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Featured The Book of Acts

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Reformed, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Similar to the Gospels, Acts is a narrative account of events told by a third party. It is not didactic* in nature like the Epistles. That does not mean that Acts is devoid of theology. We learn a lot about God in its pages. We learn the following in Acts:
    • Christ's ascension and the promise of His visible return (1:9-11).
    • Saul (Paul) was commissioned by Christ (9:1-19).
    • The Gospel was commanded to be proclaimed to all people (Acts 10; 11:18).
    While there is much to learn from the Book of Acts, it helps to keep in mind that Acts records events during a transitionary period between the Law and the inauguration of the New Covenant. There are events that occurred in Acts that were not normative for the New Testament church. For instance, there are no longer Apostles who can kill people for lying to the Holy Spirit as in Ananias and Saphira. Admittedly I am a Cessationist, so I believe the miracles and speaking in tongues are not normative for today. They were used during the early Apostolic age to establish the authority of the Apostle's message.

    It is good practice not to develop doctrinal positions from Acts alone but to appeal to the whole written counsel of God, especially the didactic New Testament writings like those from Paul, Peter, James, and John.

    I know many disagree with the points I have made in this post, and that is fine. I am interested in reading your comments.

    *Intended to teach doctrine.
     
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  2. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Acts 13:16-52 is a main transitional point showing the Covenant promises being unfolded to the Israel of God.
    The kingship of the True King promised to David has been established.
    The true Exodus is now over-shadowing all of Israel's history.
    The OT. theocracy is over. Those Gentiles who were ordained to eternal life are being grafted in droves.
    God's eternal purpose is as always right on schedule.
     
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  3. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    From Kit Culvers sermon notes:
    In Solomon’s prophetic conception, Yahweh’s house – built by the son of David – was to be a place of forgiveness, cleansing and refuge for all the nations (cf. Isaiah 56:1-8 with 11:10 and Zechariah 6:9-15; also John 2:13-21, 4:19-24 with 1 Peter 2:4-6).

    The holiness of Jerusalem and its temple was due to the Lord’s presence there; without it they were no more holy than Sodom or Babylon. The returning exiles rebuilt the temple on Mount Zion, but the Lord didn’t restore His presence to it. The divine glory would return to the sanctuary when Yahweh Himself – not His glory-cloud – came to it (Malachi 3:1-4; cf. Isaiah 4:2-6; Jeremiah 3:12-18).

    But beyond the empty throne, the restored remnant should have known that their present circumstance didn’t indicate the recovery of the theocratic kingdom because of the way the prophets had spoken of the promised Davidic kingdom.
    The Lord would establish David’s house and throne and set his son over his kingdom just as the covenant promised, but that kingdom was to be of an entirely different sort than the Israelite theocracy. a. First of all, the prophets proclaimed it to be an everlasting kingdom, just as Yahweh Himself had indicated in His covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). It would be unending precisely because it wouldn’t depend in any way on its subjects for either its institution or its continuance. Like its predecessor, this kingdom would be governed by a covenant defining the relationship between Yahweh and His people, but this time the conformity of the sons of the kingdom would be absolute since the demands of sonship would be met in them rather than by them.
    This kingdom would endure forever because of the unfailing righteousness of its citizens – the righteousness of the Lord Himself given to them (cf. Isaiah 32:1-18, 54:1-56:8, 59:1-60:22; Jeremiah 31:31-40, 32:36-41; Ezekiel 37:15-28, 43:1-9; Daniel 2:1-45, 7:9-28; Joel 3:1-21; Micah 4:1-8; etc.). b. So also the revelation of the coming Davidic king showed the promised kingdom to be distinct from the Israelite theocracy. The cursing of David’s dynasty pointed to this truth, but the prophets made it explicit by revealing that this Seed would rule over Yahweh’s kingdom as a king-priest. The structure of the theocracy had established an unbridgeable separation between Israel’s kings and priests, so that the conjoining of those offices in one man indicated a new covenant and therefore a new kind of kingdom (cf. Psalm 110; Zechariah 6:9-15; Hebrews 5:1-9:15).
     
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  4. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    When considered within the broader Old Testament revelation, the house and throne promised to David are explicitly shown to transcend Israelite categories and substance and assume cosmic proportions. For the son in whom David’s house, throne and kingdom were to be established is the same individual through whom Yahweh would bring about the comprehensive cataclysm of a new creation (cf. Isaiah 11:1-9 with 65:1-66:23; also Hosea 2:1-3:5 and Amos 9:11-15).

    When considered within the broader Old Testament revelation, the house and throne promised to David are explicitly shown to transcend Israelite categories and substance and assume cosmic proportions. For the son in whom David’s house, throne and kingdom were to be established is the same individual through whom Yahweh would bring about the comprehensive cataclysm of a new creation (cf. Isaiah 11:1-9 with 65:1-66:23; also Hosea 2:1-3:5 and Amos 9:11-15).
     
  5. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    You are correct in your OP.

    I do think that Acts does allow for more “didactic” presentations then some, because it does lay out and display early church issues (other than music) which can teach local assemblies basic principles. Positions concerning the gentles response to the Mitzvoth, the political structure, the missionary and support, giving to aid other assemblies, how to witness to unbelievers, the effects of the Spirit controlled person, ...

    We differ one one point.

    I am not a strict cessationist, but neither do I agree with charismatic utterance.

    If God desires one to communicate in the native language through a person, that is God’s choice, and not some spiritual endowment of authority.

    If God brings healing that is to His glory, not some spiritual endowment of authority.

    Does not the church members not pray?

    Because I take as literally presented the Scriptures, I cannot avoid the promise of the physical return of Christ with His kingdom.
     
  6. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    I agree for the most part. I'm not a strict cessationist, though--at least not in principle. I can agree with the statement "I believe the miracles and speaking in tongues are not normative for today," but I would add the qualification that I don't believe God has completely discontinued them. On a practical level, we aren't going to see anything close to what the early church experienced in Acts, but I do think God may use these sorts of "charismatic" gifts in exceptional situations. Obviously, he could use them as often has he likes, but I think that today we would likely only see them rather infrequently, if at all. I definitely reject the perspective of charismatic churches.

    I think your point regarding "develop[ing] doctrinal positions from Acts alone" is well made. The analogy of faith principle is very helpful, and I think your position fits well with it.
     
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  7. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I do believe in healing. I believe God can heal independent of human efforts. I do not believe the gift of healing continued beyond the earliest years of the Apostolic age. Tongues? I do not think it is a matter of whether God can still bequeath the gift. An omnipotent God can do whatever He chooses to do. I happen to believe that gift ceased of its own accord after it fulfilled its purpose.



    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
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  8. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Commenting on the sign gifts was inevitable given the OP was on the Book of Acts. However, the main point of the OP is to caution against basing doctrinal positions on Acts alone.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
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  9. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    One of the neat teachings from the book of Acts is found in the character of people:

    The reaction to the first Apostle (James) knowing that the brother would outlive them all,

    The insight of Barnabas when he arrived at Antioch and traveling on for days to find Saul because he knew that education authority was needed.

    The reaction under persecution, and accusations by ungodly.

    The interactions of people confronting personal disasters.
    And even more, provide a healthy dose of teaching materials to aid the believers in their own walk.

    The confrontation of people totally devoid of moral structures, idolatrous, hedonistic, and cunning, are all there to be used to the modern believer’s benefit.

    So much!
     
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  10. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Beware those who say do not base biblical doctrine on Acts, because all scripture is useful for instruction.

    Too bad a list of "bogus doctrines" supposedly found in Acts alone was not provided. :)
     
  11. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I repeat what I said earlier, "the point of the OP is to caution against basing doctrinal positions on Acts alone." The operative word is "alone".
     
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  12. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    This is VERY true with all doctrine, as well as prophecy, and leadership.

    No one verse or even a book stands without guidance and support from other readings of Scriptures.

    However, practical lessons of conduct, conversation, and continuance can be taught from the book, as well as doctrine in action.
     
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  13. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Repectfully I must disagree, in that that transition took place on that Pentecost, Acts of the Apostles 2. The Church's understanding was indeed in transition, Acts of the Apostles 5, Acts of the Apostles 15.
     
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  14. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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  15. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    Can you name a verse, besides Acts 13:48, that indicates Gentiles were "ordained" or "appointed" to eternal life?
     
  16. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction:
    23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,
    24 even us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles? Ro 9
     
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  17. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Exactly. If something described in Acts lines up with something Paul wrote in his epistles as instruction for the churches ("didactic" letters, as the OP described), then it's obviously 100% legitimate to use the event in Acts as support for that doctrine.

    Obviously, if something in Acts contradicts what the apostle Paul wrote, then we would need to go with the clearer and/or explicit instruction in the epistles rather than anything we could infer from the events in Acts.

    (For clarity--Acts would still be 100% inspired and inerrant. The Bible infallibly describes many, many events for purposes other than holding up examples to emulate.)

    But when it's a matter of something we might be able to infer from Acts, we need to test our inference before assuming that our conclusion is applicable for today's church. The best way for us to do that is, as the OP describes, to consult the rest of the Bible, particularly the NT epistles.

    I agree with the OP's assessment of the didactic nature of the epistles. All scripture is God-breathed and relevant, but some parts of Scripture may be more applicable to a particular situation than other parts.

    In the case of determining what is normative for the contemporary church, the epistles are where we should probably start because they were written to churches for churches in order to deal with specific issues, to provide correct teachings, to identify incorrect teachings, etc.

    With Luke-Acts, the author tells us why he's writing in Luke 1:1-4 (ESV, emphasis mine):

    "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught."

    In other words, Luke is writing not to provide specific instructions for churches. He's writing "an orderly account"-- i.e., a narrative--of the Life of Christ and then of the acts of the apostles for the purpose of encouraging confidence in what has already been taught. In some sense, Luke is seeking to provide us with an authoritative reference text to which one can refer to with confidence, knowing that when what has been heard matches what is written, it can be trusted.
     
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  18. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Acts is the only place where Gentiles are specifically mentioned in relation to predestination. Once again (in keeping with the point I made in the OP), this is all part of the transitionary nature of Acts. The Gospel started with Jews and then turned its primary focus to the Gentiles. Paul changing the emphasis of his ministry from Jews to Gentiles was a pivotal moment in God's plan for the Church. If we turn to the Pauline epistles (most notably Ephesians) we notice that Paul does not segregate Jew or Gentile at all when it comes to election and predestination with two notable exceptions, Romans 9 and 11.

    But let us take an honest approach to the Acts of the Apostles and not turn it into a Calvinist-Arminian debate point. In the OP I wrote, "That does not mean that Acts is devoid of theology. We learn a lot about God in its pages." Acts is not just a weak link from the Gospels to the Epistles. Acts is a theological book. It is just not primarily a doctrinal book.
     
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  19. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. The entire Bible is didactic; the label alone is insufficient to distinguish how. The epistles are mostly corrective, thus careful attention must be given to context, just as with all of God’s Word.

    When a teacher emphasizes a point, that may not make it paramount, but only indicate neglect or a previous imbalance. Context, context, context.
     
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  20. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    There has been plenty of time to list the supposedly bogus doctrines taught in Acts alone. Without any specifics, the thread appears to be all sizzle and no steak.
     
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