Video Transcript: Evangelism and Introduction

Video Transcript: Evangelism and Introduction

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener. In his teaching and the book of Acts. This  is session number six, evangelism and introduction to Acts.  

Dr. Keener - Toward the end of the last session, we began talking about evangelism, the theme of evangelism and Acts and how it it shows us different ways that this is done. A different people have different gifts, God worked  through people in different ways. There was a consistent Gospel throughout the book of Acts. But it was contextualized for different groups of people explained to them in ways that were relevant to their own settings. And we began talking  about how people got attention for the gospel, there were certain kinds of networks that were available within their culture, synagogues, and, and public  debate forums, and so on. And we need to be ready to look for those in our cultures as well. 

Well, also they had relational networks. Believers shared the  message as they traveled, the book of Acts proceeds more in a biographical way it focuses on Paul focuses on Peter, focuses on major figures. Nevertheless, believers were sharing the message as they traveled, we learned incidentally, in a way, in Acts 8:4, Acts 11:20, that all the believers were carrying the message with them. And that's ideally what we want. You see that also in  Ephesians 4 where it speaks of ministers of the word equipping the rest of the saints, for the work of service, so that all all of us are called to ministry. If we  have purely clergy oriented churches, where, where ministers, what we call  ministers are doing all the work of ministry, and other people are not helping  other people are not involved. 95% of the work can't get done. Because we can work as hard as we can. 

But we need ultimately, for the whole body of Christ to be equipped to share in the work. But apart from synagogues, this was this was very organic, they were following up with individuals. It's it's relational, very much. Acts 20:20 speaks of Paul speaking not only publicly but also house to  house households. Households consisted of relatives, clients, for example,  Lydia's household, may have included servants and workers, all these things  were included as part of one's household, Cornelius, his relatives in Acts 10, are said to have gathered you also, in terms of of households, there was something called patrons and clients this is especially in Roman culture, but it's relevant in places like Corinth and Philippi, you would have somebody of somewhat higher  social status, who would invite peers, but also people of somewhat lower social status, who would be peer kind of friends, but also clients who were socially dependent on this person. And this person in return would receive honor from these social dependents. Well, those were other kinds of relational networks. 

My point in bringing this up is not to say that we need to use the same networks as  they had, because our household structures may be different than that we may  have different kinds of relational networks. But to look at what kind of relational networks we have today, sometimes you can have small groups that come  together based on common interests. It's called target groups, sometimes, where people, maybe people who have lost a child, you can have comfort, support groups for that. And not all the people who will come necessarily will be  Christians when they come. But as friends, you can share what the Lord has done for you, and how the Lord helps you get through it. And you may learn  from them too. I mean, this is we're all we're all human beings, we're all broken human beings, who all need the grace of God. But in that kind of context,  sharing is organic, because you're you're just sharing with other human beings.  And you also may have, besides, besides target groups, just contacting friends  and family, that's, that's a, that's a way for the message to grow. Now, I wouldn't  want to stop there. But certainly I wouldn't want to ignore this connections that  we already have. As we're as we're sharing the wonderful discovery that we  found in Christ and as other people come to Christ, they can also share in their  networks. We see that happening in the early church. 

We also see Paul's  leatherworking and Acts 18:3. Now this was a kind of profession where you  could actually talk with people while you were doing the work. But it also shows us the Paul became part of the culture. He did accept support when it became  available even later on in that same passage. Paul, accepted support when  Silas and Timothy brought some gifts from the churches of Macedonia, especially Philippi. But Paul also was working within the culture, he wasn't an  outsider to it, just preaching at it, he became part of it. In fact, he was he was  already a citizen of the Greco Roman world, and he became even better at  being this citizen of the broader Greco Roman world, as time went on. We also  see variety, he reaches the women in Philippi, through their mutual interest in  monotheism, and the jailer in Philippi, he reaches through an earthquake, and  preaching. Another Another area is through healings with some of called Power  evangelism. Now, I talked earlier about signs and wonders. And I am not going  to talk at length about them here, except as they as they relate to the book of Acts and some practical considerations. 

The point is not that God always does everything that we asked him. I mean, we all know that the original apostles  from the first century, as much faith as they may have had is empowered by the  Spirit as they may have had, they've been dead for a long time. I don't know,  any of the really fired up respectable Christians from the 19th century, Hudson Taylor has gone, Adoniram Judson from the previous century is gone. I mean, nobody says that everybody always gets healed, and then we live forever in these bodies, we're still waiting for when Jesus comes back to get resurrection bodies. But the point is, that God gives us samples of that future promise. In the Gospels, we read about the good news of the kingdom, that someday God is  going to make everything right, he's going to restore everything, he's going to  wipe away every tear from our eyes, what he gives us in the present, are samples of that healings are temporary, if we die, and we get raised from the dead, we're going to die again, if the Lord tarries. If if we're healed of something, that doesn't mean we're not going to get sick from something or die from something later on. In this world, people die. It's part of the nature of this world. And everyone recognizes that ultimately. But having said that, God does give us  samples of that future glory, as in, it's not just to the people who experience it, but it's to all of us who learn about it, that we get to know that God is reassuring  us of His promise. He's not forgotten us in this world, His power is with us. And someday, he's going to make this world new. And these are a foretaste of that. 

Well, as I was reading the book of Acts, is a fairly young Christian. It was actually I think, during my freshman year of college, I noticed that the main method for getting attention for the gospel in the book of Acts, were signs and  wonders. Now, they got attention, sometimes the attention was not always positive attention.Sometimes they got persecuted, but, but people had to pay attention when there were signs and wonders. And there were other methods of  getting attention, public debate forums. Those of us who are who are trained  academically, you are getting trained academically now. Or may have already  been trained academically, but the more we learn, the more we're able to enter  into discussions, forums with other other people and share our faith and dialogue with with people. But in terms of other ways of getting people's  attention. 

Again, the most common way in Acts, the day of Pentecost, what got  people's attention was the tongues Acts 3 and 4, what got people's attention,  and through the crowds healing of the of the man who was paralyzed, or unable to walk, Acts 4:29 and 30. They actually pray that God would, would give them boldness by stretching out his his hand to heal and that signs and wonders will be done by the name of His holy servant Jesus. Acts 14:3, God was confirming  his his message through signs and wonders. So that's, that's not surprising. 

When I was a young Christian, I noticed this. And I also had read a book  published by University Press, good evangelical book about sharing, sharing your faith, how to give away your faith. And in this book, it said, you know, you can pray for people, people usually appreciate it. They, they like it if you  pray for them if there's something wrong with them. So you can just offer if they're usually not offended, if nothing happens, I mean, you can't make it  happen. But if it does happen, usually gets their attention. So I was working at some apartment complexes in an apartment, yeah, apartment complexes during, during the summer, pulling weeds and sanding walls and painting and doing just very rudimentary tasks they're sweeping. And when one of the people came by, I used to say they were elderly. But as I'm getting closer to that age, myself, I don't like to use that expression. But anyway, they were much older than I was mainly retired persons. 

There was this one woman who came by and she was complaining about something I asked if I could pray for her. She said,  Sure, I prayed for it, nothing happened. But another person came by Mabel Cooper. And she said, oh, something's wrong with my knee. It's been it's been  really bad. And the doctor can't do anything for my knee. So I prayed for her knee, right there on the spot. And she came back a few days later, and she said, Craig, you're great. My knee has been better ever since you prayed for it. Now I need to get your work on my lungs. Because I've been coughing up blood. And  the doctor thinks they have lung cancer. I said, Okay, I will come by on my lunch break. And I will pray for you. But in the meanwhile, I had been washing down the walls of her next door neighbor who had just died of lung cancer, Chain  smoker. And I showed her the rinse bucket look like shellac I said, you know,  this is probably what your lungs look like, right? Now you really need to give up  smoking. She said, You know, my doctor says that too. In any case, I went by on our lunch break. And I said, I'm gonna pray for you. But whether God heals you  or not, someday, you're going to die, and you need to be ready to meet him. So she prayed with me to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. And then I prayed  for her to be healed. And she, her report to me was that after that she never  coughed up blood. And a doctor decided she didn't have lung cancer after all.  And she lived on for many, many more years. And that was just as a young Christian, I wasn't, wasn't officially a minister or anything. So all of us can, can pray. Some people will be more gifted in this than others. But this is this is something we can do that can help people. And it can also draw their attention  to the gospel. 

Well, in the coming slides, we're going to look at Acts 1:8, where it talks about power. And we can talk about signs leading to conversions in history. And today, I probably won't do that since I've done that already. But just looking  at at some examples in Acts, Acts 1:8, you will receive power when the Spirit comes. What does Luke mean by power in the Gospel of Luke? Not exclusively,  but most often, power is associated with casting out demons or healing 4:36,  5:17, 6:19, 8:46, 9:1, again, in the book of Acts, Acts 3:12. It's not by your own  power or holiness that this man was healed. It was by the name of Jesus by His  power, 6:8, Stephen was full of grace and power, and therefore was doing  wonders and signs, 10:38, Jesus anointed with the Spirit and power was healing all who are oppressed by the devil. So when we talk about power in Acts 1:8, I think we should think not only of power for witness in general, but also the God will often confirm our witness by answering prayers and doing things that will  really get people's attention, its power from the Spirit, and the Spirit was widely associated in Jewish circles with prophetic empowerment. We'll talk about that  more later on. 

Here's just a picture of my wife in the in front of Mabel Cooper's apartment where we're I prayed for her And I think at this point, I'm going to skip  ahead. Because I've already talked about the signs. I actually have a few, a few  different ones here, but I don't need to, to do them all. So drawing attention  through signs, Paul possibly grew in this through his ministry. We, we read in  Acts 13, where Sergius Paulus witnesses, elements by Jesus struck blind, that  gets his attention. And Acts 14 It says that, that signs and wonders were being  done through the hands of the apostles, Barnabas and Paul. But when you get  to Acts 19, it's on the kind of scale that you had back in the Jerusalem church. I mean, he grew in this. And, and I know of cases where this has happened today too where started small, or sometimes a person would be praying for people for  a year or two, and nothing would be happening, but they were sure that they  were supposed to be doing it. And it can get very discouraging. Normally, even if you don't pray for people, sometimes they get better, right? So because God just build our bodies often to get better. That's That's God's gift too. But in any case, after a year or two, suddenly in one week, a whole lot of people started getting healed, and it just started spreading from there. I think it's a way of letting us  know, it's not us. It's God. And when God decided to turn it on, it was ready. So  we don't take the credit. The credit belongs to the name of Jesus. He's the one who does the work through us. 

But Paul maybe grew in this during His ministry.  And Paul recognized that the attention was for the gospel, not for himself.  Another another feature of evangelism in the Gospel, sometimes God just  arranges things, he just sets things up. We're not expecting it. You have the  parallel version, that parallel visions Cornelius and Peter both have these visions. Peter wouldn't have been available to go to Cornelius before this. But God clearly sends him so he goes, and God is so eager to pour out the Spirit.  God doesn't even wait for Peter to finish his sermon, but interrupts his sermon  pours out the Spirit on these Gentiles who are gathered. Another obvious case  is when Philip is sent somewhere under very unusual circumstances. But he  gets there. And he finds an African official reading the Bible. And the African official asks him to reading Isaiah 53, about the suffering servant. About whom is this talking? Well talk about a setup, I mean, Philip gets to preach to Him. And  God just set the situation up. 

I remember one time when I was a young pastor,  and we were going to have a church picnic. We were just gathering togetherness. And you know, I'm always happy to share the gospel. But that's that wasn't what  I had in mind at that moment. We were we were just getting ready. There were only two of us there so far. And we were just bringing some some things  together. And a young lady walked up to me. And she said, Is this a church picnic? I said, Yeah. She said, can you tell me how to be saved? I said, Yeah. She said, Wait, right there, my brother wants to hear how to be saved too that was a setup. I mean, the Lord set that up. We didn't really have to do any work  in that case. Other cases are more difficult, but, you know, we want to be obedient in every situation. 

How we live, is also a matter of evangelism. You  know, at the end of Peter sermon, 3000 people received Christ in Acts 2:41. But if you look at the literary structure of that last paragraph of Acts 2, it also concludes with effective evangelism another way. It talks about the church after  this 3000 People who converted they're sharing worship and sharing meals,  they're praying with one another. They're even so radical, that they're sharing possessions. And in verse 47, the Lord was giving the favor and adding to their number daily, those who were being saved, another words, one way of evangelism was what happened with Peter. God set up a sign dramatic sign got  a lot of people's attention. Peter had the opportunity to preach. But in verse 47, people saw how the Christians were living. And that's what drew them to faith and they were continuing to be added to the church. 

You see something similar  to that elsewhere in the in the New Testament, I mean, for example, what Jesus says in John 13:34 and 35. He says, Love one another, as I've loved you. He  calls that a new commandment. It wasn't new, because it was love. Leviticus  19:18, talked about loving one another, as yourself. But it was new, because it  was a new standard, Love one another as I have loved you. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another, as I have loved you, if we live in such a way that people can see the heart of Jesus, then they're being exposed to Jesus through that, and that will draw their attention. That too, is a sign. And in John 17:23, he prays for the unity of his followers, so that the world may know, Jesus says that you father have loved them, just as you have loved me. 

Now, in speaking of unity, you know, people debate about  unity of churches, it doesn't we don't have to belong to the same church, we  don't even have to all believe exactly the same thing. We're brothers and sisters if we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but we follow Him. But in the case of Unity, Unity is when we love one another. Unity is when you when we work  together, we serve together for the gospel. Well, these are some various ways to get attention for the gospel. 

Now, where to go? Well, on this, we have to balance various factors. But the most important factor, of course, is where God leads. I mean, if God is leading you, then you better go there. And it may be hard, may  take years to see fruit, or you might see it quickly, actually, usually God takes us through testing before, he gives us too much fruit so we don't get puffed up in  our heads. But where God leads us, sometimes, it may be just in a moment, we  may have to go on a moment's notice. You see that In Acts 8:29, where the  Spirit says to Philip, go join yourself to this chariot. And he shares Christ with the African court official, or in 10:19, where the Spirit says to Peter, there's some  men who have come to see you need to go with them. I have sent them, because of the vision that Cornelius had received. 

Well, sometimes, the Spirit's  guidance is negative. For example, in Acts 16:7, no, it wasn't so hard when Paul  was retracing the steps of where he'd evangelized with Barnabas, but he hadn't really been leading the mission before. And now he goes out beyond these  churches that they've already founded. And it seems like things are foundering.  The Spirit says no, when he wants to go into Bithynia, the Spirit says no, when  he wants to go into Asia, Asia, meaning the Roman province of Asia and Western Asia Minor. Now that no was a temporary no, in Acts 16:6 later on, he  ends up there's a mighty revival in Asia Minor, but he wasn't ready yet. He might have messed things up. So the Spirit said no, he didn't go there. Then they get to Troas which is natural place to go. It's about 100,000 people, it's very strategic city. But he gets to Troas and he has a night vision. And the vision is, is somebody from Macedonia saying come over to Macedonia and help us and he  and the others, including Luke get together and they interpret that they see what does that mean? must mean we're supposed to go to Macedonia. And it  wasn't, it wasn't a vision of Jesus appearing. It wasn't anything more explicit  than that. And they get to Macedonia, and they get beaten and suffer their way  through Macedonia. Philippi is difficult Thessalonica is difficult. Even get chased out of Berea. And they have to persevere based on that guidance that they  have. But it was some guidance. And some guidance is better than no guidance. So they went with what they had. 

You know, sometimes we may think God is  leading us to a certain place for one reason, God may have a different reason in  mind. But if we do our best to follow his leading, God is able to order our steps.  Our job is just to do our best. Sometimes it was a case of open doors, they left  Macedonia for Achaia. Actually Paul was driven out of Macedonia, and he had to go to Achaia, but there were open doors in Achaia. And he got the minister there  doesn't mention any revelation. Paul may have had one. But basically, what we  do know is that Paul had to go to Achaia he was sent there as a place to keep  them safer, people were a bit more open minded. down there. 

And sometimes  God's will God's leading leads us into suffering. Acts 21 are prophetic warnings. This is what you're going to face if you go to Jerusalem. And Paul's friends were  saying, Don't go because we know what the Spirit is saying. And Paul said, I'm  prepared to die if I need to. Paul knew God's will for him. And so, you know, as  is great as it was that his brothers and sisters loved him, and that they were hearing part of God's what God was saying, Paul. It was great for Paul to be forewarned, but Paul knew he was supposed to go. And finally they insisted and  said, the will of the Lord be done. Just because God is leading you into  something doesn't mean you're not going to have a hard time with it, it doesn't  mean you're not going to suffer. In fact, usually, when we go into something  breaking new ground, there is going to be hardship. You don't have to provoke it. You don't have to say please give me some Lord lead us not into testing. But if,  if it comes, and it usually will. God uses that, to teach us deeper dependence on him. And he makes us stronger. And in places where Paul ministered like in Thessalonica, and in Philippi, they saw what he went through. And he was able  to appeal to that, and say, You know what it costs to follow Jesus. And they were able to persevere more strongly because of that. 

Because of him going to Jerusalem, he was able to preach the gospel in the temple, he was able to  preach the gospel in Rome, where he went as a prisoner. He planned to go to  Rome anyway. But as a prisoner, he actually got to preach to people, he  wouldn't have gotten to preach to otherwise, members of the Praetorian Guard,  to even present the gospel. Before Nero's court, probably Nero wasn't there the first time anyway, but to present the Gospel before the royal court. When we don't have any particular direction, however, the Commission remains, Acts 1:8.  Acts chapter 13:2, they already knew that they were sent, but they hadn't gone  yet, because it wasn't time yet. But now that now they were sent out. So it  doesn't always mean we're going to move somewhere. Some of the early Christians had to move because they were persecuted in God was using that to  spread the gospel. But sometimes it's where you are, you're just sharing it with people around you. And you're just sharing it naturally, because this is what  matters to you, this is what you're passionate about. But even when we don't have a particular particular direction, or particular Commission, we, we have the  General Commission, the Great Commission. 

We can start with the connection  that the God provides. Well, where did the 12 start? They started in Jerusalem,  where they were at that point, it's not where they were from. But it's, it's where  they were. Now, they actually probably stayed there a bit too long. But the Lord did have his way of making sure that the gospel got out beyond Jerusalem.  There were diaspora Jewish Christians, that is Jewish believers from outside Judea outside of Jerusalem, who had settled in Jerusalem. And Acts. 11:20 says they were believers from Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch. And they began sharing the gospel with people from their own people groups in Antioch. And it  might be what some people call friendship, evangelism, they were able to do relational evangelism with people with whom they had some common interests and some common factors. And eventually were able to share it with with  Greeks as well began to transition that way, which would have been much, which was much more difficult for someone like Peter, these people were  already bicultural. They already had some cultural connections that went beyond the kind of cultural connections that Peter and the 12 had. 

Barnabas, when  when Barnabas and Saul and Acts 13 leave for Cyprus? Well, why Cyprus? One thing is, it was probably the closest place to sail to but another thing was guess  were Barnabas was from I mean, Barnabas had connections in Cyprus, so it  made sense. Paul ministers in Cilicia. Acts doesn't explore that in detail, but Acts  9:30 does say he went to Cilicia, as well as Syria, and he had already been in  Syria and and Galatians 1:21 says that he ministered in in Syria and Cilicia so  it's not surprising that he would have connections there. Some of those may not  have worked out too well since he has to be careful there apparently later But in  any case, Acts 13. Why did they go to the city and Antioch, there were more  populated places on the coast, the city in Antioch had maybe 5000 Roman  citizens plus other residents. And some of the cities in the Coast had like  100,000 people, why go to the city and Antioch? Well, in this case, Acts doesn't  tell us this, but there may be, there may be a reason that archaeology suggests  Of course, if you if you sail north from Paphos, you do come to the coastal area  where if you go inland, you go to the city in Antioch. But there are other things in the coast of Lycia that were more populated. Why go into the city in  Antioch? We know from archaeology, that the Sergei Polei, the family, of which  Sergius Paulus, the governor of Cyprus was a part. The Sergei Polei had massive estates in that region, north northeast of the city and Antioch and north of Iconium. And so probably they were going in part there because they had  connections, they may have had a letter of introduction from Sergius Paulus. 

Now Paul went, especially where he was distinctively equipped. Sometimes I've  struggled because, you know, I loved ministering to people, one on one on the street. But the Lord gave me academic gifts. And there were places that I could go because of those gifts, that some other people couldn't go. And so I realized,  okay, as much as I love doing the other things, also, I need to go where I am distinctively equipped. Paul went, especially to urban areas, Antioch, where he's ministering in at the beginning of Acts 13. And late in Acts 11. Paul was distinctively equipped for that some places he's uniquely equipped for but Paul was educated. He was a Roman citizen, there were places where he could minister in a special way, like Rome, because he was a Roman citizen, where at some other people wouldn't have gotten to hearing is easily. Or even even in  Corinth and or Philippi, that were Roman colonies, or even the city of Antioch  was a was a Roman colony. These were places where Paul had special inroads. Ephesus, given the different kinds of special inroads because of his education, and his experience. Paul may have realized some of this when he was actually  after he's beaten in Philippi, the Phillipian jailer may have said, you know, once  he once he finds out the Roman citizens, you know, that's actually respected  here. They actually take that seriously here, they actually take seriously the law  that you're not allowed to beat Roman citizens here. Paul and Silas being  Roman citizens then became a big issue and the other places they would go  and one reason maybe Paul spends 18 months in Corinth. 

What I like to think,  of course, the first thing is God's leading. But another issue I like to think about  is where will the gospel not be preached, if I don't do it, if I don't have any other specific guidance, if I have to make a choice between two things that are open to me, I want to do the one that won't get done. If I don't do it. Somebody else can go over here, their ministry may be bigger, praise God for their ministry. But  if we both go over here, and we divide the ministry, and this doesn't get done, that's not good. So if it's important, then that's one of the factors to take into  account. 

Another factor to take into account centers for disseminating popular  culture. Antioch was multicultural. They have a multicultural leadership team there because it was multicultural. And word often spread from the cities and  from these multicultural areas. Paul was able to do that in Ephesus it says that while there's in Ephesus in Acts chapter 19, verses 10 and 17, and 20, the word  of the Lord spread from there to the entire province of Roman Asia. Ephesus being the most prominent city in Roman Asia, people were coming and going  from Ephesus all the time if you reach the people there, you would you would be reaching people from other people groups and from surrounding areas, and  it would spread faster. 

You can think in my country, you can think of campuses  where the turnover of a generation is like four years often. Some people take  longer, but four years. You can think of international students, some of whom will be able to take the good news back with them just like the African court official  was able to take it back with him. In your context, it may be different. But wherever you are multicultural places, places where you can reach groups of people that that may be reachable there that, you know, you may not need to travel 500 miles or 700 miles or try to travel a whole bunch of different places. God may have brought the people to you. And Antioch was a place like that. And Paul was ready to reach out to people there. 

Paul's goal within the empire was  Rome. You may have heard the saying that all roads lead to Rome. Well, that's  because Rome built the roads. But it was true people were coming and going, Paul, before he ever went to Rome, Romans 16 shows that he knew a whole lot  of the people in Rome. Why? Because people were coming and going from  Rome all the time. If you reached the heart of the empire, you reached Rome, the message would be disseminated from there very well. 

Today, well, maybe  the internet is an example of that. It's good to have something that's  congregationally oriented, so you can disciple people. But the internet is a place  where a lot of people congregate intellectually. Maybe someday the power grid  will go down. And that won't be true. But right now, it's a place where, where we  have a lot of opportunity. Just make sure you know what you're doing. There are some Christians who say some things on the internet. How shall I say this? Some of the, you know, I was an atheist before my conversion. And so, you  know, I love atheists. I have some understanding of atheists. But some of the  New Atheists are just, they're spouting nonsense on the internet, they have not  the slightest idea what they're talking about. They're picking up other things from the internet. Sometimes they're picking up things from intellectuals, who are intellectuals in one area, but they have not the slightest knowledge of philosophy, or were the things the matters in which the pontificating. But  sometimes, there are Christians who do exactly the same thing. And it's an  embarrassment. I know some atheists are embarrassed about some of the New  Atheists on the internet. And I know some of us Christians who are embarrassed by some of the things some Christians do on the internet. Please be informed when you speak about things. But most of all, whatever you do, do it in love. Because we're called to love our neighbor, no matter what. 

In terms of reaching  out logistics. Well, we have a lot of material about that we can learn about  logistics in Acts, although some of it is primarily for that culture. But it gives us  models about being relevant to our own cultures. For example, they met in  homes, they didn't have public buildings available to them, usually they they  could meet in the temple in Jerusalem, but you're not going to meet in a temple  of Aphrodite in Cyprus or, or the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, or near Ephesus or the Parthenon the Temple of Athena in Athens. So people were meeting,  especially in homes. That was a logistical issue. That's what was available for  the first three centuries. That's mainly where the church met, wasn't that they were against meeting somewhere else. I mean, Paul spoke in synagogues, and they would use larger homes when they had larger homes available. And in Jerusalem, they had the home meetings and they have the larger meeting. But homes are economically viable. Homes are also easier if there's persecution.  Homes are closer for people to get to if they need to walk in terms of reaching out to neighborhoods, of course back then they didn't have cars. But they used  what they had. And what they had was effective. In fact, in the homes, they  actually had ways that they could disciple people in a more intimate way. 

Team  ministry was another factor, Acts 13. and elsewhere, you see that you have  team leadership in Acts 13:1-2, and Barnabas and Saul are sent out as a  mission team and they take Mark with them. Later on, when Paul goes with  Silas, he recruits Timothy to go with him and then Luke joins with them and later in Acts 20. Paul has a whole lot of other people he's been mentoring  representatives from different different cities coming with him to Jerusalem to carry the the offering or Luke doesn't mention the offering that much just once.  

But in any case, the team ministry now I'm an introvert and I have often gone out on my own because well, just like Paul in Athens, you know, if there's nobody  with you, that doesn't mean you shouldn't share the Gospel. But deliberately, it's  usually better to go out with somebody I have gotten beaten more often probably than necessary because of going out on my own in places that were sometimes dangerous. 

But another another logistical issue we see in the  church's growth is their leadership structure. They had elders or overseers. Now, these leadership structures were borrowed from the larger culture. Ancient Israel had elders, who would guide the affairs of the local village, and elders, would  oversee synagogues. The title overseer, was used in some Greek leadership  settings. And also, the Hebrew equivalent of it and Mebaqqer is used, if I'm  pronouncing it right is used in the Dead Sea Scrolls for overseers of the Qumran community. Sometimes there's something already available in the culture, it doesn't have to be completely different. If it works, you can adapt it provided there's nothing wrong with it. And they, they took over some of the leadership  structures within the culture. Paul wanted there to be leaders in the local congregations to give it stability. So in Acts 14:23, when they go back through  these churches, they've just started these churches. It's not like these are elders who are experienced Christians, but they're the best they've got. And so they put them in charge for the moment to help oversee things, you have to work with  what you have, right. 

So also another logistical issue. The fourth one I  mentioning is, they were willing to trust what God was doing. That's why they could delegate. That's why the 12 were willing to delegate to the seven in  Acts 6, following the example of Moses in Exodus 18, and Deuteronomy 34,  delegating to the 70 Elders, or delegating to to Joshua, laying hands on Joshua,  and then the Spirit came on him, just like you have with the the seven in Acts 6.  Delegating means we trust what God is doing. Now, we know from elsewhere in the New Testament, that sometimes that works out badly, you do your best to make sure that you delegate only to people who were very responsible, and  they did that in Acts 6, but sometimes people change or whatever, but we do the best we can. Paul installed leaders again in Acts 14:23. Later on in the pastoral  epistles, when it says lay hands on no one suddenly, lay hands on no one too  quickly. Well, this is an emphasis this is where they've had believers for at least 10 years. So they have they have more to work with. But sometimes you have to work with what you've got. And just help as best as you can. With that, nurture it  however you can. But Paul keeps getting chased out of city so he's doing what  he can, 

Trusting what God is doing. Also, you see it in Acts 8, the Spirit’s  empowerment. Well, what is the empowerment of the Spirit about in the book of  Acts, Acts 1:8, the Spirit will will come on you and you will be witnesses. The  Spirit’s empowerment was for the sake of witness, and that comes on all  believers. In Acts 2, he says it at the end of his sermon in 2:39. And this promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off that. You come to Acts  8. Now, Jewish people expected to the restoration of Israel that God would pour out His Spirit and its people. They did not expect the Spirit to be poured out in the Samaritans. But when the Samaritans received the message about Jesus, the Jerusalemites were like, well, we need to sit, we need to check into this. Philip was more bicultural, he had gone ahead and he he'd had to leave  Jerusalem anyway. And Peter and John went there and they saw this is of God,  and they lay hands on the Samaritans. So the Samaritans might receive the  Spirit. Well, what's the point of that? Remember what the Spirit is given to us for? Cause the Spirit, God gives us the spirit for more than one reason. But in Acts,  the main focuses, were empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses. The Samaritans were not just objects of mission anymore. The Samaritans became  partners in mission. And sometimes in the past, we've had missionaries to go  into places for start churches, and they run churches for 100 years. But, but that  wasn't the model we have in the book of Acts. It's great to go into place and start churches. But once you have believers coming to any level of maturity, then they become partners. Now you may have partners who are more experienced and  hopefully people look up to the partners who are more experienced. Obviously,  people look to the Jerusalem church for leadership in many respects. But we  also need to recognize that God gives the Spirit to all of his people, we all  become brothers and sisters. And yeah, people mess up. But we need to be ready to trust the Spirit’s work in our brothers and sisters, and to listen to people who are who have different cultural perspectives. They may be the ideal ones to  reach their own culture. And of course, but of course, we do want to listen to  those who have special experience. That's what we can learn from one another.  

Logistics further. The fifth point, people with economic resources. Now, if you  were in my course on Matthew, you heard me say a lot of what Jesus said about possessions, and Luke is even stronger on that. About about sharing  possessions with the poor. We'll talk more about that in Acts 2. But that doesn't mean we will rule off people who have economic resources. We're all given different gifts to bring. And people with economic resources, have a gift to bring. You see that Luke 8:3, that there were, there were women traveling with the  disciples struggling with Jesus and the disciples who were ministering to them out of their own resources. These were fairly well to do women. And they were helping to provide for the mission. Nobody was getting rich off it. Nobody was living, wealthy, but they had food to eat. Acts 18:7, when a gift is  received from the Church of Macedonia, Paul is grateful to have that and he's able to devote himself more fully in terms of his time, to the ministry of the word.  

We also have people with teaching resources, we see that with Crispus who was the ruler of the synagogue in 18:8, he's he's noteworthy to be mentioned,  he becomes a believer, well, he's already got some background, he already knows some things that can be helpful. Now, that doesn't mean he's as  mature in the Lord maybe as somebody else. But most of the people in Corinth  were new believers at this point anyway, all of them except Paul, and probably  Aquila, and Priscilla. But Apollos he's a fairly new believer, he has to have things explained to him some things he doesn't understand. But he is so equipped in the Torah, that once he understands it, he's able to speak eloquently within his circles of influence, and within circles that would listen to the kind of arguments that he was able to give. So there are people with teaching resources, people  with backgrounds that equip them in special ways. Whether your background is as a fisherman, you might become a fisher of people, if your background is a shepherd, you might become a shepherd of people as in the  case of Moses and David, who are the disciples who are fishermen, God will not always some things we just have to leave behind. But God will often take things from our background in ways that we wouldn't imagine and use them for good,  then there's some terrible things in our background that just, you know, we need  to be comforted. But we may find that that other people can be comforted  through the comfort that we receive from the Lord with those things. 

So people  with certain kinds of resources. Let's not ignore the resources that are in the  body of Christ, people have gifts and skills. When I was a pastor, there was  somebody in the congregation who was a drama major. And so we made use of her skills. In the in the congregation, there was somebody who was a  guitar major, whose skills we could use some there were a number of different  skills already there, and others who wanted to cultivate skills. 

Another point, that it's valuable, it's important to report back to your home base of your supporters. I mean, it's it's one thing if you are the home base and you're ministering to  people around you, but if somebody goes out into a cross cultural situation, whether it's in another country or or just another kind of situation within the same country, reaching out to other groups of people, or relocating to a less evangelized part of the country. It's important to report back to the home base, people who are providing support whether it's financial support, or prayer  support. Because of my current situation, I don't need financial support. I haven't needed it yet. I I'm not in a need for financial support. And the Lord provided the different ways in the past but only like twice today. I think I tried to raise money for a purpose. And I don't have the gift of fundraising didn't work out very well in either case, but prayer support I need. I recruit people to pray for me. And I have a close team of prayer supporters, about 20 people. That's that's just my number  of the people that have over close to do that. It could be any different number, but to them, I send prayer updates regularly. 

Well, in any case, another logistical issue, legal, apologetic or a publicity apologetic. Sometimes, people really  misrepresent Christians, and they really misrepresent Jesus, and they  misrepresent what the gospel is about. Well, what is Acts 24-26 about? Paul has  been falsely accused. And you've got this whole long section of apologetic that  suggests to us that apologetic is an important thing to do. And if we follow Luke's example, then we will also be concerned. I mean, you can't refute every rumor. You can't satisfy everybody's skepticism. Paul talks about that he was the object of slander. Some people respected him, some people disrespected him, you had to live with both. But legal, apologetic, publicity apologetic, insofar as possible,  expose people to the truth. If they're false accusations in the early church, they  said, Christians were guilty of incest and cannibalism, because this is probably especially in the second century. They said, Christians say I love you, brother, I love you, sister ah, incest. Or Christians say they eat the body and “blood of the  Lord. Ah, cannibalism. Well, it was helpful that God raised up apologists to say,  No, you're completely misunderstanding this. And these rumors have completely twisted the truth.” Well, you're not going to convince everybody. But it is important to make people aware of the truth so that at least some people can be  convinced. 

Well, another issue with logistics, don't be naive. Problems will  come. You see that in the book of Acts, persecution, internal division, and so on. So all the other logistics, it's great, but sooner or later, you're you're going to face problems, and pardon my cartoons. It's just something I use sometimes  when I teach. So with that, we are getting ready to move into Acts 1. 

I want to  give some introductory background on Acts 1, because I want to trace the theme of Acts 1 and 2 together and that that will be the next section. But let me first  give some introductory background. On Acts 1. It's common to have recapitulation, when you have a two volume work or a multi volume work, a later volume could recapitulate the end of the previous volume. And that's what you have with Luke 24. Much of that is recapitulated in a summary briefer way, at the beginning of Acts 1. And it repeats some of the points there in greater detail. The points that Luke particularly wants to emphasize remember, historians had the freedom to rearrange things they had the freedom to paraphrase, difference in wording was, sometimes it was an accidental oversight, but usually, it's not an  accidental oversight. Certainly not something is, as well designed as Luke Acts  is, that things are worded in a slightly different way in Acts 1, but it communicates the same essential message. 

Acts 1:1. It's dedicated to Theophilus. That's  actually clear back in Luke 1:3, the first volume, but in second volume, he's dedicating it possibly to a sponsor, Theophilus, could be his sponsor, sponsor,  the writing project is supporting the distribution of the of the book, or sometimes it would simply be dedicated to a prominent person whose attention you wanted  to get. So the person would circulate the work and maybe sponsor some copies  being made or something like that. But in this case, clearly Theophilus is somebody that Luke knows that and he knows that Theophilus is also a believer, but he's, he's most excellent. Theophilus, he apparently, is a very high social status, which was a very important thing, in the eyes of the Roman world. And  Christians were supposed to be able to surmount caste and class differences  but they could still appreciate when somebody is of a less reached, but  higher social class would get more people's attention and be able to circulate  things. 

Acts 1:2 & 3. There are sample evidences, it talks about Jesus presenting evidence of his resurrection. And some of the sample evidences are listed in chapter 24 of Luke where he presents himself to the disciples alive once they touch him, and eat food before them, and so on. That's why in in verse 4 of Acts  1 it says they ate together why is that important? Because in many Jewish traditions, an angel couldn't genuinely eat human food. So this is emphasizing  his physicality, the physicality of the resurrection. 

Some background in the  prayer meeting, in Acts 1:12-14. Well, this is about one week to 10 days  between the resurrection and Pentecost. Pentecost was, I'm sorry no, not between the resurrection and Pentecost between Jesus ascension. And  Pentecost is about 50 days after the resurrection. So one week to 10 days that  they're praying together and waiting for whatever God is going to do. They didn't know how long it would take. In verse 12, it talks about Mount Olivet, or the  Mount of Olives, which appears in the gospels as well. That's the place where  Jesus ascends. But according to Zechariah 14:4 that was also the place of the  Messiah's expected coming. So when it says, you'll see him come again, the way you have seen him go. Well, even even in terms of location, that may be true. It's about half a mile east of the temple, and several 100 feet above it. It's close to a Sabbath days journey, as mentioned to your Sabbath days journey  was about 2000 cubits a cubit being roughly the length between one's elbow  and one's longest finger, although that varies from person to person, but  approximate standard.

Chapter 1:13, speaks of the upper room. Well, in terms of an upper room, they could hold very many people that could only be in the upper city, the wealthier part of Jerusalem. Most of the city was downwind of the sewers, the lower city of Jerusalem, but the wealthy people had spacious, more  spacious accommodations. Now, many upper rooms were somewhat like attics.  But there are some texts, some Jewish texts that report all the sages gathering together in an upper room. So there were some homes that could have very  spacious upper rooms. 

The 12, why does it speak to the 12. The 12 were the 12  was the number of the tribes of Israel and the Dead Sea Scrolls show us that  Jewish renewal movement could use that when it was thinking of the restoration of the 12 tribes, they would have 12 leaders who would be leaders in Israel when God would restore his people. The 12 here, the names are not always the  same as in some other lists. The variations are not major, but we do have some variations, and sometimes more than one name, even in the same list for the  person. Well, it was very common for people to have several identifying names, either or both of which could be used for the person. And if you had a very common name like Simon, then you would almost have to use another name with its Simon Peter, Simon the Zealot are keen in the end if you if you want to  use the Aramaic language for zealot. Same with Judas, Judas Iscariot, although he's not here, obviously. And another Judas or two different James's among the  disciples. I mean, those were all very common names, just like Mary was the most common woman's name in in Judea, and Galilee. It's interesting how the most common names in these passages are actually really the most common names from the place and the period that they described, not the common  names elsewhere in the empire. 

Acts 1:14, there is in the broader culture,  usually there's a downplaying of women's roles, but here the equal participation of women is noteworthy. The language of prayer sometimes it was used for  prayer house, outside Judea, but Luke usually use the synagogue for that  this just means that they were they were praying together. In verses 15  through 26, and I'll just deal with this background very briefly, but replacing an apostate apostle. They have 120. Now, in the Dead Sea Scrolls they had a group of leaders that included 12 special officials, they were to show that they were the true remnant of Israel 120 isn't exactly 12. But it's sounds like it's related to that. There were Jewish traditions of uncertain date that there were 120 elders, who first passed on the law in the time of Ezra. So they're already  well, we don't know if it was already but if uncertain date, there was a tradition of leaders 120 leaders in Israel. Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls require one priest to every 10 men. So if you've got 120, well, it would make sense if you've got 12 apostles. But Luke's point in mentioning the 120 may simply be that the upper  room was very packed, at least when you had everybody together. And we don't  know if everybody was there at once, in any case, but in verse 20, Peter uses a common Jewish interpretive technique that Jewish rabbis later called Omer, how much more and he uses that to deal with the Psalms have the right  to suffer. If this was true of a right to suffer in general, How much more must  have be true of Jesus. Psalm 69:25, and Psalm 109:8, both talk about prominent accusers of the righteous suffer. 

And then in verses 23-26, we have a casting of lots, lots were often used for special duties. You have that in the Greek world,  and the Roman world for even many political offices or assignments where governors would go, you have it in the Old Testament, for special duties in first, I Chronicles 24, and 25, and so on, you have it in the dead sea scrolls you have it in the Rabbi's, you have it mentioned in Josephus, were actually they drew lots  to see who was going to who was going to be killed first, Josephus somehow survived to the end, he was one holding the lots. But in any case, it was also used as a form of divination in Greek circles, but it's used once before in  Luke Acts. It's used early here and Acts, it's used early in the Gospel of Luke.  And then the Gospel of Luke, it's used for the choosing of a priest to go in and  offer the incense and there it was Zechariah will clearly God was in charge of  that lot. And I think we can assume, therefore, that we can trust that God is in charge of this lot as well. Well, notice that, that some people have double names in the case of Joseph Barsabbas. It's a triple name. When when they're trying to choose among the, among the, these two that they say, well, these meet all the  qualifications, let's choose lots to see which one the Lord wants to fill this office.  So, double names, triple names were actually quite common. And especially when particularly names like Joseph were so common that they required some qualification. But in the next session, we're going to look at Acts chapters 1 and 2 and trace a theme that runs through that and that's the theme of power for witness.  

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener in his teaching and the book of Acts, this is session number six, evangelism and introduction to Acts.

Last modified: Monday, May 1, 2023, 12:41 PM