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In this final installment of this section of scripture, the focus shifts from Saul/Paul back to Peter. Beginning in verse 32, we see Peter traveling. Traveling was not glamorous back then. It was laborious, dangerous, and time-consuming. Surely there were underlings that could have traveled for Peter. However, we will see that Peter was not above person-to-person ministry.
Depending upon where you live, you may or may not have experienced the mega church concept. 3000 members, 40 pastors, 40-acre campus, 3-ring megaplex… all of these are common place in many American cities these days. Call up and ask to meet with the senior pastor and you will be told that he doesn’t do that. One of the junior pastors will meet directly with the public. The senior pastor focuses on strategy, leadership, growing the church’s brand, building the spiritual empire and so forth.
Peter was the senior pastor. He was there in the beginning when Jesus directly gave him responsibility for the church. No man could be more senior than Peter was in his time. Yet, we see Peter directly involved with individuals.
Verse 34 shows Peter reaching out to Aeneas and healing him in the name of Jesus. Peter was careful never to take credit or even appear to take credit for the miraculous. He made it clear where the power came from. The local people saw the result of the healing of the man they had known since their youth. As a result of God’s power on display, many (turned) came to faith in the Lord. The Greek word used for ‘turned’ in turned to the Lord means a conversion of life direction instead of a simplistic turn of curiosity.
Peter’s celebrity could not have produced this conversion. God was working powerfully in His Church.
Next we see Peter was summoned to go to Joppa where a believing woman had died. Now Peter may have been tired. It may have been the end of a long day. He could have sent an associate or asked for a delay in traveling yet more distance to minster but he did not. He went where he was asked to go. Peter prayed for the woman in private once arriving where the woman lay and God raised her from the dead. The Bible says this event was known all over Joppa and that many believed in the Lord (again, not the casual belief but the life-changing kind).
I am not saying that division of labor or delegation of duties inside the church is wrong. I see the message of this part of scripture as saying that a minister is never larger than his personal ministry. That includes all of us. God has the power and we are to have the availability. None of us are too cool to get our hands dirty, so to speak, with direct ministry. Peter knew this. Paul knew this. They more than any others could have felt they were too senior to get involved but the example they set was one of personal involvement with others when the opportunity presented itself.
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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 9:22-43 Let us continue to follow what God is doing in the Church during its formation. How does this compare with what is happening in the “church” today?
Verse 22 tells us that Saul/Paul confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus proving that Jesus is the Christ. Now we know that it was not the lesser of the Jews he was confounding because, in every other situation we have seen, the leadership of the Jews is always out in front of the confrontation. It was true in the very beginning. The Jews who were leading the battle against Jesus were the leadership and that continued. So do not think that Saul/Paul was sneaking around and talking to the lowest level of Jew only. He was confounding the leadership and proving that Jesus was indeed who He had said He was.
How did Saul/Paul do this? I would say that he did it the same way he continued to do it throughout his ministry. He taught that Jesus is the Son of God who died, rose, and ascended to be with the Father. He taught that there is salvation in no other name except Jesus. This is the same message Paul taught throughout his ministry. The power of God was also involved without question. God’s power was at work to accomplish His purpose. Saul/Paul was only as able as God made him to be.
Now, I would like to combat the thought popular today that “since modern people do not want to hear about doctrine, we need to be relevant to them and meet them where they live”. This type of thinking is bankrupt. It implies that God and His word is not relevant unless man gives it the right to be. This is an abomination! God is Holy, Holy, Holy. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-encompassing. He determines what is relevant.
The “relevance to the world” crowd are working from the belief that man is sovereign in determining whether or not he will accept God. They may not admit it but it is true. Why else would a person think it necessary to the relevant to a group in order to tell the group what it needs to hear? They are trying to get the group’s approval or buy-in.
We have already covered the fact that God is sovereign and determines those who will be saved and is justified in doing so. God predetermines and calls those who will be saved unto Himself. This is why God is always relevant. People need to hear the truth so the elect will come to God in repentance (which is a sign they are the elect).
Saul/Paul could talk the talk and reason with the educated. He was a well-educated pharisee before his conversion. If he had wanted, he could have argued Jewish beliefs all day long. As an educated man, he could have also argued Roman politics and world events. He did not do this however. He preached Christ alone as the savior of the world.
Next, look at verse 23. After many days, the Jews plotted to kill him. Here we go again. Not much has changed. The Jews realized they were in trouble of loosing their hold over the people. Saul/Paul’s message threatened to undo their religious system. Their hardened hearts were not capable of repenting (apparently) and thus they planned to kill the messenger so as to remove the problem.
Wow, what a religion! They could not win the argument with facts and they did not apparently have a great deal of faith in their religion so they plotted to kill Saul/Paul to quiet him.
What does this tell you about Saul/Paul and his message. There was real power there. If not, would the Jews desire to kill? Maybe. Saul/Paul’s message was considered blasphemous to them. However, watch how they planned to kill him. They were not planning to walk up to him and kill him publicly. They waited at the gates to catch him. This may suggest the Jews were not acting with the popular opinion of the population of the area.
Regardless of the exact reason for their plans, Saul/Paul was not to be stopped. God made a way for his escape. Saul/Paul was a force to be feared by the Jews. He carried the message of redemption to his part of the world.
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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 6:1-15 part 2
Last time, we saw howGod continued to build His church. The twelve apostles made the decision to organize the efforts to serve those who were in need allowing the twelve to continue in their prayer and study. This is the first instance where organization as a method of operation is shown. The outcome was that God continued to add to the number of believers. The organization did not add the believers, God did. The organization was a step in effective operation in order to best honor God.
We now see Stephen briefly appear on the scene. The brevity of time should not indicate to us a smallness of his ministry, however. Look at verse 8. Stephen was full of faith and power and he did great wonders and signs among the people. The mention of him in scripture is brief but that does not diminish how we should feel about his impact.
Watch what happens as a result of Stephen’s effective minstry. Opposition arose from a group of religious people. These people did not see eye-to-eye with the truth taught by Stephen because the Bible says they disputed with him. Not only did they dispute with him, verses 10-11 say they were not able to resist his wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke so they secretly induced men to lie about what Stephen was teaching.
So, since the opposition could not win by debating the facts and issues, they formed a group of liars to spread falsehoods in order to swing public opinion away from Stephen. This sounds like typical politics today. Not much has changed over the years. If you cannot win with the strength of your cause, lie, cheat, and steal until you can win through corruption. Yes indeed. This sounds like politics in the US today. The truth matters little. What matters is how many people and how much media you can get to spout your lies until people generally begin to believe you.
There is a huge problem with this tactic however. One day, all people will stand before God. The Bible says that God cannot be mocked and people will reap what they have sown. Abe Lincoln said you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That seems to be true. It is also true, however, that you cannot fool God ANY of the time.
The disputers stirred up the people and the temple officials. Stephen was brought before the council. More liars were put into place to twist Stephen’s words and to connect him to the same lies told about Jesus when he was on trial.
Watch what happens in verse 15. Despite being on trial before corrupt politicians with a group of lying witnesses, all of the people who were seeking Stephen’s demise saw his face to be like that of an angel. I would imagine that most people would be in a bit of stress standing before a kangaroo court full of cheats, liars, and thugs. Yet, Stephen had the calmness and serenity of an angel. Stephen was given grace by God to withstand the trial he was facing.
It is difficult to imagine how a person could be calm during an uproar like this one. His life was definitely in jeopardy. God gave him the grace he needed when he needed it. It seems to me like God is not one to waste. We cannot imagine how Stephen could remain so calm despite his circumstances because we have never been there. However, for those who have been in similar circumstances and lived, their testimony reveals that God provided what they needed when they needed it. May God bless the study of His word. Comment below if you wish.