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Archive for March, 2016

What did Jesus have to say about salvation? What did His followers do in response to what they heard? What does that mean for us today?

Please enjoy this Bible study in the way that works best for you: as is in the written format or by clicking on the blue video links to hear an audio version, with some further explanation included.  Your device may allow the video and written versions to run in separate tabs, allowing you to hear a narrated version as you study the printed version.

Your comments, feedback, and questions are welcome!

ONE – INTRODUCTION

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POINT:  HOW TO USE THIS STUDY

The most effective way to use this type of Bible study is to sit down with someone who loves this doctrine, and who lives and teaches it themselves, looking into the scriptures together. Though there is really no substitute for that, this study was written with more detailed information for times when that option is impractical because of distance.  Please pray about an opportunity for an in-person Bible study, in addition to using this one.

How this was written and how to navigate it:

Each part is numbered, so that if it is viewed on social media, it will be easier to keep the sections straight.  There are seven parts in all.  Also, because of the different ways printed text shows up on certain devices — computers, tablets, cell phones, etc. — as opposed to a printed version of the study, CAPITALIZED WORDS along with bold and/or italics, and changes in the size (font) of the text, are used to highlight key words in the scripture being focused on, or to show emphasis. (My apologies in advance if this gives the impression of “shouting”, or otherwise appears to be in poor form.)

A King James Bible will be a great help to you in this study: seeing the Word for yourself, in your own hands, is very powerful. Many other translations or versions are available, and you are welcome to use any you like, but the scriptures printed in this study are in KJV, so using that, if available, will potentially make the study flow more smoothly.

Pray about your involvement in the study: because we are more likely to hear and receive truth — not opinion — from the Word of God into hearts prepared by prayer.

 

TWO – LET’S BEGIN

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POINT:  THERE IS A PROPER WAY TO STUDY SCRIPTURE

To effectively study God’s word, we should be careful to insure that we do the following:

* HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING that we are NOT ENTITLED to our OWN INTERPRETATION that we’re comfortable with. The Bible is truly an “open book”, available to anyone who wishes to find truth, as well as to anyone who wishes to pick and choose scripture to fit their own personal viewpoint.  The choice is ours, but to find truth, we must approach God’s word with the understanding that it is God-inspired, and seek to know what he wants to show us.

“Knowing this first, THAT NO PROPHECY OF THE SCRIPTURE IS OF ANY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  2 Peter 1:20-21

* HAVE A WILLINGNESS TO “RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE TRUTH” — to study the Word so that we understand how it fits together the way God intended, approaching it with a heart to understand what God wants, rather than to see what we’re used to seeing. God didn’t send his Word to be a source of division, but to show us the way to come to Him, to know Him, and to be saved. If our heart is seeking Truth in God’s word, sincerely, that is what we will find.  If our heart is set to pick apart the word of God, we will find opportunities to pick it apart, and Truth will go past us without our even noticing. When we can honestly ask God to show us His Truth, and with all our hearts assure Him that what He shows us we will obey —  that we want all of Him we can have — then we are fully on our way to rightly dividing the truth.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH.” 2 Tim 2:15

* DESIRE TO HAVE GOD REVEAL HIS TRUTH TO US – TO ENLIGHTEN US. IT TOOK THE LORD OPENING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE DISCIPLES, who had walked with him over 3 years, for them to know what He truly wanted them to see and understand. 

“Then OPENED HE THEIR UNDERSTANDING, that they might understand the scripture…” Luke 24:45

“The EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING BEING ENLIGHTENED, that you may know what is the hope of his calling”…Ephesians 1:18

* NOTICE THE DIVISIONS OF THE WORD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:

GOSPELS (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell the life, works, and teachings of Jesus.

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES recorded what the twelve Apostles who Jesus had chosen (those who had followed him as his disciples in the time of the Gospels) did to obey Jesus, what they preached to get people saved, how people responded, and what happened for those who obeyed.

EPISTLES (Romans through Jude) are letters written to churches that were started by the Apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts, further instructing them in how to live in the salvation they had received by obeying the preaching of the Apostles.

REVELATION is the prophecy to the churches of the end of all things, and how to live in preparation for it.

(Note that all the accounts of people being saved after Jesus ascended are recorded in the book of the Acts of the Apostles.)

Let’s stop and pray at this point, asking God to open our understanding to see the truth of His word as He wants us to see it.

Here’s what’s coming next:

In Section Three we’ll examine what Jesus said in the Gospels about what it takes to be saved.

Section Four will cover what Jesus’ disciples (who became his Apostles after the events of Acts Chapter 2) did in response to what Jesus told them to do to get people into the Kingdom of God.

In Section Five we’ll look at whether their response was appropriate – did they do what Jesus commanded them to do or not?

Section Six will focus in on how their response could be obedience to Jesus’ commandments.

Section Seven will ask what the actions and teachings of Jesus and His Apostles left for us to obey.

Ready? Let’s begin.

 

THREE – IN JESUS’ OWN WORDS

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POINT: WHAT DID JESUS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT SALVATION?

While some quote only certain scriptures about how to be saved, such as the one from John 3:16, when we zoom out to see the whole setting and what else was being said — side by side with what was said in the other Gospels — we get more complete information on what Jesus said to people about how to get into the Kingdom of God (be saved). Please read these scriptures in your own Bible (KJV):

John 3:5-8 – “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” SALVATION REQUIRES BEING BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND SPIRIT; THERE IS A SOUND THAT WILL BE HEARD WHEN ANYONE IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT.

Luke 24:46-49Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until be endued with power from on high.”   *Note: in Acts 1:4-5, Jesus plainly states that the “promise of the Father” is the Holy Ghost. REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS MUST BE PREACHED IN JESUS’ NAME; THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER (THE HOLY GHOST*) WOULD BE SENT.

Mark 16:15-17 – “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe… they shall speak with new tongues…”BELIEVING AND BEING BAPTIZED ARE REQUIRED FOR SALVATION; BELIEVERS WILL SPEAK WITH NEW TONGUES.

Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsovever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” DISCIPLES ARE TO TEACH AND MAKE DISCIPLES, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME – WHAT NAME?

 

POINT: JESUS COMMITTED THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL TO HIS DISCIPLES, WHOM HE LATER NAMED APOSTLES.

      Matthew 16: 15-19 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.  And I say unto thee that thou art Peter.  And upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” Because of his revelation of who Jesus was, before the other disciples received it, Jesus gave to Peter the keys to His kingdom, and the authority to bind and loose on earth.  Should we not pay special attention to anything preached by the Apostle Peter?

      John 17:20 – “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word…” Jesus was in the presence of his 12 disciples, whom he later named Apostles, when he prayed this prayer.  Jesus prayed for His original disciples, but included all future generations of believers by referring to them as those who would believe on Him through the word of the disciples. This is the hand-off of the Gospel from the mouth of Jesus to the mouth of His disciples.  He trusted them to represent what He wanted the world to hear. Shouldn’t we trust them as well?

 

FOUR: THE APOSTLES’ RESPONSE

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POINT: WHAT DID THE APOSTLES DO IN RESPONSE TO WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT SALVATION?

The Book of Acts, as noted in Section Two of this study, contains the Acts and teaching of the Apostles, how that teaching was responded to by the people who heard them, and what happened to those who willingly obeyed. Acts Chapter 1 overlaps somewhat with the ending of the Gospels. It was written by Luke, and is a continuation of his account of what happened after Jesus’ resurrection.  Luke explains how Jesus spent time with the Apostles, “being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” (Acts 1:3) then gives an account of Jesus’ instructions to 500 followers, which of course included the 11 disciples at His ascension, to ”wait for the promise of the Father…” (Acts 1:4), and that “ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come…” (Acts 1:8)

      Acts Chapter 2 records the fulfillment of what Jesus had promised for the 120 remaining in prayer in the Upper Room by the day of Pentecost: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting…And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4). This is when the church of Jesus Christ was born: notice that there was a sound.

When the crowd heard them, and saw their joy and worship, under the power of the Holy Ghost, they assumed they were drunk.  Never had such a thing happened in the earth, and they didn’t understand it.  Peter preached to the crowd, detailing Who it was they had slain on the cross, and they were “pricked in their hearts” (Acts 2:37), and convicted that they were sinners. Perhaps more than any group in history, they realized they were hopeless without God’s mercy, and knew they didn’t deserve mercy at all.  They did have enough faith, though, to ask the question to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Let’s look at what happened next that day, and the days following. Please note also, that the essence of the question these men asked is the same question we must all ask today, “How can a sinner find hope and obtain mercy to be saved?”, and if the question has not changed, there is no reason to believe the answer has changed.

Acts 2:38-41 – Peter gave the answer: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39) SALVATION WAS PREACHED AS REPENTANCE, BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME, AND RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST. 3000 who gladly received Peter’s word were baptized and added to the church.

Acts 8:5, 12-18 – Philip preached at Samaria; those who received the word were “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16); when Peter and John laid hands on them, “they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17). BELIEVING (WHICH PRODUCES REPENTANCE), BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME, AND RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST IS WHAT WAS PREACHED AND OBEYED IN SAMARIA.

Acts 9:1-18 – Paul (formerly Saul) encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, was struck blind for 3 days until he was prayed for by Ananias, and then was baptized by him, as Ananias said, to “wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (as detailed from Paul’s account to the Jews of his conversion, in Acts 22:3-21). Paul immediately began preaching the same message Peter preached (see Acts 9:20-29; 19:1-6; Galatians 1:6 – 2:10). PAUL REPENTED, WAS BAPTIZED IN JESUS’ NAME, AND RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST.

Acts 10:44-48 – Peter preached the first message of Jesus specifically to the Gentiles, including Cornelius and his household; “while Peter yet preached, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” (Acts 10:44), those witnessing heard them “speak with tongues” (Acts 10:46), and Peter commanded that they “be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:48) The Jews hearing Peter’s account concluded that God had granted the Gentiles “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18) THE GENTILES REPENTED, WERE BAPTIZED IN JESUS’ NAME, AND RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST.

Acts 19:1-8 – Paul found some disciples who had not yet received the Holy Ghost.  He asked them, “Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.” Acts 19:3 Then, when Paul explained that what they had experienced was a baptism unto repentance, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:5-6) PRACTICING BELIEVERS WHO HAD REPENTED, AND THOUGHT THEY WERE SERVING GOD FULLY, WHEN THEY ENCOUNTERED THE REST OF THE GOSPEL, WERE BAPTIZED IN JESUS’ NAME AND RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST.

THE APOSTLES PREACHED AND FOLLOWED THE SALVATION FORMULA OF: REPENTANCE, WATER BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, AND RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST. (NOTE THAT NO BAPTISM OCCURRED USING THE TITLES “FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST”. BAPTISM WAS ONLY IN THE NAME OF JESUS.)

 

FIVE: DID THE APOSTLES DO WHAT JESUS COMMANDED?

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POINT: THE BIRTH OF WATER AND SPIRIT THAT JESUS COMMANDED CONSISTS OF WATER BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME AND THE INFILLING OF THE HOLY GHOST.

Jesus commanded a birth of water and SpiritPeter preached baptism in Jesus name as a birth of water, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as a birth of the Spirit.

Jesus said that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name and He would send the promise of the Father Peter’s first message was that repentance was necessary and that baptism in Jesus name was for the remission of sins, and obeying this would bring the Holy Ghost (In Acts 2:33 Peter confirms the promise of the Father is the Holy Ghost.)

Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be savedPeter, Philip, Paul and the others baptized those who believed in the name of Jesus.

Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The Apostles all baptized in the name of Jesus. Why?

Acts 4:12 – “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven . . . whereby ye must be saved.”

Colossians 3:17 – “whether then you eat or drink or whatever ye do, do all in the name of . . . Jesus.”

Ephesians 4:4-6 – “The is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

 

SIX: WHY IS BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME — THE ONLY BAPTISM PRACTICED BY THE APOSTLES — OBEDIENCE TO WHAT JESUS COMMANDED THEM TO DO IN MATTHEW 28:19-20?

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POINT: THE ANSWER IS IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE.

What is the name of the Father?

Though several names are used by God in the Old Testament to reveal himself to His people (Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, El Shaddai, El Shalom…), God points to the day when the Father will reveal Himself by His only saving name:

Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” To acknowledge that this verse prophesies the birth of Jesus is to also acknowledge that this Jesus is the THE MIGHTY GOD and THE EVERLASTING FATHER, come to earth in the flesh. (See John 1:14)

Isaiah 7:14 – “The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Messiah is foretold by the prophet Isaiah to be Immanuel and the angel who quoted this prophecy to Joseph said, “Which being interpreted is, God with us”. (Matthew 1:23)  The only God known to His people Israel was embodied in the baby born in Bethlehem:  Jesus. The name Jesus means The LORD has become our salvation.

John 5:43 – “I am come in my Father’s name…” Jesus came in the name of the Father. What name? The only name he ever used was Jesus.

John 8:58 – “Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus claimed to be the “I AM” who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.  The Jews knew he was claiming to be God, the Father, and took up stones to stone him.  There was no mistake about his claim.

John 14:7, 9 – “If you had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him…He that hath seen me hath seen the Father…” Jesus plainly told his disciples they were looking at the Father when they looked at Him. He said in the prayer of John 17 “Father…I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me…I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it…” (John 17:1, 6, 26)  How could there be any doubt in the understanding of the Apostles as to the name of the Father that Jesus referred to in Matthew 28:19?

Zechariah 14:9 – “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth:  in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” The prophet paved the way for understanding that God, the Father, would be revealed by his saving name in the New Testament:  Jesus.

                        The name of the Father in the New Testament is Jesus.

What is the name of the Son?

Matthew 1:21 – “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Philippians 2:10 – “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth.”

1 John 3:23 – “And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ…”

The name of the Son is Jesus.

What is the name of the Holy Ghost?

John 14: 16-18 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter…Even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jesus spoke of himself and the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, interchangeably.

John 14: 26 – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name…” The Holy Ghost was to be sent in the name of Jesus.

Acts 2: 32-33 – “This Jesus hath God raised up…therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear…” Jesus sent the Holy Ghost. The word again speaks interchangeably of both the Father and Jesus sending the Holy Ghost.

II Cor. 3:17 – “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Jesus is the Lord.  The Lord is that Spirit.  Jesus is that Spirit.

The name of the Holy Ghost is Jesus.

The Apostles, who had walked with Jesus for three-and-a-half years, and whose understanding He had opened before he ascended, knew exactly what name fulfilled Jesus’ commandment in Acts 28:19-20.  They only baptized in the name of Jesus.

 

SEVEN: WHAT DID THEY LEAVE FOR US TO OBEY?

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POINT: THIS GOSPEL PREACHED BY THE APOSTLES WAS INTENDED TO CONTINUE TO BE PREACHED AND OBEYED THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS, INCLUDING OURS.

Acts 2:39 – And this promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call…” An unending promise that Acts 2:38 would be the gospel.

Galatians 1:6-9 “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Paul’s preaching is well-documented.  He knew some would come and say that the gospel he and Peter and the rest of the Apostles preached was changed, but those preachers would be accursed, as they had only perverted the gospel: no man has the power to change it.

Jude 3-4 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares … denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude spoke of the “common salvation” – they had all received salvation the same way; and of the “faith which was once delivered to the saints”: it was not intended to be changed. Jude did warn, however, as did Paul, that men would be working to try to change it.

Colossians 1:21-23 – “And you…yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister…” Paul again states that believers must not be moved away from the gospel preached by him and the other Apostles.

Having heard what Jesus left for us, through the word of the Apostles, to be added to the church, what will be our response?

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

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