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

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

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 Prayers

 

G'day! Welcome to Partakers! In this podcast we pray together some prayers of one of the Church Fathers, John Chrysostom. Come and pray!

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In The Name of The Father , Son, and Holy Spirit,
Lord, deprive me not of Your heavenly and eternal blessings.

Lord, deliver me from everlasting torments.
Lord, if I have sinned in word or deed, in mind or spirit, forgive me.
Lord, deliver me from all distress, ignorance, forgetfulness, laziness and stony hardness of heart.
Lord, deliver me from all temptations and spiritual abandonment.
Lord, enlighten my heart which has been darkened by evil desire.
Lord, being human, I sin; but You, being God, have mercy on me.
Lord, take heed of the weakness of my soul,
and help me with Your grace that Your holy name may be glorified in me.

Lord Jesus Christ,
inscribe the name of Your servant in the book of life,
granting me a blessed end.
Lord my God, I have done nothing good;
yet by Your compassion help me to make a new beginning.
Lord, refresh my heart with the dew of Your grace.
Lord, God of heaven and earth, remember me,
who am sinful, wretched, evil and impure, in Your kingdom,
according to Your steadfast love.

Lord, receive me in repentance and do not forsake me.
Lord, put me not to the test.
Lord, grant me good thoughts.
Lord, grant me tears of repentance, remembrance of death and contrition.
Lord, grant me sincere confession of my thought.
Lord, grant me humility, deliverance from my own will and obedience.
Lord, grant me patience, forbearance and meekness.
Lord, implant in me Your holy fear, the source of all blessings.

Lord, enable me to love You with all my soul,
my mind and my heart; and my neighbour as myself.
Lord, protect me from evil people and demons,
from impure passions and all unseemly things.
Lord, as you commanded;
Lord, as You know all things;
Lord as You desire I desire Your goodness;
let Your will be done in me.
Lord, let Your will, not mine,
for You are blessed forever.
Amen.

Almighty God,
you have given us grace at this time
with one accord to make our common supplication to you;
and you have promised through your well-beloved Son
that when two or three are gathered
together in his Name,
you will be in the midst of them.
Fulfil now, O Lord,
our desires and petitions as may be best for us;
granting us in this world knowledge of your truth,
and in the age to come, life everlasting.
Amen.

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 7

What are Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 3:22-23 all about that to be the catalyst for change and reformation of Martin Luther?

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

We know that the verses from Romans 1:16-17 were used by God, to be the catalyst for Martin Luther to commence what we call the Reformation. But what is it about these verses, caused him to think like that?

Please do download the podcast using the link below and hear what this message has to say for you today in the 21st century: some 2,000 years after they were written and 500 years after affecting Martin Luther - words which are still alive and active today.

 

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 6: Into The 18th Century and The Age of Reason

 

G’day and welcome to our series, 'Thanking God for the Reformation', where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

The 18th century is widely regarded as the ‘Age of Reason’ – the age of scientific discovery. Science was discovering the natural laws that governed the earth. Quickly God was become merely at best an impersonal observer and the supernatural, spiritual worlds and the divine inspiration of Scriptures were being denied.
Within general society, the 'need for God' disappeared as science and philosophy felt they could explain everything without the need of a God or gods. For the church, this was a century of stagnation and decay. In the USA, the original evangelical fervour had faded into commerce and prosperity.
However, there were glimpses of the Church being empowered. Not all was lost! There were still glimmers of the church still being alive! In the mid-18th century there was a spiritual revival throughout the USA and Britain.

Come and hear more of this exciting adventure of Church History - the catalyst of which was the birth of the Reformation commenced by Martin Luther... We look to America and Jonathon Edwards and return to England and the Wesley brothers.

The church is almost 2000 years old now. The Holy Spirit is still at work, empowering the church despite the Age of Reasoning and the wide-spread ignorance of the spiritual aspects of life.

This is the last in this series! The story of the Church continues, and will continue until the object and source of the Church’s faith, Jesus Christ returns in glory just as He has promised to do! Let’s learn the lessons of Church History and give thanks to God for those who have gone before us and help make the Church what it is today.

 

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 5 - English Reformation

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

 

We are now in England in the early 16th century! Protestantism had commenced earlier in the 14th century with John Wycliffe who we looked at earlier. Wycliffe was the 'Morning Star of the English Reformation'. The main issue in the 14th to 16th centuries, as we have seen, was the movement towards 'None but Christ saves'. That is, the Gospel is good news for all of humanity, regardless of who they are, that nobody can earn their salvation, but rather salvation is a free gift from God for all those who choose to receive it. The main issue in the 17th century however, was 'None but Christ reigns'. How so? How did this Reformation come about?

Download the mp3 podcast using the links below to learn more!

In today's Podcast we look at such people & events of history as:

  • Henry VIII
  • Pope Clement VII
  • Thomas Cranmer
  • Mary Tudor also know as "Queen Bloody Mary"
  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • James VI of Scotland
  • James I of England
  • Presbyterian
  • National Covenant
  • Puritans
  • Separatists
  • Baptists

 

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