What Must I Do To Be Saved? (Acts 16:16-40)

We saw last time how the Lord Jesus opened Lydia’s heart to believe the message Paul brought, and she was saved.

Luke records for us here the conversion of one more person, but by the end of the chapter, there is already a group of believers meeting at Lydia’s house (v40). How does the church go from one person to many?

Lydia was well-off. And she was well-connected. And we can think of Christians like that today:

  • This week, Relevant Magazine featured a story about the actress playing Jasmine in the remake of Disney’s Aladdin, Naomi Scott. She’s a PK, and she’s spoken publically against the persecution of Christians.
  • And many Christians are glad that Israel Folau is in the news. He doesn’t believe in the Trinity, but it’s good to see him fighting for freedom of religion anyway.
  • And our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is a practicing Christian, the first we’ve seen in many years.

Will the message about Jesus be acceptable because prominent people believe it? Does it take one influential person to accept of the good news for many to believe?

There are four things the Gospel does as God’s Church grows:

  1. The Gospel Frees the Enslaved (v16-18)
  2. The Gospel Removes Profit for God’s Enemies (v19-24)
  3. The Gospel Saves from Death (v25-34)
  4. The Gospel is Publically Vindicated (v35-40)

Sunday 9th June 2019

Review questions:

  • Magic tries to ___________ gods (v16).
  • Why does Satan sometimes tell the truth (v17)?
  • The message about Jesus challenges p____________ & p__________ (v19-24)
  • Why did they pray (v25)?
  • What can I sing in bad times (v25)?
  • You have to ___________ the message before you can ______________ it (v30)
  • People listen if they ________ us (v30)
  • A ________________ proves I can’t save myself (v27, 30)
  • How can I be saved (v31)?
  • Paul didn’t accept release so that the gospel would be ______________ (v37).
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Open Doors to Open Hearts (Acts 16:1-15)

We saw that conflict is a part of life in the church, we saw that last Sunday. And one reason why conflict arises is that we have expectations. We expect that the church will do this, or be like that. We have expectations of other Christians. We expect things of ourselves.

What do we do when things aren’t how we expect? We blame someone. That’s often where conflict starts. Or we get discouraged. We question whether any of this is really real. Does it work?

Why do we blame? Why do we get discouraged? Because we believe that the church can do things that it can’t do.

There are some basic things that the church should do: prayer, Bible teaching, telling people about Jesus, teaching each other to follow Jesus. But we can do all of those, and see no results.

So, we ask, “What are we missing?” Maybe we need more resources. Or a different style. Or better events. Or a different pastor.

Now, some of those things may be important. But, if the good news about Jesus is going to change us and our neighbours and our community, there are three things we absolutely cannot do. Three things that only God can do. And we must trust Him to do them:

  1. Trust God to Open Doors (v1-10)
  2. Trust God to Close Doors (v6-10)
  3. Trust God to Open Hearts (v11-15)

Sunday 26th May 2019

Review questions:

  • Why was Timothy qualified to help (v2)?
  • Why did Paul circumcise him (v3)?
  • Doctrine weakens churches (v4-5): True/False
  • Does having a good plan mean God will bless it (v6-7)? Yes/No
  • Why do we need help (v9)?
  • “__________________ the spirits” (v10, 1 John 4:1).
  • Paul was led by the Spirit, but had a _________________________ and used w______________________
  • Why did Lydia listen (v14)?
  • When happened when she did (v14-15)?
  • Hospitality puts ____________________________ first.
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Christians in Conflict (Acts 15:36-41)

“In the summer of 1932, the [Monroe Baptist] church actually split into two rival factions as to who should be the pastor. One side was backing the Reverend W. W. Hill, an old-school preacher who had just been ousted; the other was supporting Professor Foster, a starched man with a standoffish wife and brilliant children whom some people saw as having enough influence as it was, seeing as how he already ran the school. The church grew so divided that people were no longer speaking. Enemy lines were drawn. The church had to shut down for two whole months. The authorities in Monroe took away the keys.

“The church reopened the first Sunday in September 1932, along with the wounds and hostilities that were no closer to healing than the day the church was shuttered. That morning, Sunday school had barely begun when “there arose a contention between the two factions as to who was in charge of the church,” the Chicago Defender reported.

“There was a question as to whether the apparent victor, Professor Foster, should speak, the Hill people saying it was perhaps best that he not, the anti-Hill faction urging him to go forward. Professor Foster was accustomed to running things. He arose and stood stiff and pious and was reading Bible scripture, when four women walked up to the pulpit and demanded he stop preaching, as if to suggest he had no right to be taking over as he had. It was an outrageous, unheard-of disruption, practically blasphemous, and the church broke into an uproar. Several men rushed the pulpit and began fighting. A deacon backed out of the door, hitting back at those who pursued him and falling down in the street.

“A parishioner named James Dugans, who was either a supporter of Professor Foster or merely enraged at the show of disrespect, picked up a chair, drew a pistol, and started shooting. A bullet struck a woman named Patsy Daniels in the stomach. Incensed, her father ran to a house next door and got a pistol of his own. The father came back to a fight that had now spilled out to the front of the church. When the first gunman, Dugans, saw the woman’s now-armed father, he shot him in the chest. The bleeding father continued firing as he fell, killing Dugans and wounding three other parishioners. Patsy Daniels died from her wounds. In all, as many as seven people were left wounded, including the dead woman’s father. Professor Foster and his family managed to escape unharmed—physically, in any case.

“The Monroe police again had to take the keys of the church. Until the congregation could settle its dispute, “the doors of the church were securely nailed up,” the Atlanta Daily World reported.”

That account from Isabel Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns might seem unlikely, but it shows that conflict is a reality in the church. It might not end in a gunfight. But disagreements about things, that ultimately of secondary importance, are a common feature of life.

Why? And why are we surprised by that?

Make no mistakes about it: There is conflict in the church because there are sinners in the church. Christians are sinners. We are free from the punishment of sin, and we are free of the power/reign of sin, but we are not yet free from the presence of sin. None of us is ‘better than’ that.

So, what should we believe about conflict between Christians? In Acts 15:36-41, God teaches us four truths:

  1. Conflict is Frequently Surprising (v36)
  2. Conflict is Often Over the ‘Small’ Stuff (v37-39a)
  3. Conflict is Sometimes Unavoidable (v39-41)
  4. Conflict is Always Redeemable (v39b-41)

Sunday 19th May 2019

Review questions:

  • There is conflict in the church because Christians are ______________
  • Christians are free from the power & punishment of sin, not its ___________
  • Were Paul & Barnabas believers? Yes/No
  • How can I love the church in different places (v36)?
  • What was the disagreement about (v37-39, 13:13)?
  • Most missionaries return home due to _______________________ (Akin, IMB)
  • How should Christians disagree (Phil 2:1-11)?
  • Sometimes we must __________ (v39)
  • Bad things happen because God will (Rom 8:28)
  • Conflict is redeemed when we are ________________________ (2 Tim 4:11)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Controversy Settled? (Acts 15:22-35)

The big question in Acts 15 is ‘What do I have to do to be saved?’

If we insist on anything in addition to faith in Jesus for ourselves or anyone else to be accepted by God then we have fallen for the trap of legalism.

When we last looked at this chapter one month ago, we heard what God is doing: He is saving a people from the nations for the glory of His name, and He’s doing so by grace through faith, not of works so that none should boast, as Ephesians 2:8-10 says.

You’ll only be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, as verse 11 teaches. You can only be saved if God gives salvation to you.

This is the conclusion of the assembly of apostles and elders.

But making a decision isn’t the end of the story. It must be communicated. The church assembly sends a letter with the outcome, and the Gentile churches respond. In their response, there are three messages for us:

  1. Be Free of Legalism (v22-24)
  2. Abandon Idolatry & Immorality (v25-29)
  3. Rejoice in Christ (v30-35)

Sunday 12th May 2019

Review questions:

  • The big question in Acts 15 is “What do I have to do to be ______________?”
  • What does legalism teach?
  • What is necessary to be saved?
  • Why shouldn’t Christians do these 4 things (v29)?
  • Paganism says God hasn’t _________ so _______ decide how to honour God.
  • Avoiding idols meant being _________
  • What is “sexual immorality” (v29)?
  • Sometimes I am tempted to want Jesus plus _____________
  • I can rejoice in Jesus because ____________________________________________
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest (Matthew 11:25-30)

Last week, in possibly a bored moment, I was looking at the ABC News website online. And I found this article. It is written by a young lady named Caroline Zielinski:

About eight months ago, I did a very scary thing.

I quit my job to search for meaning — and it dramatically improved my heath.

It may sound like a story as old as (millennial) time: young person gets job, job is not as great as young person thought, young person keeps quitting and looking for other jobs to satisfy them.

But switching from one unfulfilling role to the next failed to shift the insomnia, the abject anxiety, the mindless, nervous scratching and my painful gut.

Friends couldn’t quite understand why I was so miserable and so sick: you have a good job, they’d say. It pays well. You can travel.

Logically, I agreed. So, I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t so bad, while every day wondering: “is this all there is?”

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone.

Experts are calling this feeling of meaninglessness a “modern malaise that if left unresolved, can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, or physical decline”.

I quit my job and discovered the secret to good health, Caroline Zielinski, ABC News 1 May 2019.

Burdens, insomnia, depression, hopelessness, physical decline, nervousness, anxiety, the pressure of paying bills. In today’s text, Jesus has a remarkable promise regarding our burdens. An absolute – if you think about it – almost unbelievable promise, that He will take our burdens and deal with them on our behalf.

That’s the promise we’re going to look at this morning, because if that promise is true, then you would be a fool to reject it.

  1. Who is this promise for? (v25)
  2. On what authority can Jesus give this promise? (v25-26)
  3. What is Jesus actually promising to do? (v27-30)

Sunday 5th May 2019

The Most Important Truth (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

What’s the difference between Christmas and Easter?

Christmas is the start of the story, where God comes to mankind. Easter is the culmination of the story, where it is made possible for mankind to come to God.

The early church didn’t mark Christmas, but from the earliest days, the death of Jesus has been noted every week as Christians meet to worship on the Lord’s Day.

So, why is Easter so important? And what does it mean for us?

  1. Know and Receive This Good News (v1-9)
  2. Stand On It, Or You Have Believed In Vain (v1, 9-11)
  3. You Will Be Saved By It (v2)

Easter Sunday 21st April 2019

Review questions:

  •  _____________ & ___________ predicted Jesus’ death (Ps 16, Isa 52-53).
  • Without ___________________ there can be no forgiveness of sin (Heb 9:22)
  • Abraham said, “God will provide the _______ for the __________” (Gen 22:8)
  • What does Jesus’ burial prove (Mk 15:42-45)?
  • Because Jesus is the “firstfruits”, our resurrection will be ___________ (v49)
  • Where is the resurrection predicted in the OT?
  • Did Jesus expect to rise from the dead (Mtt 16:21, Mk 8:31)? Yes/No
  • To stand means ___________________ (v1)
  • If we don’t stand, we are in danger of ___________________________ (Heb 2:1)
  • The difference between knowing and believing is _____________________(v2)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

 

God Forsaken? (Matthew 27:45-54)

The cross is the enduring symbol of Christianity. But why would you choose an instrument of execution as the identifying marker of your religion?

The Roman historian Tactitus and modern skeptical historians agree that Jesus was executed. That’s despite the repeated ‘not guilty’ verdicts from the Roman governor, Pilate (v18-19). That’s despite the man who handed him over admitting that He was innocent (v4). That’s despite the crowd who demanded His crucifixion giving no explanation for why He should die (v23).

So, why is Good Friday called ‘good’? What happened on the cross is the central event of Christianity. And the cry Jesus made shortly before His death helps to explain why.

Jesus’ Cry Proves:

  1. Sin is Serious (v46)
  2. God is Holy (v51)
  3. Jesus Trusted God to Save (v49)
  4. We Cannot Be Saved Any Other Way (v46)
  5. So Trust Yourself to the Son of God (v51-54)

Good Friday 19th April 2019

Review questions:

  • Why is Good Friday good?
  • Did Judas, Pilate, or the crowd think Jesus deserved to be executed (v4, 18-19, 23)? Yes/No
  • Why did Jesus die (Isaiah 53:4-6)?
  • Sin is ____________________________________
  • How does God relate to sin?
  • Had God abandoned Jesus forever (v46, Psalm 22)?
  • Jesus’ death brings ___________ (v52)
  • Tearing the Temple curtain proves He made people ________ with God (v51)
  • The earthquake convinced the soldiers He was _______________ (v54)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live: