Hebrews Chapter Three  Sunday, Jan 31 2016 

3.1-6 Christ and Moses. Knowing the reverence that was given to Moses, the author reaches for the most esteemed leader in Judaism to present Christ’s superiority. The comparison includes faithfulness. It states the glory of Christ is better than the glory of Moses. Christ as the eternal God built the house that Moses was faithful over. Moses was faithful as a servant to the house of another. But Christ was faithful over His own house! Moses was a servant in the house, Christ enters the house as master. This house is the believer himself. The author takes the superiority of Christ beyond Apostle, High Priest, or messiah. He presents Christ the creator of redemption. Like an attorney laying out the evidence of the case, he presents irrefutable evidence of Christ as better. Christ is better than Angels. Christ is better than the esteemed Moses. These wavering believers are encouraged to persevere and to get a firm grip on their confidence and rejoicing to the end.

3.7-19 The rest. Having launched his epistle, the author now unfolds the beauty of the true rest of God brought by Christ. Again he admonishes them to listen to the evidence being presented. The former rest did not produce a faithful generation. Rather, it presented a generation that provoked God to anger. Thus, that rest was insufficient and not permanent. God swore that generation would not enter into His rest because of their unbelief. If the sabbath of Judaism was sufficient, why did God reject their observances? The children of Israel kept that sabbath for hundreds of years. It did not produce rest at all. Christ has brought the perfect rest that produces faith and perseverance in the believer. The unequivocal proof is what each rest produced. The former produced unbelief and angered God. The rest Christ offers produces faith and pleases God. It produces daily rest, as opposed to weekly rest. It produces emotional, mental,and spiritual rest as well. Therefore, Christ’s rest is better than Moses’ rest. Jesus said by the fruits you know. The former sabbath produced an angry God and disobedient believers. Christ’s sabbath has produced love, joy, peace and an untold number of permanently transformed lives by the Holy Ghost. 

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Commentary on Hebrews Chapter Two Saturday, Jan 30 2016 

2.1-4 The author of Hebrews now begins a different approach. This is the launch of the superiority of Christianity. He reminds the reader of the glorious witness of signs, wonders, and miracles. If the word of angels was steadfast, how much more the words of Christ? The phrase lest at any time we should let them slip can be rendered lest at any time we should leak out. The idea is vessels with leaks and cracks. Something has leaked out of these believers and the author is challenging them to be vigilant and regain the fullness they once experienced. 

2.5-9 Continuing the point that Christ is better than the Angels, the author establishes that the world to come will be in subjection to Christ. Christ is more than a man. Normal men are lower than the Angels. Man was crowned with glory and honor and put over the work of God’s hands (Adam). Therefore the path of Jesus incarnated as a man, exalts Christ to being the ruler of all things. All things are now subject to Christ. Christ is our example in all things. He was abased therefore He is exalted. Christ pioneered the way to salvation by His death, His burial, and His resurrection. We follow this example by also dying (repentance), being buried (water baptism by immersion), and being resurrected (receiving the Holy Ghost). We also shall be exalted with Christ, the pioneer of our salvation, in due time. 

2.10-13 the excellency of Christ is presented. Christ made all things. All things are for Him. Christ allowed His humanity to endure sufferings so He might sanctify the sons of God, and be sanctified as the son of God. The bond of sufferings joins Christ to us and we become brethren. Christ became what we are so we might become what He is. Christ reveals God’s eternal name unto his brethren. All these components are what creates the completeness of Christ that brings many sons to glory. 
 

2.14-18 Here the author presents an irrefutable argument. He argues that death was destroyed by our captain. Now there is no fear of death as there has been for many centuries. Death has been conquered. Christianity is better for yet another reason: death is vanquished. The author continues to pile on evidence of a better way. The author establishes Jesus is the seed of Abraham, but even more Christ is a High Priest and reconciliation for the sins of the people. Here the author assures these former Judiaistic believers they still have a high priest. Because Christ has been tempted (Peirazo: to test), He can now succor them (boetheo: to aid or relieve), with their present tempting (testing) to go back to the Law. The author now turns to Jesus our high priest, showing that truly Christianity is better than Judiaism!

The Taxi Driver Thursday, Jan 28 2016 

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.
‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’ ‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’, she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’ ‘It’s not the shortest way’,’ I answered quickly. ‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’ I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left’, she continued in a soft voice. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. ‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse. ‘Nothing’, I said ‘You have to make a living’, she answered. ‘There are other passengers’, I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy’, she said. ‘Thank you.’ I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.

Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Author: New York City taxi driver

Hebrews Chapter One comments Sunday, Jan 24 2016 

Chapter One
1.1-4 The voice of God: Jesus Christ. There is no greeting here, no words of introduction. This is so God-like! Like Genesis, like the Gospel of John, the writer simply launches the matter, and the matter is: the voice of God is now Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. It was by Jesus Christ God made the worlds. Jesus Christ is the brightness of God’s glory. Jesus Christ is the express image of God’s person. Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of His own power. Jesus Christ has purged our sins and now sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Jesus Christ is better! He is better than the Angels. He has by inheritance a more excellent name than the Angels. The opening salvo leaves no doubt of what the tone of this epistle will be! Jesus Christ is better. The time for New Testament ideology to morph into God’s eternal plan has arrived. The messenger of that eternal plan was Jesus Christ.
1.5-8 Angels. Angels are called sons of God (Job 1.6), but are never called begotten. Angels were created, but not procreated. The writer wants to separate Jesus Christ from all other creation. Christ stands unique and supreme as begotten. Jesus Christ is the emanation of God. He is the true, natural born son. Therefore the angels worshipped Him at his birth! Christ has a more excellent name than the Angels. The power of the name of Jesus is manifested throughout the New Testament. At the name of Jesus Christ demons were cast out, people were healed and the dead raised to life. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4.12). Angels will never sit on a throne, but to the son he saith, thy throne O God is forever and ever! In the opening eight verses the writer establishes and emphasizes the Son is better than the Angels. 
1.9-12 why is Christ better? Because He laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of His hands. When all has perished, Christ will remain. When all of creation is folded like a garment and tucked away, Christ is still the same. Jesus Christ is the eternal, ever living, everlasting God manifested in flesh. As such, He is immutable. 
1.13-14 no angel has ever held the exalted position Christ has been given. Angels are spirits sent with a purpose. That purpose is to minister to the heirs of salvation. Jesus Christ is better than the Angels. The writer builds his case for Christianity being better!

Warning…This post may contain offensive statements! Thursday, Jan 21 2016 

WARNING! This post may cause people to be offended at my statements! I am serious.  I make no apology so read on at your own risk.

Several times this year, and over the last forty years, I have heard people say that God has lead them to change their beliefs.  They have informed me personally that God has directed them to change beliefs they have held for years.  They have emphatically stated that God has led them to a more mature stand.  They have said God directed their life and no longer requires them to live under the same holiness standards they held for years.
They have told me that God directed them to allow their women to cut their hair, begin to wear pants, wear gold and other jewelry, use cosmetics, attend worldly ball games and professional sports events.  Each time they have assured me God was the source and approval of these actions.
WARNING.  The next few statements are offensive to people who say these things.  WARNING. Do not read on if you are easily offended!
God did not tell you to take this road or make these decisions.    That is right, I said God DID NOT tell you to do this or approve of you doing it!  There is not one example in the entire Bible where this occurred.  God never one time in the Holy Bible instructed people to live with lesser standards of outward holiness.  That’s right, not once. If you say that, you, as the old Bishop on the radio used to say “if any man be sayin that he be lyin on God”.
There are repeated instances of God telling people and nations to repent, change their lives and be more holy.  In fact every recorded revival in the Bible was preceded by this injunctive.  More holiness, repentance, and drawing closer to God was always, without exception the path to revival.  In the Old Testament men like Josiah and Hezekiah prove this.  In the New Testament men like Paul and Peter prove this.  People never had revival by modernizing, and becoming like the contemporary religious set.
You may decide to allow women to wear men’s attire, put on gold and jewelry, attend worldly sports events, and let down the standards of holiness.  But I assure you, God DID NOT tell you to do that!
If you are offended, remember I told you not to read this.  One last time…WARNING….God never told anyone in the history of the world to live a lesser standard of holiness. 
To the friends I have left after reading this post….Thanks for reading today!

Introduction to the book of Hebrews Wednesday, Jan 20 2016 

Hebrews
Introduction
Christianity was new. New ideas, new things, and new ways are often difficult to embrace. The old tried ways of centuries were easier and more comfortable. Hebrews is written to people who had embraced the new and were now struggling with staying with it to the finish. Some of the converts to Christianity were contemplating going back to Judaism. This epistle is God’s answer to that idea. Christianity is better. It is a better way. It is a better covenant. It is a better faith. 
The writer cites more than eighty references to the Old Testament to present his argument. This book is a commentary on the Old Testament. This epistle examines customs, and shows Jesus Christ brought better customs. The writer presents Jesus Christ as better. The author compares Jesus to Angels, Moses, priests, Aaron, Melchizedek, and Abraham. 
Who wrote Hebrews? There are several candidates and we are not positive which is correct. Those considered are Paul, Apollos, Barnabas, and several others. This has been discussed and debated now for two thousand years. The most common choice is Paul for a variety of reasons. Whoever wrote the book did not attach their name to the MSS. The most important issue in this invaluable book is not who wrote it, but the message it contains. 
Instead of the book beginning with the name Paul or Peter or James, this book begins with God. God owns this epistle, so ultimately the author is not relevant. There are 22 books of the New Testament after the gospels and Acts. There are nine books to churches, four books to individuals, then nine more epistles. Hebrews is the beginning of these nine books as Romans was to the first set of nine books. The former set of epistles addressed the moral law. These epistles address the ritual law. Both groups of nine end with prophecy. The first group ends with second Thessalonians and the coming of the Lord and end time events. This group that begins with Hebrews, ends with the book of Revelation.
The New Testament church was well aware that God instructed the building of the Tabernacle. God gave David the blueprints for the Temple. The conundrum for the early church was how can we discard that which was so aptly given by God himself? The book of Hebrews was written to solve this conundrum.
The Hebrew faith was codified in the Mosaic law and the Old Testament rituals. How should the New Testament church view these now? Christ was not a Levite. He was not of the lineage of Aaron. Weren’t people who died on a tree cursed? Should the church lay aside the feast days that had been a part of Jewish life for several millenniums? The decisions to be made needed divine direction.
Christianity brought a whole new way of life. The evolvement into New Testament ideology was facing some difficult decisions. For Christianity to blossom and flame into the world wide religion intended by God, these things must be resolved.  
This is why we have the book of Hebrews. God revealed his perfect completion of all Old Testament types and shadows. Hebrews is the majesty and ministry of Jesus Christ. Here God reveals his original intent and finished purpose in Jesus Christ the savior of the world.

Acts 18 commentary Sunday, Jan 10 2016 

18.1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; these words are the harbinger of the greatest revival in world history! The number of converts historians give varies from a low of 40,000 to a high of 80,000 in 18 months. That is 80 weeks. If these numbers can be trusted that is between 500-1000 people average each week. Not only were there great numbers but there were some very notable people. It is no coincidence the God of eternity sets these two cities side by side and show the results. Athens is humanism par excellence. Corinth is the power of God at it’s best! Somewhere on the road between Athens and Corinth the great Apostle Paul decided he would only preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. That would be his plan and only plan. Paul laid aside every human weapon of learning and wisdom. The first field of that mantra was Corinth and the results are unparalleled in human history. May we always remember revival is in the power of Jesus Christ!
The city of Corinth was the second largest city in the Roman Empire with a population of 700,000. It was a blue collar town with a working population. It had been destroyed and conquered by the Romans about 100 years before so it boasted some magnificent and new architecture. Corinth was a wide open sinful city much like Las Vegas in the United States today. There was a hodge podge of people from all over the Roman Empire. There were nobility, sailors, soldiers, and every strata of life. There was no place less likely to have a revival! The pagan temple sitting on the hill side used 1000 prostitutes to pander it’s sinful idolatry. When the Apostle arrived he was a beaten man by his own testimony. He spoke of despairing of life, 2 Cor 1.8. So you have the most least likely city to have a revival in the Empire, and the great Apostle at his weakest. This formula produced the world’s greatest revival of the New Testament era. The preaching of the cross and the wisdom of God produced thousands of transformed lives. It still does. 
18.3 Aquilla. His name means eagle. He and his wife were forced from Rome due to the edict from Emperor Claudius. (Suetonius, the Roman historian says Claudius was the fifth Emperor, and this was the 9th imperial edict. It was passed in 51ad). This man and his wife would become important parts of the Battle for Europe for Jesus Christ. They will eventually labor in various cities of New Testament note.

 

18.4 in every Great War there is always a battle that turns the tide and momentum. The war will not be over but the eventual outcome is on the horizon. This was the case with Corinth in the spiritual battle for Europe. Corinth was a turning point. It was Satan’s “Waterloo” so to speak. The march of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Roman Empire was a foregone conclusion from this moment forward. Battles were still to be fought, but victory would never be doubted again. History now reflects that ten percent of the Roman Empire would become Christian in the next three hundred years. Corinth was the hinge that turned the triumph of the gospel into a rout for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The flame of the gospel burned across the Roman Empire like a prairie fire. The key to Satan’s soft underbelly was discovered at Corinth. The key was the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in it’s most elemental form. Paul said And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 
18.5-6 Paul continued to the synagogue on the Sabbath and and persuade the Jews and the Greeks. The coming of Silas and Timothy seemed to invigorate Paul and he was pressed in the spirit. Paul testified (Protest earnestly), to the Jews. They strongly opposed Paul and his message so Paul departs from them. Paul determines to go unto the Gentiles. It appears Paul changes his venue from the synagogue to the house of Justus. It would appear this is where Crispus was converted. This simple move seemed to open the door to many conversions.
18.7-11 The question remains’ did this move from the synagogue to the house of Justus preempt the conversion of many Gentiles? God seems to put the divine seal of approval upon this move for it is at this juncture God speaks to Paul in a vision about the many people God has in the city of Corinth.
18.12-17 the inclusion of the incident with Gallio is vintage Luke as the author. This attention to detail has been his signature style as the only gentile writer of the New Testament. He is the most accurate with titles of officials, dates, and names of any author in the Bible. The Jewish religion was an approved religion by the Roman government and the new sect of Christianity was considered a form of Judiasm. The Jews were attempting to strip Christianity away from the connection to their faith so they appeal to Gallio. The Roman official dismisses their appeal out of hand. The enraged Jews then beat Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue as a protest. Paul grasps this opportunity to preach as well. Because this is happening at the Roman judgment seat of the the proconsul, Paul later uses this image to present the judgment seat of Christ for a world awaiting judgment.
18.18 Paul was there in Corinth for a great while longer. His inner spirit let Paul know it was time to continue the work God had sent him forth as an apostle to do. So with brevity, the Bible says he took his leave and sailed with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria. The greatest spiritual battle in the history of the world had been fought and won. Europe had been brought under the blood stained flag of Christianity! With five years behind him, and two missionary journeys, Paul was now a seasoned Apostle like the world had never before witnessed.

18.19-23 Ephesus was the famous city, capital of Ionia, and afterwards the scene of a large period of John’s labors. It stood not far from the sea on some hilly ground by a small river which flows into the sea. In Paul’s day it was by far the busiest and most populous city in Proconsular Asia. Paul leaves Aquila and Pricilla there and again enters the synagogue. Paul then travels to Caesarea, possibly to Philip the Evangelist’s house (Acts 21.8). He then visits Antioch and confirms the disciples in Galatia and Phrygia. Note: In unimportant matters Paul was still amenable to Jewish customs and rites. His desire was to conciliate his Jewish opponents so far as he could without surrendering vital principles.
18.24-28 Apollos; eloquent; The word in the original expresses not only ability as an orator, but also the possession of stores of learning. Hence the revised version gives learned. Either rendering only gives half the idea. He was learned and could use his learning with effect. Alexandria was a center of great study. The city was built under the direction of Dinocrates, the celebrated architect of the temple of Diana at Ephesus. It was there in Alexandria the Septuagint was compiled. As for Apollos, the study of the Old Testament flourished greatly in Alexandria, and Apollos had great power in the exposition and application of these Scriptures. The literary activity and philosophic pursuits of the Greek population of Alexandria were not without their effect on the more conservative Jews. We find from many sources that the Jewish writings were studied with all the literary exactness which marked the Greek scholarship of the time. The Jews, conscious of the antiquity of their own records and yet impressed with the philosophic character of their cultured fellow-citizens, gave themselves greatly to the writings and the teachings of the schools. In study like this Apollos had no doubt been fully trained.
Note: the author Luke takes this point in the narrative to document Apollos contribution to the journey. Luke has already included Jesus, Paul, Aquila, Priscilla, Claudius, Silas, Timothy, Justus, Crispus, Gallio, Sosthenes, Apollos, and John the Baptist in this chapter. It is this attention to detail that has caused the skeptics of Holy scripture to remain silent. No other New Testament writer gives this attention to names and offices. Luke could not have known the scrutiny the Bible would experience over the next two millenniums, but the Holy Ghost was well aware and prompted Luke to be exacting. 
The battle for Europe was not over but the victories were a roll call of New Testament churches. This three year period in New Testament history seems to be without parallel. From the day Paul had set foot on the continent of Europe until now there had been victories, defeats, hardships and challenges. From the first convert on the riverside at Philippi, to the journey back to Antioch, Paul had just completed the epic journey we now call his second missionary journey. Satan’s bastions had been scaled and conquered. The banner of Jesus Christ proudly flew over the continent of Europe! Paul had indeed proven to be a chosen vessel!

Acts 17 commentary Saturday, Jan 9 2016 

17.1 The missionaries pass through Amphipolis and Apollonia and arrive in Thessalonica via the great Egnatian road. We are left to wonder why the Apostle does not stop and preach at Amphipolis which is the capital city of this region of Macedonia. Possibly because there was no synagogue? Maybe his mantra was conquer the cities and the villages will fall of themselves? That seems to be the policy that swept through the empire like a prairie fire. It is 33 miles from Philippi to Amphipolis, another 30 miles to Apollonia and 37 more on to Thessalonica. It would seem the Apostle must have stopped for lodging in these cities, yet he does not linger to preach.

17.2-4 for three sabbath days Paul reasons that Jesus is the Christ. Luke the writer of Acts includes the fact that chief women were a large part of the conversion of souls here in Thessalonica. One interesting note is how quickly Paul was able to begin churches. It was always a matter of weeks and a conversion occurred.

17.5-10 Thessalonica…the spiritual battle for Europe is rejoined on another battlefront. Again, the enemy is the Jewish sector resisting Jesus Christ as the messiah. A church is again quickly founded, and is the first of Paul’s churches to receive a letter from him in the near future. (1Thessalonians). The opposition from the Jews is so intense Paul’s brethren immediately send Paul away. How long did Paul stay in Thessalonica? This account in Acts would suggest a short time. If we look at Paul’s letter written a few months later to the Thessalonican church, we can get additional insight. It is evident Paul stayed long enough to convert and establish converted idolators. We are also made aware he was in Thessalonica long enough to receive financial support two times from the church at Philippi. Paul recounts how he worked while he was there (2.9) With this insight it is probable that Paul spent a few months in Thessalonica.

17.11-15 Paul takes the battle to Berea. Berea is not as large as Thessalonica. The preaching of the gospel takes root once again. Many of them believed, including honorable women who were Greeks. There were also a number of men who believed. These believers in Berea were called nobel by Paul,(nobel= yoog-en’-ace= high born). This would infer a higher level of learning as a rule. The gospel need never fear education or learning. Here the great Apostle proves that even education is no match for the gospel in the battle for Europe. However, Paul’s enemies from Thessalonica arrive in Berea to continue their assault on the gospel. Like hunters seeking prey they attack Paul again. These gospel haters stir up the people, so Paul is sent away for safety. He starts as though to go by ship. Paul leaves Timothy and Silas with the new believers. Paul leaves for Athens. The world center of humanism and philosophy. It is at Athens Paul has his greatest defeat. That battle almost took down the great apostle.

17.16-19 Paul feels he is ready. He has fought some battles for some cities and they have fallen to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What thoughts must have looped through the mind of the great Apostle as he saw Athens on the horizon. What dreams he must have entertained. With Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea on his list of great victories and conquered cities, Paul enters Athens. He attends the synagogue as is his custom. The idolatry is rampant throughout the city. Athens is a stronghold for false gods. Paul goes to the market place and daily preaches and teaches. He is noticed by the elite philosophers of the city, the Epicureans and the Stoicks. Some of them mock, but others are mildly interested. This entertaining of new ideas was the Athenian pastime. It is interesting where they bring Paul. They bring him to the Areopagus, which is ar’-i-os pa’-gos in the original. This name is the name of the Greek deity of war! If there was any doubt until now that they were in a war for Europe, that doubt is dispelled. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ against the Greek God of War! Epicureans and Stoicks smugly square off with God’s greatest mind among men. The Epicureans, believers in hedonism and pursuing life’s greatest pleasure and learning, joined the Stoicks, who believed in no outward show of emotion and remaining calm, to face off against Paul. It was a world class battle. All of Paul’s life, history, intellect and training were challenged. They asked Paul point blank, what is this new doctrine?

17.20-34 The Athenian was religious. The innumerable temples, statues, and altars prove his religion. It also reveals what his religion was. It was one which made him a splendid animal with a splendid intellect. One which had no power against sin and fatalism. Like the sun, while it preserves the living, it hastens the decay of the dead. Possibly it was here Paul first thought if one died for all, then were all dead. Three hundred years before, in his little garden beside the market place, Epicurus had taught his followers that happiness is the great purpose and pursuit of life. The Stoics taught a system of ethics at odds with this. While the Epicurean had made the world conform to self, the Stoic had made self conform to the world! Self gratification became the doctrine of the one, and self denial of the other. While the Epicurean avoided pain, the Stoic welcomed it. The Stoic found the secret of life in living in conformity to nature, receiving its bitter as sweet, and its sweet as bitter, with equal composure. These polar extremes joined in an unusual show of force to challenge the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The battle did not end there in Athens that day. It has been fought, and still is fought on innumerable battlefields all over planet earth. Athens was a microcosm of humanism versus the manifesto of Jesus Christ. The great Apostle Paul gleans one soul, Dionysius, from the opposition, and a hand full of others, but he leaves Athens on his own. No one asked Paul to leave as at the other battlefronts. Paul was discouraged. Human wisdom, was a standoff with human wisdom. Somewhere between Athens and Corinth, Paul made the decision that forever changed our world. He decided he would preach nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. That mantra, sifted from the ashes of the battle for Europe at Athens, brought the greatest revival in the history of the world. It still brings the greatest revival!

The next stop on Paul’s journey is the city of Corinth. In the apostle’s first letter to them he states the Greeks seek wisdom (1Cor1.22). God allowed Paul to see what man’s wisdom can achieve in the city of Athens. Then God allowed the Apostle Paul to see what the power of God can do in contrast to man’s wisdom. In Athens there were a half dozen converts. In Corinth, tens of thousands converts.

Acts 16 commentary Friday, Jan 8 2016 

These are my notes on Acts chapter 16
16.1 Thus begins the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. One of the great things on this journey is the addition of Timothy to Paul’s life. Paul will style him “his own son in the faith” 1 Ti 1.2. The great Apostle seemed to have a gift to establish and train young men as in Timothy, Titus, and even Mark. On this second journey, the gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached in Europe for the first time! The original twelve Apostles seem reticent to take the gospel to the gentile masses. This is possibly the reason for Paul’s extraordinary call to be an Apostle. Paul went far beyond any other Apostle’s vision and preaching.
16.3 It is interesting that Paul deferred to the Jews and had Timothy circumcised following the Jerusalem council. This is especially so because they were going to the churches to deliver the decrees that were ordained at Jerusalem and this included circumcision was no longer required of gentile converts. Timothy is to become an integral part of the ministry and legacy of Paul. Paul sends him from Corinth to the Thessalonians, from Ephesus to the Corinthians, and eventually leaves Timothy to succeed him at Ephesus. More dazzling names than Timothy are to be seen in the firmament of the early Church. Apollos flames across the sky, leaving behind the brilliant sparks of his Alexandrian rhetoric, but the star of Timothy is the steady North Star of Paul’s legacy.
16.4-5 Paul and Silas now visit the churches that had been established on the previous missionary journey to announce the decision of the council in Jerusalem. The churches were established and increased daily!
16.6-10 The Holy Ghost now directs Paul to the next level of missionary expansion. It is now time to open the door to Europe with the manifesto of Jesus Christ! Troas had been his farthest travels north to date. The great Apostle sets foot on the continent of Europe. The door to Asia was closed by the Holy Ghost. They attempted to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit said no again. Jesus Christ was charting His course of the triumph of the gospel as sure as any world conqueror! While at Troas Paul has a vision. A man from Macedonia beckons him. Having received Divine direction, they embark with a straight course. The now seasoned, experienced, missionary Apostle takes on a new continent and the cities fall to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The roll call is impressive: Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and finally Corinth, the sight of the world’s greatest revival in history. The next three years are unequaled in missionary work in the scriptures. Paul’s greatest victories and harshest defeats await him in Europe. He is ready, he begins at Philippi.
16.11-15 Philippi was a city built by King Philip, Alexander the Great’s father. Not long before Paul arrived it had been the scene of a great battle between Brutus and Cassius against Mark Antony and Augustus. The battle decided the fate of the Roman Empire and influenced the course of world history. Now another battle was to be fought. A spiritual battle, the beachhead of Europe. Paul is a seasoned Spiritual warrior. Five years later, when writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, he tells us he had already been shipwrecked three times. It appears there was no Synagogue in Philippi, so Paul goes to the riverside. The original name of Philippi was Crenides (Place of streams). The first message on the European continent is preached on a riverbank, with a nod to John the Baptist, the Gospel gains the first Convert: a woman. The spiritual war for Europe has begun. The battle is engaged.
16.16-24 the battle intensifies. Satan counter attacks with a demon possessed girl. Having lost a female to the gospel, Satan launches a female at the Apostles. Lydia, saved and redeemed versus a damsel full of the spirit of iniquity. The stage was the city. The population of the city was the audience. For several days it looked like a stand off. Paul was grieved (diaponeo-be worried). Paul understood the war. He speaks to the spirit rather than the damsel. Jesus Christ shows Philippi He is the ruler. The spirit leaves the girl. In frustration the devil turns the masters of the damsel against Paul. A battle won, but the war for Europe continues. Paul and Silas are beaten and jailed. This sets the stage for yet another incredible triumph of the gospel. 
16.25-34 Two apostles, badly beaten, chained, and jailed, still triumph. Demons must have been baffled. What more could they do to stop these apostles? Paul and Silas at their lowest still triumphed over the demonic world. At midnight these weary soldiers of the cross begin to sing. They had been beaten with sticks (rhabdizo-to strike with a stick). They were in the deepest recess of the prison. Suddenly the other prisoners heard them singing. Then God defended his Apostles with a mighty earthquake! Every jail door is open, prisoners are loose. The jailer attempts to kill himself and Paul snatches victory and conversion of a lost soul out of the confusion. The terrified jailer asks what he must do to be saved. Paul instructs him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The jailer takes them to his home, feeds them, and his whole house is baptized. This instance shows what true believing is. When the Jailer believed he acted. James 2.6 mirrors this with the statement “faith without works is dead”. True faith always brings action. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means to repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. This is the common salvation of the book of Acts in chapter two, chapter eight, chapter ten, and chapter nineteen. 
16.35-40 The rulers sent to let the Apostles go. Jesus Christ had already set them at liberty. When these rulers ask Paul to leave, Paul invokes his Roman privilege. The magistrates are made aware of their illegal conduct against Paul who was a Roman citizen. Now the battle for Europe has turned again. These Roman magistrates besought (parakaleo-to call near, invite) Paul and Silas and gently asked them to depart. Paul and Silas did not leave town as condemned men, but rather as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ! They stopped at the house of Lydia, saw the brethren, and departed like true ambassadors should. The first citadel of Europe, the church at Philippi, was safely in the hands of Jesus Christ.

The Hinge for the Spiritual Battle for Europe Friday, Jan 1 2016 

In every Great War there is always a battle that turns the tide and momentum. The war will not be over but the eventual outcome is on the horizon. This was the case with Corinth in the spiritual battle for Europe. Corinth was a turning point. It was Satan’s “Waterloo” so to speak. The march of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Roman Empire was a foregone conclusion from this moment forward. Battles were still to be fought, but victory would never be doubted again. History now reflects that ten percent of the Roman Empire would become Christian in the next three hundred years. Corinth was the hinge that turned the triumph of the gospel into a rout for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The flame of the gospel burned across the Roman Empire like a prairie fire. The key to Satan’s soft underbelly was discovered at Corinth. The key was the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in it’s most elemental form. Paul said And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 

May we always preach the simplicity of the gospel!
Thanks for reading today!