Sunday, 26 July 2015
The Relationship between Christianity and Judaism
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What is the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, according to Acts?

Acts 23:6

6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead

Acts 25:14-15

14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Acts 26:6

6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.

Acts 28:20

20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."

Christianity is the acknowledgment of the promises of God that were made through the Jewish prophets and their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah.  Christianity is the hope of Israel fulfilled.

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Posted on 07/26/2015 10:18 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 25 July 2015
Dealing with Opposition and Persecution
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Describe some ways in which Peter, Paul, and other believers in Acts responded to opposition and persecution because of the gospel.

They prayed and I believe they were allowed to see things from God's perspective.  You can see this in the passages that describe the individual reactions of Peter and other believers as he is delivered from jails, as He works in the lives of the Samaritans and other gentiles.  They became more focused on the gospel, on the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, on what He had said and what He was doing and would do.  This is evident in the last chapters of the book (22-28) that describe Paul's actions and testimony before the Jews of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin, Felix, Festus, Agrippa and the Jews in Rome.  He doesn't abandon or change the message but becomes more and more committed to it. 

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Posted on 07/25/2015 10:15 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 24 July 2015
Empowerment by the Holy Spirit
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In Acts, what kinds of things happened to believers when they tried to fulfill their mission and speak their message? 

They were emboldened by the Holy Spirit and enabled to do what they did.  They were strengthened and they and the church grew.  Their lives and the lives of others around them were positively impacted.

 

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Posted on 07/24/2015 10:12 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 23 July 2015
What does the Holy Spirit do?
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What was the role of the Holy Spirit in the events of Acts?

He guided the believers and empowered them to do GOD's work.  He was there throughout the whole of the narrative, controlling all things.

 

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Posted on 07/23/2015 10:09 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 13 July 2015
Who is the Holy Spirit?
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Who is the Holy Spirit?

A biblical theology of the Spirit is difficult to epitomize. He sovereignly acts as he chooses! Most Christian traditions stress the data of certain portions of Scripture (most notably Acts or Paul) at the expense of others. But an essential summary ought to include at least that the Spirit is the transcendent, omnipresent spiritual and localizable presence of God's personality and power, living in and divinely empowering all of God's true people in diverse and incomplete ways that foreshadow their complete, future renewal at the end of the age. (taken from Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theological Terms)

The Holy Spirit is God.  He cleanses us, regenerates us, teaches us, guides us, comforts us, encourages us, and helps us.

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Posted on 07/13/2015 9:55 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 12 July 2015
Who is Jesus?
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In a few sentences, summarize the Christian message-who Jesus is, what He has done, and how we should respond.  (Try to avoid Christian jargon that an unbeliever wouldn't know.)

WHO IS JESUS?

Jesus is the Messiah; the One who God promised would come to save us from our sins, from Satan, from ourselves.

WHAT HAS HE DONE?

He came and lived with us so that we could know God in a personal way and then He gave up His life for us; He poured out his blood to wash away everything that drives us or compels us to turn from God.  Everything that we deserve, that we have earned, he endured for our sake.  He made it possible for us to allow God in our lives; He made it possible for us to truly live not just eternally but NOW.  And now He's here to guide us and help us.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

Look at our lives, realize what we've done and where we are going and turn to Him, accept who He is and trust Him.

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Posted on 07/12/2015 9:49 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 11 July 2015
The Mission of the Church
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What is the Church's mission?

Acts 1:8 summarizes everything; here are our marching orders:  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  Our witness must focus on the good news that Jesus is the Messiah and that He came just like the Scriptures said He would; He died for our sins just like the Scriptures said He would and that He rose again, just like the Scriptures said He would.  Once again, we are individually and in total His witness to the world.

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Posted on 07/11/2015 9:46 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 10 July 2015
What is the Church?
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From your study of Acts, what would you say the Church is?

Definition of the Church. The New Testament word for "church" is ekklesia [ejkklhsiva], which means "the called out ones."

The nature of the church is too broad to be exhausted in the meaning of the one word, ekklesia [ejkklhsiva]. To capture its significance the New Testament authors utilize a rich array of metaphorical descriptions. Nevertheless, there are those metaphors that seem to dominate the biblical picture of the church, five of which call for comment: the people of God, the kingdom of God, the temple of God, the bride of Christ, and the body of Christ. (taken from Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theological Terms)

The Church is those who have been called out of the world.  The defining thing about us is that we have all accepted that Jesus is the Messiah and we have accepted and rely on the good news that not only did the Messiah come just like the scriptures said He would, but He also died for our sins just like the Scriptures said would happen.  God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh); He leads us and guides us.  We are individually and in total His witness to the world.  We are all part of one body; each individual has an important function within the whole.  We are alike in our focus but not alike in our backgrounds. 

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Posted on 07/10/2015 9:41 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 9 July 2015
A Perspective on the Jewish Nation in History
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In what way were the Jews responsible for their blindness and deafness to the gospel (28:26-27)?  Did they want to turn and be healed but God refused, or did they not want this and God gave them their way?  (Optional : See Romans 9:1-11:32.) 

The Jews for the most part were responsible for their own blindness and deafness to the gospel; they refused to accept what their eyes and ears and experience told them, that is, that the Messiah had come.  Consequently, they looked everywhere for any argument that they could use to deny that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had died for our sins just like the scriptures said He would do; and that He would be buried and rise again three days later, just like the scriptures said would happen.  God didn't heal them as people or as a nation because they didn't want to be healed in the way God had prescribed.  So in this respect God let them go their way.  But God used their rejection of Jesus the Messiah and their actions which led to His crucifixion as the means by which the whole world was to be offered salvation.  Since that time God has also used the Jews as a sign to the world that He is in charge; He is the one who orders events and controls history.  What He has said will happen has happened.

Acts 28:26-27

26 " Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." 27 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

Romans 9:1-11:32

1 I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit-2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." 10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls-she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this?' " 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: "I will call them my people' who are not my people; and I will call her my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26 and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people,' they will be called sons of the living God.' " 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality." 29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah." 30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." 33 As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."…………… 1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 "or Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." 20 And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." 21 But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."……… 1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah-how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" ? 4 And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." 9 And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." 11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! 13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! 25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." 28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all…..

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Posted on 07/09/2015 9:32 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 4 July 2015
Perspective on Coincidence
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Paul's life was saved several times on this trip: land was sighted; the crew did not abandon the passengers; the centurion kept the soldiers from killing the prisoners; non-swimmers could float ashore even thought the ship ran aground; and the viper was somehow harmless.

What did the Maltese natives conclude from all of this (Acts 28:4-6)?

Acts 28:4-6

When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

To what do you think Paul and Luke attributed these lucky coincidences?

Once is coincidence, when Paul is repeatedly saved-- it is God's will; and Paul knows it.

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Posted on 07/04/2015 12:38 PM by Larry G
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Friday, 3 July 2015
The Essential Element toward our Attitudes
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How can we imitate Paul's attitude toward danger, stress, and hardship?

Paul remained focused on trusting God and he prayed constantly.  I believe that was why he was able to maintain his focus and perspective.  Prayer, constantly talking to God is key: STAY IN CONTACT!!

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Posted on 07/03/2015 12:32 PM by Larry G
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Thursday, 2 July 2015
Analyzing Paul's Comments and Actions
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Think about each of Paul's comments and actions.  What do you learn about him (his gifts, character, beliefs, attitudes toward people, view of God, etc.)?

He watched what was going on.  He really cared about people and because he did, he tried to warn them when they were about to do something that was wrong.  However, once people did something wrong, he didn't abandon them but he stayed with them.  He also prayed about people; he prayed for them and when they were in trouble he tried to get them on the right course and at the same time he encouraged them and took steps to care for them.  He ministered whenever and wherever he was and it wasn't always by talking.  HIS ACTIONS were powerful, yet simple.  Paul trusted God.

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Posted on 07/02/2015 12:28 PM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015
For By Grace are Ye Saved
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What do you think the angel meant by saying that God had graciously given Paul the lives of his fellow passengers (Acts 27:24)?  What does this show that Paul had been doing?

I think it means that these people didn't deserve to live.  They had no individual qualities which would qualify for God to save them.  For by grace are you saved….They didn't have it coming.  But God saved them because Paul had been praying for them and Paul apparently needed to see this answer to prayer. 

---"Be still and know that I am God."

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Posted on 07/01/2015 12:22 PM by Larry G
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