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The “Judicial Adventures” of Paul the Apostle

Copyright © 1994, 2019

by
Jim Kerwin

A Look at Roman Law in Acts

“Moving in a Roman World”

The student of the New Testament is con­stant­ly made aware that he is moving in a Roman world,”2 and awareness of the Roman en­vi­ron­ment is the first step toward un­der­stand­ing its significance and influence on the second volume of Luke’s magnum opus and on the life of Paul. By providing the serious Bible student a primer of [continue reading…]

This Shall Be a Sign unto You

Copyright © 20181

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of the manger copyright by www.LumoProject.com, licensed exclusively by FreeBibleimages.org for teaching purposes only; used with permission according to license terms.“This shall be a sign unto you.”
But what was the sign?2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because He was of the house and lineage of David:) 5to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:1-18

As we read through Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we discover a key theme of the Christmas season. It’s the message that the angel gave to the shepherds. The fact that an angel said it underscores its importance. He said:

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of this sign? If God took the trouble [continue reading…]

Jesus’ First Sermon

Copyright © 2018

by Jim Kerwin

a scroll of the Hebrew scripturesWhat is “the acceptable year of the Lord”?1

Every time there is a “first” in the Scriptures, it is good to take note of it, because often the Holy Spirit is laying down a special foundation, or principle, or doctrine. I believe this is true in the case of Jesus’ first recorded sermon, which we will look at today. You will find His message in Luke chapter 4. You can turn there (I’ll give you the verses in a minute) while I introduce the subject.

Part of what I teach leaders when I come to Latin America is the importance of context when they are reading and studying and teaching and preaching God’s word. The two most important points are these:

  1. Every time we come to the Scriptures, as we are reading we must ask ourselves, “What is the context of this verse, this passage, this chapter, this book? What is the context within the text, and what are the historical, cultural, and original language contexts? What do I need to know to fully understand the passage like the first readers did?
  2. The greatest context is that of the entire Bible, which is why I encourage all Christian leaders – indeed, all Christians – to read through the Bible cover to cover at least once every year.

As you turn with me to Luke 4:14, let’s think about the context of our passage. In the previous chapter, Luke 3, Jesus was water-baptized by John; immediately the Spirit of the Lord [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 5)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part V:
Advice to the Sanctified

Section 25 (continued)

Question 29: Can those who are perfect grow in grace?

Answer: Undoubtedly they can; and that not only while they are in the body, but to all eternity.

Question 30: Can they fall from it?

Answer: I am well assured they can: matter of fact puts this beyond dispute. Formerly we thought, that one saved from sin could not fall; now we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit, and the witness; but they have now lost both. Neither does anyone stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from. If there be any that cannot fall, this wholly depends on the promise of God.

Question 31: Can those who fall from this state recover it? [continue reading…]

Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher

Copyright © 20111

by
Percy Gutteridge

Psalm 19

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
  2. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
  3. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
  4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
  5. Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.
  6. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hidden from the heat thereof.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
  10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
  11. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
  12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
  13. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
  14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Who Is Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher?

Silouhette of a preacherWho is earth's most powerful preacher?2

Let’s consider the question, “Who is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” And understand that I’m not talking about a human being. I am not going to pick out one of today’s famous evangelists or ministers and say, “This one is the most powerful preacher,” because none of them has the worldwide audience or impact of God’s sovereign choice. So then, let’s refine the question and ask, “What is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” as we examine potential candidates.

The Sun?

How about the sun? Is the sun earth’s most powerful preacher? Our Scripture passage says that the sun is really a preacher; it comes out of its chamber as a bridegroom. It comes up in the morning and goes down at night, going right over the whole circuit of heaven, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. It preaches of light, it preaches of energy, it preaches of power, it preaches of judgment, it preaches even of love. It preaches also of life, because there would be no life without the sun. The sun preaches to us about so many things.

But men don’t take any notice. In fact, some foolish people [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part I:
Historical Background
of the Teaching

Section 1

What I purpose in the following pages is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian Perfection.  This I owe to the serious part of mankind; those who desire to know all the truth as it is in Jesus.  And these only are concerned in questions of this kind.  To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part II:
The Teaching Explained

Section 17

On Monday, June 25, 1744 our first conference began, six clergymen and all our preachers being present.  The next morning we seriously considered the doctrine of sanctification, or perfection.  The questions asked concerning it, and the substance of the answers given, were as follows:—

Question: What is it to be sanctified?

Answer: To be renewed in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness [Ephesians 4:24].

Question: What is implied in being a perfect Christian?

Answer: The loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul (Deut. vi. 5). [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 3)

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part III:
Tares Among the Wheat Contrasted
with the Wonderful Testimony of Jane Cooper

Section 20

In the year 1762 there was a great increase of the work of God in London.  Many, who had hitherto cared for none of these things, were deeply convinced of their lost estate; many found redemption in the blood of Christ; not a few backsliders were healed; and a considerable number of persons believed that God had saved them from all sin.  Easily foreseeing that Satan would be endeavouring to sow tares among the wheat [Matthew 13:24-30], I took much pains to apprise them of the danger, particularly with regard to pride and enthusiasm.  And while I stayed in town, I had reason to hope they continued both humble and sober-minded.  But almost as soon as I was gone, enthusiasm broke in.  Two or three began to take their own imaginations for impressions from God, and thence to suppose that they should never die; and these, labouring to bring others into the same opinion, occasioned much noise and confusion.  Soon after, the same persons, with a few more, ran into other extravagances,—fancying they could not be tempted; that they should feel no more pain; and that they had the gift of prophecy, and of discerning of spirits. [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 4)

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part IV:
“Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

Section 25

The next year [1763], the number of those who believed they were saved from sin still increasing, I judged it needful to publish, chiefly for their use, Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection:

Question 1: How is “Christ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”? (Rom. x. 4)

Answer: In order to understand this, you must understand what law is here spoken of; and this, I apprehend, is:— [continue reading…]

Beulah Land: Ch. 14 of “New Testament Holiness”

This entry is part 17 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

Those who have read Bunyan’s immortal allegory will remember how he brings his pilgrims, before they crossed the river of death, into the land of Beulah. In that region they were “clear out of sight of Doubting Castle”; the gates of the Celestial City were full in view, the sun shone by night as well as by day. They heard continually the singing of birds, and in their walks they encountered several groups of the shining ones. As they walked to and fro in this goodly land they found it to be “a most pleasant, mountainous country, beautiful with woods, vineyards, fruits of all sorts, flowers also, with springs and fountains, very delectable to behold.”2 It may seem at first sadly at variance with facts to describe Christian experience on earth in such glowing colours, but there is a high and serene inheritance “common to and for all the pilgrims,” a promised land, towards which we are beckoned, where, as Dean Alford would say, “Materially we are yet in the body, but in the spirit we are already in heaven—only waiting for the redemption of the body to be entirely and literally there.”

[continue reading…]

Consecration: Ch. 20 of “New Testament Holiness”

This entry is part 23 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

Some writers of advanced Christian experience magnify the will and emphasise the importance of absolute submission, while others urge faith as the condition of blessing. Both are right. Perfect trust cannot exist without complete surrender. Nor can we surrender our will to One whom we cannot trust. Lady Maxwell2 could pray, “Put a thorn in every enjoyment, a worm in every gourd, that would prevent, or in any measure retard my progress in Divine life.” And when we can say, from our inmost heart, “I am willing to receive what Thou givest, and to want what Thou withholdest, and to relinquish what Thou takest, and to suffer what Thou inflictest, and to be what Thou requirest, and to do what Thou commandest. Have Thine own way with me and mine in all particulars,” we are not far from the Canaan of God’s perfect love. [continue reading…]

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series God's Ways and Man's Methods

I

f you are expecting something so great and so essential to heaven itself, you ought to have good reasons for your expectation.  And what are these reasons?  Did you ever see any soul get sanctification at death?  Is there any provision in the economy of grace which is only available at death’s door?  These are some plain questions.  But let us look at the matter a little more in detail.

1. Sanctification will be possible at death
if the conditions are complied with.

But because that is so, owing to the mercy of God, is no more a valid reason for delaying the matter, than it is for a sinner to put off till the day of his death his compliance with the terms of salvation, simply because those terms may be complied with at that time. [continue reading…]

“How They Grow”: Part 5

This entry is part 5 of 16 in the series How They Grow

 Growth, Not Mere Self-Assertion

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” saith the Lord of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6

Which were born [begotten], not of blood, nor of the will of man,
nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.
John 1:33

The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.
John 15:4

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

G

rowth in grace must not be confounded with what may be termed the doctrine of “self-assertion of the human spirit.”  In certain prominent philosophical teachings of the day, there is that which would gladly “de-Chris­tian­ize” society; and in much of Auguste Comte’s teachings, 1 there is that which amounts to a deification, or a worship, of the human nature.  At least, to the human spirit is attributed latent forces by which, if allowed to arise and assert themselves, man can evolutionize and redeem himself, and as such needs no Redeemer and Savior. [continue reading…]

Affliction and Growth

This entry is part 12 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers

“But the more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.”

Exodus 1:12

T

here is a certain cost to all growth.  It cannot be ours except we pay the price.  He who “will not plow by reason of the cold shall beg in harvest, and have nothing,” said the writer of Proverbs. 1  Pain is a very essential part of our advance.  The “growing pains” of aching limbs in early school days are only prophecies of that which is to be in all later life wherever the soul keeps the upward path.  In those days, my crying before mother was because of aching knees in early boyhood in the old home among the hills; 2 the crying has not ceased, though mother is here no more, the old hills are out of sight, and the pain is no longer so much physical.  I cry yet as I go.  I cannot get on without painful cost.  There is nothing without toil.  “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” 3 [continue reading…]