Ladies Bible Study

"A Study of the Book of Acts

The New Testament Church in Action"

Part 1

 

 

For the next few months we will be studying the Book of Acts, The New Testament Church in Action. We will be specifically be looking at the characteristics of the New Testament Church and how we as born again believers should be exhibiting these characteristics in our daily life. The Holy Spirit led me to do this as a personal study several years ago and then as we concluded our previous study, He prompted me into this look at the church in action.

You see, the Book of Acts has never ended. It was entitled by the writers of the Bible as "The Acts of the Apostles", but you see it was really the Acts of believers.

Jesus told us: in John 14:12-13: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

We as a church a body of believers, we as individual believers are to be doing the works that Jesus did and greater works! Why, so that God can be glorified! Have you honestly looked at the works that Jesus did, at what was accomplished in the book of Acts and say yes we as a church are doing these things. I couldnít and so I began this study, that has led to this series of lessons. I pray that they will open the eyes of your understanding so that you can see there is so much for us to do, so that we can indeed prepare the way of the Lord.

Acts 1:1-3: 1. The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. 2. until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,

3. to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

The book of Acts was written by Luke, the author of The Gospel of Luke. It is written to the same gentleman as addressed in the Gospel of Luke, Theophilus. The Book of Acts is the companion to the Gospel of Luke, it begins where the Gospel of Luke ends.

As you know, Luke was a physician of the time and his Gospel concentrates a great deal on Jesus healing ministry, the physical aspect of healing to show the world that Christ is the healer.

He begins by telling Theophilus that he wrote before of all Jesus said and did until the day

He (Jesus) was taken up into Heaven.

Jesus showed himself alive to chosen disciples during this 40 day period by many infallible proofs. There are ten recorded appearances of Jesus after his resurrection and before his ascension recorded in the Gospels. The point of these appearances is to emphasize His ongoing ministry as our resurrected Lord, our High Priest that He is very much alive and living in us! Letís look at a few examples.

Mark 16:9-14: Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. 14. Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Matthew 28:9-10: And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!'' And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

10. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.''

Luke 24:13-21: Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17. And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?'' 18. Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?'' 19. And He said to them, "What things?'' And they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

20. "and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21. "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.

22. "Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23. "When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24. "And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.''

25. Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26. "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?'' 27. And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29. But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.'' And He went in to stay with them. 30. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

It is amazing to me how even today, Jesus is manifested in our presence but until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes we do not see the wonder of Him!

We all know the story of the Apostle Peterís denial of Christ. It is found in all four Gospels. Matthew chapter 26, Mark Chapter 14, Luke Chapter 22 and John Chapter 18.

I want to discuss one of the most important appearances of Christ before we move on in our lesson. It occurs in John Chapter 21. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter but for the lack of space I am only going to concentrate on a few key verses.

Peter, Nathaniel, Thomas, James and John were on the Sea Of Galilee, also know by several other names. Peter Had decided to go fishing, the others joined him and they did not catch anything. They had been fishing all night, as they approached shore Jesus appeared to them, they did not recognize Him until the events of verses 4-7.

Peter recognizes it is the Lord, jumps into the water and wades, swims ashore, while the others row ashore. Jesus conversion with Peter is what I want to look at closely.

John 21:15-17: So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?'' He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.'' He said to him, "Feed My lambs.'' 16. He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?'' He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.'' He said to him, "Tend My sheep.'' 17. He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?'' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?'' And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.'' Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

This is the forgiveness and restoration of Peter as an Apostle. He denied Jesus three times and He had to confess His love for Christ three times. We learn that Peterís denial led him to loose his place of fellowship with the Lord in Mark chapter 16.

Mark 16:5-7: And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7. "But go and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.''

The angel sent the women back to the disciples and Peter. Peter had to be restored and praise God he was.

Letís stop here and discuss a few facts about Jesus Ministry. He was sent first to the lost house of Isreal. God had told Moses that this nation would be a nation of priests who would lead the world to him. They never fulfilled their calling. Jesus came to bring redemption to the Jews first so that they could become what God had planned for them to be, a royal priesthood demonstrating to the world the goodness, faithfulness and mercy of the Lord God Jehovah.

Romans 2:4: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Isnít it sad, that this is exactly what happened, they despised the richness of Godís goodness, forbearance and longsuffering and crucified the Lord of Lords. This 40 day period of appearances was very important as Jesus expounded and explained his previous teaching to the disciples to increase their faith and be prepared for the promise of the Holy Spirit. If this had not occurred I do not believe the apostles and other believers would have been as spiritually prepared to receive the Holy Sprit.

I would like to take a minute and discuss the four Gospels. All four ultimately lead to the Book of Acts. However, each takes a different route to get there, each being written for different groups and different reasons.

Matthew was written to the Jews, to emphasize Jesus as the coming King and the coming of the Kingdom of God. His Gospel also talks more about money than the others, after all he was the tax collector. His is very biographical in nature.

Markís Gospel is not biographical. It is a record of Jesusí actions and achievements. It presents Jesus as Savior King. It concentrates on the miracle working of Jesus rather than on the teaching. It also is directed to the Jews.

Lukeís Gospel is entirely different. It is addressed to Theophilus, a gentile. Luke was not a member of the disciples who followed Jesus. He wrote His account after his salvation, from interviews he conducted of people who were with Jesus. He also is a gentile and His book is addressed to gentiles. It is biographical, written in Greek, he was probably educated as he was a physician and he wrote detailed accounts of the healings that took place. He was a very active participant in as well as, the author of the Book of Acts.

Johnís Gospel is different than all the others. It centers on how to find eternal life and what eternal life is. It is not biographical but a description of Jesusí deity and His relationship with God the Father and His divine authority.

All four lead to the Book of Acts, but by different roads. They were not written to be identical accounts of the life of Jesus but comparable works to present a well rounded look at Jesus Christ our Lord. The common thread is the ascension and instruction to return to Jerusalem and await the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Whew! Are we ever going to get back to studying Acts? Yes, but back ground is so important.

So letís look at Jesus directive to the disciples.

Acts 1:4-12: . And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which,'' He said, "you have heard from Me; 5. "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'' 6. Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'' 7. And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'' 9. Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11. who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'' 12. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.

The first characteristic I want to stress is obedience. They were told to return and wait and that is what they did. They returned and remained in Jerusalem as instructed.

Acts 1:13-14: 13. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.

14. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

The second characteristic I see displayed in this chapter is unity. They were all with one accord and stayed together in prayer and supplication. I definitely see this as a missed opportunity of the church today. We are not in one accord, different denominations, different views, some believe in submersion with baptism, others sprinkling, some believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongue, others do not. Some believe in tithing, others do not. NO we as a church are not united. This is why I see this study as so important. If only a few of us "get it", really understand that we are the New Testament Church in action, stay in one accord, even if miles separate us, we can make a change that will usher in the second coming of our Lord and Savior. AMEN!!

The third characteristic is power. Verse 8: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.''

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is about power. Power to do what God asks, to do what Jesus told us to do, and that is "the greater works." Power to witness to the ends of the world. It is not speaking in tongues, that is the initial evidence, it is the sustaining power that the Holy Spirit gives us that is so important.

So I ask you, ladies, to read and meditate on this first chapter, ask God to show you how to truly be obedient and how we as believers can come into one accord.

Our next lesson will cover the second chapter and the coming of the Holy Spirit.