Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2001
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 2 – The Earthy Origin of the Church
Lesson 173 – Pentecost; Titles in the Trinity; Luke & Paul: Language / Prophesying / Miracles
26 Apr 2001
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’ve been working with the event of Pentecost and since we are approaching the last few weeks of the class, what I’m going to do is introduce the doctrinal section that goes with these events. We’ve gone through the Scriptures by event, and when we got to the Lord Jesus Christ, we went through these four events, and linked them all with a doctrine. We have these four events in the life of Christ and we’ve just continued the theme of looking at the great events of Scripture and then linking these events with doctrines. Just to review why we do that, the reason is because, first of all, it feeds your mind’s imagination. Often times you can grasp some of these things quickly or in a crisis situation and it’s good to know these events because you can usually remember the Bible story faster than you can remember the truth that comes out of the Bible story. It gives your mind and soul a chance to have some tools to cope with life.
Plus the fact, by learning it in this mode, it forces you to link the Bible with real history, so that if somebody tampers with history, the light should flash, that you can’t deny this history without also denying the truth that goes with that. So you always have something that’s true of the Christian faith that is not true of most religions in the world. Christianity, as well as Judaism, is dependent upon historic revelation. God spoke in history, He didn’t speak a theoretical history; real people, in a real place, in a real time received the Word of God. That’s why we have these events.
This year we’ve looked at two events, the ascension and session of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the heavenly origin of the cChurch. After the Cross of Christ, after He rises from the dead, we have Resurrection, then we have Him going into Heaven, and we call that the session. It’s that period, that point in history, which by the way, I think you’ll agree that in all the years you may have going to church, can you remember one sermon you’ve ever heard on the session of Christ? I think I can remember one or two, but that’s all.
We talk about the Cross of Christ, at Easter we talk about the Resurrection of Christ, but often we forget that Jesus Christ is ascended and He is seated at the Father’s right hand. And in the day when we’re talking about the universe and the cosmos and all the rest of it, part of the Christian faith, the essence of it, is that at the helm of the universe is the God-man, not a Martian, it’s not somebody from Galaxy 550 somewhere; it’s not some other thing that’s running the universe. God runs it, but seated at the helm of the universe is our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
That sets off the final phase of history as we know it, because that begins an inter-advent period until He comes again in judgment. So all during this time you have God saving, salvation, the day of grace, prior to the judgment, prior to the end of history as we know it. And this is an important message because people are always fussing at God because He allows evil. Isn’t it interesting? The Biblical answer to that is a future intervention when God takes care of the evil. Well people don’t like that either, so hey, what’s the problem here. We don’t want evil, we don’t like it, but then we don’t like the idea of God totally intervening in history in a miraculous way and solving the problem. Of course the reason is sin our hearts is rebellion and we just don’t like to do things God’s way, that’s the real reason. That’s the age, the inter-advent period.
Right after Jesus Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand, the next thing or one of the first things that He did to show that He arrived at the throne of God, according to promise, He sent the Holy Spirit and that’s on the day of Pentecost. This is the day of Pentecost, and we want to in the section that we’re going to study, when we get to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, we’re going to see one of His titles in the Trinity, you have the Father, you have Jesus Christ who is said in church history to be the “eternally begotten of the Father.” That’s a phrase we studied last year. This year we’re going to come to another phrase, the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified, says one of the early Catholic universal creeds. There’s a reason why, it sounds so innocent, it sounds like some little religious thing tacked on to a creed somewhere.
We’re going to see it’s not just a little religious set of words, that was a thing that had divided Europe, and the Eastern Church never bought into this. In the Eastern Church, it’s God the Father that sends the Spirit, not Jesus Christ, and that has spelled centuries of a different attitude and view of life. I know it sounds theoretical or weird to say that, but I’m going to prove it, we’re going to mention how that has reflected in how European history unfolded. In fact it’s with us today because the Russian mentality comes out of the Russian Orthodox Church which comes out of the Greek Orthodox Church, which is a group that never bought into the idea that Jesus Christ is fully sharing the authority of God, and therefore Jesus Christ reigns over the Czar, Jesus Christ reigns over the state, Jesus Christ is superior to every state government and power.
If you don’t buy that, then what happens if the Holy Spirit isn’t sent by both the Father and the Son? It works out to have a very anemic impotent Christ. This is why historically people in the eastern part of Europe have generally been statists, i.e., they look to the state for their salvation and they feel totally intimidated by rulers. Yet it’s in the west, Germany, England, America where you have the idea that there’s law that transcends the state, that there comes time in history when the state, frankly, is wrong. And as a Christian you have to say I’m sorry, I’ll go to jail or I’ll do this, but you’re wrong.
There’s an objective standard, it’s not just because we feel like saying that. People in China right now, this is one of the problems that the Chinese government just can’t get it, the men who are running China are so afraid, first of all they’ve got millions and millions of people and they’re worried about the pot boiling. So they just can’t stand the idea that there’s a bunch of Chinese running around in China who say that Jesus Christ is superior to Beijing. It’s considered a personal insult.
And it’s going to be considered more and more as the United States gets paganized further, if God doesn’t give a revival, that we’ll be as Christians faced with that kind of thing. So those are the things that are tied up with what looks like on the surface just some theoretical thing here, with Jesus Christ sending the Spirit.
We’ve looked at Acts 2, we’ve looked at what happened on the day of Pentecost and we’ve said that Peter made several conclusions about Pentecost, and we reviewed those. Remember Peter argued to the Jewish people that the sign of Pentecost, this speaking supernaturally other human languages such that the Jews from the other places in the eastern Mediterranean knew and recognized their language, that this was a signal that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be because He poured out the Spirit.
Turn to Matthew 22:1–7 because that’s the background for Acts 2–3. That’s a good place to start tonight because we want to remember the early Jewish background in the book of Acts; Acts is not an easy book to read and understand. In Matthew 22 Jesus foresaw the situation in which the nation Israel would reject Him. If I can draw a time line earlier than the death of Jesus Christ, here’s John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s message at the beginning of the gospels was “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” “the Kingdom of God is here,” it’s near.
John was the predecessor and the precursor to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a prophet, Jesus Christ was the anointed one, that’s the what “Christ” means, in the same way that in the Old Testament the king would come but he would be introduced by the prophet. That was the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Kings were not selected by people; kings were not to be selected by political intrigue and plotting.
That’s the story of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, you have Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, trying to work a deal with her husband to move her son into the throne before this other wife of David moves her son into the throne, that’s all political intrigue. The reason we get those stories in the Bible is to show us that above all of that chaos in the home, the competing wives and the harem and the different sons, etc. above all that is the Holy Spirit saying I will select the right king. And of course it was Nathan the prophet and other people in the Old Testament that really anointed those kings.
In the Gospels, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ. When they came they said to the nation Israel, here is the Messiah, if you want your kingdom, trust in the King. And there was a remnant that did, so you have some positive response but most of the nation went negative, proved by the death of Christ, etc. After Jesus Christ rises from the dead and ascends into Heaven, He sends the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. When that happens in Acts 2, Peter in Acts 2–3 now gives the second invitation. So here you have invitation number one; here you have invitation number two, and Jesus Himself said this was going to happen.
Matthew 22 outlines for us the Gospels and the Book of Acts, all in seven verses. Here is actually seventy years of history in seven verses of Scripture. Verse 1, “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying,  The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” The wedding feast is analogous to the Kingdom coming. Verse 3, “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast,” invitation number one, “and they were unwilling to come.” There’s a summary of all the Gospels.
Verse 4 begins with the word “Again,” invitation number two, “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’” Can you see the irony in that? Do you see some sneaky theology in that little statement? Notice in verse 3, the first invitation is a straight out invitation to the wedding. But notice in verse 4 what is said in addition to the first message? Something has been “butchered,” there has been a death; there has been a change here. “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.” That’s invitation number two.
But verse 5 reports that in response to invitation number two, “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,  and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.” Were any of God’s disciples killed in the Gospels? No. Were any of Jesus Christ’s disciples killed in the book of Acts? Yes. So invitation one, verse 3, refers to the Gospels; invitation two, verses 4–6 actually shows the Book of Acts, when the apostle’s preached, like Peter did in Acts 2 and said the Kingdom of God is here, you guys crucified Christ, the times of refreshing would come but you’ve got to trust in Jesus Christ. The answer was no again, and they started to kill them.
Now verse 7, which terminates that particular parable, look at how the parable ends. What does the king do? “But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.” What’s that a prophecy of? Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. So you see this parable in seven verses is covering 40 years of history, a testing generation’s worth of history.
And then notice what happens, verse 8, now we have a sort of third invitation, “Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” And the parable goes on to teach other things, that’s sort of like invitation number three but to whom is that invitation given? It’s given to anybody out on the highways, people who were not part of the family, people who are not in there.
Now what do you suppose that’s a prophecy of? It’s a prophecy of the gospel going to the Gentiles, going outside of Israel. So in these verses God foretold the whole story here, it’s all enscripturated. There are no accidents in history, God works His plan, it looks chaotic to us but there’s a plan functioning there, and that’s good because that gives us the hope that no matter how chaotic our lives may be, behind it all there’s a plan, God still reigns, no matter what the appearance is, we don’t go by appearances, we go by the Word of God. That’s Matthew 22; that takes us up historically to Acts 2.
Now we want to look at how Paul and Luke handled the rest of the book of Acts. So we’re going to a fast survey of the rest of the book of Acts, we’re only going to cover some highlights. Here’s Acts, it starts in chapters 1–2 with Pentecost, and here’s Peter and here’s invitation number two that goes to Israel. As we know from the book of Acts, what shortly happens? Who is the first martyr that’s reported in Acts? Stephen. In what chapter is Stephen in? Acts 7. So here we have Stephen and he’s killed.
What did Matthew 22 say? They’re going to kill the people that are inviting them to the Kingdom. What happens, and who is standing there as Stephen is being stoned to death? There’s a guy there by the name of Saul, who becomes Paul and what is Paul’s mission for the rest of the book of Acts? He’s the guy that goes out and leads the Church into the highways and byways to bring the people, the Gentiles.
Along about Acts 7, Acts 6–8, right in here, this is a critical point in the Book of Acts, the story changes. Now the emphasis in the book of Acts is to spread out, because what had God told the church in Acts 1:8. Remember Jesus’ parting words, verse 7, it’s good for us to be reminded of this. Remember they asked, “Are You going to give the Kingdom to us now?” And in verse 7, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority,  but,” He said, see because from the human point of view it’s contingent, whether the Kingdom comes or the Kingdom doesn’t come in that era is up to their response. Now in verse 8 He says I can tell you one thing that’s going to happen, I can’t tell you about the Kingdom but I can tell you one thing that’s going to happen, that is, “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And then He rose into heaven.
Those are the last words of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what does Acts do? Acts starts out geographically in Jerusalem. By the end of Acts where is all this? It’s in Rome. It’s all over the Levant, the whole Mediterranean area, so the spread out has occurred. From what you know of the Book of Acts, was the church and was all this missionary activity going on that we see by the end of the Book of Acts, think about the big picture now, start in Jerusalem, by the end of the story you’re going all over the world. How did that happen?
Did that happen because Paul, Peter, and John and James sat down and planned it? Do you see any evidence that these guys planned it that way? No. In fact, they would have still been in Jerusalem had God not started persecution and drove them out. This is not a flattering picture of us in the church. Jesus Christ prophesied the church would do something, and it turns out Luke says as he documents this spreading out, it all occurred because God literally had to kick the church in the behind, through persecution. It’s not flattering; it’s not that the church was so deeply and profoundly spiritual. It was rather that there were great individuals in there, but the church as a whole had to be prodded, pushed, kicked, persecuted before it was forced to move out and become refugees.
Turn in the notes, table number 5 on page 36; it gives three, what I call “mini-Pentecosts” in the Book of Acts. We’re going to look at each of those three passages quickly. Again, in the Framework series we’re not going verse by verse as such, but we’re going for the highlights.
Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit
Witnessing spreads to Samaria
Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit
Witnessing spreads to Gentiles
John’s disciples receive the Holy Spirit
Witnessing spreads to Old Testament saints of the Diaspora
Table 5. The pattern of post-Pentecost “mini-Pentecosts” showing fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy of Acts 1:8.
If you look at the pattern in Table 5 you see Acts 8, Acts 10, and Acts 19. If you look at the center column you see there’s an event associated with each of those passages of Scripture. In each case, what do you notice about the moving out? For Samaria—that was nearby; the Gentiles—that was farther, and John’s disciples were Diaspora Jews that were all over the Levant. So you have a gradual spreading in these events.
What we want to notice, because from this point on, Luke is the author. This will help understand some words which we will use. Luke is the author, but where do you suppose Luke is getting his information from? Remember this guy is a physician. Luke is a smart man; some even argue that he’s a Gentile. But he’s a physician and he does his homework. Luke actually researched with interviews the actors in the book of Acts before he wrote the book. He tells us this in Acts 1; he tells us in Luke 1 he wrote a two-volume work: Luke is volume 1; Acts is volume 2, both written by Luke. Luke investigated, and you can see because the Holy Spirit uses human beings. He doesn’t cookie stamp us out, each of us are individuals and He uses our individual background, language, talent, culture, to do his thing.
And you can tell Luke is a doctor because guess which of the Gospel writers tell the details of the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary? Luke. Who but a doctor would do that? So you have all the intimate details of the pregnancies in the Gospel of Luke, because Luke went to talk to Mary, he was a doctor, he heard about the virgin birth and he wanted to know, well how did this happen. So you can see the human side of the authors of the Bible; this guy was curious and he checked things out and he checked things out pretty carefully.
But what we want to notice about Luke is that Luke is reflecting Paul the apostle, because who did Luke travel with? He traveled not with Peter, he traveled with Paul. And that means that through Luke and the authorship of the rest of the Bible, after you get through Peter’s speeches in Acts 2–3, that’s about it. You have Peter interacting but the framework of the book is Paul’s thought. And there’s a transform here, there’s an expansion. It’s not that Peter’s wrong. Peter was right in Acts 2–3 to do what he did. It’s just that because Israel rejected the King sent His servants to where? According to plan He sent them out into the highways and byways. Paul is one of those he sent out into the highways and byways. So we what we want to notice here is nuances and how these events are reported.
In Acts 8 you have one of the first cases of conversions. By the way, notice in Acts 8:1–4 here is how the church historically went out. It wasn’t that they had a missionary conference and said let’s all be spiritual and we’ll go out and evangelize the world. Here’s the real story. This we might say is the church’s dirty little secret. “And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church” where? “in Jerusalem.”
So, guess what the church has to do if there’s a persecution in Jerusalem? It has to leave. Jesus said, “I’m going to get you out there one way or the other; do it My way, or do it My way.” You’ve got two choices. So, “they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Isn’t that coincidental? What were Jesus’ words? You’ll “be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.”
Verse 3, “But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison,” a real nice guy. Verse 4, “Therefore,” and notice, this is Luke, remember Saul had become Paul by the time this text was written and Paul probably told Luke, yeah Luke, this is what I used to do before I became a Christian, I was a murderer and I was a persecutor; this is what I did to the church. So Luke is getting this stuff firsthand from Paul. But notice, when Luke goes to narrate verse 4 he connects it with the word “therefore.” Why do you suppose he put something like that in there? Because you see, he’s interpreting Pentecost and subsequent events in the light of the plan of God, that God has a plan here. So no matter what happens, Paul may think he’s trying to stop the church. Why was Paul doing verse 3 stuff? Because he was trying to kill off the church, it was a threat to Judaism. So, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the Word.” Then they give an example, Philip.
Going down to verse 9, “Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city,” so they come now to this city, “and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great;  and they all, from the smallest to the greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God.’  And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.  But when they believed Philip preaching the gospel” or the good news” about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.  And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.” What does this text suggest by way of a little observation about the power of the gospel? This little observation, Luke is watching something here. Luke traveled all around, he saw all the charlatans. He says in verse 9 that here’s Simon, astonishing people with his black magic. This is like the guys that go to Haiti; remember the missionaries that came here, the goofball stuff that goes on in Haiti, the same kind of voodoo stuff.
Verse 11, he astonished them, repetition of the verb, so here’s a guy that really is one of Satan’s magicians, but then once there’s the gospel coming in verse 12, and verse 13, here’s the guy who was the slick performance artist saying wow, I can’t do these things.
Years ago, I don’t know if he’s still in the ministry but I remember in Campus Crusade for Christ there was a guy, André Kole, and he was a professional magician. One of the things that led him to Christ was as a professional magician and basically into magic, that kind of magic, not the demonic kind, the fun kind, it’s really deception. You know, while you’re looking at the hand the other hand is doing things, all kinds of stuff, and they’re great deceivers. And André Kole was on television and everything else, he was a professional magician, I guess he still is. What led him to Christ was when he studied the Gospels and he saw the miracles that Jesus Christ did, as a professional magician, he looked at that and said this guy is for real, as a magician I know all the tricks, I know how we do things, but this guy wasn’t a magician, that was genuine stuff. He has all kinds of testimonies to that effect. And it’s the same kind of thing here, the genuineness of the transforming power of the gospel convinces the guys who are the charlatans.
The thing we want to look at is what follows this thing. Our object is not to exegete Acts 8, it’s just to point out some things. Notice what happens; you’ve had evangelism occur, you’ve had successful evangelism occur. Verse 14, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them to Peter and John,” they’re sending apostolic representatives from Jerusalem into Samaria. Remember the background; the Jews didn’t get along with the Samaritans. Why? The Samaritans were half-breeds.
Historically who were the Samaritans? They were the guys, part Gentile, that the rulers in 586 BC had brought into that land, 728 BC and 710 BC also, when the kingdom fell they were colonized, Gentile colonization, and they intermarried with Jews and they became half-breeds that were really looked down upon. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? Why did God pick a Samaritan out? Just to insult religious self-righteous people and say hey, here’s a Samaritan, the kind of guy you despise. Remember the parable, the Good Samaritan gave first-aid and all the priests went right by this poor guy bleeding to death alongside the road. So Jesus was playing that.
Then of course you have the interaction with the woman at the well, I mean of all things, John 4, if you know history the two things that really stand out from the text is Jesus, as a rabbi, in public, is talking to a woman alone, as a rabbi. That was an ice-breaker. And then for Him to be talking to a Samaritan woman, and then to be talking to a woman whose been shacking up with five of six guys. Jesus didn’t care, she was made in God’s image and He was going to lead her to Himself, so phooey on you if you don’t like it. So there’s Samaria.
The apostles come down and in verse 15 it’s stated the apostles “who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For He had not fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.  Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed,” verse 17 doesn’t tell us they spoke in languages here, but they did something because Simon is sitting there and he concludes something’s happening here; something’s happening here that wasn’t happening when we got baptized. So you have an event that mimics what happened at Pentecost. It’s like there’s a Samaritan version, a mini-Pentecost. Again if you look at the chart, that’s what happens, the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit.
Now go to Acts 10, we’ll see the next one of these events that happened, and remember, this was reluctantly done because now the star in this story is Roman, Cornelius, Gentile, and we’ve got a worse problem than the Samaritans now. Peter doesn’t want to go to the Gentiles because they’re unclean, so God has to deal with him, notice Acts 10:17 there’s a whole prelude to this event and we mustn’t minimize this because Peter is having a problem. He’s the apostolic representative, he’s already gone to Samaria and that must have shorted his circuit for a while, to see that the Holy Spirit came on these people, like they came on us, what’s the story here.
Talk about the Albanians in Kosovo with the Serbians, that would be like one of those culture barriers, or black and white or something, now we’ve got a worse problem. Now we’ve got people that are wholly unclean. So Peter is having this difficulty. And who’s writing this? Luke. He’s writing this years after this happened, and he’s looking back and he’s saying, “Look, do you see the trouble we have had as a church? It’s God the Holy Spirit that’s empowering the church to do this, to do this, to do this, to do this, because if it were left to us, we’d still be in Jerusalem.”
So here’s the testimony of the moving of the Holy Spirit. And that’s why it’s discomforting because the Holy Spirit has a way of moving us into our zones where … you know, we have our comfort zones and He always like to push us outside of the comfort zone. He does that just like a mother bird knocks her babies out of the nest because they’ve got to fly someday. You know, we’ve got to be big boys and girls and trust the Lord and it’s not comfortable to do that.
So that’s what verse 17 and following is all about, it’s discomfort because God is moving us to get out into an area that we’re not used to, it’s not comfortable, we’re not used to this kind of stuff. But the Lord is immutable; He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. The promises are still true, “casting all our care upon Him for He cares for us.” So they haven’t changed, so we hold on to that which doesn’t change and get our stability there to move into the areas that are chaotic.
So they come down to Caesarea, verse 24. The story goes on, and in verse 30, “Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments,  and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.  Send therefore to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.  And so I sent to you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” Now we’re all here and we want you to tell us what we’re supposed to do. Verse 34, Peter opens his mouth, that’s good, he didn’t say duh! Here I’ve been thinking this through, and here’s what he says, and notice this because this is a transition in the book of Acts, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” That is a breakthrough, a cultural breakthrough for Peter.
Verse 36, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel,” there’s his Judaism coming out, “preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all) –  you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.  You know of Jesus of Nazareth,” so he recites the facts about Jesus Christ. Verse 39, “And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross” These are true facts about Jesus. What did we just say in the framework course? We’re talking about event and doctrine, event and doctrine, event and doctrine, because our truths are contingent upon the truthfulness of history.
Acts 10:40, “I raised Him up on the third day,” it’s a recitation; it’s just a recitation of the Gospels. If you summarize verses Acts 10:37–42, notice that they recapitulate in a compressed way the Gospels and Acts. You see, Luke wrote Luke and Luke wrote Acts, and those two books together are really summarized in verses 37–42. All he’s doing is he’s putting into writing in Luke and Acts what the apostles kept telling everybody.
Now look what happens, “While Peter was still speaking these words, [the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.]” what do you observe happening in verse 44 that is different from what happened in Acts 8? Watch this, this is important because we have people wanting to go back into Acts and try to say there’s a normal pattern here the church has to follow. It’s not so. Here’s Acts 8; here’s Acts 10. What had to happen before the Holy Spirit was given to these people in Acts 8? The apostles had to come there and pray for them. So you have they believed, this is the point that the Samaritans believed, then the apostles came, then the apostles prayed for them and here is where they received the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10 you have the apostles coming first, they’re preaching the gospel and while they are preaching the gospel the Spirit comes, and they evidently believe at the same time.
Acts 10 is different than Acts 8, and this is something you want to notice; there’s no normalization occurring in the book of Acts, so be careful. You can’t just go diving into the book of Acts and say here, here’s the way the Holy Spirit works, because He works differently in different situations in the book of Acts. [Verse 43, “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins.”]
Verse 44, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.  And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.” Now we’ve got another culture shock happening. See what the Holy Spirit is doing in the book of Acts? When Luke writes this book he’s saying guys, I have to tell you, the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives for four decades to get our eyes straightened out and get out of the Old Testament mode of Israel and into the New Testament mode of the church. There’s a dispensational shift that happens here.
They “were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also, [46 for they were hearing them speak with tongues and exalting God.”] Here’s a specific reference to another Pentecost. So in Acts 8 you have the Samaritan Pentecost; in Acts 10 you have the Gentile Pentecost. Now we go to Acts 19, a third incident in the Book of Acts. This is in Greece now, so the church has already gone out of Judea, it’s already gone out through Samaria, now it’s in the uttermost parts of the world, just as God prophesied. Now we’re in Greece, now it’s Paul. What’s interesting about this is that Acts 19 occurs when Luke is not with Paul. I know that sounds like a little minor point but let me show you the importance of that in Biblical interpretation. Here’s Acts 19. Paul is observing this, and he reports that this event takes place in a certain way. How in a certain way? Well, let’s look at it.
“… Paul, having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples,  and he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’” That sounds like a lot of people today. Verse 3, “And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’  And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in I.’  And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord I.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.  And there were in all about twelve men.”
What we’ve got is an example of Old Testament saints becoming New Testament saints. If there’s ever a clear situation where you can watch what goes on between the Old Testament and the New Testament it’s Acts 19. And what’s interesting about Acts 19 is that Luke isn’t around. So if you look down in verse [blank spot] and he’s using the word glossa which is the word for language, but Luke has used this word over in Acts 2.
This proves that Paul, when Paul uses glossa he is saying the same thing as Luke when he uses glossa, and we already know how Luke uses glossa because in Acts 2 glossa is referring to what? Known, or unknown languages? Known languages, they’re human languages, unknown to the speakers, but they were known to the people who heard them. Therefore, when Paul uses in glossa in his epistles, what is he using it for? Known, or unknown languages? He’s using it the same way Luke is. So here we have a case where we have a third mini-Pentecost, witnessing in a small little way, repeating this Pentecostal phenomenon.
This is telling us something about the church’s expansion. In the notes on page 36 we get introduced to the baptism of the Spirit; John prophesied this, if you turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12, this is later developed by Paul, and this is the signal that something has changed in the book of Acts from the way it started. Jesus and John had spoken of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When you get to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13, he’s going through all the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the church, and you’ll notice that he uses the word “baptism” the Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and he says “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.”
Here is this early indication that the doctrine of the universal church has been created. It is recognized that in the book of Acts we have some new thing and it’s called the church. By the word “church” here, ekklesia, we refer not to an organization; this is the set of all believers. That’s what the word “church” means here, “baptized into one body.” Obviously every local church is an organization, we have to have an organization because the state requires income tax records and somebody has to be responsible for that, etc., but the problem is that there’s a visible church and an invisible church.
The invisible church, this is the universal, sometimes some writers call it the invisible church, not because it’s invisible but because it can’t be identified with any one particular organization. It is a group of all people who have genuinely trusted in Jesus Christ. You could have two people in Timbuktu, there’s not a church building in Timbuktu, but is the church in Timbuktu? Yeah, because there’s two people that are believers in Timbuktu. Therefore the church can exist where there’s no buildings, it can exist where there’s no organization.
On the other hand, let’s look at it another way. Can you have a church that’s corrupted and that goes through the motions and have people that are religious but not believers? Yeah. That’s why writers have sometimes used this word “invisible church” to refer to this, referring to the fact that this refers to believers who have personally trusted in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. We have, if we’re Christians, every one of us has had a point in our life where we’ve trusted in Jesus Christ. That was when you joined this church. You might have been baptized as an infant in a particular denominational church and you were a member organizationally of that, but that’s not what this is about. When Paul says in verse 13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” he doesn’t care whether male, female, slaves or free, Jews or Greeks, and that’s the lesson that is coming out of the book of Acts, that there is the church universal, meaning it transcends all cultural lines. It’s tragic but down through church history we’ve always had to fight this.
It’s understandable, people of the same race and of the same culture feel more comfortable with each other and they tend to gravitate, so you have a white church, you have a Korean church, you have a black church, you have a Chinese church, and you can see it in metropolitan areas. It’s understandable but there’s something wrong too about that.
One of the great Jewish Christians of all time in the 20th century was Leopold Cohn who started the American Board of Missions to the Jews, and he wrote a little tract that’s very interesting. It’s titled What it Has Cost the Church to Withhold the Gospel from the Jews, and he says had the church evangelized Jews all through the centuries the church never would have been amillennial, because the Jewish people would have automatically corrected that bad theology. They would have known, any Jew would have known that Israel means Israel, it doesn’t mean Gentiles, it means Israel, and it would have saved the church all this fighting about eschatology. Well, the church didn’t evangelize the Jew; it persecuted the Jew in Medieval times; in modern times, the Reformers did it. So it’s a tragedy that happens.
We want to learn that out of what was going on in Acts that those baptisms were signals by Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand that He intends to save people out of every nation, every tongue, every language, and every culture. There’s no such thing as a preferred culture here, a preferred culture there, there’s no special privileges for Americans in the body of Christ. It’s only whether we trust in Christ or not. The lowest humblest peasant believer in some far off land has as equal an opportunity to come before the throne of Jesus Christ in prayer as anybody else, no matter what they are, Calvin, Luther, Chrysostom, Augustine; the lowest peasant has just as much access to I Christ as that person. That’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that’s what came out of that.
On page 37 is the third thing I want to point out about this. Not only do we have the baptism of the Spirit which we’ll get into and develop more as we get into the last section, but we want to get into the fact that in Acts the apostles have special privileges. So I’ve entitled that: “Languages, Prophesying, and Miracles. Another line of revelation developed by Luke and Paul concerns the unique phenomena that accompanied this coming of the Holy Spirit—miraculous speaking in languages unknown to the speaker, revelation of things present and future unknowable to ordinary human beings, and amazing works of bodily healing. These phenomena were” all given as signs to the gospel.
The languages, why do you suppose that the gospel came with this supernatural ability to speak in languages in the book of Acts? To show what about the gospel? That it wasn’t confined to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. The gospel could be freely spoken and communicated to all the languages of the world; God intended it that way.
That’s what Islam doesn’t do. Do you realize that in Islam, to cite a good example, they do not believe that the Word of God can be read in any other language than Arabic? You can go to the prisons, as I have in Pennsylvania and you can see people who almost are illiterate desperately trying to learn how to write Arabic because they’ve become Muslims. They can’t write English leave along Arabic, but this is the demand of Islam, if you really want to know the Word of God you’ve got to learn Arabic because Allah speaks in Arabic, period! He doesn’t speak in English.
That’s why the lady from Iran became a Christian, she was six years old, her daddy was one of the leading theologians in Iran and she had the sense at age six, living in this theology professor’s home to ask herself, wait a minute, I am an Iranian, I speak Farsi, that’s my language, and if Allah can’t speak to me in Farsi, then Allah’s got a speech problem; I want to talk to a God who can speak in Farsi. And she went down to the corner library one day in downtown Tehran and stumbled her foot on a little book, and that book turned out to be the Bible written in Farsi. That’s how she became a Christian. God used that. The gospel is for every people, everywhere, in all languages.
Then we have prophecy. What’s the purpose of prophecy? The purpose of prophecy is to reveal new truths. There was a whole new set of revelation that had to be given, so that’s why we have prophecy. We have the miracles and the signs that were given, but what I want to concentrate, on the bottom of page 38, the New Testament point that these were temporarily given to the church. This is a controversial topic, I know, but this is the classic Protestant position. Protestantism has always believed in this word, a good vocabulary word: “cessation.” That means that the gifts given to the church in its founding period ceased and were not reflected down through history.
Now careful! Be careful here. That is not saying that miracles ceased. It is not saying that God can’t heal today. What it is saying that you do not have an apostle that can walk by all these chairs and every time his handkerchief fell out on somebody they’d be healed. That happened, that’s the power of the apostles early in their careers. That sort of miracle ceased. The question is why. I want to take you quickly to some verses, turn to Hebrews 2:4, I want to give you some food for thinking here. This is not a small sub issue, by the way. I’m not belaboring this because I want to stir up controversy. There are some serious logical consequences that come out if you do not believe in cessation. If you do believe in cessation there are other consequences that happen.
In Hebrews 2:4 notice the verb tenses. This is an epistle written later on in church history, in the first century. Notice that it’s talking about the gospel context, verse 3, [“how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.”] Then it says in verse 4, “I also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” That is a clause that amplifies the previous main verb which is found at the end of verse 3. What is the main verb found at the end of verse 3? It’s “confirmed … by those who heard.” Is that present tense or is that a past tense? That is a past tense, meaning that the confirmation of the gospel was completed by the time of the authorship of the book of Hebrews. The confirmation is over, done, out, finished. We’ll see that in other verses.
We are introduced now to the fact that not only does the church shift during the book of Acts, the emphasis shifts from Israel to the church; Acts also reports all these exciting miracles that gradually phase out when something happens. What is the “something” that happens that all this gets phased out? It’s not like I left the church, He’s with us, but He does something differently, and that’s what we want to look at. We want to look at this cessation, why has apostleship ceased? Why has the ability of the apostles and the leaders of the church that do these super-super miraculous acts ceased? It doesn’t mean we can’t pray for God to heal people, God still does that. It’s just that He doesn’t do it that way, so that it’s a sign of the gospel.
Are there any questions on the stuff that we went over? Acts gets kind of complicated, so don’t feel lost when we get into this, but there are transitions that are quite subtle in here and I think you can see why I spent the time on Reformed versus Dispensational Theology. You’re going to start seeing the changes and shifts that start happening in the Book of Acts.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s a good point, about the fact that had God not done it that way, can you imagine what kind of a problem they’d have, because who was involved in the first Pentecost? It was all Jewish people, so where was the breakout? The breakout probably would never have happened had that culture transform not happened, so that was it. And you notice it took years. Those events we just whipped through them in a matter of minutes but those events are separated by years of time and you can see every time it happened there was a big … you know, guys had to have their thoughts straightened out. It was not a comfortable thing for the church to go through.
But by the time you get down to the end it’s clear that the church is there now, the church is universal, the church is going into all the world, Jesus’ words have been fulfilled. So you want to see that that’s the big movement here. There is lots of other stuff in the Book of Acts; I’m just covering that one scene.
The other thing that you’ll see if you look at the passages in the cessation thing for next time, the reason that is important is because there are three or four streams inside Christianity that don’t emphasize cessation, and get in trouble because they don’t. Then I want to also point out there’s a caricature of cessation. The caricature is often that if you believe in cessation, that is these gifts, these marvelous capacities of the apostles stopped, therefore you don’t believe in miracles today. That’s not true, that’s not a logical conclusion. We’re saying things very carefully; we’re saying that the sign gifts and those offices went away.
What that leads to is sola scriptura, because if there are not prophecies, there are not those sign miracles, there are not those other things, then what we have left is the Scripture, and that’s what came out of the Protestant Reformation, sola scriptura. It’s not saying that there weren’t traditions left in the church, it’s just saying that we don’t know, we’re powerless today to know Jesus Christ in any other way than through the Scriptures. Because, how do you tell, some group has this, some group has that, how do you tell whether that’s apostolic or not? You can’t. So you’re left with sola scriptura.
The obvious groups within the (quote) “Christian” classification, Roman Catholicism of course believes in the continuation of what they call the magisterium, that is the apostolic authority is passed down through the church, through the bishops, and then the bishops get together and go to the Cardinals, and the Cardinals get higher until you get to the Pope, so you have this continuing tradition that the authority of the church that gave us the Scripture, and therefore can interpret the Scriptures in the final sense.
The problem that has led to historically was the Protestant Reformation. What do you do when the church goes corrupt? If the church is the ultimate authority, then corruption in the church can’t be addressed. Corruption has to be addressed by some standard other than the church and what is that other standard but the Scriptures, and that’s what got the ball rolling in the Protestant Reformation. So it’s a very important thing that comes out of this.
Another example of that would be Mormonism; Mormonism believes in the restoration, the church at the Latter Day Saints, think about the title, what do they mean by Latter Day Saints? They mean the restoration of the church through Joseph Smith, and Joseph Smith supposedly was empowered by the angels and he had spectacles that he translated it from Egyptian hieroglyphics, all kinds of stuff goes on there, but the point is that if you have a continuing authority that can amend or add to Scripture, you do not have sola scriptura. You’ve got another authority added to the Scriptures, which in practice always eat up the Scriptures.
Protestantism hasn’t done much better because what Protestantism has done, it’s allowed liberal theology and unbelief to come in, so now here I am a lay Christian sitting here reading my Bible and I can’t read it because I’ve got to listen to what the scholars say. Well excuse me, why do I have to listen to what some scholar says who doesn’t believe in it, who tries to reconstruct it, like Peter Jennings’s program on Jesus, Searching for Jesus, they’re going to be searching for Jesus for all eternity. They haven’t found Him and they’re not going to find Him, not the way they’re searching.
So what you have injected, again, think of the subtlety. Visualize yourself and the Bible. It’s not saying that this is our Savior, Jesus is our Savior, but this is the book that He has written into history, the instructions to get to Him. That’s His letter, the letter isn’t Him, but the letter is Him talking to us.
So visualize every one of these, when you have a cult, like say the Mormons, where you have a church in between, so here you are, here’s the Bible, and there’s something in between you. That’s a violation of sola scriptura. That’s the same thing with Roman Catholicism. This is how you get Mary as the mediatrix between … you don’t find Mary being the mediatrix in the Scripture, but that’s a tradition that’s developed inside the church, the Roman Catholic Church. So that’s the problem that’s going on.
Then finally within our own circles, what can happen in evangelical circles is historically we’ve had the Charismatic movement in three waves. We had the early Pentecostal movement in the 1901, it started in Azusa Street in California, and that was all right, the old Pentecostals were pretty good people, they believed in speaking in tongue as an unknown language, we would differ with their interpretation but they were godly people and they held to the Scriptures, etc.
What happened however in the 60s was we had phase two, we had what was called then the neo-Charismatic movement which spread into all denominations, including Catholicism. The denomination I came out of was Episcopalian and we had it there, had it all over the place, and what started to happen in the 60s was a delusion of truthfulness and the mysticism, you know Christ through this mystical experience. Well, it is kind of a mystical experience but I know Him because of this, I come into contact with Jesus through reading what He wrote to me. That’s how the Spirit is poured out.
So where you have this emphasis of people going off and thinking that they’re getting closer to I by this super show of miracles or this or that, what eventually will happen if you watch it long enough, that becomes a substitute for the Scriptures. It always happens, it’s happened time and time again in church history. You don’t need to argue about it, it’s always there; just give it long enough time and something else will replace the Scripture.
In a small way we’re in danger of it in all our churches today because we have our little liturgy, we go through our thing, nothing wrong with that, but if we have picnics and we have basketball games, we have all the rest of it, that’s all nice fellowship, but how we come to know Jesus Christ is controlled in all those activities, or ought to be, by the Word of God. And one area that’s in conflict in many evangelical areas right now is music. There are a lot of folks who are Christian musicians who are debating among themselves whether something has happened in the 20th century to our hymnology. What they’re arguing about and thinking about and rethinking about Christian music, it’s not that you have to have Beethoven or something, he wasn’t even a believer.
The issue is if you go into the older hymns and you look at the content, you notice that the people who wrote those older hymns are directing your attention to God and Jesus Christ. If you look at the later hymns it [is]: my experience of Jesus is this and I want to share it with you. That’s fine, but that’s not the gospel. The gospel is Christ, not another person’s experience. You have your own private experience with Jesus so you don’t need to come through my experience with Jesus to get to Jesus. And you don’t have to go to the hymn writer’s experience of Jesus to get to Jesus; you can go directly to Jesus. There’s just a subtlety there, and it’s true of all modern Christian music. Some guys are very careful.
I’m just saying that there are tendencies so we can’t be prideful and say ooh, look at the Roman Catholics, or ooh, look at the Mormons. It’s something we have to be vigilant about in our own circles to always think the only criteria that I have for judging my personal behavior, the behavior of my neighbor, the way we conduct ourselves as a group, is by the Scripture. We mustn’t ever forget that, because it ceased, we don’t have any additions, there’s no Revelation 23. And there’s nobody around qualified to write Revelation chapter 23. So that’s the issue of cessation, and there’s a big footnote in the notes that I put there, that’s what that footnote is all about, it’s just to alert you that this is not some personal crusade of mine, it’s just to point out a facet of church history. Protestantism has generally been cessationists. And where it’s drifted it’s always gotten in trouble; a lesson from the Reformation.
Someone says something: Clough says: Isn’t that interesting, the dirty laundry of the church, it’s all there in the Scripture. How would you like it if you were involved in one of those incidents? Put yourself in Peter’s position, denying the Lord, was that something that you really would like paraded about for twenty centuries. Think about it, you’re sitting there and I’m sure the Lord has blessed him, etc. but now every generation of Christians that go to Heaven, oh yeah, you’re the guy that denied Jesus. Think about that. So he has to come to grips with that in his personal life. It’s all there, the life of David. I had a seminary professor who taught me once, I had a great slogan, when God paints a picture of man He paints a picture of him warts and all, and that’s encouraging to me. I always get encouragement out of the Bible because I’m not the only guy with the warts.