AGAIN AND AGAIN

[SW312] 01/12/2018 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Again and Again

Again and again, the Lord sent His prophets to warn His people to repent and return to their God. Why did they not listen? And why did He keep sending them, again and again? Oh, it will be worthy of a praise break!

Texts: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc.

Remember that the Lord is the One who will punish false prophets, and that the role of true prophets is to warn false prophets of their end, and warn God’s people to repent and return to Him.

Jeremiah 25:3 “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. 4 “And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened (that is, obeyed) nor inclined your ear to hear . . .”

Jeremiah 26:5 “. . . to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened . . .”

Jeremiah 29:19 (exile and destruction would come to pass) ‘because they have not listened to My words,’ declares the Lord, ‘which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen,’ declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 32:33 “They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.

Jeremiah 35:14b “. . . but I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me . . .

Jeremiah 35:15 “Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: ‘Turn now every man from his evil way and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them. Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me.

Jeremiah 44:4 ‘Yet I sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.”

Why didn’t God’s people listen?

The Lord’s prophets contradicted the false prophets,  whose words the people loved —

Jeremiah 5:31  The prophets prophesy falsely,

And the priests rule on their own authority;

And My people love it so!

But what will you do at the end of it?

Why did they love it? It pleased their sin nature. They could continue in their sin, because they belonged to God and He would take care of them, regardless of their actions. That is what the false prophets taught.

God’s people had no discernment that the false prophets lied, because His people  did not know God, nor His Word. What? They went to synagogue, they went to the temple at the appointed times. But if they knew God intimately and were students of His Word, they would be able to discern the truth from a lie.

But again and again, He sent His prophets, and it is the same today!

2Kings 17:14 However, they did not listen, but stiffened (hardened) their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.

The Lord says, Because they do not believe in Me, they see no reason to listen to Me. Their disobedience reflects their unbelief. Do you see it? I pray you do!

But again and again, He sent His prophets — even Ezekiel, while he and His people were in exile, separated from him because of their sin — and it is the same today!

The church does not know the voice of her Good Shepherd, says Jesus:

John 10:4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

John 10:26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

In the Old Testament, God’s people refused to hear the words delivered by the Lord’s true prophets. This was their response to the Lord’s warnings through His prophets —

Isaiah 30:9  (The Lord says) for this is a rebellious people, false sons (lying, untrue, faithless)

Sons who refuse to listen

To the instruction of the Lord;

10  Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”;

And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right,

Speak to us pleasant words,

Prophesy illusions.

11  “Get out of the way, turn aside from the path,

Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

But again and again, He sent His prophets, and it is the same today!

God’s people, and now the church, do not want to hear about a holy God who commands them to be holy as He is holy —

Leviticus 11:45 ‘For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

1Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44).”

And Jesus Christ says —

Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (that is, perfect and complete in character, your character/nature the same as His).”

And, Jesus says those who do not obey Him do not love Him  —

John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

So, what does Jesus ask His people who are called by His name?

Luke 6:46   “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

But again and again, He sends His prophets— even to His church which is in exile, separated from Him, because of her sin!

Peter warns the church —

2Peter 3:3 Know this, first of all, that in the last days mockers (literally, false teachers) will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

So again and again, even today, the Lord sends His prophets!

Why does He send them again and again, even though His people do not listen?

#1 – For His name’s sake (His reputation as a merciful God) —

Ezekiel 36:22   “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.

#2 – Because He is patient  —

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Patient toward YOU, Peter tells the church to whom he writes.

#3 – Because He does not want His people to perish —

Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’

# 4 – Because He is compassionate and will have pity and mercy on to those who turn because of the words of His prophets —

Isaiah 30:18   Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you

(to bend, to stoop, to have pity, to have mercy)

And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you

(as a parent has compassion a wayward child).

For the Lord is a God of justice;

How blessed are all those who long for Him.

(who are pierced, as bond servants, who tarry and wait for Him)

PRAISE BREAK!

Stay (Luke 24:49)! Wait (Acts 1:4-5)! He will heal you of your waywardness by filling you with His Spirit, even for the sake of His holy name, which many have profaned with their waywardness (see Ezekiel 36:25-27)!

But a warning . . .

Hebrews 2:1   For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect (make light of) so great a salvation?

And a promise . . .

Revelation 3:5 (Jesus says) “He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase (blot out) his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.  6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Oh, the mercy of God! Humble yourself. Repent, turn back to your Lord and away from the false prophets and teachers! Believe in Him! Do it while it is still Today (Hebrews 13:3), for a time will come when the Lord withdraws His offer to receive you back. Seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6)!

Again and again, I will say it, continuing to press in, compelled by the love of God (2Corinthians 5:14)! Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it!

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SESSION 36 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 22:22-Acts 23:22

If I were going to give this a title, I’d call it, “Trials and Conspiracies.”

As you recall from last time, Paul never missed an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, even when he had been half-beaten to death, arrested by the Romans, chained with two chains, and was standing on the stairs leading to a Roman garrison! He could not stop talking about what he had seen and heard! Can you?

Verse 22 — Paul had just shared these words from Jesus: “Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles!” And the mob, which had listened to him up to that point, suddenly raised their voices and said, Away with him! Kill him! Such a fellow should not be allowed to live on the earth! (Rid the earth of him!)

From the Expositor’s Bible Commentary — “When Paul spoke of being directed by divine revelation to leave Jerusalem and go far away to Gentiles, who had no relation to Judaism, was “the last straw!”

“In effect, Paul was saying that Gentiles can be approached directly with God’s message of salvation without first being related to the nation and its institutions. This was tantamount to placing Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing before God and for Judaism was the height of apostasy indeed!”

That Jesus, a Jew, would send Paul, a Jew, to Gentiles was appalling to the mob!

Gentiles were dogs, less than human. They had no right to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! He was the God of the Jews, not the Gentiles! But what did God say, as Matthew quotes from Isaiah 42:1 and Isaiah 56:3 &7 —

Matthew 12:18  “Behold, My Servant whom I  have chosen;

My beloved in whom My soul is Well-Pleased;

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

Matthew 12:21  “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

Seems like the angry mob didn’t know their Tenakh (Old Testament). It was God’s plan, from the beginning.

Verses 23-24 — And as the people were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust in the air (a Jewish sign of extreme grief and duress), the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks. Paul was to be scourged (yes, the same as Jesus — sharp objects the whip’s tips, so as to tear away flesh and muscle), designed to either kill or permanently cripple the recipient of its punishing blows! All done so Paul might confess the reason why they were shouting against him that way? This was the Roman method — interrogation by torture.

Verse 25 — He was stretched out with thongs (i.e., either hung from the ceiling by thongs, or tied to a post or pillar). So Paul said to the centurion, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned? Paul had not been tried in a Roman court. And yet he was a Roman citizen. What they were about to do to him was illegal.

Why didn’t Paul submit to the scourging? This was not the same as the 40 lashes minus one that he suffered three times at the hands of the Jews (2Corinthians 11:24). This was deadly, and Paul knew he still had work to do for the Lord. He had to get to Rome —

Acts 19:21   Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to  go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

NOTE: In Session 35, I misspoke, saying Paul didn’t know about Rome. Paul knew he was to go to Rome.

Verses 26-27 — When the centurion heard that Paul was claiming Roman citizenship, he went to the commander, saying, What are you about to do, for this man is a Roman. And so the commander came and asked Paul, Are you a Roman? Paul had already said so, before the mob. And so Paul said, Yes.

Verses 28-29 — The commander had purchased his Roman citizenship with a large sum of money. But Paul said, “I was actually born a citizen.” Therefore, he was loosed from the thongs. The commander was afraid, because he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains, without a trial.

Verse 30 — But because the commander wanted to know for certain why the Jews had accused Paul, he released him from his chains, ordered the chief priests and the Sanhedrin to assemble, brought Paul down to them, and set him before them.

What an opportunity to share the gospel!

Now, Chapter 23 —

Verse 1 — Paul looked intently (beholding them earnestly and gazing) at the Sanhedrin. He was unafraid.

And he professed that he had lived his life with a perfectly good conscience before God, up to this day. What? Hadn’t he sent Christians to their deaths?

When he had persecuted Christians, it was out of ignorance (1Timothy 1:13). He thought he was doing God a favor —

John 16:2 Jesus told His Jewish disciples, “They will  make you outcasts from the synagogue, but  an hour is coming for everyone  who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”

And now, serving Christ and preaching His gospel even to the Gentiles, he lived with a perfectly good conscience.

How could Paul say that to the highest religious court in the land, knowing that the Gentiles were like dogs, in their eyes! How dare he offer their God to the Gentiles!

Verses 2-3 — So the high priest Ananias commanded those standing next to Paul to strike him in the mouth. And Paul replied, God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! And God did, because Jerusalem was overrun by the Romans and burned to the ground in AD 70, the temple destroyed.

Whitewashed walls, the Jewish leaders, would cause the city to be overrun! Jesus said —

Matthew 23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

Paul continued, Do you sit to try me according to the Law and in violation of the Law, order me to be struck? He had not been declared guilty of anything. Paul knew the Law —

Deuteronomy 27:25   ‘Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Verses 4-5 — But the bystanders said, How dare you revile God’s high priest! So Paul said, I was not aware, brethren (I am one of you) that he was high priest, for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” (see Exodus 22:28).

Why did Paul not know Ananias was chief priest? Ananias was not wearing his ceremonial priestly garments — those were only for service to the Lord at the temple.

Verse 6 —  Now Paul pit one Sanhedrin member against the other, because he saw that some were Sadducees (who do not believe in resurrection) and some were Pharisees (who do). So he cried out, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees, I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead! (And that is the gospel, in its simplest form!)

Verses 7-8 — Soon the Pharisees and Sadducees were arguing, because Sadducees say there are no angels, no spirit, nor any resurrection, and the Pharisees acknowledge them all. The Sadducees did not know their Tenakh very well, for Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on the ladder, way back in Genesis 28:12! And the ladder was Christ —

John 1:51 And He said to him (Nathanael), “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see  the heavens opened and  the angels of God ascending and descending on  the Son of Man.”

Verses 9-10 — The arguing grew heated, and some of the scribes (experts in the Law), who were of the Pharisees, said they saw nothing wrong with this man. They reasoned, Suppose a spirit or angel spoke to Paul?

And as this great dissension (uprising) grew, the Roman commander was afraid the Sanhedrin would tear to pieces the already beaten and bloodied Paul. It was an angry mob, once again! So they took him away from them by force, and brought him to the barracks.

Verse 11 — But on the night immediately following, Jesus encouraged Paul! He appeared to Paul and stood at Paul’s side. And he said, Take courage, for as you have solemnly (fully) witnessed to My cause (literally, testified of Me) at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.

Just like with Paul, the Lord will encourage all who are being His church. Has that happened to you?

Verses 12-14 — Now, some of the Jews conspired to kill Paul, banding together and forming a secret coalition, and they bound themselves under an oath, that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul! There were more than 40 men who vowed to kill him.

And the conspirators came to the chief priests and elders and told them of their plan, and their solemn oath to taste nothing until they had killed Paul!

Verse 15 — The conspirators asked the chief priests and Sanhedrin to call for Paul, and for the commander to bring him to them. The commander would assume that they wanted to question Paul more thoroughly. And the 40 Jews said they would slay him before he came near the hall in which the Sanhedrin met. They would kill him in an ambush!

Verses 16-17 — But Paul’s nephew, the son of his sister, heard of their plot, came to the Roman barracks, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions and told him this young man needed to see the Roman commander, for he had something to report to him.

Verses 18-19 — So the centurion led Paul’s nephew to the commander, repeating what Paul had asked him to do. The commander took Paul’s nephew by the hand and asked him privately. The commander asked, What is it that you have to report to me?

Verses 20-21 — And Paul’s nephew told him about the plot, and said to the commander,  So do not listen to them, for they are lying in wait for him and have bound themselves with a curse (true, indeed, for these murderers are cursed) not to eat or drink until they slay him, and now they are waiting for the promise from you (to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin).

Verse 22 — So the commander let the young man go, saying, Tell no one that you have notified me of these things.

In the next session, we will see Paul taken to Caesarea, to appear before Felix, the Roman governor. Paul will take advantage of many more opportunities to share the gospel, as his journey to his destination — Rome — grows nearer, and also when he is in Rome!

A WORD TO THE FALSE PROPHETS

[SW311] 01/05/2018 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

A Word to the False Prophets

In the Old Testament, we see that God Himself punished false prophets. The role of true prophets in those days was to warn false prophets of their end, and call the people of God to repentance. And today, God’s people, including the church, must learn from these things.

Texts:  Jeremiah 23:9-15, Micah 3:5-12, etc.

Background: Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years in Judah (626 B.C. – 586 B.C.) , during the reigns of five kings of Judah, from Josiah through Zedekiah. During the time Jeremiah prophesied, the invasion of Judah by Babylon was imminent and actually occurred.

Prior to Jeremiah, Micah prophesied for 64 years in Judah (750 B.C.- 686 B.C.), during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Micah also prophesied to Northern Israel/Samaria early in his ministry, while it was being invaded by Assyria and its people were being carried into exile.

At that time, Judah was threatened by Assyria and some of its cities were destroyed. But the Lord spared Judah until 143 years later (607 B.C.), when Babylon invaded Judah and the first of three exiles began.

Why were Samaria and Judah taken into exile?

They listened to false prophets who led them to worship golden calves (Samaria) and Baal (Samaria and then Judah), and who told them that though they were sinning, there was no need to repent. Why? Because they were God’s people, and so He MUST still be with them, despite their actions. These false prophets encouraged God’s people to worship what the world worshiped. And God’s people listened to them.

Why did God’s people listen to false prophets?

Because what they prophesied was pleasing to the people, though these prophets were not speaking by the Holy Spirit. God’s people did not know the Word of God, so as to be able to discern the lies these men taught and proclaimed.

His people perish and are destroyed for lack of knowing Him and His Word (Hosea 4:6, Isaiah 5:13).

They listened to and even now listen to the voice of strangers (John 10:5, 27).

Here are the marks of true prophets:

Jeremiah 23:22 “But if they (the false prophets) had stood in My council,

Then they would have announced My words to My people,

And would have turned them back from their evil way

And from the evil of their deeds.

Lamentations 2:14 Your prophets have seen for you

False and foolish visions;

And they have not exposed your iniquity

So as to restore you from captivity,

But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.

So, what were the words that the Lord told Jeremiah and Micah to speak to the false prophets?

Jeremiah 23:9-15

Verse 9 — Like all true prophets Jeremiah’s heart was broken concerning the false prophets. He trembled because of the Lord and His holy words which He spoke through Jeremiah.

Verse 10 — Why? Because the Lord said the land was full of spiritual adulterers, God’s own people, who were encouraged by the false prophets to go after other gods — even the god of self, the god that is behind all false gods. I repeat that. The god of self is behind all false gods.

The land mourned because of the Lord’s curse upon it. The pastures had dried up. There was no fruitfulness.

The course (running) of the prophets was evil (contrary to God’s character), and their might (strength) was not right (upright). They ran to give prophetic words, as if they had heard from God. They sounded like they were speaking prophetically, but they did not even know God.

Verse 11 — Both prophet and priest were polluted (corrupt, profane, soiled). The Lord declared, Even in My house, I have found their wickedness. Even in the temple, false prophets and false teachers abounded. It is the same today.

Verse 12 — So the Lord said, I will make their way (the way of false prophets and teachers) like slippery paths. They will be driven away (chased and cast out) into the gloom and fall down (perish) in it. For the Lord says, I will bring calamity upon them, the year of their punishment.

Verse 13 — Even in Samaria, the Lord saw an offensive thing. The false prophets prophesy by Baal (not Me!) and lead My people Israel astray, said the Lord.

Verse 14 — And among the false prophets of Jerusalem, the Lord had seen a horrible thing. What had He seen?

The committing of spiritual adultery (worshiping other gods) and walking in falsehood (believing the lies of the false prophets), and the false prophets encouraged evildoers, so no one turned back from their wickedness.

The Lord said, All of them have become like Sodom, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem like Gomorrah, both of which the Lord simultaneously utterly destroyed.

Verse 15 — Therefore, the Lord says, here is what I will do with the false prophets who lead My people astray —

— I will feed them wormwood (poisonous food) and

— I will make them drink poisonous water (water containing the venom of serpents)

Why? Because from the false prophets of Jerusalem, pollution (profaneness and impiety) has gone forth into all the land, said the Lord.

Verse 16 — The Lord says to His people through Jeremiah — both then and even today — Do not listen to these false prophets. They are leading you into futility (vanity). What they say is useless and empty.

He continued, These false prophets speak a vision of their own imagination (heart), not from the mouth of the Lord, said the Lord.

Verse 17 — These false prophets kept saying to those who despise the Lord (that is, provoke and blaspheme Him — that is, sinners), “The LORD has said you will have peace.” And as for everyone who walked in the stubbornness (lust and obstinacy) of his own heart, they said, “Calamity (evil) will not come upon you.”

And so it is today.

I look at the Old Testament, and even today, and I make this observation — I have never seen a false prophet repent.

These are the ear ticklers against whom Paul warned Timothy, in 2Timothy 4:3 —

2Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Micah 3:6-12

Micah received these words from the Lord, for the false prophets of his day, who prophesied for personal gain, and for the leaders who joined with them in money-making schemes and in twisting what is straight —

Verse 6 — It will be night for you, no vision. It will be darkness for you, no divination. There will be no sun and the day will become dark.

Verse 7 — There is only shame for you, and embarrassment, and you will mourn because there is no answer from God in the midst of the destruction that He will bring upon you, by way of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

Verse 8 — But Micah is filled with power — with the Spirit of the Lord, and justice and courage, to make known to God’s people their rebellious acts and sins!

Amen! He is a true prophet!

Verses 9-10 — Now hear this, leaders and rulers, who abhor justice and twist everything that is straight, who, by bloodshed have the personal gain that they love. What is this bloodshed? The spiritual and literal death of God’s people, as they fight against Babylon, and as they go into exile because they believed the false prophets and followed after them.

Verse 11 — Leaders take bribes, priests charge for instruction, and prophets charge for divination. Yet they lean on the Lord saying, “Is not the Lord in our midst? Therefore, calamity (destruction) will not come upon us.”

Verse 12 — The Lord says, Because of these false prophets and evil leaders, God’s people will be plowed (cut, torn up, and engraved as slaves in Babylon), Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and Zion, where the temple mount is located, will be overgrown with trees, rather than flooded with worshipers of God.

What does this have to do with today’s people of God?

Revival of God’s people begins with an understanding of our position in God’s eyes, and the role of false teachers in our waywardness. That is why He sent His prophets to His people, time and time again, in the Old Testament, and that is why He does it today. It is His kindness and mercy to do so!

As in Isaiah 29:16, the Lord says that today, false prophets proliferate in His church, and have taken them captive to the captivating words of these liars. And so, His people today turn things around. They make themselves the potter, and they make the Lord the clay — You do what I say, God!

The church today has forgotten Jesus’ words, that you will know the false prophets by their fruit (see Matthew 7:15-20).

The church today has forgotten Paul’s warning to the church at Ephesus —

Acts 20:29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

The church today relies on man’s wisdom and ways, developing gimmicks to attract people to their pews, but hear Paul’s words —

1Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless (vain and empty).”

I have told you of the leader of a denomination who instructed me NOT to tell the people that they need something they do not have. He said I should give them comforting words, because they have had a hard week. But their hard weeks will be nothing compared to their shame and the verdict Jesus Christ gives them when they stand before Him in the day of judgment — unless someone tells them of their spiritual condition and they repent!

O church, O believer, turn away from these false prophets, teachers and leaders, and turn to your God! Repent, and He surely will receive you. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, and you will be able to discern truth from error. So be it, Lord Jesus. Amen!

SESSION 35 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 21:27-40, 22:1-21

If I were going to give this a title, I’d call it, “Bonds and Afflictions Begin, Just As Prophesied.”

As you recall from last time, the church elders at Jerusalem had formed a plan to placate the Jewish believers who remained zealous for the Law of Moses. Paul was to go through a purification ceremony with four other Jews, and then go into the Temple, thus showing the Jews that Paul was still observing the Law, and putting down rumors to the contrary.

Verse 27 — Paul, having come from the Gentiles, would have had to regain ceremonial purity by a seven-day ritual of purification (see Expositor’s Bible Commentary). After the seven days of purification were completed, he and the four Jews with him went to the temple to report to the priests that they had completed the days of purification (see Verse 26). Then they would be sprinkled by the priest with the water of atonement (done on both the third and the seventh day) and declared ceremonially pure.

But the Jews from Asia Minor (in Jerusalem at Pentecost, as required by the Law of Moses), who had persecuted Paul during his ministry in that region, saw Paul in the temple and proceeded to stir up the crowd. The Jews from Asia Minor stretched forth their hands, and seized him.

Verses 28-29 — Then these Jews lied about Paul, saying that Paul preached against the Jews and the Law and Jerusalem itself, to all men everywhere. And they falsely accused Paul of bringing Greeks (Gentiles) into the temple! They had seen Paul in the city accompanied by Trophimus the Ephesian, and assumed he had entered the temple with Paul, thereby defiling “this holy place.”

Verse 30 — All the city was stirred up at these Jews’ words. Just as in Ephesus, mob mentality ruled! They rushed together toward Paul, grabbed him and dragged him out of the temple. The doors of the temple were immediately shut.

Verses 31-32 — They sought to kill Paul by beating him to death, but a report came to the Roman commander (in charge of 1,000 soldiers) that the whole city was thrown into confusion. So he immediately took along soldiers and centurions and RAN down to them. The commander was responsible to keep the peace, and this certainly was a disruption of the peace!

When the crowd saw the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Verses 33-34 — The commander then seized Paul and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He began asking the crowd who Paul was and what he had done.

But the crowd was in such an uproar, some shouting one thing and others shouting another, that he could not determine the facts. So he ordered Paul to be brought into the Roman barracks.

Verses 35-36 — As they climbed the stairs to the Roman fortress, he had to be carried by the soldiers because the mob was so violent! A multitude of them had followed Paul and the soldiers, crying, Away with him! They meant, Kill him!

All of this confusion and violence, simply because of the lies of Jews from Asia Minor! Truly, this was mob mentality at its worst. And it was just as the Spirit had testified to Paul — bonds and afflictions. It was all part of the Lord’s plan, to get Paul to Rome.

Verses 37-38 — As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he spoke to the commander, in Greek! Paul asked, May I say something to you? The commander was surprised — Paul knew Greek! That means he wasn’t the Egyptian who led a band of 4,000 “men of the Assassins,” in a revolt that happened some time previously.

Verse 39 — Paul said, I am Jew of Tarsus (a Roman city in the province of Cilicia), “no ordinary city,” so the commander saw that he respected the city of his birth. And Paul begged the commander to allow him to speak to the people. You will see that Paul’s defense was to testify of how Jesus Christ saved him!

Verse 40  — The commander gave him permission. And Paul motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and there was a great hush. Then, Paul spoke to the Jewish mob in Hebrew, the native language of the Jews! The Jewish mob heard him speak in their own language!

Now, we continue, in Acts 22!

Verse 1 — And Paul, beaten and bloodied, said, Brethren and fathers (I am a Jew like you)! Hear (listen to and understand) my defense which I now offer to you. Paul was about to speak the gospel to them! Watch!

Verses 2-3 — Paul testified that he was a Jew (I am a Jew like you) born in Tarsus of Cilicia (thus, a Roman citizen) who was brought up in Jerusalem, educated by Gamaliel strictly according to the Law of their and his fathers (Gamaliel was a leading teacher of the Jews). Paul said he was zealous for God just as they all are (I believed like you believe).

Verses 4-5 — Paul confessed that he persecuted the Way (believers in Jesus Christ). He bound them and put them in prison (to await death). The high priest and the Sanhedrin could testify of it, he said. Paul participated in the murder of Christians.

NOTE: Do you think you have sinned too great a sin for God to forgive you? Have you murdered any Christians lately? Jesus will take such ones and make them His witnesses, when they repent and believe the gospel, and He reveals Himself to them as He did to Paul! He will do it!

Back to Verse 5 — From the high priest and Sanhedrin, Paul received letters to the Jewish brethren and began a journey to Damascus to round up some more Christians as prisoners to be punished.

And now, here comes the gospel, by way of Paul’s testimony! He never missed an opportunity, even though he had just been badly beaten!

NOTE:  Did you know that your testimony of how Christ revealed Himself to you is a great way to begin talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ? As one wise Christian leader once said, If you don’t have a testimony, then you need to get with God, and He’ll give you one!

Verses 6-7 — So, here’s the gospel — Paul tells the mob that he was on his way, approaching Damascus at about noontime. It would have been very bright outside, at that time.

And a very bright light (surpassing that of the noonday sun!) suddenly flashed from heaven, and was all around Paul!

He fell to the ground, and heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Verse 8 — He did not know who it was, but the light was from heaven, so Paul knew it was from God. So Paul said, Who are you, Lord? And Jesus said, I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting! Jesus spoke to Him!

Do you know that when Christians are persecuted, their persecutors are actually persecuting Christ? Christians belong to Jesus, they are His church, His bride. So, a blow against His bride is a blow against Him! May today’s persecutors of Christians repent and believe the gospel!

Verse 9 — Paul said his companions saw the light, but did not understand what the voice was saying to Paul. So they heard a voice, but did not understand what Jesus said.

Verse 10 — Paul said to Jesus, What shall I do, Lord? Do you see that he immediately submitted to Jesus?

And Jesus said, Get up, go into Damascus, and there you will be told what has been appointed for you to do.

Do you see that from the beginning, God had a plan that would thwart the Jews’ plan to eliminate him? Paul would die as a martyr when the Lord wanted him to die, and not a moment sooner.

Do not fret when you are persecuted, beloved. God has a plan, and it WILL be accomplished! No one can stand in His way! And if you are martyred like so many Christians today, know that to be with Him is very much better (Philippians 1:23)!

Verse 11 — Paul could not see because of the brightness of that light. He had been blinded (see Acts 9:8). So his companions led him by the hand, and they came into Damascus.

Verse 12 — Now Paul gave testimony to the crowd about Ananias, speaking of him as a devout Jew, well spoken of  among all the Jews. And we know Ananias was also a believer in Jesus, and that Jesus gave him a vision and a command to go to Paul (see Acts 9:10-16).

Verse 13 — So Ananias obeyed and standing near Paul, he said, “Receive your sight!” And at that very time, Paul looked at Ananias.

Remember also that Ananias was the vessel Jesus used to baptize Paul in the Holy Spirit, at that same moment —

Acts 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Verses 14-15 — And Ananias said, The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One (Jesus Christ) and to hear an utterance from His mouth. This was God’s plan! Ananias said Paul was to be a witness for Jesu Christ to all men, of what Paul had seen and heard.

Indeed, that is exactly what Paul was doing as he stood bloodied and beaten, on the steps of the garrison!

Verse 16 — Now, Paul, why do you delay, said Ananias. Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of Jesus Christ!

NOTE: Though Paul’s heart was purified when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, the purpose of this testimony was salvation of those in the mob, so he spoke specifically of that. But for the church, he constantly spoke of being filled with the Holy Spirit!

Verses 17-18 — When Paul returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, he fell into a trance (a displacement of the mind, an ecstasy), and Paul saw Jesus saying, “Hurry out of Jerusalem — they will not accept (receive) your testimony about Me.” They will reject it!

Verses 19-20 — Paul must have reasoned, how could they reject me? They know me, and my previous devotion to their cause and my zeal against Christians!

So Paul said to Jesus, But they know me! They know how I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. They know that I stood by, approving the stoning of Stephen, and guarding the outer garments of those who were killing him.

Verse 21 — And the Lord replied to Paul, Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles!

In Session 36, you will see the mob’s violent reaction to what Paul just said that Jesus told him.

Things were heating up in Jerusalem! Yet to come were trials before the Sanhedrin, before Felix the governor, before his successor Festus, and before King Agrippa, as well as plots by the Jews to murder him. All this would take place in order for Paul to be sent to Rome!

Do you see being the church means that you will endure persecution, even beatings and death? Do you see that Spirit-filled believers always freely and boldly give testimony of Jesus Christ— even before mobs who have just tried to kill them by beating them to death?

I don’t see that too much in the church these days. I see the church and its members yielding to the world and its ways. I see much world in the church. I see the church conforming to the ways of the world. I see the worldly church reject Christians who refuse to join with them in their worldliness.

I see the church cowering and afraid to speak the gospel to sinners and call them to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.

But I am praying for the Lord to shake His church, so every Christian cries out to their Father in heaven, to be filled with His Spirit! Then they will be the church!

Amen! So be it, Lord Jesus, I humbly pray!

THE REVIVED CHURCH

[SW310] 12/28/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

The Revived Church

Jesus Christ will present His church to Himself filled with His glory, having no spot or wrinkle, and holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27)! But the church is not like that, yet. YET! It will happen! But how? Revival!

Texts: 2Corinthians 11:4, Psalms 84 & 85, etc.

What is revival? It is a wholesale return to God by His people where —

— God comes down! His presence is palpable to everyone in the room, and is felt by everyone who enters.

— His people weep in His presence

— His people cry out to Him for mercy

—  People who do not even know Him sense His presence and cry out to Him for mercy, even miles away from the church!

— His people’s hearts are purified, in a moment of time!

— His people throw all the false teachings to the moles and the bats (Isaiah 2:20)!

You may say, “That’s from the Old Testament. We are under the new covenant, so we don’t need it.” And I will tell you it has happened throughout the history of the church, in entire churches and in individuals, in this country and in many countries! Revival is the Lord’s mercy, to us all!

To further convince you, Paul wrote these words of warning to the church at Corinth, and also to Timothy, who was the pastor of the church at Ephesus —

2Corinthians 11:4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

2Corinthians 11:19 For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly. 20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

And Paul warned the church at Corinth again, in 1Corinthians 10:1-12, reminding them not to become like Israel, for they rebelled against God in their 40-year desert wanderings, and many perished there!

1Timothy 4:1   But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons . . .

2Timothy 4:1   I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

And indeed, His church has done these things, going after preachers who tell them God will make them rich if they give to their ministries, or that they have no choice but to continue to sin until they go to heaven, or that Jesus came just to do good things, or that Jesus Christ wants them to be successful and prosperous. Sounds good to your ears, O Church, but it’s not the gospel! Those preachers are blind guides —

Matthew 15:14 “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

Indeed, the church is a mess! But revival is coming! What will spark it?

PRAYER! It has always been thus!

Those who have been revived pray for the church as a whole, and for individual Christians to have a personal Pentecost, even apart from the church. That was how it was for Jeff and me, after we had been saved! Even though we were faithful attendees and board members, we were not filled with the Holy Spirit, and so we struggled with sin, like the rest.

What do we pray, having been revived?

Psalm 85:1-3  O Lord, show favor to Your church. Restore them from their captivity to sin. Show them their wretched condition, that they think they are rich but they are blind and naked and poor and miserable, like the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:17). Forgive their sin, O Lord!

Withdraw Your fury (rage) from Your church, and turn away from Your burning anger (fierce wrath). She has neither been taught nor believes Your promise, Father, nor has she stayed and waited to receive it. And so she has run after false teachers.

Verses 4-6 — Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Return Your church to her starting point, as in the Book of Acts, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you to relent and rescue Your church from her waywardness.

O Lord, we beseech you to give life to Your people, to make them vigorous and full of Your life and love and power and purity, so they may rejoice in You, even with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Verse 8 — And this is what we hear God the Lord say: He WILL speak peace to His people, to His godly ones, those who turn back to Him. But let them not turn back to folly (foolishness, following after the ways of the world). Ah, when they are filled with His Spirit, they will be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord! Hallelujah!

Surely! Surely! It is a truth! His salvation is near, to those who fear Him, who worship Him, revere Him, and know His greatness by experience, having been filled with His Spirit! And His salvation to His people, those already saved? That is His glory, dwelling in us!

The psalmist describes revival —

Verses 10-12 — Lovingkindness and truth meet! Righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness — even our righteous Father and His Son — looks down from heaven.

And He will give us what is good, and we will bear His fruit. We will walk in the narrow way that leads to life, the way that Jesus Christ commands us to enter —

Matthew 7:13   “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

When the church, or even an individual believer, is revived, oh, my goodness! It is lovely. Listen again to the psalmist.

Psalm 84 —

Verse 4 — How blessed are those who dwell in Your house — who are a house for You, per John 14:23! They are ever praising You, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. They are filled with You, for You have made them Your house!

Verse 5 — How blessed are those who are revived, for their strength is in You — they receive Your strength! And how blessed are those who are revived, for they have hearts that contain the highways to the heavenly Zion, the highway of holiness Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 35:8!

Verse 6 — When the revived church moves about, they pass through the valley of weeping and make it a spring of salvation, and springs enter those who live there, because they, too, become filled with the Holy Spirit!

Verse 7 — The revived go from strength to strength, exchanging theirs for Yours, Lord, and every one of them appears before God in Zion. We stand before Him, just according to Ephesians 2:6!

Verse 10 — And the revived say, “A day in Your courts is worth a thousand, even thousands of thousands, elsewhere!” And we say we would rather stand at the threshold, as a doorkeeper of God’s house, than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Verse 11 — For the revived, the Lord God is a sun (our light) and a shield (our protection), and He gives grace (the divine influence on the heart and the reflection in our lives) and glory (even His glory, in us!).

AND no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (without blemish, complete, full, perfect, without spot, undefiled)! He is not speaking of treasures of this world, because you no longer run after them when you are filled with Him! But the good thing He will give is treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). Then you will worship before His throne. I have had some Christians say that continual worship of the Lord seems like a boring, tedious time. And I tell them to repent and believe. It will be joy unspeakable and full of glory FOR YOU, if you are filled with Him today, here and now!

Verse 12 — And the revived say, O Lord of hosts, how blessed are those who trust in You, who believe You and follow hard after You, who diligently seek You, for You reward such ones!

Hallelujah! Revival is coming! May His people see their condition and cry out, even today! May you do it, personally, as Jeff and I did. However you do it, Lord, we cry to You to make it so! Amen!

SESSION 34 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 21:1-26

If I were to give this a title, I would call it, “A Strange Means To Get To Rome!”

I can’t call it an unexpected means. Paul knew persecution, and would continue to know it until Nero finally beheaded him (according to church history) in Rome. He lost his head for Jesus, so you would think, now that he is dead and unable to speak, that would be the end of him!

But the Lord still speaks to you and me through the Spirit-filled Paul — by the words he spoke in Book of Acts and the letters he wrote to the churches and to his co-workers in the harvest fields. Hallelujah! Speak on, Paul!

Verses 1-3 — After Paul and the rest (Luke and the other seven, per Acts 20:4) parted from (literally, tore themselves away from) the Ephesians, they continued on their way to Jerusalem, through Cos, Rhodes, Patara, Phonecia, Cyprus, Syria, and Tyre — a trip by ship of hundreds of miles. See the great love Paul and the rest had for the Ephesian believers! Oh, this is what it is to be the church!

Verse 4 — At Tyre, they looked up (found) the disciples there. They stayed seven days with them who kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.

What? Wasn’t Paul bound by the Spirit to go there? This verse simply means the Spirit had shown them what awaited Paul, and their response was to say, “Don’t go!” Out of their concern, they missed God’s purpose and contradicted the Spirit and the will of God:

Acts 23:11   But on  the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “ Take courage; for  as you have  solemnly (fully) witnessed to My cause (testified of Me) at Jerusalem, so you must witness (testify) at Rome also.”

Do you know that it is possible for the Spirit to show you something, even before you have been filled with the Spirit? He surely showed me Jesus before I was filled! This is an example. You see, the Spirit never contradicts Himself.

If these disciples were filled, their concern for Paul would have been overridden by the will of God, which they knew from Paul’s testimony of his encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Persecution awaited Paul, and it was for God’s glory!

Paul’s encounter with these well meaning believers is a good lesson. Remember, the Spirit never contradicts Himself. And it is a powerful reason to ask your Father in heaven to fill you with His Holy Spirit!

Verses 5-6 — Paul and his companions then traveled on. The disciples at Tyre, including their wives and children, escorted them until they were outside Tyre. They knelt with them all, on the beach. As in Acts 20:36, they then prayed, said their farewell, went aboard the ship, and the disciples went back to their homes.

Verses 7-9 — Paul and the rest next traveled on to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren (enfolded in their arms), and stayed with them for a day. Then they traveled on to Caesarea, and to the house of Philip, one of the seven appointed to take care of widows, who we first met in Acts 6:5 — a man full of the Spirit and wisdom, who was greatly used of God. They stayed at Philip’s house.

And he had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. Prophetesses — female prophets who foretell events who speak under inspiration, and who exercise the prophetic office. So these things are not just for males. Listen to the Old Testament prophet, Joel —

Joel 2:28  “It will come about after this

That I will  pour out My Spirit on all mankind;

And your sons and daughters will prophesy,

Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.

29  “Even on the  male and female servants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

May we hear what the Spirit is saying to today’s church, where many denominations will not tolerate women in any office of ministry. They have misinterpreted 1Timothy 2:11-12, which was specifically written to address some issues with the female believers in Ephesus who had formerly worshiped Diana/Artemis.

Verses 10-11 — While Paul and the rest were with Philip, Agabus the prophet came down from Judea. He did not say to Paul, “Don’t go!” But he took Paul’s belt, and bound himself with it, hand and foot. And he prophesied, saying This is what the Holy Spirit says. The man who owns this belt will be bound like this by the Jews in Jerusalem, and they will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles (Romans).

Well, that is just what Jesus had planned, per Acts 23:11!

Verse 12 — So they all, including the local residents, begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. [NOTE: I do not believe the prophet Agabus joined them.] They did not want him to be bound and handed over to the Roman soldiers! Again, these who heard this prophetic word did not yet have the mind of Christ. Paul had given them his testimony. They knew Jesus had told him he would suffer!

Verse 13 — And Paul gently reproved them for their pleas. He said, What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? His heart was crushed by their plea. What are you doing? I have to go up. I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus!

You see, Paul had already died (Galatians 2:20). He didn’t consider his life dear to himself (Acts 20:24). His ONLY desire was to finish his course and the ministry which he received from the Lord Jesus, to testify fully of the gospel of the grace of God (His influence on the heart and its reflection in the life)!

Verse 14 — They could not persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem. So they fell silent. And then they submitted themselves to God’s will, saying The will of the Lord be done!

Amen! God had a purpose in sending Paul to Jerusalem, where he would be bound and afflicted!

Many in today’s church want nothing to do with that part of Christianity, beloved. It is because such ones are not filled with God’s Holy Spirit. I tell you the truth, they have their own interests in mind rather than God’s. It is just as Jesus told Peter (who was not yet filled with the Spirit, beloved!), after He announced that He would go to Jerusalem and be crucified —

Matthew 16:22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me,  Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Verses 15-16 — Then Paul and the rest started on their way up to Jerusalem. They were joined by some of the disciples from Caesarea, who took them to Mnason of Cyprus, with whom they would be lodging. He was a disciple of long-standing, who had followed Jesus Christ from the beginning, when Jesus walked this earth.

How wonderful it would have been to meet such an eye witness!

Verses 17-18 — The brethren at Jerusalem gladly received Paul and the rest. They were pleased to see them all! The next day, they went to James, Jesus’ half-brother, who was the leader of the church at Jerusalem (see Acts 15:13ff). And all the rest of the elders were there.

Verses 19-20 — After Paul embraced them, he began to give testimony of the things which God had done among the Gentiles, through Paul’s ministry.

The leaders of the church glorified God, but then the elders began to speak in error. They were concerned about rumors about some false rumors about Paul’s Gentile ministry, and how these had stirred up the Jews who had believed into Jesus but were zealous for the Law of Moses.

You must understand that these believers were still Jewish. They knew that salvation was through Jesus Christ alone, but they continued to zealously (strongly desire to) follow the Law of Moses, which Moses received from God.

These Jewish believers were not yet filled with the Spirit. Had they been filled, they would understand that those whose hearts have been purified obey the Ten Commandments and the two on which everything else rests — to love God with His love, and to love your neighbor with His love. It is because His love has filled their hearts!

The rest of the Law was merely a foreshadowing of Christ, just as the writer of Hebrews says —

Hebrews 10:1   For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can  never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year,  make perfect those who draw near.

Make perfect! I could preach on that one for a long time! It has already been since 2002, when I was first asked to preach by my pastor, in his stead. God’s command is that you be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect —

Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

That is a message for you, O believer, because Jesus addresses the children of God. “Your Father!” Listen to my message, “What Is Perfect Love” to learn more!

Verse 21 — So the leaders of the church explained to Paul that there was a rumor that Paul had taught the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake the Law of Moses, not to circumcise their sons, and not to walk in the customs of the Jews.

It was a twisting, by the rumor mongers, of what Paul had taught. It is not through works of the Law, but through faith in Christ that both Jews and Gentiles are saved!

Verse 22 —The Spirit-filled leaders’ had a plan, in order to keep the peace with these Jewish believers. Wanting to keep the peace is not a sin unless you are doing it out of fear, because then it becomes hypocrisy —

Galatians 2:11   But when Cephas (Peter) came to  Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he  stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from   James, he used to  eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof,  fearing  the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even  Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

But Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit — why did he fear man? Peter repented when Paul called him out on it. Beloved, even the Spirit-filled are capable of sinning in this way. Peter stood condemned because of his fear.

Peter’s error was not willful disobedience of the Lord , but fear of man that drove Peter to it. Fear no man, beloved — the Lord had made Paul, and has made Jeff and me and others, FEARLESS!

Verse 23 — Here was the plan. The elders said they had four men who were under a Nazirite vow, which was a vow of purity in which the one who makes the vow lets his hair grow long for whatever period of time he vows.

Well, these four men were not filled with the Spirit. If they were, they would say that only God can purify us, and that His is an inward purification. Remember, the Law is just a shadow of the good things to come!

NOTE: The vow Paul took earlier (Acts 18:18) had nothing to do with purity, but was a vow to the Lord, a promise made by Paul to Him.

Verses 24-25 — So, in the elders’ attempt to quell the unrest among such Jewish believers, Paul was asked to undergo a seven-day purification, along with these four men. He was to pay their expenses (their financial offerings) and then the four men would be free to shave their heads and offer their hair as a sacrifice.

The leaders believed that by doing so, Paul would show these Jewish believers that he walked orderly (with piety and virtue) according to the Law.

The leaders at Jerusalem then confirmed that regarding Gentiles, they only needed to do as the Council at Jerusalem had directed them, and did not need to follow the Law of Moses (see Acts 15:28-29).

Verse 26 — Paul obeyed, took the four men, purified himself along with them, and then went into the temple, giving notice that they had completed the days of purification.

And a sacrifice was offered for each of them, at the temple. HOWEVER . . . we will see next time that the Jews who hated Paul and did not believe into Jesus Christ were going to play into God’s hand, and persecute Paul to the degree that the Gentiles (Romans) had to rescue him from their hands!

NOTE: I must say this to those who mistakenly believe and teach that Paul was a hunchback, a dwarf, and had an eye disease or some other disease that was the thorn in his flesh (see 2Corinthians 12:7).

First know that Paul never would have been an up-and-coming Pharisee, taught by the renowned  Gamaliel, if he was a hunchback or a dwarf. That would have been considered a physical defect, and he would have been declared unclean and banned from the temple, under the Law of Moses!

Paul testifies that he was —

Philippians 3:5  circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal,  a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found  blameless.

And to the Jews he says —

Acts 22:3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.”

Not unclean, but found blameless, and taught by Gamaliel! That would not have been possible for a hunchback or a dwarf, under the Law of Moses!

If he had some kind of eye disease or other disease that has been called “Paul’s thorn” by some teachers, the Law of Moses would prohibit him from entering the temple. Again, he would have been deemed unclean.

But Paul entered the temple! What I have just shared are the conjectures of those who do not know God’s Word. They keep their listeners from knowing the truth. And they declare that healing is not for today, saying, Look at Paul’s thorn!

You now see that disease or disfigurement was not Paul’s thorn. Oh beloved, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)! He is still healing! He has even healed me, in every way!

I tell you with tears, many in the church do not know the Word of God and fall into all kinds of false teachings and conjectures by people who study the Word, but not by the light of its Author, the Holy Spirit. These teachers ought not to be teaching, for they do not yet have the intimate knowledge of God the Father and God the Son that is essential in order to be the church!

We cannot be the church unless we are filled with the One sent to teach us all things — the Holy Spirit! Then we will be able to discern truth from error!

These teachers have no light of dawn —

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (KJV).

Beloved, heed the words of Jesus to the false teachers in Jerusalem —

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes (lawyers who know the Law of Moses) and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from  people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

To be the church, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit’s light! He will teach you all the truth (John 16:13)!

Let it be so, Lord Jesus. Give the church a hunger for Your Word. Amen.

THE KING OF GLORY!

[SW309] 12/22/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

The King of Glory!

Next Monday, we celebrate the birth of the King of Glory, Jesus Christ. I have spoken of the Light that He brings, then of His Glory that shall be revealed, and now, I speak of the King of Glory coming in, even coming into you!

Text:  Psalm 24, a psalm of David

Who He Is

Verse 1 — The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

He owns everything, created everything, and it all has His mark upon it.

Psalm 19:1  The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

2  Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

It is His, and always has been. That’s why I always say that our home is My Father’s place, and He has simply loaned it to us during our stay on earth. It puts your own “possessions” and “prosperity” in the proper light, doesn’t it?

Do not seek after earthly treasures, where moth and rust destroy or thieves break in and steal, but seek heavenly treasures — Jesus Christ Himself, and His righteousness, in you (see Matthew 5:19-20)!

Verse 2 — For He has founded it (laid its foundation) upon the seas, and established it (erected it) upon the rivers.

Who created the earth and the universe itself? God the Father handed His Son the blueprints, and said, “Do it!” How do I know that? The Word of God  —

Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

So, the Lord created everything, He owns it, and it has His mark all over it. He is above all, and mankind is His creation, as John the Baptist says —

John 3:31   “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

Paul confirms it —

Colossians 1:16  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before (superior to) all things, and in Him all things hold together.

And —

Ephesians 1:21 (Jesus Christ is) far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I could go on and on, but I believe I have established Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, as much, much higher than any god of stone or wood or metal, and far, far greater than any of us!

So, Who Can Approach Him?

Verse 3 —  Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in His holy place?

Who may go up to and enter the heavenly Zion, of which the temple in Jerusalem is only a shadow? And who may stand in His holy — entirely sanctified — place, even the Holy of Holies, of which the temple’s Holy of Holies is only a pattern (Hebrews 8:5)?

It is a Most Holy Place, a place where there is no darkness, for —

1John 1:5   This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

So, who can approach such a holy and perfect God, in this entirely sanctified place that is all light?

Verse 4 — He who has clean (blameless, innocent, guiltless) hands and a pure (clean, purged) heart, who has not lifted up his soul to (desired to do) falsehood (evil, ruin, artful deception) and has not sworn deceitfully (fraudulently, treacherously).

What happens when such a one ascends to the hill of the Lord?

Verse 5 — He SHALL receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Jesus says —

Matthew 5:8   “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

PRAISE BREAK!

The blessing —

Psalm 103:1    Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2  Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

3  Who pardons all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases;

4  Who redeems your life from the pit,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

5  Who satisfies your years with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

And the righteousness, His and ours that He gives us —

2Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we become the righteousness of God in Him (no “might” become in the original Greek!).

Verse 6 —This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face (Your presence)— even Jacob — even you and me!

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (KJV)

Oh, He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him! Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and He will supply your need (Matthew 6:33)!

How Do You Become Holy and thus, able to enter?

This is David’s (and My) Exhortation to every member of the human race —

Verse 7 — Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in (“and the King of glory SHALL come in” per the Hebrew)!

Hold up your heads, you who have humbled yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up (1Peter 5:6)!

And the King of glory SHALL come in — even Jesus Christ, and the Father with Him (John 14:23)! You will be filled with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, to entirely sanctify the place where God will dwell — even your innermost being!

Verse 8 — Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!

He is a great King, with the train of His robe filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1), reflecting that He is always victorious!

Listen to John —

John 12:41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

He is King of kings and Lord of lords —

1Timothy 6:15 . . . He (Jesus Christ) who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Verse 9 — King David and I repeat the exhortation! Lift up! Lift up! And the King of glory SHALL come in!

Verse 10 — Who is this King of glory ?The LORD of hosts, the king of the Lord’s armies, the Christ of God, Jesus — He is the King of glory!

He is the King of glory!

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Bible scholar ALMOST has it —

“The Creator-God is the King of Glory and has come down to dwell in the midst of the city of man.”

He has come down to dwell in the midst — inside of — you and me! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14)! Amen!