhere, but there were very few mastiffs among them. “There are dogs that can bite severely, but most of them were filled with bark but little bite.” That was certainly good, but there was something even better: He said, “When I saw them coming together and marching through town, they were all barking and snapping at one another. It was quite clear that even though they hate the wolves, it seems that they hate one another even more.” I am sure that both Spurgeon and Melanchthon were applying their parable differently than I am, but the principles are the same: Unity within the Lord’s local church is very important. In fact, I have heard messages from the early chapters of the Book of Acts, Which have declared that unity was the key to the power that the church had in those days. It’s sad to say, but I have probably repeated those things. Although the harmony in the church was extremely important, after more reflection on the subject, I’m going to have to say that it was NOT the key. That’s like saying that it was more important than the filling of the Holy Spirit, or the power of God. But here is an...

The Son of Consolation – Acts 4:36-37

From what I read in the Bible, I think that Barnabas would be someone with whom I could really get along. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that he’d get along with me very well. Like computer dating services, just because there appears to be compatibility, that doesn’t mean that two people are going to hit it off. I may like what I see in Barnabas, but he may not like what he sees in me. Anyway, Barnabas gives every indication of being a very good person, and an exceptional servant of God. His name comes up 28 times in the New Testament, most often in the Book of Acts. He is not mentioned in any of the Gospels, so obviously, Acts 4 is his first reference. Five times in three of Paul’s Epistles Barnabas is mentioned, And because there are no qualifying statements, And because they spent so much time together early in Paul’s ministry, There is little doubt that all the Bible references are to the same man. His name comes up in seven different chapters in the Book of Acts, so we are going to be referring to him from time to time as long as we continue this study. But this may be the only message in this series which is devoted entirely to Barnabas. We won’t, this evening be referring to all the upcoming references, But this will likely be the only message dedicated completely to this good man. And why are we looking at Barnabas? Well, first of all, since he is mentioned more than two dozen times, as Bible students we are obligated to...

The Sin Against the Holy Ghost – Acts 5:1-11

As I was thinking about this passage of Scripture, it occurred to me that it is quite theologically significant. The story is interesting and should be well-known to every child of God. It’s a part of the history of the early church, and so it’s a part of our early history. But when we consider the theology and application that lies behind the story, it really becomes important. I have given this message the title: “The Sin Against the Holy Ghost.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t come up with that title early enough to put it in last Sunday’s bulletin. I would like to have used it just as the magician uses slight of hand. The title accurately describes the text, but it should have provoked people think about something else. Oh, well; another great sermon title down the drain. Since we will probably only have one message on these eleven verses, Let’s begin by reading them slowly and making a few comments as we go along: Verse 1: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,” Ananias is the New Testament equivalent of Hananiah, and it refers to the Lord’s grace. Sapphira mean’s “sapphire.” Were these people Christians? There is nothing in the scripture to say that they were not. They appear to be members of the church in Jerusalem, So they probably had shown some of the fruit of repentance. And Peter doesn’t call them children of the Devil or even hypocrites; You will see that on another occasion, Peter did call a church member a lost man, but not here. Verse 2: “But...

The Why and Wherefore of Satan – Acts 5:1-11

Let’s say that you are observing the trial of a man accused of theft. The prosecutor has one of the employees of the accused on the witness stand. He strides up to the witness box and asks him, “Why do you think that your boss ordered you to deliberately short-weight that shipment?” What do you suppose is going to be the next thing that you hear in that court-room? The defendant’s attorney is going to jump to his feet and shout, “Objection, your honor, this calls for speculation from this witness.” In a court of law the only things which should be considered are facts, not suppositions and guesses. There are several ways in which churches bear similarities with court-rooms. First, we are supposed to deal in facts, not suppositions – truths, not fantasies. Second, we are to judge people’s lives, looking for the fruits of righteousness and repentance. And if a member is accused of sin, then the church is authorized to judge the evidence. If the charges are true, then that member should be excommunicated from the church. Third, at times we are responsible to judge between brethren. If a church member feels that he has been wronged by another member, Rather than taking the matter to civil court, the church has been instructed to settle the matter. We should not give the unsaved any more reason to despise us than comes naturally with our faith. If we stopped and considered it, we might be able to come up with some other parallels as well. Can you see some of the court-room similarities as you read Acts...

Faith and Fear – Acts 5:12-16

This scripture divides somewhat unnaturally into two sections. One is a positive statement and the other is a parenthesis in the midst of that statement. I’d like to use that division as the two points to our thoughts this evening. And those thoughts are basically about Faith and Fear Let’s begin with the parenthesis and think about the fear that people had. Notice the last part of verse 12 through verse 14: “And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” What was the membership of the Jerusalem church by this time? They started out with about 120 just after the Lord’s ascension. On the Day of Pentecost there were about 3,000 people added to the church. And then after the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate there were another 5,000 who believed. I can’t dogmatically tell you that these 5,000 all became members of the church, But neither can anyone else tell us that they didn’t. It is reasonable to assume that Luke was given the number because the church had counted them. And the easiest way to make that count would have been at their baptism. As I’ve said many times, I’m not convinced that anyone who refuses baptism has been truly born again. In addition to these, there were likely others coming to Christ and joining the church at other times. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should...

The Angelic Definition of Bible Christianity – Acts 5:17-20

What do you think will be the likelihood of you ever meeting an angel in this life? I think, that although it is not impossible, it is not very likely. At least it’s not very likely that you would KNOW that you’ve met an angel. But did the Apostles know that there was an angel who visited them that night and that he was the cause of their release them from prison? Could he have come in the form of a prison guard, and they didn’t know that he was an angel? That is a possibility, but since the scripture doesn’t say, I think that he must have come in the glorious form of an angel, and the apostles knew it was an angel. Did Mary and Joseph know that they had been visited by an angel? They not only knew that, but they were even told his name: Gabriel. Did Gideon know that it was an angel of the Lord who commissioned him to deliver Israel from Midian? When they first began to talk Gideon did not know, but he came to realize it later. When Paul begins the practical section of the Book of Hebrews in chapter 13, he says: “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” He doesn’t tell us specifically, who entertained angels unawares, But the word “entertained” helps to lead a lot of commentaries to suggest that it was Abraham & Lot. Genesis 18:1-2 says, “And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in...