The Journey Class meets at 9:45 on Sunday Mornings in the Fellowship Hall. We are taking a "journey" through the Bible as we discuss topics of interest to those who attend. In the past we have covered the entire Old Testament book by book. We have also covered the recorded miracles of Jesus. Some other topics covered are are dinasours mentioned in the Bible, and did people live as long as the old testament says, and why do we not live that long today. We have fun while learning the truth of the Bible and clearing up some common beliefs that are not in the Bible.
Currently we are discussing different personalities from the Bible. We look at the good that people in the Bible did and the mistakes that they made with the key being on God's grace and forgiveness.
We invite you to join us for a Sunday School class like few others where we trust that you will enjoy the Journey through the Bible.
Introduction To The Book Of James
This book was likely written in 49 AD.
the author is James the brother of Jesus. He was not a believer or supporter of Jesus and his ministry. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15:7 that Jesus appeared to James after the resurrection and at that point James became a believer.
This is also the same James that was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He was the one that was the leader that ruled on the council that we talked about in Acts.
Paul also calls him a pillar of faith and the church in Gal 2:9. He went from total disbelief to being a great leader of the church and writing this letter to help believers.
This is a letter that he wrote to all believers and unlike most of the ones that Paul wrote to a specific church or group of people this letter is to all believers. It is meant to be shared with many groups of believers.
There is a ton of great information about Christian Living for all believers. This book is designed to help believers grow in their faith and to help the maturity of the readers to get to a deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.
When he wrote this letter there was a problem in the church that people were not living by what the Lord taught. They were not walking the talk. They would say one thing but then live a totally different way than what they were saying.
He wants to help people understand what it was that Christ had told people and he gives advice on living the right way and helping the readers to be able to change the way they were living. Christians in the early church were not growing.
In the church world today we have a problem with people not growing spiritually and also with not walking the talk. This is a good letter to help those who read it to grow in their walk and relationship with their savior.
It has been said by Brennan Manning that one of greatest causes of atheism is believers who profess God with their lips and deny God with their actions. An unbelieving world finds this unacceptable.
Why do professing Christians not grow in their faith and walk?
Spiritual maturity is not much different then physical maturity. As we grew physically we went through changes in our bodies and those changes were tough to deal with some time. Hence the term growing pains. We don't like struggle and we don't like change as humans. So for us to go through this growing process physically is tough and uncomfortable at times.
Spiritual maturity is no different. It will be tough and uncomfortable and will also require effort on your part to stand strong.
There is also another problem that happens when we begin to grow spiritually. Someone takes notice that we are not standing pat anymore and content to stay in the same old way of life that we have been in for some much time.
When we begin to take action to grow in our faith and relationship with Jesus then we will get the attention of the devil and he will make things uncomfortable and sometimes difficult for us.
Even the author of the book that I am reading that focuses on the Book of James warns that studying this book and putting into action the things that we learn here will not be easy and that some people might be tempted to give up. He cautions us to continue on and to keep going because the reward for doing so is extremely worth it. The closer we get to God the more at peace we will be with him even when we are experiencing times of suffering that might make us want to throw in the towel.
We will see that James starts out his letter in talking about trials in life and how we should handle them and what will come from them.
We will begin to look at that next week.
I want to encourage you to commit to growing in your relationship and faith in Jesus and giving this study your commitment. We can't stay as children forever physically, and we really can't stay as children spiritually because it is not healthy in either case.
This passage has caused a great deal of issue for the church today. Some people feel that people need to be baptized in the spirit as an extra step to having
the Spirit fully in your life.
They feel that someone must have hands placed on them and have a special baptism much like the believers on the day of Pentacost.
Still others believe that is not needed and that only acceptance of the work Jesus on the cross. Acts 10:44-48
The difference here is that these men were wanting to understand and do what they could for the kingdom. The only thing was that Paul did not see evidence of the Spirit working in their lives.
The fruit of the Spirit was not tangible in their lives. They did not have the witness to bring glory to God.
They also were part of the building of the church in Ephesus and much like we do with deacons and pastors who enter the ministry have hands placed on them and prayed for them entering the service.
That is why Paul placed his hands on them and prayed.
We as believers today hear the Word and accept the work of Christ and get the Holy Spirit to come and fill us and guide us from the moment we accept Him. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 1:13-14.
These men were working in the church and not living with the power of the early church.
We also see that Paul is run out of the synagogue after 3 months and so he takes his disciples and moves to a smaller place and meets with them daily.
Here we see that Paul was using the power of the Holy Spirit and many miracles were happening through him. People were healed and demons cast out of
Some people tried to claim a piece of the action for their own purposes. The demon told them that he did not know who they were but he knew who Jesus and Paul were.
If we are not right with God and are trying to do work in the kingdom then you will be called out for it eventually.
They were able to do this for a while but they paid for it eventually. That happens to many people who don't have their heart or motives in the right place. While they may have success for a while and look like they are doing a work for the kingdom it will eventually be seen for what it is.
Another note with this was that when this happened many people turned away from their involvement in spell casting and other magic arts. They had a good old fashioned book burning and destroyed many books that dealt in the occult. A large value amount of books were destroyed.
Another time that God used something that could have been bad and turned people away and made something good out of it.
Vs 23- 20:3
Here we see that a group of people that make money and get rich by making idols for people to worship see that Paul and his preaching are going to hurt their
business in a major way. They join together and start a riot in the city.
They could not find Paul so they grabbed people that travel with Paul and bring them into the theatre. This mob was so out of control that some people did not know why they were there.
Paul wanted to go into the place and try to get things calmed down but many people told him not to risk it.
We always see that anytime that the truth is preached and told over and over again it will be opposed by the enemy any way possible. That is what is happening here, but notice that Paul is not trying to stop them from making the idols, he is only preaching the Word to people.
The city officials finally broke up the group and told them to handle it through courts if there was a wrong being done. He did this out of fear of the Roman government getting involved in what was going on there. He did not want the big government coming to take over because he could not control the people.
Whatever the reason it was enough to get the crowd broken up and to stop the riot.
Paul encourages the people and then leaves to start to move towards Rome.
He will get there some time later but he wants to start working his way there when God allows. Remember earlier in the chapter he sent some people on ahead to Macedonia so that it would be a little easier to visit.
Here in this part of the book Paul does a lot of moving around as he makes his way to Jerusalem and then to Rome.
I am just going to cover a couple of segments of this chapter. Paul and his people were in Troas and he was talking to people there.
We have talked about this before when we discuss people being raised from the dead in the Bible. Paul talks so long the boy falls asleep and plunges 3 stories to his death. He then is raised back to life from Paul.
I am sure that while many preachers can say they have put people to sleep with their preaching few if any other than Paul can say that they raised a person who fell asleep and died back to life.
Paul then moves on to Miletus and requests that the leaders of the church in Epheus meet with him as he has some words for them.
Paul meets with them and tells them that he is leaving them and that they will not see them again. He talks about that suffering has been a part of his ministry from day one and that he does not know what will happen to him but that he wants to finish the race strong and faithfully.
He tells them to tend to their flock and to guide them. He also warns them to stay focused on the call of God and church and watch out for the enemy. He tells them to protect the flock from the wolves.
They have a very moving service and they all prayed with him were very sad and needed to go on without him. This area was the most open to his preaching and he had the easiest time here in the years he spent here.
Today we are going to see what happens with Paul after he leaves Athens. Does anybody remember about some of the things that happened in Athens?
Many statues to gods around including one to an unknown god. The people of Athens were known for their thinkers and to accept any new teaching that came along.
They would listen to and accept anything new until the next thing came along. They never got serious and stick to anything but they will follow the new teaching until the next thing. Nothing ever got time to take root and become common place and a core of the belief system.
Now Paul moves on to Corinth. Vs. 1-6
First off we see that Paul is going into the synagogue again on the Sabbath. How many people thought that Paul only did preaching while he was on the missionary journeys.
We see here that Paul basically worked a full time job and went to the synagogue on the Sabbath to debate and speak with the people there.
That does not mean that he was only doing the ministry work on the Sabbath he was working for the Lord all the time. Colossians 3:23 sums this up Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedy as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans.
He found some people to work with but I am sure that he worked with Aquila and Priscilla and helped them to grow and understand more and more of he
scriptures and about Jesus. He worked with them but also mentored them in a way about the scriptures
We need to be doing the same thing with our lives as we need to be focusing everyday for God and all that we do needs to be done for God.
We see the Silas and Timothy catch up to him they brought him financial support from the believers in Phillipi and at that point he started to preach all the time. Once he had the means to do it he did full time ministry.
The people opposed and insulted him and so as he has done before he shook the dust from his feet, and told them they were responsible for themselves and their destiny. Anyone who has heard and has not dedicated themselves to Jesus are responsible for their own fate on judgment day.
Paul goes and stays with a an names Titius Jutus who lived next to the synagogue. Paul was having great success and the leader of the synagogue and his whole family became believers. This had to upset the Jews who opposed Paul so much more that the opposition became extremely great. The more that Paul accomplished the more he was opposed it would seem.
Paul has a vision from the Lord that tells him to be bold and to keep doing the work he has been called to. God promises protection for him and says that many people will be there to support Paul.
This gives Paul renewed strength. He is there preaching and leading people to the Lord and stayed there for a year and a half .
This part of the chapter is interesting as Paul is brought before the governor to stand trial.
First of all the Jews were separated into many groups depending on the beliefs and the differences in beliefs. They all saw a common problem Paul and the fact that he was having great success and that it had to be stopped. So they settled their differences long enough to bring Paul into court.
Gallio heard the argument against Paul but stopped it at that point to say that they needed to handle matters of the Jewish law themselves. He threw them out of the courtroom.
The big point that I want to make here is that the Jews grouped together against what they felt was a common enemy to all of them. The church is divided into so many different groups and divisions based on differences in beliefs. We are being torn apart from the inside out and too busy fighting with each other that we are losing the battle against the enemy. We need to take a lesson from the Jews and set some of our differences aside and be about the business of God's great commission. There are things to oppose but only when it will stop somebody from getting to heaven. The main goal of the church is to save the lost and to help the saved grow.
Paul starts to work his was back to Antioch. He takes Aquila and Priscilla with him to Ephesus.
Paul again goes to the synagogue and preaches. The people here were very much interested in what Paul was saying and wanted him to stay there with them.
Paul expressed that he could not stay but that it God wants him to come back him will. He does leave Aquila and Priscilla there to help minister to the people . God provides people to do the work that needs to be done so that other people can continue on in the work that God has called them to do. Just as he did with Silas and Timothy when he left them in Philipi Paul can continue on and knows that the people he has worked with are capable to do the job while he is gone.
Paul goes back through Jerusalem and then back home to Antioch. He had been gone close to 4 years in total on this journey.
Here we see that Aquila and Priscilla heard about a person who was preaching but did not know all of the information. They respected his zeal for the Word and wanted to help him to understand better about the ways of Christ. With that Apollos was encouraged and understood better what it was that Jesus had done and the work of the Holy Spirit.
He felt the call to Greece and was encouraged to go by the believers. He went and was a great help to the believers there and helped to show more people the way.
Because Paul had worked to do the work of the Lord in everything he did he equipped Aquila and Priscilla while he was working a full time job of making tents then he left them in a place that God used to them to help be there to guide Apollos and in turn cause the believers to grow.
God always works things together and even when something seems small it can be used to do great things for God.
We are going to continue today with Paul, Silas, Timothy, and other believers on the second missionary journey. We are seeing that God is working in many ways through these men.
They are being lead by the Holy Spirit and following what direction he gives them. They go where the Spirit leads and stay out of areas the Spirit tells them not to go to.
They are finding resistance in just about every place they are going to and being beaten and thrown in prison among other things.
Even while in prison they continue to praise God and are delivered from their circumstances by God in many ways.
Throughout these times and events lives are being changed and the message is spreading to more and more parts of the world.
Paul and Silas continued on through the area and came to a synagogue in Thessalonica. This was the capital of Macedonia and a large business city. Paul did this a lot as he would go to the bigger cities and into the synagogue and preach to the people.
We are not told the length of time that Paul and Silas were there but it is believed that it was a considerable amount of time. Paul worked as a tent maker to support himself and also the church in Philippi helped him twice with financial assistance. (Philippians 4:15-16).
This would have taken some time for them to support him 2 times during this period. Western union did not exist and you could not just transfer money from one place to another electronicly.
3 weeks in a row he went to the synagogue to talk and debate with the people there until the ones who would not believe started trouble for them.
A great number of people believed and joined the group including some influential Greek men and women. Because of the ones that d not believe were envious of Paul and the large crowd joining the group they went and got some of the local suspect people to raise a scene and cause a riot. They wanted to get the attention of the authorities and get the missionaries in trouble with the leaders and rulers.
It is amazing that when you read this and then watch the news of today you see much the same kind of tatics. This week on day 1 of the Senate hearing for the nomination of Supreme Court judge there was a big scene caused and many people arrested for disrupting the meeting in protest to the nomination. One story about it said that people representing many different groups were there for the sole purpose of causing a scene.
They go to the house of a man named Jason and look for Paul and Silas but when they could not be found they brought Jason and his family before the rulers and accused them of helping Paul and Silas who were accused of saying that there was another king beside Ceasar. They made them post bond to get out of prison part of the agreement to get out was likely that Jason had to make sure that Paul and Silas left town and did not come back. That was ok because the work was done here the church was established and it began to grow and Paul sent letters of encouragement to them as we see in the new testament.
So the group leaves during the night and heads to Berea where they entered a synagogue again and began talking and preaching there. These people loved to hear what they were saying and checked everything that was being said against the scriptures. They accepted the message and worked hard to make sure they were not being deceived in any way by these men.
Again we see a great number of prominent people became believers at this city.
The ones that made trouble for the group in Thessalonica got word what was happening in Berea they went and to stop it and to confuse the people.
I find it amazing the lengths that people will go to when something is going on that they don't like.
We still see that today in the way people react and go to great lengths to make a statement against something. All we need to do is to turn on the news and we see fighting between people in power. The lengths that some people go to is incredible.
At this point Paul leaves the city but Silas and Timothy stay behind to help stop the confusion of the people.
Athens was a place that as very open to many things. They had no loyalty to anything.
Any new idea that came along they would be open to it and would attach to it and start following whatever the teaching was.
They would make gods out of anything and to anybody that they wanted .
The Greek religion was one that had no moral barometer and was based on amusement and art.
We have all heard of the "Greek Mythology" and they believed all of it. To us it is stories and fables of things that some people thought made sense at the time.
The gods had power in some of the stories they told but when it came down to the truth of the matter it was just stories and no real power was displayed by any of the gods they worshiped.
From what Paul learned in Athens here that there was more gods being worshiped here than anybody could have imagined. Some people say that there was more gods who were worshiped then there was men in the city.
A relaxing time to these people was to here something new and then to pursue it until the next new thing comes along.
It you do this then you are not going to never grow roots with anything of substance. The Greeks were so into the next thing to come along that they were shallow in what they pursued.
They also were thinkers Socrates and Aristotle where here that people still study their thoughts to this day.
Paul had to convince people that what he was talking about was not just another fly by night god to worship for the moment, and then move onto the next god that comes along.
Some wanted to learn more while others scoffed at him.
This is something that we deal with in society today. With all the things we have in our lives that come and go we place things in our lives to be distracted from focusing on God and all that he does for us.
We as a society here are quick to jump on the next thing that sounds good and we will give it the ten seconds of fame so to speak. We bounce from things to the next thing.
As long as we are distracted into work or tv or sports, or any number of things that come along we don't grow the roots into our faith to sustain us when the storms of live come along. We have the same problems that the Greeks in this day and age had.
It is time to stop making idols and to develop roots of faith and withstand the storm that comes our way.
Acts 15:36-16 2nd Missionary Journey
Last week we looked at the problem that the church started to have with come people calling for all to be circumcised to be saved. Paul and Barnabas and some others went to Jerusalem to discuss the problem with the apostles. They went to talk to them about it because they were the ones that had walked with Jesus. They had spent time with Him and walked with Him. They were the first ones that received the gift of the Holy Spirit. To help decide about what was right in this matter they went to the people with the most knowledge and experience in the church.
They determined that the gift of salvation was good for anybody who believed on Jesus. There was no need to burden the people with the requirements of the law when Jesus had removed the requirements of the law by going to the cross.
They did want to see a change in the people that followed Jesus and for them to turn away from the behavior that they had done before they knew Jesus and that went against a child of God.
There needs to be some change and example of a life different in when we believe as opposed to what we did before when we did not know the Lord and the right way to be.
Now lets pick up in verse 36 of chapter 15
Paul and Barnabas were gonna go on another missionary journey but they have a major dispute over taking John Mark with them.
Remember that John Mark went with them the first time but left after just a little while. The Bible never explains why he left but Paul was upset that he did. He doubted that John Mark would stay the entire trip this time.
John Mark was a cousin to Barnabas and later rejoined Paul and was useful to him as he explains in 2 timothy 4:11.
We don't know about what happened to barnabas and Mark when they left on their own journey as the Bible only talks about Paul and Silas.
This might have been another way for God to use the division to spread the word all the more as now there was 2 teams going out to spread the word.
So we see that Timothy joins Paul and Silas on the journey.
Paul circumcised Timothy. Why would he do this after the last chapter we learned that it is not needed for salvation. Is this a contra diction? In Galatians 2 we see that Paul refused to make Titus be circumcised because he was Greek. Timothy had a Greek father so why the difference?
Timothy's mother was a Jew and so that made him half Jewish. The Jewish people they were going to preach to in the areas would have resisted him because he was not following that part of the law as a Jew.
This was not for an act of salvation but as a way to remove a stumbling block to make it easier for Jewish people to accept the message of the gospel.
We need to help make it easier for people to come to Jesus by removing stumbling blocks that may exist as long as they do not go against what the Bible calls for. For example we don't endorse being an alcholoic and allowing it to continue when the person becomes a believer. We stick to the beliefs that are outlined in the Bible but we don't argue things that are not critical in the salvation of another.
This is what Paul was doing in this matter and Timothy understood the need for it to allow God to work more through him.
On the journey the Holy Spirit is guiding Paul about where they can go and preach and where they are forbidden to go to. We need to be trusting the guidance of God through the Holy Spirit in the work that we do for Him. Paul and Silas are an example of this and they are doing what is directed of them.
Paul and group head to Macedonia after the vision that Paul has and they go without haste.
Notice one other thing in these verses. In verse 8 the author is saying that they are going to this place and not preaching in Asia. Then in verse 10 he says that we sought to go after the vision.
So the author of the book tells us that he is now with them on this journey. Who is the author?
We know that he joined Paul in the ministry but this appears to be the time that he joined them for the work of the Lord.
We see here that a woman named Lydia was saved and her whole family as well and provided the people on the journey a place to stay with her and her family. God had already gone and been working on her as it says in vs. 14 that the Lord had opened her heart to hear what Paul had to say.
When we are following the Lord in his work than He will working to allow the biggest impact, even when we don't see it right then. Sometimes it is for only one person that we are doing something for.
God works on a different scale than we do. As humans we look at some endevor and count the cost of it to see if it is worth the investment but God looks at it that if one life is touched then it is worth it. One life touched can impact many more.
Lets talk about this some why did the demon girl go around telling every one to listen to these men because they knew the way to salvation?
Her own personal profit if she helped them they might pay her?
Demon was afraid that they may cast it out of her and figured if it helped Paul then he might not cast it out?
Girl wanted demon cast out and got the strength to do this on her own to cause Paul to free her from the demon?
Next question why did Paul get annoyed and cast the demon out of her?
People might think that they were not creditable because they knew the girl had a demon and yet it could look like they were working together.
It is human nature to get annoyed when someone is doing the same thing over and over again without stopping.
So Paul cast the demon out of the girl after she followed them around and caused a scene for many days and the people that made the money off of her were upset and wanted Paul punished for what he did. Kind of ironic that it was their servant that caused so much of the scene and yet they blame Paul and Silas for it. Maybe this was the reason the demon did this so that Paul and Silas would be stopped in their preaching.
They are beaten and thrown in jail the guard made sure that they would not be able to get away. Word has spread about these people being able to get away from jail and they wanted to be sure that Paul and Silas did not get away.
Even though they were beaten and thrown in jail they were there praising the Lord and praying. The other prisoners were listening to them and likely being influenced by the praising and praying. Even in dire situations they were still faithful to the Lord wanted to serve and follow the will of God.
God answers and displays His power and all the prisoners could have left and escaped but they did not and the jailer and his whole family became believers that night.
The jailer takes care of the wounds on Paul and Silas and then all his family is baptized.
I imagine that some of the other prisoners did as well.
Paul gets the last word.
After the officials wanted to let them go quietly Paul refuses to go and throws out there that he is a Roman and makes the officials come and lead them out of the city. They were afraid that Paul would cause a problem for them with the government. Paul got the chance to make them think about what they were doing and even though he left when they came and escorted them out.
They then went back to the house of Lydia where they were staying before they got thrown in jail.
They encouraged the brethren and then they left for other areas.
Even after all they had been through they still wanted to help give those there courage.
Through all of this they were lead by the Holy Spirit and they saw results in many ways and faced trials and challenges but still did the work of the Lord even while in prison.