…redemption has so far had three great elements.
(1) First of all, the Old Testament, full of promises which are all yes and amen in Jesus, meaning He is the one who fulfills them all, the whole of the Old Testament moves in the direction of the arrival of Christ.
(2) And then the next great movement in redemptive history is the gospels, the four gospels which tell of His arrival and His accomplishment and His departure, which is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and describes the work that He began.
(3) Then we come to the book of Acts and this is the next great, sweeping volume in the history of redemption, God’s continuing work as the apostles preach the gospel and established churches to gather the believers and equip them to continue to fulfill the Great Commission. And this section goes on being written through all of human history until the return of Christ.
It was Judas originally who delivered Christ into the hands of his Jewish enemies. But he was delivered over even by Judas and then subsequently by the Jews to the Romans and to death as a part of God’s plan.
…Everybody who had a role in arresting Jesus, trying Jesus, and executing Jesus was fulfilling God’s predetermined plan.
…The people who condemned Jesus were fulfilling prophecy…That in no way lessens the guilt of Judas any more than it lessens the guilt of the Jews, than it lessens the guilt of the Gentiles who were all complicit in His death. God’s redemption is on schedule, unfolding as sovereignly determined.
The Roman World
The world in which the first Christian lived was brutal, totally pagan and openly anti-Christian. There was no affirmation of morality or any sort of cultural Christianity. Early believers were aliens to everything in the culture. What’s more, Christians had no governmental advocacy or special protections. And so unrestrained persecution was happening to them everywhere. Proclaimers of the gospel essentially became martyrs, hence the word marturos becomes the word for witness. To embrace Christ often meant signing one’s own death warrant.
…I can’t help but think of how much our own culture has changed in recent decades and how rapidly it is becoming Acts chapter 1 and for that matter, Romans chapter 1.
Where are we today? Where’s the general acceptance of the tenets of the Bible and Christian values? Where is the influence of the religious right or the Moral Majority? Gone. No more. There is no more cultural Christianity. There is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country. In fact, the more biblically true Christians are and the more they speak and live, the more they are going to be labeled as extremists, homophobic, intolerant and guilty of hate crimes. We’re now aliens.
Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology.
…I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel may be ahead of us because the gospel advances by personal witness to Christ one soul at a time.
The Lord has chosen 12. One has defected. They are select men
…Again, they had to be eyewitnesses to Christ, they had to be eyewitnesses of the resurrection, and they had to be personally chosen by the Lord.
Acts 10:39, “We are witnesses of all the things He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.
Apostles, only 12, with the addition of the apostle Paul. You say, “Well, wait a minute, was Paul an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ?” Yes, he was. He saw him on the Damascus Road. In chapter 22 of the book of Acts, Paul gives a testimony there…
…Luke ends his gospel – volume 1 – verse 49, Jesus says to them, “Wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are in endued with power from on high.” So they’re in the waiting place right now. They have to wait. They have to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower them to do this task.
Jesus had told them not to begin their mission yet. Verse 4, gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem.
Wait for what the Father had promised, which He said you heard of from Me. And what did the Father promise? The Father had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit…
Book of Luke ends this way, “After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple praising God.” So they’re waiting in Jerusalem. Verse 12 picks the story up right there. “They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet” – where Jesus had ascended into heaven. That’s how Luke ends. That’s how Acts begins – “which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.”
Sabbath Days Journey
“They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.”
What is a Sabbath day’s journey?
It’s actually a measurement. It became a measurement. Like a half a mile or a cubit or any other measurement. It started out as the distance a Jew was permitted to travel on the Sabbath. And remember, they were very fastidious about taking care of the Sabbath. You weren’t supposed to do anything, anything that was like work. So they put restrictions how far you could walk. How did they come up with those restrictions? Well, they came up with about – I think it’s 2,000 cubits, which would be 3,000 feet, which is something over half a mile. That’s as far as you could walk.
Jesus’ Brother, James
…by the way, James had a personal appearance of Jesus. He’s not an apostle; he’s the brother of our Lord. He’s not the James who’s one of the intimate apostles, Peter, James and John. This is James, the brother of our Lord, but he had a personal appearance of Jesus after the resurrection, which was very rare.
Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to James no doubt was what brought James to faith in his half-brother. And the conversion of James probably led to the conversion of the rest of the brothers. James then becomes the head of the Jerusalem church, and James writes a wonderful epistle. And another of His half-brothers, Jude, writes the epistle of Jude.
Do I need to say nobody was worshiping her, just as a footnote?
She was kneeling like all the rest, expressing as great a need as theirs. Back in her Magnificat in Luke chapter 1, verse 46, she praised God, my Savior. She is not a savior. She is not co-redemptrix. She needs a savior….
You cannot find any veneration or worship of Mary, any kind of Mariolatry in the early church. That bizarre, strange doctrine dates back to paganism infiltrating Christianity.
…Mother and child cults that go all the way back to Nimrod…
…By the way, these cults had priests, sacramental rites, dedication of virgins to the gods, purgatorial fires, and on and on it goes. And you can read about this in Jeremiah 44 and in Ezekiel 8.
They were told to wait
Wait, wait. They hadn’t always done that. He told them to go to Galilee before His ascension, do you remember, and wait. And they didn’t wait. They went back to fishing, to their career. But this time they submit.
I want to say something at this point because it’s important. Don’t misunderstand. The coming of the Holy Spirit didn’t depend on that prayer. Jesus didn’t say, “Go, and if you pray hard enough I’ll send the Holy Spirit.” He said, “Wait until I send the Holy Spirit.” That was a fact. That was a fact. There’s an entire movement of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement that is based on the notion that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is given to believers who ask for it.
…The coming of the Holy Spirit on these believers and on any believer is based on God’s sovereign will. Nothing is said about them seeking it. Nothing is said about them praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They aren’t told to pray. They’re told to wait. And in God’s time, at His moment, the Spirit will come.
But they’re all gathered in one place, chapter 2 verse 1 says; here we learned there are 120 of them…Somebody calculated that’s 1 out of every 30,000 Jews in Israel.
…they are now aware that everything they have lived through is Scripture being fulfilled
Peter & Judas Iscariot
…Judas, by the way mentioned, the son of James, is a different Judas…
Peter stands up, takes charge and says Scripture had to be fulfilled.
…that’s the same Peter who said, “No, no, no, Lord, you’re not going to die, you’re not going to die, you’re not going to die. We’re not going to let that happen.” And Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan.” Once you know the Scripture, the Messiah must suffer and die. Don’t you know, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12. Their ignorance through the whole life and ministry of Jesus came from their inability to connect everything that was going on with the Old Testament.
…They knew the Psalms. Psalms like this one: Psalm 41 and verse 9. “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
David speaking about the betrayal. Jesus knew Judas was that familiar friend.
God didn’t make Judas what he was. Judas made Judas what he was. But God planned Judas into the redemptive scheme. He was chosen by God, not apart from his own will; he wasn’t made to betray Christ. But he was allowed to be an apostle to play a role. That role was crucial to what God was accomplishing through Christ. Everybody in that situation was a God-ordained player, whether it was Annas or Caiaphas or Pilate or Herod, they all had a part. They all fit in in some way.
…Judas did exactly what the Old Testament said he would do.
Judas and the field of blood
What happened to Judas after his betrayal? Verse 18, “Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.”
What did Judas do? He got his 30 pieces of silver, Matthew 27 says, he went right back to the leaders of Israel and what did he do? Threw it on the ground. Blood money. His guilt was overwhelming.
It’s amazing how sinners think that by not coming to God they somehow operate in freedom. They don’t. No one does. Everybody’s freedoms are within the sovereign power, purpose and providence of God.
…cast out demons in Your name, did many wonderful works in Your name. That’s a Judas verse. He called You Lord, preached in Your name. But his heart was cold. It was full of greed. He was a classic arch-apostate.
Predicated that someone would take the place of Judas
But please notice this tragic end, verse 20, “For it is written in the book of Psalms, “let his homestead be made desolate and let no one dwell in it and let another man take his office.” Wow. Two prophecies. First one, Psalm 69:25, predicting that Judas’ place would be vacated; “let his homestead” – his place – “be made desolate.” And then his second prophecy, Psalm 109:8, “someone else will take his place.” Someone else will take his bishopric, literally. His episkopos in Greek.
…By the way, “the Scripture had to be fulfilled,” – Listen – “which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David.” Can I tell you that is how you explain inspiration? What is the Scripture? It is the word from the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David.
What about Matthias? Well, there’s some historical record about him, that he preached in Judea. He was, by the way, as an apostle a preacher, a gospel preacher. And he preached in Colchis [???], this goes back to the Fathers, Colchis, which would be the modern Republic of Georgia on the Black Sea, that was once a part of the Soviet Union. And as the story goes, he preached in Colchis near the Black Sea so powerfully and so effectively that he was stoned to death. So his ending was like almost all the other apostles. By the way, if you go to that area of the world today, you will find a marker near the ruins of a Roman fortress with his name engraved. That is believed to be his grave site.