Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Introduction to Acts dated 23.2.2014


There are 6 things for handling a book of narrative.

1  Stated Purpose

There is a link between the two books, the Gospel of Luke & Acts. The Gospel is about all that Jesus began to do and to teach. Acts is about everything that Jesus continued to do and to teach. It is called the Acts of the Apostles or the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:1 tells us it’s about the Acts of the Lord Jesus – the continuing acts of the Lord Jesus. Jesus began in Luke’s Gospel and continues here in Acts.

Alongside Luke’s stated purpose in Acts 1:1 is Jesus’ stated purpose in Acts 1:7-8: the move from the Jewish to the Gentile in 3 movements, concentric circles: at the heart of it is Jerusalem, then the surrounding area, Judea and Samaria, and then the ends of the earth. More than that,  it is the re-establishment of God’s Kingdom, first of all, in God’s capital city, in Jerusalem, and then in the re-united People of God – Judea & Samaria.

Acts teaches how the early Christians crystallize & formulated the Gospel as they reached out to new kinds of people groups.

The last stated purpose is, having crystallized the Gospel, it is then handed over to the rest of us (Acts 28:30-31). You and I are Acts Chapter 29! We are the continuing story.

In summary, the stated purpose: A WORLDWIDE EVANGELISTIC GOSPEL.

2  Repeated Theme

The Gospel is growing!

First of all to the first Christians in Jerusalem; then to the first half-Jewish Christians, the Samaritans; then to the first non-Jewish, Gentile Christians; then to the wider non-Jewish world; then to wider Gentile acceptance & increased Jewish hostility and finally, the Gospel reaches Rome.

3  Principal Characters

Peter: Chapters 1 to 15.

The question Peter is there to answer: who can be a Christian? Or, how does the Gospel spread from Jew to Gentile?

And Peter is key on 3 occasions: Acts 2 Pentecost Sunday, Peter is the preacher when the first Jews were converted; Acts 8, he’s the witness when the first Samaritans, the first half-Jews were converted; Acts 10, Peter was there when the first Gentiles were converted.

The answer is: being a Christian means being FREE!

Second main character is Paul: Chapters 9-28. There is an overlap between Peter and Paul. Luke is telling that they are doing the same thing.

Paul answers the question: how do we reach the world for Christ? How do we manage to get this Gospel into the minds of complete pagans? Or, how does the Gospel travel from Jerusalem to Rome? Not just physically, but intellectually, spiritually, culturally? How does the Gospel communicate?

Firstly, the Gospel spreads by word of mouth (Acts 18:5-8).

The Gospel has flexible methods but a fixed message.

Christians think through their evangelism – looking to and depending on the Holy Spirit who will give what to say and how to say it (Mt 10:19,20).

Second lesson from Paul: Being a Christian will inevitably involve suffering (Acts 18:12-17).

4  God’s Activity

The work of the Holy Spirit who is mentioned 52 times in Acts. His work occurs in clusters: commissioning of the apostles, Pentecost, choosing leaders, 3 great Gospel breakthroughs – Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles.

Lesson: The Holy Spirit in Acts pushes the church outwards, getting the church looking and moving outwards.

5  Stressed Teaching

There are 19 major speeches - 20% of Acts is speech.

The Gospel message communicated to the Jews: You killed Him, God raised Him, We saw Him (Acts 3:15; Acts 5:29-32). What is required? Repentance & faith. What is given? Forgiveness of sins & the Holy Spirit.

To the Gentile: They killed Him, God raised Him, We saw Him

Our message today: They killed Him, God raised Him, They saw Him.

Luke structures Acts to show that Peter’s message to the Jews, is the same as his message to the Gentiles, which is the same as Paul’s message to the Gentiles, which is the same as Paul’s message to the Jews. They are profoundly of one mind over the Gospel.

6  Biblical Setting

Luke is telling us this is not the first volume of the history of the church, but this is the continuing work of Jesus, fulfills the promises he made and sends people out (Acts 1:1). He’s selected his material very carefully, he’s written with a purpose: not just to inform you but to teach & equip you, not about the geography of the ancient world, but about the Gospel - and how to communicate the Gospel.

The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are one book. Luke links forward. Acts 1:1 links back just like Luke 24 links forward.

There is not only a historical unity, there is a unity in God’s activity. When Jesus called the 12 disciples, he is reconstituting Israel by remaking the people of God with the 12 apostles. In the Last Supper, he reconstitutes the Passover. His death is remaking the Exodus (Luke 9:51) – Jesus knew that his exodus was coming. Jesus remakes Pentecost – the day in the Jewish calendar when they remember the giving of the Law. He remakes Sinai.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Overview of the New Testament dated 16.2.2014

2 Samuel 7: 1-17
God’s Kingdom which is defined as “God’s People, in God’s Place, under God’s Rule, Enjoying God’s Blessing”. 
In Creation: Adam & Eve, God’s People; in the Garden of Eden, God’s Land; under God’s Rule, they obeyed Him; enjoying His Blessing, the rest of the Sabbath Day. 
In the Fall in Genesis 3, that Kingdom perished: Adam & Eve were kicked out of the Land because they didn’t live under God’s rule. They were therefore cursed rather than blest.
In Genesis 12: Abraham will have a people, a land, a rule and a blessing – to the world.
The kingdom was portrayed in the history of Israel in the Old Testament.
The prophets were promising that one day the kingdom will indeed come – this future and hope.
And one of the promises hanging over us is the promise we just read in 2 Sam 7: a promise that a descendant of David will be a King that will establish this eternal kingdom.
God’s Kingdom is now present through Jesus and the New Testament shows how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament.
Each of the Gospels introduces itself with Jesus as the promised son of David of 2 Samuel 7 (Matthew 1:1), King (Mark 1:1), given the throne of David (Luke 1:33-34) and Messiah which means Christ (John 1:41).
In Acts 2:22-36, the apostles preached Jesus’ resurrection as a sign of his kingship. There are 3 areas Jesus rules over: death (v24), the world (v33,34), his enemies (v35).
Ultimately, he defeats the evil one, the devil himself on the Cross (Colossians 2:15). In defeating the devil, it means he is the serpent crusher we have been waiting for ever since Genesis 3.
In the Old Testament, the priest offered sacrifices and could come into the presence of God: the High Priest once a year could go into the most Holy Place, into the presence of God, in a way that the people could not.
Jesus is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). However, Jesus is an unusual priest, because not only does he offer sacrifices, but he is the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-12).
Priests needed to stand as they are constantly, repeatedly offering sacrifices which could never take away sins. Jesus sat down because there are no more sacrifices needing to be offered. He is the single sacrifice for sins offered once for all time.
Implications for us:
First, on the Cross, Jesus took the curse that we deserved for disobedience under the terms of the Mosaic covenant (Galatians 3:13).
Secondly, Jesus not only dealt with the consequence, the curse, but with the root cause which is sin (Leveticus 16:7-10; John 1:29).
He’s also unusual in another way. He is a priest who himself is the temple: he’s the temple which the Old Testament promised one day would come (John 2:19-22).
Jesus rips the temple curtain in two (Matthew 27:51). That means the way back to God is open.
So, he’s the perfect priest offering the perfect sacrifice in the perfect temple.
Jesus is the culmination of it all that God was saying in the Old Testament which is the Jesus Book (Luke 24:27, John 5:46). READ. Jesus fulfills it all.
Jesus doesn’t just bring the Word of God to us, he is the Word of God (John 1:1).
Jesus is the perfect King, the perfect Priest, the perfect Prophet whom you and I must listen to.
What it means to be a perfect human being is to be the son of God. Jesus is the Son of God (Luke 3:22).
Adam was called a son of God (Luke 3:38). The nation of Israel was also called the son of God (Exodus 4:22) READ God says of Israel. So the nation of Israel is called the son of God. Being a son of God in the Old Testament is being a disobedient thing in the Bible.
It is clear that Jesus does not sin. He resists the temptation (Luke 4:1-13). He is not like Adam. He is not like Israel. He is the perfect Son. He is the perfect Man.
Implications for us:
Firstly, Jesus fulfills the covenants, in particular the Mosaic covenant at this point. Jesus did obey God. He was the perfect Son, the perfect Man. He alone is the one who deserves the blessings as God’s Person in God’s Place under God’s Rule.
Secondly, Jesus as the perfect Man reverses the effect of sin which kept dragging mankind down.
There are 2 aspects to the kingdom of God: there is a degree to which the kingdom of God is now, and there is a degree to which the kingdom is still to come.
To be in Christ means to be united to Christ, to be joined to Him and getting all that belongs to Christ as the perfect Man who kept the Law perfectly (Colossians 1:2). Therefore in Christ, we are sinless.
But more, we are the God’s people, we are the sons of God. We can call God, Father (Galatians 4:5-6).
We are also God’s Place, we are where God dwells by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
We are also under His Rule: we are people who submit to Him as our Master (Romans 6:22).
We are enabled to obey God as our Master because the Spirit regenerates us, he recreates us (Titus 3:5; Ezekiel 36:27). Showing the fruit of the Spirit is how we treat God as our ruler (Galatians 5:22).
We are the Kingdom as Christians enjoying His Blessings (Ephesians 1:3).
But at another level, the Kingdom is not yet.
When we come to the New Testament, we realize that Jesus the King comes twice which is why there is this NOW and NOT YET aspect of the Kingdom of God.
The reason we know that Kingdom has not yet fully come is 3 things still going on in the world: sin, death and the serpent, the devil is still prowling around (1 Peter 5:8). Back in Genesis 3, there was sin, death and the serpent.
What do we do while waiting for that Kingdom to come? 2 things:
Firstly, we keep telling people of Jesus. The reason for the delay of that Kingdom is that so people can become Christians (2 Peter 2:9).
Secondly, keep going as Christians (Hebrews 3:14).
In other words, evangelism is our priority. And keeping going is our priority in this world.
Finally, God’s Kingdom is perfected in the New Creation.
One day, Jesus will come to judge (Revelation 20:12-15).
We see what the Kingdom of Jesus would be like: a New Creation, a New Land, a New Place (Revelation 21:1-4). The story of the Bible: From Creation to New Creation, from a Garden to a city, a holy city Jerusalem - a picture of permanence (Revelation 21:2).
There is no need for a physical temple in the New Creation because God will dwell there and Jesus will dwell there in the whole place (Revelation 21:22).
This new Place is more prosperous, bigger and better than Eden (Genesis 2:12; Rev 21:18-21).
God’s People will be enjoying God’s Presence (Revelation 21:3).
God rules as he has a throne in the New Creation (Revelation 22:1-3). There is no sin in the New Creation (Revelation 21:27).
The reason we will not sin anymore is because there will be no more serpent in the New Creation (Revelation 20:10). There will be no temptation. There will be no more curse (Revelation 21:4): death. We will have access back to the tree of life (Revelation 22:2) - eternal life with Jesus!
We will enjoy God’s Blessing and be a blessing to the nations (Revelation 21:24-26).

Monday, 10 February 2014

Covenant of Inheritance and perpetuity by Dr. Thomas Chung dated 9.2.14

This sermon is based on Genesis 17:1-14.  Dr. Thomas Chung had started the “covenant” series two weeks ago.
Everyday without fail, God’s mercies are shown to us human.  Even in sufferings, wars, and other disasters God’s grace is shown to us. Again Dr. Chung gave an example of a child recovered from rubbles after being buried for one week in Syria.  The reason for God’s grace is also the death of Jesus on the Cross.  He declared “It is finished”
Jesus died for our sins.  He did three things a) Jesus cried our sins b) He was made sin c) He was made a curse.
Salvation is not automatic, we must confess our sins.  God also judge us.  Dr. Chung said mercy has a relationship with judgement, it is like they “kissed” each other.
God delivered promises and covenants to His people.  However, there are more promises than covenants. 
  Covenant of Inheritance
God made many promises and some covenants.  Promises may be for a season but covenants are perpetual.  God made covenants with Abraham.  Before He made the covenants he was known as Abram but after God made covenant with him, he became Abraham.
  Recipients of promises
Lot was the nephew of Abraham.  He was a righteous man.  He was the ancestor of Moabites and the Ammonites.  Gen 19:27-38.  Because God had promised Lot, God instructed the Israelites not to fight with the Moabites and Ammonites.  Deu 2:5.  Most likely the ancestors of the present Palestinians were Moabites and Ammonites.
 Genesis 16:10 Ishmael was the son of Abram and Hagar the Egyptian maid servant.  God made His promise to increase their numbers Genesis 17:20-21.  God made His promise with the Ishmaelite and that is why today we have a large numbers of Ishmaelite in the Middle East and elsewhere.  God kept His promise to them and they are still enjoying it like abundant oil in their countries. However, God only made covenant with Isaac.
There are two “seals” for God’s people a) circumcision and b) keeping the Sabbath. Exo 31:16-17.
Covenant in Jesus Christ
This is an eternal covenant because it applies to all people of God or all Christians.  Jesus said in His Father’s house, there are many rooms and He himself will go and prepare the rooms for His people.  This covenant is possible only from coming through the Abrahamic covenant.  God has not forgotten His covenant to Isaac.  The read more about covenant read Roman chapter 9, 10 and 11.  The Jews are still covered under the Abrahamic covenant.
Christians are also recipients of this covenant
Galatians 3:14
Galatians 3.29, 4:6-7
2 things come to the Christians:
1)       Paternity
2)       Inheritance
The seal of the covenant is the Holy Spirit Ephesians 1:15, Galatians 5:6, and Roman 8:12, 14.