Partakers Bible Thought

31 May 2021

Forward in Unity

In our previous podcast, we saw together a new problem arising for the early Church and looking at how it was dealt with. Today, we see together James, delivering the final blow to that problem, with a direct appeal to what God had already said on the matter! What was is that God had spoken concerning it? Download and listen to the podcast to find out!

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up.
‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 ‘“After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things” – 18 things known from long ago.

19 ‘It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.’
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorisation and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul – 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. (Acts 15:12-35)

 

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Partakers Bible Thought

30 May 2021

A New Problem Arises

1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.’
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles should hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’(Acts 15:1-11)

 

The very early church at the time of this event, does not seem to have had any very formal authority structure. Elders don’t appear until Acts 11:30; also the ‘deacons’ of Acts 6:2 were probably not carrying out anything except the specific function of ‘waiting on tables’ or administering the available charity. In Acts 12:17 Peter sends a message to James and the other brothers and sisters, not James and the elders; in Acts 13:1-3 the whole church seem to be acting together, not the leadership.

However they organised themselves discipline was exercised, in which members who had fallen into sin and remained unrepentant were excluded from the church. The church was never individualistic: that is to say, people did not suddenly decide to 'join' or 'leave' the church, as is too often the case in modern churches. The church was a corporate entity, in which pastoral oversight and spiritual authority were exercised by the leadership or somebody. They had a leadership raised up by the Lord and set apart according to a church policy mediated by the divinely inspired guidance of the apostles. This did not mean that there was neither controversy nor the threat of disunity.

From the beginning, problems arose which needed to be resolved with pastoral, spiritual and judicial authority. It is therefore no surprise to find early on in Church history, a question arising about the nature of membership in the church and to see the matter being dealt with through the collective leadership of the church, the apostles and elders, who met together in a deliberative assembly (Acts 15:6) but who also reported back to the whole church (Acts 15:4, 22).

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Partakers Bible Thought

29 May 2021

Paul Is Sent

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.(Acts 9:10-22)

 

From the conversion of Paul, we go to the consequences of his conversion. The first consequence was that he changed his name: changed from Saul of Tarsus to Paul of Tarsus. Paul's conversion was seemingly a total transformation. His attitudes, character & relationships with God, fellow believers and the unbelieving world were utterly transformed. As we have seen, a changed life is the ultimate proof that conversion is real and the Holy Spirit is working.

Now that through Jesus and his cross, Paul had been put right with God, Paul, as with all believers, enjoyed direct access to the Father. The Spirit witnessed with his spirit that he was the Father's child (Romans 8:16). The mouth that had breathed murderous threats like a roaring lion against Jesus’ followers, was now breathing prayers & praises to God like a lamb. Paul's life was changed from self-righteousness to righteousness through Jesus. The evidence of this was a change in the way he lived his life.

Ananias went to meet Paul, after having been sent by God. Upon Ananias laying hands upon Paul and identifying with him (Acts 9:17), calling him brother, and ministering the love of Jesus to his former enemy, the Holy Spirit entered Paul (Acts 9:17), and Paul could see again (Acts 9:18).

Whenever he preached to the unbelieving Jews, they were confused. Paul however did not settle down in Damascus, and according to Galatians 1:17-18, spent 3 years in Arabia. Paul then returned to Damascus and while there, the Jewish leaders plotted to kill him. So he escaped with the help of the other believers back to the city of Jerusalem. Download or listen to the Podcast to discover more.

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Partakers Bible Thought

28 May 2021

Conversion of Paul

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 6 ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’
7 The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.(Acts 9:1-9)

 

The conversion of Saul (his name was changed to Paul later) is one of the most notable in the history of the Church. Certainly within the Bible itself. Luke tells us the story three times. But was Paul's conversion special?

Many people say things like, "I have not had a Damascus Road experience like Paul did". There were, it is true, special events on that day, which make Paul's conversion unique. However are they in any sense so special that they constitute an example for us today? Let us look together at Paul’s conversion experience. Download or listen to the Podcast to discover more.

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Partakers Bible Thought

27 May 2021

Opposition Arises

“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called) – Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia – who began to argue with Stephen.
But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.’ All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:8-15)

 

The embryonic church, the followers of Jesus Christ the Messiah, was soon to feel pressure to revert back to their old ways of thinking. It is not long into the book of Acts, and therefore the history of the church, that persecution arises. Jesus had warned his disciples often that they would be persecuted because they were following Him (Matthew 10:16-42; John 15:18-25).

It is not long into the history of the Church, that we see warnings being perpetrated against His followers and the first stages of this persecution and opposition arising. What was the Church to do? How did they react to all of this? Download or listen to the Podcast to discover more.

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Partakers Bible Thought

26 May 2021

Evidence for the work of the Holy Spirit

G’day and welcome to Partakers Podcasts! Yesterday, we finished with the question “What is the best evidence for the work of the Holy Spirit?” We concluded by saying it is where people’s lives were being transformed and becoming more like Jesus Christ.

Today we look together at an example of the evidence for the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Church. Tomorrow, we will start to go on to look at the New Testament church and the story of Stephen.

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)

 

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Partakers Bible Thought

25 May 2021

Holy Spirit's Ministry and Work

 

G’day and welcome to Partakers Podcasts! Two days ago we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in the Book of Acts, filling them with His power and passion. Yesterday, in our previous podcast, we looked briefly at who the Holy Spirit is. Today we go on to look together at the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit. Then tomorrow, we will start to go on to look at His work recorded for us in the Book of Acts in the Bible.

Our initial question to be answered in this podcast, is what does the Bible say about the ministry of Holy Spirit? Then we will go on to look at the best evidence for the work of the Holy Spirit.

We look together at:

The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ and He is a Comforter, Counsellor and Advocate who baptizes, convicts, declares, equips, fills, indwells, regenerates and seals. WOW!

 

What do we mean by these words? Listen to the podcast to find out more about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world today and in your life.

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Partakers Bible Thought

24 May 2021

Who is the Holy Spirit

G'day! Yesterday we looked together at Pentecost, where Christians around the world remembered and celebrate d the coming of the promised Holy Spirit as recorded for us in Acts!

Our initial question to be answered in this podcast, is what does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit?Let's answer this question together briefly.

 

“7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 ‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’ (John 16:7-15)

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Partakers Bible Thought

23 May 2021

Pentecost Power and Passion

 

G'day! Today is Pentecost Sunday where Christians around the world remember and celebrate the coming of the promised Holy Spirit! Happy Pentecost!

Jesus has now ascended back to the right hand of the Father. The 12 apostles are now back in Jerusalem and waiting. Waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. The coming of God the Holy Spirit is in fulfilment of the promise that Almighty and All-powerful God would indwell all those people who chose to follow Him. This event was prophesied many years before. An example is from the prophet Ezekiel:

 

“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

 

Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus had talked about how after He departed that God the Holy Spirit would come (John 15:26). Starting today and over the coming few days we will look at the Holy Spirit and into the book of Acts seeing how the Holy Spirit worked within and through the early Church. Let's look together!

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Partakers Bible Thought

22 May 2021

Jesus Leaves

 

G'day! Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly he will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Before he does so though, he has some more words to say to his disciples.  Come and listen to the podcast to find out more!

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16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (New Living Translation)

1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:1-11 (New Living Translation)

Come back tomorrow to hear what happens next - Pentecost!

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