Sunday Sep 27, 2020
S2EP97 - The Resurrection of Jesus
Sunday Sep 27, 2020
Sunday Sep 27, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 97 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be picking up on the back end of the series that we just wrapped up and talk about the resurrection of Jesus.
According to Matthew 27, when Jesus died, the chief priests and the Pharisees wanted His tomb sealed with a very large stone and guarded as they were afraid that his disciples would steal the body and claim he had resurrected. For clarity, accuracy, and credibility that’s an important detail in the scriptures to denote, “chief priests and Pharisees,” because the Sadducees, the other leading religious group, didn’t believe that resurrection from the dead was even possible. The reason they thought the disciples would steal Jesus body and claim He had resurrected was because Jesus made no secret of the fact that He was going to be turned over to the religious authority of the day, tortured, killed, and then rise again on the third day.
We see this in Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 9 where its recorded that Jesus started to teach His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised on the third day. This is where Peter privately rebukes Jesus that this would never happen to Him. Jesus’ response is to, very publicly, rebuke Peter calling him Satan and a hinderance to Jesus because Peter is not thinking about God’s concerns, only that of humans.
In Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 we see Jesus and the Disciples trying to quietly travel through Galilee because Jesus was trying to teach them, “The Son of Man is about to betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised up.” This distressed and confused the disciples since they didn’t understand what He was talking about.
In Matthew 20, Mark 10, and Luke 18 Jesus pulls the twelve disciples aside privately on the away up to Jerusalem and once again tells them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and on the third day he will be raised.”
In John 2 Jesus runs the payday loan sharks out of the temple along with those selling animals for offering and the Jews ask him to explain to them by what authority He does this. Jesus answer staring in verse 19b of John 2 CSB is, “[19b] ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.’  Therefore the Jews said, ‘This temple took forty-six years to build, and will you raise it up in three days?’  But he was speaking about the temple of his body.  So when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.”
When Jesus’ followers visited the tomb, they found the stone that had sealed the entrance had been rolled away and there was an angel siting on top of the stone, just up there chillin’. In Matthew 28:5-6 CSB we read, “ The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 CSB Paul writes “ Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand  and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.”
There have been some secular apologists who have supposed that Jesus appearances after his death were but spiritual visions and perhaps Jesus never truly rose from the dead. As Christians, there should be no doubt that Jesus literally rose from the dead. The scriptures are very clear on the fact of His resurrection, and the importance of that defeat of death. We live in a time where even the existence of Jesus is a topic brought up for debate. Honestly though, we have more historical evidence that Jesus existed than we do for some other well-loved historical figures. Amongst these evidences is the writing of the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus who wrote “At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.”
The reason we’re talking about this at all is to build confidence through knowledge. The world is going to challenge you and your faith. With confidence, when challenged, you can choose to love instead of going on the offensive. This may be the best thing you can do for sharing the Gospel.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”
Sunday Sep 20, 2020
S2EP96 - Christian Basics Part Six - Eternal Judgment
Sunday Sep 20, 2020
Sunday Sep 20, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 96 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 15 minutes, or so, we are going to wrap up our series on the elementary teachings of Christianity with this, our sixth installment.
I would encourage you to start at the beginning of this series, if you didn’t already, back in season 2 episode 91 where we talked about baptism. The topics in this series are the milk of Christian theology. These are the things we understand to be the very first basics that you should teach a new Christian when you are discipling them. We don’t see a lot of discipling going on anymore, so a lot of Christians haven’t been taught this stuff. This list does comes straight from Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB, “ Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,  teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” In this installment we will be taking about eternal judgment.
In the modern Christian mind, when we read the term eternal judgment, most likely what pops into your mind as the intended meaning of the author is hell. That instinct can get you in trouble when reading the bible, because not every instance of the word judgment means “guilty verdict.” By eternal judgment the author could just as well be indicating that there will be a trial and that the final decision of the judge will be eternal. We have to take the original language to find out which, the word is:
G2917 κρίμα krima kree'-mah From G2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against [“crime”]): - avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law, judgment.
In this instance the word used in the original language does in fact mean guilty verdict and is therefore talking about Hell.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the deciding factor in this judgement is based off one fact, and one fact alone. Did you truly believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God who died in your place, and did you confess that faith in front of others? If you did then you will be found not guilty, but if you rejected the sacrifice of Christ then you have been guilty from the beginning. This isn’t a judgment passed by me, or a condemnation by God, or even a fear tactic to get you to line up and behave. It’s a warning that Hell is a very real place and without faith in Christ everyone is already headed there.
Now, when we read through the New Testament, we find several references to the coming “day of wrath” or the “judgment” or the “judgment seat of Christ.” More or less, all of these reference the same event that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5:10 CSB, “ For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” He references it a little different in Romans 2:5-10 CSB, “ Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.  He will repay each one according to his works:  eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality;  but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness.  There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek;  but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.”
We haven’t talked about Hell yet, but we’re getting there. It’s important to build up the scriptural base work before just jumping straight to Hell. At this judgement we’ve been talking about, it makes sense from all that we know of God that, that He would reward good works. Why though, separate from Hell, do we see wrath and anger, affliction and distress for evil done? Isn’t Hell going to be enough? Well, first off, everyone goes through the judgement and will have to answer for every act they took during their life, good or bad regardless of their final destination. Everyone going on to eternity with The Lord goes through this same judgement and will have to answer for all the good and the bad they did in their life. It’s both sides. I think Enoch put it well in the first book of Enoch chapter one verse nine, but since we don’t quote extra biblical text on this format we’ll settle for Jude quoting the same text in Jude 1:14-15 CSB, “ It was about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied: “Look! The Lord comes with tens of thousands of his holy ones  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all the ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and concerning all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against him.” That word convict there in “to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly.” That’s in the idea of internal conviction or to convince, to fully persuade. The idea is that the Lord will take time to fully persuade, to convince you, that the things you did in your life that He deems as bad were actually bad. It’s not unsimilar to a psychiatrist walking a disturbed victim through accepting their trauma so that they can begin healing.
Alright, up to this point including the last episode, we’ve covered that the Lord will return to resurrect the dead believers and at that same event believers who are still alive will meet the Lord in the air. Both the dead and the living who are taken up will receive new incorruptible bodies. We’ve also covered that at some point there will be a judgement. This brings us to Revelation 20:10-15 CSB, “ The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.  Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works.  Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” That lake of fire and sulfur is what we refer to as Hell. In this passage we see that all the dead that weren’t resurrected before and all that have died since are resurrected, the books recording all works and the Book of Life with the names of all believers are opened.
Let’s pull one more scripture excerpt in here in Matthew 25:31-46 CSB it’s recorded that Jesus taught, “ When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in;  I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink;  I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’  “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’  “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
All those questions about, “you didn’t feed me,” “you didn’t clothe me,” “you didn’t come visit me in prison,” “you didn’t take care of me while I was sick.” I believe this is Jesus drawing on allegory to draw out the most important aspects of Jewish culture and that the whole interaction is those books of works being opened and gone through. That this is Jesus trying to be relatable to the crowd and not go over their heads like so much of what He preached regularly.
Once again, Hell isn’t a scare tactic to control you and get you to be good. I’m not saying that no one has tried those tactics, but that’s not what Hell is. Hell is the eternal consequence of being separated from God, first by the failure of Lucifer to overcome his imperfection and then Adam who failed in the same way.
Having set reality in motion it would seemingly defy the nature of God to just snap His fingers and undo the consequences of those actions. Jesus came as the only legal answer to the problem and died in our place. Stepping into covenant with Christ redeems us from the eternal consequence that is Hell.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”
Sunday Sep 13, 2020
S2EP95 - Christian Basics Part Five - The Resurrection Of The Dead
Sunday Sep 13, 2020
Sunday Sep 13, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 95 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 15 minutes, or so, we are going to continue our series on the elementary teachings of Christianity with this, our fifth installment.
I would encourage you to start at the beginning of this series in season 2 episode 91 about baptism, and then work your way back up to here. The topics in this series are the milk of Christian theology. These are the things we understand to be the very first basics that you should teach a new Christian you are discipling. Something we don’t see a lot of these days, discipling, so a lot of Christians haven’t been taught this stuff. This list comes straight from Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB, “ Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,  teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” In this installment we’ll be taking about the resurrection of the dead. We will be scripture heavy in this installment as we don’t want to speculate or sensationalize this topic as is the custom of so many.
The resurrection of the dead is the long held religious belief spanning several cultures that one day everyone will rise from the dead to be judged by the sum of their life and then sent on to their afterlife. The Abrahamic and Christian faiths are among those that adhere to this teaching. We have to start though by establishing that there are those who teach that things like the resurrection of the dead, return of the Lord, and other prophecies in the New Testament were all fulfilled in AD70 when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. However, the book of 2 Timothy is dated as having been written as early as AD90 (20 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple) or as late as AD140, clearly after the referenced destruction. And in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 CSB we read, “ Avoid irreverent and empty speech, since those who engage in it will produce even more godlessness,  and their teaching will spread like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them.  They have departed from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are ruining the faith of some.” So, clearly no, the resurrection, the return of the Lord, and other New Testament prophecies were not fulfilled in AD70 by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Now that we’ve established that were not just spinning our wheels talking about something that hasn’t already happened, let’s look at what Jesus said about the resurrection. In Matthew 22 we find some Jewish religious leaders who don’t believe in the resurrection trying to catch Jesus in a logical flaw concerning marriage over the belief and Jesus replies, Matthew 22:29-32 CSB, “ You are mistaken, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.  Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God:  I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” He brings up the resurrection again in John 5:27-29 CSB, “ And (the Father) has granted (the Son) the right to pass judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice  and come out-those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
In Acts 17:30b-31 CSB Paul teaches, “ God now commands all people everywhere to repent,  because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."
And in 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 CSB he writes, “ Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, "There is no resurrection of the dead"?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.  Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ-whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.  If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.  But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.  For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be abolished is death.  For God has put everything under his feet. Now when it says "everything" is put under him, it is obvious that he who puts everything under him is the exception.  When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.  Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them?  Why are we in danger every hour?  I face death every day, as surely as I may boast about you, brothers and sisters, in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus as a mere man, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.  Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."  Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.  But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?"  You fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  And as for what you sow-you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain.  But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body.  Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.  There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones.  There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; in fact, one star differs from another star in splendor.  So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;  sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power;  sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.  What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.  Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.  For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality.  When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord's work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
This last bit of scripture here will be where the idea of the rapture comes from. Not that it uses the word, but that the word rapture means to be caught up and that phrase is used in this excerpt. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 CSB, “ We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord's coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”
Sunday Sep 06, 2020
S2EP94 - Christian Basics Part Four - The Laying On Of Hands
Sunday Sep 06, 2020
Sunday Sep 06, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 94 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to continue our series on the elementary teachings of Christianity with this, our fourth installment.
I would encourage you to start at the beginning of this series in season 2 episode 91 about baptism. The topics in this series are the milk of Christian theology. These are the things we understand to be the very first basics that you should teach a new Christian you are discipling. Something we don’t see a lot of these days, discipling, so a lot of Christians haven’t been taught this stuff. This list comes straight from Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB, “ Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,  teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” In this installment we’ll be taking about the laying on of hands. There are three major uses of the laying on of hands recorded in the New Testament. These are for healing, for ordination to official positions of ministry, and the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is also reference to Paul using the laying on of hands to stir up the gifts of the Spirit in Timothy, but this probably took place at Timothy’s ordination and with lack of any other mention doesn’t make it to our list.
The most common instance of the laying on of hands in the Bible is for healing. Jesus did a lot of commanding people to be healed, but He also did a fair amount of touching people and they were healed. In Mark 16:18 Jesus tells the disciples that believers in Christ will lay hands on the sick and they will get well. We only have one recorded instance after that point in the Bible that clearly tells us that someone laid hands on someone else and they were healed. Acts 28:7-9 CSB, it says, “ Now in the area around that place was an estate belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably for three days.  Publius’s father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him.  After this, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.” We shouldn’t be too concerned at the lack of recorded instances of the laying on of hands for healing in the New Testament. Given the prevalence of healings that were recorded as being performed by Christ and the fact that Jesus gave the laying of hands for the sick for their healing as one of the key identifier of believers, it was probably such common place that it’s likely that the New Testament authors didn’t give a second thought to writing down every time someone was healed after the laying on of hands.
So, as a Christian, should you lay hands on the sick in prayer and expect them to be healed? Absolutely! Will it always end in the person being miraculously healed? In my experience, no. Also in my experience, sometimes. Being a human, and therefore imperfect, unless the Holy Spirit imparts you with special knowledge you can’t know what is going on in someone’s life or their heart. Most of the time when Jesus healed people He credited their faith for the miracle, not His power. It’s your job to obey the Holy Spirit and minister love to others, sometimes that means praying for someone and they’re healed. Sometimes that means praying over someone and sticking with them through their struggle if that healing doesn’t happen.
Let’s talk about ordination. Ordination in the Christian church is similar to the passing of blessing or mantle of ministry from the Old Testament, like Moses to Joshua or Elijah to Elisha. However, with ordination both the ordained and the one ordaining walk away with a full portion of anointing. The first time we see this amongst the church is in Acts 6:1-7 CSB, “ In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.  The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, "It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."  This proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch.  They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.  So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.”
The care of orphans and widows were a big deal in the Jewish community and for the early church. The Hellenistic believers had a complaint against the Hebraic believers about the care of widows. I’ve dropped the redundant term of Jew here because there were no gentile believers yet. The difference between these two parties are that the Hebraic Jews grew up in Israel and preferred to speak Aramaic, while the Hellenistic Jews had moved away from Israel and returned to Jerusalem and preferred to speak Greek. Likely these Hellenistic Jews were comprised mainly of the three thousand men who were led to salvation on the Day of Pentecost. So, the twelve apostles call a meeting to appoint seven men to serve as basically deacons who could oversee the day to day operations of the church community while the Apostles dedicated themselves to ministry. They laid hands on them to ordain them into their new positions and as a result of the Apostles being freed up to do ministry, there was a huge influx of believers even from amongst the Jewish priests. That’s a big deal, drawing Jewish priests away from Judaism and into Christianity. That’s no small feat.
For our final instance of laying on of hands were looking at the laying on of hands for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19:1-6 CSB it says, “ While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples  and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" "No," they told him, "we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."  "Into what then were you baptized?" he asked them. "Into John's baptism," they replied.  Paul said, "John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus."  When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in other tongues and to prophesy.  Now there were about twelve men in all.”
So Paul comes across these twelve men who were recent converts and were still being discipled. Paul seemingly wants to make sure they are receiving full training and asks them if they’ve received the Holy Spirit. Not only had they not, but they’ve never even heard of the Holy Spirit and the baptism they received was one of water for the repentance of sins instead of the spiritual baptism of grace into Jesus. Paul lays hands on them and they are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to move in the gifts of the Spirit.
In closing, let’s look at one more excerpt of scripture to add some perspective. Acts 8:4-25 CSB “ So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word.  Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.  The crowds were all paying attention to what Philip said, as they listened and saw the signs he was performing.  For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.  So there was great joy in that city.  A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great.  They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, "This man is called the Great Power of God."  They were attentive to him because he had amazed them with his sorceries for a long time.  But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.  Even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he followed Philip everywhere and was amazed as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.  When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.  After they went down there, they prayed for them so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit because he had not yet come down on any of them.  (They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.  When Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,  saying, "Give me this power also so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit."  But Peter told him, "May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God.  Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart's intent may be forgiven.  For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness."  "Pray to the Lord for me," Simon replied, "so that nothing you have said may happen to me."  So, after they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they traveled back to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.”
Just a side note: in the first entry in this series we talked about baptism and the difference between water baptism and spiritual baptism and the journey of Peter on his revelation about baptism. Here we have Phillip. Phillip is the only of all the New Testament ministers that when we track his journey of ministry he didn’t lead people to the Lord and then baptize them, part of his leading people to the Lord was water baptism. He considered it all to be one event. It wasn’t like today where you go to a church and you say a prayer and then later you sign up for baptism. Phillip believed that dipping them in the water was part of their spiritual baptism into Jesus and that it all occurred at the exact same time. As far as how that lays out in theology, it really doesn’t. If Phillip felt that was the way ministry was to be done was the he need to go down into the water with people and dip them in the water while they made their decision of belief then that’s great for him. We’ve talked about if you feel like you should get water baptized, then you should, but it’s not a requirement of salvation. I don’t want to have any confusion, in the scripture when it talks about Phillip baptized them. Every time it talks about Phillip doing baptism, it is talking about literal water baptism. Make sure keep that in mind while you’re reading scripture. Not every time it says baptism is actually water baptism unless Phillip is involved, then it’s water baptism.
The main reason we brought in this last bit of scripture here is because I do want you to feel confident and assured in laying hands on others for healing, the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, and, if it comes to it, the ordination of others to ministry positions adjacent to or under your authority. In this last scripture we see there are those who have tried to manipulate the Holy Spirit and abuse the laying on of hands. If you’re going to be doing ministry, and laying on of hands is ministry, then you must do so with your heart right before the Lord. The laying on of hands shouldn’t be a part of a fundraiser. Ministry is free, you impart the healing to those who need it for free. And those who aren’t healed, you have a responsibility to stick with those people as they move forward. It’s not something you go around doing willy nilly, and if it doesn’t work then they’re on their own. That’s not responsible ministry. You should feel confident in laying hands on others, and listening to the Lord and following the Holy Spirit. If your heart is right, and if you’re sensitive to the holy spirit, then you’re going to do just fine.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”