Totally FWIW…

Tuesday, July 28, 2020. If there is anyone who has a concern for serious Bible study based upon the only truly most beneficial manner of reading the Scriptures; which is to do so chronologically, I am posting on FaceBook twice daily, at The Chronological Bible Reading Plan Group. Plug those words into your search on FB, and you will find my posts there. Please feel free to join… like…  and subscribe, if you would.

I only just started it on July 20, just a little more than 1 week ago, so you’re not left behind hardly at all!

May the Lord greatly bless you all!

ForeverKingdom, Harold F Crowell

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The Purpose of Your Life!

Read 331 cont.) Acts 17:5-18:11. The Apostle Paul is continuing on his Second Missionary Journey and is in Europe, having been directed by God to leave Asia to go there, in Acts chapter 16. I noted that all Europe’s history was forever altered as a result of that one turn of events, as Paul’s bringing of the Gospel to Europe resulted in the laying of the Christian foundation for all that was ever good about Western Civilization. Continuing on to other parts of Europe, we pick up where Paul was in Thessalonica, in Acts 17:5. From there, we follow him to Berea and then Athens, Greece. It is while in Athens, we want to point out several matters of great importance.

In Acts 17, and verses 22 thru 31, we have a 9th presentation of the Apostolic message in this book. We learn that Paul has ascended Mars Hill there, and is invited to share his particular message to the intellectual elite of the city, known as the Areopagites. Since he was not addressing Jews who would be familiar with the One True God, who is the Creator of heaven and earth, Paul starts with what has come to be called Creation Evangelism; which begins at the beginning, rather than to pick right up with Jesus as the Messiah, and the Good news of His death and resurrection as he could with a Jewish audience in the synagogues. Paul’s message contains a couple of matters of keen interest. First, we want to note which of The 10 Essential Elements of The Real New Testament Message he got to bring to them, and we can find at least four. First, Paul calls for what is the 6th of the Elements when he presented the necessity to repent, turning from worthless idols, unto this Creator God. He next went to the 3rd of the Elements, explaining to them that there was a day of judgment by God coming, for which they needed to be prepared. He managed to get as far as the 5th Element as he alluded to the Christ who was dead, but had experienced a resurrection from the dead. His presentation was not fruitless, as we next learn that a few exercised the 7th of the Elements, when we read that they believed Paul’s’ message of Good News!

But, a second matter, of tremendous import can also be found here. With Acts 17:27 and 28, we could say that Paul laid out for these Athenians, and for all people, actually, what is the true meaning and purpose of life! I don’t want you to miss this, and it would be best to share it, and stop, that you might come away with this thought and ponder it. According to scripture, it could be fairly said that the meaning and purpose of your life is to ‘seek God and reach out for Him with the hope of finding Him, for He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.’

We were created to know God; to enter into a relationship with Him, and to experience an ever-deeper love relationship with Him all the remaining days of our lives. You may do this by means of believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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The Second Missionary Journey of Paul

Read 331.) Acts 15:36-17:4. It’s about AD 50, and nearly 20 years since Jesus ascended back up into Heaven. The Jerusalem Council has been held, Acts 15, and Paul’s letter to the Galatians has been written. Within the chapters of this Second Missionary Journey, a most monumental event is going to take place… The biggest thing to happen since Christ died, rose again, and ascended. Watch for it!

Ending Acts 15, a second missionary journey is proposed, and we read of the falling out between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. That rift must have been somewhat healed by AD 64, or so, when Paul was nearing the very end of his life and ministry; as he speaks highly of John Mark in II Timothy 4:11, about 14 years later.

This event of great occasion takes place here in Acts 16. With verses 6 thru 12, Paul is sovereignly and supernaturally directed by God thru the Holy Spirit, not to take the Gospel deeper into Asia, or to backtrack, and remain any longer in Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. Rather, the Spirit’s guidance, and the vision Paul received in the night, resulted in Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, to take the Gospel further west, into the continent of Europe! This was huge, as the Gospel gained a foothold in Europe, according to 16:13, and all that follows, on this trip. Europe, known as the West, and the home of all that is called Western Civilization, owes its current existence (though this is now called the post-Christian era), to this event we read of right here. The West was more greatly evangelized first, with this missionary journey, by Paul and his companions. The result, these 2,000 years later, is that Christianity and the Bible can be rightly stated as having been laid right in the very foundation of the formative years of Western Civilization because God caused it to be so… right from His direction and subsequent results recorded for us in Acts 16:6 and following. The United States of America, and all that is good about it, and all that its goodness means to all the rest of the world, since its founding, goes right back to this event as well. Christian America was in the heart and mind of God… and, we can trace our origin, as Americans, to God’s work in Paul in Acts 16. Paul’s first European converts were likely among among Jewish women! However, with the rest of chapter 16, some of the first European Gentile converts appear to be the Philippian jailer and his family! With 16:29-34 and 17:2-4, we see more of the Apostle’s message, that we may know that we are understanding and believing it correctly. We read that Jesus is the Christ who suffered and rose from the dead; that it is by being persuaded to believe upon Him that we are immediately saved. This conversion should result in an obedience to be baptized, as a first step in the New Life in Christ, which ought to be characterized by joy! See all that? It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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Galatians and the Law that Enslaves

Read 330 cont.) Galatians 4:1-6:18. Taking up where we last left off, Paul writes to a largely Gentile readership, which has been adopting Jewish religious requirements, and adding them to their simple faith in Christ. He is defending “truth of the Gospel,” 2:5+14, as he states just what that is in 2:16, and had defended all throughout chapter 3. Now, with chapter 4, Paul is establishing the stark contrast between Old Testament Judaism and this New Testament Christian faith. He concluded chapter 3 with verse 29 by relating them to Abraham, who was justified by God for his faith, as 3:6-9 had told us. The difference or distinction is as, 4:1-7 says, that which exists between a father’s son, and that father’s slave! He next makes the point that they engaged in the same kind of religious practices when they did not know God and were, at that time, enslaved to demonic religion, in 4:8-11! He pleads with them to give all that up, and be free. He continues with another difference and distinction, contrasting Old Testament Judaism over against New Testament Christianity as being the difference between Hagar and Sarah, as seen in all of Genesis 16; and as different as Abraham’s 2 sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Again, the distinction is between freedom and slavery; acceptance or rejection!

With chapter 5, Paul completes his point. At issue is Christian freedom or Jewish slavery under the Law. It is Jesus and faith, or Moses and human effort; works. Once freedom has been established, by 5:13, then the question becomes, and Paul answers, “How, then, should we live out this new Christian life in freedom and liberty?” And, the answer is as clear as the truth of the Gospel; the faith-in-Christ-only-for-salvation argument: The New Life in Christ is to be lived out by means of the fullness of the Holy Spirit within! This is all his point with 5:16, 18 and 25. Live by the Spirit. Be led by the Spirit. Keep in step with the Spirit! If you do, you will look like Jesus, as described in 5:22+23; and you will not live like your old self, or as others, as told us in 5:19-21.

Finally, Paul concludes with chapter 6, and completes his case. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through our faith in Christ alone. This is the truth of the Gospel. Having been justified by God through faith alone, we then go on to live the New Life in Christ by the Holy Spirit alone! Besides looking like that which is described in 5:22+23, its practical outworking in our lives will be humble service seen in good works unto other people, not Jewish religious observances unto God. With 6:14-16, Paul closes the loop. It is the Cross of Christ that does it all for us, and nothing else that we can do to add to that. IF a person is looking only to Cross of Christ, he will have been born again of the Spirit of God, and is now to live the rest of his life out in the Spirit; as the only thing that “counts is a new creation,” and “faith expressing itself through love,” 5:6! Have you become a new creation through faith in Christ Jesus, alone, as your Savior? Then, live by the Spirit, exhibiting His fruit, and do good unto others, out of love! It’s what this Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel

Read 330.) Galatians 1:1-3:29. Paul’s letter to the churches in the Roman province of Galatia comes right after The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, which was occasioned by what we see in Acts 15:1+5. There were some who were insisting that believers on Jesus Christ must be circumcised or they could not be saved. This teaching had gotten to the churches Paul is writing to, and some were falling for it. The key expression in this letter is found in 2:5+14, “The truth of the Gospel.” What is that? Probably 2:16 provides the best answer. In chap. 1, Paul pulls no punches; adding any religious work to the Gospel perverts and destroys it. Today, the most common similar error is likely baptism. Paul got the correct teaching concerning this from Jesus, Himself! This would have been when he went into Arabia during the 3 years before he went up to Jerusalem. In chap. 2, he continues to explain that which we read in Acts 15, that led up to the Council. The truth of the Gospel revolves around the twin concepts of salvation by faith alone, resulting in liberty from all works; religious rites, rituals and liturgy. At one point, it became necessary for Paul to correct Peter on this very matter, as he was falling back into Jewish observances contrary to the truth of the Gospel. His principle theme is that any person is declared righteous by God by trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior ONLY. The law and everything associated with it, was fulfilled in Christ in that its sentence of death was carried out on all in Christ’s crucifixion, resulting in His death, 2:20. It has no further hold on the believer. Now, being raised up, we can walk in a new life, apart from the law. This new life will be the subject of his 2 concluding chapters.

Then, see how that in chap. 3, Paul repeatedly connects faith in Christ alone with salvation in the first 9 verses, and then supports this premise to the chapter’s end. It’s plain and simple. Faith in Christ results in salvation, while law-keeping for salvation results in death! He says that faith saves 11 times in 3:2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 22, 24 and 26; while law-keeping kills at least 4 times in 3:10, 11, 12+13, 23. If you take these 2 keys, and read each one of these verse references separately, the truth of the Gospel becomes crystal-clear! As Paul stated with 2:16, so he has supported throughout the entirety of chapter 3! Next, as we progress through chapter 4, we are going to see that Paul develops his case even further, by explaining that a very clear distinction exists between God’s Law and His grace-promise. The Galatian churches were largely Gentile, and not Jewish, but Paul is going to demonstrate how that their New Testament faith in Christ, resulting in their salvation, is built upon an Old Testament foundation of God’s Law, which is no longer binding. It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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Paul’s First Missionary Journey

Read 329.) Acts 13:1-15:35. With Acts 13, and Paul’s first missionary journey, we also have, with 13:16-41, a 7th apostolic Gospel presentation. We can clearly see that Jesus is the Savior, v.23. The matter of repentance is proclaimed with v.24. We next learn of the message of salvation, v.26. It revolves around the very specific matters of Christ’s death, v.28, and His resurrection, v.30, 33, 34, and 37. What Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection is that we may know the forgiveness of our sins, v.38. It is by means of believing this Good News concerning Jesus that a condemned sinner is justified, v.39. Justification is that act of God whereby He declares a condemned sinner to now be righteous. Their sins are forgiven, and God’s own righteousness is credited to their account; and that person is saved, v.47! This results in the possession of eternal life, v.46 and 49. Key to living the Christian life, after one’s conversion is said to be continuing in the grace of God, v.43. Note that within this message, we find 7 of the 10 elements of The Real New Testament Message. They are 4.) Savior, v.23; 6.) Repentance, v.24, The 5.) Gospel, v.28, 30, 33, 34 and 37. Then, there’s the 8.) New Birth, v.38, 39+47; and the necessity to 7.) Believe, v.39. We see Paul spoke to them of the 9.) New Life in Christ with v.43+52. We even see that matter of 10.) Kingdom, with the mention of eternal life in v.46+48. Is this your message? Is this the message of your church? It needs to be. It is the Word of the Lord, v.44, 46+48!

Then, in Acts 14, we read of the remainder of Paul’s first journey, and of the results he experienced. The results of their speaking was that some believed, and were converted, v.1; but that others, being obstinate, refused to believe, v 2. With verse 3, we read of this matter of miraculous signs and wonders, which was pertinent to the Apostles in their time, as II Cor.12:12 and Heb.2:3+4 make so plain. This is not normative for today. We see the necessity, once again, for people to only believe the Good News, so as to be saved, with v.1. An emphasis among those in Lystra was that they repent of their idolatry and turn to the living God! The concept of repentance is little mentioned in many churches and messages today, but needs to be, as most in popular culture have much to turn from, in order to turn to the living God. I think that 14:20+21 is my favorite passage, as I love the irony in it. “…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. [Saying] ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God'” That’s encouraging?!?!? And, with 14:26, the first missionary journey of Paul ends.

Now, Acts 15 serves so very well to cement The Real New Testament Message. We see that some insisted on works being added to the Gospel and God’s grace, in order to be saved, v.1+5. This resulted in what has come to be called The Jerusalem Council, for the purpose of resolving the very serious matter. Peter testified first, and went back to all we saw in chapters 10:1-11:18. It was that he preached the message of the Gospel, and they believed, v.7. That was all that God required of them, as He accepted them and gave them the New Birth, v.8+9. Peter concludes that it is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ anyone is saved! Next Paul and Barnabas gave their testimony, and James, the half-brother of Jesus, gave his conclusion of the matter. People need only turn to God with faith in Jesus Christ, and that no work of any kind need be added to result in anyone’s salvation! It is all of grace!!!

Right at Acts 15:35, it is thought that Paul wrote the first of his epistles, that to the churches of the Roman province of Galatia. We will read Galatians next. It speaks right to the very matter we saw here with 15:1+5. Acts 15 ends with Paul setting out on his second missionary journey. After that, we will learn of the most incredible importance of what took place during that journey… It changed all the world! It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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When the First Gentiles Were Converted

Read 328.) Acts 9:32-12:25. The first passage, 9:32-43, serves to illustrate the point made in Mk.16:20 and Heb.2:3+4, that the Apostles could perform miraculous signs during the first generation after Jesus ascended to confirm their ministry and message before others. This is not to be taken as normative for today, as full confirmation was affected by the end of Acts. We could use II Tim.4:20 to help us understand this, as Paul had to leave Trophimus sick….

From Acts 10, Cornelius, and those with him, were not Jewish. These were the very first converts to Christ from among the non-Jewish, gentile peoples. Again, with angels, visions and the miraculous taking place; this is from that period when the Gospel was being confirmed by Christ. The point is not that such things cannot happen anymore, but that they are no longer normative, and should not be expected. I have seen and heard of most unusual things, miraculous in nature, taking place on mission fields where the Gospel is coming for the first time. From 10:34 to the end, we have Peter’s message, and the 6th in this book. We can judge our message, and those of others, by the Apostle’s preaching! It’s a message of peace with God through Jesus Christ. Being anointed of God with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was the Messiah and Savior. He was killed, but God raised Him up from the dead. Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of their sins and the Holy Spirit. These new gentile believers spoke in unlearned, human, foreign languages to show Peter and those six Jews with him that God had received NON-Jews as His own simply through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son! And, since they had been saved, they could partake of that believers’ water baptism by immersion that Jesus had commanded His disciples to administer.

Then, with Acts 11, Peter found it necessary to defend himself against accusations presented by other Jewish believers. His defense came down to how that these gentiles were saved when they believed that Gospel message he shared with them, as 11:15-18 declares. We read of a further spreading of the Gospel among gentiles, beginning with 11:19. The result, again, is that these repented and believed the Good news about Jesus Christ and were saved. That it was resulting in a whole new kind of unity between gentiles and Jews is the point of what we see in verses 27 through 30, as they had been separate and largely hating one another up to this time, but had now become united through their shared faith in Jesus, which had come to them by Jews!

Acts 12 is of Peter’s miraculous escape from martyrdom at the hands of murderous Herod, who dies in the end of the chapter. We read that Herod kills James the brother of John, making him the first martyr among the Apostles.  Verses 6 through 19 include the mention of an angel numerous times. Verse 15 is especially interesting, as it mentions Peter’s angel. In the light of Hebrews 1:14, we might arrive at this understanding of what has been called our Guardian Angel. Do we each have one of our own? Note, however, that Heb.1:14 says they serve us at God’s direction, not ours. We are nowhere told that we should attempt to contact angels, or to command them to serve us in any way. It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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Taking a Sabbatical

Sunday, February 17. It may concern some that I have not posted any new content since 01/02/2019. The only reason is because I have involved myself with a Bible reading group on Facebook at The Daily Bible Reading Group. Please feel free to check that out, and join, if you’d like!

This is temporary, as I do intend to complete this second trip thru the Bible in the manner that I have here for some years. There’s only some 38 more installments to go before I complete the Bible… and, I will… just not anytime soon.

Lord willing, at some point in the near future, with help from technologically savvy friends, I intend to produce a video series of the 5 Tools of Personal Inductive Bible Reading and Study that open the Bible to the earnest reader to be posted on YouTube. I’ll announce that here when that project commences, and as any new installment might be added there.

Thank you, sincerely,
Harold F Crowell

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The Amazing Conversion of the Apostle Paul

Read 327.) Acts 8:18 through 9:31. Beginning at 8:18, we learn of the origin of that which came to be known as ‘Simony,’ or the selling of religious favor or office for money. Simon the sorcerer in Samaria believed the preaching of Philip, and was baptized by him. Did Peter and John also lay hands on him, that he received the Holy Spirit? We are not told. What we are told, is that he wanted in on the privilege of being able to lay hands on others that they might receive the Spirit. It may have been totally innocent enough. Was he? We are not told this either. What we are told is that Peter rebuked him, and it would read as if he actually was repentant. However, legend has it that he turned back, away from the truth. Philip was then commanded by an angel to go to a desert place, that he might share the Gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch. The result of this account is that the Gospel entered into Africa for the first time. This Ethiopian official was reading from Isaiah 53, a prophetic Messianic chapter. Check it out, as it relates Christ’s death v.4+5, burial v.9 and resurrection v.11, in that order; as well as why v.5+6, 8, and 10-12! The official believed and Philip baptized him. Philip was then caught up in the Spirit to another place, where he resumed preaching, and we don’t read of him anymore. That’s because…

Chapter 9 relates the amazing conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who went on to become the great Apostle Paul. This is so straight-forward. It helps to illustrate what I’ve been saying, and will state in future posts. Acts is history. What is recorded here actually happened. It is not normative. Not everyone must have some vision of Jesus and be blinded! You instantly realize that, so why do others try to make Acts 2 or 8 to teach that those unusual and extraordinary experiences are normative and must take place today? They are not. Paul got saved. What happened next is that he demonstrated the deep commitment his conversion caused. He immediately began to proclaim that Jesus was their Messiah! By verse 31, we are told how all this advanced the outline of the book from 1:8, that the testimony of Jesus had spread from Jerusalem, to Judea, and now Samaria. What would come next? We’ll read of that in chapters 10 and 11; but first, an account of Peter.

Peter performed two incredible miracles, and the results of them are told us. First, he healed Aeneas of his paralysis, and later raised Tabitha from the dead! Both were for the one and same purpose, as Mark stated in 16:20, and the writer to the Hebrews explained in 2:3+4. Such miracles confirmed that Peter was an Apostle, and that his message was the true Word of God! How can we be sure of this? Because of what we are told in verses 35 and 42. Many turned and believed in the Lord! It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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Clearing Up Unnecessary Christian Confusion

Finishing 326.) Acts 6:1 through 8:17. There is some confusion within Christian circles. It’s unnecessary, but there nonetheless. I alluded to it first, when Peter preached, and 3,000 were converted, on the Day of Pentecost; when Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on the 120 in the Upper Room. There was a profound experience where the Spirit was visible as tongues of fire, and they each spoke in tongues. Peter seemed to express, to the thinking of some, that by Acts 2:38, he was declaring that baptism was necessary for salvation, and that those who submitted to it, would receive the Spirit in the very same manner that they just did. Well, we find cause for similar Christian confusion here, too. From reading 8:12 thru 17, some have surmised, that one must believe, be baptized, and will not receive the Spirit, or finish some salvation process, unless they are prayed over, and had hands laid upon them, by their particular church-leading authority, whose own authorization has somehow come all the way down to them from the Apostles.

As with Acts chapter 2, and I mentioned it there, this record is an accurate historical narrative of what actually happened at that time. It is telling us what happened then, but is not meant to teach us what is supposed to happen today. This was a transitional period between the Old and the New Testament covenant periods. They overlapped during the generation of time recorded in Acts. As Acts 2 uniquely recorded how that the Spirit came the first time, visibly as flames of fire, and resulted in their amazing tongues-speaking experience. That was what happened to them then! It was not meant to be understood as normative for today! That 2:38 says they will also receive the gift of the Spirit in no way means that each new believer is to have the same experience that they had just had only earlier that same morning. And, in fact, as that chapter concludes, it does not say that anyone else did have a similar experience… then, or anytime after.

So, too, here. Pay close attention. Philip preached, his hearers believed, and they were baptized. BUT, not until Peter and John went to them, laid hands on them, and prayed for them, did they receive the Holy Spirit. And, we are not told how this Spirit reception was manifested, so as to learn how they knew that it had taken place. The point here has nothing to do with some necessity for Apostolicly-authorized hands being laid upon a person, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. The point is simply: That these NEW believers were long-despised, and far-separated, Samaritans! This people was hated by Israel, and far apart from them. Had they been converted, and allowed to commence to form a church, without their having received the Spirit thru Jesus’ JEWISH Apostles, it would have been very likely that they would not have accepted Jewish Apostolic authority over them. These new Samaritan converts needed to have this unique experience, where Jews had to bring them the Holy Spirit, as a means of validating Jesus’ words in John 4:22, that “salvation is from the Jews.” That is all that is being signified and taught here, and nothing more! And, if that weren’t argument enough for the point, what happens next among the very first gentile converts, as we will soon read in chapters 10 and 11, will totally blow up any ‘teaching’ that any try to apply from here in Acts 8, about how some salvation ‘process’ is supposed to take place. You wait, and you will plainly see. It’s what the Book is all about!

Harold F Crowell

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