Glenn Colley preached a great sermon about Acts 16.30, where we have one of the three times in the Book of Acts that THE Greatest Question is asked. You ought to listen to it.
The Way–And Today’s NO WAY!
I have uploaded a brief study of Acts 9:2, “The Way–And Today’s NO WAY!” It can be reached by clicking H-E-R-E.
Depths of Faith
By Morris M. Womack
From: Firm Foundation, January 13, 1959, p. 24.
As in the great oceans of the earth, so in the fathomless “sea of life” there are shallows and depths. Man has designed vessels both to ride on the surface of the water and submarines to submerge to the depths of the sea.
How deeply does your faith run? Would it change your life for it to run deeply? Are you caught with misgivings about the religious convictions you hold? Do you find it difficult to meet the problems that face you? Is it possible that these thoughts occur to you because your faith has not the proper depth?
It is one thing barely to believe the basic facts of the gospel, and quite another to have a faith that descends to the depths. Lot believed in the existence of God and in the splendor of his power, but who would attempt to place the faith of Lot alongside that of Abraham? Whenever we conceive the idea that regular attendance at worship, giving quite liberally, and a host of other things in themselves constitute genuine Christianity, we may be deceiving ourselves. These acts of obedience are certainly vital to mature Christianity, but maturity demands that the roots of our lives be sent to deeper and more enduring levels. These “roots” we call “faith.”
How rich is your faith? Can you truly say your faith has, like the mighty submarine, submerged beneath the surface? Do you believe that God cares for his own? Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
One of the greatest examples of such a faith is the Apostle Paul. Enveloped in a raging storm in the Mediterranean Sea, Paul evinced his faith to those who had no faith. God had promised Paul that he would see Rome, and to Rome was he heading. Every evidence could have convinced Paul that he would perish in the storm. Yet, Paul could say, “be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God whose I am, whom also I serve, saying, fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar: and lo, God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even so as it hath been spoken unto me” (Acts 27:22-25). May the time hasten when more of us may say with unfeigned lips, “I believe God.” With such faith, no difficulty of life can fetter our feet or shackle our hands from serving God with zeal and sincerity.
One of the finest bulletins I receive in my mailbox is the one from the fine church at Southaven, MS. Wade Webster is the talented preacher for this great church. I just posted an article from his August 24th bulletin, but I feel like I need to post the latest article I received as well.
Leaving Denominationalism Behind
by Wade Webster
Today, the world is filled with denominations, sects, and other unauthorized religious bodies. it is sad that these man-made institutions are confusing and condemning those that believe their damnable doctrines. Occasionally, an honest soul entrapped in denominationalism will see the truth, obey it, and be added by the Lord to the one church which is found in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:4; Acts 2:47). Certainly, it requires a sincere person to walk away from a man-made institution and turn to the only church which was built by the Lord and purchased with His blood (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28). Let’s notice some of the things required of those leaving denominations.
First, a person must be willing to SEE the truth.
Unless a person is willing to see the things that God has said in His word, he will never leave a denomination. The Jews are a good example of those who were not willing to see the truth. Even though they had the Old Testament prophesies of Christ, had seen the miracles that He worked, and had heard the authority with which He spoke, they rejected Him as the Son of God. They were not willing to see the truth. Jesus said of them, “…this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (Matthew 13:15; Acts 28:27). Many today, like the Jews, are unwilling to see the truth of God’s word. The devil has blinded “the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:4). May all men be as willing to see the truth as those 3,000 precious souls who responded in humble obedience on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-41).
Second, a person must be willing to SUBMIT to the truth.
It is of no benefit for a person to see the truth, if he is not willing to act on the truth. Sadly, the Bible is filled with examples of those who clearly saw the truth but were unwilling to submit to it. For example, the rich young ruler that asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life was unwilling to submit to what Jesus told him to do. We read, “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22). King Agrippa is another classic example of a person who saw the truth, but was unwilling to submit to it. Luke records, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28). Paul was certain that King Agrippa could see the truth. The problem was not that Agrippa didn’t see the truth, but rather that he was not willing to submit to it. The account of Felix is another good example of a man who saw the truth but was unwilling to submit to it. Luke records that as Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 26:28). The trembling of Felix clearly reveals that Felix could see the truth. Likewise, many people within denominational bodies can see the truth but because of pride, pressure, or popularity are unwilling to submit to it.
Third, a person must be willing to SUFFER for truth.
Those leaving denominations must be willing to suffer the ridicule and persecution of those still entrapped in error (Galatians 4:16). Sadly, many people who know the truth are not willing to suffer for it. The Bible records many examples of those unwilling to suffer for the truth. For example, John records that the parents of a young man healed by Jesus refused to admit to the miracle for fear of the Jews. We read, “His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:20-22). Later, John recorded that “among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). These chief rulers knew that Christ was the Son of God, but were unwilling to confess it and follow Him. No doubt, many today clearly see the truth but are unwilling to suffer the persecution of friends and family members who have not yet submitted to the truth.
We must always strive to teach the truth to those enslaved in religious error. While many will not believe the word of God, a few who are willing to see the truth, submit themselves to the truth, and suffer for the truth will leave man-made institutions and seek refuge in the kingdom of the Lord.
In Acts 23:6 the Bible tells us that Paul perceived something. That something that Paul perceived was the divided state of the Jews before whom he was giving his defense. Listen to Luke’s record of the event…
But when Paul perceived that the one part
were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out
in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the
son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the
dead I am called in question.
To me it is certainly interesting to observe how Paul used the division that existed between these two Jewish sects to get himself out of a life-threatening situation.
It is interesting as well, from another perspective, to observe how that the division that plagued these Jews was instrumental in bringing about the defeat of attaining a common goal these two sects shared. If we turn back to 21:28ff we find that strong accusations were made against Paul and that the entire city was in an uproar. They actually “went about to kill him” (v. 31). Those who served on the Sanhedrin were united in their desire to be rid of such an one as this Paul who preached about Jesus. Had Paul not been rescued by Lysias, he would surely not have had opportunity to give any defense before this group of Jewish leaders. At his first defense, Paul mentioned being sent to the Gentiles by the Lord and the reaction of the Jews was: “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22). These Jewish leaders who sat on the Sanhedrin had a strong cementing cause that would normally have held them together: LET’S GET RID OF PAUL–THAT ONE WHO PREACHES THAT GENTILES CAN BE SAVED, but something defeated them even in the presence of such a powerfully emotional cause. That something was the state of division that existed among themselves.
Acts 23:7 tells us there was dissension among the Pharisees and the Sadducees and that the multitude (of the Jews) was divided. Verse 8 gives to us the cause of the division of these Jewish leaders and their followers–“For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” The fact is that these two sects SHOULD HAVE BEEN united. If the word of God had been respected and followed to decide this question, there would have been NO disagreement, these sects would not have existed. The fact is that the Pharisees were correct in confessing both the resurrection and that there were spirits and angels. Division on this point over which there should have been agreement WEAKENED their resolve and prevented them from doing that which they had a strong desire to accomplish.
Paul was able to bring up that matter over which these two sects disagreed to bring about the confusion that resulted in his life being spared. Let us appreciate the teaching of Paul in another context that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). It was the ideas of man (in this case, the Sadducees) that led to the division into sects of the Jews!
Can we not benefit from noticing the mischief that was caused by the divided state of these Jews? Can we not appreciate how very foolish it is to allow man’s ideas and “think-so’s” to destroy our unity and weaken our efforts to stand strong for the Lord? Is it not obvious to us that Satan and his angels are presently using division among God’s people to bring about his own aims?
The division that exists among God’s people today needs to be considered in the light of the use that Paul made of division in Acts 23. He used it to inflame passions that diverted the attention of the Sanhedrin away from his case to their own differences. We simply cannot stand strong before an unbelieving world when we do not speak the same thing, as Paul urges in 1 Corinthians 1:10. In fact, the solution to the divided state of our brethren is still the solution offered by Paul to the saints at Corinth.
On occasion I hear the idea promoted that the best way to deal with division in doctrine among us is to ignore it and pray that it will go away. I would go along with the notion that much prayer is needed, however I must insist that the ignoring of error among us is hardly a proper pursuit. Those who have strayed from the concept of a “thus saith the Lord” for all of our practice need to be reproved and rebuked (2 Timothy 4:2). They need to be made aware that when they present a false and misleading view of the Lord’s church to those outside the body of Christ, they are guilty of weakening our efforts to carry the blessed gospel to a lost world! They cause us to be in the position of the Pharisees and Sadducees before whom Paul stood.
I recently engaged in correspondence with a brother in Christ who actually refuses to acknowledge that Colossians 3:17 demands the authority of Christ for all that we do. I don’t know how Paul could have made himself any clearer than he did make it in this text. The arrogance and audacity of men today in dealing with the sacred text is a fruitful cause of division among us and weakens our efforts to reach those that are lost with the saving message.
I pray that my brethren will ever be mindful of the terrible MISCHIEF Satan can cause due to an acceptance of the ideas and doctrines of men, and that we will ever be vigilant to speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among us. I pray that we will be strong in demanding a book, chapter, and verse for our practices. There is no reason that we cannot be immensely successful so long as we maintain our UNITY!
by David Lemmons
We must keep in mind as we read this chapter that Paul has a goal of making it to Jerusalem with the contribution for the poor saints of Judaea by Pentecost. We read about his visit to Troas and have apostolic example (v. 7) for observing the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. We read of the miraculous raising of Eutychus during that assembly in Troas. Paul determines to meet with the Ephesian elders but calls them to Miletus for the meeting. He speaks to them of how he worked with them in Ephesus and he charges them to accept their responsibilities as elders and warns them about departures from the faith due to attacks from without and from within. There is a very emotional departure because all know that it will likely be the last time they see Paul.
For a handout for Acts 20 suitable for use in an Adult Bible Class, click H-E-R-E.
Acts Chapters SIX through THIRTEEN…
In trying to catch up with posting some of the handout materials we have been using in our Bible class recently, I will list the links to eight chapters below. These are 4 to 7 pages in length and each contain 15 questions to test your knowledge and six other divisions. These can be used appropriately in an Adult Bible Class.