OVERVIEW OF THE BIBLE
Acts through Revelation; Questions and Answers — Session #5
Book of Acts — historical book, giving the account of the early church
Acts 1:3 —
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
Jesus is alive! And His followers are excited.
He spoke about the “kingdom of God”
Acts 1:8 —
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The job description of Jesus’ followers is that they are to be witnesses, starting at home (Jerusalem) then “rippling out to Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.
[cross-reference with Matt. 28:18-20 — the Great Commission]
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus was calling them to be Witnesses of the Good News and to deliver the greatest news to ever hit the human planet
Acts 1:9-11 —
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
the Ascension of Jesus
The angels then promise that JESUS IS COMING AGAIN.
Acts 2:1-5 —
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
the Jewish people were coming to Jerusalem for the feast of “Pentecost” — 50 days after Passover Sabbath (these two, along with the “Feast of Tabernacles,” were the three times Jews would come from all over the known world to Jerusalem).
Devout people from every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:14 —
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.
Peter is going to preach one of his two sermons in Acts, and proclaim Jesus is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for.
vs. 41 –
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
3,000 people believe.
In Acts 4:4,
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
another 5,000 are added. This causes quite a stir, and a conflict between the rabbis and other Jewish leaders who are holding to tradition.
Acts 4:18-21 —
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
Jesus’ followers are told to stop.
Acts 5:27-28 —
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
the word had spread all over Jerusalem. (cf. Acts 1:8)
Key verse: Acts 5:29 —
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
“We must obey God, not men.”
Four key people in the book of Acts:
Acts 7 — “a costly history lesson” — Stephen gives a recap of Jewish history, from Abraham through Solomon.
Acts 7:1-8; 9-16; 17-44; 45-50
Acts 7:51-52 and 54-60 — The Jewish leaders are outraged and stone him. They lay their coats at the feet of “a young man named Saul.” Saul later becomes Paul.
Acts 8:26-38 — We meet Philip, who is called to go from Jerusalem down to Gaza, where he will meet the Ethiopian eunuch, who is reading from Isaiah 53. Here again, God sends Philip on this mission to meet ONE PERSON — God’s interest in the individual.
Key verse: Acts 8:35 —
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
“Starting from this passage of scripture (Isaiah 53), he told him the Good News about Jesus.”
Acts 9:1-6 —
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
We meet Saul, and read of his conversion.
Notice his two questions: “Who are You?” and “What would you have me to do?” — 2 great questions!
Those are 2 great questions for us to ask — “God reveal yourself to me!”
Ananias helps fold him into the kingdom — in spite of many reservations! (Paul must have seemed like a double agent!)
If you were one of Jesus’ followers, how would you have reacted? It’s a trick!
All his life, Paul has to fight to defend his “apostleship.”
Acts 10:9-48 — God confronts Peter with his plan to release the gospel to the Gentiles
[Peter still becomes “the apostle to the Jews” while Paul becomes the “apostle to the Gentiles” —
This brings us to the 3 big missionary journeys of the apostles (Paul is central), which are recorded from chapters 13 to 21.
Acts 1:8, “the whole world”
Galatians and James were written during the first missionary journey.
1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, etc. were written during the second missionary journey.
NOTE when/where letters were written!
Acts 17:22-31 —
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for“‘ In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Paul in Athens, realizes that the people are basically idol worshippers, rather than “philosophers” as they see themselves. He uses the “unknown god” from their own culture to point them to the true and living God.
Acts 15 — “The Jerusalem Council” shows that Christians don’t have to be Jews first (practice Jewish traditions).
We are justified by FAITH (refer back to Abraham).
Peter agrees to go to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles.
But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
Paul is persecuted, whipped, beaten, etc. — but he’s a Roman citizen, so he appeals to Ceasar, and is then protected, but taken to Rome. He goes before all this different authorities, Kings, etc. and gives them an account of what’s happened to him.
Acts 28:27-28 —
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
“this people’s heart has become calloused” and “God’s message of salvation has been sent to the Gentiles — they will listen!”
That’s the end of the HISTORY of the Bible. Tradition says that in about 65 A.D., Paul is beheaded. Peter is crucified upside down. Most of the early apostles were murdered because of their faith in Christ.
One exception is John, who is exiled on Patmos and writes Revelation.
Then in 72 A.D., Titus comes in and wipes out Jerusalem and the Temple.
“Church history” picks up here
There are 21 EPISTLES — mainly written by Peter, James, John and Paul (primarily Paul – 13 of them). They clarify and document the events in Acts.
They talk about many topics (i.e. of God, Man, Salvation, Holy Spirit, justification, sanctification, reconciliation, redemption, church administrations, etc.) To sum it up, the epistles, they tell us how to live the Christian life.
But to give us an idea of what’s contained in the epistles…..
Romans Chapters 1-3 –we see that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and are sinners. — esp. Rom. 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 5:8-17 —
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
JUSTIFIED means ” to be declared righteous” — “just as if I’d never sinned” We are saved from the wrath of God.
RECONCILED means “to make enemies friends” — to summarize: Judgment has turned to Grace!
Rom. 5:20 —
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
no person is too sinful to ever be forgiven if they will trust in Jesus. As we see with the example of Paul who was on his way to persecute Christians, before accepting Christ.
Romans 6:23 —
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“The wages of sin are death, BUT with the free gift of God…” Judgment turned into Grace!
Romans 8:28 —
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
one of the most precious verses in the Bible! And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 —
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The importance of THE RESURRECTION. If Christ is not raised, everything we believe is pointless! But He is! And now we have this tremendous HOPE!
Christianity is the only religion whose founder didn’t stay in the grave. It’s also the only religion where God seeks man rather than man “earning” his way to God.
2 Cor. 4:3-4 —
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
“the god of this age” — Satan — blinds people’s minds so they can’t see the truth of the gospel, and the central truth that Jesus is who He said He is.
Galatians 3:28-29 —
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
“you are all one in Christ Jesus” — God doesn’t show favor based on human status.
Ephesians 1:13-14 —
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
“you were marked with Him as a seal — the Holy Spirit” The Holy Spirit is a “downpayment” until Christ returns — power to live as God wants you to
Ephesians 2:8-10 —
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
“It is by grace you have been saved through faith….” We’re not saved through works, but genuine salvation results in good works.
Ephesians 6:12 —
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…..” — we’re in SPIRITUAL warfare…..
Phil. 4:6-7 —
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
the Bible has practical answers to the problems we face in life!
Col. 1:17 —
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
In Him all things hold together
Then on to Revelation — means “unveiling”
Some people say it’s very simple, others say it’s very difficult. Either way, it’s very PROFOUND. There are some things in Revelation we really need to know. Words like “second coming, tribulation, rapture, etc.”
A variety of views on the specifics, but there are at least three things that all pretty much agree upon:
1. The triumph and glory of Jesus Christ — Christ takes center stage on the throne of glory. He is the winner, the ruler, the judge. See Rev. 5:9-14
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
2. The judgment and total defeat of evil. Satan was defeated at the cross See Rev. 20:10-15
and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
3. Jesus will make everything new. See Rev. 21:1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
(the New Jerusalem is described in the rest of chapter 21 there’s no longer a need for a “temple”!! Because Sin no longer seperates us from God.) (Also, note verse 27 — only those whose name is in the Lamb’s book of life will enter there.)
Rev. 22:1-3 —
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
A return to paradise!!
Rev. 22:16-21 —
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Then the Bible ends with a promise that JESUS IS COMING AGAIN!!