This is the second blog in the series It’s Time To Act Up!
Now is the time to rise up to your rightful place as a co-heir and co-laborer with Jesus the Christ.
In this second installment I want to revisit something we saw in the first blog – The Primitive Church.
On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached a pentecostal sermon and 3000 people were born again and ushered into the Kingdom of God.
In verse 42 of Acts 2 we read the following account written by Luke. This Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine . . . “
Who were these apostles? What was the doctrine of these apostles? Why would anyone pay attention to what these apostles had to teach?
All of these are very good questions but in this blog I will focus on the apostle’s doctrine.
The Apostle’s Doctrine
I want to go ahead and inform you that I will not be delving into every aspect of the apostle’s doctrine in this blog. But I have chosen some aspects of it that I want to highlight.
Our selected verse begins by emphatically stating those who heard what was said on The Day of Pentecost “continued steadfastly” in the apostle’s doctrine. So let’s begin with what this means as a segue from Blog 1 to Blog 2.
To continue steadfastly means ~
They purposed to purposefully pay attention & not be passive hearers!
They purposed to purposefully direct their attention to the speaker and what was spoken!
They purposed to be purposefully unwavering, unswerving in their commitment to continue!
They purposed to purposefully position and posture themselves for optimum success!
In other words, these first century saints accepted personal responsibility for their progress in the faith. This means they understood the role that faithfulness plays in their personal progress. Or, they knew, “That preacher just doesn’t feed me anymore” is not a valid reason for their lack of growth.
What Is the Apostle’s Doctrine?
We get a vital clue early on in the day on that first Pentecost Sunday.
“5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?””
The wonderful works of God formed a framework for the Apostle’s doctrine [teaching, belief system, core values].
The apostle’s beliefs and core values were the platform from which they communicated through their words and lifestyle what they believed.
The way we live communicates more to others what we believe than our words!
Actions speak louder than words!
“The wonderful works of God”
God’s works are wonderful [full of wonder]
God is wonderful [full of wonder]
God is really good
God is really good at being really good
God is worth talking positively about
God is worthy of our praise
“We hear them speaking in our own tongues [languages]”
God cares enough for every person to communicate to every person in a language they can understand. This means that God is speaking to every individual in a language they recognize and should respond to in a way that connects, or reconnects them to God who loves them passionately.
God’s Awesome Deeds!
“Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. 6 He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him! 7 He rules by His might forever.”
“Come and see the works of God”
God invites every generation to benefit from His past activities.
“Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men”
God is awesome and He points His awesomeness towards the sons of men. This is a different depiction of God than the judgment preachers have. The Hebrew word for ‘awesome’ is yare [yaw-ray’]. This word means: To reverence, to be in awe of, to honor and respect, to have a healthy fear that leads to faithfulness in the relationship. This word can also mean to be afraid of.
The idea here I believe is a combination of the New Testament revelation where Jesus said [paraphrase], “Do not fear man or what man can do to you. Fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Jesus was clearly saying there is a day of judgment so don’t treat God with contempt. The context is clearly on the goodness of God should lead to honor and respect for God.
Also, “It is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance.” When we see the ministry of Jesus He confronted sin but loved the sinner. He even confronted the sin and corrupt mindsets of His disciples. But He came to save not to judge and condemn. “It is appointed unto man once to die, AND THEN the judgment.”
What is God inviting us to see?
“He turned the [Red] Sea into dry land” speaks of God delivering His people out of 430 years of Egyptian bondage and slavery. This is equivalent to the born again experience and water baptism. Through the new birth we are delivered from the domain of darkness [Egypt] and the prince of darkness [Pharaoh] and translated into the Kingdom of light [the Kingdom of God’s dear Son Jesus the Christ].
“They passed through the [Jordan] River on foot” speaks of God leading His people into their inheritance [destiny, His purpose for their lives].
God wants us to see that salvation without the proper destination is an unfulfilled salvation.
God does not save people to get them to a place called heaven. God saves people to be heavenly citizens on earth. In other words, born again people are God’s gateway to bring heaven to earth. Born again people are stewards of heavenly realities with a responsibility to overcome the world and occupy the world until God comes. The purpose of occupation is always transformation!
“There let us rejoice in Him”. God will lead people to the place of destiny but will not make a person enter, embrace, enjoy, expand or export their destiny. To rejoice denotes joyful celebration.
Where are we to rejoice? Not after crossing the Sea but after we have passed through the River by foot [we enter by our own volition] into our place of inheritance and destiny.
This does not mean we should not celebrate our deliverance from Egypt. It means we must proceed on to our destiny. Too many Christians think forgiveness is all there is to the Christian life. Forgiveness and conversion is the doorway to destiny.
“Your testimonies I have taken as an inheritance forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.”
The Hebrew root word for ‘testimony’ means to repeat, to do the same thing over and over.
When a testimony of God’s activities in our lives is released it carries an invitation for others to experience God in that very same way. It is like a prophetic word from God saying, “I will do it again for you [them].”
“5 For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, 6 that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, 8 and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
“God established a [the principle of sharing the] testimony [of His wonderful works] in Jacob [the Prince who was living out of a false identity based on his behavior instead of his calling]!”
“[God] appointed a law in Israel [the redeemed and new name for Jacob after His conversion at the river Jabbok], which He commanded our fathers [those responsible for stewarding the miraculous interventions of God in the affairs of man].”
God wants each generation to pass on to future generations His testimonies! There are at least 3 or 4 generations of covenant people that should be introduced to the testimony depending on how you interpret verses 5 and 6.
Sharing God’s testimony creates confidence and courage in the lives of those who hear it and it keeps current the truth that God cares and is active in their lives. This results in faithfulness to God and His commandments [which are: Love God! Love people!] [Verse 7]
Failure to share the testimony causes people to forget God’s faithfulness which results in rebellion against God. [Verse 7]
God indicted the “fathers” for their failure to faithfully follow His decrees! God calls those who fail to pass on His testimony stubborn, rebellious, unprepared and unfaithful to Him. [Verse 8]
We see the results of this failure as we keep reading Psalm 78.
“9 The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.10 They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law, 11 and forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them.”
These 3 verses need little commentary. Ephraim was one of the largest tribes numerically. History records them as the tribe that led the rebellion against God. They are often used to describe the “10 tribes”, the “house of Israel” as compared to the house of Judah.
The text tells us although they were prepared outwardly they were cowards inwardly. Because they “forgot” God’s works and His wonders that He had shown them they deserted in battle and their decision destroyed their destiny.
40 How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! 41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy, 43 when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan;
These sons of the rebellious unfaithful fathers continued their downward spiral into apostasy. This should be a WARNING for anyone who believes they can live for God without living responsibly in the relationship with God.
Can you believe you can provoke and grieve and tempt and limit God?
We see again how rebellion in the heart causes amnesia in the head. I wonder if some of the mind and memory deficiencies we are seeing in our society today can be traced to unfaithfulness in sharing with others the wonderful works of God in our lives.
The Hebrew word ‘signs’ in verse 43 is “oth or owth” [is sound like oath]. According to Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Definition this words means: A sign or signal, a distinguishing mark, a banner, a miraculous sign, and proof.
According to Strong’s Definition is means: A beacon, a flag, a token and evidence.
The Hebrew word for ‘wonders’ in verse 43 is mopheth [mo-faith]. Yep! I love God! This word means: a wonder [as a special display of God’s power], a sign or token of a future event [do it again].
Mopheth comes from a Hebrew root word that means: To be bright, beautiful, conspicuous, and to beautify.
From these two graphic Hebrew words we can see how God wants to advertise His care for people and announce His intentions to help when life happens and we find ourselves in situations that need resources from the only Source that can truly deliver.
A great lesson in this is mopheth creates more signs and wonders and more signs and wonders creates mopheth!
For the life of me I cannot wrap my mind around the many modern, post modern, contemporary and relevant church cultures that refuse to allow the Spirit of God to manifest the gifts of God. Especially the gifts of healings and miracles.
Some “say”, “we believe in that”, but never allow it. They don’t want to create a climate for disappointment in case someone doesn’t get healed. What about those in their midst that have no hope other than God’s miraculous intervention? What about ‘mo faith’? Haven’t they already disappointed the very people that are out of human options?
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
“1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
Paul used testimonies to reach the people of Corinth! His ministry in Athens was based on debate. His trip to Corinth gave him time to evaluate his methodology and when he arrived his change of strategy ended in greater success.
What was his change in strategy? He moved away from intelligent debate and made room for the moving of the Holy Spirit in supernatural power. The goal of his new method of ministry according to Paul, “so your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
The fruit of this change in strategy? A Church was born! A significant church that brought the Gospel of the Kingdom to a new continent and invaded new cultures with the Kingdom culture.
Paul’s message was Jesus Christ, and Him crucified! Paul taught the life, supernatural ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. I am sure he also included his own personal testimonies that included his supernatural encounter on the road to Damascus, and his healing at the hands of Ananias, the skeptical servant of God.
This simple message about the Person named Jesus of Nazareth, God’s only begotten Son, who came from heaven to earth, to deliver all of God’s creation from bondage in the land of darkness [Egypt / sin], and to provide for us throughout our journey of discovering our purpose in life [40 years in the wilderness], and lead us into our inheritance [our destiny] – turned the world upside down in the first century.
Until the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and the simple message about His life and ministry, people were left to fend for themselves. The climate of the culture of that day was despair. Why? Rebellion! From Malachi to John and Jesus there was 400 years of silence from heaven.
“16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated [Mount of Olives]. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””
Jesus’ commands were part of the apostle’s doctrine [teaching]!
There are over 40 commands given by Jesus! Some are found in this text.
- “Go” – 2/3 of God’s name is GO. The Gospel begins with GO! What are we waiting for? We are not waiting on God. He is always on the GO!
- “Make disciples” – Please notice Jesus did not say, “Make converts”. While conversion is important and the first step into discipleship we must remember and teach others that salvation may be a free gift, discipleship will cost us everything!
- “Baptizing them” – Water baptism may not save a person but it is a requirement for discipleship. To be baptized in water in the 1st century was a huge deal. When most “converts” came up out of the water they were disowned, disinherited and a disgrace to their family, friends and faith [Judaism]. They were choosing to “lose everything in order to gain Christ.”
- “Teaching them to observe ALL I commanded you” – Wow! What about that! Without obedience there is no relationship. This is a foreign concept today in our modern, post modern, contemporary and relevant Christianity.
Jesus was asked what are the greatest commandments. He replied, “Love God! Love people!
Jesus took His 10 commandments where 9 were negative and transformed them into 2 positive commandments. Under the Old Covenant the focus was on what we could not do and what we should stay away from. Under the New Covenant the focus is on what we get to do and Who we are to get close to.
So, what Jesus was saying is this:
Love trumps Law! Love is greater than rules and regulations!
If you are married, are you faithful to your spouse because the Law says, “Do not commit adultery” or are you faithful because you love them and would never do something that would violate them?
Well then, it is possible to remain faithful to God by demonstrating our love by not violating His heart!
The Miraculous Lifestyle Is Part Of Jesus’ Commands!
Matthew 9:35 – 10:1,7,8
“35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ 1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.'”
V35 – Jesus always modeled Kingdom ministry. Kingdom ministry combines teaching and preaching the Gospel of the [His] Kingdom with demonstrations of supernatural power to destroy human maladies. Please notice He healed EVERY sickness and EVERY disease!
V36 – When he saw the human condition of dis-ease, dis-[re]pair, and dis-ability He was moved with compassion [with passion]. When we think of Christ’s passion we limit it to the work of the Cross. The work of the Cross was the payment for the results of the work of the Cross which Jesus dispensed before He went to the Cross.
Compassion is not sympathy. It is a stronger emotion that requires intervention. Sympathy sits impotent wishing things were different and doing its best to help the suffering endure it until they eventually die. Jesus saw the weariness [and hopelessness] and loss of relational connection [scattered].
Why were they in this condition? “They were LIKE sheep having NO shepherd.” They had shepherds but their shepherds were not intervening with God’s power to deliver them from their dysfunctions.
V37 – Jesus then directed His disciple’s attention to the real condition of the crowd. Jesus did not create a culture of worrying about not disappointing the people in the crowd. I also believe it was at this point that Jesus realized the ministry was too big for Him and He needed to empower His disciples to Act Up!
V38 – Jesus then employs the disciples to pray because prayer is the path to correct posture with God. Prayer means humility and dependance. Prayer is like plugging an extension cord into a wall electrical outlet so that the same power at the wall can be extended to where it is needed.
V10:1 – Jesus then licenses His disciples to do God’s work with God’s authority and power. Jesus is the King of the Kingdom and as King He grants certain privileges and responsibilities to the citizens of the Kingdom.
The word ‘power’ in this verse is not the best translation. It is the Greek word exousia [ex-oo-see’-ah] with the emphasis on the “see”. This is relevant! The English transliteration is authority, not power. Picture a traffic cop directing traffic in a busy intersection where the traffic light is not functioning.
The vehicles have more power than the lone policeman but the authority granted him by the governmental body he represents creates the climate of respect so when he blows his whistle, and or raises or waves his hand, the drivers in those vehicles obey. They stop when he says stop! They move in the direction he directs them to. This is what Jesus was granting to His disciples.
Jesus instructs them to do what they just watched Him do by “giving them authority to cast out unclean spirits, and to heal all [the different] kinds of sickness and all [the different] kinds of disease.”
V10:7 – Jesus then instructs His disciples to move forward – “As you go”. Next He tells them what to say, “The Kingdom of heaven [God] is at hand [here].” “The present tense reality of God’s rule is right here, right now, and is within your reach.”
V10:8 – Jesus gave 4 commands in order to demonstrate to those hearing that God and His Kingdom are here [present]. Please notice He did not command them to become better communicators of Truth. We should be better communicators of Truth but what we do to demonstrate Truth is more powerful than mere words in proper format. Those 4 commands are:
- Heal – the sick! Which ones? Those who are sick. Remember Jesus healed every sickness and disease among the people and gave His disciples a “do it again” with this new crowd of people.
- Cleanse – the lepers! Leprosy is a type of sin that destroys people’s lives and separates them from society. This involves physical healing as Jesus physically healed lepers. The greater reality here is about the restoration to the community of those who have issues that are no longer hidden inside and have caused a disconnect in relationships.
- Raise – the dead! Which ones? Those who are dead. Jesus was always ruining funerals and the mindsets of the mourners.
- Cast out – devils! This is dealt with in Luke 10 where Jesus ups the ante by giving His disciples power [dunamis – dynamic supernatural power] and authority [exousia] to tread upon serpents and scorpions [types of unclean spirits]. I believe what He intended here is not simply commanding devils to leave people as it was to teach the people how to live free from demonic influence. Remember, Jesus said in another place that when an unclean spirit leaves it goes through arid places and then returns to see if the “house” has been put in order. The best way to cast out darkness is to infuse a house with light. The best way to remove evil is to practice God’s presence and righteous living. To “tread upon” evil spirits is to live above their influence by walking in purity and power – which is Biblical Christianity.
Giving is another commandment!
Luke 6:38 – “Give and it shall be given back to you . . .” This is a command not a suggestion. The context of this command is not money by the way. It applies to financially supporting God’s work but it not limited to it as some preachers seem to think and teach.
Acts 20:25 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus is not saying receiving is not a blessing and beneficial. He is simply saying there is something significantly greater available to a person that possesses their possessions instead of their possessions possessing them.
By the way, this statement attributed to Jesus is not found in the Gospels. That was for free!
The Supernatural lifestyle is another commandment!
Luke 24:49 – “Do not leave Jerusalem until you are clothed with Power.” “Do not leave your place of conversion to go do My work without My Power!”
Acts 1:4,5 – “4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.””
Remember, Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. He clearly clears up any ambiguity that may exist in the minds of the multitudes who believe this is not a command.
If you will do a study of Jesus’ instructions to His first disciples in the 4 Gospels you will find that almost every time, if not every time, He connects preaching to the miraculous. How we think we can advance His Kingdom in our day without the supernatural tools mandated and made available in that day is beyond me.
Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Power is what Jesus said would be the prevalent evidence of a Spirit led and Spirit empowered life. This power is the miraculous power, strength and ability that is the Holy Spirit. This power is granted to the saints who in obedience to Christ, the Head of the Church, to destroy the works of the devil. This power, as we have seen in this blog is released through anointed preaching and teaching and in the undeniable release into the lives of people oppressed by the devil.
“4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.8 And there was great joy in that city.”
Persecution from the unsaved Jews in Jerusalem was now in full swing and some of the believers fled the city. Look carefully at the methodology and fruit of ministry by these “primitive” believers.
V4 – They preached the word – God’s word is always the foundation for ministry
V5 – Philip arrives in Samaria and preaches Christ. Notice He did not preach Jesus. He preached Christ which tells me the emphasis was on the Spirit baptized, Spirit led and Spirit empowered Jesus. Christianity that reduces the importance of or eliminates altogether the supernatural and miraculous is not the Christianity Jesus started and handed off to the “primitive” disciples.
V6 – Those in Samaria conducted themselves the same way those in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost [See The Primitive Church blog and the beginning of this blog]. These hearers with “one accord HEEDED the things spoken by Philip.” Luke goes on to say they ‘were hearing and seeing’ the miracles which he did.” The Gospel of the Kingdom continued to be seen and heard nearly 5-8 years after Pentecost. Miracles, not wise and persuasive messages got the people’s attention.
V7 – Notice that the text does not say Philip commanded the unclean spirits to come out of people. It does not even say he laid hands on the lame and paralyzed. He may have! I believe the Presence of God was so thick and the atmosphere in Samaria was so full of God’s glory that darkness had to flee.
V8 – The fruit of ministry that includes the miraculous was an entire city was filled with great joy. The way to win our cities is to allow the Spirit of God to demonstrate the power of God. We need to get back to the simplicity of the “primitive church”.
Acts 10:38 – “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
Before the river Jordan experience Jesus was a law abiding, ethical and moral man. After His encounter with the Holy Spirit He went on the attack. I have multiple blogs and messages on what true Biblical Christianity is and is not.
When Jesus handed the baton of advancing His Kingdom from Jerusalem to the rest of the planet He wanted His work done the way He did it when He was personally and physically on the planet.
When Jesus came He said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” This clearly communicates God sent Jesus to model Christianity.
The doctrine of the apostle’s was ~
He is the standard for all life and ministry, and He set the standard!
He is calling you!
He is calling you to be His disciple, not some preacher’s disciple!
He is calling you to reach your God-given purpose in earth!
It is time to Act Up!
A portion of this message and future messages can be watched on YouTube at Bethel By The Sea. I am getting closer to publishing my book CHRISTIANITY THE WAY JESUS LIVED IT, Releasing The Christ Within You. A lot of this material is in this book.
Keep THE Faith! Keep THE Passion!
Our hunger and thirst for God escorts us into deep satisfaction in God!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin A Hisstorymaker