June 6, 2018
NO OTHER NAME BUT JESUS!
After spending the night in jail, Peter and John were brought before the Jewish Council for preaching in the name of Jesus. The council asked them by what name and authority they had been preaching in the Temple. Peter’s answer was clear. He told them it was by the name of Jesus, whom they had crucified, but God had raised. He explained that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in the Scriptures. And he further declared that salvation is found in no other name, but Jesus!
The name of Jesus means “God’s salvation.” This is the only name by which we may be saved. No other name is given. Yet, no other name is needed. Jesus.
June 5, 2018
THE CENTRAL FACTS OF THE GOSPEL
Peter boldly proclaimed the central facts of the gospel to the crowd gathered in the Temple. They gathered in order to see how the man lame from birth, was now able to walk. Yet, Peter’s explanation must have been for more than they bargained. He told them that the lame man had been healed through faith in the name of the One they had killed, but God had raised up! He declared that it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the crippled man whole. This declaration hit many in the crowd like a spiritual lightning bolt, so that many believed.
What were the central gospel facts that Peter preached?
1) “You killed the Author of Life.” Jesus Christ, the Creator and Source of all life, went to the cross to pay for your sin.
2) “God raised Him from the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus is a central fact of the gospel. Life defeated death!
3) “We are witnesses of this fact.” Peter and the apostles were eye-witnesses of everything Christ had done and of his death, burial and resurrection.
4) Faith in the name of Jesus, the Author of Life, is the only way to be saved and receive eternal life.
What irony! What unfathomable mystery! The Author of Life . . . died for our sin? Yet, raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25)? Yes! O yes! These are the central facts of the gospel. We believe the facts. But we put our faith in the Name.
June 4, 2018
FROM FEARFUL DENIER TO BOLD PREACHER
When Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house for questioning, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Yet, fifty days later, after witnessing the risen Lord Jesus and seeing His ascension into heaven, Peter and 120 other believers received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was on that day that Simon Peter finally became the “rock” (Greek “Petros” means “rock”), which the name Jesus had given him implied. For Peter went from fearfully denying Jesus in the dark to boldly proclaiming Him in the light of day.
June 3, 2018
LUKE’S SECOND BOOK
The book of Acts, or as some call it, the Acts of the Apostles, picks up where Luke’s gospel left off. Luke was a physician and a traveling companion of the apostle Paul. He wrote an “orderly account” (Luke 1:3) of what Jesus “began to do and teach” in his first book. In his second book, he wrote about the acts and words of the apostles after the ascension of Christ. His primary focus was on two of the apostles, namely, Simon Peter and Paul. Luke addressed both of his books to a man named, Theophilus, whose Greek name means “loved by God” or “friend of God.” Some have suggested that Theophilus was the benefactor for Luke’s two volumes, paying for their publication and distribution. Others take note that since Luke referred to him with the honorific, “most excellent Theophilus,” in his gospel, that he must have been a Roman official or leader.
The truth is no one knows the identity of Theophilus because nothing further is written about him in the Scriptures. But we can know this: The two books written by Luke were written to all those who are “loved by God.”
July 6, 2017
Some of the same group of Jewish leaders who had accused Jesus before Pontius Pilate, now traveled to Caesarea to bring accusation against the apostle Paul before the Roman governor, Felix. This time, they hired a Roman orator and attorney named Tertullus to represent their case. He began his accusation by complimenting “noble” Felix and the Romans for the Pax Romana that they had brought to Judea. And in contrast, he named Paul, with ad hominem disdain, a “plague,” a pestilence, among the Jews throughout the Roman world. Yet, his climatic charge was that Paul was a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” using the same name that they had given Jesus, namely, Jesus of Nazareth.
The Greek word translated “sect” is the origin of our word for “heresy.” So, the Jews called the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, a heretical sect called “Nazarenes.” Muslims picked up this name and have called Christians by this same name since their invasion of Christian lands in the 7th century. Recently, the Christians in Mosul, Iraq, were labeled with the Arabic letter “nun” (“N” in our alphabet) by members of ISIS to show that they were “Nazarenes,” a name meant to shame them, but instead worn as a mark of faith by those so labeled.
The apostle Paul was essentially marked with the letter “N” for Nazarene. Yet he too, wore it not with shame, but with humble faith in the One who was first called the Nazarene.
July 2, 2017
The apostle Paul reported to James, the half-brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19), and the Christian elders in Jerusalem concerning his missionary work among the Gentiles. They gave glory to the Lord when they heard his report. Yet, they also encouraged him to take steps to reconcile himself to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem by showing that he “walked orderly and kept the law” (Acts 21:25).
Paul submitted to the advice of James and the elders. Unfortunately, it was in the following of their advice that he was falsely accused by the mob and nearly beaten to death before being arrested by the commander of the Roman garrison.
Some would say that it was the following of the advice of James and the elders that led to Paul’s arrest. But Paul knew better. He knew that it was the Lord who guided his steps and determined his path. He knew that the Lord had sent him on an all-expense-paid trip to Rome to preach the gospel before Caesar.
July 1, 2017
Luke the physician and the traveling companion of Paul, gave detail of their arrival in Caesarea and their lodging at the house of Philip, one of the seven original deacons. This was Caesarea Maritima (not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi), which was built by Herod the Great and named after his patron, Caesar Augustus. Paul had come and gone out to sea many times from this amazing man-made harbor, but this would be the last time that he did so as a free man. The next time he would appear in Caesarea it would be in chains, just as the prophet Agabus had warned.
At Caesarea, he would appeal to Caesar as he stood before the Roman governor, Festus, and Herod Agrippa. At Caesarea, he would make his defense, so that Agrippa replied, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). At Caesarea, Paul would depart for Rome, never to see Jerusalem again. Yet, he was willing to give his life to carry the gospel to the center of the Roman world.
June 17, 2017
Jesus had instructed His disciples that they were to be His witnesses to the “end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), yet it wasn’t until after the persecution in Jerusalem that they truly began to fulfill His call. As they scattered throughout the Roman world, great numbers of people turned to the Lord, especially among the Gentiles. Persecution had actually resulted in proliferation. The gospel went out across the world!
Are you going through a season of trouble? Perhaps the Lord is moving you out of your comfort zone to a place where the gospel can spread. Sometimes the Lord scatters us, in order to scatter the gospel seed to those whose hearts He has prepared to hear.
June 16, 2017
The Roman centurion, Cornelius, had sent for the apostle Peter and upon hearing that he was on the way, he “called together his relatives and close friends” to meet and hear him. Cornelius wanted everyone he cared about to hear the gospel. Have you invited your relatives and friends to hear the gospel? Have you “called” them to come with you to follow Jesus?
June 13, 2017
Saul the persecutor became Paul the preacher. Within days of his Damascus road experience with Jesus, Saul was preaching Christ in the synagogues. His passion for killing Christians had been replaced with a passion for making them. Why? Because he had encountered the risen Christ and believed. And he wanted everyone to know what Christ had done for them.
Are all believers immediately called to making disciples for Jesus? Paul certainly thought so.