NTB-5-ACTS-1 - The Gospel in Jerusalem (part 1)
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“Acts: Lesson 1”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
“What must I do to be saved?” this is the question that we're going to
be looking at as we study the marvelous book of Acts.
We hope you'll get your Bible as we're going to let God's word
answer this marvelous question for us.
The book of Acts is a very powerful, action-packed book in which the
great question: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ is answered.
As we think about the New Testament as a whole, it's broken down
into four unique categories. We first have Matthew through John the gospel
accounts which tell us about the life of Christ. They tell us about the birth,
the early days of Jesus. We learn about His ministry and His teaching. We
learn ultimately about His death, His sacrifice, and His resurrection. The
first category Matthew through John is about the life and the death and the
resurrection of Christ.
Then that second category where we are looking at today is the book
of Acts. Now that we've learned about Christ, what He did, and His
sacrifice, the book of Acts is uniquely placed to answer the great question
‘What must I do to be saved?’
Now we mention the other two categories as well. Romans through
Jude tell us now that you are Christian: ‘How do I live faithfully to Jesus?’ In
that final stanza, or category, the book of Revelation tells one how to die
victoriously in Christ.
As we think about living messages of the New Testament and
specifically the book of Acts today, let's realize that the Bible is a book of
living messages. The book of Acts is a book that applies directly to man's
greatest need today: salvation. God tells us the Bible is a living book.
Hebrews 4:12 the Scripture says this, “The word of God is living. It's alive
and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the
division of soul and spirit joints and marrow. It's a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.”
When we think about the word of God as we study these messages,
these are alive. These are relevant. These are practical messages that we
can definitely apply our lives today.
Now the book of Acts is the book in the New Testament that gives us
real-life examples of what people did to become a Christian. That's the
whole theme of Acts.
Acts chapter 2: What did they do on Pentecost to become Christians?
Acts chapter 3, as Peter's preaching in Solomon's portico: What did they do
there? You've got the Ethiopian eunuch. You've got Saul of Tarsus. You've
got Lydia and her household and over and over again. That's what Acts is
all about- answering these great questions. Acts 2:37 “They cried out ‘Men
and brethren what shall we do?’” Acts 9:4-6 Saul of Tarsus said, “Lord what
would you have me to do?” Then of course that great question, the greatest
question of all, Acts 16:30 “Sirs what must I do to be saved?”
Now as we think about the book of Acts, let's also realize the book of
Acts and especially a key verse Acts 2:36 is likely the key verse of the
whole Bible. Look at Acts 2:36. Peter, as he brings his sermon on
Pentecost to a climax, says this “Therefore since the prophets spoke about
it, since God has approved it, since even David himself spoke about it,
therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly God has made this
Jesus, the one you crucified, Lord and Christ.” Now this is such a pivotal
verse and for this reason, everything prior to Acts 2:36 is looking forward to
it, is shouting it out, is pointing toward- it is prophesying about it. Everything
after Acts 2:36 is predicated on the fact that: Yes, Jesus, this Jesus, is the
Messiah He is the Lord. He is the Messiah, and we must submit to Him. We
must obey the teaching found in Scripture.
The book of Acts, we want to mention, has really we could kind of
categorize it as having three major purposes.
We've mention the first and foremost and that is Acts gives us real-
life examples of conversion. When people want to know how to be saved,
Acts is the book that tells us that. It does have two other purposes that are
very unique though. Acts also tells us about the establishment of the Lord's
Do you remember in 2 Samuel 7:14? God promised to David that
someone from his seed would reign over the kingdom of Israel or kingdom
and that kingdom would be an everlasting or eternal kingdom. We learn
then in Daniel 2:44 that that eternal kingdom is going to be set up and
prophesied to be set up in one of the four periods that are mentioned. The
Roman period is that period. We learn in Acts 2, as Jesus promised
Matthew 16:18, ‘I will build my church.’ We open to Acts 2:47 and for the
very first time after men and women have obeyed the gospel. Its first time
is been preached, first time repentance and remission of sins is found in
Jesus. The Bible says this to those who gladly received His word and
obeyed it, “The Lord added to the church daily those who are being saved.”
Acts not only gives us examples of conversion, Acts tells us about the
establishment of the church the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then a third purpose that is often overlooked about Acts is this: Acts
serves as a history book for the rest of the New Testament.
If I want to study 1 Corinthians, I first want to read Acts 18 and learn
what happened. If I want to read the book of Ephesians, I want to open to
Acts 19 to the establishment of the Lord's church there. If I want to read
about the book of Philippians, I want to open to Acts 16 and learn about
what happened there. It's a history book for the rest of the New Testament.
Before I open any letter and read it, whether it be Colossians whether
be 1 and 2 Thessalonians, I want to read in the book of Acts- where the
church began there. What kind of problem/struggles they were dealing with,
and what was it that got it started there, and maybe who are some of the
people that might be mentioned? So it also serves as a history book of the
Let's then turn our attention to the first four chapters in the book of
We began with Acts chapter 1. We now have the disciples of Jesus
after He has died. He's there with His disciples. He's been resurrected.
They quiz Jesus by saying “Lord are you now going to establish return the
kingdom to Israel? Are you going to make it like it was during David's
reign?” Jesus said “It's not for you to know the times or the seasons, but
here's what I want you to do you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world.” They're still
looking for a physical kingdom. They want to know, ‘Jesus are you going to
restore that kingdom now?’ Jesus said ‘That's not what you need to worry
about. Here's your concern: I want you to be my witnesses. I want you to
preach the gospel throughout the world.’
Friend as we think about their mission and as we think about what
God has commissioned us to do, today let's realize a powerful message in
the opening verses of Acts chapter 1 is just like the disciples then, we need
to be busy spreading the message of the gospel. The Bible says in Mark
16:15 Jesus speaking: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel unto
every creature.” God will take care of the things He needs to take care of.
He's more than capable of doing that. Let's let God worry about those
matters. Sometimes we get so caught up, like the disciples, in other things-
the political climate, the social climate, the moral climate- and we get so
bogged down in that that we fail to realize our mission is to preach the
gospel. “Him we preach warning every man, teaching every man that we
may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus,” Colossians 1:24.
As we look further to Acts chapter 1, we also realize another very
important and practical message now that Judas has hung himself and
there is a place that needs to be filled among the 12 apostles. We learn
that God, who's going to do the selecting here, He knew the heart of
Matthias; and He still knows the hearts of men today. Notice Acts 1:24 with
me. The Bible records in Acts 1:24 “And they prayed and said ‘You Oh
Lord,’” notice this, “ ‘who know the hearts of all show which of these two
you've chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship.’” The selection
is left up to God, because God knows the hearts of all men.
Now the immediate context: God knew who the right replacement
was. The more practical application: God knows our hearts. John 2:25 the
Bible says it this way “Jesus knew what was within man.” Friend as I think
about practical living, as I think about things that are very important, Luke
16:15 “God knows our heart. God knows your heart.” We learn that God
knows and sees all things. Proverbs 15:3 the Bible said ‘The eyes of the
Lord are in every place beholding the good and the evil.’ ‘All things are
open and naked before the eyes of Him with whom we must give an
account.’ The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:14 that ‘even the secret things,
God knows them.’ Let's hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Solomon
says “Fear God. Keep His commandments this is the whole duty of man.”
Why? “For God will bring every work into judgment including every secret
thing, whether good or bad.” God knew the hearts of those two men there
and chose who was necessary to fill that wonderful spot.
Friend God knows my heart. Practically speaking, I can't fool God. I
cannot trick God. ‘Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever
man sows that will he also reap,” Galatians 6:7-10. If we're really honest
with ourselves, we can't fool God. We know that if we're living right and
doing right and trying to walk in the light, friend that's encouraging. God
knows that and sees all things. If we're not doing right, if we're not living like
we ought to, then we need to realize God also knows that. We need to be
concerned about those things as well.
Another lesson that we learn is that in Acts chapter 2 as Peter stands
up to preach the gospel his sermon that he preaches for the very first time,
consisted of the core of the gospel: the death, the burial, and the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. He shows that God had predetermined that,
that the signs and wonders he did, approve Jesus as the Son of God, that
Jesus died for us, that He was buried, and that ultimately His soul was not
left in the Hadean realm. He rose up out of that grave- proving to fact He is
the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior of the world. This is why Peter
then says in verse 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly,
because of these things, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt God
has made this Jesus the very one you just crucified both Lord and Christ.”
Friend as we think about the power of the gospel message, just as on
Pentecost so it is today. The power of that message is seen in the death, in
the burial, and in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Listen carefully,
God so loved me, and He so loved you that He sent His own Son to die for
each one of us. The beautiful words of John 3:16 illustrate that so
powerfully. “God so loved the world He gave.” Gave what? “His only
begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life.” “The love of Christ compels us,” Paul would say in 2
Corinthians 5:14. “God is love,” 1 John 4:8. All those verses so beautifully
illustrate the death, the burial, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
Yes it is true that Jesus died, and there's no doubt that He was buried.
The good news is death, the Hadean realm, could not contain Him.
Christians often sing the song “Up From the Grave He arose.” Friend that's
the powerful victory we have! He, Jesus, through death overcame him who
had the power over death and has released those who all their lifetime
were subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14 “Oh death.” This is why Christians
at can exalt as Paul did. “Oh death where is your sting? Hades where is
your victory?” “The sting of death is sin, strength of sin is the law, but
thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1
Now as we move further into the text of that great sermon in Acts
chapter 2 as Peter helped them to see ‘you've just killed your own
Messiah,’ they respond properly in verse 37. They cried out that they were
the Bible says ‘they were cut to the heart.’ The evidence was
overwhelming. Their heart is now open and receptive. They're cut to the
heart, and they cried out “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter's
answer is so clear and so plain. He says therefore based on your question,
based on the evidence, he says “Repent and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Now I want you to notice the things again that happened. As we think
about the great question: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ These people hear
the message of the gospel. For somebody to be saved, you've got to hear
God's word. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,”
Romans 10:17. These people are cut to the heart, meaning that that that
message works on their heart and they're ready to repent. Peter tells them
to in Acts 2:38.
Friend for a person to be saved, that heart has got to be opened and
pricked by the word of God today. Jesus said in Luke 13:3 “Unless you
repent you will all likewise perish.” They acknowledged the fact that Jesus
is Lord and Savior. A person, if they're going to be saved, must confess
Jesus as the Lord. They heard the word of God. They believed Jesus is
now the Christ. They're willing to repent and acknowledge Jesus as Lord
What else was necessary for these folks to have their sins forgiven?
Listen again to Acts 2:38. Peter said “Repent,” notice the conjoining word,
“and be baptized for the remission of your sins.” A lot of people stop short
when we come to what the Bible says on salvation. A lot of people say ‘Yes
you got to believe, repentance, confession- you got to hear the word of
God’- but they don't teach what the Bible teaches about baptism. Friend
listen carefully, the Scriptures teach-we're talking about opening God's
word, and letting God speak today-the Scriptures teach that to be saved
(not after you're saved, not two weeks later) that in order to be saved, to
have your sins washed away, and to be right with God a person must be
Salvation does not occur before baptism. Acts 2:38 “Repent and be
baptized for the remission of sins.” Now some people get to this point, and
they say ‘Well that verse that were those words for the remission really
mean ‘because of.’ Friend that's not correct according to New Testament.
Let me give an exact parallel. Matthew 26:28 Jesus as He instituted the
Lord's Supper said, “This is my blood of the new covenant shed for many,”
here's the exact phrase “for the remission of sins.” Now, same Greek
syntax, same word, same structure. What does that mean in Matthew
26:28? Did Jesus die because our sins were forgiven? No. Jesus died in
order that, to receive the end result of man sins being forgiven- same word
structure in Acts 2:38. Baptism is for the remission of sins. Jesus said “He
that believes and is baptized will be saved.”
We want to stress today what the New Testament teaches about
Another powerful principle that we learn from the book of Acts, as we
think about these messages is, what happened to these people when they
obeyed the gospel? The Bible teaches in Acts 2 verses about verses 38
through 46, “They heard that word. They gladly received that word, and
they were baptized.” Those people, who simply obeyed God's plan of
salvation, what happened to them? Where were they put? Where did they
end up being? The Bible says in Acts 2:47 “The Lord added to the church
daily those who were being saved.” What church? The church Jesus
promised to build. Jesus said “I will build my church,” not a man-made
institution, not a denomination, not something that came 600, or 1500 years
later. They were added to the New Testament church- the church- the one
church- Jesus promised to build, the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ. When someone obeys the gospel, they're added to God's church.
They're added to God's kingdom. How important is that we stress the Lord
adds people! You're not voted in, nobody decides on you, you're added to
the Lord's church, and we need to assemble with and worship the way that
church did in the New Testament.
Now as we think further about these principles, Peter is going to
preach in Acts chapter 3 that Jesus himself is the prince of life, that He is
the Savior of the world, Acts 3:15. To the Jews in Solomon's portico, he
drives that message home about Christ. What did Peter tell them to do?
Acts 3:19 the Bible says these words, Peter records, “Repent therefore,”
the Holy Spirit records “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins
may be blotted out so that times of refreshing may come from the presence
of the Lord.” Here are people who haven't reached that point of changing
their life and haven't really opened their heart to God's word yet. Peter
says, ‘You need to repent and be converted so that your sins may be
blotted out.’ Here we learn repentance is essential to salvation, and it's
something God has commanded. Luke 3:8 John said “Unless you repent
you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3 John said “Brood of vipers who
warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits worthy of
Repentance is not just, here is the idea some people have about
repentance: ‘I feel sorry for it, therefore I repented.’ No, it's not just sorrow.
Godly sorrow produces repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10, but sorrow alone is
not repentance. Repentance is a changed will that leads to a changed way.
I change my way of thinking about something, and I follow that up by
changing my way of acting about that as well.
As we think about these lessons, Peter then and John then move in
Acts chapter 4, as they're continuing to preach the gospel. Because of the
man they healed in Acts chapter 3, they're now going to be questioned by
the Jewish elite. Here's their question: By what power or by what authority
have you done these things? Who gave you the power to heal that man?
He'd been there all his life. Everybody knew him. He came to Peter and
John or Peter and John walked by, and he's begging for alms. Peter said
‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give you in the name of
Jesus. Rise up and walk.’ The man leaped and ran, and people were
amazed. Undeniable miracle, Jews are upset. Who gave that power? Jesus
did. Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other for there's no other name
under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Friend our power and our authority, we're not claiming we can do
miracles or things like that today, but our power comes and our authority
comes from Almighty God. The Scripture says in Matthew 28:18 “All
authority.” Jesus spoke these words, “All authority has been given to Me in
heaven and on earth.” If Jesus has all authority and the word of God is the
recorded message of the gospel and the New Testament, then friend
Christians' authority must be based on the Bible.
Now I want to drive this principle home. Men today don't have that
authority. They cannot make religious laws. They cannot make laws to tell
you what to be saved. They cannot make laws to forgive you. Only the
Bible sets the standard and the guide for how to live. We need to start
listening to the authority of Jesus and not let the messages of other people
I want you to listen again to those powerful words in Acts 4:12, “Nor is
there salvation in any other, for there's no other name under heaven given
among men by which we must be saved.” The precious powerful name
authority of Jesus is the only name and authority by which men and women
can be saved. Friend that great question that was asked in Acts 2:37 “Men
and brethren what shall we do?” is the question we pose to you today.
Have you been saved? Have you obeyed the gospel? If not, won't
you do the things that we read about and studied about today? Hear the
message of Almighty God, believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior
of the world, repent of those things in your life that are not, right confess
Him as Lord and Christ, and be baptized for the remission of your sins- just
as on the day of Pentecost.
We're encouraging you today, obey the gospel. Let the Lord add you
to His church. Simply become a New Testament Christian.
We hope that you'll continue to study with us, as we think further
about in our next lesson, the wonderful messages of the book of Acts.
Study Questions for: “Acts: Lesson 1”
1. What does Hebrews 4:12 say about the Word of God?
2. What great question is asked in Acts 2:37?
3. What question does Saul ask in Acts 9:4-6?
4.What wonderful question is asked in Acts 16:30?
5. What is proclaimed in the key verse Acts 2:36?
6. What did Jesus promise in Matthew 16:18?
7. In Acts 2:47, the people that gladly receive the word, what did the Lord
8. What are we commanded to do in Mark 16:15?
9. According to Acts 1:24, why was the selection up to God?
10. What does Jesus know according to John 2:25?