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Part 27: Luke and Acts

The Holy Spirit chose Luke, the beloved physician, to write one of the four Records of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ; and also the Book of Acts, the Acts of the Holy Spirit and the apostles.

The Christian who really desires to know the Bible should diligently study Luke’s Gospel and Luke’s Acts together, continuing out of the Gospel into the Book of Acts.

Note Luke 1:3 and 4 and Acts 1:1 and 2. “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. “

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which He-was taken up, after that He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen. “

Here we learn that Luke expected Theophilus to know the truth of the third Gospel before he could understand the Book of Acts. It is significant that Luke is the only one of the four writers who recorded the prayer of the Lord Jesus on the cross. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” This prayer, in Israel’s behalf, brought to that nation a continuation of God’s favor and mercy and another offer of national blessing.

Note the pronouncements of Christ, in Luke 13:35 and 21:20. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate; and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”

The Lord Jesus pronounced that terrible judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem about 32 A.D. But the Divine judgment did not fall upon “the land and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:23) until 69 to 70 A.D., several years after the Apostle Paul had died. Perhaps Luke was still alive.

The Book of Acts covered a period of about 30 years, and never was Rome more gracious to Israel, never did Rome give more liberties to the Jews in their land, than during those years covered by the Book of Acts. The desolation was postponed. The temple stood. Israel’s high-priest continued to minister to the people in their religious program. Acts 23:3 to 6.

In another message, we have referred to the contrast between Matthew 23:33 and 38 and Acts 3:25 and 26.

BEFORE CALVARY

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

AFTER CALVARY

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

What a change in God’s attitude towards Israel! “Serpents” and “vipers” become “the children of the covenant,” tenderly and affectionately addressed with great compassion: “And now brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” In the shadow of the cross the Lord Jesus declared, “your house is left unto you desolate.” Then His prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them”, and then Acts 3:26—“Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

Then Acts 5:30 and 31:

“THE GOD OF OUR FATHER’S RAISED UP JESUS, WHOM YE SLEW AND HANGED ON A TREE. HIM HATH GOD EXALTED WITH HIS RIGHT HAND TO BE A PRINCE AND A SAVIOUR, FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE TO ISRAEL, AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS.”

If Israel was “a generation of vipers” and their house was left desolate, why should the resurrected Christ send to them such a message? God hath exalted Christ to be a Prince and a Saviour for Israel. To Israel first is the message of forgiveness sent.

Many Christians have followed the erroneous teachings of their leaders without “searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things be true”, and have assumed or presumed that “the dispensation of the grace of God”, for Gentiles, began with the message of Peter and the Eleven on the day of Pentecost.

They seem to know the truth of Romans 11:15, that reconciliation was sent to Gentiles when and because Israel was set aside in blindness by God; but they have accepted the statements of others that Israel was set aside when Christ spoke, in Matthew 23:31 to 39, and that on the day of Pentecost God ushered in this present “grace” economy, which is called, in Ephesians 3:9, “the dispensation (economy) of the mystery.”

It is a blessed thing to know the truth of Romans 11:15 concerning the why and when of reconciliation for and to Gentiles, and the truth of Titus 2:11, Romans 10:12 and Ephesians 2:17.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”

“And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”

But no one knew this truth during the first years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Study these messages of grace for Gentiles in the light of Acts 2:5 and 36—Galatians 2:8—Acts 10:28—Acts 11:1 to 3 and Acts 11:19.

“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

“For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.”

“And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the Word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but UNTO THE JEWS ONLY.”

Thus we see that there was no dispensation of grace for Gentiles during the first years after Christ’s resurrection.

GOD OPENED THE DOOR

But later on something else happened.

“AND WHEN THEY WERE COME, AND HAD GATHERED THE CHURCH TOGETHER, THEY REHEARSED ALL THAT GOD HAD DONE WITH THEM, AND HOW HE HAD OPENED THE DOOR OF FAITH UNTO THE GENTILES.” Acts 14:27.

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am an apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Romans 11:13.

Then remember the turning-point in Asia, marked by the words of Acts 13:46, “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles”. Note the turning-point in Europe, marked by Acts 18:5 and 6. “And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads I am clean; FROM HENCEFORTH I WILL GO UNTO THE GENTILES.”

Then carefully note that every message of Peter and the Eleven, and of their fellowlabourers, recorded in the first nine chapters of Acts, was addressed to “ye men of Judaea”, and “ye men of Israel”; that is, to the Jews. It was not lawful for them to go to the Gentiles. Acts 10:28. When Peter did go to Cornelius, the other apostles contended with him. Acts 11:1 to 5. In the light of Acts 10:28 and Acts 11:19, we must decide that the people to whom Philip preached in the city of Samaria, and also the eunuch, in the same eighth chapter of Acts, were all Jews. Some of the Jews of Acts 2:5 were called in Acts 2:10, proselytes. The eunuch had been up to Jerusalem to worship, and was doubtless a proselyte, a Jew by religion. The Grecians of Acts 6 were Greek-speaking Jews.

Again all of the messages proclaimed by the apostles, during the first eleven chapters of Acts, were in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. By way of contrast note Ephesians 3:8:

“UNTO ME, WHO AM LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL SAINTS, IS THIS GRACE GIVEN, THAT I SHOULD PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST.”

The word “unsearchable” means “untraceable”; that is, “unprophesied”. In the ministry of Paul we find much truth to both Jews and Gentiles that was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; but there is a very distinctive message in some of his writings designated“the Mystery” or “the Secret” which was not prophesied. It is called “God’s eternal purpose”. It is truth concerning the Church of the Mystery, the Joint-Body of Christ. The members of that JointBody were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. They are seated in the heavenlies in Christ. Ephesians 3:11—Ephesians 1:3 and 4. All of this is included in the “UNSEARCHABLE” riches of Christ.

We shall study these profound truths in some of our last messages, but let us note in passing, Ephesians 1:5— Ephesians 1:11 and Ephesians 1:9. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” “In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.”

Also II Timothy 1:9—“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

In Ephesians 1:19 to 23 we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ is far above in the heavenlies and there He is Head of the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him. In Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile. All, with Christ, constitute the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15, the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6.

All of this is so different from the message of Acts 5:29 to 32 concerning the exalted Christ as Israel’s Prince and Saviour.

LUKE AND ACTS

Now let us note several verses in Luke and compare them with several statements in Acts.

Luke 1:32 and 33

“He shall he great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”

CONCERNING JOHN THE BAPTIST

Luke 1:16 “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”

Luke 1:80

“And the child grew, and waxed strong m spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”

Luke 3:3

“And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

Luke 3:16

“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Luke 3:11

“He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

THE KINGDOM

Luke 9:3

“And He said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.”

Luke 10:9

“And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

Luke 12:32 and 33

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”

NOTE CAREFULLY

Luke 1:68 to 70

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people; And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.”

Acts 1:5

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Acts 2:5

“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout man, out of every nation under heaven.”

Acts 2:28 to 32

“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance.

“Men and brethren. let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.”

Acts 2:36

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Acts 2:38

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”

Acts 2:45

“And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

Acts 4:32

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”

Acts 3:19 to 22

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus Christ Which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto Me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.”

Acts 5:30 and 31

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

What an interesting comparison! Both John the Baptist and Peter preached to Israel “baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins” to precede Holy Spirit baptism. In Luke, we learn that Jesus Christ was born of David to sit on David’s throne. In Acts, we learn that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to sit on David’s throne. The kingdom messengers, in Luke, healed all manner of diseases. The kingdom converts, in Luke, sold their property and gave their money away. The kingdom converts, in Acts, did likewise. It was the Father’s good pleasure to give them the kingdom, in Luke 12:32. It was the Father’s good pleasure to give them the kingdom, in Acts 3:19 to 21.

Note the same language in Luke 1:70 and 71 and Acts 3:21, concerning the restitution, Israel’s kingdom. “As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” Luke 1:70.

Now let us note that in the first three chapters of Luke we find angels visiting Israelites, John the Baptist appearing to Israel and preaching to Israel. About 33 years later we read, “And in the day time He (Christ) was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.” Luke 21:37. Then after the death and resurrection of Christ we find Him (Christ) in Luke 24, appearing to Israelites.

Then we turn to the first chapters of Acts and we find 120 Jews in an upper room after the Lord had appeared to more than 500 of His disciples. Acts 1 and I Corinthians 15:6. Then we find twelve Jews speaking to devout Jews from all over the world. Note again carefully Galatians 2:7 and 8:

“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles. “

Then Peter, by the authority of the risen Christ, again presented the kingdom to Israel. In the seventh chapter of Acts, Stephen addressed the nation Israel.

And as we come to the close of Acts we read Acts 28:17 and Acts 28:23 to 28. “And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together.” Yes, Acts begins with a company of Jews in Jerusalem. In the last chapter we find a company of Jews in Rome.

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say; Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known, therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” Acts 28:25 to 31.

It was several years after this radical change, stated in Acts 28:25 to 28, that the judgment of Luke 21:20 and Matthew 22:7 fell on Jerusalem and the Jews.

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”

“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”

Let us learn from this study the all important lesson, in obedience to II Timothy 2:15, that Israel was not set aside during the recorded ministry of Peter and the Eleven, in the Book of Acts. And never forget the changes in God’s program mentioned in Acts 13:46—Acts 18:6

Romans 11:9— Romans 11:11— Romans 11:30—and in Acts 28:28. All of these changes took place during the “Acts” period.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

“And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”

“And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them.”

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is, come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

“For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief.”

“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

When we have learned this lesson we shall not follow the blunder of many who believe that the “dispensation of the grace of God” and the “dispensation. of the mystery” began on a Jewish Pentecost.