BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is written by Luke, and is more or less, a continuation of his Gospel account. In this book, he attempts to enlighten us about the beginnings of the Christian Church, and its gradual spread to nearby and distant lands. His book of Acts chronicles the sudden explosion of missionary activities, led by the Apostle Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and other prominent early Church workers.
In Luke’s Gospel account, he emphasized the ministry of the HOLY SPIRIT in the life of CHRIST JESUS. However, in the Book of Acts, he emphasizes the role of the HOLY SPIRIT, in the growth and development of the early Christian Church in its infancy.
In the first century, the world was rife with myths, mystery religions and magic, and it was probably because of these confusions that Luke set out to more accurately record the facts of the origins of Christianity. He was intent on proving, through his Gospel account, and through this Book of Acts, that Christianity is not rooted in such myths and fables, but rather, has its roots in history, beginning with the birth of the Messiah in Palestine.
Perhaps more than any of the other Gospel writers, Luke proves to us most successfully, that JESUS was both 100 percent human, and 100 percent GOD (the Hypostatic Union). He also wanted the world to know that CHRIST’ Gospel was actually being spread by eyewitnesses of HIS life, who actually saw HIS miracles performed, and, who actually heard HIM speak on many occasions. And shortly after their quest to spread the Gospel began, those early followers and eyewitnesses became widely known, first, as “Adherents of the Way”.
The Book of Acts takes us from Jerusalem, into many cities within the Roman Empire, including Asia Minor and Europe. Luke gives us vivid and dramatic depictions of the trials and triumphs in the lives of these early missionaries. We can see very clearly that GOD is with these missionary teams as they traveled throughout the world as it was known at that time, spreading the Gospel.
In the three decades that are covered in the Book of Acts, we see the Christian message being spread diligently and vigorously, as Christian churches (mostly House Churches) begin to pop up in every major population center in the Roman Empire. The locations of these house churches were secretly guarded as to prevent their discovery by the Emperor Nero and those antichrist opponents, who vigorously sought to destroy the work of the believers, and eradicate the very idea of Christianity from civilization.
This book also stresses the fact that, whenever GOD gives us a task to do, HE always gives us the “power” (“exocea” – authority) necessary to carry out and complete that task, to HIS OWN satisfaction, not ours. Oftentimes, GOD has already prepared us, long in advance, for the work HE will call us to do at some future date. However, part of the human struggle, is that, we are often unaware of GOD’s plan for us, and, when HE makes it known to us, we then, either have a problem in the “waiting to get started” and often find ourselves getting ahead of GOD, or straying from HIS plan, or, we have “a fear of taking the steps that are necessary” (going with HIS plan), to move into the unknown, where JESUS is.
Remember, Samuel anointed David King, while he was still a shepherd boy, and long before he actually got to sit on the throne of Israel (15 years). And then there is Moses, who was called by GOD to free Israel from bondage in Egypt, 40 years before he was actually instructed to re-enter Egypt to begin the exodus of HIS people from their miseries.
Here we see, in the opening lines of the Book of Acts (Acts 1:4), JESUS instructing HIS Disciples not to leave Jerusalem until GOD had sent them the HOLY SPIRIT, with which, they would be spiritually baptized and empowered. The HOLY SPIRIT would forever be their Protector, Comforter, Counselor, and Guide, as they moved forward to fulfill the commission of CHRIST, while, at one and the same time, fighting the great spiritual battle that JESUS also fought with satan. The HOLY SPIRIT would forever represent the power of GOD that HE would infuse into every Christian who believed and desired to do HIS will, and HIS works in the world (Acts 1:8).
JESUS’ ASCENSION BACK INTO HEAVEN
The Disciples expected JESUS to immediately set up the “Earthly Kingdom” that had been spoken of by the ancient Prophets since the dawn of creation. In verse 7, we see that JESUS does not deny the Prophets’ visions, but rather, diverts their attention back to the task at hand. HE tells them that GOD will keep HIS Old Testament promises, in HIS own time, but right now, they were to concentrate on bringing CHRIST’s message to the world.
It is still the duty of every Christian today, as “Adherents of the Way”, to carry out the “Commission of CHRIST”, by spreading the Gospel to any and everyone who is willing to listen. And JESUS promises us that, when we do, “lo, I AM with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b - KJV).
Shortly after this final meeting with HIS disciples, JESUS was taken up into Heaven while they were watching, and HE soon disappeared into the clouds. As the group of stunned men strained their eyes to see what was taking place before them, two white-robed men suddenly stood in their midst, and delivered one of the greatest promises from GOD of all times. The men said to them in unison, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? JESUS has been taken away from you into Heaven. And someday, just as you saw HIM go, HE will return!”
THE DISCIPLES REPLACE JUDAS ISCARIOT WITH MATTHIAS
After the apostles left the Mount of Olives where they had watched JESUS ascend back into Heaven, they all went back to “the upper room” where they had sat with JESUS to receive HIS private teachings, and to eat the final Passover meal, during HIS last week of life here on earth. They all assembled together continually for the next several days, with several of the faithful women who served JESUS during HIS ministry, including Mary, the mother of JESUS, and also JESUS’ brothers (Vs.12-14). And just as men always do, they soon started to inject their own “human thinking” (human ingenuity) and “emotions” into the plan of GOD where they are not needed.
Taking up at verse 13, on an occasion when about 120 believers were meeting together, the Apostle Peter stood up and addressed the assembly. With the best of intentions, an emotional Peter took it upon himself and decided that they needed to replace the fallen apostle, Judas Iscariot, with another man of their own choosing. He even cited a scripture that he thought would justify his actions, the one we now know as Psalm 109:8.
He talked of how Judas had betrayed JESUS in the Garden of Gethsemane, and had received 30 pieces of silver as payment for his treachery. He then used the money (or rather the Pharisees did) to buy a potter’s field (“Akeldama”, which means “Field of Blood”), where, ultimately he hanged himself in a misguided attempt to extricate himself from his guilt and misery.
Peter felt so, and he apparently convinced the others that, it was incumbent upon them to elect a replacement using their human ingenuity and efforts to try and do what only GOD is qualified to do for HIMSELF. JESUS never instructed HIS avid followers to choose anyone to replace Judas as HIS disciple, but here in this passage we see them first choosing two men from among them, and then, after praying, they cast lots to see who would win the position in JESUS’ inner circle.
This was all for naught, however, and as history now shows us, JESUS, just like HE had chosen them to be HIS closest disciples, would later HIMSELF, choose the Apostle Paul, a bold and relentless figure of the tribe of Benjamin, to be perhaps, HIS most prominent disciple of all. HE would later use Paul to tirelessly organize and spread the idea of Christianity, even to the Gentiles nations, and throughout the Roman Empire in the first century. And now, through his biblical writings and Church instructions given to him by CHRIST, he is still able to reach “the lost” today, even in the far corners of the modern world.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website