31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority (Luke 4:31–32, NKJV).
Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee with the fellowship and endorsement of the Spirit of God (Luke 4:14, 18-21). His teaching so enraged the Nazarenes they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:23-29). Yet, those who heard Him testified and marveled at His “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). In Capernaum, people were astonished at the authority of His words (cf. Matt. 7:29). The Jewish leaders marveled when they heard Him teach in the temple. “How does this Man know letters, having never studied,” they said (John 7:14-15). Jesus spoke what the Father gave Him to teach (John 7:16). His words were authoritative because He spoke heaven’s words (John 12:49-50). Titus, the evangelist, was to teach the gospel “with all authority” (Titus 2:15). These men were not certified by the scribes and lawyers of the day. (The apostles were “uneducated and untrained,” Acts 4:13.) Yet, men presume to have the authority to maintain seminaries to certify a person as acceptable (having authority) to preach and minister the gospel. (Only credentialed preachers will do.) Sadly, some churches of Christ seem to trend in the same direction. (Only the credentialed preacher will do for their pulpits.) It makes you wonder whether a simple fisherman (like Peter) could stand in some pulpits today. The preacher’s authority does not come from himself, other men, or credentials earned from men. The gospel preacher speaks by heaven’s authority (1 Tim. 4:11; 5:7). We do well to remember that and humble ourselves before the authority of God and His word instead of men (Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:37).
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. 3 I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know (John 14:1–4, NKJV).”
Jesus encouraged His apostles at a moment when He could have crumbled under discouraging anxiety and fearful anticipation of the cross. His apostles had quarreled (again) over who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24). Judas’ betrayal was in motion (John 13:26-30). Jesus had just addressed His apostles’ imminent scattering and Peter’s denial (Mark 14:27; John 13:36-38). Now, amazingly, we see Him consoling them. Meditate with me on Christ’s exhortations to them. (1) Jesus gives calming assurance (v. 1). Faith in Christ and His word strengthens us in every trial and turmoil of life. Patient faith in Jesus replaces anxious care (Phil. 4:6-8). (2) Jesus gives comforting promises (v. 2-3). Christ promises a heavenly dwelling place to all who trust and follow Him. Soon He would go into heaven itself as our great High Priest to present Himself as the offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 2:17; 4:14; 9:26; 10:10-14). Hallelujah, what a Savior! (3) Jesus gives confident knowledge (v. 4). We know where Jesus went (heaven, now exalted at God’s right hand, Acts 2:32-36). We know the way to the Father is only through Him (John 14:5-6). Pondering these tremendous spiritual blessings persuades us to endure in faith through the storms of life, trust our Savior’s promise of eternal rest, and secure our hope in the knowledge of the gospel of the Son of God.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1, NKJV).
The second chapter of Acts records a transformative moment, a pivotal point in the Scriptures. The Day of Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:26; Deut. 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exod. 23:16), and the day of the first fruits (Num. 28:26). This Pentecost would be a day of harvesting souls, the first fruits of the gospel. Many “first” things happened that day. (1) It was the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). The first day of each week continues to call saints to assembled worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25). (2) The apostles preached the first gospel sermon opening the way to salvation. They used the keys of the kingdom, opening the door to salvation for sinners (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 2:40). (3) Sinners heard the plan of salvation for the first time. The apostles told those who believed the gospel to repent and be baptized to be forgiven of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). (4) The first gospel conversions took place. About three thousand did so and were saved (Acts 2:40-41). Christ still saves souls this way. (5) The first church came into existence that day. The church of Christ came into being. The Jerusalem church increased daily as the Lord added saved ones to His church (Acts 2:47). After Pentecost, Acts 2 records the first kingdom worship of the church (Acts 2:42) and the first acts of church benevolence (Acts 2:44-45). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of kingdom prophecies from Psalm 2, Isaiah 2, Joel 2, Daniel 2, and many more. Acts 2 has been called the hub of the Bible. Indeed.
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:” (Galatians 1:1–2, NKJV)
Neither human proclamation nor physical lineage approved and appointed Paul to be an apostle (v. 1). How unlike the assertions and attestations of the churches, councils, and synods that install men to be popes, prophets, presidents, and priests. Jesus Christ chose and commissioned His apostles (Mark 3:13-19; Acts 22:14-15; 26:16-17). Under His authority, He sent them into the world to teach His gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20). God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead, approved of the appointment and commission of the apostles, including Paul (v. 1). Heaven’s approval did not mean the apostles were above sin. Peter was rebuked for hypocrisy and influencing others to join him (Gal. 2:11-14). Paul’s explanation of heaven’s endorsement of his apostleship laid the foundation of authority by which the churches of Galatia (and thus, all the churches) were to receive and follow his instructions (Gal. 1:6-10). Just as Paul’s apostleship was “not from men nor through man,” neither was the gospel he preached (Gal. 1:11). How unlike the assertions and attestations of the churches, councils, and synods. These religious bodies convene to approve and codify their self-defined “orthodoxy” and bind it on adherents. What an affront to Christ, His gospel, and the apostles He commissioned to preach His gospel (Gal. 1:6-9)! What to believe and obey has been revealed by Christ through His apostles (Gal. 1:12; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:1, 4). Straying from apostolic doctrine amounts to departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3, 6).
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:1–2, NKJV).
We need reminders. Calendars help us remember the day and its events. From a string around the finger, post-it notes, or an alarm clock, we need help remembering important events. God knows this, too. He inspired Peter and others to write letters that stimulate our understanding and remind us of the will of God. We “gird up the loins of (our) minds” as we remember the truth we know and in which we are established (1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:12-13). We must not forget the words spoken by the holy prophets. Their words were from God (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We must remember the commands of the apostles of Christ because they constitute the Savior’s will (1 Cor. 14:37). The pure (sincere) mind knows and remembers the inspired words from God. By learning and being grounded in the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles of Christ, we are equipped to (1) Identify and avoid false doctrine (2 Pet. 3:3-9), (2) Look forward to the day of the Lord in holiness and hope (2 Pet. 3:10-14), (3) Consider God’s longsuffering as securing our salvation, not abandoning us to the world (2 Pet. 3:15, 9, 3-4), (4) Handle God’s word properly to avoid falling into destruction (2 Pet. 3:16-17), and (5) Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The Scriptures stir up fervent faith as we remember them. Let us not forget God’s word nor scoff at its truth (2 Pet. 3:3-5).
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:27, NKJV).
Bible reading is essential to salvation from sins and living faithfully to the Lord. The Bible is the inspired word of God, His truth delivered in this last age by His Son, Jesus Christ (John 16:13; 17:17; Heb. 1:2; 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jude 3). By it, faith is produced and strengthened in us (Rom. 10:17; Acts 20:32). Christians read the Bible! We read it to increase in knowledge of God’s will and wisdom to apply it to our lives (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11). It is little wonder the apostle Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians with a charge to read it to all the holy brethren. His writings are the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Paul’s “charge” (“to cause someone to swear,” TDNT, V:462) put them under oath to do so. It was not optional but mandatory that they read his epistle. Even so, we are under oath to read the Scriptures. Public Bible reading and teaching please God and should please us (Neh. 8:1-3, 7-9; 1 Tim. 4:13). The saints circulated the apostolic letters for all to read (Col. 4:16). We should never think there is “too much” Scripture in a gospel sermon. Private Bible reading allows quiet time for meditation, examination, and correction of personal spiritual needs (Acts 8:29-35; 1 Tim. 4:15-16; Phil. 4:8). The Holy Scriptures will make us “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” when we read and learn them (2 Tim. 3:14-15; 2 Pet. 3:15-16). Have you read your Bible today?
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1–2, NKJV).
When Jesus was transfigured on the mount, “a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory,” saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The voice commanded to “Hear Him” (2 Pet. 1:17; Matt. 17:5). All are under divine order to hear Jesus. By doing so, we are listening to God since God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” How does Jesus speak to us? Not through living prophets like God did to the Hebrew fathers (Heb. 1:1). Not through dreams and visions like in times past. Not by so-called personal promptings of the Spirit (subjective notions attributed to the Spirit of God). Jesus said by receiving those He sent into the world (His apostles), we receive Him and the One who sent Him (John 13:20). The salvation Jesus began to speak was “confirmed to us by those who heard Him” (His apostles, Heb. 2:3-4; Mark 16:15-18). We “shall not escape if we neglect” the great salvation they preached (John 16:13; Mark 16:20). When Pentecost believers heard and received the apostles’ words, they repented and were baptized and, thus saved, were added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:37-41, 47). Christ saves every soul the same way today. Yes, we must hear Jesus today. How? By receiving, obeying, and continuing in the word His apostles taught (Acts 2:41-42; 10:42-43; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:20, NKJV).
“Receive Jesus as your personal Savior” is an oft-heard exhortation. How does that happen? How does a person receive Jesus? We need a Bible answer, and God provides one. The word “receive” in John 13:20 means to “take” and “get hold of” (G2983). It is a deliberate action, not a passive reception. John 1:12 says those who receive Christ have “the right to become children of God.” These are the ones “who believe in His name.” Believers received Jesus, and they had the right to become children of God. So, this verse explains that believing in Jesus is not the end but the beginning of becoming a child of God. (Many believers are not saved, John 12:42-43.) Receiving Jesus for salvation is further explained in Galatians 3:26-27, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Believers in Jesus are baptized into Christ to “put on Christ;” To “get hold of” Jesus and be a child of God. Just as Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Now, the question is whether you will receive Jesus and be saved by receiving the words of His apostles (whom He sent into the world, John 13:20; Matt. 28:19)? To receive Jesus, one must believe in Him and then obey Him by obeying the apostles’ teachings. Faith only does not save the lost (James 2:19-20, 24). If you believe in Jesus, you have the right to become a child of God. Now, take hold of Christ and His salvation by receiving and obeying His apostles like sinners did on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41).
22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it (Acts 2:22–24, NKJV).
Nothing takes God by surprise, especially not the death of Jesus. God is eternal and declares “the end from the beginning…saying, ‘My counsel shall stand’” (Isa. 46:10). His foreknowledge compels trustful obedience to Him and not carved images. God’s prophet recorded God’s purposeful foreknowledge, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa. 42:9). Jesus was delivered to death “by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (v. 23). From eternity past, God planned to save sinners by sacrificing His Son (Eph. 1:4-7). His prophets foretold a suffering Servant whom God would crown with glory and honor (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The sacrifice of Jesus fully expressed God’s love and grace toward us sinners (1 John 4:10; Rom. 5:6-11). Following His resurrection, Jesus said everything in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms concerning Him was fulfilled (Luke 24:44-45; Acts 13:32-33). The apostles witnessed these things and preached the good news of salvation to the world (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). God planned to save us from sin. Now, He calls on us to believe and obey His Son to receive the gift He planned and fulfilled (Acts 2:36-41; 4:12; Heb. 5:8-9).
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you (1 John 2:26, NKJV).
The possibility of being deceived about spiritual matters is just as real today as when the apostle John wrote to the children of God. As then, many are still against Christ yet pose as if they are for Christ; Hence, the warning against being deceived (1 John 2:18-19). John emphatically directs us, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). How? By using the truth with which Christ has endowed (anointed) us: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:20-21). The truth Jesus Christ gave us through His apostles (1) Identifies the deceptions of false teachings (1 John 4:6), and (2) Assures our fellowship with the Father and the Son (John 14:21-24), and (3) Leads us to His promise of eternal life (1 Pet. 1:3-9). John says these are among the reasons we let His word abide in us (1 John 2:24-27; John 8:31-32). Use God’s word to verify your faith. Rejoice in your fellowship with God and be comforted in Christ’s promise of eternal life. Rest assured, God’s word of truth will not deceive you.