Sunday, November 13, 2011

From Acts to Revelation - Part 3: Apostles Re-established

From Acts to Revelation
Part 3 – The Apostles Re-Established
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

We are continuing our series this week, looking at the Book of Acts, and seeing just how the church began.

Today, we will look specifically at Acts 1:12-26, and see the setting in which the Lord moved the Apostles, how God chose another Apostle and the ministry continued to move forward.

Acts 1:12-26
 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”

 18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

1.      In verses 12-15 we see that immediately after Jesus' instruction to the Apostles to wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem before taking the Gospel into the entire world, the Apostles traveled from the Mt. Of Olives back to Jerusalem as they were instructed.
1.      This trip was approximately a half-mile.

2.      Once in Jerusalem, they all returned to the upper room where they were staying.

3.      They list some of those present; Peter, John, James & Andrew, Philip & Thomas, Batholomew & Matthew, James son of Alphaeus & Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
1.      Zealot may have meant Simon was just zealous for the Lord, or it may have represented the radical group of the day who were zealous for Jewish Law, and wanted to overthrow the Roman government.

4.      The scriptures tell us they were all together constantly praying along with the women and Mary, mother of Jesus and with His brothers.
1.      During this time, Jesus' brothers were with the disciples, but during Jesus' life, they did not believe He was the messiah. (John 7:5)

2.      But His resurrection must have convinced them. You would think it would convince anyone who knew Him.

3.      There were approximately 120 followers present at this time.

5.      We see here, the first church business meeting.
1.      Their main point of business was to replace a Disciple, the one who betrayed Jesus.
2.      The meeting begins with prayer and supplication, or petition to God.

6.      Jesus instructed the Apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit, but while they waited, they did what they could to carry on.
1.      They prayed, they held meetings, they were now going to replace a missing member.

7.      We then see Peter stand and address the group.

1.      Peter points out to the group that although Jesus was betrayed, that it had to take place to fulfill prophecy.
1.      Peter said that David spoke of Judas in the scriptures.

2.      Judas was a follower of Jesus, but traded his future home for earthly wealth.
1.      How can this be? Maybe he was not really a follower?
2.      Not true, Peter says in the word, verse 17, “He was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.”
3.      This statement literally means that Judas was one of the Apostles, and chosen by the Lord.

3.      How could someone who had been with Jesus daily betray Him?
1.      Judas received the same calling and teaching as everyone else, but Judas chose to reject Christ's warnings, as well as His offers of mercy.
2.      Judas hardened his heart, and chose to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

4.      Although the Lord had predicted this in scripture, it was still Judas' choice.
1.      Knowing what was going to happen in no way removes the free-will choice of someones action.
2.      God knows all the moves we are going to make, and makes provisions around our failings so that His will is done.
3.      God's will for the Apostles was to establish His church on earth, empowering His followers with the Holy Spirit, regardless of any mortals choice.

5.      We see the same story in Jude 6 where some of the angels who had been with God, gave up their abode in heaven, and took their lot with Satan, and were cast down in chains of everlasting darkness.
1.      Just because someone sees God's hand, or witnesses the truth of the Lord in their lives, does not necessarily mean they will make the Lord their Lord.
2.      Pharaoh witnessed the power of God, yet never surrendered his heart to the Lord.
3.      Sometimes, people will harden their own hearts to the truth and power of God, and never submit and make Jesus their Lord, others will submit for a while, until it's not easy any more, or they love something more than God, such as the case with Judas, who loved his money.

6.      Submission to the Lord is not something you do once and its “finished.”
1.      Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. - Luke 9:23
2.      And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  - Luke 14:27
3.      Judas carried his cross day after day and followed the lord, until the day came when, instead of picking up that cross, he chose to pick up a bag of silver.

7.      The choice to follower Jesus, and make Him your Lord and savior, must take place daily, because if you deny His power as Pharaoh, reject His rule as 1/3 of heaven did, or trade your cross on earth for anything other than Christ, you are walking away from your future abode.

1.      God will for the establishment of His church on earth will not be stopped by anyone, even those who fail Him. God knows all, and always has a plan which takes over when and where we fail, because He already knew that time was coming.

2.      God's word not only prophesied of the betrayal of Jesus, but even gave the specific amount of silver He would be betrayed for. God knew.
1.      The ministry Jesus began, which would soon be the church when the Holy Spirit came, was going to continue, and nothing could stop it.

3.      So another had to be chosen to take the place of Judas, one who had been there, Peter said, from the Baptism of Jesus to the time Jesus ascended to heaven.
1.      The requirements to be a disciple of Jesus is to follow Him and His teaching.
2.      The requirements to be an Apostle is to be witness to Jesus' resurrection.

4.      They proposed two men, but were not sure which God wanted them to chose.
1.      So they prayed, and they drew lots.
2.      Drawing lots takes man out of the equation, and allows the Spirit of God to control the choice in a situation such as this.
3.      The drawing of lots revealed Jonah was the reason the storms were destroying the ship at sea, even though Jonah already knew that.

5.      They prayed, “Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.
1.      They cast the lots, and in this way, Matthias became an Apostle with the other eleven.

Although the Apostles were waiting on the Holy Spirit to come, they were still at work for the ministry. With prayer and supplication at the first church meeting, they allowed God to divinely choose a replacement for Judas.

We see that although one may follow the Lord, one may also leave that path as well.

James 5:19-20 “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

If a brother should wander...vs 19 says, and in vs 20, that brother is referred to as a sinner who's soul is in danger of death.

Last week, we saw how the scripture tells us to continue with the Gospel message until the Lord returns. We need the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to accomplish this.

Perhaps you have not been picking up your cross as you should, daily, to follow the Lord.

Perhaps you have wandered from the truth, for whatever reason.

The Lord is waiting for you to return to Him, and His will for you in your life.

Come forward for prayer, and re-commit yourself to the Lord and His ministry. Pick up that reservation for your future abode that you threw aside for the treasures of this earth.

Make the choice today, and each morning when you first wake, to make Jesus the Lord of your life.