Learning to Preach from Acts 2

The beginning of the church, the appearance of the Kingdom, was preceded by “preaching” the Word of God (Gospel of Jesus Christ). That’s how Christ’s church grew and God’s Kingdom advanced. We’ll never outgrow the need for preaching (Rom 10:17; 10:14; Acts 28:30-31; 1 Cor 1:21; Acts 8:3-4; 2 Tim 4:1-2). What truths must be preached?

I. LIFE OF JESUS

A. God’s knows Him (Acts 2:22; John 1:1-5, 14)
B. You know Him (Acts 2:22)

II. DEATH OF JESUS

A. God’s determined plan (Acts 2:23; Luke 24:25-27; Gal 3:13; Acts 3:18)
B. Man’s godless hands (Acts 2:23)

1. Crowd (Acts 2:23)
2. Leaders (John 11:47-53; 15:24-25)
3. Judas (Luke 22:22)

III. RESURRECTION OF JESUS

A. God raised Him up (Acts 2:24) – Proofs:
1. Empty tomb (under their noses)
2. Scripture (Acts 2:25-29; Psa 16:8-11)
3. Eye witnesses (Acts 2:30-32; Acts 2:6-8)

IV. ASCENSION OF JESUS

A. God exalted Him (Acts 2:33-34)
B. Bow to Him (Acts 2:36)

PREACHING: Explaining the Scripture, Exalting the Savior, Exhorting the sinner.

Will you crucify Him or Worship Him?
Acts 2:37-41

The Word of The Cross

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). In this one statement, Paul exposes the perverse human tendency to measure the revelation of God by the standards of human wisdom. As one man put it, “When god’s thoughts are actually higher than our thoughts, we regard Him as being refuted. For under all circumstances we want our thoughts to be the program according to which God operates”. (Helmet Thielicke)

The problem is made worse when we consider that God has revealed the depths of supernatural wisdom in plain workingman’s clothes. He has not spoken to us in the “tongues of angels” or in “unutterable groans.” Instead, He has employed human thought forms and “blue collar” vocabulary to change our wicked ways and stir our souls. Some were saying of Paul, “His personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor 10:10). Exactly how is it, some have thought, that the intense pleadings of a dying martyr (Acts 7:51), the tears of an old man (Phil 3:18), the parodies of singing prophets, and the gentle but firm rebukes of a Galilean Carpenter have turned the world upside down? Besides, the central facet of the message is a scandalous story of a would-be Savior dying on a cross! “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The scorn and derision of unbelievers have caused a reactionary tendency of believers to desperately want to dress the gospel up in philosophical clothes, to make it more respectable. Paul’s appeal to the church at Corinth, in short, is, “This is the wrong approach!” Human achievement is limited. Once in a long while, a mere mortal will make a great discovery. Galileo said, “I render infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries.”

These discoveries pale compared to the power of the Almighty Creator. Moreover, we need to be reminded, as Paul reminded the worldly saints at Corinth, that God is God and man is man (1 Cor 1:18-2:5). Men are inclined to worship the human spirit. A “we-can-do anything” mentality seems to pervade human thought. Nevertheless, man’s capacity to determine the will of God does not reside in his own unaided powers. No mere mortal can manufacture a divine message, no matter how hard he tries (Deut 30:11-14). God has utilized the “foolishness” of the gospel to confound the world’s wisdom, that “no man should boast before God” (1 Cor 1:29).

That does not mean the revealed message lacks power to do what it was intended to do. In the 1972 “Nobel Lecture on Literature”, the winner was directed to answering the question of what literature can do “in the face of the remorseless assault” on human freedoms. At the height of the cold war, he said, “One word of Truth shall outweigh the whole world.” Truth is more powerful than a nuclear arsenal, an oppressive government, or a tight network of secret police. It is also more powerful than Satan’s propaganda mills, which continue to churn out lies. Hugh Hewitt has rightfully surmised, “But believers do themselves enormous harm by overestimating the pure numbers of their opponents and by underestimating how insecure these opponents are in their collective disbelief” (The Embarrassed Believer).

The truth of Christ does not need to be repackaged in garb that makes it more respectable to sinners whose pride blinds them to the light. What is needed is an army of courageous and dedicated soldiers of the cross who will not be silenced by the scorn of the world — in short, Christians who are “in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that from God” (Phil 1:28). — Mike Wilson; Gospel Power, July 1, 2007.

Rejoicing in Sorrow

Some people try to explain unhappy events as proof that God is not good. But His word helps us accept sorrow by teaching us to rejoice anyway (Rom 12:12). God can and will use unhappy times to help us rejoice (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28; 5:17; Phil 4:4).

I. THE SERIOUSNESS OF SIN

A. Adam’s warning (Gen 2:17)
B. Mankind’s warning (Rom 1:18)
C. Rejoicing: obedience (Rom 1:16; Acts 8:8, 39; 16:34)

II. THE CERTAINTY OF GOD’S PROMISES

A. Positive ones (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9; 2:25; Col 1:5; 1 Pet 5:7; Heb 4:16).
B. Negative ones (Rom 6:23)
C. Rejoicing: eternal life, salvation (Heb 5:8-9; 9:28)

III. TO SEE GOD’S GLORY & TO GLORIFY HIS SON

A. Jesus waited (John 11:6)
B. Jesus promised: resurrection & life (John 11:25-26)
C. Jesus promised: see the glory of God (John 11:40)
D. Jesus raised (John 11:43)
E. Rejoicing: belief (John 11:45)

IV. INVESTMENT IN HEAVEN

A. Treasures in Heaven (Matt 9:19-21)
B. Asleep in Jesus (1 Thess 4:14)
C. Rejoicing: baptism (Rom 6:6-10, 4)

For the Christian, sorrow is NOT dreadful!
A time of rejoicing will follow

“Throw Yourself into It”

Last week we mentioned that “just getting started is half the job”. That may be, but having started the job (i.e., those things that need to be done but often get shoved aside for less important matters) we still need to complete it, and it’s going to take more than “just getting started” to finish. So, using another idiom, “just throw yourself into it”; commit yourself to the task and “give it your all”. Once you’ve started some-thing – vital to your spiritual growth and service to Christ – if your heart isn’t committed to its completion, you’ll “run out of gas”. Okay, enough idioms.

Doesn’t God always finish what He started? Check the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament. If we’re going to be holy as He is holy, sanctified for His service, then we need to throw ourselves into those daily tasks that draw us closer to Him and serve His purpose. Paul would say, “fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). There IS NO fighting, finishing or keeping apart from throwing ourselves into the daily actions needed to accomplish the goal.

Josiah is a great example. “He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:1-2). Now that is amazing considering that his grandfather Manasseh was THE evilest king ever to reign in Judah. It would take too much space to describe how Josiah threw himself into the project of reforming Judah and bringing the nation back to God. Countless decisions had to be made every day to accomplish that mission. There was no rest for the weary, if Josiah was going to complete that project. Several mini projects had to implemented to complete the main one. And yet, with God’s help Josiah succeeded in finishing what he’d started. And so, his epitaph reads, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.” But then, we are startled by God’s response to Josiah’s commitment. “However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him” (2 Kings 23:25-26).

Do you think Josiah would have gone to all that trouble, knowing that throwing himself into the reforms as he did would bring about no lasting affect? I believe so, because “he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left”. You see, Josiah did what he did (every day) not for personal reputation or gain, but for the glory of Yahweh (the LORD God of Israel).

God is worthy of our commitment to the daily tasks that result in our spiritual growth, and the advancement of His Kingdom and King. As we fulfill those tasks, we may see the immediate advantage to ourselves and others. But ultimately, it is God who more than deserves our sacrifices and fulfilled commitments to His cause.

Jesus is the prime example. He threw Himself into the service of His Father; Jesus was totally and daily committed to God. When Jesus was driven into the wilderness to tempted by the Devil, Jesus resisted the temptation to take the wrong path by saying and doing what needed to be done (cf. Matt 4). What immediate personal benefit did He receive? Extreme hunger and weakness. Throughout His life our Lord rarely gained an immediate advantage from His daily commitments. But at the end of His life on earth, He could pray, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). We see that Jesus threw Himself into the work that needed to be done, because God is worthy of our glory!

Remember the men who promised to follow the Lord wherever He went, but had not considered the (daily) sacrifice necessary to do so? Jesus reminded them that commitments promised – yet unfulfilled – rendered the promise maker unfit for the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 9:57-62). By all means, “just getting started is half the job”, but to finish the job will require you to “throw yourself into it”. May Josiah’s epitaph be ours one day, to the glory of God. – By Boyd Jennings

“Revive Us – Again!”

A resolution is a firm decision to do or to not do something. Resolutions are about beginning something new, or starting over again; and it’s always easier to have a resolution than to finish it. It takes fire in the soul to keep one’s resolve, and sometimes that fire can burn out. God revived David many times in his life (Psalm 28:6–9). Do we need reviving? Does our faith need rekindling? The consequence of neglect is devastating (cf. Ecc 10:18).

I. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRE GOES OUT?

A. Worship is neglected (John 4:23-24)
B. Compassion is absent (Matt 9:11-13, 36)
C. Holiness is abandoned (Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 2:5, 9)
D. Faith is defeated (1 Tim 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7)

II. WHAT WILL SMOTHER THE FIRE?

A. Self-satisfied (Rev 3:17)
B. Hopelessness (1 Cor 15:57–58)
C. Apathetic people (Num 13:30–31; Matt 15:8; Luke 12:1)
D. No fear of judgment (2 Cor 5:10; Mark 9:40-48)
E. Insufficient love for Christ (Eph 5:25-27; Jer 2:1-3; Rev 2:1-4)

1. I don’t attend the Bible classes
2. I neglect the assemblies
3. I make excuses
4. I don’t’ bring a Bible to building
5. I don’t hunger for God’s word every day
6. I don’t read God’s word for transformation, just information
7. I don’t sing out, or sing at all
8. I am not moved by the hymns
9. My thoughts are consumed with this world
10. I don’t look forward to being with the church
11. I would I rather be somewhere else today
12. I complain about church members/leadership
13. I don’t try to encourage anyone
14. I don’t pray that often
15. I have no goals for spiritual growth
16. I am not indignant when God’s name is used in vain
17. I am amused by the sins that crucified Jesus
18. I’ve never taught the gospel to anyone
19. I’ve never started a spiritual conversation
20. I don’t spend any time thinking of Heaven

III. WHAT WILL REVIVE THE FIRE? (Rev 2:4–5)

A. Remember: relive the memories and emotions
B. Repent: get back to basics, quickly
C. Repeat: the deeds you did at first

“The cross is a blazing fire at which our heart is kindled,
but we have to get near enough to it to catch a spark.”

Rekindled the fire in Your heart with love for Christ.
Our Father is willing to salvage any relationship.
Be intense and intentional in turning to Him (Malachi 3:7)