1 Peter 1

1 Peter 1: Trial of Faith Precedes Salvation

                Peter writes to the gentiles that are scattered throughout the world and explains to them; “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious that of gold….though it be tried with fire… be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7) Here we learn that the trial of our faith, even though it be difficult is what we will be judged on in the last days. Gold, silver, jewels… any worldly possession will not help us gain salvation. We must EARN our own salvation through the trial of our faith. Yes, it is true that Jesus Christ died for our sins and therefore granted our Salvation. However, we must remember that Jesus Christ gave us the ABILITY to gain Salvation, but never did we instantly gain Salvation for nothing, and this is exactly what Peter is saying.

Peter goes on to explain, that since the dawn of time Prophets have “…enquired and searched diligently…” (1 Peter 1:10) in order to obtain the necessary information regarding our Salvation, for this purpose having prophets is important. Peter explains that we need to be “…obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts of your ignorance… Be ye holy; for I am [God] holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work.” (1 Peter 14;16-17) Peter urges us to be obedient, and put our former lusts and desires in the past. As God is Holy, we being His children should also be holy. Why? Because ultimately God will judge us on our work.

Our Salvation was gained through the “…precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:19-20) Peter invites us to be “…born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible…” (1 Peter 1:23) In other words, once we decide to follow Christ, we must do as He would do. We must work diligently daily, doing good works as He would also do.

2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1: Jesus will take Vengeance

                Paul encourages the Saints to be of good courage and patient through their trials; “…we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” (2 Thessalonians 1:4)

Paul explains that those who knew God and suffered through trials would be rewarded and those who knew not God would be punished;

“…to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

2 Corinthians 1

2 Corinthians 1: God Comforts His Saints

                Paul writes to the Corinthians and explains that God will look over and comfort His saints; “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Here Paul tells us that God does not comfort everyone directly; sometimes God will direct others to do the comforting. That does not mean that God does not love everyone equally, it just means that He wants us to learn how to help each other.

Paul goes on to explain that as we are afflicted and as we suffer, we will also be comforted and endure with knowledge; “…whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation…” (2 Corinthians 1:6) Essentially, part of Salvation is going through trials and afflictions so we can learn and grow from our time on earth.

Acts 28

Acts 28: Paul Heals Many

Paul arrives at the island called Melita, the people on the island welcome the survivors and build a fire and provide shelter for them. As Paul gathered sticks for the fire; “…there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whome, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook of the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen: but after they saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.” (Acts 28:3-6)

Paul heals the father of Publius, a famous citizen, and many others. Because of his great works and miracles the people praise him and provide him with the things he needed for his travels. Paul finally arrives at Rome, where he meets the Jewish leaders, and again stresses that Moses and the prophets prophesied the coming of Christ. Paul quotes Isaiah; “…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….” (Acts 28:26-27) The Jews dispute amongst themselves. Paul spends two years in rented accommodation in Rome before his trial in Caesar’s court, freely preaching the gospel.

Acts 14

Acts 14: The Spreading of the Gospel

                Paul and Barnabas go into a synagogue in Iconium where they preach to the Jews and Greeks. Unfortunately only half of the people believe in them and the other half desired to kill them. Paul and Barnabas seeing there might be trouble flee to Lystria where they continued to preach the Gospel. While in Lystra, Paul heals a lame man, and the excited crowds declare that both Paul and Barnabas are gods in men form visiting the earth.

Jews from Iconium had followed Paul to persecute him, they stone him and think that they had stoned him to death… but he manages to escape and got to Antioch, where many churches are established. Paul reminds the Saints in the area that “…we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Essentially he is saying that if you believe in Jesus Christ and follow his commandments there will always be someone, with evil intent, who will persecute you. Believers will always be tested through tribulations, but if they endure well… God will reward them on high!

Acts 4

Acts 4: Peter and John are Arrested

                As Peter and John were teaching the people from the previous chapter, the Sadducees came upon them and laid their hands on them, arresting them. The next day they were put before a tribunal court with Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander and many other leaders to question Peter and John, they asked; “…By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7)

Peter, being filled with the Holy Ghost, responded; “…Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole, Be it known to you all, and to all people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” (Acts 3:8-10) Peter made it very clear that the power or authority, by which they used to heal the man, was from Jesus Christ.

Peter continues; “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

                Peter lays it down as clear as can be; Peter did not heal the man with his own power. No, he healed the man through the power that Jesus Christ had given him. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and only through Him can someone be saved! The counsel marveled at the boldness presented by Peter and John, because they could see that both of them were very humble men that were “…unlearned and ignorant…” (Acts 4:13), yet they marveled that they could indeed speak with such boldness and authority. They wondered what they should do, even asking themselves; “…What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them…” (Acts 4:16)

                The counsel was concerned because some of the people who had seen the miracle believed on Jesus Christ, so instead the counsel threatens Peter and John to no longer talk; “…let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.” (Acts 4:17) But Peter quickly responds in a way that only an Apostle of the Lord would respond; “…Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) After hearing these words and threatening them further the counsel had no choice to let them go, for they had no case and they feared a backlash from the believers.

After being released, Peter and John offer a prayer to God and ask Him to “…Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” (Acts 4:29) After finishing their prayer the ground shook beneath them and the people there were touched by the Holy Ghost and were assembled as one heart and soul. The people departed of their worldly goods and set them at the feet of the Apostles to help those in need.

John 16

John 16: The Mission of the Holy Ghost

Jesus continues His address from the last chapter, He explains that there will come a time when those who believe on Christ will be forced out of the Synagogues and “…that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2) This act was seen in ancient times and in modern times. Shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Apostles He had called were also killed, and done in the name of doing ‘service to God’, just like bombings that occur in our modern society in the ‘service or name of God’.

The Apostles were upset by all of what Jesus had told them, but He assured them that all this must come to pass, but that after He leaves the world, the Comforter or Holy Ghost will guide them. “…he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)

Jesus then tells them; “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.” (John 16:16) The Apostles all thought to themselves, how is this possible? They were confused by His statement, and Jesus perceived this in their hearts and asked them; “…Do ye enquire among youselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?” (John 16:19) Jesus knew that they wanted to know, but were too afraid to ask, so He explains; “…ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world…. Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” (John 16:20-22)

The Apostles did not ask to receive this answer, but Jesus tells them in the future they will need to ask, but that if they ask they shall receive. Jesus explains that He will no longer have to use Parables to explain, and will instead show them plainly; “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and go to the Father.” (John 16:28) Jesus asks them if they now believe, seeing that He speaks plainly. The Apostles say they do believe.

Jesus reminds His Apostles and Followers, that; “…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I [Jesus] have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We need to remember that when we are sad, lonely, angry, upset, etc. that Jesus Christ overcame the world for us, and gave His life that we could be forgiven of our sins, if we use our agency to repent and longer commit those sins. Jesus Christ enabled us to return to live with the Father. Jesus Christ overcame the world, and we too can overcome the world.