Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Following the Apostles -- Teaching as they Taught

by Billy Moore

"Go teach all nations" was the command they had received from the Lord (Matt.18:19), and before his ascension he said, You will be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). In Jerusalem they stayed and on the day of Pentecost they received the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2:1‑4), who was to guide them into All truth" (John 16:13) and that day they began that seemingly impossible task of preaching the gospel of Christ to all nations. Let's observe what they told men to believe and do.

In Jerusalem

When they preached that God had made the same Jesus whom you have crucified to be both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), the cry came from that multitude, "Men and brethren, what shall we do? For the first time they told men what to do for the remission of their sins. Listen to their words: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...." (Acts 2:38). My friends, if you have trouble understanding this, read it again and again.

Later, in Jerusalem, Peter reminded them that they had "denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, " and even though they had done it in ignorance, they were guilty. Then he commanded: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted that your sins be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).

In Samaria

Persecution caused the disciples to be scattered abroad and they "went every where preaching the word." Philip went to Samaria to preach, "When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12). A preacher in that city, who had been deceiving the people, making them think that he was some great one, heard Philip and "Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip... " (vs. 13). Philip preached the gospel, they believed and were baptized.

A Nobleman Converted

The conversion of the Treasurer of Ethiopia is one of the most simple. He was a religious man, who had been to Jerusalem to worship and was returning to his home when Philip was sent by the Lord to teach him. When Philip first saw him the man was reading Isaiah the Prophet and invited Philip to explain what he was reading. The record says, "Philip began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. " We are not told all the things he said about Jesus, but as they rode along in that chariot they came to a certain water (lake, stream, or pool): and the Treasurer said, Here is water; What hinders me from being baptized? Now, notice what Philip said: "If you believe with all your heart, you may. " Then the man said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both those men went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Read it in your Bible in Acts 8:36‑38). My friend, do you have any difficulty understanding that? If so, just read it again. What did that Treasurer believe? What did he do?

An Enemy Converted

In Jerusalem young Saul of Tarsus was a leader of those who persecuted the disciples. He obtained permission to go to Damascus to bind disciples and return them to Jerusalem to be punished. Enroute the Lord appeared to him in a light brighter than the noon day sun and told him, I am Jesus whom you persecute. Saul asked, Lord, What do you want me to do? The Lord said, "Go into the city, and you will be told what you must do?" Saul had been blinded by that the light, but a friend led him into the city. For three days he was fasting and praying, then the Lord send a gospel preacher, Ananias, unto Saul to lay his hands upon him that his sight might be restored, and to tell him what he must do. When Saul received his sight "he arose and was baptized" (Acts 9:18). Years later, Saul (now called Paul, the apostle) told of his conversion as he made his defense before the Jews in Jerusalem. He said, Ananias came to me and stood and said to me, God has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lords (Acts 22:16). What did he believe? What was he told to do? Read in your Bible. Is it too difficult to understand?

The first Gentiles Converted

Peter, was sent to preach to the house of Cornelius, the first Gentiles to receive the gospel. He told them of Jesus and the things he did in the land of the Jews, and how the Jews had killed him by hanging him on a tree, but that God had raised him on the third day, and had commanded us to preach to the people that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead; that through His name whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. And he commanded him to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:34-48). What were the Gentiles to believe? What were they commanded to do?

The Pattern

Friends, surely we can see the pattern: where ever the gospel was preached, men were commanded to believe, to repent of their sins and be baptized into Christ. So Luke writes that in Corinth, "And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). Each of us who hears the gospel must decide whether we believe, and if we believe whether we will repent of our sins and whether we will be baptized in the name of Christ "for the remission of sins."

Realizing the brevity of life, the frailty of man and the surety of judgment, we should believe and obey the gospel, the power of God unto salvation.

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