Leaving Laodicea
396 - The Holy Spirit in the Early Church

396 - The Holy Spirit in the Early Church

April 10, 2017

Trying to live the Christian life in the flesh is exhausting and, quite honestly, impossible.  But that's how many believers live today.  They start out well, full of hope and empowered by the Spirit, and then digress into a life of flesh, pride, and reliance on human wisdom rather than the wisdom of God.  But the early church shows us the "abundant life" Jesus promised those who follow Him fleshed out in real time (John 10:10).

And it's all based on faith.

Look at the faith involved in the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.  Question:  Whose faith is the agent God uses to perform this sign and wonder?

Acts 3:6-7 - Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Note what happened here.  Peter had something that he was able to give to the lame beggar.  What was that?  And how did Peter know he possessed whatever he possessed?  And the healing took place, not when Peter spoke the affirmation, but when he "took him by the right hand and lifted him up" (Acts 3:7).  That's faith.  But whose?  The beggar's?  Not really.  It was the faith of Peter.

What does this mean?  And what can we learn about exercising our Spiritual gifts in the world today?  Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 3:1-10.

395 - What Does it Mean to Live by Faith? - Part 2

395 - What Does it Mean to Live by Faith? - Part 2

April 5, 2017

The best way for the early church to disciple the 3,000 who came to faith after the preaching of Peter's sermon would be to let them learn to live like the disciples had lived for the last three years.  Think about it.  How did the disciples of Jesus, who had left everything to follow Him, support themselves during the time they went from city to city with Jesus?  Did they take out a home equity loan on their house?  Did they max out their credit cards to fund their extended mission trip?  Did they cash in their 401k, take the tax hit, and continue on with their vision quest with Jesus?  What did they do?

They lived by faith.  Just like the early church did.  Consider the following:

Acts 2:44-45 - Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

And later...

Acts 4:32-35 - Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.  And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.  Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

Did you ever wonder how that is even possible?  How can we trust each other that much, like they did?  Seems impossible, doesn't it?  Want to learn more about living by faith?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 2:42-47.

394 - What Does it Mean to Live by Faith? - Part 1

394 - What Does it Mean to Live by Faith? - Part 1

April 2, 2017

In Acts 2, after the promised Holy Spirit came mightily upon the faithful praying in the upper room, and after Peter preached his Spirit-empowered sermon, the infant church grew from 120 to over 3,000 literally overnight.   And now the apostles had a logistics problem.  How were they to manage a crowd of over 3,000 newbies without the benefit of Christian literature or Lifeway, CCM, K-LOVE, God's Not Dead 1 and 2, WinterJam, or local mega-churches with multiple, cross-town campuses?  What were they to do?

The answer was simple.  They were to teach their new Christian brothers exactly what Jesus spent three years teaching them— how to live by faith.  That's right, faith.  Remember?

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith (pístis) is the substance (to place under, the basis, foundation, that which underlies the apparent) of things hoped for (confident expectation, to abide still, to expect fully), the evidence (proof, conviction, assurance, supreme confidence) of things not seen.

As we dig deeper into the life of the early church, we'll discover that faith was pretty much all they had.  And it was enough for them to turn their world upside down (Acts 17:6).

Do you want to know more about what it means to live by faith?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 2:36-41.

391 - Questions from the Infant Church

391 - Questions from the Infant Church

March 13, 2017

As we begin to look at how the Holy Spirit moved in the lives of ordinary men in the book of Acts, we are confronted with a few questions.  These questions have to do with the character of the men Jesus chose to fulfill the mandate He gave to His church.  And what was that mandate?

Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power (dúnamis) when (what) the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Then, the first set of questions:

Has this mandate changed for the church?
Does it still apply today?
If so, how are we doing?
Have you received the power Jesus promised?
And how is that power being manifested in your life?
Do you see that kind of power in the church today?
If not, do you ever wonder why?

How would you answer these questions about the church?  How would you answer the ones that are more personal in nature?  The ones about you and the power, or lack of power, in your life?  Do you see a disconnect between the account of the church in Acts and the place you worshipped last Sunday?  Me too.  But what are we going to do about it?

The following is a study on Acts 1:1-14.

389 - Life in the Kingdom

389 - Life in the Kingdom

March 9, 2017

If we were honest, we'd have to admit that the picture of life in the church as revealed in Scripture and our own personal church experience are not always the same.  In fact, they often seem like polar opposites, like night and day.  Consider what Paul said about life in the church:

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works (where) in us, to Him be glory (where) in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

And yet, knowing this, we still struggle with trying to find the answer to the questions that trouble us the most.

Why can’t we keep our children involved in church?
Why can’t our children hold to Biblical morals?
Why can’t our children make Godly decisions?
Why can’t the church make a noticeable difference in our nation, culture and family?
Why can’t we get victory over our own sins?
Why can’t we see Jesus move in our lives like He did in the past?

Is there an answer to these questions?  Is what we're experiencing in church, Sunday after Sunday, all there is?  Or is there something missing?  And if so, what is it?  How do I find it?  What can I do?

If you want to know the answer to these important questions, then keep listening.

The following is a study on life in the kingdom of God.

388 - The True Intent of the Law

388 - The True Intent of the Law

February 26, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals to us what life is like in His Kingdom, He contrasts the Old Testament Law with its true intent.  And it does this by saying, "You have heard that it was said to those of old... but I say unto you."   Or, to put it another way, "You have an understanding about the Law and what it governs, but I want to show you the true intent of the Law and what it really means."

The Law governed external actions.  Or so it seemed to them and to us.  But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us the true intent of the Law by contrasting it to the human understanding of it.  In other words, only actions matter in the mind of men.  But with God, everything comes from the heart.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Do you want to know more about having a heart that is pleasing to the Lord?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:21.

387 - What is the “Baptism of the Spirit”?

387 - What is the “Baptism of the Spirit”?

February 21, 2017

The baptism of, or with, the Holy Spirit is defined as:

“The Baptism of, or with, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the Believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.”

But this just raises more questions for us to ponder.  For example:

What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
Is it a command from God?
Is it something we should actively seek?
What does it look like?leav
How is it obtained?
And is it even Biblical?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening as we discover the truth about this controversial subject.

The following is a study on being Baptized with the Holy Spirit.

386 - What Does “Praying in the Spirit” Mean?

386 - What Does “Praying in the Spirit” Mean?

February 13, 2017

Twice in Scripture we are commanded to “pray in the Spirit.”  We see this first in Ephesians 6:18 and again in Jude 1:20.  We are not told to pray “with” the Spirit or “to” the Spirit, but pray “in” the Spirit.

Have you ever wondered what that means?  Is it praying in tongues as Paul referenced in 1 Corinthians 14:15?  No.  That’s something entirely different.

Is it something that I do or is it something the Holy Spirit does through me?  Where does my responsibility end and His activity begin?  What is the essence of “praying in the Spirit”?  Am I praying for what I want or is the Spirit praying through me according to the will of the Father?  And if that’s the case, what’s the content of that prayer?  Am I an active participant in my prayer life?  Or do I just kick back and let the Spirit take over?  And again, if so, to what extent?

Ah, so many questions.  Do you want to know the answers?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Praying in the Spirit.

385 - The Whole Tongue Controversy Explained

385 - The Whole Tongue Controversy Explained

February 5, 2017

Ever since the resurgence of the charismatic movement in the last century, there has been incredible controversy in church on the issue of spiritual gifts, especially the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 10:8).  One faction believes it is a sign of a deeper relationship with the Lord that everyone should seek but only few find.  You hear this when statements like this are made:  “You must receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.”

Then there is the other side that throws all the uncomfortable gifts of the Spirit out the window for fear of being called strange, loopy or out of control.  And these camps are entrenched, like opposing armies set for war.

But what is the truth?  And how can we know from Scripture which side is right?

Simply put, the answer to this great controversy is found in the singular and plural use of the Greek word “glṓssa” – and nothing more.  When you get this definition under your belt, the entire controversy vanishes into thin air, like a man-made mirage.

Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

384 - Prophecy and Tongues - Two Sides of the Same Coin

384 - Prophecy and Tongues - Two Sides of the Same Coin

January 22, 2017

When we look at the gifts given us by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, we are drawn to the fact that some of these gifts are verbal (word of wisdom and knowledge, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues) and some are non-verbal (faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles).  And within the verbal gifts, we find certain pair that are closely associated with each other.  For example, we have the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. Then those who possess the gift of tongues and those who are gifted to interpret tongues.  And the gift of prophecy and those who are able to discern the spirit behind the prophecy.  It seems one gift is closely related to another.

But a more careful study will show that two of these gifts are directly related to one another, they're literally different sides of the same coin.  "What two gifts?" you ask.  Prophecy and tongues.  "How can that be?"  Keep listening to find out more.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:10.