Acts Lesson 8

Reminder: We are on break until January. 

Acts 11:1-18

Trouble is brewing in Jerusalem. If you will remember, Peter was in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner and he had a vision-like experience that had animals and creatures, and God taught him that he was to longer call anything clean or unclean. The Jewish distinction of separating from the world is gone. Peter spends time with Cornelius and his gentile household, and a great blessing comes upon these Gentiles. We will see this as a beginning of the the church opening up to all the earth. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 8”

Such a High Priest

I was away last week, and our study was led by Jana, who very faithfully and capably put in the work to walk us through this portion of the book of Hebrews, 8:1–9:14. I say “walk,” but getting to this chapter has taken a climb. Together with the author of Hebrews we have scaled the heights of Christ’s superiority over angels, Moses, and Aaron. We’ve seen the superiority of Christ’s revelation of the Father, of his great salvation, of the rest he offers, of his priesthood and intercession, and of the hope he offers as the sure and steadfast anchor of our souls. After the steep vertical climb learning about the superiority of his priesthood after the order of Melchizedek over the Aaronic priesthood we are now standing on the heights, taking in the majesty of Jesus our perfect high priest and all that means for us in the work he accomplished for his people once for all in securing our eternal redemption. Continue reading “Such a High Priest”

Acts Lesson 7

In this lesson we see some very important events. The efforts of Phillip, the conversion of Saul and the events around the gentile Cornelius and the apostle Peter will herald a change in direction of the spread of the gospel. We will see God’s plan unfolding for the gospel reaching to the ends of the earth and to all people, not just the Jews! Do not miss how radical this would be. 

Acts 8:1-4

The book of Acts is often a study in contrasts.  We have been seeing a contrast between the inner struggles of the church versus the outward struggles of the church.  This chapter continues some of those contrasts. The last chapter closes with the martyrdom of Stephen. The church has already been under some persecution, but until now there had been a boundary line beyond which the Jewish authorities had not been willing to cross. Things were very bad. Stephen had been executed. Others were being arrested and imprisoned. But we see that the persecution drove the Christians to disperse, and in doing so they were reaching others with the message of the Messiah. Another example of God using evil to bring about good!

Acts 8:5-8

This chapter gives us a transition. It is a pivotal point in the history of the Church. Up to this time, the knowledge of God had been primarily focused in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the single beacon of light which was to draw all the nations to herself. This is what happened at Pentecost. Jews from all the nations gathered together to meet the Lord. But this will now all change. Instead of the world coming to the church, now the church will go to the world.

Philip is a Greek name. It was a fairly common name among the Greeks and had been ever since the days of Philip the father of Alexander the Great. This is not the same Philip who was one of the apostles. This is a different Philip. He was first introduced to us when the first deacons were chosen. He was named immediately after Stephen (Acts 6:5). Continue reading “Acts Lesson 7”

After the Order of Melchizedek

As I age, I’m finding that even with the progressive lenses in my spectacles, I often need a magnifying glass to read fine print. (Why does the important information on medication bottles need to be so small anyway?) Pulling out the curved lens of a magnifying glass enlarges and brings clarity to that which was otherwise too difficult to read without help. In Hebrews chapter seven, the author pulls out a magnifying glass in order to bring clarity to an obscure figure from the book of Genesis, and as he does, the magnificence of our Savior is enlarged before our eyes. The obscure figure is Melchizedek, and the magnifying glass is Psalm 110, verse four. Continue reading “After the Order of Melchizedek”

Acts Lesson 6

Up to this point, our focus in the book of Acts has been upon the Twelve and upon Peter and John. But now there is a change. With the appointment of the first seven deacons in Acts 6:1-6, there are new leading figures within the church.

Acts 6:8-11

Stephen’s ministry to the Hellenistic (Greek) widows put him into contact with many of the Greek-speaking Jews. While there were many who believed the gospel, there were many others who did not and who viewed this new sect of Christians with suspicion. The debates between the two parties grew heated and the Jews began to cast accusations at the church and specifically at Stephen.

These antagonists came from the Synagogue of the Freedmen, literally, the Synagogue of the Libertarians. This was evidently a synagogue which had been started for Greek-speaking Jews who had once been Roman slaves but who had now been released and allowed to return to Palestine to live.  (Here is a brief article about the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament).

These men spoke the same common language as Stephen. And yet, there was a great and bitter disagreement. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and this soon led to civil proceedings. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 6”

Hebrews Lesson 5, part 2

In my previous post, we considered the personal rebuke and sober warning found in Hebrews 5:11–6:8, and the questions raised concerning assurance of salvation. As we learned, that passage does not teach that a genuine believer in Jesus Christ can lose her salvation. But this was only half of our lesson. The passages that follow anchor our understanding of assurance and perseverance firmly in our Lord Jesus Christ and the promises of God.

First, the writer of Hebrews assures his readers that he is certain they are saved because of the fruit of love and mutual care they have shown one another, and he desires that they will each “show the same earnestness to have the full assurance until the end” (Heb. 6:9–11). This reminds us of the truth that bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is a sure sign of salvation, even in infant believers. He then calls them to imitate “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:12), namely, Abraham, whose example he now sets before them. Continue reading “Hebrews Lesson 5, part 2”

Hebrews Lesson 5, part 1

The book of Hebrews, as it unfolds week by week in our bible study, is revealing the pastoral love and concern of the writer’s heart for his people. They are already experiencing some degree of persecution, which will only be getting worse. The author of this sermon letter knows that if his people are not firmly anchored in their faith and in the knowledge of Christ, the persecutions to come may at least cause undue spiritual distress and at worst drive them from their faith altogether. And so by turns he warns and encourages his readers (and us) to avoid the perils of shallow faith by growing in the grace and wisdom of the knowledge of the Lord.

Up until the end of chapter five, the warnings have been general in nature, but when we reach 5:11 we find a rebuke not only stern, but also personal.

“. . . you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” —Hebrews 5:11–14 Continue reading “Hebrews Lesson 5, part 1”


We won’t have class, morning or evening, this week (the 27th) due to the Reformation Festival.

Blog post coming soon. The arrival of our newest grandson has delayed my writing. (Not that I mind so much 😉 )

Acts Lesson 5

Reminder: We will be off on Wednesday the 27th for the Reformation Festival.

We picked up at Acts 4:36-37 at the first mention of a man who would become a familiar figure in the early church. His Hebrew name was Joseph, a cousin of John Mark, and a Levite. We know him as Barnabas. The next chapter, begins with the word “but”. We see in Acts 5:1-2 there is a contrast with the preceding passage. The contrast is between Ananias and Sapphira over against Barnabas. In Acts 5:3-11, Peter confronts Ananias with his sin. Notice what Peter says is the motivating force behind the sin of Ananias. He is called “Satan.” The scene of three hours earlier is repeated. Peter asks her about the gift they had given. He is giving her the opportunity to repent. But she does not. She repeats the lie that her husband had told earlier. And suddenly she falls to the floor. Why did God kill these two people? It is because God takes His church and the vows made within His church very seriously, even if we don’t. Continue reading “Acts Lesson 5”

Acts update

Last week we had some tech difficulties and cut our lesson short. This week I will have a post that will cover last and this week’s lessons together. Thank you for your patience. As we are coming up to Reformation day, I thought you would enjoy and benefit by reading this short article from Ligonier, What Is Reformation Day All About?

Just a reminder: we will be meeting as usual this Wednesday Oct 20, but we will be off the 27th for our Reformation Day celebration at the church.