Monthly Archives: October 2011
(Ver 1.2) Today is Part 14 in a series of advanced lessons on Understanding Bible Faith. If you have not been reading this series from the beginning I would recommend that you go back and start with “Part 1”. Faith is by far one of the most significant subjects found in the Bible for every Christian to know. This subject has far reaching applications that crosses into everything else found in the Bible. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. Without faith it is impossible to be saved. Without faith you will remain where you are today and fail to achieve what God has called you to do. These are radical concepts that few Christians attempt to understand and they have therefore, failed to recognize why they are in the situations that have arisen in their lives. God many times gets blamed in error for these conditions of mankind. But, it is far more likely that it was the people’s own ignorance of the subject of faith that has caused them to be facing what they think that they are unable to overcome.
What have we learned from this series of Bible lessons on faith? We should have learned that anything that happened to anyone in the Bible that was ever positive occurred only because someone had faith in God and His Word. Even in the majority of the cases observed in the Gospels, Jesus only acknowledged a person’s faith as being the key factor for them being saved, healed or delivered. At no time did Jesus take credit and say that it was His power alone that delivered anyone. This is why this subject is so critical to learn about right now. What applies to the people in the Bible applies directly to you and me today. Faith is the human factor that causes God’s power to be made manifest in the natural world. This could be the Power of God for spiritual salvation, physical healing, emotional restoration, marital reconciliation, child relationship and development or financial blessings. God cares about every area in your life, but God is not going to get involved just because He can or just because you need Him to. God will however, respond to your faith and move heaven and earth to get you the answer when you learn to do your part and believe.
I once heard a preacher man on TV say that faith does not move God. His point was that faith moved you to be in the right place to receive and that is really my subject today. But, I also wondered after hearing him, what Bible he was reading. I just had to disagree with that statement whole heartedly. You see I learned that the Bible says God is no respecter of people in the world (Acts 10:34, Rom 2:11). However, reading in the Gospels I learned that if people had faith God would do some extraordinary things to help them and not having faith mostly caused people not to obtain what God wanted to give to them. I read in the Matthew that when the centurion came to Jesus and asked for Jesus to heal his servant that Jesus said I will come (Mat 8:7). Why would Jesus have made such an effort to go out of his way for a Gentile that was never in covenant with God in order to go to his house personally to heal his servant? People really need to read the Gospels with more attention to the details. The centurion tells Jesus you do not even need to come to my house, just speak the word only and my servant will be healed. Jesus is again marveled and said I have not found so great a faith no not in Israel (Mat 8:10). Why was Jesus willing to go? Is this not an example of God in the flesh being moved? According to Jesus it was the centurion’s faith that caused Him to even be willing to travel and go where He was needed to go. Go read the story and see if it is not true. Jesus was moved by faith to go many places and this is still true today, because the Bible clearly says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8). Let’s talk about faith today and learn some new things on this very important subject. Let me give you one of my foundational verses today:
Mat 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Who gave the blind their sight? It was God of course. Who caused the lame to walk? Again it was God. Who cleansed the lepers? It could be no one else but God. Who can only raise the dead? No one but God can raise the dead. Finally who preached Gospel to the poor? It was Jesus. But, notice the emphasis is not ever upon God or His power in this verse anywhere. The emphasis is placed upon people receiving these things from God and that is a completely different perspective to that of God just giving them to everyone. While faith is not directly mentioned in this verse, I understand that this is the implied subject that causes people to receive, but you may not know that yet and that is why I am teaching this new part of the subject today. It is only because the blind has any faith that they are able to receive what God has given to them for free. What is receiving and what does it mean to receive something? Let’s do a quick review of the definition from the dictionary:
- To take or acquire (something given, offered, or transmitted); get.
This is an interesting concept that is easily overlooked by Christians? This word conveys personal responsibility to do something. This something requires individual action in order to be made effective. There are many things that come to my mind when reading this definition. If someone takes something that was not given to them, this is called theft or stealing. But, since we are talking about God’s gifts that have been given through His promised Word we are going to have to figure out how to reach into the spiritual realm to take what we cannot see or touch with our physical senses. Think of it this way, what if God has given to us in the spiritual realm, but no one has come from the natural realm to take what He has offered to us all freely? Is God going to come into the natural realm and force you to receive (take) it? That would certainly change the definition of receive, wouldn’t it? That is the religious idea of election or predestination and that is not in the Bible. God will never force His will or His gift of salvation upon anyone who does not take it freely. People in the natural realm are always required to take by Faith what God has given freely by Grace in the spiritual realm. Think with me in terms of natural Israel as being our example. They sat in the wilderness dying because they did not want to go into the Promised Land to take by faith what God had freely given to them by Grace. The Promised Land represents the spiritual dimension of your faith fight and obtaining God’s blessings. The wilderness represented the natural realm where if you remained you do without God’s blessings. Do you understand the analogy that God has given to us from this very clear Bible example?
Let me give you some more Bible examples of receiving to help teach you that I am not making this stuff up. Read with me in the book of Luke and see that Jesus is speaking to a blind man in another marvelous faith lesson:
Luk 18:41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
Jesus asks the blind man what do you want from me and the blind man demonstrates his faith by his actions and his spoken words. The answer given to Jesus question was “I want to receive my sight”. Why didn’t the blind man just ask for Jesus to give him his sight? Wow, that is a really great question. Sight is definitely what the blind man was after from Jesus, yes? Did you know that it matters what you ask for and how you answer when God comes to you? If the blind man’s words did not matter then why did Jesus even ask the question? Jesus is obviously well aware of the situation and the need and yet the man is not yet healed. What is Jesus waiting for? The problem was standing right in front of Jesus and Jesus could have just reached out and said “Be Healed” if it was all up to the power of God. Please think when you read the Bible. Jesus never does anything like you would do normally. If you were God standing before a blind man you would have probably just said “Your healed” and kept walking. But, Jesus stops and asks this man a question and that has meaning and his answer must matter. Everything that Jesus did was on purpose. I personally believe that it was only because of the blind man’s great answer that allows Jesus to continue. Can Jesus just heal everyone in the Gospels? Unfortunately, you do not find that is true if you observe what it really says. We learned from the woman with the issue of blood that she was the only one that got healed in a massive crowd of people that were all trying to touch Jesus. Jesus turned and looked at her and said your faith has saved you. Getting back to the blind man’s answer, why does he ask to receive his sight from Jesus? Do you understand that these words put the responsibility upon the blind man to receive and not Jesus to give? Do you understand the difference? That is a very new radical approach to take with an omnipotent God that is always capable of giving to us anything. God is teaching you that the way you think and speak is going to matter if you want to get your answer from Him.
So I’m going to introduce you to a brand new concept about faith and this will be a little bit different than anything that I have said before. True faith concludes that God is not only capable of giving, but that He has already given and I just need to learn how to receive it. The blind man never asked for Jesus to give him anything or to heal him, he only asks to receive his sight. Sight represents the answer to the man’s problem blindness. It is clearly stated from the blind man’s perspective and his request that Jesus has already given this and he just needed to take it. That is what faith is from a new Bible perspective. Let me help you see something else new in the Bible:
2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
God is stated to have power and through this power God has already given to us what? Is this not “ALL THINGS” that pertain to life? If God has given to you ALL THINGS that pertain to life why don’t you have it? It comes back to you not knowing how to receive it again. If you do not take from the spiritual realm what God has given, you will do without it in the natural realm. That is just the way it is and that is why people do without in many cases. What is your problem today, you only need to learn how to have faith to receive to get your answer also. Faith reaches out to receive or take and that is the foundational basis for my entire Bible lesson today. If you are receiving then you are in faith. If you are not receiving then you are not in faith. Your faith will receive the answer. Wow, again that is great information to learn. Notice the response of the creator God to this man’s request to receive:
Luk 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
Jesus clearly associates the blind man’s faith to be the determining factor for him being able to receive his sight and it was also his “receiving” that permitted the anointed power of God on Jesus to flow and to manifest in the natural realm. You may recall that when the woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus, immediately Jesus felt virtue (power) flow from Him. Jesus stops and turns to see who accessed this power to flow and then tells the woman your faith has saved you. I always find it very interesting what Jesus says to people. Jesus does not say I have healed you even though it was clearly the power that He was anointed with that did the work in everyone. To the blind man, Jesus said “take your sight, your faith has saved you” and this caused power to be transferred from the spiritual dimension into the physical dimension. I may have implied this before, but I want to reemphasize the fact that faith is a spiritual force that you possess and not a natural feeling that you can work or sense and we will talk about that more in second. Clearly in Luke 18:42, Jesus again places the emphasis on the man’s taking with his faith and not upon God’s giving of the power.
Luk 18:43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
I like the term “immediately”. This man is instantly healed by God and received what he requested without delay. However, this is not the only blind man healed by Jesus in the Bible. Why does God not treat every similar problem the exact same way? Did you ever notice that? There are several different blind men healed by Jesus in the Gospels and they are all different. It is actually a great lesson to go and read them all to determine the differences, but I will not do that for them all to limit the size of this lesson. I technically believe that God does treat every identical problem the same, but that it is the human contribution or factor that causes the variableness to occur. It is only because every person does not have the same level of faith that things appear different in the natural realm. For example, there is a blind man found in John chapter 9. This man encounters Jesus in a much different setting. If you do not recall this story please stop now and go read John 9 and then continue with this lesson so that we can compare the two similar problems and the healing examples. In John 9, the disciples point the blind man out to Jesus and ask Him a question about who sinned to cause his blindness. Let’s skip the answer to concentrate on what Jesus did different for the blind man and then let’s compare what this blind man did that was different to the blind man in Luke. In John 9, Jesus spits on the ground and makes mud and puts it on the man’s eyes and then tells him to go and wash it off. Why didn’t Jesus do this in Luke 18? The blind man in John 9 goes and does what Jesus asked him to do and comes back seeing. Why didn’t Jesus just look at the blind man in John 9 and say “Receive your sight your faith has saved you” like he did in Luke 18? Both are clear miracles of receiving sight, but they are completely different examples of the variable of human faith required to receive. It is clear to me that the blind man in John 9 had no faith at least at first. Let’s back up in the story of the blind man in Luke 18 to learn a few new things that I did not include to compare the differences.
Luk 18:37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
Notice that this verse says that Jesus was passing by. Did you notice that? Jesus was not there to heal, and He would have just passed by if no one had any faith to stop Him. Do you understand that? Jesus was also passing by the blind man in John 9, but this time the disciples stop Him. Faith always gets God’s attention. I have given you examples of this several times. In the Gospels, clearly God was moved when He encountered the Faith of people and even at times marveled at their faith. What caused almighty God to go out of His way to deliver the child of a gentile woman in Tyre that you read about in an earlier lesson? Was it not her great faith? If you want to get God’s attention so that He marvels at your great faith you are going to have to learn how that works. This blind man in Luke 18 heard a commotion and demanded to know what was happening and he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Obviously this was at least a key part to him getting faith but it could not have been the entire story. He must have heard at some time in the past who Jesus was and that Jesus had said that He was anointed by God to heal and to give the recovering of sight to the blind and he must have believed in Him because of what he did next:
Luk 18:38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
Who is the blind man in Luke calling for? He had just heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, but he calls out for Jesus the Son of David. This was a covenant term of recognition or a covenant Title of respect and honor. Clearly this blind man understood more than many that were in the Jewish temple. The fact that the blind man calls Him the Son of David reflects that he knew who He was. The Messiah was prophesied to come from the seed of David. According to prophecy David’s son would forever sit on the throne of His father David. These are natural descriptions as well as spiritual terms being related. Take notice, who the blind man is calling out for. Could it be these covenant words that got Jesus attention to stop and not to just pass him by? Also note the man’s acknowledgment of God’s mercy. Love, mercy and compassion are all spiritual partners of God’s Grace. You can call them synonymous terms or you can see them as related intertwined subjects like a divine chord of character. Grace, mercy, compassion and love caused God to give to the world what they did not deserve. Nevertheless the blind man directly sought for Jesus and this must have been based upon him hearing His Word in order to already have faith when Jesus had not said anything to him up until this point. Therefore the man had faith and chose to do something to receive. Doing nothing would have resulted in Jesus passing by. Doing nothing would have resulted in him not receiving. The blind man could have had faith after hearing, but kept silent and not activated it and he would have done without.
Why is Luke 18 so much different than John 9? Both are blind men. The blind man in John 9 never calls out for Jesus to do anything. The blind man in John 9 does not ask for mercy, does not call Jesus the son of David, does not ask to receive anything and therefore Jesus has do some things differently because this man had no faith at this time. The John 9 blind man either does not know who Jesus is or has just never heard of him before now as being the anointed one sent from God. Luke 18 clearly is radically different. The blind mind initiates the contact after hearing the crowd passing. The John 9 blind man is passive and the Luke 18 blind man is totally aggressive taking the initiative. The blind man in John 9, Jesus initiates the conversation. The blind man in Luke 18 even the people can’t shut him up. One man has faith and corresponding works and the other man has neither at first. Let me introduce another complex factor that I have addressed only in passing. There is another faith factor or partner given to us in James that is applicable to what is occurring both in Luke and in John. Please allow me to take a side trip into teaching you about faith and works and how they are displayed in each Bible story from Luke 18 and John 9.
Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Why are faith and works even mentioned together in the same verse? These two forces are diametrically opposed to each other in many other verses found in the Bible. For example, Galatians 2:16 says no man is justified by works, but by faith in Jesus Christ. What we learn from studying this subject is that faith alone in Jesus does not save anyone. Conversely works alone never saves anyone either. However, these two factors working in harmony together cause’s salvation to manifest. Why is faith dead without works? You could also ask; why is works dead without faith? Ok, why is that? We are born into the natural world as hidden spiritual beings. God is a Spirit, yet we do not come to know Him spiritually first except through hearing about Him in the natural realm and believing in Him by faith. When we choose to hear and learn about God and decide to believe in Him that is the initial stages of having saving internal spiritual faith. But, yet you are not saved until you acknowledge Him with your external works of your spoken words that He is your Lord. Those two factors together are the external corresponding work based actions working in conjunction with your internal spiritual faith based believing to cause a union of the physical and the spiritual resulting in the manifestation or receiving of an already accomplished God given reality. This is an example of faith and works coexisting and cooperating in harmony to produce salvation. Let me show you in the Bible:
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Roman’s 10:9 demonstrates how faith and works go together and tells us that we must first believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. The only way you are going to believe this is if someone comes and tells you about Him first. How does faith come? According to the Bible faith comes by hearing the Word of God, therefore believing comes by you first hearing. Then Roman’s 10:9 tells you that if you confess Him as Lord with your mouth then you are saved. This is the external works part of the internal spiritual faith belief. This verse is actually given to us in reverse order of occurrence and it does not directly mention the preaching part of the process, but yet everything can be confirmed by reading the next verse. Notice that true Bible believing only occurs in the heart of men and women on the earth in Romans 10:10.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It is with the heart (spirit) that the Bible says that people believe anything. What we discover is that there are two realms to the completed process of salvation. The natural realm requires your works of confession while the spiritual realm requires your heartfelt beliefs to be established on God’s Words given to us by His Grace. All of this is dependent upon you first hearing the truth of the Gospel and then receiving it like we saw in the story of the blind man in Luke 18 or the woman with the issue of blood In Mark 5. Why did the blind man not ask Jesus to give him sight? Why did the blind man only ask to receive? This is the most important part of Bible faith. God had already given Jesus and the Messiah was present in the flesh standing right before this blind man. The blind man does not need to ask for Him to come and heal because God has already come and He was already anointed by God with healing power (Acts 10:38). The Bible said in Psalms 107:20 “God sent his word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions”. Do you suppose the man understood what the Bible said? Jesus the Word of God made flesh was given and present. God says in Psalms 107:20 that this sent Word “healed” them, as in past tense, done. Why do you need to ask for anything that was already done? That is the problem of most people’s prayer in the world today. They pray for salvation for a friend and salvation was given already and the friend now just needs to receive what God has given. Pray for your friend to receive, pray for God to send laborers across their path to preach but do not pray for God to save them. God will simply say to you I have done that if you were truly listening when you read my word you would have seen where I told you that I saved them. You can find this truth in many verses but one of these is where God says that we have been given the ministry of “reconciliation”.
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
This is a radical concept and this verse has some great information within it. The statement that God was in Christ informs us that Jesus was much more than just an ordinary man. He was God in the flesh and why did God come in the flesh? This verse says that God came to reconcile us (the world) to Himself. The world was everyone that was unsaved, an all inclusive scope of reality. This is again past tense terminology given to us as the completed action of God. These are specified things that God has already given and already accomplished. This verse ends with a message of direction for us today. We are to go and tell everyone what God has done. This is called the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation is the great exchange. God has given to us His life and in exchange we are to receive this eternal life by giving to Him our lives. What God has already given to us in the spiritual realm, we now must receive in the physical realm through our faith and works.
What we discover from understanding about faith and works in James is why there is such a difference between the Luke 18 and John 9 blind men. The Luke 18 man had heard of Jesus, had faith and released his faith in his words and his actions to receive. The John 9 man had not heard of Jesus, had no faith at this time and could not release his faith in anything to receive. What does Jesus do for the man in John 9 to cause him to have faith? If you read the chapter you know that Jesus is said to have made mud from the ground and He then “anointed” his eyes with it. We can understand from reading Acts 10:38 that it was the anointing that healed those that were oppressed of the devil. However, the blind man’s faith in John 9 was still required to receive. The anointing still healed both men, but in John 9 God could not heal until the blind man in John 9 believed and did something first. So Jesus speaks instructions for the blind man to believe and then tells him something for him to obey (do). The man in John 9 had to go to a very specific pool and wash. What if the man never went to the pool because he did not believe what was happening to him was real? What if the man left Jesus but did not go to the right pool? What if there was a closer pool and the man went to that one instead? What if the man did not believe Jesus at all and he was not obedient and just went home? Hasn’t Jesus already anointed his eyes with the Power of God? I believe that he would not have received his sight. Being obedient to the voice of God is the acknowledged action of your beliefs. If God tells you to do something it is wise to do it no matter how crazy it sounds. Both men from Luke 18 and John 9 exhibit faith and works in action working together to produce positive results. One did not have to go and wash, the other did. However, both received their sight in the end. So that is more important than not receiving. Let me teach you another factor that is also revealed in these lessons:
Luk 18:39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
Here is a man that is blind, he hears a commotion and asks what is happening and people tell him about Jesus of Nazareth passing by. As the man calls out for the Son of David and for mercy others around him rebuked him to stay silent. What spiritual application can we learn from this new information that applies to us today? We learn that not everyone in the world is on your side and is willing to help you get your answer. We learn about the concept of the opposing forces of evil that will try to stop you from receiving. In other lessons I talked about these being like faith giants in the spiritual battle of your faith. While you are seeking for God’s mercy, you will encounter a spiritual force of opposition that will attempt to shut you up and stop you. Do not think that all of the things of God will be so easy to access? Do you think that you have no enemies and that God has no enemies? Where do you find that in the Bible? Do not assume everyone is on your side. Truly the opposition in Luke 18 came from ignorant people who knew not the heart of God to save this blind man. These people understood little to nothing of how God worked and why. These are examples of people that you will run into everywhere still today, on the internet, in your church, in your Christian book store and at your work or in your family. These people will discourage you from seeking to be healed, saved and delivered. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you will not be persecuted for doing the right things and for seeking God’s help. What made this blind man in Luke 18 ignore all of his critics and continue to shout louder for the Son of David’s mercy? It is called the determination factor. If you are determined to receive from God then you will receive from God no matter what comes against you to stop you. Determination can mean when it looks like it is not working you remain confident that it is working. Determination can mean that when someone tells you the Bible is full of lies and errors that you just ignore them. The blind man in Luke 18 could have given up and given in to the opposition and then he would have remained blind. The blind man in Luke 18 could have listened to fools and stayed blind. If the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5 had not been determined to fight through the large crowd of people to touch Jesus then she would have not been healed either. She showed her determination by not giving up or quitting despite not feeling well and all of the people that were in her way. The blind man in John 9 could have given up on the way to the pool. He was still blind the whole way there. Jesus didn’t go with him and encourage him the whole trip to make sure he did what he was told either. Do you think that it was easy for him to get there? Have you ever been blind? I think it was not easy for him to do anything that Jesus said to do. You are going to have to make a conscious decision to become determined after you learn about faith. You will have many enemies both spiritually and naturally that will counter your beliefs to get you to fail.
Let me stop here and review the list of faith partners that I have been teaching on with the new additions to what you shoud have learned today on the subject. So far today we have discussed two new faith examples of Jesus healing blind men from Luke 18 and John 9 and I also mentioned the famous faith lesson of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. God says let everything be established by the words of two or three witnesses and that is what I have done today. I have given you three witnesses to faith. I will now give you a list of faith characteristics that we have talked about in this series and you should be able to identify these in every story that I have included in some form of words or displayed actions:
The success of your faith depends upon:
- Your Humility.
- Your Will/Desire to Get the Answer.
- Your Aggressive Actions to Participate in the Process.
- Your Ability to Hear.
- Your Understanding of the Word Heard.
- Your View of the Importance of the Word of God Heard.
- Your Belief in His Anointing Power.
- Your Belief in the Truth of the Word of God.
- Your Confidence Level in God’s Ability to do what He has Promised.
- Your Confidence Level in God’s Willingness to do what He has Promised to do.
- Your Overall Trust in God.
- Your Continued Determination Level Despite Major Opposition.
- Your Reaction to the Opposition.
- Your Words Spoken.
- Your Positive Expectation Level.
- Your Actions of Obedience.
- Your Receiving the Answer.
You should be able to find these faith qualities demonstrated in the life examples of everyone to some extent. Not everyone of them is obviously stated in every story, but yet they play a role in them receiving from God their answer to their problem. Today’s lesson was primarily about Faith Receives in the natural realm what God Grace has given to us in the Spiritual Realm. I then taught you that this was a combined effort of both the natural and the spiritual realms of man working in harmony. The human spiritual realm is where we believe and the natural physical realm is where we do the corresponding works. The realm of the human soul also plays a role in my list of factors but I have never spoken of this realm directly before just now. The soul realm of man is where our mind is, where our will originates and where our emotions play major factors into the faith fight. I talked about your will in other lessons being a factor to receiving. Today I talked about your determination being a factor and again this comes from your soul or your will. Your emotions will play a factor and cause you to want to give up. These are some of the very complex factors involved in Bible faith. We could probably add many more to the list and potentially we may do that in future lessons on this subject. I hope and pray that you learned something today about faith that will help you in your relationship with God. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you as you walk by faith. God Bless.
If you would like to continue reading in this series on Bible Faith please go to “Part 15“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 5 – 7! Part 9
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 9 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. These lessons contain spiritual information and not natural formulas so they are easily misunderstood by Christians. We have covered a tremendous amount of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. I am currently going through the book of Acts searching for the works of the Spirit of God to lead His people. Just in the first 4 chapters of Acts, I showed you 7 of my 12 guidance methods either displayed in actions or referenced by words. We are seeing God working through His church to guide them and direct them and by learning how God has done this in the past, it will help point us to how God will direct us in these last days. Christians today are in the same church, the same body of Christ, in the same covenant, we read the same Bible, have the same Holy Spirit in us and are the same kind of believers in Jesus Christ as all of those mentioned in the early church that we are reading about in Acts. The mistake many modern Christians make is thinking that God now does something different today than what He did with the early church or perhaps that those in the early church were superior and God did something special and different for them. Somehow these types of Christians have missed the point that the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Not believing this Bible truth causes many today to believe God changed how He operates and what He does with His people. That is clearly a misguided teaching that attempts to explain away what God did in Acts as not applying to the church today. I refute that kind of teaching categorically and declare with boldness that I’m in the same Church as Peter, James and John. What they did, I can do, what God did through them God can do through me. But, you can choose to believe whatever you like. Let’s move in the study to read in chapter 5.
ACTS CHAPTER 5
The fifth chapter of Acts is a difficult chapter to comprehend because of the many types of things that transpire. In this chapter a man and his wife sold a piece of property and they brought some of the money to the church to give to others and they claimed that they gave it all, when in reality they withheld a portion for themselves. Here is where it starts to get complicated. This does not mean that they were supposed to give it all; it only means they were not supposed to lie to say that they did when they didn’t give it all. Here is what Peter said to what was happening in verse 3:
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Peter reveals things that are impossible for him to know personally. Peter would have had to follow them around and to be invisible to know what they had done in private. How did Peter know what was going on? I think that is an excellent question and people ignore it because they do not understand God and spiritual guidance. Peter knew that Ananias was lying because of the work of the Spirit of God within him and a spiritual gift of discernment called the “Word of Knowledge”. This is a spiritual gift from God that causes people to know things in their spirits that they did not witness personally in the physical realm. In other words this type of knowledge did not come from the sense realm. Here is where we need to ask how then did Peter know this private intimate information if he did not observe what they did with his senses? Let me give you another direct verse that speaks of this very special gift from God to help us understand what is being spoken of in this chapter:
1Co 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
Clearly not everyone possesses these gifts. It is God’s work that causes these gifts to come and never man’s desire just to have them. Man cannot cause them to happen nor can he ask for them to happen. I want you to notice what Peter was doing when this occurred. He was in the middle of a church service and he was not praying but he was speaking to the people that were gathered. Therefore, Peter was clearly not asking God for the gift when it was given. You see that would be like me coming to you and asking you to give me a thousand dollars when I just saw you get 1000 dollars from the bank. What right would I have to do that? Why would you even consider giving me anything just because I asked for it? You would be very foolish and become very poor rapidly if you gave to everyone that came along and wanted a free hand out. The word would get around quickly that he is giving away free money and then you could never stop the onslaught of people that would knock on your door. Think of children. Children ask for many things constantly that they want. As a parent are we supposed to give them everything they ask for? I hope you can see that would not work. They would want every toy and every sweet thing to eat and would sit around doing nothing but play games. We are no different than children in the world to God. God is not going to give you something just because you asked for it. I guess that is getting too deep for this lesson, because there are promises in God’s word that He has already given to us many things and we still do not possess them because we have failed to learn how to receive things from a spiritual God.
Just as parents should not be foolish to give their children everything they ask for, God is not foolish either. God is all knowing and all wise and He will decide when to give a spiritual gift. Here in 1 Corinthians 12:8 God gives some the “word of wisdom” and others the “word of knowledge”. Both are different gifts and manifestations of the Spirit of God to lead you and to guide you and to guide those that are being spoken about or to. A “word of wisdom” occurs when you spiritually know what to do in a certain situation in your life when you would not have known otherwise. A “word of wisdom” is a future knowledge of something to do, unlike the “word of knowledge” which is a past knowledge of something that was done. The “word of knowledge” occurs when you know of something that has occurred in the past to someone other than you and you would have not known of it without God showing you what had occurred to them. This is normally sin related, but not always. One pastor said this happened to him many times while he was in charge of the church that God had sent him to. God would bring a word of knowledge about someone doing wrong in the church like someone that was committing adultery or some other sin. This was done to help bring correction to the situation. But, the word of knowledge does not always have to be a sin. Now the word of wisdom is slightly different. Another pastor once said that he was in preparation at home doing something and God told him that this certain member of his flock was going to die today. So this pastor went immediately to where the individual was to help him and to bring comfort. Both examples were God’s Spirit giving gifts of guidance to help the church. These gifts were examples of God leading His people by His Spirit. I hope you understand them, because they happen every day to those that cooperate with them. Let’s briefly go back and read the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and verify that God is speaking about spiritual guidance.
1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
God is writing concerning the spiritual. The word “gifts” was added by the translators and it is not necessarily accurate but it is not necessarily bad either. Anything you get from God is a gift of His grace. But always remember that God is a Spirit (Jo 4:24). Therefore, whatever God has given to anyone first came from the Spiritual realm. Here in this verse God is declaring ignorance to be an evil. If God does not want you to be ignorant then why are there so many ignorant people in the world? Primarily they do not make the effort to learn about spiritual things so they remain in their natural thinking ignorant processes. Let’s look at the next verse and eliminate some of our spiritual ignorance:
1Co 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
God is telling the church you use to be Gentiles that were previously led astray, but implies that the Holy Spirit is now leading them to know Grace. What we learn from this verse is that every human on the planet is being led by some spirit. Those that are in the world are being led by Satan and his demons, and those that are saved should be led by the Spirit of God. This verse is a very direct statement concerning being led, but we have to add our reasoning to determine who was doing the leading of the unsaved because it is not directly mentioned in this verse. If you read the next verse you will hopefully see that God is speaking and declaring that no one says Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit of God and the no one curses the Lord Jesus by the Holy Ghost either. Here are two contrasting works that proceed from humans. The Spirit of God says I do one but not the other. This is simply another implied reference to Satan vs. God’s work on the earth. Satan causes men to curse God and the Lord Jesus and God helps men to say Jesus is their Lord. I’m not going to go through every verse but here are the next 4 vreses in 1 Corinthians 12:
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
What I wanted you to see in context is that God is speaking of leading the church and that He helps us to understand why He does this in these verses. There are three unique descriptions that are interesting to take note of. These are “diversities of gifts”, “differences of administrations” and “diversities of operations”. What are these speaking of? I personally believe they are simply informing us that God gives us different things at different times in different ways. In other words you can never put God in a box or try to say that He will always do things one way. The key words are diversities and differences. You are not God and you are not in charge of anything. Finally in verse 7, God tells us what it is that motivates Him to do things this way. God directly says it is for the profit or benefit of the entire church. That means God intends His leading to be a positive outcome for the church. Keep this in mind as we continue to study in the fifth chapter of Acts about Ananias.
Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Continuing in the fifth chapter of Acts Ananias falls down dead and is carried out by the church. I guess the lesson and the word of knowledge on this day was not for the benefit of Ananias the dead man, but rather for those that were watching and listening to what was said and done and they all learned that lying to the Spirit of God was not a very smart thing to do. They also learned that God knew when they were lying so it was impossible to get away it. They also saw the demonstration of the Word of Knowledge. This one act put the fear of God in the whole church and they got the message very quickly. What I want you to notice was that this was God leading the church through a spiritual gift called the word of knowledge for what we read was the greater good of the church. Even though we are never told this directly in the chapter, but that was what was happening. The Spirit of God spoke to Peter and Peter spoke what God had shown him to the church. I also want you to notice that Peter described Ananias as having Satan filling his heart and not God. That is an example of another manifestation gift of the Spirit of God called the “discerning of spirits”. It is also clear evidence that Satan was leading Ananias what to do and this was the wrong spirit to listen to. There are so many lessons to learn in this chapter that I really cannot spend the time to speak to them all. I do want you to understand that Ananias’ listening to Satan is why God did not correct Ananias, but allowed Satan to kill him and he fell dead immediately. You’ll probably ask me why I said Satan killed him and this is because Paul writes about another incident in the N.T. that is related.
1Co 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
I do not have time to talk about this verse in full or the context of this verse. But, I wanted you to see that a Christian was going to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit would be saved. Wow, that is pretty revealing. First you can see that Satan can cause physical death but not spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. The sin of the Christian allowed Satan’s access to his physical body. I have concluded that this is potentially what happened to Ananias and his wife also. But, I’m not going to be able to go any further with this line of teaching today. Let’s continue going through Acts 5:
Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Do you see the effect that this event had on the church? What would happen today if things like this happened again when the church met? I believe the effect would be the exact same. It would promote an attitude of holiness where the church would see that doing right was a good thing and sin was a very bad thing. I’m not predicting that this will happen again, but I would not be surprised if it did.
Act 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
As you read in Acts chapter 5, the apostles continue to do many signs and wonders and preach the name of Jesus until they are thrown in prison in verse 18. If you read Acts 5:12 in isolation, it will give you the impression that the disciples were in control of what was happening, but this is clearly a misunderstood application of God’s works being made manifest through natural men using spiritual guidance, direction and His anointing. If the disciples do any great works they were done by the Gifts and the Grace of God’s power being made available to them and displayed through them. It is only by God’s direct power and man’s faith in His power that anything positive occurred in the book of Acts. I also want to point out that the church in this verse is again stated to be in one accord. This means there was a spirit of church unity and harmony which abounded in everyone and I am convinced that this is how the church will leave this planet very soon. Let me briefly describe the anointing of God and its role in what is happening in chapter 5.
2Co 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Here are just two verses that speak of God giving the church an anointing. Why the anointing was necessary and what the anointing is are two very valid questions? If you do not understand the concepts behind the anointing of God then you will not understand the book of Acts. In Acts 10:38 it tells us “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power who went about doing good and healing all those oppressed of the devil”. The anointing of God was the power of God according to this verse and it makes available this miracle working substance to others that Jesus encountered. If God had to anoint Jesus (God in the flesh) to heal people in the Gospels, then God must use the same anointing power in the lives of the disciples to heal also. These are repeated patterns given from God to Jesus that was handed down to the members of the church. We in the church are called the “Body of Christ”. That title alone promotes the fact that the anointing is present upon us. The Greek word translated as Christ means “anointed one”. It corresponds to the Hebrew word for “Messiah”. God is clearly saying that it is My Anointing on you that caused anything good to occur. Let’s continue through chapter 5. Verse 18 tells us that the disciples are thrown in prison, but then in verse 19:
Act 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Act 5:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
We can again see the involvement of angels at work for the church. We are once more not told every detail. We do not know if the disciples prayed or if the church prayed, but nonetheless the angels show up and release all of them from prison. The angels come and shake the prison and release them to go back into the temple to continue to preach the name of Jesus. You can clearly see that the angels give them a message from God and tell them what to do. This is again very strong evidence that God is directing them and that they are being led by the Spirit of God. You have to understand that the disciples were new born spiritual babies in Christ less than a few weeks old at this time. They have much to learn about spiritual things and how God will lead them. Many times Christians want to be led like someone who has been a Christian for 50 years and they do not realize that these people grew to that level of spiritual maturity and awareness and that this was not how they were led by God from the start of their Christian conversion. Spiritual growth is a very basic principle to learning how to be led by the Spirit of God. Just as a new born natural baby is not independent from their parents for many years, so a new born spiritual baby is not able to do what a Christian of mature age and experience can do. That is just the way it works and you cannot sidestep the issue and jump beyond where you are right now just because you want to. You are going to have to grow and continue to learn. Let’s review briefly what we have observed and learned from chapter 5:
- God used Peter again to be a human messenger for other people to hear.
- The Holy Spirit gave Peter a word of knowledge concerning someone who was being influenced by Satan to sin.
- God also gave Peter the gift of discerning spirits to identify Satan’s involvement.
- All of this was done for the benefit of the church to teach them and guide them into holiness.
- Angels again are sent by God for deliverance of the church and for a message from God.
- Based upon other stories found in the Bible it is implied someone was praying but it is not mentioned directly in this chapter.
- Therefore, there are at the least three different direct methods of leading being taught in this chapter and a forth that was implied.
- We can observe the Holy Spirits involvement in this chapter, even though He is never directly mentioned.
ACTS CHAPTER 6 & 7
Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Here in this chapter, we are going to see another manifestation of the inward work of the Spirit of God. I want you to notice that the number of the church has multiplied considerably and this is the first time that I know of in the book of Acts where the church is said NOT to be in complete harmony and unity. Uh oh? That is certainly not good. I think this is an example of what happens in any church as they grow. But what I want to do is to teach what God’s response to this disharmony was? If you continue reading in the chapter you will see that the disciples are led by the Spirit of God to elect a church organization with structure assigning certain men jobs within the ministry of helps. These men are selected, prayed over and hands were laid on them to also anoint them for their new roles of responsibility. I want to teach you what is happening by showing you a verse in the New Testament that proves this was God working through the disciples and not the disciples acting independently from God.
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Can we read? Can we see what it says? Who set up the ministry of helps and governments in the church? The Bible said that God did this yet we see the disciples only mentioned in Acts 6 like they were acting independent from God. Do you understand the dangers now of reading the Bible without using the Bible to interpret itself? Clearly this is one of the most prevalent errors in the teachings that many people listen to today. When the disciples set up an organized church structured government we were directly informed that God did this in Corinthians. We must therefore conclude that they were being led by the Spirit of God to do what they are doing in this chapter even though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned directly. Now notice the recorded reaction of the church to what is happening:
Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Whenever you can get the whole church in attendance pleased over anything this has to be the Spirit of God’s direct involvement that is helping to influence the church. Can you see the problem of disunity within in the church and the solution that God has implemented to fix it? What does the Greek word translated as “pleased” mean? This Greek word means “to be agreeable”. It also means to be emotionally excited. Wow, here we go with more difficult spiritual concepts to relate with natural words and phrasings. Believe it or not this had to be an example of God leading the early church and helping to guide them. There is no mention of any angels, any voices, any external signs or any physical manifestations of God. No, you see the Spirit of God was present, but He was present in every believer having filled each of them with the Spirit of God a short time earlier. I want to show you something that Jesus said that is applicable to what is occurring in this chapter.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
If the church was gathered in the name of Jesus, then Jesus declares “I will be there with you”. Here we have another contradiction of information given verses information not directly mentioned in the book of Acts. You can clearly read in Acts 6 that there is no direct mention of Jesus being present, yet clearly Jesus was a liar in Matthew if He is not present Acts 6. Uh oh? It is very obvious to me that they were conducting church business and since Jesus is the Head of the Church therefore, Jesus has to be present in a spiritual form to oversee this operation, administration and to give them guidance, direction and instruction. Something is occurring internally within every believer that caused them to become excited and very agreeable together and I believe that both of these are signs of being led by the Spirit of that you can rely on today also. If what the Spirit of God does is not exciting to you then you are probably not saved. If you do not agree with what the Spirit of God is speaking to the church, then again you are probably not saved. Two signs of being led by God are that you will agree and that you will be excited about what He says. I am going to skip down to Stephen in verse 8 to continue:
Act 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
We can again see a bad translation or at least an easily misunderstood translation of the Bible demonstrated in this verse. It was not Stephen that was doing anything, but yet it was. Because Stephen was full of faith, God’s power was able to flow through Stephen to cause many miracles to occur. There is a clear connection that it was the partnership of a man’s faith and God’s power working together that causes the positive things to occur. We can clearly understand this was the anointed power of God that permitted the miracles and wonders to be performed. Stephen had no power in of himself to help anyone. It was only because Stephen was being led by the Spirit of God that Stephen could be at the right place at the right time to do anything. I do not know how to say that any more clearly and I hope you understand that God can and will use you the exact same way as He did Stephen if you cooperate, believe and expect Him to do it. In chapter 7 of Acts Stephen preaches with boldness the truth of the Word of God and as a result he is stoned and killed. It is very interesting to note that the Bible says that Jesus is seated at the right hand of majesty and in this chapter; Stephen sees a vision of Jesus standing up and watching the murder of a Spirit Filled church member by the ignorant overzealous misguided Jews. If it was God in heaven watching this event on the earth, who was on the earth causing the death of Stephen? It was definitely not God. Who was leading the Jews spiritually to kill this man of God? Based upon scripture it is Satan (Jo 10:10). It is very clear to me that Jesus took this action of the Jews very personally. I’ll think I’ll end here today since I have already gone too long. Let’s review what has happened in chapter 6 and 7:
- The church was meeting and Jesus said whenever you meet in my name, there I am also.
- God sees disharmony in the church and moves to solve the problem through spiritual guidance.
- God leads the church to organize and to create delegated levels of administrations and responsibilities.
- All of the church is well pleased and church unity is restored.
- God was working through many different people and in chapter 5 we read about God using Stephen a man not of the original twelve. Proving God can lead us and use us all mightily.
- In this information God has grown the church to some very large and significant numbers proving God’s involvement in what we are reading about.
- When disharmony breaks out God is involved in bringing correction proving God has our best interest at heart.
There are probably many other things to learn in these chapters but I believe we have covered many of the important ones that I wanted to emphasize on how and why God was leading His people. I also introduced you to the concept of God’s guidance being a gift from God given to us by His Grace. That is actually a very import concept to consider. Anything we get from God is not something we earned or even deserved. If God gave us direction, then it was His love that motivated Him to give it to us. I hope you are enjoying these lessons and I’m sorry I did not cover as many chapters as I would have liked to have covered today. We certainly learned several new concepts about spiritual guidance and I believe that was worth your time in reading and studying with me. If you would like to share a comment on this subject, I would really love to hear it. So feel free to be a blessing and share what is on your heart. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in the series to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit you may continue with “Part 10“.
As of Oct. 7, 2011, you can now go directly to my Bible studies by typing the new much shorter URL address:
The old Word Press site will still direct you automatically to the new address, but this will simplify things considerably for people wanting to find me easily. Also I am considering changing the look and feel of the site, but I have not made that decision because people usually do not like things to change. You can see that by all of the fuss people have recently made with the massive Facebook changes.
This new name ought to be much easier to remember and considerably faster to access. Share this new URL address with all of your friends, relatives and acquaintances and help me get the free Gospel to spread around the globe. God Bless you as you continue to grow in His grace and His knowledge.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! How the Holy Spirit Led the Early Church in Acts 1 – 4! Part 8
(ver 1.2) This is now Part 8 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God still speaks in the modern world to His children the same as He did in recorded Bible days. Since the Bible teaches us that God does not change nor does He show any favoritism, what He did for others in the past is what He will do for those that wish to participate with Him today. Today’s lesson will emphasize this reality by beginning to focus directly on how God led the early church in the book of Acts. In today’s lesson we will explore the first 4 chapters and the major scriptures found in those chapters that deal with the documented methods that the Spirit of God provides for evidence for His involvement in guiding everything positive that occurred in this book. By studying the book of Acts we should quickly come to understand that God was heavily involved in everything that takes place that causes men and women to be added to the church, for safety of the church, for deliverance from evil, the preservation of the Body of Christ and the spread of the Gospel. God accomplished all of this by leading His people by His Spirit. Many people today in error call the book of Acts the “Acts of the Apostles”, but this is a classic misnomer and the direct misapplication of the key importance of God working through man to accomplish His will and purpose on the earth. The Apostles did not do anything in this book independent from God. Nor could they have done anything without His guidance. So we will begin to go through the book of Acts to discover how God accomplished these great feats through such ordinary men and women and we will learn in doing this how God will do the same with us today before Jesus returns. I will probably warn you that this is going to be a long Bible lesson since I’m covering selective information from 4 chapters.
Let me tell you what I will be attempting to cover today in this lesson. I hope by telling you what to expect you will learn how to study the book of Acts and the Bible for that matter with greater accuracy. We will be reading the book of Acts looking for the leading of the Holy Spirit. This sounds very simple, but if you read the whole book of Acts you will never see God say “Peter was led by the Spirit” or anyone else. Therefore we are going to have to dig a little deeper to learn the truth other than looking for the obvious. Many truths in the Bible are not obviously presented and this is certainly one of them. Nevertheless we will be searching for explicit leadings of the Holy Spirit and implied leadings of the Holy Spirit. What else can we learn about this subject? Why does the Holy Spirit lead anyone? What are the benefits of being led by the Spirit of God? In order to answer these questions we are going to have to find examples that teach us the answers. Therefore we are going to look for why the Spirit of God led the early church and what resulted from these leadings. Here is my list of things to look for as you read the book of Acts with me:
- Explicit or Implied Leadings of the Holy Spirit.
- The Methods of God Leading Used.
- Reasons for the Leadings.
- Results of the Leadings.
Hopefully by studying these subjects and answering these questions we will learn how God will lead us and for what purpose.
ACTS CHAPTER 1
The Book of Acts begins with the brief description of the time period after the resurrection of Jesus prior to His ascension back into heaven where He now remains awaiting the time of His return to catch away the church. In chapter 1 we are told that Jesus has met personally and physically with the disciples for 40 days teaching them. This was the resurrected God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form and He could speak to each of them directly. Jesus during this time must have taught them many things and no doubt He must have given them instructions like those recorded in this chapter when He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Acts 1:8). However, Jesus was taken up into heaven in verse 9 to await the soon coming end of the church age which will run for a time of approximately 2000 years. In chapter 1 of Acts after Jesus is taken up into the clouds, two men appear to the disciples with a message, asking them “Why stand ye here gazing into heaven, this same Jesus that went up will return in like manner” (Acts 1:11). These two men were dressed in all white and they were no doubt angels sent from God with a message to the early church. This is the first recorded occurrence of divine direction being given to the church without the personal involvement of a physical Jesus being present. Also, what these angels said to the apostles applies to us directly especially in these last days. Understanding that any words spoken to the early church are still words that were spoken to us today is essential to learning that we are all the same growing Body of Christ. Angels throughout the Bible have always been used by God as messengers for the people on the earth. As we continue through the book of Acts we will see that angels will be used by God repeatedly when dealing with the church, so you can conclude that angels will also be used by God before Jesus returns. It is further identified in Chapter 1 that Peter quotes David’s writings in Psalms concerning Judas (Acts 1:16, Psalms 109:8). Peter uses the words of the Holy Ghost written in the Old Testament to justify the election of a new disciple to replace the traitor Judas. Therefore we can further conclude that the early church was directly led by the written Word of God in what they did the same as we are to be led by our knowledge of the Bible today. From reading chapter 1 of Acts we can see that it contains two directly named methods of my 12 methods previously listed that I taught from in this series.
Therefore just in chapter 1 of Acts, God has used three different directly mentioned methods to communicate with the early church to provide spiritual guidance. There was God in the flesh, the angels and the written Word of God all specified as valid communication methods, but I would not expect Jesus to appear in the flesh to you today until you are raptured away from this earth. You see there are other Bible verses that God is awaiting to be fulfilled before Jesus comes back to the earth in a physical form. I know many people would disagree with that last statement, because of what they call the doctrine of eminence. This church doctrine reports that there is nothing left to be fulfilled for the Lord Jesus Christ to return. I wonder how many of these people have actually read the Bible and have seen what it says? I have a lesson about this subject, so I will not repeat that here. If you want to read about it, you can go and study the lesson called “What in the World is God Waiting For”. I also want to point out that these three manifestations of guidance were all physical sense realm leadings as I have already tried to teach as being the primary methods used by God in the Old Testament. The more carnal the Christian the more God has to come down to the human level to communicate with us. What we will begin to see after chapter 2 is a transition into greater spiritual realm guidance methods as they become the primary methods of guidance from God. However we will still see angels potentially at work at any time.
What have we learned from Chapter 1?
- Jesus taught the disciples for 40 days in the flesh to give them understanding.
- The angels appeared to the disciples to give them a message from God proving God is involved in the Book of Act leading His people.
- Peter used the Word of God to direct their actions to replace Judas, therefore God’s Word offers guidance in our everyday life as well as specific actions to take in specific situations.
ACTS CHAPTER 2
Chapter 2 of Acts begins with the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church and this was technically the beginning of God’s use of purer new spiritual communication methods to guide the church. In this chapter the church started and consisted of the 120 believers in the upper room that were anxiously waiting the fulfillment of the promise made by Jesus of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This event occurred on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. You can read this chapter carefully and see that when the Spirit of God was given, He was described as coming like a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2) from heaven. As He fell on all that were present in the room in Jerusalem they began to speak with other tongues as they were each filled with the Spirit of God. It is very interesting to note that the Greek word translated as “wind” can mean “breath”. I personally believe that this wind was God breathing on them from Heaven. When you speak words, do you breathe? You bet people breathe when they speak. This breath of God implies the beginning of a new spiritual ability and a way for God to lead His people. To breathe on the church in this chapter is an amazing fact to consider, since Jesus had already personally breathed on every disciple that was present in the room and had already told each of them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). You can read this very clearly in the book of John if you like, but realize that this occurs over 40 days prior to Acts 2. Is God confused or are people confused to what this means? We must conclude from this information that the Holy Spirit that they had previously received from Jesus directly could not have been the same manifestation or work of the Acts 2 Holy Spirit that they were now being filled with. Uh oh? Yes they were both from the same Holy Spirit from God, but in two different manifestations and demonstrations of the Spirit of God. This fact obviously boggles the mind of many people in the church today who do not understand that the same God can do different things to the same people. These Christians usually mistakenly believe that they were filled with the Spirit of God when they were born again and that this was the only spiritual experience that is required. It is funny that God did not think that was all for the early church, so why have men changed today to believe differently? What some Christians do today is to settle for less of what they could have had in this life and miss out on God’s fullness. I’ll tell you very plainly, if you have never spoken in tongues, you have never been filled with the Spirit of God and you are missing out on the best of what Jesus commanded the church to receive. You can ignore this command and still go to heaven potentially, but I would not want to be you in trying to explain why you thought it was important not to be obedient to God. I am a firm believer that in John 20:22 the disciples were born of the Spirit of God when Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit, but in Acts 2 they were filled with the Spirit of God and that these were two separate spiritual experiences. I believe this primarily because that is what the Bible says and it is also what I have experienced personally, so that is two witnesses that you can choose to believe or ignore.
Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
After the church was filled with the Holy Ghost, Peter stands up to preach to those that have gathered in amazement at what was happening. Read this chapter closely and remember that this is the same Peter that we can see in the Gospels who denied Jesus 3 times approximately 50 days earlier. It is funny that this same man now has something boldly to say publically about His Lord Jesus. Therefore, something obviously occurred to change him from a man who was a mess to a man with a message. This transformation occurred when he was baptized and filled with the Spirit of God in this chapter, because Jesus said that you will receive power to be a witnesses (Acts 1:8) and that was what Peter demonstrated to us in this chapter. Peter suddenly had the power to become this great witness for Jesus and when Peter denied Jesus, he lacked this power. If you have trouble witnessing to people, then you probably need this same power today. Here in chapter 2 Peter again quotes the Old Testament speaking of the words recorded by the prophet Joel. Peter says “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28). This verse also informs us that God will use visions and dreams so these are two more relevant New Testament methods of God to guide His people. What is happening in this chapter? How did Peter suddenly having not prepared a sermon have a sermon to preach? I think that is an excellent question which Jesus answered in the Gospels:
Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Do you see what Jesus said? Do you see how this applies to what Peter did? Peter suddenly quotes scriptures out of nowhere without having a Bible in front of him, no notes or anything prepared ahead of time and he knows exactly what to say to get those standing around saved. I would call this a miracle if I did not understand what Jesus was teaching us in Luke. You see the Holy Spirit was inside of these men speaking through them. Technically Peter was doing the speaking, but the Holy Spirit was giving the words to speak. What is the lesson that we need to learn? We need to learn to trust the Holy Spirit in us to give us the right words to speak when we run into people we have never seen before. What God does in this chapter with Peter, He will do for you if you get filled with the Holy Spirit. As we continue through the book of Acts, notice this is a repeated pattern that occurs many times for many different men of God.
Peter after being filled with the Spirit of God still hangs all of his beliefs and what was happening to them upon the written Word of God, further establishing and confirming the importance of the Bible to the modern believer. Peter was justifying what they were doing and what God had done based upon what God had written about many hundreds of years before. Make sure what you believe is only based upon God’s Word. So far we have looked at two chapters and discovered God using 5 different methods of communication to lead His people being stated. These are all very important so do not let them go or ignore them. What were the methods of leading revealed in this chapter and what resulted from this chapter?
- God says people will be led by visions and dreams in the last days.
- The Holy Spirit gave Peter utterance and taught Him what to preach to get others saved.
- Peter declares that what was happening was prophesied by God through the prophet Joel thus confirming the importance of the written Word of God.
- Therefore God led those that were listening in the crowd by what was spoken by Peter so that they could believe. This was a God’s use of a preaher a man with a message from God that was believed on and resulted in their salvation.
- The church was expanded greatly from 120 to over 3000 this day and so God was at work through the early church to save many others.
ACTS CHAPTER 3
Act 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
If you read the Bible in isolation you will be very confused to try to understand what is happening. You see God does not tell you everything that happens in every verse or you would never be able to finish reading the Bible because it would be so huge that no library could contain it. God writes the Bible using a technique of very incomplete information with random clues spread throughout the text to what is occurring. All of the information given to you in any single verse is very important, but it is never all-inclusive. This just means that it is the truth, but not the entire truth. I try to teach that in every Bible lesson that I do to some degree either by stated rule or by example. The name of my Bible study is “Using the Bible to Understand the Bible” and that is how I interpret the Word of God. You are going to have to read and study the entire rest of the Bible to figure out what is going on and how things are working in what you are reading in this chapter because God is just not going to tell you everything in one verse that would be impossible to do. If you read this verse and ignored the rest of the Bible you would be forced to conclude that Peter and John just randomly decide to go up to the temple by chance or by accident. However, I do not believe that there are any random chances or accidents written about in the book of Acts. If you read the Gospels closely you will discover that Jesus was always in the right place at the right time for a very specific given purpose and plan of God. I believe that Jesus was the ultimate example of being led by the Spirit of God and perhaps I’ll do a lesson just on Jesus later. But understand what the Bible says:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
I have already used this verse in this lesson series, but I want to re-emphasize it again for clarity on its application to what the disciples are doing in this chapter. Are these disciples the sons of God? If you do not know it, they are definitely the foundations of the church and the New Jerusalem that all the other stones are built upon. This is critical information then to apply to what Peter and John are doing. If you read down in chapter 3 you will see that they come to the gate and see a lame man. Was this an accident? There is no way that this was accidental. Peter grabs the lame man by the hand and says to him in the name of Jesus walk. Did Peter heal the man or was it the Spirit of God working through Peter that healed the lame man? That was not a trick question. Peter could not heal a fly, so the Spirit of God was directly working through Peter to bring a miracle of healing and deliverance to a man in need. Therefore I have concluded that Peter and John were being led by the Spirit of God even though we are not told directly how they were being led. There are vast numbers of implied works of guidance in this chapter displayed in the recorded actions of the disciples. However, nowhere does it say directly that God was involved. Do you understand the challenge being presented? We are told the external actions of the disciples, but we are not told the internal spiritual action s of God. Peter and John could have been led by any of the 12 methods that I listed in this series, but since we are not told which one it was, I will not try to assume I know and I will just say based upon scripture, they were being led by the Spirit of God to be at the temple that very day, hour and minute.
- Peter and John were led by the Spirit of God to be at the right place and time where a lame man was sitting.
- The Spirit of God heals the lame man and this resulted in great attention being drawn to the church and God as well as the lame man could now walk about and testify for them.
ACTS CHAPTER 4
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
In chapter 4 we are again told that Peter was filled with the Spirit of God and this implies that this is the reason for his new found boldness to declare Jesus Christ before those that he previously feared. Being full of the Holy Ghost appears to be a key factor for being led by the Spirit of God for Peter at least in the first 4 chapters of Acts. If you read chapter 4, you will see the disciples standing before the Jewish rulers being questioned. These men of Israel obviously thought they were right and all others were wrong, but they were missing the greatest manifestation of a new work of God and did not realize it. Peter is again directed by the Holy Ghost what to preach to these men. Just as Peter and God had done in Acts 2 is being repeated in Acts 4. If you read verse 4 you will see that the Church grows by another 5000 new believers. Therefore God is at work causing the church to grow greatly even though some disciples spent the night in prison. Let’s skip down to verse 24:
Act 4:24 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:
In the latter part of chapter 4 we can see that the disciples and the early church were gathered together and that they prayed to God all in one accord. Therefore, prayer as you may recall was one of my observable triggered methods that will get God to respond to give people guidance. What we will observe as we continue to go through the book of Acts is that prayer always gets God to respond. Therefore, prayer is still a valid trigger method for the modern church to communicate with God and to get God to give us guidance and direction. The Bible says in James “You have not because you ask not”. Informing us that guidance and direction is not a foregone conclusion. If you want God to guide you today then you get up in the morning and you ask for His guidance. Do not assume that He will guide you without you asking, or you might also totally miss out on the greatest display of God that you could have never imagined. I do want you to notice that the church is stated more than once to be in total agreement. I personally believe this is a sign of those that are being led by the Spirit of God.
Joh 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Being one is what Jesus prayed and asked God for in this chapter of John. If you do not remember this prayer then go and reread it because it applies to our study of being led in the book of Acts extensively. As we continue through this lesson I will try to point out how many times we encounter the term “one accord”. This is clearly a sign of being led by the Spirit of God. Why is the Christian church today not in one accord? It is primarily because they are not all being led by the Spirit of God. We have many people who think they are Christians who are going to be very surprised when the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night and they are left outside trying to get in. Do you remember the parable of the 10 virgins? Weren’t the 5 virgins that went in with Christ all in one accord? Weren’t the 5 virgins that were left out also in one accord but just not with those that went in? Uh oh? I’ll talk more about this as we continue through the lesson on Acts and being led by the Spirit of God.
Act 4:31 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.
Here in this verse is God’s response to their prayer; proving prayer gets God to respond. The place where they were gathered was shaken and they were all filled with the Spirit of God again. Wow, this is really getting good. You see in this prayer they asked for the ability to speak the Word of God with boldness and this is what they received. Let’s list the lessons learned from chapter 4:
- Being filled with the Spirit of God is a stated reason for what was happening in this chapter.
- Peter was again led by God what to say in the midst of the crowd and the leaders of Israel.
- Many new believers were added and the church again grew by great numbers.
- The church prayed and asked God for a specific request and God responded and granted the request.
- Therefore, prayer caused God to respond.
I think I have gone long enough in this lesson for today. I was originally going to go through many more chapters, but I think the lessons are getting too long for some people. So I’ll try not to write such long lessons in the future or at least to break them down into smaller chunks. Hopefully you can see what is happening in just the first four chapters of the book of Acts. God is causing the church to grow by leaps and bounds and adding many new people through the disciples who were being led by the Spirit of God to be in the right places at the right times. There are several different methods of leading that God has used or referenced in these first four chapters of Acts and these are a follows:
- Angels sent by God with a message.
- The Written Word of God used to Direct Men.
- Inward Witness (Spirit of God shows Peter what to Preach).
- Prayer of the Church.
- Visions and Dreams (Not yet demonstrated but referenced by Peter in Acts 2).
- God’s use of preachers to bring a message from God to the people.
Believe it or not we have just gone through the first 4 chapters in Acts and found 7 of my 12 methods of communication listed or demonstrated by the words or the actions of the people recorded. That is pretty significant if you ask me. You can clearly understand based upon this information that God is intimately involved in guiding His people to cause them to be successful. Of course success is a relative term that is highly subjective. Too many people view success as monetary gain or wealth accumulation or even fame. That is not what I am talking about. God’s success may not be your success but many times the eternal rewards will far outweigh what you could have earned in this life. If you get on God’s side He will cause you to be successful and He will reward you and that is all I should have to say about that. Thanks for reading and studying the Bible with me and if you have any questions or comments please be as BOLD as the disciples were and share them, but also be led by the Spirit of God in you. God Bless!
If you like to coninue to study in this series you may go to “Part 9“.