Published August 8, 2013
Luke 24:36-53; Acts 1-2
Bible Studies for Life, Aug. 18
Sessions 10 and 11 looked at the work of Jesus Christ: His life, death, and resurrection. After the Ascension, the next pivotal event in the storyline of the Bible is Jesus’ commission to His church and the resulting empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Today’s Bible study will show how God’s commission for His people began in the Old Testament and Christians, under the power of the Holy Spirit, must elevate their call to be a witness for Jesus and must work together to fulfill God’s plan.
The Commission begins in the Old Testament - Luke 24:44-49
Luke 24:13-32 describes the resurrected Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In my opinion, verses 25-27 are groundbreaking verses. “And he said to them, ‘foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (emphasis mine).
Jesus, beginning with the Pentateuch (the first five books in the Old Testament) “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Imagine Jesus interpreting the Old Testament prophecies about Himself! Verse 32 graphically describes their response once they knew it was Jesus: “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”
These two men go to Jerusalem and tell the disciples. I imagine they were fairly animated and excited as they shared with the disciples their experience with the risen Jesus. Jesus then appears to the disciples and in verses 44-49 declares that He has fulfilled the Messianic prophecies and now “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations …”
We must read the Old Testament with a gospel grid, understanding God’s plan of redemption began not in the book of Matthew but in Genesis.
God’s purpose from the beginning was to bring glory to Himself through the revelation of the gospel of Jesus to redeem God’s fallen image-bearers. Since the beginning of time God’s purpose was to call unto Himself a people who would declare His glory to the nations.
The powerful passage found in Exodus 19 reveals God meeting with his Old Testament people, Israel, after He has liberated them from the Egyptians. The people (probably one million or more) gather at the base of Mt. Sinai and God tells them they are a treasured possession to Him and they will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. A priest not only has access to God but represents God to others.
God’s plan from the beginning was that Israel would declare His glory and represent Him to the nations. Isaiah 66:19 says “… And they shall declare my glory among the nations.” Our purpose is to bring glory to God by telling of His glory!
When the time was right, God sent Jesus to suffer and die for our sins and to offer reconciliation with our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies and brought the gospel to earth. The gospel (the good news of God’s victory over sin and death through the person and work of Jesus Christ) appeared, bringing salvation for all people.
Our call to be witnesses - Acts 1:6-8
When the disciples asked Jesus if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel, Jesus told them it was not for them to know times set by the Father. He then told them that they would receive the Holy Spirit and would be His witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem and going to the ends of the earth.
The first century expectation was the Messiah would liberate the Jewish people from the oppressive Roman rule. Jesus quickly depoliticizes their question and points them to the call to worldwide missions.
The Lord’s return does not revolve around speculation about times and dates but around God’s purposes, which embrace the salvation of the world. We are called in the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
One practical way to be a witness for Jesus is to go to www.call2embrace.org and adopt an unreached people group. A family, Sunday School class, small group, or even a small church can adopt one or more unreached people groups and the website will give you practical ways to help reach a people group.
Connect to grow - Acts 2:41-47
Acts 2:41 provides the astounding result that about 3,000 people were saved from Peter’s Pentecost sermon. The large number of new believers begs the question: “How will they grow in their faith?”
Verses 42-47 give us some core values of the early church: they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. These verses provide a window into how new converts were incorporated into the believing community.
The word translated “fellowship” is the word koinonia, which means “communion, fellowship, close mutual relationships.” When Verse 44 declares “And all who believed were together …” it indicates a oneness of spirit, heart, and mind. An extant document from the early centuries a non-Christian declared of the Christian community, “Oh, how they love one another.”
May that be said of the modern day Church. We will only effectively witness for Jesus when we love others with a Jesus-type love.
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