Acts: Week 3, Day 3

Acts 5

Acts 5 contains 2 distinct stories both that point to how powerless non-believers are to stop the will of God and the spreading of His Holy Name.  In the first we learn of Ananias and Sapphira, the first church vandals, who attempt to sully the early church from within.  Then we learn about the the high priest, his associates and all of the Sanhedrin.  In Chapter 4, they locked up 2 apostles over night and used threats to attempt to get them to be quiet.  In Chapter 5 they escalate to locking up everyone and flog them.  The chapter closes with an unintended endorsement of the church from a member of the sanhedrin.  He points out that all man made initiatives have come and gone and will come and go.  If this is man-made, let’s not worry about it.  The only way it could last is if it is from God.  The Apostles rejoice for being flogged and “never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Don’t you hate it when you are right, Mr. Sanhedrinman?)

8. a. Acts 5:3 “that you have lied to the Holy Spirit”, Acts 5:9, “how could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord”

b. God’s heart is in His church.  The major sin, in my eyes, of Ananias and Sapphira wasn’t that they were stingy or deceitful, proud or even hypocrites, although they were clearly all of those.  To me, what satan filled their heart to do was to attempt to join the church without joining God.  They saw all of the neat things going on in this community of believers.  They saw the joy and fellowship and thought – ‘we want us some of that’.  Did they want to devote themselves fully to God?  Clearly not, they just wanted to be part of the movement, part of the church. 

Interesting how this tactic by satan comes up over and over again, and I think most of us can see it in our churches today.  The number of people who want to be considered a christian, but don’t really want to devote any part of their life to God.  Interesting as well the rebukes the churches receive in the Book of Revelation for this very thing.  To me this is a heart breaking story, because we can almost feel the pain and sadness this caused Christ, to see His church treated this way.  Once their sin was revealed, it was also heartbreaking to Ananias and Saphira.  God didn’t strike them dead, he simply opened their eyes and it broke their heart (literally).

9. a. Acts 5:19, The Angel of the Lord

b. Acts 5:32 – “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him”

10. a. Acts 5:41 They left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name and 5:42, Day aft day they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is Christ.  They did this house to house and in the temple courts (doesn’t sound like they were hiding)

b. My experience has been minimal.  As I study more and get more involved in leadership within church and BSF, I definately see the whispers of satan trying to move tripping stones into the path.  If anything is going to go wrong with our family, it happens on Sunday morning (church) or Monday (BSF night).  But I’ve not been called to rejoice for a flogging as these great men did.

In a conversation with a BSF leader one time, she pointed out that one sure sign you are on the right path of following God’s will for your life and furthering the kingdom of God is when you face great adversity.  If you are on the wrong path, why would satan try to get in your way?

Conclusion:

There are 3 verses in this chapter that really touched my heart.  First, verses 13 and 14.  The Ananias and Sapphira story is not normally seen as an uplifting story, but it is in the way it shows God’s passion and direction for the work of His church.  I see it in this blog that I write.  While I started it for me, the stats show that now hundreds of people are reading it each day.  However, what really lights my heart is the comment from an individual who saw a deeper revelation of God by sharing this avenue of fellowship with me.  I don’t think God’s design for His church is simply for us to fill up the seats and build ever bigger churches of people who want to belong to something.  I think He wants the people who believe in Him. This shines out to me in Acts 5:13-14.  The healthy fear of God puts a damper on the “tag-alongs”, but more and more men and women believed in the Lord!

The other verse is 5:17.  In previous chapters there has been much talk about the Apostles and believers being filled with the Holy Spirit and all of the power and strength and joy that created in them.  In 5:17 it says “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.”  I think this really highlights that we are all filled with something.  My pastor once put it in a sermon, “all men are born with a God-Sized hole in their hearts”.  During our life we try to fill it up, either with the gift of the Holy Spirit that satisfies because it fits perfectly, or with other stuff (such as jealousy) which doesn’t really fit and leaves us unsatisfied and unhappy because the hole is still there.  Remember John 10:10b from yesterday?  Christ wants us to have fullness.

Acts: Week 3, Day 2

Acts 3–4

In Acts 3, many at the temple are filled with wonder and amazement when they see the power of the holy spirit in the lame man who was called by Peter and John to walk in the name of Jesus Christ.  Peter directs their curiosity to repentance, to the prophecy of the scriptures and to Christ “so that your sins may be wiped out.”  5000 respond.

In Acts 4, the temple leaders are thrown into a quandry.  They cannot deny or hide the miracle of the cripple, who had been at their doorstep for 40 years, but their hearts are hardened and they don’t want this teaching spreading.  After holding Peter and John in jail, and not knowing what else to do, they threaten and command them to keep quiet.  The believers are unified in fellowship and pray for boldness in  word, miracles, signs and wonders.  The place of prayer rocks (literally) and they are all filled with the Holy Spirit, speak boldly and support each other.

3. John 10:10b; Romans 10:17; and Ephesians 2:1, 5, 8

  • The lame man looked to Peter and John for a handout, to make things a little better.  Instead they provided, as Christ provides, a changed life: life to the full.
  • Peter spoke that he would give all that he had to the man, the power that comes in the name of Jesus Christ. For faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.
  •  The man was helpless to change himself. Likewise, without Christ, God calls us “dead in trespasses and sins”
  • The man asked for coins, he could not even imagine the gift that was to be his.  It is by grace that we are provided the gift of salvation, which is far greater than we know and understand.
  • The man was called to walk and he jumped.  We are made alive with Christ when we were dead in transgression.

 4. a.

The power to heal: Acts 3:6

Servant to God and glorified by Him – Acts 3:13

Faith in the name makes someone strong – Acts 3:16

Faith in the name provides complete and visible healing – Acts 3:16

Source of teaching and resurrection of the dead 4:2

By his name people are healed 4:10

The name and teaching are called to silence by evil ones: 4:18

The name by which boldness comes: 4:33

b. Acts 3:26, God raised him up, He was sent by God to bless you by turning you from wicked ways, Acts 4:12 – Salvation is found in no one else

5. The power to heal, the authority to teach and call others to repentance, but mostly the courage of Peter and John, the fact that they were unschooled ordinary men who were standing toe-to-toe with the highest of the priestly court and preaching the scriptures to them – they wouldn’t be quieted, regardless of threat.

6. a. Started with praise for the attributes of God, moved to praise for the acts of God and the words of God, A statement of the challenge faced (leaders conspire against Jesus), A further acknowledgemenet that God is in control, petitions that He intervene in His way and time, A plea for boldness and power to carry out his will

b. I’m being more bold in my prayer this week.  I tend to “aim low” in my requests to God and for His intervention.  I’m aiming higher and praying Acts 4:30 – Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

7. They were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had, they had great power to testify and grace was upon them all.  There were no needy persons among them.  They sold worldly possessions and brought in money for distribution to anyone as he had need.

Summary:  I struggled a bit with the questions today.  I thought the passages were amazing and the lessons presented in how to be bold, how to expect miracles, how prominent God is in healing us, how God wants a fullness of life for us and then there is the example that the early followes set and the lessons on how to live in fellowship and act in generosity, grace and mercy.  I recently heard that Luke tends to follow a pattern of presenting a lesson then providing a story that highlights it either in a positive, reinforcing way or in a be careful of this trap way.  I have a feeling we’ve got a story coming on in the next chapters (ok, I peeked a little bit)

In regard to the specific BSF questions, I think there are some key points that I’m not totally grasping at this point, but that is one of the beauties of BSF.  I know that I will be able to learn from and hear the answers of my brothers.  I’ll be blessed by the lecture and, of course, the notes will probably be really good on those topics.

Side Note:

While not discussed in the questions, don’t miss the reference in Acts 4:36-37 to Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus whom the apostles called Barnabas.  He gets 2 verses here, then we lose sight of Barnabas for several chapters, but he pops up again and again playing prominent roles in the early church starting again in Acts 9 where he is instrumental (and someone alone) in welcoming an enemy, Saul of Tarsus, into the family of believers.  He continues to appear several times through Acts.  We learn of his work with the church in Antioch, where believers for the first time took on the name “Christians”.  Finally, in Colossians 4 we learn that he is the Apostle Mark’s cousin.  While he is mentioned here as almost a side note, consider it as a planted seed and watch as it grows and blooms through the book of Acts.

Acts: Week 3, Day 1

Fellowship

The notes this week really caused me to think about fellowship.  Referencing Phillippians 2:1, the notes point out that the Holy Spirit is a person who comes to dwell within a christian with whom we can have fellowship.  From a visual image standpoint, when I think of God the Father, I think of a person.  I see the image of a father and of a king.  When I think of Jesus, I think of a person.  I see a brother, a Lord, a Judge, a king.  But, when I think of the Holy Spirit, I think of, well, a spirit.  I picture a mist upon the water.  I picture a flame, like the burning bush or the tongues of flame at pentecost.  I think of the wind.  But I wouldn’t have visually thought of the Holy Spirit as a person.

But it is an amazing visual image to have and it provides even greater light on the changes that are noted in Acts 2 in regard to the 3000 converts. 

Let me back up just a little, first.  As we look at John 17 we see the prayer of Jesus at the conclusion of the last supper, immediately before he leaves to the grove to be betrayed and arrested and to be put to death.  This prayer is very revealing in terms of what God wishes for us and from us.  Jesus prayers for fellowship (aka, unity). He prays it for His disciples to have with each other, for all future believers and for all of them (the church) to have with Him.  What God desires for and with us is a relationship.  He already loves us.  He already rules over us.  He already knows everything about us.  What He wants, in love, is fellowship with us.  He concludes the prayer with the following: “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Now, with this in mind, look at what the 3000 did:

  1. Fellowship with the apostles, devotion to their teaching (Acts 2:42)
  2. Fellowship with other christians, breaking bread together, praying and  just being together in unity (Acts 2:42-44, 46)
  3. Fellowship with those in need (Acts 2: 45)
  4. Fellowship in praise to God (Acts 2:47)

What an amazing example to us and what a clear fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus at the last supper.  Immediately upon receiving the Holy Spirit at pentecost, where the Apostles entered a new fellowship with God through the indwelling of the person of the Holy Spirit, they stand up together and 3000 people are added to the fellowship.  In Acts 2:47 we see that it doesn’t end there, but the fellowship continues to grow.

It is clear that fellowship is critical to our christian walk and it is clearly important in BSF.  This is not only a bible study, although it is a great one, but the fulfillment of the value of BSF is in the fellowship.  You’ve got to show up – not just to get the notes, but to share your life with other believers, other struggling and developing christians and with God.  Is this the only place this happens?  Absolutely not.  This is what church is all about.  It is what we should be doing in our workplaces, schools and every other aspect of our lives.  But, as we see in the example of the earliest converts to the new church on the day of pentecost, it is easiest to do in a situation where we are focused together on the teaching of the Word.

So, if I see the visualization of the Father as a father image and king and the visualization of Christ as brother, Lord, judge and friend, how do I now visualize the person of the Holy Spirit?  I see the faces of the men and children I share fellowship with in bible study at BSF.