8/8/14

From Jim McGuiggan... GOD AGAINST THE GODS


GOD AGAINST THE GODS

The business of the biblical witness is not to tell us about the historical, cultural, religious, political or literary climate of the day though in the process of doing what it does it reveals a lot of that. 

For example, Genesis 1 & 2 sets itself against its environment in which the gods of the nations whose stories are told in the Enuma Elish or the Baal Cycle or the many myths of Sumeria and Egypt. In the Bible God as God has no mythology—he isn’t created, he doesn’t war against other gods to become the chief god nor does he die or be killed and somehow come to life again. Stories like that occur in the mythology of the polytheistic world to explain their experience with nature. 

[How to you explain wilderness sitting next to fertile land—as in Egypt? You invent warring gods—the multi-tasking Sekhmet [fierce godess whose breath created the desert] over against Osiris [god of the Nile who makes Egypt fruitful]. How do you explain floods that destroy and rains that bring prosperity—as in Babylonia or Sumeria? You invent gods who oppose one another—Marduk and Tiamat. How do you explain the winter fruitlessness and the summer harvests—as in Canaan? You tell stories about Baal’s death and being brought to life again. How do explain storms in Canaan? You tell stories of Baal when he is greatly angered [but see Psalm 29 that defies Babylonian and Canaanite flood and storm explanations and see Psalm 82 where God scornfully dismisses the gods of the nations who are the inventions of the “wise” humans who yield the power over people].

Because they couldn’t control or bribe nature they personified the forces of nature and made offerings to them to appease their anger or gain and keep their good will and blessing. When foreign armies threatened them they called on their gods to protect them and when they were defeated they would confess the limits of the gods they worshiped. This distorted thinking showed itself in Israel from time to time. See 2 Chronicles 28:23-26; 1 Kings 20:23-28; 2 Kings 16:7-16.

Genesis 1 & 2 says all that is nonsense and it is the one true God, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who walked into Egypt and publicly exposed that entire pagan theology. “I alone am God, I created and shaped the world in harmony and fruitfulness; I created the human family and redemptively cursed my creation to ultimately bless it. The gods aren’t to be feared or worshiped.”

Multiplied millions now and in ages past have not heard these truths; they’ve been heard by multiplied millions without being “heard” but Christians have been blessed to hear them. These are the envy of the ages, said Jesus in Luke 10:21-24! [And with that profound privilege comes the mission to speak the truth they been blessed with to a harassed and burdened human family—enslaved by gods ancient and modern, with and without idols. 

Whatever else the Exodus events tell us [and they tell us many profound truths] they tell us that God is opposed to cruelty and all forms of oppression. God has created humans to love and be loved, to rejoice and love righteousness and in our living to reflect him as his image. He has made it clear to us that we can’t live fully without him—we were made for him and for one another and while we may be content with a relatively trouble-free life we were made for more than that. Some of us have come to know this and while we rejoice in the pleasures of life and thank God for them there’s that in us that can’t be content with these. There’s a hunger in us that can’t be filled even in a lovely life in a world such as ours now is. Click here.

The truth God revealed about himself and gave to Israel and then to the NT People of God has suffered greatly at the hands of those to whom it has been given. The distortion of this “gospel” of God has led to cruelty and apathy that defies description and can only be acknowledged with profound sadness, embarrassment and shame. The task God entrusted to believers remains the same—get to know Him; get to know his creation purpose to bless humanity and bring it to a glorious climax in and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ at his final coming and ceaselessly to tell those truths now, in speech, in liturgy and sacraments and daily life. 

“Look unto me and be saved all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other!” Isaiah 45:22

Was Jesus Misquoted? by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2795

Was Jesus Misquoted?

by  Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by auxiliary staff writer Dewayne Bryant, who holds two Masters degrees, and is completing Masters study in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, while pursuing doctoral studies at Amridge University. He has participated in an archaeological dig at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional membership in both the American Schools of Oriental Research as well as the Society of Biblical Literature.]
Jesus is under attack like never before. While criticism of the Faith is nothing new, there is an increase in the public exposure of Christianity’s detractors. From documentaries on the small screen to blockbuster movies on the silver screen, critics are pursuing all media venues to preach a message of distrust—and even hate. The members of the new atheism have lambasted the Christian Faith in bestselling books, describing the faithful as simple-minded, anti-scientific, and even dangerous. For Christianity’s critics, the spiritual forecast looks bright for a brisk trade in fear.
Not all of the enemies of the Faith come from a secularist perspective. While plenty come from a scientific background, one of the newest cast members is a former minister and purported biblical scholar. Bart Ehrman, professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is one of the foremost scholars in the country in the area of textual criticism, the art and science of evaluating ancient manuscripts. Trained at Princeton Theological Seminary under Bruce Metzger, a theological conservative and one of the greatest text critics of the 20th century, Ehrman abandoned his former fundamentalist roots and has penned several books questioning the Bible.

WAS JESUS MISQUOTED?

Ehrman specializes in textual criticism, the art and science of evaluating biblical manuscripts. Textual criticism is concerned with studying ancient documents in order to determine the original wording of the text. Like all other documents from antiquity, the original autographs of the New Testament writings are no longer extant. While scribes from the ancient world were quite exact in their standards of copying, no scribe was perfect. This means that manuscripts possessed by biblical scholars have slight—though usually meaningless—differences due to copyist’s errors. In his bestselling book Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman paints a rather bleak picture of the current state of the study of biblical texts:
Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the first copies of the originals, we don’t even have the copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals. What we have are copies made later—much later.... And these copies all differ from one another, in many thousands of places.... These copies differ from one another in so many places that we don’t even know how many differences there are (2005, p. 10).
It is amazing that a book about textual criticism made it onto the New York Times bestseller list, but there is one major difference that makes its popularity unsurprising. The very fact that it attempts to discredit the Bible is a major selling point. Members of the modern militant variety of atheism have used Ehrman’s book as a rallying point. Christopher Hitchens lists Misquoting Jesus as essential reading in the book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007). Sam Harris, another of the new atheists, lists Ehrman’s work on his Web site as recommended reading.
Ehrman’s basic approach is one of despair. He asserts the original text is irrecoverable and virtually unknowable. According to Ehrman, the text was written long after the events they purport to record, by “orthodox” scribes who intentionally altered the text itself. He describes this secretive alteration of the text as something akin to a conspiracy. These alterations changed the face of Christianity as we know it. He says, “It would be wrong...to say—as people sometimes do—that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them.... In some instances, the very meaning of the text is at stake, depending upon how one resolves a textual problem” (p. 208).
In short, the Christian Faith practiced by millions today is unlike that practiced in the first century. Not only is it different, it is inaccessible because agenda-driven scribes have corrupted the very documents that serve as a window to the early church. Short of the invention of time travel, no one can know precisely how early Christianity was practiced—according to Ehrman.

THE STATE OF THE TEXT

According to scholars and critics like Ehrman, the New Testament documents were transmitted in poor fashion. In one of the greatest hoaxes in textual criticism, liberal scholars like Ehrman perpetuate the misconception that the transmission of the biblical text is like a game of “broken telephone” or “Chinese whispers.” According to the rules of the game, a line of people take turns whispering a phrase into the ear of the next person in line. They must whisper it so softly that the person on the other side of their neighbor cannot hear it, and they are not allowed to repeat themselves. When the message gets to the end of the line, it is usually nonsensical and garbled beyond recognition, much to the delight of the participants.
The “broken telephone” analogy is a popular one, but woefully incorrect. Distorting the message to the point of incomprehensibility is the point of the game. That was not the point of the biblical scribes who copied what they believed to be the very Word of God. It is a well-known fact that Old Testament scribes copied the text with a level of fidelity nearly inconceivable by moderns. Scribes developed a highly sophisticated method of counting words, letters, the middle word of a book along with its middle letter, and everything else imaginable to ensure that the copy of the text was a perfect reproduction of the original manuscript. For that reason, the vast number of copyist errors in the Old Testament manuscripts consists of nothing more than a single letter, usually one that looks similar to another in the Hebrew alphabet. Using rules of textual criticism, scholars are able to classify and correct the error quite easily.
While the Old Testament scribes were quite sophisticated in their efforts, what about the scribes who copied the New Testament documents? Unfortunately, New Testament scribes were not always as faithful as their Jewish counterparts. But this hardly means that their work is suspect. Let us return to the broken telephone analogy. Scribes copying the documents were not copying for an audience of one. Their work could be checked and verified by many others who read the copies, or heard them read aloud in the first churches. Furthermore, they were under no rules that limited their ability to communicate their message or forbade them from correcting anyone else. The sheer gravity of copying the words of the apostolic writers, not to mention those of Christ Himself, would have involved the entire Christian community.
To his discredit, Ehrman uses the broken telephone argument when he surely knows better. Trained at Princeton Seminary, a premiere school for New Testament studies, Ehrman knows that scribes did not transmit the biblical documents in this manner. While scribes in the New Testament world did not have the same checks and balances used by Jewish scribes, it does not mean that their efforts were slack or their standards lax. Copying the biblical documents was not for an audience of one, but for the entire Christian community. Others would have been able to check the documents and note any errors that the scribes might have made.
An inconvenient truth for Ehrman, and others favorable to his views, is the witness of authorities in the early church. The early church fathers began quoting and alluding to the books of the New Testament very early. In his Apologia Prima, Justin Martyr indicates that on Sunday the apostolic writings would be read publicly. Tertullian echoes Justin’s sentiments, saying,
Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over to the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally (De Praescriptione Haereticorum 36.1).
As New Testament scholars Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace point out, “What is at issue here is the meaning of ‘authentic’ writings. If this refers to the original documents, as the word in Latin (authenticae) normally does, then Tertullian is saying that several of the original New Testament books still existed in his day, well over a century after the time of their writing” (2007, p. 45, italics in orig.). Tertullian specifically references Paul’s letters to the churches at Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome. Although this point is not entirely certain, it is an interesting thought. Tertullian’s statement provides evidence of a concern for preserving the manuscripts accurately. Given human fascination with historical relics and our interest in preserving them, it is possible that the early churches would have mirrored Tertullian’s concerns, preserving the letters written by the apostles themselves.
Bock and Wallace make a powerful argument concerning two of the earliest manuscripts known today. Citing p75 and Codex Vaticanus (also known as B), they argue that the two manuscripts
have an exceptionally strong agreement. And they are among the most accurate manuscripts that exist today. P75 is about 125 years older than B, yet it is not an ancestor of B. Instead, B was copied from an earlier ancestor of P75.... The combination of these two manuscripts in a particular reading must surely go back to the very beginning of the second century (2007, p. 47).
The state of the New Testament text is much better than the situation of despair found in Misquoting Jesus. As a world-class text critic, Ehrman must be fully aware of this material, yet chooses not to cite any of it in his work. In fact, he rarely cites scholars who disagree with him, leaving the inaccurate impression that he represents a vast majority of scholars who hold the same viewpoint. This borders on academic dishonesty.
That Ehrman knows the ancient scribes were conscientious about serving as custodians of the textual tradition is revealed in admissions throughout the text of Misquoting Jesus. He says, “Far and away, the most changes are the result of mistakes, pure and simple—slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another” (p. 55). The truth finally comes out that the massive majority of errors in the New Testament manuscripts are the result of a copyist’s error, not a deliberate alteration. What Ehrman downplays is that textual critics are well-schooled in how to detect and qualify copyists’ mistakes. By referring to the 400,000 errors in the manuscripts, Ehrman is leaving a false impression with his readership. Some of the errors are easily correctable, and others are downright absurd. As Bock and Wallace explain, “What exactly constitutes a textual variant? Any place among the manuscripts in which there is variation in wording, including word order, omission or addition of words, and even spelling differences is a textual variant. Thus, the most trivial alterations count as variants” (p. 54).
Ehrman does reserve some qualified praise for the ancient scribes. He writes:
The scribes—whether non-professional scribes in the early centuries or professional scribes of the Middle Ages—were intent on conserving the textual tradition they were passing on. Their ultimate concern was not to modify the tradition, but to preserve it for themselves and for those who would follow them. Most scribes, no doubt, tried to do a faithful job in making sure that the text they reproduced was the same text they inherited (p. 177).
Indeed, scribes in the ancient world were expected to copy texts faithfully, despite Ehrman’s assertions that they deliberately altered the New Testament documents. His understanding of ancient scribal custom is made clear by his inclusion of a humorous story about a scribe who deliberately modified the wording of a passage in a copy of the Bible (Codex Vaticanus). A later scribe came along and changed the word back to its original reading, adding the marginal note: “Fool and knave! Leave the old reading, don’t change it!” (p. 56).
A weakness of Ehrman’s argument is that, while he argues that scribes deliberately altered the text, one must ask how he knows it was altered; the charge presupposes that the original reading is still accessible in some way. One cannot argue that the words of Jesus or the teaching of Paul has been changed if one does not know what they actually said, which Ehrman repeatedly confesses. Rather, the very fact that scholars know that the text was altered on occasion means that they have a good idea of what the original reading was. This makes Ehrman’s arguments relatively inconsequential, since he depends upon later examples of change to make his points.
The criticism of Misquoting Jesus has come fast and furious. In the age of the Internet, substantial criticisms of the work have appeared en masse. Not only do Ehrman’s ideas fail to convince those who have studied the issue, New Testament scholars have posted devastating critiques of his work on-line in venues ranging from academic blogs to seminary Web sites. Academic heavyweights such as Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, and Craig Evans have all provided measured criticism of Ehrman’s work, although he appears to have paid little attention. Indeed, Ehrman fuels the controversy when interviewed, choosing to rehash the same arguments each time when they have been answered by other scholars in a variety of media venues. In interviews, Ehrman generally tends to overplay the nature of the manuscript errors and attributes much more importance to them than is warranted.
Ehrman’s book Orthodox Corruption is a scholarly version of the popular-level Misquoting Jesus. Of this book, New Testament scholar Gordon Fee writes, “Unfortunately, Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist” (1995, 8:204). Some critics of Christianity are notorious for failing to incorporate the criticisms of their peers in their own work and making adjustments where necessary. In this Ehrman is no exception, as Orthodox Corruption generally states a similar case as the one found later in Misquoting Jesus, even after fellow scholars offered criticism that appears to have gone largely unheeded.
Ehrman’s work resonates in a post-Christian culture where Christianity is viewed as secretive and even deceptive. His description of the state of the text is bleak, but it is just as inaccurate. Scholars have great confidence in the Greek text that lies beneath modern English translations, and for good reason. Ancient scribes believed they were copying the very words of God, and treated their duties with a commensurate level of care. They knew that God, and His Word, deserved no less.

CONCLUSION

Bart Ehrman has made something of a career out of selling the idea that the New Testament is not only full of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and outright contradictions, but that some of those discrepancies were deliberately inserted into the text. He is something of a theological celebrity, enjoying airtime in a number of different radio and television interviews. As one of the foremost New Testament textual scholars in America, Ehrman should be taken seriously. At the same time, his criticism of the Faith is questionable, and, at times, laughable.
Ehrman excels at selling a packaged version of Christianity that is supposedly authentic but falls short. He matter-of-factly describes the supposed difficulties with Christianity almost as if they are trade secrets of the Faith. On the popular level, it is likely that many of his readers have never heard of these criticisms of the New Testament from a scholar writing for a lay audience. At the same time, scholarly treatments of these issues are readily available. Many fine works written by both the scholar and non-scholar alike have answered all of the objections Ehrman raises. From that standpoint, Ehrman’s exploration of these issues gives an appearance of disingenuousness.
Unlike less scholarly, more popular authors such as Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), Peter Baigent (The Jesus Papers), and Simcha Jacobovici (The Jesus Family Tomb), Ehrman must be taken seriously. He is a widely respected scholar who has produced a number of contributions to the field of New Testament studies. At the same time, he also appears to have little interest in resolving the problems he raises. An honest seeker will try to resolve difficulties he uncovers, if for no other reason than to explore the mystery itself. Ehrman seems to have little interest in finding solutions, preferring instead to emphasize what he considers to be problems in the text. The Christian must be aware that the overwhelming majority of those difficulties often have rather simple solutions, offered by scholars bearing the same level of credentials as Ehrman himself.

REFERENCES

Bock, Darrell and Daniel Wallace (2007), Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).
Ehrman, Bart (2005), Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco, CA: Harper).
Fee, Gordon (1995), “Review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, by Bart D. Ehrman” in Critical Review of Books in Religion, 8:203-206.
Harris, Sam “Recommended Reading (A-Z),” [On-line], URL: http://www.sam harris.org/site/book_reading_list/.
Hitchens, Christopher (2007), God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve Books).

From Mark Copeland... Philip In The Gaza Desert- Acts, Chapter 8

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                       Philip In The Gaza Desert

INTRODUCTION

1. From Peter’s first two sermons, we saw that gospel preaching in the
   first century involved...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Extolling the character of Jesus, and that He will one day return
   c. Calling on people to respond with faith, repentance, and baptism
   d. Offering the remission of sins, and the refreshing gift of the
      Spirit

2. From Philip’s preaching in the city of Samaria, we saw that it
   included...
   a. Proclaiming the kingdom of God and the name (character) of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling on people to believe on Him and to be baptized in His name
      (by His authority)

[As we continuing our survey of gospel preaching in the first century,
we have another example of Philip preaching the gospel, this time to a
single individual in the Gaza desert...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. PHILIP SENT TOWARD GAZA...
      1. An angel of the Lord tells Philip to go toward Gaza - Ac 8:26
      2. On the way there is a man sitting in his chariot - Ac 8:27-28
         a. A eunuch of Ethiopia, in charge of the treasury of Queen
            Candace
         b. Returning home, having gone to worship in Jerusalem, reading
            the prophet Isaiah
      3. The Spirit tells Philip to overtake the chariot - Ac 8:29

   B. PHILIP PREACHES JESUS...
      1. Hearing the eunuch reading Isaiah, Philip asks if he
         understands - Ac 8:30
      2. The eunuch asks Philip to help him - Ac 8:31-34
         a. He expresses the need for someone to guide him, and invites
            Philip to sit with him
         b. The scripture under consideration is Isa 53:7-8
            1) Which speaks of one led as a sheep to the slaughter
            2) Which describes one whose life is taken from the earth
         c. The eunuch asks if Isaiah was speaking of himself, or of
            someone else
      3. Beginning with that Scripture, Philip preaches Jesus to him
         - Ac 8:35

[As before, with Philip in the city of Samaria, we are not give the
details of the actual sermon.  But from what is revealed we can infer
much about what Philip preached...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. FROM ISAIAH’S QUOTATION...
      1. Jesus died for our sins
         a. Isaiah reveals the reason for the Messiah’s suffering - Isa 53:4-6,10-11
         b. Preaching Jesus therefore proclaims His death for our sins
      2. Jesus has been exalted
         a. Isaiah’s prophecy begins and ends with the exaltation of the
            Messiah - Isa 52:13; 53:12
         b. The theme of Jesus’ exaltation permeated Peter’s preaching
            - cf. Ac 2:36; 5:30-31
         c. Preaching Jesus therefore pronounces that He has been
            exalted by God

   B. FROM THE EUNUCH’S QUESTION...
      1. The importance of baptism
         a. Notice the question asked by the eunuch - Ac 8:36
         b. "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
         c. Preaching Jesus clearly included preaching on baptism!
      2. The immediacy of baptism
         a. The Ethiopian was anxious to obey; Philip was willing to
            accommodate him - Ac 8:38
            1) Why the urgency?  Why not wait until they got to town, or
               to a church?
            2) Others were baptized immediately, even after midnight
               - e.g., Ac 16:30-33
         b. The reason for such urgency is clearly taught elsewhere
            1) Baptism is for the remission of sins - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16
            2) We experience the working of God, and put on Christ - cf.
               Col 2:12-13; Ga 3:27

   C. FROM PHILIP’S QUALIFICATION...
      1. The necessity of faith
         a. Philip’s response to the eunuch’s question qualified who
            should be baptized - Ac 8:37
            1) "If you believe...you may"
            2) Faith is a necessary prerequisite to baptism, which
               precludes infant baptism
         b. Indeed faith is necessary to salvation - cf. Jn 8:24
            1) Through faith we can have life in His name - cf. Jn 20:30-31
            2) Baptism is a working of God when our faith is present
               - Col 2:12
      2. The necessity of heartiness
         a. Philip required a wholehearted faith - Ac 8:37
            1) "If you believe with all your heart, you may"
            2) Baptism without such faith renders one simply wet!
         b. The sort of hearty sincerity God has always required
            1) By the children of Israel under the Law - Mt 22:37
            2) By the partakers of Christ today - He 3:12-14

   D. THE RESPONSE...
      1. The eunuch is baptized immediately - Ac 8:38
      2. The eunuch goes on his way rejoicing - Ac 8:39

CONCLUSION

1. From Philip’s preaching in the Gaza desert, preaching Jesus in the
   first century included...
   a. Preaching about the suffering and exaltation of Christ
   b. Preaching the necessity and immediacy of baptism by a sincere
      believer

2. Today, many do not preach Jesus as did Philip (and Peter)...
   a. They ignore baptism altogether, or render it insignificant
   b. They call upon people to pray, when apostolic preaching commanded
      people to be baptized

Has Jesus truly been preached to you, as Philip preached to both the
Samaritans and the Eunuch...?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Philip In The City Of Samaria Acts, Chapter 8

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                     Philip In The City Of Samaria

INTRODUCTION

1. From Peter’s first two sermons, we saw that gospel preaching in the
   first century involved...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Extolling the character of Jesus, and that He will one day return

2. We also learn from Peter that gospel preaching in the first
   century...
   c. Called on people to respond with faith, repentance, and baptism
   d. Offered the remission of sins, and the refreshing gift of the
      Spirit

2. We now turn to the preaching of Philip, not an apostle but one who...
   a. Served as a "deacon", then as an evangelist - Ac 6:1-7; 8:5; 21:8
   b. Was a man of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom
      - cf. Ac 6:3

[We have two accounts of Philip preaching the gospel of Christ, the
first in the city of Samaria...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. THE GOSPEL SPREADS FROM JERUSALEM...
      1. Prompted by persecution spearheaded by Saul (Paul) - Ac 8:1-3
      2. Those forced to leave Jerusalem take the gospel with them - Ac 8:4

   B. THE GOSPEL ARRIVES IN SAMARIA...
      1. The former capital and region of the northern kingdom of Israel
         - 1Ki 16:23-24
      2. Populated by Samaritans, with whom Jews had little contact
         - 2Ki 17:24; Jn 4:9
      3. Excluded by the Limited Commission, included in the Great
         Commission - Mt 10:5; 28:19
      4. Jesus preached to them; His servant Philip now does the same
         - Jn 4:1-42; Ac 8:5

   C. THE GOSPEL CONFIRMED WITH SIGNS...
      1. People heeded Philip because of the signs he did - Ac 8:6-8
      2. Simon, a sorcerer, was also impressed - Ac 8:9-11
      3. Fulfilling the purpose of the signs and wonders - cf. Mk 16:19-20; He 2:3-4

[In such a setting, Philip preached Christ to them (Ac 8:5).  While we
don’t have an actual record of his sermon, we are given sufficient
information to know what his preaching entailed...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. THE KINGDOM OF GOD...
      1. "he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God" - Ac 8:12
         a. Proclaimed by John and Jesus in their ministries - Mt 3:1-2;
            Mk 1:14-15
         b. Expounded upon by Jesus after His resurrection - Ac 1:3
         c. Later a major theme in Paul’s preaching - Ac 19:8; 20:25;
            28:23,31
      2. What preaching the kingdom of God likely entailed
         a. The need to seek first the kingship and sovereignty of God
            - cf. Mt 6:33
         b. Now being exercised through His Son, Jesus - cf. Mt 28:18;
            Ac 2:36; 5:31
         c. In which they could now participate - cf. Col 1:13; Re 1:9
         d. By responding to the call of the gospel - cf. 1Th 2:12; 2Th 2:14
         e. Remaining faithful to Christ, even to death - cf. Re 2:10,
            26-27; 3:21

   B. THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST...
      1. "he preached...the name of Jesus Christ" - Ac 8:12
         a. "Jesus" means "savior", and He saves us from our sins - cf.
            Mt 1:21
         b. "Christ" means "anointed", and He is the Anointed One of God
            - cf. Mt 3:16-17; 17:5
      2. "Note that the term name connotes the full revelation of the
         Son of God and that the double name Jesus Christ reveals both
         his earthly ministry and his divine office." - Kistemaker
         a. "Jesus, therefore, is king in the kingdom of God." - ibid.
         b. As Peter proclaimed, Jesus is Lord, Christ, God’s Servant,
            The Holy One, the Just One, the Prince of life, the Prophet
            - Ac 2:36; 3:12-15,22-26

   C. THE RESPONSE...
      1. They "heeded the things spoken by Philip", implying obedience
         - Ac 8:6; cf. He 5:9
      2. Men and women believed and were baptized - Ac 8:12
      3. Even Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized - Ac 8:13
      4. Which we saw earlier was for the remission of sins - cf. Ac 2:38

CONCLUSION

1. From Philip’s ministry in the city of Samaria, we learn that gospel
   preaching involved...
   a. Proclaiming the kingdom of God and the name (character) of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling on people to believe on Him and to be baptized in His name
      (by His authority)

2. In Philip’s ministry to the Samaritans, we see that he obeyed the
   Great Commission...
   a. Going to other "nations" to preach the gospel - Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15
   b. Making disciples by baptizing them to be saved - Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16

Given the opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ, the
Samaritans’ heeded the gospel through faith and baptism, just like the
Jews in Jerusalem.

How about you?  Are you willing to submit to the sovereignty of God now
being exercised through His Son Jesus, by obeying the gospel of Christ?

In our next study, we will examine Philip preaching the gospel in the
Gaza desert...
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland.... Peter At Solomon’s Porch- Acts, Chapter 3

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                        Peter At Solomon’s Porch

INTRODUCTION

1. From Peter’s first sermon we saw that gospel preaching in the first
   century involved...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling on people to respond in faith, repentance, and baptism for
      the remission of sins

2. Now we turn our attention to Peter’s second recorded sermon...
   a. Found in chapter three of the book of Acts
   b. In which Peter has the opportunity to preach at Solomon’s porch

[As before, let’s first review the circumstances that led to the sermon
itself...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. PETER AND JOHN HAD GONE TO THE TEMPLE...
      1. Christians had been gathering daily in the temple - Ac 2:46
      2. Peter and John arrived at the "hour of prayer, the ninth hour"
         (3 p.m.) - Ac 3:1

   B. MAN LAME FROM BIRTH HAD BEEN HEALED...
      1. Who was left daily at the gate of the temple called "Beautiful"
         - Ac 3:2-3
         a. To ask alms from the people entering the temple
         b. Who asked Peter and John for alms
      2. Peter healed him in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth - Ac 3:4-8
         a. The lame man expected alms
         b. But Peter offered him something much better than silver or
            gold!
         c. The miracle was immediate and total!

   C. CROWD HAD GATHERED...
      1. Drawn by the scene of the man walking, praising God - Ac 3:9
      2. Amazed and wondering, for they knew he had been lame from birth
         - Ac 3:10
      3. They gathered in the porch called Solomon’s - Ac 3:11
         a. A colonnaded area along the eastern wall of the temple area
            - ESVSB
         b. With double columns 38 feet tall, spanning 49 feet,
            supporting cedar ceilings - AYBD

[The similarity to the events in Acts 2 is apparent:  a miraculous event
occurs, it attracts the attention of the people.  As before, Peter uses
the opportunity to preach the gospel...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. JESUS PROCLAIMED AS MIRACLE EXPLAINED...
      1. Not by the power or godliness of Peter and John themselves - Ac 3:12
      2. It was through faith in God’s Servant, Jesus - Ac 3:13-16
         a. Whom the God of their fathers had glorified!
         b. Whom they had delivered up and denied in the presence of
            Pilate!
         c. Whom they denied, asking for a murderer to be released in
            his stead!
         d. Whom God raised from the dead, as seen by witnesses!
         e. Whom Peter describes as the "Holy One," the "Just", the
            "Prince of Life"!
      3. Through faith in His name the lame man was healed - Ac 3:16
         a. Peter and John’s faith in Jesus, not the lame man’s faith
         b. For the lame man had not expected a miracle, but silver or
            gold - cf. Ac 3:4-7

   B. REPENTANCE COMMANDED AS IGNORANCE ACKNOWLEDGED...
      1. Peter admits they and their rulers acted in ignorance - Ac 3:17
      2. What occurred was foretold and fulfilled by God - Ac 3:18; cf.
         Ac 2:23
      3. Yet ignorance is no excuse, so they must "repent and be
         converted" - Ac 3:19
         a. Repent - change their minds their minds regarding Jesus and
            their sinful ways
         b. Convert - turn to God, which implies baptism - cf. Ac 2:38;
            1Pe 3:21
      4. Reasons to repent and turn to God are given - Ac 3:19-26
         a. That your sins may be blotted out (remitted) - cf. Ac 2:38
         b. That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the
            Lord (possibly referring to the gift of the Spirit)- cf. Ac 2:38; Jn 7:37-39; Ga 4:6; 5:22-23
         c. That God may send Jesus Christ (a reference to His second
            coming)
            1) Who was preached to them before (via the prophets)
            2) Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration
               of all things (of which the prophets of God had also
               spoken)
         d. They were sons of the prophets, and of the covenant God made
            with their fathers
            1) A covenant made with Abraham, to bless the world in his
               seed
            2) A promise fulfilled by God through His Servant Jesus,
               Whom He raised
               a) Who was sent by God to bless them
               b) To bless them by turning them away from their sins

   C. RESPONSE...
      1. A negative response by the religious leaders - Ac 4:1-3
      2. A positive response by many who heard (2000 believed) - Ac 4:4

CONCLUSION

1. Again we see that gospel preaching in the first century involved...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling on people to respond with repentance (faith and baptism
      implied)
   c. Offering the remission of sins and refreshing gift of the Spirit

2. We also learn that it included proclaiming...
   a. The character of Jesus (Servant, Holy, Just, Prince of life,
      Christ, Prophet)
   b. The return of Jesus (i.e., His second coming)

The power of the gospel to convict the hearts of men continues to be
seen (5000 after two sermons).  Though with some, the effect appears to
be a hardening of their hearts.

How have you responded to the gospel preaching?  In faithful obedience,
or have you been hardening your heart by refusing to obey in faith,
repentance and baptism...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Peter On The Day Of Pentecost- Acts, Chapter 2

                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                     Peter On The Day Of Pentecost

INTRODUCTION

1. Today we often hear people speak of "gospel preaching"...
   a. Where sometimes the gospel is not mentioned at all
   b. Or that preached is not the gospel preached by the apostles - cf.
      Ga 1:6-9

2. The gospel is "good news" which...
   a. Jesus wanted His apostles to preach to everyone - Mk 16:15
   b. His apostles proclaimed after Jesus ascended to heaven - Mk 16:19-20

3. But is this same gospel being preached today?  In the book of Acts...
   a. We have examples of gospel preaching in the first century
   b. Gospel preaching by the apostles and preachers of Jesus Christ

4. In this series, we shall consider examples of gospel preaching...
   a. Done by the apostles and preachers of Jesus Christ
   b. Examining the content of their sermons and response expected of
      the hearers

[We begin with very first gospel sermon proclaimed by the apostle
Peter...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. THE DAY OF PENTECOST...
      1. It was the day of Pentecost - Ac 2:1
      2. One of three major Jewish feasts, also called the Feast of
         Weeks
      3. Pentecost means "fifty", observed fifty days after the Passover
      4. Jesus had ascended to heaven just ten days before - Ac 1:9-11

   B. THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT...
      1. The apostles had been waiting for the promise of the Spirit
         - Ac 1:4-5
      2. Matthias had just been selected to replace Judas Iscariot - Ac 1:15-26
      3. With audible and visual signs, the Spirit came upon the
         apostles - Ac 2:2-4
      4. They spoke in foreign languages, understood by visitors from
         other countries - Ac 2:5-11
      5. Some thought they were drunk, but it was too early in the
         morning - Ac 2:12-15
      6. Peter explained that it was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy
         - Ac 2:16-21

[With the miraculous events explained, Peter now had the attention of
the audience as he began the first gospel sermon ever preached...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. JESUS ATTESTED BY GOD...
      1. Peter proclaims Jesus as a Man attested by God through His
         miracles - Ac 2:22
      2. Done in their midst, they could not deny the signs Jesus did
         while alive!

   B. JESUS PUT TO DEATH...
      1. By crucifixion, which they themselves did with lawless (Roman)
         hands - Ac 2:23
      2. Though it part of God’s predetermined purpose and foreknowledge
         - ibid.
      3. Jesus’ death and their involvement they could not deny!

   C. JESUS RAISED FROM THE DEAD...
      1. God raised Jesus, having loosed the pains of death - Ac 2:24
      2. Peter offered three proofs that Jesus rose from the dead
         a. David’s prophecy, fulfilled in Jesus - Ac 2:25-31; cf. Ps 16:8-11
         b. Eyewitness testimony, by the twelve apostles - Ac 2:32; cf.
            Ac 1:21-22
         c. Outpouring of the Spirit, which the audience themselves saw
            and heard - Ac 2:33
      3. Compelling evidence to those who were present!

   D. JESUS EXALTED AS LORD AND CHRIST...
      1. The outpouring of the Spirit was the result of Jesus’
         exaltation - Ac 2:33
      2. Jesus’ exaltation was prophesied by David - Ac 2:34-35; cf. Ps 110:1
      3. Thus the crucified Jesus was now Lord and Christ! - Ac 2:36

   E. REACTION AND RESPONSE...
      1. Cut to the heart, many asked "What shall we do?" - Ac 2:37
      2. We note that the following was required:
         a. Believe in Jesus ("know assuredly") as Lord and Christ - Ac 2:36
         b. Repent of sins - Ac 2:38
         c. Baptism for remission of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit
            - Ac 2:38-39
      3. The follow-up:
         a. Peter exhorted them "Be saved from this perverse generation"
            - Ac 2:40
         b. 3000 gladly received his word and were baptized - Ac 2:41
         c. Those baptized were "added" by the Lord to His church - Ac 2:41,47
         d. Thus began the Lord’s church in Jerusalem - Ac 2:42-47

CONCLUSION

1. From Peter’s sermon we learn that gospel preaching in the first
   century involved...
   a. Proclaiming the death, burial, resurrection and lordship of Jesus
      Christ
   b. Calling on people to respond in faith, repentance, and baptism for
      the remission of sins

2. If you had been there on that occasion, how would you have
   responded...?
   a. Like the 3000, would you have gladly been baptized? - Ac 2:41
   b. Would you have continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,
      etc.? - Ac 2:42

Or like many today have you yet to accept that gospel message preached
in the first century?  If so, may I like Peter plead with you:  "Be
saved from this perverse generation."

Respond to the same gospel Peter preached, in the same way 3000 did on
that occasion, by believing in Christ, repenting of your sins, and being
baptized for the remission of sins.  As Jesus said:

   "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does
   not believe will condemned." - Mk 16:16

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading August 8

Bible Reading  

August 8

The World English Bible

 
Aug. 8
Nehemiah 1-3
Neh 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
Neh 1:2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came, he and certain men out of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
Neh 1:3 They said to me, The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.
Neh 1:4 It happened, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,
Neh 1:5 and said, I beg you, Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments:
Neh 1:6 Let your ear now be attentive, and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father's house have sinned:
Neh 1:7 we have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses.
Neh 1:8 Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples:
Neh 1:9 but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there.
Neh 1:10 Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand.
Neh 1:11 Lord, I beg you, let your ear be attentive now to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who delight to fear your name; and please prosper your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cup bearer to the king.
Neh 2:1 It happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now I had not been before sad in his presence.
Neh 2:2 The king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.
Neh 2:3 I said to the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire?
Neh 2:4 Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Neh 2:5 I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may build it.
Neh 2:6 The king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? and when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
Neh 2:7 Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah;
Neh 2:8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. The king granted me, according to the good hand of my God on me.
Neh 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.
Neh 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a man had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
Neh 2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Neh 2:12 I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God put into my heart to do for Jerusalem; neither was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode on.
Neh 2:13 I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal's well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates were consumed with fire.
Neh 2:14 Then I went on to the spring gate and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
Neh 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall; and I turned back, and entered by the valley gate, and so returned.
Neh 2:16 The rulers didn't know where I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest who did the work.
Neh 2:17 Then said I to them, You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Neh 2:18 I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. They said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
Neh 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?
Neh 2:20 Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

Neh 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up its doors; even to the tower of Hammeah they sanctified it, to the tower of Hananel.
Neh 3:2 Next to him built the men of Jericho. Next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri.
Neh 3:3 The fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:4 Next to them repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz. Next to them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel. Next to them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.
Neh 3:5 Next to them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles didn't put their necks to the work of their lord.
Neh 3:6 The old gate repaired Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, and its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:7 Next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, that appertained to the throne of the governor beyond the River.
Neh 3:8 Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths. Next to him repaired Hananiah one of the perfumers, and they fortified Jerusalem even to the broad wall.
Neh 3:9 Next to them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.
Neh 3:10 Next to them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, over against his house. Next to him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabneiah.
Neh 3:11 Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hasshub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired another portion, and the tower of the furnaces.
Neh 3:12 Next to him repaired Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
Neh 3:13 The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and one thousand cubits of the wall to the dung gate.
Neh 3:14 The dung gate repaired Malchijah the son of Rechab, the ruler of the district of Beth Haccherem; he built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:15 The spring gate repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king's garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David.
Neh 3:16 After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth Zur, to the place over against the tombs of David, and to the pool that was made, and to the house of the mighty men.
Neh 3:17 After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district.
Neh 3:18 After him repaired their brothers, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah.
Neh 3:19 Next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another portion, over against the ascent to the armory at the turning of the wall.
Neh 3:20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired another portion, from the turning of the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.
Neh 3:21 After him repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz another portion, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.
Neh 3:22 After him repaired the priests, the men of the Plain.
Neh 3:23 After them repaired Benjamin and Hasshub over against their house. After them repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah beside his own house.
Neh 3:24 After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another portion, from the house of Azariah to the turning of the wall, and to the corner.
Neh 3:25 Palal the son of Uzai repaired over against the turning of the wall, and the tower that stands out from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh repaired.
Neh 3:26 (Now the Nethinim lived in Ophel, to the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that stands out.)
Neh 3:27 After him the Tekoites repaired another portion, over against the great tower that stands out, and to the wall of Ophel.
Neh 3:28 Above the horse gate repaired the priests, everyone over against his own house.
Neh 3:29 After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his own house. After him repaired Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate.
Neh 3:30 After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another portion. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber.
Neh 3:31 After him repaired Malchijah one of the goldsmiths to the house of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate of Hammiphkad, and to the ascent of the corner.
Neh 3:32 Between the ascent of the corner and the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.