Monday, November 10, 2014

DISCOVERING ACTS


Just finished a Crossway Bible Guide to the Book of Acts and decided to share some thoughts.


Chapter 2


The reason Luke lists so many different places from which Jews had come for the Day of Pentecost is to provide a record of all the areas where the Gospel went immediately.


Verse 38 makes clear baptism is necessary for salvation; not merely a public confession of faith.




Chapter 12


Herod was keeping them in jail until he had celebrated Easter. Herod was pagan and Easter is a pagan holiday.


Chapter 17


It wasn’t that the apostles were being falsely accused of saying Christians should overthrow the government. Rather, the apostles were truly preaching obeying God rather than Caesar. What the authorities found so displeasing about early Christianity was precisely that there were people saying there was an authority higher than them.


Chapter 20


A verse in this chapter is often used to try to prove the day of worship was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday by the early Christians. No such thing was ever done. This is truly a case of “where too much is proven, nothing is proven.” Just because there was a meeting in Troas on the first day of the week to fellowship and break bread does not indicate the changing of the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Luke is simply telling us the day on which the subsequent events took place.


The early church, except for the Alexandrians, continued to observe the Saturday Sabbath throughout the first century.


Chapter 23


The thing I was most curious about, Paul’s behavior toward Ananias after being struck, was not explained in this section of “Discovering Acts”, although it could have been a cultural thing. Paul well knew he was under the new covenant but as a Jew he still had respect for the cultural institution of the old covenant high priest.


Chapter 24


Ananias’ charges against Paul are excellent proof of the saying “the Jew cries out as he strikes you.”


SO WHAT HAPPENED?


So what, exactly, went wrong? How did we get from the early church lead by the apostles to, 2000 years later, having over 43 thousand different denominations in Christendom. Granted, the church that existed at the time the events in the Book of Acts occurred had its fair share of problems, too. There is no perfect church and there is always going to be some division among those who call themselves believers. However, I would like to offer the main theories concerning what I believe happened to bring us from there to here, so to speak.


Firstly, the pagans were let in the church. Emperor Constantine, realizing persecution of the church was only causing it to grow, changed tactics. He pretended to convert to Christ, then offered to have buildings constructed for the believers who had previously met in house churches. In exchange, all the believers had to do were things like observe pagan festivals, albeit attaching a Christian meaning to them, among other things. This has led to such practices as the observance of Christmas and Easter and worship on the first day of the week.


Secondly, the Nicolaitanes were let into the church. This group, mentioned in Revelation 2 6, believed it was permissible to do whatever one wanted. This has led to such teachings as “There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more”, “the Law has been done away with” or “you don’t have to do anything as a Christian; our salvation is not of works.”


Thirdly, the spiritual descendants of the Pharisees were let into the church. These people, commonly called legalists, have introduced a whole bunch of extra-Biblical rules to church life over the centuries and have caused individual churches to place emphasis on things about which the Bible has relatively little to say or which aren’t among the weightier matters. Most people reading this probably know the kind of people to whom I am referring so there’s no need to further elaborate on this point.


Fourthly, we have let the physical descendants of the Pharisees, the people we call Jews today (though not every single person called a Jew is necessarily among this group), into the church. Jews, by and large, follow the teachings of the Babylonian Talmud and the Qabala, which twist all the Old Testament laws to the point where, like the Nicolaitanes, everything is permissible. These modern-day Pharisees have had great influence in the Christian world, particularly in the seminaries.


Fifthly, most churches today don’t tell unbelievers how to get saved. Nowhere does the Bible say “accept Jesus Christ as you’re personal savior.” Neither does someone get saved by blindly repeating the prayer of a televangelist, or by any of the other multiple ways sinners are told to become Christians these days. Acts 2 38 is quite clear about what one has to do to become a Christian.


Sixthly, most Christians these days don’t reach out to their own culture before reaching out to another. The apostles preached in the synagogues and among the Jews before going to the Gentiles of a particular city, not only because the Gospel is “to the Jew first and also the Greek”, (although this was of course the most important reason), but because the apostles were of that selfsame culture so they understood how to present the Gospel to the Jewish people (those of the tribe of Judah) better than they would have understood how to present to any other group. Today, a lot of Christians get saved and they immediately want to go on the mission field to Africa or India or some other far off land. However, they haven’t taken that vital step in fulfilling the great commission which is to present it to the people they’re most familiar with and with whom they associate before taking it to another kind of people.


Seventhly, of course, is the reason that you can’t very effectively reach your culture if you don’t understand it. Most Christians these days, particularly of course the “churched” believers, don’t understand the mindset of our society because they’ve most often grown up around other church kids. They don’t understand how the world thinks and acts, not least the kind of people who are around them, to say nothing of Hindus, Moslems, Pantheists, and the like.

14 comments:

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Which baptism is Acts 2:38 referring to--Matthew 3:13-17 or Luke 12:50?

Alex Horton said...

The word "baptism" is a transliteration of a word that means "to emerse in water." When we are baptized for the remission of sins, we are buried with Christ and come up out of the water new creatures. This baptism of course takes place after we have died to ourselves in repentance.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

So, my dear Alex, was Christ Jesus dreading having to be immersed in water during the last days before the time of His Crucifixion?

Alex Horton said...

The Bible plainly says we are buried with Christ through baptism.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Yes, my dear Alex, but just what does that mean? Again, what about Luke 12:50?

Alex Horton said...

Luke 12 50 is talking about something different than Acts 2 38, but Christ being put in the grave is what baptism picture.s As for "buried with Him through baptism": When we repent, we die to ourselves. Baptism is the burial of that dead man and that dead man comes up out of the water a new creature.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

You are correct about speaking in tongues being about speaking in and understanding languages foreign to us, and the discussion we are now having serves as prime example of this. For what Luke 12:50 is directly referring to is a Spiritual change that water baptism symbolizes. Be assured that Spiritual change is necessary for the salvation of our souls. Whereas, water baptism is merely an honoring of our Heavenly Father that He is pleased to see, But it is not required for the salvation of our souls.

Alas, I must admit that I was also horrified to read you claiming that there is nothing in the Bible that refers to us needing to accept Christ Jesus as our personal Savior when the main reason for why there are so many different "Christian" denominations is because of so very few truly wanting to have a very close and personal relationship with Him. For it is during this close walk with Him that He (albeit through His Holy Spirit) that we are taught about His ways, which the Bible is meant to serve as written confirmation thereof. Without this walk, we are left to pursue our own desires, which has resulted in all of the different man-made doctrines that has led millions and millions farther and farther away from what our Heavenly Father actually says is absolutely true. Now, this is nothing for Him to overcome, but far too many would rather remain in the darkness of Spiritual ignorance than have to swallow their pride and admit that they have been deceived.

Alex Horton said...

As far as baptism is concerned, it is pretty plain baptism is not symbolic.

As for accepting Christ as our savior: Nowhere in the Bible does this phrase appear. On the contrary, people better be more concerned about whether Christ accepts them. This phrase sounds like we deigned to let Jesus into our exclusive club that He normally wouldn't be good enough to be a member of but we let Him in anyway.

We have the close relationship and walk with the Lord when we are baptized (not as a symbolic gesture) after genuine repentance. Baptism unlocks understanding and enables us to truly grow close to God.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Well, my dear Alex, what I now know and understand about baptism came from our Heavenly Father or a demon pretending to be Him. For there was a time when I thought that maybe the reason why I was not being physically-healed was on account of needing to be baptized again because the first one I had at the tender age of seven did not really count, and He showed me the way it absolutely is.

It is the same with everything else I now accept to be the absolute truth, such as how it is impossible to prove anything to the One who has known everything about everyone since before they even came to actually exist. Therefore, since none of us would exist unless He wanted them to, it really is about us wanting to truly accept Christ Jesus as our own personal Lord and Savior, which is something that most really don't want to do because of wanting to save themselves in one way or another.

By the way, "Everything is permissible," is in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 6:12, and it is through the very close and personal relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with each and every one of us that we learn just what that means and how applies to each individual as they Spiritually-mature.

Come on now, why would you want our Heavenly Father to be like a government, where everything is simply a matter of law, with there being nothing personal about it? Have you become convinced that you are good enough to make the grade under such a system or are you still clinging to the belief that you are one of elect, and have never been in danger of failing? Yeah, being an elect would sure make it easier to preach Hell-fire and brimstone against all others in such a cold and detached way--does it not?

Alex Horton said...

I don't think a lot of what you believe came either from God or a demon; I think it came from your own mind: what you want to believe. When I said what I said about Jesus Christ accepting us, I meant are we serving God in the way He wants to be served as opposed to the way we feel like serving Him.

The Bible makes it pretty obvious that literally everything is not permissible.

God's kingdom is a government. Man is not capable of making satisfactory laws to govern Himself, so we need God's law to guide our lives.
We indeed have a personal relationship with Him, but He is also the ruler of our lives and the universe with His law.

Election is a totally Biblical and Godly doctrine. It says, "Those He foreknew He _also predestined." That word also is pretty important. _ALSO PREDESTINED! It's that simple!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I understand where you are coming from, my dear Alex. For our Heavenly Father let me get sucked into the Word-Faith fantasies AFTER He started making Himself real to me in order to give me some personal experience with how easily Satan can deceive us when we take too much for granted. This is what you are going through now, and I really do want to believe that you will want to come out of the darkness when our Heavenly Father starts drawing you back to Himself.

Alex Horton said...

How is what I said "word of faith?"

You really are an arrogant jerk, aren't you, Jerry.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

No, Alex, I was talking about something that our Heavenly Father let me get sucked into years ago. Nonetheless, since you just got through telling me that you believe that I am making up all of this stuff in my own mind, does that not make us both arrogant jerks by your standards? Of course, when it can be believed that another is sincerely trying to be of help, even the hard stuff should not be found offensive. Be assured that I want to believe that you are sincerely trying to explain things to me and others you now want to believe are incorrect. So, it is made easy for me to let what could be considered insults go harmlessly by.

Alex Horton said...

I didn't say you were making everything up but I do think you definitely have some things you believe purely because that's the way you want it to be in your own mind. I don't know whether you are sincerely trying to be of help to people or not; maybe you're just going around the internet trying to recruit everyone to your exact way of thinking because you're so obsessed over all you never became and all the success you never had. Or, it could simply be you have some sort of mental complex where you simply can't get along with people and always have to argue about things, and if people disagree with you they're in darkness.