When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice. (Acts 5:33-39)
If we began a study of the first century church, 9 times out of 10 we would begin with Acts chapter 2. The Holy Spirit comes as promised, and Peter preaches a fiery message proclaiming Jesus is the Christ. Certainly by the end of Acts 2, we see the first Christian believers come together in an organized way. But if we back up a just a few chapters, Jesus gives the disciples instructions on what will happen next, going beyond his death, burial and resurrection.
Critics of Christianity, as an organized religion (the Church), even claim that Jesus had no intention of starting a new church or movement of any kind, but rather his followers started one in his name. To put it mildly, these critics have not studied the Bible. Continue reading
When’s the last time you heard a good sermon on Eutychus? Okay Bible Trivia fans, do you even know Eutychus? He’s the guy in Acts chapter 20 that falls from a third story window after falling asleep while Paul is speaking. Now you know.
I have heard preachers use this before, but its been a while. I was a kid. I don’t remember if that was the sermon text, or just something used to make a point. I listened to a small-town Baptist preacher make a 25 minute sermon out of it yesterday. Continue reading
Today that is the question. We clearly read in scripture where God has ordained certain events to take place. God establishes thrones and kingdoms on the earth, to serve in certain instances, as instruments he uses to bring about his righteous judgment, or at other times to show his mighty hand. He is the Lord of history. But.. what about free will? If humanity has the will to choose for himself, how does God predestine historical events? That my friend is the right question.
Okay, I’m going to cheat. I’m not exactly going to answer these quesitons, but give you some useful information as you work it out. In Genesis chp. 50, Joseph tells his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” They had evil in their heart when they sold Joseph into slavery, but God used it to bring about his purpose and plan.
Consider this passage from Acts 2:23 “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” God’s plan of salvation called for Jesus to die as a sacrifice. The evil men of the first century, whom Peter is preaching to in Acts, carried out God’s plan in order to bring salvation.
Man does what he wants; God gets what he wants.
Let’s try something new. Below is video of this sermon being preached on Sunday, May 18th. Sorry about the sound quality. This is my first attempt at uploading digital video. (The video made me nervous; I’m normally a better public speaker than a writer.)