ACTS 2 (Part 2)

Mount Sinai

A study of the day of Pentecost would also be better understood in the light of the first Pentecost during the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.[1] The giving of the law was approximately seven weeks after the Passover that occurred in Egypt (Exo 19:1). The coming of the Holy Spirit was seven weeks after the death of Jesus.[2] The correlation of the blood on the doorway in Egypt and the blood Christ shed on the cross need not be explored deeper here. It should suffice to say that the events in Egypt are a direct foreshadowing of the work that Christ would fulfill on the cross. Yet, the coming of God on Mount Sinai must be examined to better understand the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

God begins His discourse with Moses by reminding him that Israel has been delivered from their oppressor and if they keep their covenant with God, then they will be a kingdom of priests (Exo 19:6). There was also a prescribed time of preparation set forth in Exodus, that parallels the time that the disciples spent in prayer, waiting on God. As we will see, the disciples remained faithful to their belief in God and God made them preachers to all nations (Acts 2:5-6). During the account in Exodus, God gives Moses the words to speak so that the people of Israel will believe forever (Exo 19:10). We see the parallel happen in the temple in Jerusalem when the disciples speak with other tongues. God the Holy Spirit gives them the words to speak so that the people may believe (Acts 2:41). The call for sanctification in Exodus 19:14 is followed by a washing. Peter’s call for repentance is followed by the commandment to be baptized (Acts 2:38).


[1] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 187.

[2] Iain D. Campbell, Opening Up Exodus (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 79-80.

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ACTS 2: Study of the Holy Spirit

This is a paper I wrote for my most recent class.  Some of it was finished at about 4:30 in the morning, so if it seems a little random, hey that’s what happens.  Enjoy.  I welcome your feedback. 

INTRODUCTION

The Holy Spirit has probably been the least studied and most misunderstood person of the Godhead. Therefore a correct understanding of the role and purpose of the Holy Spirit within the church is not only an important element of Christina theology, but essential for continued life of Christ’s Church. In order to better understand the third person of the Trinity, one must understand the reason for His coming and the events that surrounded His coming on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2.

Feast of Weeks

The day of Pentecost was also known as the “Feast of Weeks.” It was celebrated seven weeks after the “Feast of Firstfruits.” The word Pentecost means “fiftieth,” because the day was fifty days after firstfruits. In Acts 2, Pentecost was fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul explains that Jesus was “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).” For the feast, the priest was to give a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread and a sacrifice of 13 animals. This was the only time that leavened bread was used in an offering to God. The two different loaves may represent the two factions of the church, both Jew and Gentile. Wiersbe points out that the leaven in the bread is to show that the church would contain sin until it was with Christ in heaven.[1] He cites Ephesians 5:27, but this passage speaks about Christ loving the church to the point that He gave His own life so that she will be without spot or any blemish. This seems to be contradiction rather than support the sin that is in the church. Obviously, the individual people within the church have sin in their lives, but this is not the intention of God.

In order to bake a loaf of leavened bread, the baker must intentionally include leaven in the dough. The leaven could also be included due to careless cleaning of the bowl with which the dough was mixed. Neither of these two instances is in keeping with guidelines that God sets out for His church. Believers are not to intentionally allow sin to be incorporated into the body, nor is it supposed to be careless about removing sin from within the body. Christ warns his followers to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (Mat 16:6, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1). Paul also exhorts the church to remove the leaven of sin, because the result will be the spread of sin (1 Cor 5:6-8, Gal 5:9). There is only one point in which the kingdom is likened unto leaven. In Luke 13:21, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to the leaven, but the context of the passage is more about something with small beginnings have a great impact. The first passage of the mustard seed (Luke 13:19) starts out as a small item but grows into a plant the size of a tree. The same goes for the leaven; it is incorporated into the three loaves so that the whole batch is consumed. Here the context of the leaven is not in relation to any form of sin.

A better context for the leavened loaves to be presented would be that they represent the daily sustainment of God’s blessings. We must remember that the point of the Feast of Weeks was to give God the glory for the harvest. The Feast of Firstfruits was the presentation of the first grain from the harvest. The Feast of Weeks marked the end of the harvest and the thanks given to God for the year’s harvest. The leavened bread was used daily by the Jews and this is recognition of God’s sustainment seems to be a better representation for the two loaves (Mat 6:11, Luke 11:3). To strengthen this view, Acts 2:46 points out that those converted on the day of Pentecost were daily in the temple and broke bread from house to house.


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Holy (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), 106-07.

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Jonah (Part 4)

Jonah 1:13

Jonah has confessed to the men of the ship that God is bringing this storm, because he is fleeing the call of God.

The sailors have a reaction that is not what I would consider in their best interest.  They again take up their efforts to get back to dry land on their own. 

To my knowledge, Jonah was no sailor.  So here he is standing helpless on the deck of a ship in the midst of probably the worst storm he has ever seen.  Jonah can’t help.  He probably can’t even pull properly at the ores.  Have you ever been is a boat with someone who doesn’t know how to paddle properly?

Jonah was willing to the let the ship break apart and the men drown till he was singled out by the casting of lots.  I would like to think that if I were in Jonah’s position, I would either jump overboard or repent.  Jonah does neither of these things, and we have to take warning from this.  Sin in your life will take you down a road that is farther and darker than you ever thought imaginable. 

I have seen it time and time again in the body of Christ where a man or woman let sin grow in their heart and when it came out into the open, your shocked at how far from God they truly are.  I don’t condemn them though. 

If not for the grace of God, I would be much worse.

The sailors also serve as a warning to believers and non-believers alike.  These sailors are determined to save Jonah,  they appear to be even more caring and forgiving than Christians are.  When a Christian rebels from God they allow Satan an opportunity to make the Church loose face.  Yet, what the sailors may not realize is that their actions of love and selflessness are an affront to God.  They are helping Jonah along in his sin by defying the correction of God.

Many times the world will accept backslidden Christians and give them shelter, encouragement, etc. that only ends up prolonging the correction that God and the Church desires. 

In response, God increases the intensity of the storm.  Jonah and the sailors are heaping condemnation and trouble upon themselves. 

If you are hiding sin in your life, do us all a favor and repent.

As we will see, if we confess our sins and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive us. 

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So What’s It Gonna Be

Today I was torn.  I was wrestling with myself on whether or not to waste my time.

I was struggling on whether or not an apostate church is even worth the time of a small time (and even that’s being generous) blogger with too much time on his hands.

Then my heart began to break.  I believe God gave me a glimpse of why He wept over Jerusalem.  This story broke my heart.

The Associated Press: Clergy finds US pastor guilty of marrying gays

At first I was infuriated.  I thought to myself, “Wesley must be rolling over in his grave.”

The Wesley brothers have been dead just a little over 200 years and the great revivals of their day have been degenerated into this.

I didn’t get it.  How does this happen?  How can a body fall so far?

Then God whispered in my ear. It was a single phase He has given me many times.  Something that makes me shrink with shame every time.  I don’t want to do what He tells me to.  I can’t take it, not again.

“Look in the mirror,” He says.

God is not blaming me for the sins of someone else, He is not holding me responsible for the fall of an entire denomination, but He is telling me to take inventory of my own witness.

What am I doing to show this fallen world the Light of life?  Am I hiding my candle under a bushel?

I am ashamed to say that I do more than I care to admit.

Every time God and I have this conversation, it goes pretty much the same way.  I think to myself, “I can’t do this. I can’t get it together.”

Every time God interrupts my thoughts with the same response, “Your right.  You can’t do it. Not on your own.  You can’t keep it together.  Not the way I want you to. That’s why I made a way. “

It is this way that we must proclaim and live in this fallen world.  We must proclaim the Gospel truth to people.  We must confront them with their sin and show them the way to salvation. We cannot comfort them on their way to hell.

We may not be able to save a denomination from following the world and lusting to tickle the ears of a congregation, but maybe we could.

Until we get off our hands and start opening our mouths, our co-workers may still be headed to hell.  The kids who cut our lawns may never know the love of Christ we keep to
ourselves.  Our parents may not get know saving grace.

It’s awful hard to play in the game till you get off the bench.

I leave you with the same question God leaves me with, “So what’s it gonna be?”

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Moral or Good?

I am not sure if many of you have been following this story or not, but recently a man was ordered to take down a billboard that condemns his ex-girlfriend for getting an abortion.

You can read more about it here.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/06/23/judge-tells-boyfriend-to-remove-abortion-billboard/

When I first heard about the story I applauded the man’s fortitude for standing against abortion, but something hit me today.

It’s one of those times when I realize that this world is so twisted that we fail to see the root cause of our problems. The lines of right and wrong have been so blurred that we have to be very careful about what we call “good”.

It reminds me of Luke 18.  Who is good?  There is only One who is good, God.

This man may be the one the pro-life movement is rallying around, but one big detail is being overlooked.  If this had not been living in sin and sleeping with his girlfriend, then this would not have happened.

It wasn’t his wife or even his fiancé.  It was a girlfriend.

While I am in no way trying to downplay the horrors of abortion, I am saying that people need to wake up and realize that sin will only lead to more sin.

I don’t know this man at all, but from a Christian perspective, it is kinda hard to live in sin and then want to turn around and claim the moral high ground.

Without God we are all doomed to perpetuate a sinful life no matter how much we may want to slap a moral veneer on it.

DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.

Sounds great.  Those are all things we are commanded to do, and even the world can do those.

Yet, when it comes to the root of our problems, the heart, the world is found wanting.  When God says, “You will give this up for me.”  They fold and walk away.

DO NOT COMMIT AN ABORTION.

The world will yell, “Amen,” but when it comes to not sleeping with your girlfriend.  Well, that’s just too much.

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Jonah (Part 3)

Jonah has set out to flee from God’s call. So he boards a ship that is destined for Tarshish.

As I said before, thank God that He does not just let us go about our lives when we chose to turn our backs on Him. God brings a great storm on the ship and the sailors pray to their own gods and do everything within their power to keep the ship on its course.

Ever stop to think about how your choices can bring calamity to those around you?

I mean Jonah made this choice all by himself, but the consequences of his decision threatened the lives of others. Luckily God is merciful and He doesn’t always use such measures to get our attention, but it obviously can’t be ruled out.

Where is Jonah when this is all happening? He is asleep in the bottom of the boat.

Have you ever been so stressed out that you just seem to collapse? This is another clue as to the inner turmoil Jonah had to be going through. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and he probably was none too happy about his decisions. But, despite all this he still refuses to repent for his sins.

The ship’s captain calls on Jonah to pray to his God, but Jonah either refused or just went through the motions. Jonah won’t even confess to the men on the ship until God calls him out with the casting of the lots.

Jonah confesses to the sailors who he is and why this is all happening. He says he knows this is why the storm has come and all they have to do is through him overboard. Then the waters will calm and they will be allowed to go on their way.

This is Jonah’s first hint that he would rather be dead than do what God wants him to do.

Jonah did not know that a fish would come get him. I don’t think that he had any idea that he could swim back to dry land. Jonah wasn’t even trying to avoid a death at the hands of his enemies. At this point, God was his enemy.

This whole time the storm is getting worse and worse. The sailors cannot believe that Jonah would do such a thing, but yet they have a very interesting response to Jonah’s confession.

Next time we will begin with a look at how the sailors react to Jonah’s situation.

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Jonah (Part 2)

So Jonah has told God that he refuses to go to Nineveh.  Jonah heads down to the docks to find a ship that is destine for Tarshish.  I have heard before that at this time, Tarshish was the farthest point in the known world from where Jonah was.  I don’t know if that is true or not, but to me the most outstanding point to be made is that Jonah was setting out for that was free from the Lord’s presence.

I don’t believe for a second that Jonah thought he could run and find a place where the Lord would not be, but he probably wanted to find a place where he could hide God.

Jonah wanted to find a place where no one knew who he was, somewhere where he could flee from his reputation as a prophet.  I am sure Jonah and I are the only men in history who have looked for a place where people did not know we where Christians so that we could suppress God in our lives and let sin take hold.  I don’t mean that I try to find the
hole-in-the-wall bar across town where nobody will recognize me, but the times I don’t pray over my food in public because people might stare.  Then there are the times that I’m at work and want people to think I’m part of their crowd so I talk bad about people behind
their back.  Or the time…

Now that we have established what a horrible person Jonah and I are, let’s continue.

Jonah has such a hatred for the people of Nineveh that he would rather quit the business and quit God than preach a message of repentance.  Jonah knew what he was doing and he was leaving town to get it done.

Luckily God didn’t let Jonah get away with it and neither will He let me get away with it.  Dare I go out on a limb and say He won’t let you get away with it either?

Time is up again. Thanks for reading.

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