Sunday, April 26, 2020

Acts Study | Session 12 | 4:19-37

Today we continue our study in the book of Acts by taking a look at Acts 4:19-37 where we see the apostles praying for boldness, the disciples selling all of their possessions to make sure that no one went without, and most importantly, discuss why they did this, and what if any of this has application for the church today.

VERSE 19-22: But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (20)  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (21)  So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. (22)  For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. Again, we see that they are still focused on the healing of the lame man in the previous chapter. Les Feldick points out that the age of the man could be God's way of pointing out again that they were still being tested as that the number means testing in the Bible. In other words, Israel is still on trial here. Of course, we know through the gift of hindsight, that they failed, and God went on to call out from the Gentiles a people for his name (Acts 15).

Of course, that is precisely what He has been doing for the past 1900 years or so through the church; the Body of Christ. During which time, Israel has been blinded because of their rejection of the King and his Kingdom (2Co 3:13-14). Rom 11:7 also mentions this. Unfortunately, many incorrectly believe this is referring to the Body of Christ. No, the elect in context is referring to Jewish Kingdom believers.

VERSE 23-28: And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. (24)  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: (25)  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? (26)  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. (Psalm 2) (27)  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, (the entire human race is guilty) (28)  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. Notice the last part of v.28 where it says thy counsel determined before to be done. In other words, God before eternity even began knew that the Jewish nation was reject the Messiah and he allowed it to happen so as to not forfeit their free will. And that plan was the Body of Christ made up of Jew and Gentile (Acts 2:23). The crucifixion did not catch God by surprise. He knew what they would do. It was foreordained. Foreordained means appointed or decreed beforehand. In other words, it was allowed because it fulfilled God's purpose.

This explains Eph 1:11. By the way, that word predestined has nothing to do with salvation. The only predestination that we have as the Body of Christ is to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom 8:29). Paul was speaking of the same thing when he said in 2Ti 1:9, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, If you or I are a children of God, it is because it was in the purpose of God for us to be so. We were saved for a purpose.

Everyone today is trying to find their purpose, but when they don't find it in Christ, they go it alone and do all kinds of crazy things. If we do not give ourselves to Christ, we will give ourselves to something else, i.e., activism, weird eating habits, politics. Why? Trying to find our God-ordained purpose. It will never be found outside of Christ, my friend.

VERSES 29-31: And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, (30)  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. (31)  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. Notice their prayer for boldness. Why? They were getting ready to defy the local authorities who told them in v.17 that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. I don't know if I would call this civil disobedience, maybe sacred disobedience would be a better term.

VERSES 32: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. A few things come to mind. First, all of those churches today that want to get back to Pentecost are not doing this, nor should they, this was the Kingdom Church. Second, they did it because they believed that the Second Coming was close, i.e., Tribulation, Second Coming, Kingdom according to Psalm 2. Sadly, it did not end well, because ultimately the nation rejected the kingdom offer and they began to starve (Rom 15:25-26; 1Co 16:1-3). Third, they were obeying Christ when he said in Mat 19:21.

I can't tell you how many Bible teachers I have heard that have mocked this decision. You know why? Because they think these early disciples, including the Apostles,  just didn't know what was going on. No, they knew full well what was going on. The problem is that most of the church today does not rightly divide!

VERSES 33-37: And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (34)  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, (35)  And laid them down at the apostles' feet (notice that they apostles were in full cooperation with this): and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (36)  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, (37)  Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet (not the pastor's or the deacon's feet). Nothing about this a language that pertains to the church today, nothing. I am sure that there are some, but how many of you have had a pastor ask you to sell everything that you have and give it to the church?

Chapter 5
Les Feldick shared the following: William R. Newell, in this book "Paul Verses Peter: Remarks on Galatians 1 -2" who taught in the 1920s and 30s said, "Is it not strange that 16 or 17 chapters of the Book of Acts (if we include Chapter 9 and of course that is where Saul is converted), is given to that apostle who was not one of the original twelve. He was not converted until long after Pentecost. Must there not be a deep reason for this? And what is the reason? One thing is certainly evident already, and that is we Gentiles have a relation to Paul that we do not have to the other apostles. Exactly what that is we must prayerfully seek to discover."

Mid-Acts folks constantly get accused of making too much of Paul. In reality, it is not that we are "making much of Paul", as it is that we understand that Peter and Paul had different ministries. Peter to the House of Israel and Paul to the Gentiles. It was settled at the Council of Jerusalem in Act 15:1-14; Act 15:19; Act 15:22-23.  Paul made referred to it in Gal 2:1-9.

Sadly, those of us who have the necessity of making this distinction between the ministries of Paul and Peter - the Gospel of Grace and the Gospel of the Kingdom, are accused of being at best trouble makers; i.e., you are dividing the body,  and at worst heretics. Seriously, just because we disagree as to when the church started! Grow up!  Our view only calls into question your covenant or charismatic theology as the case may be.

If you still believe that there is no difference between the church today and the church then, let's look at chapter 5 because God is killing people who misrepresent Him by pretending to do something they did not. If He were still doing this, most churches would be even more empty then they are now.

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