Acts 9:10-22

Acts 9:10-22

The events following Saul’s conversion.

Ananias was a disciple of Christ living in Damascus and also a prophet (all who see visions are either an apostle or prophet).

A vision is a supernatural audio-visual event through which God communicates with a person or reveals heavenly truth. Visions occurred with Jacob, Moses and the elders, King Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and the apostle John (among others).

Ananias was told to go to Straight Street to Judas’ house to find Paul who was praying.

We do not know for what Paul prayed but we could guess it concerned regaining his sight and also getting direction from Christ (9:6).

The Lord also gave Paul a vision of Ananias coming to him.

Ananias was reluctant understandably because he had heard of Saul’s reputation for persecuting God’s people.

In explaining to Ananias the Lord makes clear that the tables would be turned and Paul would be terribly persecuted and suffer for Christ-this was revealed to Paul so that he knew and counted the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:28,31). The rest of the book of Acts and II Cor. 6:6 and 11:24-33 bear witness.

The laying on of hands served to confer spiritual gifts/ordain, heal, show care for and identification with the recipient. It was typical of Christ and the apostles and continues in ordinations in Reformed churches today (see Mark 5:23, 16:18, Acts 8:18, 28:18, I Tim.4:14, 5:22, Heb.6:2).

Ananias called Paul “brother” because the Lord had told him of his conversion and future service. His attitude to Paul had changed.

The Lord had to have told Ananias what had happened to Saul.

Saul/Paul received the Holy Spirit through Ananias’ hands.

Saul knew baptism was commanded to signify and seal the washing away of his sins.

Saul began to preach that Christ was the Son of God because this was his calling among the Jews. He went for some time alone into Arabia, then back to Damascus and then some years later to Jerusalem (Gal.1:12, 17,18, I Tim.1:11, Gal.2:2, Acts 24 and 26).

The Jews were initially amazed but later started to violently persecute him.

Saul’s knowledge of and faith in Christ was strengthened.

He was able to prove from Scripture that Jesus was the Messiah and refute their arguments to the contrary. Note that with regard later to Agrippa and Festus he used more personal testimony. Our witness includes God’s word (and church preaching), personal testimony and life (I Peter 3:1, 3:15).

 

Next study (DV) May 18th    

Acts 9:23-35

 

Male headship Biblical.

There is controversy over the ordination of woman to positions of leadership and oversight the Christian church. Arguments are made for this practice on the basis that the difference in authority between male and female was a result of the fall into sin rather than a creation ordinance, and therefore is to be overcome by the Christian church rather than perpetuated. Further, the New Testament itself teaches that in Christ there is no longer any distinction between male and female (Gal. 3:28). Where Paul in his writings seems to contradict this overriding theological truth of sexual equality and identity, it was because he was a product of his patriarchal times at best or a chauvinist at worst. Apart from resulting from an unorthodox doctrine of inspiration and some terrible exegesis, these arguments start to crumble when faced with the true doctrine of the family. To start with, within the family of the Trinity there is both equality of persons and subordination of order and roles – hence the Son is subject to the Father while being of one substance with the Father. This shows that there is nothing inherently sinful about being in a position of authority or being subject to authority, and that there is nothing logically contradictory between the principles of equality in Christ and submission within a society. Also, the fact that this is how God is within Himself implies that this is how things are in the created order also, for the works of God reflect who God is.

   Subordination within a family structure is not a result of the fall but exists in the very nature of things because this is how the Creator lives within Himself. The Bible explicitly and clearly teaches that females are to be subordinate to their male heads within the context of the family. This means that wives are to be submissive to their husbands and that daughters are to be submissive to their fathers (as should sons too showing that authority structures in the Bible and this relate are not simply gender based). How does this relate to the question of ordination in the church? Male headship in the family directly and necessarily implies male leadership in the church· It has already been noted how, in early New Testament times, the church was really an extension of the Christian household. Just as several congregations come together in association now to form a “denomination,” so then the local church was a conglomeration of various families who united for the purpose of forming the institution of a church. To view the matter like this helps us to understand the nonarbitrary nature of God’s clear instructions that only males should serve as elders
and deacons. When female ordination is opposed by us
as it should be it is not opposed just because “the Bible says so” (although this should be sufficient, even if we understood no further). Rather, when the church is
placed in its familial background, as an outgrowth and continuation of the covenant Christian family, our refusal to ordain females makes perfect Biblical sense. What would be the logic of insisting upon male headship
in the home only to deny it in that corporate extension of the home that is the Christian church? Conversely, we can see why denying the headship of man in the church will always lead back to an eroding away of the headship of man in the family, and thus to all others areas of society.
From editorial in British Reformed Fellowship Journal by Dr Allen Baird.

Synod of Dort consequences.

Arminianism today: The war lost?

Today, much—virtually all—of American (and UK) Evangelicalism is affected by Arminian theology. Some Dutch Reformed denominations that count the Synod of Dordt as part of their historical heritage no longer defend Dordt’s doctrine in every respect. The doctrine of the well-meant offer, which compromises Dordt’s stand on total depravity and irresistible grace, plagues many Reformed churches. The idea of common grace that Abraham Kuyper promoted in Dutch Reformed circles, and its further development by the Christian Reformed Church in 1924, undermined the doctrines of total depravity, irresistible grace, and particular atonement. Teach that Christ died only for some humans, not each and every one, and many members of Reformed denominations will believe that you are mistaken. Ask them to explain God’s decree of election, and be saddened but not surprised when many say that it is God’s will to save all who will believe and obey in their own power, not His determination to save certain specific persons whom He ordained to eternal life.

If the battle appears to be lost on those battlefields, what of the closest battlefield? By God’s grace, the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and her three sister churches not only hold the Canons of Dordt as an official confession, but also teach and defend the doctrines taught in it.1 But does each and every member understand those doctrines, and see their importance? Would each and every member readily defend and promote them?

And how goes the battle in our own lives? We confess that God, from eternity, ordained some to eternal life in Christ; but in our hearts do we question His justice in sovereignly reprobating others—especially if those others are our close friends or family members? We confess that the human race is totally depraved, and find abundant evidence of this in current events around us. But do we deny or excuse our own sins—a practical denial of total depravity? We praise God for His irresistible grace—but are we quick to boast of some work of our own?

The battle against Arminianism is unceasing both on the church front and in our own lives. Each of us is susceptible to losing a particular battle against Arminianism in our own hearts. If we have not lost the battle against Arminianism in our own hearts, and if we will not, what is the explanation? Only this: God has preserved us whom He has called in Christ to be saints.

Our sure hope: Certain victory

In history, the cause of orthodoxy seems to have suffered defeat after defeat. But truth will be victorious. Orthodoxy will at last prevail. This will become evident when our ascended Lord brings His glorified church to heaven. No, the church in heaven will not subscribe to the Canons of Dordt; it is an earthly document, and with all other earthly documents will be destroyed with fire. However, the church in heaven will confess and praise the sovereign grace of Jehovah in salvation; we will confess then the same central truths that are expressed in the Canons. The glorified church will sing a new song of praise to Jehovah for His irresistible grace shown to sinners, based solely on the shed blood of the Lamb and its saving effect (Rev. 5:9-10, 14:3). Those singing this song will realize that they, though sinners, have been appointed to everlasting life, and preserved with a view to it.

Even in time, the war will be won. The church must always know that this threat is ever present and constantly fight it, without letting down her guard. This error’s continued presence leads us always to rely on the grace and mercies of Jesus Christ, and gives occasion for many prayers for defense and safety from our enemies.

Yet, there is a sense in which the battle that Dordt won is won again and again. It is won in the hearts of faithful believers who love the truth. It is won every time an unbeliever is brought to true, saving faith, and every time an ungodly person is turned to godliness. It is won by faithful churches who refute and oppose Arminianism and preach sovereign grace. It will be won as the faithful church preaches the gospel, for (as the Canons remind us) this gospel must be preached indiscriminately throughout the world. The preaching of this gospel is the running of the white horse of Revelation 6:2, and the cause of the gospel will be victorious.

Until Christ returns to defeat the enemy decisively and deliver the church from such error, may the prayer with which the Canons conclude be on our lips:

May Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, seated at the Father’s right hand, gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, bring to the truth those who err, shut the mouths of the calumniators of sound doctrine, and endue the faithful minister of His Word with the spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all their discourses may tend to the glory of God and the edification of those who hear them. Amen.

Douglas Kuiper in Standard Bearer May 1st 2019

Full article

God’s word in our hearts

“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” This verse quoted in Romans 10:8 shows that not only we presently have, but also the believing Old Testament Jews then had God’s law written inwardly on their hearts by the Holy Spirit who indwells both. The salvation we enjoy, wrought by Christ, retrospectively was applied to all the faithful from Abel till today. They were regenerated, justified, sanctified and glorified just as we are, the only difference being that we have a much fuller and richer revelation of that salvation and the working of God in Scripture.

 

Consecration of Israel (8)

 

Sung Psalm 50:1-6

Reading I Peter 1:1-16

Reading Exodus 19 and 24 alongside I Peter 2:9 we see great similarities. In both passages God’s people are called:

1) Peculiar treasure (v5)

2) Kingdom of priests (v6)

3) Holy nation (v6)

This demonstrates that the New Testament church to whom Peter is writing, in what is modern Turkey, is Israel. Both passages describe the one covenant people of God; hence dispensationalists and Jewish pre-millennialists are in error.

The true Israel of God are:

  1. Catholic (Jew and Gentile)-there were always proselytes alongside Jews in the first century church.
  2. Elect according to foreknowledge (Deut.7:6-8), foreknowledge being God’s sovereign eternal love.
  3. Sanctified-then by animal blood (external and ceremonial cleansing), now by Christ’s blood (internally and in reality)-note both sprinkled as redemption is applied.
  4. The goal is obedience (Ex.19:5, 24:7, I Peter 1:14 and I Peter 3 (wives)).
  5. The N.T. is better as we have definite rebirth and eternal heavenly inheritance (inheritance of land an emphasis in O.T).
  6. Trials (all of life) all to the purpose of purifying our faith (I Peter 1:7)-the Jews manifestly failed on this score e.g. in the wilderness.

But thank God, in Christ, we have the “full package” of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc) along with faith and a lively hope through the resurrection of Christ, to whom we are bound eternally.

Consecration of Israel (7)

Sung Psalm 89:29-37

Reading II Corinthians 3:1-18

It is interesting but also illuminating that the Spirit in time and in salvation takes away the vail (Old Covenant of Law or covenant of works v16) from any Jew (or Gentile) and replaces it with an open face beholding Christ in the New Covenant. The Jews made Moses wear that vail because God in Christ was too bright and holy and condemning of them!

The key verse exposing Israel’s breaking of the Old Covenant law is Jeremiah 31:31-34. We know that breaking the covenant is disobeying the commandments (Deut.4:13) not that God ever breaks his covenant (spiritual bond of faith) with any of his elect people (OC or NT). The nation of Israel broke the covenant for centuries through its reprobate majority (Dan.9:5,6) as also Christ’s makes clear in his parable of the vineyard (Matt.21:33ff).

The Law considered apart from the Spirit and Christ, kills people by condemning them (to death). Romans 6:23! But remember that OT faithful believers had the law in their hearts (Psalm 37:31) the promise of Jeremiah was not only prospective but retrospective! Moses and David had faith!

We considered the covenant breaking of Adam (hiding and blaming), Noah (drunkenness and exposure), Abraham (lying, bigamy), David (adultery) and this latter despite the wonderful promises in II Sam.7:16 and I Chron.17:12,13). Yet, even through this breaking of the covenant, God kept his side by causing Christ to be in line of David and Bathsheba!

Israel as a nation is mentioned more than any other covenant recipient as a covenant breaker because as a covenant it concerned so many people and such detailed laws, and this was seen in the secession of the Northern Kingdom and the wickedness of many of the Kings of Judah, all this despite the wonderful promises of Isaiah (chapters 7 and 9 especially), Psalms 2, 45 and 110 all pointing to the eternal Davidic King. The Davidic covenant though later in time, was essentially only broken by one man and as such, his covenant-breaking is not so extensively mentioned in Scripture.

In Psalm 89 we see God’s covenant faithfulness to David (Christ) esp. in vv28-37 along with his subsequent desertion (think cross)/chastisement in vv37-47 and this being also true for every backsliding believer.

The New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant (Jer.31:32,33) in that every true recipient or friend of God has the law written on their heart and the ability, by the Holy Spirit, to keep it! The organic nature of God’s covenant people needs to be kept in mind. The people of God in all ages are a vine or a wheat field when considered as a whole (organic idea) yet there are always dead branches and tares mixed in (they are not all Israel who are of Israel).

A NT verse to sum up todays class might be II Timothy 2:12,13

 

 

 

 

 

Consecration of Israel (6)

 

Covenant Consent

Sung Psalm 103:17-22

Reading Leviticus 26:14-46

In Exodus 24:7 and other places the people of Israel en masse say they will keep God’s covenant/commandments. The covenant presupposes mutual responsibilities (God as father and people as obedient children) and is a reciprocal relationship of friendship where there is loving communication.

We know that neither Israel nor us can keep this covenant perfectly Heidelberg Catechism LD 44 Q114 Only Christ ultimately was able to perfectly keep this covenant but the wonderful truth is that the Holy Spirit who inspired and authored the commandments is the one in us enabling us to aspire to keep them (Phil.2:12,13). To willingly consent to the terms of the covenant is like confessing your faith when joining the church. We are saved to keep the commandments out of gratitude.

Covenant Breaking

The definition of Lev.26:15 shows it is disobedience. Believers may disobey but that does not break the covenant bond. Apostates are professors in the sphere of the covenant, may well have been given the covenant sign (e.g.Esau circumcised, Ananias/Sapphira baptised) but they were never really in the covenant (election governs who is in the covenant) and they never obey/repent.

We discussed the curses of the chapter we read and said that the outward prosperity or health of ANYONE may have no bearing on their spiritual state (Eccles. 9:1,2). We lamented the Pentecostal/charismatic pastors and churches who teach a “health and wealth” gospel and fleecing falsehood and who make themselves out to be above criticism. God curses a nation or individual as punishment to the reprobate and he chastises in love, a nation or individual out of love-both may suffer according to his word but God’s motive differs. Lev.26:44 says God never breaks his covenant with his elect. He knows, in advance, what his unbelieving professing people will do (Deut.31:16,20, Judges 2:1,2, Ezekiel 16:59ff), just as he knows, because he decrees, the good works of his people and rewards them out of pure grace (and knows their sins too (e.g. Peter’s denial).