"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Eldership: Plural and Male | Main | The Gospel Is For Christians Too »

    Walking with Jesus Through his Word by Dennis E. Johnson

    When we turn the page from the four Gospels to the book of Acts, suddenly we hear Peter and other apostles confidently connecting Old Testament Scriptures to the sufferings of Christ and his resultant resurrection glory. For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus had appeared to his apostles to give them intensive instruction about God’s kingdom (Acts 1:2–5). Then he ascended to heaven. As a result of Jesus’ teaching, in the ten-day interim between Jesus’ ascent to heaven and the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49), Peter addressed those gathered to await the Spirit’s arrival, speaking with the authority of one who had learned to read the Bible as it is meant to be read:

    “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas” (Acts 1:16).

    He went on to quote statements from the Psalms (Ps. 69:25; 109:8) that described the punishment that would befall a close confidante who presumed to betray God’s Anointed King.The traitor’s disloyalty “had” to happen—it was “necessary” (Luke 24:26)—because it was purposed by God, who had revealed this part of his divine plan by foreshadowing it in ancient psalms. In the Scriptures that Simon Peter had heard in synagogues for years, at last he was beginning to see the shape of a greater plan, the pattern into which God had woven even the sobering.

    Beginning the Journey 8 reality that his beloved Messiah would be mistreated not only by open enemies but even by one near and dear to him. A few days later, when God’s Spirit came down in revitalizing presence and power, Peter again proclaimed the fulfillment of centuries-old prophetic promises in Jesus the Christ. God had promised through the prophet Joel that in the last days the Spirit would come on men and women, opening their mouths to speak God’s Word. Those last days had now arrived, as Jesus poured out the Spirit from his throne at God’s right hand in heaven and his people proclaimed God’s mighty deeds (Acts 2:16–21, 33, quoting and interpreting Joel 2:28–32). Jesus is the Holy One whose deliverance from the grave David foresaw and foretold (Acts 2:24–33, quoting and explaining Ps. 16:8–11). Jesus is the Lord and Christ to whom the Lord has said, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool” (Acts 2:33–36, quoting and interpreting Ps. 110:1).

    We could go almost chapter by chapter through Acts and the same portrait would emerge in the sermons of Peter and John, in Stephen’s speech in Acts 7, and finally in the most unlikely gospel preacher, the persecutor turned propagator of Christian faith, Saul/ Paul of Tarsus. The Difference between the Apostles’ “Before” and Their “After” What transformed Jesus’ followers from confused, cowering, intimidated, hopes-dashed, defeatist doubters into confident, joyful, hopeful, bold heralds? Certainly the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was one decisive factor. At the end of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus predicted that the Father’s promise—that is, the life-renewing Spirit of God—would soon engulf his followers in unparalleled power (Luke 24:49). The same promise reappears as we open Luke’s “volume 2,” the Acts of the Apostles:

    “wait for the promise of the Father . . . . You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:4, 8). We can never overestimate the unleashing of new-creation power that Jesus brought about when he took his seat at the right hand of God the Father and then celebrated his enthronement by lavishing the great gift, the Holy Spirit of God, on the small and fragile gathering of his friends in Jerusalem. Notice, however, that in Acts 1:15–22, before the Holy Spirit is poured out on the church, Peter’s remarks to the waiting congregation exhibit a new confidence and hope, a new perspective on Jesus’ sufferings.

    That Sets Hearts Afire insight into the ancient Scriptures that Peter and his fellow Jews had heard, no doubt, many times before. Peter now echoed Jesus’ assertion that “it was necessary” for the Scripture to be fulfilled, even those troubling texts that portrayed the suffering of God’s faithful Servant. Judas’s treachery and Jesus’ death were necessary because they were intrinsic to God’s plan to rescue his people and his universe. Peter now knew that these events were key elements in that plan because God had announced them—sometimes overtly and sometimes subtly—in the Old Testament Scriptures. What made the difference in the apostles’ “before” and “after,” then, was not only the bestowal of God’s Spirit but also a new way of reading the Bible. Who taught Peter to read the Bible this way? Luke has shown us the answer in the last chapter of his Gospel: Jesus himself! Bible Studies with the Risen Lord Jesus We return now to the road leading from Jerusalem to the small town of Emmaus, to eavesdrop on the first of two Bible studies that, as Luke recounts, Jesus conducted on the very day that he rose from the dead.
    Remember the background:

    It was the third day after Jesus’ brutal, bloody execution by crucifixion. Some women came to the tomb in which his body had been placed in haste before the Sabbath fell at sundown two days earlier, hoping to express their love and grief by preparing his body for burial more adequately. At the tomb, now empty, they saw angels, who announced that Jesus was risen, as he had foretold. Immediately the women carried the word to the apostles and others (Luke 24:1–12). Hearing the women’s report but not believing it, Cleopas and a colleague set off for Emmaus. They were discussing the heartbreaking events of the past week—Jesus had received a royal welcome as he entered David’s city just a week earlier, but had been repudiated by his people and their leaders and executed by the Roman authorities.

    A stranger joined them on the road—a stranger to them, not to us the readers, for Luke identifies him as Jesus but observes that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). When he asked what they had been discussing, they poured out their disillusionment and confusion. Then the stranger, who seemed so ignorant of recent events, replied:

    “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (vv. 25–26).

    We might expect that such an abrupt rebuke from a stranger would halt the conversation, but the mysterious stranger kept right on talking: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus traced both their dismay over their Master’s suffering and their doubt about his resurrection to unbelief, a foolish and sluggish reluctance to trust what God had spoken through Israel’s ancient prophets. The ancient Scriptures given through Moses and the Prophets—our Old Testament—showed that God had planned all along for the Messiah to suffer a humiliating and violent death, but then to “enter into his glory”—a reversal that would be explained more fully in Luke’s narrative of a second Bible study later that evening. The unrecognized traveler’s explanation of Scripture set their hearts afire with hope and joy; so when they reached Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion prevailed on him to join them for supper. As he took the role of the dinner host, breaking the bread (as he had done just a few evenings before, instituting the Lord’s Supper), suddenly they recognized Jesus. Then he vanished. They immediately returned to Jerusalem, where they found that the risen Lord Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter, as he had to them.
    Then, in the midst of this larger group of disciples, Jesus appeared again, demonstrated the physical reality of his risen body, and gave an even fuller exposition both of the breadth of Old Testament books that announce his saving work and of the specifics of his mission revealed in those ancient Scriptures. He said: “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus is it written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44–49) What do these almost back-to-back accounts of the risen Lord’s exposition of the Scriptures teach us about the Old Testament and how to interpret it? As we reflect on the conversations recorded in Luke 24, several truths emerge

    Posted by Marco on June 17, 2015 12:26 PM


    Even if there was a period at the end, this excellent post leaves me yearning for more. Was it intentionally left hanging without expanding on the several truths that emerge...? In any case, it is effectively stimulating of further study. Thanks and God bless.

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