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Upright!


Acts 3:2-8
2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

The Story: This is truly a “beautiful” story, and not just because of where it takes place (although Luke uses that location to highlight the beauty of the story). This man was about his usual business, seeking alms from passersby, hoping merely for enough to survive. He had no prospects of anything more, having been lame from birth. We also note the power of grace here: Even when this man looked at Peter, he was expecting nothing more than a coin or two. He wasn’t looking to be healed. But Peter was looking to heal, and he gave this man something far more valuable than what any amount of money could buy. We note the combination of the command to rise, the invocation of the name of Jesus, and the helpful gesture. Faith acts in works of various kinds to bring the blessings of God to men. Luke’s emphasis that the man stood upright, was strengthened in his feet and ankles, and began leaping and walking about is a true picture of Restoration. Human beings were made “upright” in every way (Eccl. 7:29). But sin has enfeebled us. Only the Word of grace and faith can restore us to our upright place before God – a place defined not by begging for sustenance, but by praising and rejoicing, whole and redeemed, in the presence of God.

The Structure: In Luke’s day it would have been pretty easy to validate Peter’s claim to poverty. Everyone would have known that the Apostles were not in this business of supplanting one kingdom with Another for the money – unlike Achan, after the battle of Jericho. Peter and John and the rest might have tried to aggrandize their personal wealth, what with so many thousands coming to faith. But the thought never crossed their minds.

What would a “beautiful story” of grace look like in your community?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Kingdom Bridge


Acts 3:1
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

The Story: I know this seems like a very slight portion of Scripture for an entire day’s meditation. But there’s much here to ponder, especially when it comes to understanding the ongoing work of Christ as He is supplanting the kingdom of darkness with the Kingdom of Light. What Luke is about to describe is a single event, one of many he might have chosen, but one nonetheless. His choice of the imperfect verb form, anabainon, to describe Peter’s and John’s “going up” to the temple, has the effect of suggesting that this was a habitual practice on their parts. They weren’t just going up to the temple at this particular moment. They were in the habit of going up to the temple, and here’s what happened once as they were going. But why were they going up to the temple? Luke explains that it was “the hour of prayer.” As I have suggested, the Apostles followed the Old Testament practice of praying the psalms. Apparently they also followed the Old Testament practice of observing set hours of prayer during the day. Whether these were three set times or seven is not clear, here or elsewhere. But this much is clear: The Apostles drew aside at certain hours of the day to join with other believers – or to retreat by themselves (Acts 10:9) – for prayer. The Kingdom of God, they had already seen, comes in via the bridge of prayer (Milosz). Nothing about that has changed for us.

Structure: Probably few of us can imagine retreating for prayer three or five or seven times a day. Is this because we are busier than the Apostles were? Or because what we’re busy with is more important than what they were busy with? Or is prayer such a struggle for us anyway that increasing the times invested in it during the day would only increase our sense of futility and defeat? Or do we simply not believe we should pray like this? In which case, how will we explain that to the Apostles?

What prevents you from establishing 3 times a day to retire from your activities for a brief season of prayer?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Evidence of Faith


Acts 2:42-47
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The Story: A new era, a new Spirit, and a new life demand a new community to sustain and advance them. The writer of Hebrews tells us that faith involves “evidence” of the unseen things we have come to believe and obey (11:1). Here is the evidence of the ongoing work of Christ: People joining together in fellowship, sharing their goods with one another as each has need, learning and praying together, rejoicing in the Lord, and having favor with all their neighbors. This was real. This was new. This was proof. No wonder many more were being added “day by day” as they saw what the Spirit was doing in the lives of their neighbors and friends. Let’s not misunderstand the sense of verse 45: The people would sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds when a need became known. They did not do this all at once and give everything to the Apostles. People who were being restored to the Lord were also being restored to one another. A new community of Restoration was fulfilling the promise of Micah 4:1-5, and the evidence of the reality of Jesus Christ being risen from the dead was increasing on every hand.

The Structure: Just as Joshua and the army of Israel “spoiled” the city of Jericho, so that God’s purpose abounded with good things, so here the people of God “spoil” the devil of his former holdings – themselves and all their possessions (cf. Matt.12:22-29) – and share freely with one another in the joy of the Lord’s victory. The Gospel’s conquest of the world is a communal effort, and it brings the community of Restoration to ever-increasing fullness as the Kingdom expands.

In what ways does your own church resemble this new community in early Jerusalem? In what ways does it not?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
'What Shall We Do?'


Acts 2:37-41
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The Story: A true Pentecost, indeed, as the first fruits are gathered to the Lord, right on schedule. Peter’s preaching of the Word of God has had powerful effects. The walls of blindness and unbelief come tumbling down in the hearts of thousands as they hear the glorious Word of the Gospel. They are “cut to the heart,” showing the power of God’s Word to burst through reasons, fears, doubts, priorities, predispositions, and every other accoutrement or defense of the soul to begin the ongoing work of Christ in the lives of even the hardest of men. Peter is clear that men must repent and publicly identify with Jesus as proof of the Spirit’s work in their lives. He also foreshadows the further reach of the Gospel to the Gentiles, echoing Acts 1:8, by his mention of “all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord calls to himself”, drawn from Joel 2:32. Perhaps while some of his hearers dither, Peter continues to exhort them to be saved. Are we as urgent as Peter about encouraging others to believe? Ultimately, some three thousand souls declare their submission to Jesus. A glorious first harvest, indeed!

The Structure: It’s not hard to see why, in just a bit, the religious leaders of Jerusalem will marvel at Peter and John as “unlearned” men. Peter seems to know his Bible pretty well. For an unschooled fisherman to be so capable of ranging throughout the Scriptures requires three things: study, time with Jesus, and trust in the Spirit. These are all available to us as well.

Do you think you could share the Gospel using only the Old Testament? Try it with a friend.

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Lord and Christ


Acts 2:29-36
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The Story: See how carefully Peter lays out all the Good News. It is rooted in promises made to David (cf. 2 Sam. 7) and throughout the Old Testament. It inheres in Jesus, Whom God raised up and exalted to the highest heaven. It is realized through the Spirit, Who accompanies the proclamation of the Word. It demands to be understood, heard, and obeyed. Jesus is not simply Savior (Christ); He is Lord. We may not receive Him in any other way than as Savior from our sins and Lord of our lives and all things. If we think to receive Him merely as Savior, and (perhaps) later as Lord, then we do not receive Him at all. And note that not-so-subtle word of warning from Psalm 110: “your enemies your footstool.” There are consequences for resisting God and rejecting the Good News, and they are not pleasant. The Good News is only good against the backdrop of the bad news: God holds all men accountable for the death of His Son. Either we accept that death and its benefits, or we reject it and find ourselves trampled underfoot.

The Structure: Peter’s sermon, while incited by events, was based on Scripture: Micah, the Psalms, and a reference to 2 Samuel. Scripture has explosive power to convey the Good News, but only when we make proper use of it. The enemies of God at Jericho fell by a word; and now many of the enemies of God are about to become His friends, by a Word.

Is the Gospel you share with friends as full and complete as the Gospel Peter shared on that first Pentecost?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
The Sovereignty of God in the Gospel


Acts 2:22-28
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”

The Story: Peter continues his explanation of the events of that first Pentecost morning. It is as the Old Testament says: These are the last days, the Spirit is upon us, and we His servants and witnesses proclaim the Kingdom, because God has raised His Holy One from the dead, as David prophesied. We note Peter’s emphasis on the historicity of the events of the Gospel – Jesus’ works and wonders, His passion, and His resurrection. This account is neither myth nor delusion: All this was attested to those present. They knew it was true. Jesus is alive! God is sovereign in all aspects of the work of the Gospel, sending and empowering Jesus, because Jesus was God (“Holy One”), ordering the events of wicked men according to His Word, raising His Messiah from the dead, overcoming the pangs of death. And now commissioning His Spirit-filled servants to proclaim the Good News. The Gospel is the quintessential fusion of spiritual and temporal, heavenly and earthly, Creator and creature. Now the offer of life and forgiveness is extended through the preaching of Christ’s witnesses. The ongoing work of Christ is underway with a vengeance.

The Structure: The walls of Jericho fell with a mighty shout. The walls of men’s hearts are about to fall under the simple proclamation of an undeniable truth: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and He is Lord!

If someone were to ask you to explain the Gospel, what would you say?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
The Last Days


Acts 2:14-21
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

The Story: We note how easily Peter dismissed the one explanation proffered for the events of this Pentecost morning. It was so stupid and nonsensical that all he had to do was point out a basic incongruence in the explanation – Nobody is drunk this early in the morning. OK, that dumb idea dispensed with, on to the real explanation. Or, rather, on to the Word of God. Peter immediately turned to the Scriptures, not to some eloquent explanation of their experience (“And you can have it, too!”). He wanted these people to know that what they were seeing exactly corresponded to what God Himself had revealed centuries before. God’s Word is sure, not Peter’s experience (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19-21). We note also that Peter announces the beginning of the “last days”, the days in which the ongoing work of Christ has been proceeding for nearly 2,000 years now. The “last days” are not, as some suppose, a brief period at the end of time just before Jesus returns. They are now, and have been since the Spirit first fell, and whatever the Scriptures of God say about those last days refers to the ongoing work of Christ, the work of Restoration, and the work we as Christ’s followers should be pursuing in our day. And that work is a work of proclamation first of all (vv. 17, 18). Whatever “wonders” may accompany that preaching (vv. 19, 20) will be, like Pentecost itself, the Lord’s doing. Our duty is to proclaim, and the duty of those who hear is to “call upon the name of the Lord” and be saved (v. 21).

The Structure: Peter establishes an important principle concerning the ongoing work of Christ, the work of Restoration: We do not leave the Old Testament behind! The Kingdom of God comes as promised in the Old Testament. The Old Testament informs our thinking about the Kingdom and the Restoration we seek in Jesus Christ. If we fail to base the ongoing work of Christ in the Old Testament, we ignore the example of the Apostles – and of the Lord Himself.

Does the Old Testament play as large a role as it should in the life of your church? In your own discipleship?

BookJobFor an excellent complement to our study of the book of Acts, order the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, by Roland Allen, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
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