November 24, 2019 End with the Beginning

End with the Beginning

Revelation 12.7-12 is a brief summary of events from before recorded time to today. The passage declares that satan was expelled from Heaven when he led a rebellion against God. Isaiah 14.12-15 describes satan’s pride that brought this about (see Ezekiel 28.1-19, too). And, John 12.31records that Jesus’ would cast satan into the Pit of Hades. I believe this was accomplished between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, as Paul writes in Ephesians 4.8-10 (Psalm 68.18).

But, even though satan has been cast into the Pit, his system of evil remains in the world, as Paul describes in Romans 1.18-32. He describes satan’s deceptive pride in verses 21-22: “although [the prideful people] knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Apologist Ravi Zacharias states Susanna Wesley’s advice to son John, like Jesus’ warning in John 10.10a: “Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things…that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself” (repeated in several radio broadcasts). See Acts 12.21-23 and 1 John 2.15-17.

In this context of lusts and pride, Apostle John gives us God’s two remedies to satan’s deceptions: the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12.11). It is because of our sin of not believing in God (John 3.18, 12.44-45) and the expressions of sins that come therefrom (Romans 8.5-8, Galatians 5.19-21) that we are covered by the blood of the Lamb (Hebrews 9.13-15, 22).

This justification by baptism INTO (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) “‘the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 28.19; one Name, “Jesus”, John 17.11-12 NASB) is our entry into the grace which Paul describes in Romans 5.1-5. In verse 2, Paul writes that faith is our access into grace (John 1.16-17). Paul seems to be discussing Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (John 3.1-8) and about Paul’s experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God into a deeper commitment to and reliance upon the Name Jesus (2 Corinthians 12.9-10).

The Word of our testimony IS the Name Jesus (Revelation 12.11)! Every knee, everywhere, is subjugated by and to this Name (Philippians 2.9-11). The Name Jesus is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6.17, Isaiah 49.2, Hebrews 4.12) and the Scepter of Jesus (Psalm 110.1-2). Paul (Acts 16.16-18) and Peter (Acts 8.14-24, 9.34-35) drove out demons with Jesus’ Name, just as Jesus’ disciples had while going where they were sent (Luke 10.17). This is as Jesus encouraged: “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’” (John 14.12-14; see John 16.23-24, 33 also).

Overcoming satan and the world was God’s plan from the beginning. He states this in Genesis 1.28. satan and his demons are the chief ‘creeps’ on the earth. John reminds us that faith is what overcomes satan’s world of deceptions (1 John 5.4-5). James (4.7) instructs us to resist the devil, knowing that he will flee! This happens when we “submit to God” (ibid) because of what Jesus said in Luke 10.19. Therefore, we have what we need to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2.12-13; 2 Corinthians 10.3-6).

The Word of our testimony, Jesus, is released to the degree of our faith in His ability to save us. Meditate upon Hebrews 11.6 for a long while.

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com

 

November 17, 2019 Paul Sent To Rome

Paul Sent To Rome

The Apostle Paul was an innovator. He identifies himself as such in Romans 15.20: “I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” We have seen Paul become more excited about this and comfortable in being led by the Holy Spirit on each Missionary Journey in presenting Jesus’ message of John 14.6 to Jews in synagogues and against philosophies (see Studies 191027-191110, www.sozoclass.com).

While spending the Winter of 57-58 AD in Corinth, Greece (Acts 20.2-3), Paul wrote a letter “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints’ (Romans 1.7). He desired to preach the Gospel to Gentiles there and, then, “I shall go by way of you to Spain” (Romans 15.28). Paul would, indeed, travel to Rome, for this was Jesus’ plan to be carried out by the Holy Spirit (Acts 23.11: “‘you must also bear witness at Rome’”).

Paul seems to project the desired end of his trip to Rome—people becoming Christian—before he even begins, for he addresses his letter to Roman “saints” (Romans 1.7; otherwise, why would he go where someone else had preached?). He amplifies in verse 11: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established” (my emphases). He continues to tell them what he will tell them in Romans 1.8-17, which you should read now.

Verses 16-17 summarize Paul’s conviction about Jesus. These verses might, also, reflect Paul’s understanding of his probable transport to Rome. For he will state to the elders of the church at Ephesus on the shore of Miletus the following: “‘Now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me’” (Acts 20.22-23).

Indeed, Paul was not ashamed to proclaim the Good News of God’s salvation through Jesus in Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, and Rome (Acts 21-28). Paul was detained in Caesarea for two years (Acts 24.27) but had as a captive audience Governors Felix and, then, Festus and King Herod Agrippa II and his wife (the seventh and last of the Herods mentioned in the NT; Note to Acts 25.13, Amplified Bible, 2015; Acts 24-26).

Paul called the Jewish officials to his house-arrest in Rome (about 60 AD) and explained the Gospel to them, with a much-used warning (Acts 28.17-31). He wrote about witnessing to the Augustan soldiers assigned to guard him (verse 16; Philippians 1.13). Acts 28.30-31 concludes the book and describe the continuing work of the Holy Spirit (John 16.8-11) through Paul as follows: “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” “During this period the apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon, and probably also to the Hebrews” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

“The exact details of St. Paul’s death are unknown, but tradition holds that he was beheaded in Rome and thus died as a martyr for his faith. His death was perhaps part of the executions of Christians ordered by the Roman emperor Nero following the great fire in the city in 64 CE” (Google). Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that Paul was acquitted in his first trial because none witnessed against him and that he probably traveled to Western and Eastern Europe before being rounded up by Nero. During his release, Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Jude; then, wrote 2 Timothy from prison before being beheaded in 66 AD.

Perhaps anticipating imminent death, Paul encouraged Timothy to follow the Holy Spirit: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4.6-7).

Paul had completed the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God assigned to him by Jesus (Acts 26.16-18). Now, it’s your turn!

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com

 

November 10, 2019 Third Missionary Journey

Third Missionary Journey

This is Paul’s final travels to the churches which the Holy Spirit had founded in the provinces of Cilicia, Galatia, Phrygia, Asia Minor, and Macedonia. Through Paul in his journeys, the Holy Spirit has saved the lost, matured the save, and destroyed satan’s strongholds (John 16.8-11, Acts 13.2). This Third Missionary Journey concluded in Jerusalem in the Spring of AD 58 (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). You can follow his course from city to city on the map below.

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(Google map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey)

My teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s First Missionary Journey emphasized the lesson he learned from Jesus. Paul repeats this in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10, especially verse 9: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” This is the critical lesson for every Christian leader: God will empower, even, your weakness to accomplish His assigned task! Paul learned that this included raising him from the dead in Lystra (Acts 14.19-20). Note Paul’s boldness thereafter, to return and show himself to those who murdered him!

My teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s Second Missionary Journey emphasized the capabilities of the Holy Spirit to deliver the appropriate message by connecting with Paul’s different audience. The Holy Spirit delivered an informative and convicting message to the Jews in Antioch, Pisidia, which was, I think probably, repeated in every synagogue where Paul preached (Acts 13.16-41). And, He reasoned with the atheistic philosophers in the Areopagus that God had put up with their chasing after new ideas without substance (Colossians 2.8-10) for too long and would hold them accountable for not realizing that only He has the truth (Acts 17.22-31). Jesus comforts His disciples with assurance of the right words for the right audience from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10.19-20).

In reading about Paul’s journeys, you can see him becoming more comfortable in his walk with the Holy Spirit; a trusting walk with dependence upon His leadership and care through any and all circumstances. After all, Jesus could raise him from the dead, again, if necessary, to accomplish His assigned task!

This is the theme of today’s teaching about the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18.23-21.16). I encourage you to read about the Holy Spirit’s leadership from region to region and Paul’s engagement with various cultures.

But, I want to focus your attention on Paul’s farewell message to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. Acts 20.17-38 records Paul’s words of encouragement for the “elders” who met him in the port city of Miletus. In fact, these words are instructive for every Christian. You should read Paul’s words before proceeding, for they reveal the work of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ described (John 16.8-11).

Saving the lost: Despite the resistance from Jews and Gentiles, Paul “‘did not shrink back…from telling’” about the superiority of Jesus to their philosophies (Acts 20.20-21, 26-27). In Ezekiel 33.7-9, God gives a stern warning for all who might “shrink back”. Perhaps, this warning spurred Paul on. Is this ‘warning’ sufficient for you?

Maturing the saved: Paul “‘did not stop admonishing and advising each one’” of the elders (Acts 20.31, Amplified Bible, 2015). Building the knowledge of Jesus and developing hearers’ faith like Jesus’ therefrom is a continuous endeavor (Ephesians 4.11-13; 2 Timothy 3.16-17). “‘[God’s] grace is able to build you up and to give you the [rightful] inheritance’” (Acts 20.32, Amplified Bible, 2015). I remind you of a definition of ‘grace’ which I learned many years ago from an anonymous source: Grace is God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His great power to bring it to my reality. Your faith will release Jesus’ power (Luke 10.19, 17). ‘Life’ and ‘light’ depend upon God (John 1.4)!

Destroying satan’s strongholds: “‘Though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me plunderers would come to her,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 51.53). Paul understood that God was reminding the Prophet that He would do the work of Jeremiah 1.10. So, Paul warns the elders to “take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers”, for “ferocious wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20.28-29, Amplified Bible, 2015). John 10.10 is still true and the reason we must be vigilant in all things!

Paul’s message, also, discusses his qualities as a courageous servant: “humility” (Acts 20.19, Amplified Bible, 2015), “compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions” (verse 22), “finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus” (verse 24), “in everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak” (verse 35); “Holy Spirit solemnly [and emphatically] affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me” (verse 23).

Paul did not “shrink back” from following the Holy Spirit. How about you?

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

 

 

November 3, 2019 Second Missionary Journey

Second Missionary Journey

The Apostle Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15.40-18.23) was important to his development. Paul chose Silas to accompany him, and they departed in AD 51 (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). No date is given for the ending of this Second Missionary Journey or the beginning of Paul’s Third, which concluded in the Spring of AD 58 (ibid). The map below traces Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.

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(Google map of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey)

I encourage you to read the details of Paul’s trip from the Scripture passage above and to trace the Holy Spirit’s leadership and rationale. In this study, I want to emphasize what I believe are the important points for understanding the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God through Paul during his Second Missionary Journey.

First Point: Jesus had told Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit decides where He wants the servants of God to minister. In John 3.8, Jesus says, “‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit’” (NKJV). The Greek word for “wind” also means “spirit” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, g4151). Now, reread this verse with ‘Spirit’ in place of ‘wind’ to understand Jesus’ teaching.

So, the Holy Spirit decided that Paul and Silas should go to Macedonia, instead of going in to Asia or Bithynia. How did Paul know? What was Paul’s relationship with the Source? How had this relationship progressed from the Road to Damascus? How does this become clearer by reviewing Peter’s experience in Acts 10.9-23?

Apostle John reminds us to “test the spirits” with a procedure discussed in 1 John 4.1-4. After authenticating the Source, Jesus said we should look and listen through spiritual eyes and ears, instead of with physical eyes and ears, to properly understand the Holy Spirit’s instruction (John 3.1-8 regarding John 2.23).

How, then, can you evaluate the contexts where the Holy Spirit leads you?

Second Point: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will save the lost and/or destroy satan’s strongholds and/or mature believers’ faith and knowledge from Jesus (Ephesians 4.13) wherever He leads you (John 16.8-11). These actions are to reconcile mankind to God (2 Corinthians 5.17-21; Acts 26.18).

So, the Holy Spirit put to use all of the arrows in Paul’s quiver that had been sharpened to cutting edge during his years in his university-city hometown, during his years in rabbinical studies in Jerusalem, and during his three years of One-to-one tutoring from Jesus in the wilderness. Paul “reasoned” in the synagogue of the Jews “from the Scriptures” (in Thessalonica, Acts 17.2; in Athens, Acts 17.17; and in Corinth, Acts 18.4), probably, preaching the same, convicting sermon that he had preached in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13.15-41). Remember that the Holy Spirit was speaking through him, as Jesus said in Matthew 10.19-20.

Paul also “reasoned” with “Gentile worshipers and in the marketplace” (Acts 17.17) and in the midst of the Areopagas” (Hill of Ares or Mars’ Hill; Acts 17.22) in Athens, Greece. Notice that Paul’s reasoning began with his listeners’ beliefs; he collected them as the tolerance of the absolutely unique God; and he warned these atheistic philosophers of a future accountability for which God was their only Hope (Acts 17.22-31). Pay day some day, indeed (John 3.16; 14.6 alone)!

The Holy Spirit knew the foundational beliefs of the Jews and the Gentiles. He began there to tear down these community deceptions and to build up Jesus as the only Savior (Jeremiah 1.9-10). Replacing foundations is the only way “‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus]’” (Acts 26.18).

These are the “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2.10; John 16.8-11). The Holy Spirit will “reason” through you, using your knowledge of Scripture which He has prepared within you from your studies. Remember, He knows the arguments better than they do and can defeat them.

Be Available to the Holy Spirit!

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.