BSF Acts: Week 16 Lecture: 2 Thessalonians

Imagine that you are a teacher.   You and your fellow teachers learn that your school is going to be recognized as the best school in the nation.  The president is going to come to your school.  All of the TV stations will be there, there will be a parade and everyone will show up to applaud and cheer.  But, no one knows the exact date when the announcement is going to come.

Well, of course, you immediately bring your lawn chair, stop teaching and camp out in front of the school to get the very best seat for the show, right?

Of course not.  But that is what some of the Thessalonians were doing.  They heard Christ was going to come back and call all of His people to a very big party in the sky.  So, they decided to stop everything and camp out to get a good seat for the show.

In Paul’s first letter we heard him tell them to keep their focus on this reunion with Jesus.  But this week, while he is thrilled that they continue to grow in their faith, he is concerned they are spending too much time in the lawn chairs and not enough time doing the work of spreading the gospel.  But let’s get into what he writes:

1st Division: 2 Thes 1

Christ’s return constitutes a huge family reunion.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been on some cool rides at an amusement park, but I don’t think anything is going to compare to getting to surf on a cloud in the biggest party in the sky you ever imagined.

But this is a family reunion and only family members are welcome.  While everyone was invited, only those who chose get to come.  The rest – well – let’s say there is a big difference between clouds and smoke!

Who do you want to make sure is at the party?

Have you sent them a personal invitation by sharing the good news about Jesus with them?

Who do you need to pray for so they will decide to be part of the family of believers?

2nd Division: 2 Thes 2

Have you ever heard the term “sitting on the fence”?  It is not all that different than “keeping your options open.”  God isn’t so big on this.  He is offering the greatest gift anyone can imagine – He is offering to make us a brother to His only son: Jesus!  But some people go, “well, let me think about it – maybe I’ll see if there is anything better.”

Well, in the final days, God gets sick and tired of the fence sitting – he is going to make it so everyone chooses, one side or the other. Period, end.

How close are you living to the fence?

Is every part of your life on the right side of the fence?

3rd Division: 2 Thes 3

God did not make us to sit around – he made us to do work.  We are blobs of jello.  We have muscles and strength.  We have thoughts and words.  We had drive and initiative.  We are made to work.

Now, Paul is clear – we need to work.  That does not mean is against helping people in need.  And he clearly distinguishes between those who can vs those who will.  Someone who is unable to work has Paul’s full support and healing ministry.  Those who choose not to work, get a strict admonishen to do the work God called them to do.

Paul is not simply talking about working with our hands, but being engaged in work with others as the best place to demonstrate God’s message.  It is through mutual labor that we earn the ability to share a deeper work – the work of saving lost souls.

Did you put in a full day’s work today for God?

How would your performance evaluation go if it was time for your annual review?

God makes it so easy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part.  He calls people.  He sends us to them.  He gives us the words to say.  He sanctifies them with the Holy Spirit.  He strengthens and encourages us and protects us from the evil one.

Truly, we are nothing but the messenger service – but would you rather hear, “Good job”  or “I’m disappointed in you”?

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BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 3,

Hebrews 3:1–6

Summary:

Focus on our high priest in heaven.  Jesus and Moses were both faithful to God, but Jesus, as the Son of God, is greater than Moses.

Questions:

9. a. Pray, remember our sins and repent of them, seek forgiveness and restitution for wrongs, accept the gift of grace
b. When we are tempted.  We can turn to many different things when we face temptation, but only one has the ability to help us: Jesus.

10. Transcendental meditation (which has its roots in the Hindu religion) and other common forms of meditation that some use for stress relief have a focus on becoming empty.  Someone would focus on a mantra (normally a nonsensical word) and empty themselves of thought.  Christian meditation is a focus on becoming filled.  We meditate to be filled with the Spirit or to be filled with the Word or to be filled with God’s grace and forgiveness.  Here are a few examples:

Jos 1:8 Do not let the book of the law depart from your lips, meditate on it day and night

Psalm 48:9 Meditate on your unfailing love

Psalm 77:12 meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds

Psal 119:15 meditate on your precepts and consider your ways

Psalm 119:27 meditate on your wonders

11. Differences: Jesus is God (the Son of God), Moses wasn’t; Jesus built the house, Moses was in the house.  Similarities: Both men, both faithful to God.

Conclusion:

The high priest was charged with making the atoning sacrifice for the children of God.  Jesus not only took on that task once and for all, but he, himself, also became that sacrifice.  He gave himself freely as an offering of love for His father and for His fallen brothers who were enslaved by sin.

All men are born with a God sized hole in them.  We all feel longing, incompleteness, emptiness, a void from time to time.  While emptying your mind of thoughts may provide a temporary relief from stress, much like some attempt to find through the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.  But becoming more empty is never going to be the long term answer to a feeling of emptiness and longing.  The only solution is to be filled: filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the love of our creator, filled with the word of the Lord.  Now that is something to meditate on!

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 2, Hebrews 2:5–18

Hebrews 2:5–18.

Summary:

The author of Hebrews again picks up the discussion of Jesus and the angels.  Jesus became man, lower than the angels, perfected by suffering to call those he saves brothers.

Questions

4. a. I think “the world to come” refers to a world totally under salvation totally subjecting itself to Christ.  For the elect I think it starts on the day we accept Christ as our savior, but I think it is complete when all do, when Christ comes again and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.
b. In Genesis 1 God subjected the earth to man’s dominion.  The fallen earth continues in that covenant.  In these verses the writer confirms that the saved world also falls under that gift from God.

5. While fully man, Jesus took on the sins of the world and suffered death, becoming the author of salvation and rising to glory in heaven

6.Death (or fear of death), the devil, Sin, Temptation

7. (Challenge) The world is comprised of believers and non-believers.  Jesus defeated death for all, but it is not forced on all, it is a gift free given that can be received or rejected.  In Mark 16:16 the gospel says “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  Satan is still in this world because free-will to sin is still in the world.  As long as sin remains, Satan remains.  But Satan is still defeated because he no longer holds power over the believers (Eph 2:1-9) who are no longer dead to transgression but alive in salvation.  At a time to come, all will know that Christ is Lord and every knee shall bow (Rom 14:11)

8. Hebrews 2:17, Jesus made like man in every way.  This is in perspective of Hebrews 1:3 stating that Jesus is the exact reflection of God.

Conclusion:

Was Jesus part man and part God?  God inside and man outside?  1/2 man 1/2 God?  Hebrews clears this up.  While we may have difficulty understanding it: Jesus was, at the same time, fully man and fully God.  It clears up that as fully man Jesus suffered when he was tempted, but as fully God he was able to remain completely without sin.

I have heard it said that Jesus could not sin because He was God.  However, if you are not able to sin then what would be the sting of temptation?  From these passages we see the amazing sacrifice that he made, to become lower than the angels and put himself in a position of suffering the same temptations and trials that we as men face, but in his divine nature He did something no other man has been able to: resist always and stay focused only on the will of God the Father.

Hebrews is a book of encouragement.  We see in chapter one the place and power of Jesus relative to men and angels and in this chapter we begin seeing the sacrifice that He made to be able to call us brother in every way.

BSF Acts, Week 10, Day 1

2. I thought the notes did a good job of explaining why our study is taking this detour in the middle of Acts to jump to the Letter to the Hebrews (besides the fact that it is strategically placed in between the chapter when Paul fights against requiring circumcision and the next chapter when he circumcises Timothy.)  On the first page it raises the question: if someone claims to be a Christian, are they?  If not necessarily, then what decides.  Hebrews explains that this isn’t a buffet line where you pick some things but leave others about faith in Christ.  You don’t rely totally on Him for your salvation but also try to do it on your own, just in case.  Jesus died, the work is done.  You are either inside the house or outside.  There is no screened in deck.  You get to choose: in or out.  I choose in!

p.s.: hold onto page 3, Homiletcs division are provided through then end of December in the table.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 10, Hebrews 1:1-2:4, Lecture

Aim: The choice we make in accepting Christ in this life is an eternity-long decision

Introduction:

Our lessons the last couple of weeks have been very interesting.  See, the road map is changing.  Prior to Jesus and Peter, Paul and Barnabas, the path you took in life and beyond was largely based on the path you were born on.  There were many different paths, heading many different directions, but they seldom crossed.  You rarely got the opportunity to choose your path.  (I’m going to draw some lines, some straight, almost parallel, but mostly winding in different directions.)  But even then there was only one path to God.

But with Jesus paying the price for the sins of the whole world it has changed.  Everybody is at the same point, we’ll call it NOW (I’m going to draw something that looks like a wheel hub and spokes).  But here is the difference, we all get to choose which path we take.  Any path gets us to the end (where we die), but only one path keeps going after that to spend forever with God.  But you get the choose.  It isn’t what family you were born to or what language you speak, it is how you decide.

So where does it all start, well let’s look at our lesson this week, we start in Hebrews 1:1

First division: Hebrews 1:1-3 – Jesus is the only son of God

1:1-2a God speaks to us through the prophets and now through His Son Jesus

1:2b-3a Jesus is heir of all, creator of all, the radiance and exact image of God’s glory, and sustainer of all

1:3b Jesus saved us from sin and reigns in heaven at the right hand

Principle: To know Jesus is to know God

Illustration: I’m going to bring in a chest X-ray and show a picture of my heart.  This is the only way I can see my heart.  In a similar way Jesus is an exact image of God.  He isn’t like God, like this X-ray isn’t like my heart.  He is God the same way that this is my heart.

Application: Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?  If someone asked you to describe Jesus would it be as an acquaintance, friend or a member of the family?  How long could you talk to someone about your Lord?

Division 2: Hebrews 1:4-14 Angels are messengers and ministering spirits.  Jesus is both the giver of the gift and the gift itself.  He is God.

1:4-5 Jesus is superior to angels by name and birthright

1: 6 Angels worship Jesus

1:7-13 Jesus was the creator and He is eternal, God, Ruler

1:14 All angels are ministering spirits to the elect

Principle: Angels serve, Jesus saves

Illustration: If you were captured in a foreign country and  thrown into prison, it would be great to have people from your homeland that come and help you and protect you and bring messages from home.  But it is even better when the “big guy” comes and gets you out of prison.  All believers (current and future) are foreigners on this earth.  This is just a temporary home.  Angels are sent by God to help and protect us, but only Jesus sets us free.

Application: Do you think of angels as messengers of God or in some other way?  Do you thank God for the angels he sends to minister to you? 

Third Division: Hebrews 2:1-4 Warning to pay heed

2:1 Pay attention so you don’t drift away

2:2-3a Aside from salvation we can’t have justification

2:3b-4 Jesus announced salvation, Apostles taught it, God showed it (signs/miracles) we experience it in the Gifts of the Spirit.  There are no excuse for not believing!

Illustration: I think about a little boat tied to a big boat.  Now, if I like the comfort of being able to participate in some stuff on the big boat, I may tie my small boat to it.  But maybe I don’t want to be too associated with the big boat.  May be some of my friends aren’t tied to the boat at all and I don’t want to be different, so I might still tie onto the big boat, but not too tightly and not too close.  And while things are calm, that may have no repercussions.  But things don’t stay calm in life.  They get stormy and when they do and I’m way far away with a really long rope, I start to drift and I might just drift right up into rocks or other dangers.  The only safe place is being directly connected to God’s ship.

Application: what are you waiting for to tie the knot?  How tightly are you cinched up to God’s boat?  What areas of your life are still adrift?  Who do you need to throw a rope to that is drifting into the rocks?

Conclusion:

Jesus has fulfilled a new covenant.  Salvation is through faith in Him alone and we all get to choose.  If you are unsure about your choice and whether you are on the right path, BSF has a pamphlet called the “Steps to Assurance.”  Read it.  This isn’t something you want to be pretty sure about since it last forever.  Be certain in your salvation.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 5, Hebrews 2:1–4

Hebrews 2:1–4

Summary:

Folks, pay attention!  If the law is binding, we are doomed – except by external salvation.  But this salvation is provided through Christ.  He announced it, apostles repeated it and showed it, signs, wonders and miracles made it tangible, the gifts of the H/S made us experience it.

Questions:

10. a. Pay careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away

b. The message of salvation, announced by the Lord, confirmed by the Apostles, testified in signs, wonders, miracles and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit

11. a.Temptation surrounds us.  We live in a time that is more connected and, as such, more corrupted by the sins of all mankind than of any time in the past.  Wickedness is thrust upon us through every medium and temptation is never more than 2 clicks away.

b. The preponderance of wickedness is so overwhelming that we quickly realize the only path out is God’s way.  There is no way to stand up under our own strength.
12. (Personal) We have different learning styles.  Some of us need to see it, some hear, some touch, some experience.  God loves us so that He has taught his truth about salvation in every possible way. I need to be thorough and complete in my teaching of the word.  I need to understand the absolute truth of God’s love and erase all doubt.  I need to blanket myself in His love.

Conclusion:

I love these verses where there is so much packed into so few words.  When you look at it this where there is no reasonable argument for not believing.  Not only can you see it, feel it, experience it, do it, hear it, but you can also clearly understand the ramifications of not following it.  The message has been clearly delivered by the messengers (angels) and by every other means possible.  Only by choosing to becoming purely ignorant and choosing to turn away can we fail to see the importance and the truth.

It requires far more faith to not believe than it does to believe in salvation through Jesus Christ!

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 4, Hebrews 1:4–14

Hebrews 1:4–14

Summary:

A presentation of the ways in which Jesus is different than and superior to angels.  The passage concludes with the explanation of the role angels are to play: ministering spirits to serve those who will inherit salvation.

Questions:

8.

  • No angel is the Son of God the Father
  • Angels worship Jesus
  • Jesus is anointed by God with the oil of joy
  • Jesus laid the foundations of earth
  • Jesus created the heavens
  • Jesus is eternal and unchanging
  • Jesus sits at the right hand of God
  • Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve believers

9. a. Angels are celestial beings but not divine.

b. Angels are prayed to.  Angels are praised.  Angels are deified in song and artwork.  People mistakenly think that dead love ones become angels and come back to minister to them as such.  Angels in statues and jewelry and artwork and slogans are given credit for the ministering they deliver.

c. It is akin to raising up the delivery man for the gift we receive in the mail. Nothing against the postal worker, but he or she is only the messenger.

Conclusion:

Angels are real.  They are among us sent by God to minister to us. They are God’s messengers and those he sends to carry out specific tasks and deliver specific messages.  They live in the presence of God and experience His glory first hand.  They are not humans, were not humans.  They are not God and were not God.  But they are real.

Through the stories of people in the direst situations that we interact with: survivors of a Cat5 tornado in Joplin, recovering drug and alcohol survivors who lost everything to addiction, those imprisoned – we hear how they know and saw angels sent to protect them from death.  They do not worship angels – the worship Jesus to is above the angels.  They have no question angels are real, Jesus real and the grace of God is the only way.

Knowing that angels are ministering to me gives me strength and courage.  Knowing that God loves me so that he looks after me in so many ways is a comfort above all others.