- Today's Bible study notes can be found here: https://files.logoscdn.com/v1/files/54929974/assets/12551132/content.pdf?signature=M3qSa-WhMOwp5Js5JTDPocDyRzU
Tottering Between Philosophies
In the first century A.D. there was one school of Christian thought located in Antioch of Syria and it was the center for literal apostolic teaching. It was from Antioch the Apostle Paul set out for each of his missionary journeys.
Over the next century there was a shift, or transition in biblical philosophy. As the apostles died, the strong literal biblical teaching in Antioch began to be rivaled by symbolic and metaphorical teaching in Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandrian teachers claimed there was no literal future resurrection of the body. Thus, even the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ became suspect.
There is a similar transition going on in our own country. Our nation is not necessarily a Christian nation, nor has it ever been, but there were two distinctions throughout our 245-year existence which made us unique from other nations.
1) Our Bible-based form of government and,
2) Our unique Bible-based educational system.
Any remnants of these are in grave jeopardy; or for all intents and purposes are gone.
Both distinctions had principles derived from the Old Testament (Judaeo) and the New Testament (Christian). The Judaeo/Christian foundation of our nation presented a biblical worldview (accepted by religious and non-religious alike) that man is created in God's image and that all life is valuable.
Today our government and our educational system is overrun by secular humanists. Humanism and Christianity are in direct opposition to one another. What a child learns in Sunday School (One hour a week) is decimated, debunked, and destroyed Monday through Friday in the government classroom. Add to this the lack of biblical teaching in many churches and absence of strong biblical teaching by parents in the home and we have the complete recipe for the fall of the United States.
We have become a nation and a church that desires entertainment and relaxation. Like Alexandria and Antioch, we are tottering between two distinct opposing philosophies, The wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man.
By A.D. 200 Alexandria thought won the day.
You are engaged in The Battle for the Mind, a subtle warfare, Tim LaHaye. Out of print.
What Did Jesus Teach?
Here are some facts about Jesus's earthly ministry that many evangelicals miss:
1. When Jesus walked on earth, he obeyed the Law of Moses and taught others to do the same.
2. Jesus was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4).
3. Jesus was a servant to the circumcised, or the Jews (Romans 15:8).
4. Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).
Therefore, it should not surprise us that Jesus directed His earthly teachings to those under the Law, not to those of us who live by grace through faith. At the time of Jesus's earthly ministry, the gospel of salvation by grace through faith was hidden in God. The grace gospel was not brought to light until it was revealed to the apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:5,9). When Jesus walked on the earth, Gentiles (non-Jews) had no hope and were without God (Ephesians 2:12). The only way one could be saved was through the Law of Moses.
Jesus made this crystal clear when asked by the rich young man, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). The answer Jesus gave was, obey all the commandments and sell all you have give to the poor! This is a far cry from the apostle Paul's answer to the Philippian jailer who asked him, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul's response, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30). In other words, no Law allowed.
When Jesus ministered on earth, He offered His Kingdom to the Jewish nation, not the entire world. What a fantastic privilege for them, but they rejected their Messiah and put him to death on the cross. While their rejection was devastating for the nation of Israel, it was a gift for the entire world. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). In Jesus's earthly life, he came only to and for Israel; in his death and resurrection, he became "Lord both of the dead and the living" (Romans 14:8).
In the book of Acts, we see Jesus through His apostles, giving the nation of Israel one more chance to believe in Him. In the meantime, He chose the apostle Paul and showed him a revelation of grace. ALL men could now be justified by belief in Jesus and not by works of the Law (Acts 13:38-39).
By A.D. 70, Israel had entirely rejected their Messiah; Jerusalem, along with the Temple, was destroyed, and the Jews were dispersed throughout the world. Today, only one gospel is preached, and it is for whosoever will may come, both Jew and Gentile. That gospel is salvation "By grace through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works…" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The lesson to be learned is that if we are following the earthly teachings of Jesus Christ, we are living under the Law and not by grace. Christians often miss this and live a life of mixed messages, trying to live up to the standards of the Law but always missing the mark and then feeling guilty for their failure. This is why the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to "Study and rightly divide" the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We can take that imperative as an instruction for us too. To rightly divide is to cut the word of God in a way that separates Law from Grace. When you figure that out, you will live a victorious and exciting Christian life every day. We can thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for revealing that truth to us through the apostle Paul in His holy Word.
Always rightly divide the Word of God whenever you read it. Don't apply instructions or promises intended for the nation of Israel to your own life. To do so will eventually cause you to live under the Kingdom (Law) gospel and not the gospel of grace. Understand what passages were for Israel and what passages we can build our doctrine around. Paul tells us this kind of understanding comes only through study, as a workman who needs not be ashamed.]
Popularity is not a requisite for a healthy ministry or church. Nevertheless, people tend to flock to churches that are in vogue or are cool. Rather than just teach the Word of God, many pastors have come to believe they must use gimmicks and props to stimulate their congregation. American Christians have become programmed to be entertained, even in church.
The apostle Paul certainly did not win the popularity award in the first century. Paul had many detractors and he made note of their accusations in 2 Corinthians 10:10; His enemies said his letters came across as stern and pushy, but his presence in person was weak, and his speech was despised. By the standards of some he wasn’t cool.
Whether or not the accusations were true we can only speculate, but what is evident is that many people rejected and deserted Paul throughout his ministry. For example:
- Acts 13:13, John Mark deserted Paul on the first missionary journey and went back to Jerusalem;
- Acts 15:39, Barnabas separated himself from Paul;
- 2 Timothy 4:10, Demas deserted Paul (and maybe even Crescens, and Titus);
- 2 Timothy 4:14, Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much harm;
- 1 Timothy 1:20, Hymenaeus and Alexander (coppersmith?) did some kind of harm to Paul;
- And near the end of his life Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:15, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermongenes.”
There are probably other examples we could add to this list, but included with all of these desertions from his so-called fellow workers, Paul was mocked, beaten, and left for dead by the Jews and others. Do you think this could cause a man to want to leave the ministry? In Acts 18:9,10 the Lord gave unpopular Paul some healthy reassurance and encouragement to hang in there, don’t be afraid, keep speaking.
[Excerpt from Sunday sermon on Acts 18:6-13. For complete notes on the book of Acts click here.]
- Our church service begins at 11:15 AM on Sunday. We are continuing our study in the books of Acts.
- Dinner and Bible study tonight. Call for details.
- Thursday night Bible study. Session 2.