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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Mar. 29, 2009

  • 2009 Mar 29
  • COMMENTS
 

The Message of Jesus – III

 

Twelve men changed the world. Eleven of them ate, slept, sailed, and walked with Jesus. The 12th man was a latecomer, so he got three years alone in the desert with Jesus. Who were these men? The Apostles, the sent ones, those entrusted with the Gospel of God's Grace. Peter and the eleven and then, Paul the twelfth, and final Apostle. Together they appear on a divine videotape on Evangelism. Together they demonstrate in public what they had been trained, taught, and commanded by Jesus.

 

Jesus saved them to share the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation. There are few things more exciting than to actually learn from Him our Master, His message and the way He called men and women, boys and girls to Salvation. That is what those Fishers of Divine Souls were taught.

 

Mark God's Word so that again and again you can revisit these pages and see the Message of Jesus. Remember that Galilee in the time of Jesus was composed of no less than 3.6 million people living in 240 towns and villages of about 15,000 each. So into a heavily populated area, Jesus went out preaching a message to all who would hear. With Him went twelve tape recorders that captured His words, His passion, and His method. Then He left and asked them to keep up the work of the Gospel. They did so fanning out the furthest corners of the Roman Empire. They blazed the Gospel across untold millions of people from India to Britain, from Russia to Africa. They took Christ's call seriously.

Now as we turn to Acts we are actually turning on a video that lasts 30 years. As we go through all 28 chapters we find that there are 22-recorded events where a Gospel Message is presented.

 

Yesterday we saw the first six. The seventh is in Acts 9. Acts 9:1-6 introduces us to Saul, who becomes Paul, the latecomer, as one born out of due time as Paul later describes himself. This is one of the more amazing portions of Scripture. What dazzles us is the inspired record of Paul being converted by none other than Jesus Christ. The setting is the road to Damascus. The place is the dusty road; Paul is lying on his face, and then is looking up at a light brighter than the noonday Sun. His eyes are being seared, but his soul is even more enflamed. He is talking to God, or is it Jesus, or is it the Lord against whom he had fought? Then Jesus speaks and explains the plan of salvation. Jesus calls it "The Way" and gives seven elements of genuine faith. Note what Jesus calls those who are saved in Acts 9:2 who were of the Way. This description of Christianity, derived from Jesus’ description of Himself (John 14:6), appears six times in Acts (19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). This is an appropriate title because Christianity is the way of God (18:26), the way into the Holy Place (Heb. 10:19, 20), and the way of truth (John 14:6; 2 Pet. 2:2).

 

The actual record of Christ's words to Paul is not revealed until Paul's witness to Agrippa in Acts 26:18. Let's turn there for just a moment to catch the flavor of Christ's soul winning pattern used on Paul.

 

v. 18 ‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

 

Salvation is always presented in a divine style in Acts.

 

The Rest of the Gospel Presentations in Acts

 

Now rapidly, what are the rest of the messages in Acts? First let me sum them up, then go back and point out some key elements.

 

The SEVENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 9:4-6 which records the Conversion of Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle, where the Gospel Message is described as

Turning to God in Acts 26:18-20.

The EIGHTH Gospel Message in Acts 10:35 to 11:18 where the Gospel Message is described as believing, receiving remission of sins, and God granting repentance.

The NINTH Gospel Message is in Acts 11:20-21 where the Gospel Message is described as believing and turning.

The TENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 10:38-39, 48 where the Gospel Message is described as forgiveness to all who believe, who do so at the appointment of God.

The ELEVENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 14:27-15:9 where the Gospel Message is described as God opening the door of faith and purifying the heart.

The TWELVTH Gospel Message is in Acts 15:19 where the Gospel Message is described as turning to God and away from what offends God's Word and people.

The THIRTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 16:14 where the Gospel Message is described as the Lord opening the heart to heed His Word.

The FOURTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 16:31 where the Gospel Message is described as believing.

The FIFTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 17:1-7 where the Gospel Message is described by pagans who observed the process as getting a new King of your life.

The SIXTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 17:30 where the Gospel Message is described as God commanding all to repent.

The SEVENTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 18:8-13 where the Gospel Message is described as believing, when God draws one to worship Him.

The EIGHTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 19:8-26 where the Gospel Message is described as a Kingdom, following a Way, which people follow instead of their own way. (Isaiah 53:6)

The NINTEENTH Gospel Message is in Acts 20:21-25 where the Gospel Message is described as repentance, faith, to the Gospel of Grace (Titus 2:11), and into God's Kingdom (only need a King!).

The TWENTIETH Gospel Message is in Acts 24:14-25 where the Gospel Message is described as a Way, of Worship, that involves righteousness, self-control, and averts judgment that makes the lost to fear. Thus not an easy to believe, try Jesus message!

 

Please turn there Acts 25:13. Meet the cast for a moment. Paul is facing pagans, steeped in sin, lost and doomed men and women. What does he tell lost people?

First is a little known figure introduced in Acts 24:27 Porcius Festus succeeded Felix. Festus was a member of the Roman nobility, unlike the former slave, Felix. Little is known of his brief tenure as governor (he died two years after assuming office), but the Jewish historian Josephus described him as better than either his predecessor or his successor.

King Agrippa. Herod Agrippa II, was

  • the son of the Herod who killed James and imprisoned Peter. He was
  • the last of the Herods, who play a prominent role in NT history. He was
  • the grand-nephew of Herod Antipas, the Herod of the gospels who wanted Jesus to do a trick, and then mocked Jesus at his crucifixion and to whom Jesus would not even utter a word (Mark 6:14–29; Luke 3:1; 13:31–33; 23:7–12), and he was
  • the great-grandson of Herod the Great, who ruled at the time Jesus was born, and murdered the innocents at Bethlehem in cruel, calculated, cold bloodedness (Matt. 2:1–19; Luke 1:5). He was
  • a man who knew so much, but cared so little.

 

Bernice. Not Agrippa’s wife, but his consort and sister. (Their sister, Drusilla, was married to the former governor, Felix). Agrippa was living in an incestuous relationship with his own sister, which was the talk of Rome, where Agrippa had grown up. His wicked partner in sin, Bernice, for a while even became the mistress of Emperor Vespasian, then of his son Titus, but always returned to her brother.

So how does Paul do personal evangelism with big shots who have sordid lives? He hits them with God's Word, God's Law, God's Holiness, and their utter failure to meet His standard.

Acts 24:25 righteousness, self-control, and the judgment. God demands “righteousness” of all men, because of His holy nature (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16). For men and women to conform to that absolute standard requires “self-control.” The result of failing to exhibit self-control and to conform oneself to God’s righteous standard is (apart from salvation) “judgment.” Felix was afraid. Living with a woman he had lured away from her husband, Felix obviously lacked “righteousness” and “self-control.” The realization that he faced “judgment” alarmed him, and he hastily dismissed Paul. ‘When I have a convenient time’ was what he thought. The moment of conviction passed, and Felix foolishly passed up his opportunity to repent (cf. 2 Cor. 6:2).

 

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