CHRIST’S CALL TO CONVERSION!

Please read Acts 15:1-12.

Acts 15:3, “And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.”

One of the greatest joys of the Christian life is that it all depends on who God is, not who I am or what I can do. Thank God that the Gospel is for all and that His guidance and leadership in every area of life are given to every Christian. I am so thankful that His love is unconditional and that I can not only know for certain that I have a home in heaven, but that a loving God will meet my every need on the way to heaven. Whether we are Jew, Greek or Gentile; Christ died for all, and that is the issue in this chapter.

Verse 1, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”

Now that the church had been established in the Gentile world, it faced its first real problem. In Judea many of the Hebrew converts were Pharisees and they had no intention of forsaking their Mosaic system. They did not believe that one can be saved without being circumcised.

The church in Jerusalem was made aware of this, and immediately stepped in to take care of the problem. As was often the case in that day, some of the teachers from Judea insisted that the converted Gentiles be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to check with the apostles about this problem that had arisen in the church, verse 2.

Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they were informed by the apostles of the conversion of the Gentiles; and of the trouble which certain Pharisees had about this question, verses 3-5. The first contention was concerning the office of Christ, whether people are saved by His righteousness and faith, or if we have to keep and obey Moses’ Law to be saved.

Paul and Barnabas were completely satisfied that God did not want to bring the converted Gentiles under the yoke of circumcision; they knew that Jesus Christ was the end of the law for righteousness (justification) to every one that believed, and therefore they opposed these false teachers.

This was one of the first controversies in the Church. Though the difference of belief was great, it led to no division in their love for the Lord and each other.

Verse 3, “Being brought on their way by the Church.” The members of the Church provided them with all they needed for their journey, since they came without any belongings of their own. 

“Declaring the conversion of the Gentiles.”

This was truly a miracle and an evidence of God’s mercy that the Gentiles would be received into the Church. Now they had proof that it was likely to become commonplace for Gentiles to be saved, because of the conversion of Cornelius, the people of Antioch, Cyprus, Pisidia, Pamphylia, and many others, including those of us who are saved today.

According to verse four, they were well-received by the Church, where they told of the great work which God had wrought by them among the Gentiles.

Verse 5, “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees …”

When these Pharisees saw they could not destroy the church from the outside they decided to make their attack on the inside.

Continued Tomorrow!

“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS!” CONCLUSION!

Three things to consider:

OUR DUTY TO REJOICE

  • Christians should learn to “rejoice always.”

The word “always” is emphatic and therefore requires us to rejoice not only in easy times, but also in troubled times. How is our rejoicing during trying times? How is our rejoicing during times of affliction, pain, or sickness?

  • Christian joy is the joy of the Lord.

1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Here is a wonderful truth: rejoice in what He did, not what you cannot do. Rejoice in Him, in His birth, His death, and His resurrection. Rejoice in His blood, humility, unselfishness, holiness, purity, courage, love, gentleness, sympathy, power, His glory and His majesty. Rejoice in Him and the opportunity for spiritual fellowship with Him. Rejoice in His constant presence. Christians ought to rejoice because it is their duty – it is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. We ought to rejoice because the Holy Spirit gives us the power. We ought to rejoice because joy is characteristic of a spiritual Christian.

The Bible says in Acts 2:46, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”

This kind of joy is not inconsistent with sorrow because Paul himself was: As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things 2 Corinthians 6:10.

Psalm 2:11, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

THE DEMONSTRATION OF REJOICING IN THE LORD 

The world rejoices in the creature, whereas the Christian rejoices in the Creator and His creation of all things. Rejoice in the dark days as well as in

the bright days, “always” means “always.”

  • There is no change in the Lord – always rejoicing.
  • Our relationship to Him is unchangeable because He is the source of our rejoicing.

THE DELIGHT (RESULT) IN REJOICING

God is glorified, and that says it all.

  • It leads to understanding as well as patience with others.

This is someone who is not selfish, does not insist on his own way or his rights, but will give way to others in a gentle and kind way.

  • Rejoicing will help to do away with anxious care.

This is one who is not distracted by worldly desires and things, because His joy is in the Lord.

  • Rejoicing will help us to be consistently thankful. “In everything give thanks.”
  • Rejoicing will give us a life of prayer, praise and peace.

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and the Spirit is given as a result of earnest prayer.

Luke 11:13, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” 

He also said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Are you experiencing His peace? If not, maybe some rejoicing in the Lord is in order.

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS!

Please read Philippians 4:1-7

Verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Chapters three and four consist of exhortations to holy living, and to an effort to make great progress in the Christian life. In other words, our life should be full of compassion and care, and this is one of the most beautiful appeals to persuade Christians to devote themselves to the service of the Lord, but they ought to do it with joy.

The appeal is from Paul’s statement of his own feelings, and is one the Philippians could not help but feel, because they knew him well. We too, are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord for many reasons:

  • For our own sake.

Think about the fact that there is no reward in heaven or in this life for being the droopiest Christian. Someone said, “It is foolish for us to refuse the joy offered by God, because Christianity and joy grows out of the Gospel.”

  • For the sake of the Gospel and the church.

Joy is invigorating and it spreads. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Someone else said, “If there is no virtue in melancholy, it is foolish to refuse the gladness offered by God. Needless melancholy is sinful when it paralyzes our energies.”

  • For the sake of others.

Our joy will be sunshine to others if it is true and genuine, on the other hand, our gloom will make others miserable. Here is a truth to hold onto: By manifesting our joy we are literally inviting others to share in the benefits of the Gospel.

  • For Jesus and the sake of the lost.

Not only does rejoicing please God, but it also causes others to see our joy and makes them curious. Christians are commanded to rejoice, because it is not for life’s circumstances but rejoice in the Lord.

Three things to consider: Continued Tomorrow!

“CHRIST’S CALL TO CONVICTION,” CONCLUSION!

Notice verse 37 again, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

  • Why were these men pricked in their hearts?
  • They saw the consequence of rejecting Christ verse 36.
  • They saw the need of salvation and the Saviour verses 37-40.
  • How were they pricked in their hearts?
  • Through the preaching of the Word of God verse 40.
  • By Peter’s testimony of an exalted Saviour.
  • Notice the importance of giving our own personal testimony in these verses 3:12-16; 4:1-14.
  • By the power of the Holy Spirit, 4:29-37; 5:1-3, 29 39.
  • What was the result of their being pricked in their hearts?
  • They turned from their terrible sin, verse 38.
  • They publicly confessed their sin by accepting Christ, verse 41.
  • They were saved, verse 47.
  • They found deep and lasting joy, verse 46.
  • They received the Holy Spirit, verses 38-39.
  • They added to the church daily, verse 41.

Three very important lessons:

THE BIBLE SETS OUR CONVICTIONS IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION

John 15:16-19; John 3.

THE BIBLE SETS OUR CONVICTIONS IN THE MATTER OF SIN

Psalm 119:9-16.

  • What is sin?
  • A transgression of God’s law, I John 3:4.
  • All unrighteousness, I John 5:17.
  • Omission of duty, James 4:17.
  • Whatever is not of faith, Romans 14:23.
  • Even the thought of foolishness, Proverbs 24:9
  • Where does sin come from?
  • From Satan, John 8:44.
  • From the heart, Matthew 15:19

THE BIBLE SETS OUR CONVICTION IN THE MATTER OF SEPARATION

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

I am of the firm Biblical belief that marriages and partnerships between Christians and unbelievers rarely work. Of course, there are always exceptions, but do not think for a moment that you live a life of exceptions.

CHRIST’S CALL TO CONVICTION!

Please read Acts 2:29-47.

Verse 37, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 

We must remember that a standard may not necessarily be a conviction, but a conviction is always a Bible standard. Every Christian has both convictions and standards. Our standards ought always to be based upon our Bible convictions.

There is a difference between preferences and convictions. A conviction is something we would be willing to proclaim to others, to be sued for, go to court over, be willing to go to jail for, and be willing to die for. A preference, on the other hand, is something that we practice, but not necessarily because of our convictions. So, we must determine our position by the Word of God. Some things may be lawful for me, but not expedient for my Christian testimony.

To be pricked in the heart with the conviction of sin is not a pleasant experience, but if rightly received leads to some great blessings. A conviction stands for something – alone if need be. All of us must answer the question as to what we will do when sin knocks at the door. It is also important to remember that we are molding our character each day of our lives.

To illustrate it in a very practical way: a soldier in his barracks, a student in school, and children in the neighborhood, as well as parents on the job, all need to determine their convictions before temptation comes. Why?

  • It takes conviction to resist the temptation to take drugs, engage in sex outside of marriage, to be different, etc.
  • It takes conviction to say “no” (when sin knocks at the door), and run from it.

Continued Tomorrow!

AN UNBEATABLE COMBINATION!

Please read Jeremiah 26:1-15.

Verse 24, “Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.”

In this chapter Jeremiah is arrested and his life is threatened, but he survives once again. He is God’s man doing God’s will, and such a man is indestructible until God has finished the work He wants done through him.

In verses 1-7, Jeremiah, by the command of God goes into the court of the Lord’s house and prophecies the destruction of the temple and city, except there be some real repentance by the people.

In verses 8-18, Jeremiah’s prophecy was not given much welcome so that it put his life in great danger. Miraculously he was saved by the influence of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, who made a strong defense for Jeremiah.

In verses 20-23 Urijah is condemned, but escapes to Egypt where he is brought back by Jehoiakim, and slain. Verse 24 The hand of Ahikam was with Jeremiah. Ahikam befriends Jeremiah.

Though Jeremiah was acquitted in the highest court, he was not out of danger, because there was so much hatred and prejudice against him, and it is likely that Ahikam had to hide him, so that they would not put him to death.

Here is an important lesson from one of the Commentaries, “The genuine ministers of God have no favour to expect from those who are his enemies.” This chapter illustrates an unbeatable combination in three ways:

A FAITHFUL MASTER, VERSES 2-6

  • His presence is constant.
  • His protection is continuous.
  • His purpose is consistent – it never changes.

A FAITHFUL MAN, VERSES 7-15

Jeremiah was a faithful man because:

  • He was faithful to God.
  • He was faithful to his country.
  • He was faithful to his fellowman.
  • He was faithful to his calling.
  • He was faithful in his preaching 1-6.
  • He was faithful in spite of persecution by the priests and the  prophets 7-11.
  • He was faithful to his principle, in the face of his persecutors 12-15.
  • He was faithfully protected by the princes and elders 16-19.

A FAITHFUL MESSAGE, VERSES 12-15

  • It was an inspired message.
  • It was an indispensable message.
  • It was an intelligent message.
  • It was a unfailing message.

No wonder that all the powers of Judah were unable to close the mouth of this great prophet. In back of him and his message was an omnipotent God. In back of every faithful servant of Christ is the same almighty God, Elohim, the strong and faithful God who will not fail His message or His messengers.