The Deceitfulness of Sin; the Faithfulness of our Savior

Sin whispers, “Is God really good?” Sin suggests, “You can do better than God’s way.” Sin befriends, “God doesn’t have your best interest at heart; I do.” Sin cajoles, “Just this once.” Sin promises, “You’re in control. You’ve got this. Nobody needs to know. You can stop at any time.”

Sin deceives.

In the Garden, our first parents believed sin’s lies that God was holding out on them, that he wasn’t really good. They were given paradise, but believed the lie that God might not be good, that there was a better way to true fulfillment. They had the privilege of walking with God in the cool of the day, but believed the lie that God hadn’t disclosed everything they truly needed. By believing and acting on the lie they learned the truth of the goodness they forfeited, the paradise they lost, and the friendship with God they’d severed. And their children have been enslaved to the deceitfulness of sin ever since.

In the wilderness, the Israelites believed sin’s lies and grumbled and complained until their hearts were hardened to the point of rebellion, provoking the God who’d rescued them from bondage to “swear in [his] wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest’” (Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11). The vast majority of the people who witnessed God’s mighty acts in the Egyptian plagues, who benefited from the release from slavery, who walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, and who watched the waters of that sea consume the Egyptian army not only complained against the Lord and Moses, but they accused God of rescuing them only to kill them in the promised land (Num. 14:3). “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?’”  (Num. 14:11). In believing and acting on sin’s lies, they displayed their unbelief which resulted in hardened hearts that despised the Lord. Continue reading “The Deceitfulness of Sin; the Faithfulness of our Savior”

Acts Lesson 3

Acts 3:1- 4:5-22

 

The healing of the lame man—3:1-10

The proclamation of the gospel—3:11-26

The results of Peter’s preaching—4:1-4

The trial of Peter and John—4:5-22

 

Setting, 

Herod’s Temple

Originally, Israel did not have a temple. Instead, they had a tent (called the tabernacle in some versions of the Bible) which was the centre of their worship and the place where God was said to dwell (Exodus 25:8). King David wanted to build a temple but God said that his son Solomon would build it instead (1 Chronicles 17:4).

When the Jews returned from captivity, they built a new temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Ezra 3:8-11starting in 536 BC and finishing in 520 BC (Ezra 6:15). This temple was on the same site as Solomon’s temple and was in use until about 20 BC. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 3”

Hold Fast to Jesus

My husband Jim and I went kayaking last month on Lake Superior with a group led by our daughter Erin. (Not every post will begin with a story from that vacation, I promise) Being a good guide, she gave us a safety briefing before we began. Part of her briefing included the need to stay together. The first morning we went out there was an unusually heavy fog, which posed a higher risk of getting lost or running into danger if we didn’t pay attention and keep close to one another. Erin carries a whistle, and she explained that if we heard one toot it meant “Hey, I’m trying to get your attention, and you’re probably too far away,” two toots meant “Hold your position,” and 3 toots meant “Danger—there’s an emergency—paddle hard and get back together as quickly as possible.”

Chapter two of Hebrews begins with a safety briefing for our souls. This is the first of several warnings against apostasy in the book of Hebrews. The author is blowing his whistle to get our attention, warning us of a very real danger to which we are all liable: drifting away from the gospel truth of our great salvation by either lack of attention or neglect. He underscores his warning by harking back to the superiority of Christ which he so carefully set before us in the first chapter (that’s what the therefore is there for). For the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ means that the salvation he accomplished at the cross and freely offers as a gift of grace is far greater than the salvation offered through the Law of Moses (the message declared by angels, Deut. 33:2; Acts 7:53). If this salvation is so much greater than the other, in which every transgression was justly punished, then the consequences of neglecting it are correspondingly higher. Continue reading “Hold Fast to Jesus”

Acts Lesson 2

The sovereignty of God in all that took place in Acts is a major theme running through the book. Nothing takes place that God has not ordained. As we move forward we will see how the church developed, how God used all kinds of flawed people to bring about his plan. Please pray each week for our study!

THE PENTECOST INCIDENT

Acts 2:1-41

Something special and spectacular took place in the 2nd chapter of Acts. It was an event, the like of which had never before taken place. These Christians are living at the very time when the Holy Sprit is being sent down from heaven. Luke wants us to see as he uses various terms that receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized with the Holy Spirit is the same thing. And Luke says they were all filled with the Holy Spirit—not just some.

Acts 2:1-4

Pentecost was not a new concept to Jews. It was something from antiquity, going back over a thousand years. Pentecost was one of the festivals which was established by the Lord in Leviticus 23. It took place 50 days after the Passover. The Jews had come to associate the Feast of Pentecost with the giving of the Law.

God is setting into motion events that He planned from the foundation of the world. This tells us something about the church. The church is a part of a plan that started a long time before the first century.

Those in attendance at Pentecost saw what appeared to be tongues of fire. These tongues distributed themselves over each of the believers. Notice that the passage does not say that they FELT anything. The experience on that day was not based on feelings.

When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they were led in their travels by a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex.13:21).   When they were not traveling, this smoke and fire would position itself over the Tabernacle. This was the place where God manifested His presence. It was the Tent of Meeting. It served as the dwelling place of God. The smoke and the fire were a sign that God was there.

Now it is happening again. But this time there is a difference. This time the manifestation of the flaming presence of God is not positioned over a tent. This time it is over PEOPLE. Why? Because they (we) are the new tabernacle and the temple of God. From now on, the spirit of God would come and reside in His LIVING temple – the church.

Acts 2:5-13

We see in Mark 16:17 that Christ told them they would speak with new tongues. Isaiah 28:11 predicted this would occur during the times of the Messiah. This would have enabled the apostles in their work to go forth to preach to all nations. Note in verse 8 that it says that they each heard in his own language. This was one of the miracles that was promised in John 14:12.

 

Peter’s Sermon

Acts 2:14-39

Half the book of Acts is about the exploits of Peter, his preaching and the power that God bestowed on this flawed man. God can restore, and God can forgive, and God can take a broken vessel like Peter and remake him, and refashion him. When Peter stands and speaks, he goes to scripture and shows the listeners that Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) has been fulfilled. Peter is interpreting the words of Joel. He tells us what Joel’s words mean. He says that these are the last days. The Jews took the “last days” to refer to the Messianic Age.

Peter wants the listeners to understand how God was sovereign in Christ’s crucifixion as well as his resurrection.  The cross was planned by God. As was the betrayal by Judas, the complicity of the high priest and the role played by the Roman government. These things did not happen by chance. God both FOREKNEW and he also PREDETERMINED this plan. This means that God’s plan includes the sinful acts of men. God IS in control of all things. This includes all things that come into your life.

Act 2:25-37

Having stated the fact of the resurrection, Peter now shows that this event was one which had been promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. He quotes from one of the Psalms of David, Psalm 16:10. It is a Psalm of prayer in which David prays for deliverance. In the midst of that Psalm, he thanks the Lord and announces the source of his confidence. Peter is not preaching the teachings of Jesus. He is preaching the PERSON of Jesus and the fact of His death, burial and resurrection.

Up to this point he has been giving them information. He has been telling them the facts of the gospel. Now he calls for a response on their behalf (Acts 2:38-39). The gospel demands a response on my part. That response is seen in repentance and baptism. Peter notes baptism to be the outward sign of an inward heart of repentance.

We see in Acts 2:40-41 a tremendous response. Luke reports that 3000 were called that day, those that the Lord called to himself. The church became their life. This was not merely a one-day-a-week activity. This was a whole new way of living. Acts 2:42-47.

Next week we see the apostles step out in their new role as witnesses of the Gospel, preaching and performing miracles. This will not be without a cost and we will be encouraged by their willingness to follow the Messiah no matter what!

 

As we read though Acts and learn about the beginning days of the church, we need to understand the relationship of Israel and the church in the New Testament. Keith Mathison of Ligonier ministries has a great article that will answer most questions and give us a very clear understanding of this subject. You can access it here:

The Church and Israel in the New Testament
by Keith Mathison

 

Jesus Christ, Our Superior Prophet, Priest, and King

A few weeks ago we went to Wisconsin, along the shore of Lake Superior, for a beautiful week of vacation. The local residents love their lake, and they clearly enjoy the adjectival advantages of living next to North America’s largest lake, which is “superior in magnitude to any of the lakes on that vast continent.”[1] While there we enjoyed “superior” coffee and “superior” dining, visited “superior” orchards, and took in “superior” views. The breakfast we had our final morning there was amazing, and definitely worth going back for—Eggs Benedict over smoked trout, be still my heart! But, while these were all nice, and some of them even great, none of them were truly superior to all others in their respective categories, either in essence or substance. They were superior only by association with and in proximity to the great lake.

The first chapter of the book of Hebrews plunges straight into the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ in his essence and being, his person and his work. Christ’s superiority over all things in heaven and earth is not by association or proximity, but is inherent to his Eternal, Immutable, Divine, and Sovereign being. Continue reading “Jesus Christ, Our Superior Prophet, Priest, and King”

Acts Lesson 1

 

A Summary of Acts Lesson 1

If the Book of Acts underscores any truth, it is that of the sovereignty of God, who works all things in accordance with His will, whether or not men believe or obey. Much of what the Spirit of God accomplished in the Book of Acts was in spite of men. God can just as easily use the “wrath of man” to accomplish His will as He can the obedience of man. The Gentiles will hear the gospel, and many will come to faith on account of the Jews. First, we shall see the sovereignty of God in the spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles and not just to the Jews alone. Second, we shall see the sovereignty of God in the salvation of Paul and in God’s use of him as a chosen vessel.

According to early church tradition, the book of Acts was written by Luke the physician, a companion of Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and on the voyage to Rome. It covers a timespan of approximately 32 years –from the ascension of Jesus Christ (ca. AD 30) to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (ca. AD 68). Certainly it has an historical form and its historical information is accurate, but its real purpose was theological.

Continue reading “Acts Lesson 1”

Welcome to our Acts Study!

Dear Sisters, Wednesday 10 a m we begin our WOP studies. We are meeting upstairs in the E B. Bring your bibles and a pen or pencil, and we will have a folder for you with your first lessons.

After each study, I will have a brief summary on our blog of the lesson along with any class handouts. Each week you will receive an email alerting you to updates, and can easily access the materials to keep up when you are absent. I will also include articles for those of you who would like to read and dig deeper. Feel free to bring visitors anytime. See you on Wednesday.

He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Psa 24:5-6

 

Kathy

 

 

Welcome to our study of Hebrews!

Dear Ones,

Our first week for our Fall Bible study is finally here! I’m excited to be meeting with you to study the remarkable book of Hebrews, and I hope you are too.

You received the notification for this post on our new-and-improved Women of Purpose blog because you have registered for the study of the book of Hebrews. Each week Kathy and I will be writing posts about the studies we are leading with the aim of capturing the gist of our lessons and discussions for those who may have missed class, and for those who wish to reflect further on what we studied together. We may also, on occasion, share articles or resources which relate to our respective studies. Our goal is always the enrichment of our understanding the Scriptures: primarily through the study of the Bible itself, and then secondarily through reliable commentary and resources.

If you haven’t already gotten your study guide, they are available in the office. (They are $8 each) If you can’t stop by to pick one up before we meet, I will have them in class on Wednesday. This week (9/22) we will be going over the first lesson, which covers the first chapter of Hebrews. Our focus will be on the ways in which God has spoken to us, and what we learn about the divinity and supremacy of Christ. We will then dig deeper into the Old Testament passages quoted by the author of Hebrews to see the light they shed on Jesus.

Please come to class with your study guide (if you already have it), your Bible, and, if you are a note-taker, a notebook and pen.

It is my sincere prayer and hope that together, as we study this marvelous book of Scripture, we may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

Grace and peace to you,

Barbaranne