Jottings – No Hesitation


Commenting on Acts 20 ~

 

The model covered the whole time Paul spent in Ephesus, right from the first moment he arrived until he left. That period has already been described in Acts 19:1-20; and if that were the only account of it, we might well have formed the impression that it was two years and three months of the rigorous public preaching of a forceful man, performing extraordinary miracles and achieving triumphant success. What a different side of things the present address paints in. Here is what the work of serving the Lord was really like, and here is the real man who actually did it: marked by humility, often reduced to tears as he faced the plots of the Jews against him (Acts 20:19, 31), and constantly beset with trials. But see his moral courage and generosity: ‘I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you,’ he declares in verse 20; and again in verse 27, ‘For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.’

 

D.W. Gooding, True To The Faith: Charting The Course Through The Acts Of The Apostles. (Grand Rapids, MI: Gospel Folio Press, 1995), 323.

 

Thanks Keith!

 

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Jottings – Until I Make Your Enemies Your Footstool

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“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:34-36 — Perhaps even so there were some in the crowd who still had a major objection: If Jesus really was King Messiah, where was there any evidence of his kingdom? When was he going to start putting an end to the problem of evil? And if he didn’t do that, how could he be the Messiah?

 
The question strikes us today with even greater force than it may have struck the Jerusalem crowd. Almost two thousand years have passed since Jesus’ exaltation. But where has there ever been any serious evidence that he has even attempted to solve the problem of evil? The twentieth century has in fact witnessed in the Holocaust, in Stalin’s purges, in the killing fields of Cambodia, and in a thousand atrocities besides, an out-flowering of evil greater perhaps than any previous century. Jesus has obviously not attempted to stamp out evil. How then is it credible that he is both Lord and Messiah?

 
Once more the psalm has the answer. It was never part of God’s programme that the Messiah should proceed, immediately upon his exaltation, to stamp out evil. The invitation was: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ There was to be an interval between his exaltation and the subjugation of his enemies, during which he would be seated at God’s right hand, awaiting the time of his second coming. Only then would his enemies be made the footstool of his feet.

 
And what a mercy it was that this interval was written into the programme, for the sake of us all, of course, but particularly for the crowd who stood listening to Peter. They had crucified God incarnate, and he was now elevated to the position of supreme power in the universe. What if there had been no interval and he had proceeded at once to stamp out evil? We are, Peter pointed out, already in the last days of this present age. The cosmic convulsions will occur soon enough, to be followed by the great and resplendent Day of the Lord and the dawning of the messianic age to come. But thank God for the present interval.

 

David W. Gooding, True to the Faith: The Acts of the Apostles: Defining and Defending the Gospel, Myrtlefield Expositions (Coleraine, Northern Ireland: Myrtlefield House, 2013), 78–79.

 

Thanks Keith!

 

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Jottings – Ministers While Employed in Watching Over Others Are So Solemnly Warned Against Neglecting Themselves

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If we study Divine subjects merely as ministers, they will produce no salutary effect. We may converse with the most impressive truths, as soldiers and surgeons do with blood, till they cease to make any impression upon us. We must meditate on these things as Christians, first feeding our own souls upon them, and then imparting that which we have believed and felt to others; or, whatever good we may do to them, we shall receive none ourselves. Unless we mix faith with what we preach, as well as with what we hear, the word will not profit us. It may be on these accounts that ministers, while employed in watching over others, are so solemnly warned against neglecting themselves: ‘Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock,’ &c.—‘Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.’”

 

Andrew Gunton Fuller, “Sermon LXIX: Preaching Christ,” in “Sermons & Sketches” in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, Vol. 1. (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 501.

 

Thanks Keith!

 

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Sermon Audio: NT Principles of Gathering – Part 2

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“…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified”

 

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

Acts 2:36-47 ESV

 


This sermon was originally recorded February 2, 2014 at Seven Points Christian Assembly, Sunbury, PA.

 

Link: NT Principles of Gathering – Part 1

 

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Sermon Audio: NT Principles of Gathering – Part 1

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“…Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified”

 

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

Acts 2:36-47 ESV

 


This sermon was originally recorded February 2, 2014 at Seven Points Christian Assembly, Sunbury, PA.

 

Link: NT Principles of Gathering – Part 2

 

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Jottings – The Church Does Not Teach, It Is Taught

“John


Commenting on John 16:13 and Acts 2:42 ~

 

The church does not teach; it is taught.

 

Hole, F. B. “Acts.” STEM Publishing. N.d. Web. Accesed March 13, 2015. Available here.

 

 

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Should Local Assemblies Have Recognized Elders?

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Brother Gary McBride has an excellent post today on the assemblyHUB blog entitled Should We Have Elders Today? In his article brother Gary outlines why he believes local assemblies (churches) should have elders. He supports his position by looking at relevant scriptures passages and by exploring a few real life considerations.

While this topic may seem strange– most Protestant church groups practice some form of eldership and the New Testament seems to clearly teach eldership– there are some groups who hold to the teaching that elders are not for today.

Gary writes in part:

The premise of this article is that the office was introduced at the beginning of this age and is applicable for the whole period. In the epistles there are at least six references to elders. The references are as follows: Philippians 1:1, 1Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17-20; Titus 1:5-9; James 5:14; and 1Peter 5:1-4. To these could be added Acts 20:17 and 28, though Acts is narrative and not necessarily normative. Paul is giving a discourse that includes doctrine. There are also four verses that reference those who rule or who are in authority: 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13; and Hebrews 13:7, 17.

and…

A plurality in leadership, elders or overseers is the most likely expectation of the reader of the New Testament. Most individuals reading through the Bible would assume that the pattern seen and the topic spread thoughout the New Testament would be visible today. It may be true that the church in the Western world is far from the simplicity and spirituality of the early church, but that is not necessarily true in the entire world. In addition, there is no scripture either stated or implied that indicates the office of elder is to cease.

and…

Experientially I have found that with or without recognition someone has to take leadership. Regardless of the size of the assembly and the mechanics of decision making, someone or a plurality has to take the lead. In assemblies without designated elders either the majority of the men take leadership or only certain men are invited to be in leadership. It seems to me that in many ways it is merely a matter of semantics – there are men in leadership but the word “elders” is not used.

I encourage you to read Gary’s full article here.

 

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Full disclosure: I am a member of the assemblyHUB.com leadership team.
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Jottings – The Casual Leads To The Habitual

Jottings Pencil Red

Commenting on Acts 20:21b “The forgetting of God which is casual becomes the forgetting of God which is habitual.”

 

G. Campbell Morgan. Westminster Pulpit, Vol. III. Sermon 163 – Acts 20:21 – The Conditions of Renewal. Originally published 1915. Digital edition.

 

 

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The Reading Meeting

When Christians Gather Together - The Reading MeetingThere is some interest in the “reading meeting” practiced in some assemblies of the Lord’s people. What is a reading meeting? is there Scriptural support for having such a meeting? How would we go about holding one?

Sometimes we refer to the reading meeting as the “Bible study” or the “Bible reading”. It’s an informal round-table discussion of a passage of Scripture. The reading meeting can be an excellent opportunity for teaching in the assembly: the very nature of a reading makes it easy to ask questions, offer corrections, and help one another understand difficult passages.

Of course we ought not consider any sort of meeting without considering what Scripture has to say about it. So let’s ask the most important question, “What does Scripture say?”

 


Why Do Christians Meet Together?


 

Scripture gives several reasons for the assembly to gather:

First, we meet together because the Lord is present in the assembly. The assembly is “a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22, JND). The Lord Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20, JND). We understand from the epistles that the Lord is with us individually (1 Corinthians 6:19-20): but the teaching of Scripture is clear that the assembly is a place where the Lord is present in an entirely different way. So there’s a sense where we go to the meetings to meet with the Lord.

Second, we meet together to eat the Lord’s Supper. This is taught remarkably in 1 Corinthians: “I do not praise, namely, that ye come together, not for the better, but for the worse… When ye come therefore together into one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-20 JND). The apostle writes to the Corinthians like this is a strange thing, that they’d gather not to eat the Lord’s Supper. And the story of Paul’s visit to Troas corroborates this: “the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed to them, about to depart on the morrow. And he prolonged the discourse till midnight” (Acts 20:7 JND). Clearly the early Christians assembled the first day of the week, specifically “to break bread”.

Third, we meet together to edify one another. 1 Corinthians 14:2-5 says, “he that prophesies speaks to men in edification, and encouragement, and consolation. He that speaks with a tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the assembly” (JND). This is one reason we gather: to edify one another. What is edifying? To edify is to “build up”1. So we gather to build one another up. The idea here is not an ego boost: it’s to encourage one another and help one another grow.

There are other reasons to gather, but three are sufficient for our present purpose. We might consider Matthew 18 as the Lord’s instructions regarding the assembly gathering to settle a dispute between brothers. We might also consider the where a wedding or a funeral fits into the gatherings of the assembly: that would be an interesting discussion in itself.

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NT Tuesday: Be A Good Berean

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV

You may have heard the expression “be a good Berean” — but what exactly does this mean? To answer this we must look at the story of Paul and his travels throughout the ancient world proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Acts chapter 17 begins we find Paul traveling on what would come to be known as his second missionary journey. Paul and his traveling companion Silas arrived in the city of Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), and in keeping with their pattern of ministry they went to the local synagogue to demonstrate from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was in fact the long promised Jewish Messiah. (Acts 17:2-3). Their ministry was fruitful as ‘some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.’ Acts 17:4.

Because some had turned to Christ, the local Jewish leaders grew jealous and instigated a riot against the Christians (Acts 17:5). The rioters violently attacked the believers– falsely accusing them of acting against the decrees of Caesar (Acts 17:6-7).

That night the believers in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas to the nearby town of Berea. Once again, upon arriving at the city they went to the Jewish synagogue and boldly declared Jesus Christ as the Messiah (Acts 17:10). As was the case in Thessalonica, their ministry was once again fruitful as many believed (Acts 17:12).

However there was something different about the Jews in Berea for which the Scriptures commend them. We are told that they were ‘more noble’ than their counterparts in Thessalonica. What was the difference? What made them ‘more noble’?

We are clearly told what that difference was in Acts 17:11 ESV. The Bereans:

  • received the word – they listened to what Paul and Silas were saying.
  • with all eagernessthere was a difference in their attitude— they received what Paul and Silas were teaching with eagerness.
  • examining the Scriptures – they examined the Scriptures. This clearly implies more than just reading God’s Word. The original Greek word used here means to ‘to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, discern or search’. This is how the Bereans approached God’s Word…they went considerably deeper that a cursory reading— they actually interrogated the Scriptures.
  • daily – ’nuff said. This was not something that happened just once… this was the Bereans’ daily habit. This was their modus operandi, their pattern of living, it was how they ‘rolled’– they interrogated God’s Word DAILY.
  • to see if these things were so. – the Bereans had a goal. They had an objective in their interrogation of God’s Word… they wanted to know if Paul and Silias’ teachings were true. The Bible, God’s Word, was their standard– it was their measuring stick. They determined what was true by what God’s Word said and by nothing else.

So what is meant by the phrase ‘be a good Berean’? It means to follow the example set by Bereans. To judge everything by the sole standard of God’s Word, the Bible, with a good attitude on a daily basis to determine if it is so.

Because of the Berean’s noble approach to Paul and Silias’ teaching it is no surprise that ‘many of them therefore believed’.

Be a good Berean!

One more thought: if you happen to go to a church, or associate with some group, where you are discouraged from judging their teachings with God’s Word then you should leave that group! If you are ever told that you are not capable of understanding the Bible yourself… or you have not had the proper training to understand… or that you need their teachers or their literature to know what the truth is, you should leave that group immediately. A true teacher of God’s Word would never feel threatened if their students compared their teachings with God’s Word. In fact, a true teacher of God’s Word will welcome and even encourage you to challenge their teachings with God’s Word. After all, THAT is EXACTLY what the Bereans did and they were called ‘more noble.’

If you would like help in finding a local church please contact Digital Sojourner.

 

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