Introduction to Acts of the Apostles

Welcome bible study participants!  Last night we had a wonderful time taking care of introductory thoughts about how to interpret scripture; as well as examining the author, date, and purpose of the book of Acts.  We looked briefly at the first two verses of Acts chapter 1.  All this is covered in the following recording of the lesson.  You can listen to this teaching by simply pressing the “play” button on the link below. (Depending on your connection speed it may take a moment or two to load).  Also if you would like to take notes, there is a handout for the outline of the lesson simply click the link and print one out on your own printer.  At the end of the lesson we gave out a takeaway handout and you can print this as well.

Thanks for listening.

Dr. Jim Wilkins

acts 1_1-2 introduction outline

acts 1_1-2 introduction outlineacts 1_1-2 takeaway handout


Have you ever wondered what Jesus sounded like when he sang?  I know… some of you are thinking, “Jesus sang? I didn’t know Jesus sang.”

Well, think about it again.  I’m not Jewish, and I don’t pretend to be a scholar on the finer points of worship in the synagogue.  However, the use of music in worship in the synagogue dates back to ancient times. Additionally, Scripture accounts in a number of places how music and song expressed thanks to God or enhanced worship in the Temple.  Here are just a few for you to look up on your own:

  • Exodus 15 – the Song of the Sea
  • Judges 5 – Deborah’s song of victory
  • 1 Samuel 16 – David had skill in singing and playing the lyre
  • According to tradition at least 150 of the psalms were composed and sung by David
  • Psalm 120-134 – the “Song of the Ascents” – were included regularly during the ancient Temple worship, each song corresponding to one of the 15 steps the priest would ascend to arrive at the altar.

So, using our logic and deduction, all of these songs would be familiar to Jesus who attended synagogue every Sabbath day, his entire life. He traveled to Jerusalem for every feast day celebration required by God’s Law.  And, being a normal Jewish male expected to lift his own voice in worship and praise to God, Jesus would sing with all the others in the assembly.

I wonder what his voice sounded like?

But here’s the thing…

Did you know that Scripture teaches that Jesus sings over you?  Say what?!

Again, we have to use our deductive reasoning and logic here.  Scripture teaches that as Christ-followers we have been “grafted into” His family, along with all those Jewish folk who follow Him as the True Messiah.  This means, that what is promised to them, is also promised to us, in terms of eternal life, and the blessings of God.  That said, look at what the prophet Zephaniah says.

Zephaniah 3:17  The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.

“singing” here is the Hebrew word rinnah (rin-naw’) רִנָּה
and it means:  a ringing cry or singing

Wow! What an amazing thought!  Jesus, the LORD your God… will rejoice over you with singing!

I want to hear that voice.  I want to know the truth of these words.  And even though I can’t see it today, or hear it today in my current realm of reality, I know the words are still true.  Jesus is singing over me!

Glory be to the Lord of the hosts of heaven!

As you go to worship today… think about the words of Zephaniah 3:17!


In Times Like These…

Ruth Caye Jones was a self-taught pianist/organist from Erie Pennsylvania.  Ruth was married to Bert Jones and co-founded an evangelistic radio ministry.  Broadcasting weekly this family oriented program called “A Visit with the Jones,” this couple spoke the truth into homes across the country.  You may not even know her name, or have ever heard the radio program, but you may remember the song she wrote in 1944 titled, “In Times Like These.”

I watched and listened last night, first to our President’s grave message about the crisis at our southern border, then the Democratic opposition response to his words.  The only thought to describe my feelings as I watched was “sad.”  I’m not fearful for what may happen in our country as the rhetoric increases, while the division in our leadership broadens, and every listens to pollsters who seem to skew results according to who’s funding the polls.  I’m trying hard not to be angry or depressed as our government fails to provide safety and security to our life and freedom by not fixing the problem along our borders.  Mostly, I’m just sad.

I woke up this morning thinking about the words to this song by Mrs. Jones, and realized if there were ever a need for these words it is now.  Read and listen carefully.

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these, O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

In times like these I have a Savior,
In times like these I have an anchor;
I’m very sure, I’m very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock

Here is why I’m not fearful or depressed, and try not to be angry listening to the news or reading social media outbursts on partisan politics.  The words in this song are true.

In times like these, my Savior is not Donald Trump, and my anchor is not the United States Government.

In times like these, the Word of God is the Absolute Truth on which to base my life, and faith.

In times like these I must choose to believe in and hold fast to these three truths:

  1. God is Sovereign and in Control
  2. God’s Word has absolute Authority over all things, and applies to me personally
  3. God has promised to always be Present with us, and with me personally

This is my anchor.
This is my Rock.

His name is Jesus.

Continuing the work…

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The eleven men following Jesus came abruptly to a defining moment in their lives.  One day Jesus just stopped near Jerusalem and told these men not to leave the city again, but to wait for what God the Father had promised, which He had already told them about.  What promise?  When did Jesus tell them about it?  These men were still caught up in “old” thinking, so naturally they assumed He was about to establish an earthly kingdom.

This thought process led them to ask, “Is it time?  Are you about to restore Israel?”  In some ways I think this may have saddened Jesus a little.  Even after three years, after the crucifixion and the resurrection, they still didn’t “get it.”  So, one more time, Jesus explained it…

“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:7-8

Jesus left them standing there, wide-eyed, with their mouths open, while they watched until He disappeared from their sight – ascending back to His rightful place of Lordship and Ruler of the universe.

In just a few days from now, January 13th to be exact, I will be teaching a new bible study class titled, “Acts: The unfinished Works of Jesus.”  This will be an in-depth study, which will be foundation-ally supported by looking into the  history, culture, language, and identity issues of these first century Christ-followers who established the Church.

And when I say “church,” I’m not talking about the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Church of Christ… denominational church.  I’m not talking about the Roman Catholic Church.  I’m talking about the Bride of Christ which Jesus called “His Church.”  Where did He make this statement?

Jesus was asking the twelve, (including Judas Iscariot), who the people at large were saying He was.  Everybody had a different answer until Peter proclaimed,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” ~ Matthew 16:16

If you stop reading there you’ll miss the point entirely.  Jesus responded to this grand confession this way:

“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” ~17-18

The Church established by Jesus in Acts, is His church.  It’s not my church, it’s not your church, nobody owns it but Jesus.

The study of the book of Acts will be exciting as we understand how everything which happens is but a fulfillment of what Jesus promised these eleven men that day of Peter’s confession.  Hence the title of the study, the “Unfinished Works of Jesus.”

Should you like to follow along on this journey, I will be recording these lessons to post on this blog.  You’ll be able to download a Word document outline to each lesson, and take your own notes for discussion with your friends and family.  Who knows… some of you might take the outline with your own notes, and go teach these discoveries to someone  else.  And in this way, Jesus will still be working… to build His church!