Books of the Book: Acts

Qualified to Witness

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Jim & Mark Howard


Series Code: ABOTB

Program Code: ABOTB00003A

00:21 Welcome back to Books of the Book
00:23 I'm Pastor Mark Howard. I'm here with by co-host, my brother,
00:26 Pastor Jim Howard and we are looking in to the book of Acts.
00:29 We have been studying the book of Acts and today we are going
00:32 to pick up where we left off in Acts chapter 1. In fact, we're
00:37 going to review a little bit and look at the driving force of
00:42 mission behind the early church. Now we have been in the
00:46 practice of praying before we open the word or get into the
00:49 word so I'd ask if you'd just bow your heads with me here.
00:53 Father in heaven, we do ask that you would bless our time in your
00:56 word and I pray your Holy Spirit would give us spiritual
00:59 understanding in spiritual things. We ask it in Jesus' name
01:02 Amen. Now at our last time together
01:06 we looked at Acts chapter 1 verse 6 where the disciples
01:10 asked Jesus a question that has plagued them repeatedly through
01:13 the ministry of Jesus. They're thinking about their Messiah
01:16 coming and building up his earthly kingdom and they say,
01:20 in fact I'm reading in verse 6, Therefore when they had come
01:23 together they asked him saying Lord will you at this time
01:26 restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said to them, it is not
01:29 for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put
01:33 in his own authority. But you shall receive power when the
01:37 Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me
01:41 in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of
01:45 the earth. Now it's interesting that Jesus says that the Father
01:48 has put the times and seasons in his authority, which means
01:51 they're not insignificant, they are important, but what Jesus is
01:55 doing here is he's telling his disciples I don't want you to
01:59 get so caught up and side tracked in trying to determine
02:03 the time of my coming, my return, that you forget
02:08 the mission that I have given you.
02:09 And we talked last time about the fact that the
02:12 early church was mission driven. It was this burden to get the
02:16 gospel to the world that drove them to their knees and praying
02:19 for the power of the Holy Spirit waiting for the promise of the
02:23 Father so they could carry forward the commission
02:26 that Christ had given them.
02:27 That's right. And I think this particular passage is especially
02:32 helpful when it comes to the second coming of Christ because
02:37 even though God specifically wants them to focus on the
02:41 mission, he doesn't want them to be discouraged. Remember that
02:45 the second coming of Christ is the blessed hope and they needed
02:48 to have that hope. Interestingly the very next thing that
02:51 happens in the book of Acts gives us a little bit of an
02:55 understanding of the second coming. Let's pick up there in
02:58 Acts chapter 1 and verse 9. It says: Now when he had spoken
03:03 these things while they watched he was taken up and a cloud
03:07 received him out of their sight and while they looked
03:10 steadfastly toward heaven as he went up behold two men stood
03:14 by them in white apparel who also said, Men of Galilee, why
03:18 do you stand gazing up into heaven. This same Jesus who is
03:23 taken up from you into heaven will so come in like manner as
03:28 ye saw him go into heaven. So here they were; they were
03:32 watching Jesus and suddenly he began to be taken up. It's
03:36 fascinating when you read this passage how many places it talks
03:39 about them just beholding and gazing upon Jesus.
03:43 That's right. There's several that refer to sight, to seeing.
03:48 That's exactly right. In verse 9 it says while they watched. It
03:52 says that a cloud received him out of their sight. It says they
03:57 looked steadfastly. It says that they were gazing up into heaven.
04:01 And then in verse 11 it says that they saw him go into
04:05 heaven. So clearly there's these many different allusions to the
04:09 fact that they were watching. Their eyes beheld him as he left
04:13 and the reason we need to emphasize this is because when
04:16 many refer to the second coming of Christ they believe that when
04:21 Jesus comes it will be in secret as it were. They take passages
04:26 of scripture that refer to him coming as a thief which in
04:30 reality refer to him coming suddenly and they take that
04:33 to mean that when he comes no one is going to see him. But
04:36 this scripture helps us understand what it's going to
04:39 look like doesn't it. It basically says just like
04:42 he went up with you watching, watching, watching until he
04:45 disappeared from your view, so it will be that he will come
04:48 back and you will be able to see him. This is the only thing that
04:52 harmonizes with scripture really.
04:53 That's right and I'd like to say to our viewers, you know there
04:56 are a lot of things that we can hear that become a mainline
04:59 belief and we don't say this to be critical of anybody but
05:02 remember that we said that one of the benefits and blessings of
05:04 the book of Acts is that here we are able to test a lot of
05:09 doctrinal or theological view points from the reality of the
05:15 New Testament history and experience. We see in this idea
05:20 of the rapture, of course today the secret rapture is something
05:24 that is taught a lot. It's not something that had taken a
05:28 large hold on Christianity in times past. It's a fairly recent
05:32 teaching. But as you point out, Jim, it doesn't harmonize when
05:36 we look at what is being portrayed here in scripture.
05:40 The angels are very clear that this same Jesus will come in
05:46 like manner. That's right. And you know you
05:48 look at some of the common teachings of the day and they
05:51 point to a picture of humanity going about their business and
05:57 then one day Jesus suddenly raptures away or catches up the
06:02 believers and the unbelievers are left behind wondering what
06:06 happened. They're looking around trying to figure it out. Well
06:09 according to this text they won't have to try to figure it
06:12 out because just like Jesus went up and they saw him clearly go
06:16 up, we'll be able to see him. The Bible says in Revelation 1:7
06:20 Behold he comes with the clouds and every eye will see him.
06:24 It says that as lightening flashes from the east to the
06:28 west so the coming of the Son of Man will be. So we know that
06:31 everybody is going to be able to behold Jesus when he comes
06:34 and this particular passage in the book of Acts helps us to
06:37 clearly see that. But beyond seeing the manner of his coming
06:40 it also was a great encouragement to these early
06:43 disciples. They looked and their hearts were being drawn out and
06:48 this angel reassured them, he will come again just like you
06:52 saw him go up, he will come.
06:54 That's right. It's a powerful promise and it's what the New
06:57 Testament church called the blessed hope and the glorious
06:59 appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Well as we
07:02 continue on in the chapter in verse 12 the Bible says there in
07:06 Acts 1:12: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called
07:10 Olivet (or the Mount of Olives) which is near Jerusalem a
07:13 Sabbath day's journey. And when they had entered they went up
07:18 into the upper room where there were staying Peter, James, John
07:23 and Andrew, Phillip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James
07:26 the son of Alpheus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of
07:30 James. Now obviously we have here all of the disciples of
07:34 Christ excepting Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. They are
07:37 gathered in the upper room and they are not the only ones we
07:41 see as we go on here. Verse 14 it says: These all continued
07:44 with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and
07:48 Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers. And in those
07:51 days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples. All together
07:54 the number of the names was about 120 and he said, Men and
07:58 brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled... He goes on and
08:02 talks about Judas and Judas betrayal and it's interesting
08:06 that as he finishes up talking about the betrayal of Judas,
08:10 he says in verse 20, and of course the death of Judas, he
08:13 says in verse 20: For it is written in the book of Psalms
08:17 let his dwelling place be desolate and let no one live in
08:21 it and let another take his office. Now this is a powerful
08:26 passage to think about because sometimes, and I'll preface it
08:30 by saying this: One of the things that the book of Acts
08:33 teaches us very clearly is that the early church was an
08:38 organized church, it was an organized body. It wasn't a
08:43 scattered, free-flowing, free- wheeling bunch of renegade, lone
08:48 ranger type led by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people get
08:51 this idea that when the Holy Spirit leads things it's just
08:55 everybody's running helter skelter off this way and that
08:58 way and doing whatever they want to do. But when we come to the
09:01 book of Acts we don't see that. I think it's important for us to
09:05 understand... My mind goes to the demoniac of the Gadarenes.
09:09 When Jesus had healed the man, cast the demon out of him...
09:13 but prior to that he'd come to the man and asked him what is
09:17 your name and the demon spoke through the man and he said our
09:21 name is Legion or my name is Legion for we are many. Now a
09:26 legion is a company of soldiers in the Roman army. Depending on
09:30 who you read it can be anywhere between 2000 and 6000 soldiers.
09:34 But here's the point. It was an organized band of soldiers and
09:38 the devil and his demons were basically saying we're an
09:42 organized band of soldiers carrying out a very well-planned
09:46 warfare. And God does not go against an organized army with a
09:51 disorganized army. So what we see here is Judas betrays Christ
09:55 and he dies. Hey, what's the big deal, we've got 11 instead of 12
09:59 let's go on. The Holy Spirit's going to lead us and we'll just
10:03 go and take on the world. But that's not what happens. Not
10:06 only is that not what happens but Peter here quotes from
10:09 scripture and shows that the scripture foretold not only the
10:13 betrayal of Judas but also the replacement of Judas.
10:16 Let another take his office.
10:19 Isn't it fascinating that when you look at... This is the first
10:23 real strong example we have. But when you start looking at
10:27 how the early apostles built their understanding of what the
10:31 church should be and as they preached they continually
10:35 referenced the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures.
10:39 We're going to hit this again and again, but they didn't just
10:43 do this based on their own opinion. In fact, if you look at
10:48 verse 21 the first word there in the New King James translation
10:52 is therefore. Therefore of these men and it goes on to talk
10:57 about replacing Judas. So he's quoting from scripture, Let
11:00 another take his office. And then he's saying because the
11:03 scripture has testified that this should happen, therefore
11:07 we should be in harmony with scripture. When I look at this
11:11 there's another point that strikes me, Mark. Judas as we
11:16 read about him in the gospels, you know, he was the one who had
11:20 charge of the treasury. He was certainly in outward appearance
11:25 perhaps the most qualified. Dignified, outstanding.
11:30 Perhaps eloquent, certainly he probably had a bearing that was
11:34 a little bit more polished than that of the others who were
11:38 apostles. Well he appeared to have been
11:39 more schooled or educated than the other apostles were because
11:42 you know a good number of them were fishermen and that type of
11:45 thing. That's right. In fact, if you go
11:47 back to verse 13 where we read it lists them out, Peter, James,
11:56 John. I mean it starts off with the inner circle, right. And who
11:57 are the inner circle but fishermen. I mean these are not
12:01 what you would call the most qualified of business types and
12:06 Judas was. But at the end of the day Judas is being replaced
12:10 and they are moving forward with the mission that Christ gave and
12:15 something about that strikes me. You know, it isn't really about
12:20 simply our intellect or training though those things are very
12:24 important. But to a great degree it's about the heart and the
12:28 willingness of these fishermen to follow Jesus wherever he
12:32 called them. That's right. Well there's more
12:36 that we could say on this. In fact, we're going to say more on
12:38 this but we're going to want to take a break and when we come
12:41 back we're going to talk a little bit more about that
12:43 qualification to witness. Join us in a moment.


Revised 2014-12-17