A Journey Thru Acts 26: The Bible As One Event 2 (7:1-53)…
As we began last post (please click HERE), a significant shift/understanding occurred when the first images of earth were sent back by Apollo astronauts in the1960s. People began to see the earth in the “big picture” & not just as a bunch of smaller details. Both are important & worth studying.
This post we will continue to step back & dig into the Bible to see the “big picture” of God’s character & actions & plan from the beginning—the Gospel as One Event, the Bible as One Event…it’s not random that in Acts 7 Stephen uses his last minutes on earth to give this big-picture view ofGod to his accusers…Stephen sees the Bible as One Event—so must we…
- do you know the Bible as One Event?
- could you walk someone through the One Event of the Gospel,
with an open Bible, in 1, 3, 5 or 10 minutes?
As we continue to dive into different Bible passages below,
- look for God’s characteristics/qualities—Who He is…
- look also for what He has done, and
- what He promises to do for all those who are in Christ by repentance & faith—
that is our fuel for enduring the fires of life…
fix our eyes on Jesus, not ourselves & our desires & even our problems…
In the last post, in Genesis we learned that:
God Creates & Sees
God Is Assaulted
God Is Deeply Troubled, God Regrets, God Judges
God Scatters (The United Pride Of Sinful Humanity)
God Chooses, Calls & Promises
Rest of the Bible: God Finishes What He Started, God Fulfills His Call & Promise
God Points Ahead To The Rescuer, The Deliverer, The Messiah
And now we continue in this post…
- God Frees His People From Physical Slavery
& Points To Freeing His People From Spiritual Slavery:
Exodus 1:11-14: So they [the Egyptians] put slave masters over them [God’s Hebrew people] to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly.14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
[That was the situation of God’s people in Egypt; that is also the situation of all humans in sin apart from repentance & faith in the Lord Jesus Christ…]
Exodus 2:23-25: During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
[Oh the activeness of the LORD, His utter Personal involvement in every detail of our daily lives! When His suffering people cried out to Him, He heard, remembered, looked on, was concerned & then rescued! All verbs, all done by the LORD! YES!
- But you say, “Why hasn’t He done this for ME?
I’ve suffered so long, long enough, why doesn’t He ACT on my behalf?”
Oh loved ones, His people were slaves in Egypt for 430 years…WHY that long? Why not 330 years? Why not 530 years? I do not know. But God’s timing is perfect, my friends—
- Isaiah 25:1: Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.
- Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
What God does, how He does it, when He does it, why He does it—
all His ways are perfect, just, faithful…
I know that isn’t EASY to believe/trust,
but He calls us to believe/trust it nonetheless.
My friends, dough doesnt decide when it should be removed from the oven—only the Baker determines when the dough has been heated into bread, when enough is enough.
Trust the LORD, remain in His oven, know that He is in the oven with you & has gone through the hottest oven of all—the cross!!!
Theres a timing for the fulfillment of God’s promises–it is often not immediate!
- Acts 7:17: “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham…”
Back to Exodus…
Exodus 3:7-10, 16-17: 7 The Lord said,“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, & I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them…9and now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them…I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into…a land flowing with milk& honey.’
How will the LORD accomplish this?
Exodus 12:5-7, 12-13: The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs… 12 On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”
What are some of the things we learn from these passages above?
God sees the suffering of His people AND does something about it…
Why deliver His people from slavery? Not just to relieve their suffering, but more to glorify the name of the LORD: So that Pharoah & Egypt would know that the LORD is the only true God and that their “beliefs/perspectives/opinions” about the gods are wrong and wicked…
This all points ahead to God delivering from the slavery of sin all who will repent & by faith receive the Lamb of God, His only Son Jesus, for the forgiveness of their sins.
- It is the blood of the lamb that spared God’s people in Egypt—painted on the doorframes, which must have seemed ridiculous & offensive/gruesome to the Egyptians—
- & it is faith in the blood of the Lamb that will spare God’s people on earth (which seems foolish & offensive & gruesome to many non-Christians, needing to be spared from hell & eternal judgment thru the blood of God’s Son.
Oh my friends, we need the LORD’s help to understand how culturally strange and offensive it was to the Egyptians for the Israelites to paint the blood of lambs on the doorframes of their houses–as well as the idea that the LORD was going to bring judgment and punishment down on the Egyptians…that was strange then as it would be strange now. Painting blood on doorframes to escape judgment will always be weird, will never be “trending” on FB or Twitter…
Similarly, it is strange at best and gruesome/offensive at worst to trust in the blood of Jesus Christ so that we can be forgiven and adopted and spared from His just wrath/judgment to come–this is often not even preached at local churches, often not accepted by church-attenders, let-alone non-CHristians…and yet it is the Way the LORD has graciously provided to set us free from spiritual Egypt…
- Rest of the Old Testament:
God Guides & God Disciplines, God Woos, Humbles & Judges His People:
Sacrificial system: God shows the seriousness of sin & points ahead to the Savior.
God warns His people to be different from the lost people around them.
God’s people constantly worship things other than Him; He sends prophets again &again to turn the people BACK to Him & show them they are far worse than they realize, to shake them from their self-satisfied comfort (“I’m a good person!”) &bring them back to Him thru repentance & faith—just as He continues to do today, not just to those who DON’T attend church but also to those who DO!
Hebrews 1:1-3: In the past God spoke to our ancestors thru the prophets at many times& in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, & thru whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory & the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
- God Walks The Talk, God Doesn’t Spare His Only Son, Goes All the Way:
John 19:28-30: Later, knowing that everything had now been finished,
and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,
[like spokes on a wheel all pointing to the hub, the entire Bible points ahead to this central act of Christ Jesus–the Bible is One Event, the Gospel is One Connected Plan of God…]
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
[It is finished–paid in full! As the Lord Jesus said, His death on the cross in the place of undeserving sinners (substitutionary atonement) was a ransom, a payment, to set us free from sin & death…a free gift for any who will surrender to Him & cry out for mercy, for forgiveness, any who will acknowledge our horrific sinfulness against God & receive His new life by faith–the Gospel!!!]
Acts 4:10-12: 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’[a]
12 Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to mankind
by which we must be saved.”
John 20:30-31: 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
[Not “believe in Him so that your current life may be improved a bit,” but
“believe in Him so that you can be made alive in the first place!”
- God Gives His People A Specific Mission:
Acts 1:1-11: In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days&spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
[Stop–you’re asking the wrong questions! Don’t worry about God’s timing…focus on His mission/purpose for you until He fulfills everything on His timing…]
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?
[You have a mission now–get to it! :)]
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Matthew 28:16-20: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
[What a mission–oh the Gospel! What a privilege that the LORD has given His people such a role to play!]
- God Will Return, Judge Sin, & Bring His People Home Forever:
2 Peter 3:3-18: Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5
[Even within a few decades of the Lord Jesus’ death, resurrection & ascension to heaven, there were people scoffing at “how long it was taking” for Him to fulfill His promise. But the LORD gives us the perfect response in the next verses:]
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
[Many laugh at/ridicule Christianity not because they dont know the Truth but because they choose not to know the Truth. “But they deliberately forget…” We need God to change our hearts completely, not just change our information…]
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
[Yes!!!! The Gospel! Repentance! Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
New life in Christ! nothing better!]
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
[The Gospel includes God judging those outside of Christ Jesus, the Gospel includes the LORD banishing/destroying sin once and for all. This is part of the Good News, loved ones–we must not be ashamed/embarrassed by this, but rather we are to look forward to God finishing the Plan He started so long ago.]
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
[Everything will burn, loved ones, so let’s not spend so much time improving our current physical bodies, let’s not spend so much time fixing up our current house that we neglect our souls, that we are distracted from our true mission from our King of spreading this amazing Gospel as One Event to the far corners of the earth!]
14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
[This isn’t saying make every effort to be saved/forgiven, but once we are saved & forgiven by the grace of the Lord Jesus, make every effort to grow, to mature, to be ready for His return and to faithfully carry out His mission for us! Focus, be alert, be sober, prepare, do our job, etc.!]
15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brotherPaul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Revelation 21:1-8: Then I saw “a new heaven & a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3& I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He [Jesus] said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God & they will be my children.
[Yes! The Gospel! We don’t deserve ANY of these benefits–all grace!]
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
[Oh loved ones, that is the Lord Jesus talking!! Verse 8 is the Gospel just as much as verse 7. If it’s hard to hear that, just remember the price He paid so that His people don’t have to pay our spiritual debt, remember what He went through so that His people won’t have to go through paying for our own sinfulness.
One way or another verse 8 describes ALL humans—all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God—but we can be saved, forgiven, made new—we can go from verse 8 to verse 7 thru repentance & faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh the Gospel!]
Revelation 22:12-17, 20-21: 12“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.
[THAT is the Gospel–we need to be made completely new, not just improved a bit, to enter heaven! We need to be washed clean, and only the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross can wash us, only His blood! The blood of Y’Shua is the bleach of Yahweh to make our crimson sins white as snow! All by grace alone through faith alone in the Lord Jesus alone–The Gospel!!! Oh to be IN CHRIST and go into His city, heaven, to be with Him forever!]
15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters &everyone who loves & practices falsehood.
[Again, verse 15 describes ALL humanity apart from faith & repentance in the Lord Jesus, but by the grace of God through the death & resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, He can move us from verse 15 to verse 14—cry out to Him, loved ones, call on the name of the Lord Jesus!
Loved ones, don’t be discouraged when the Lord Jesus talks about hell and judgment and repentance—these are part of the “elementary teachings about Christ” (Hebrews 6:1-3)–we must teach these earlier, not later/never…
Hebrews 6:1-2: “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”]
Back to Revelation 22:
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
[the bride–that’s US, the Church! We are to invite others to receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior & King! We are His witnesses to the ends of the earth!!! Oh the Gospel!]
And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life…
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
[And thus the Bible ends as God finishes His glorious plan of salvation, the Gospel…]
Two Final Questions:
What Will We Be Like For All Eternity?
Colossians 1:21-23: 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Why Would God Do ALL THIS, Go To ALL THIS TROUBLE?
2 Corinthians 4:4-6: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory ofChrist, who is the image of God. 5For what we preach is not ourselves, but JesusChrist as Lord, &ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
God doesn’t just say, “I’m amazing, I’m glorious, I’m awesome.” He is, &He does say that. But more than that, He SHOWS it. He walks the talk. The manger, the cross & the empty tomb reveal the eternal awesomeness of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. He can do nothing more amazing than that—even more amazing than creating the universe in 6 days is the eternal Word of God hanging on a cross for 6 hours as a criminal in the place of any sinner who will surrender to Him as Lord & Savior in order for Him to re-create us as sons & daughters of God. Boom. The ultimate mic-drop. The Gospel…isn’t it marvelous…
“But I will encamp at my temple
to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.
The Coming of Zion’s King
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
In a real pit of suffering
we can live in the more real fortress
of hope in Christ.
Have you “fled to take hold of the hope offered you” in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 6:18),
have you grabbed Him alone by faith alone thru grace alone,
- the way a person with broken legs trapped in a burning building grabs onto the Firefighter sent to rescue them,
- the way a person stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with sharks circling them grabs onto the Lifeboat sent to rescue them,
by faith, have you grabbed onto King Jesus, riding on a donkey?
He no longer rides on a donkey on earth but sits on the throne of heaven…
THAT is the Gospel, loved ones—One Event—isn’t it marvelous…