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Acts 16 Commentary Pt. 1 : At Liberty To Minister – Sermon Notes

Acts 16 At Liberty to MinisterSelfless love empowers true ministry. The love of God’s people will compel his ministers to endure not only physical shackles, but also the self-imposed shackles of worldly ordinances for the sake of others. By the grace of God we have been set at liberty to willingly endure trials, persecutions, and the legalities of this life for his glorious namesake.


Pt. 1 Acts 16:1-5

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The Essential Gospel

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

There is a lot of good news in the Bible, and there are many uplifting and influential stories to tell of Jesus Christ. Jesus had sound moral lessons, was a great help to those in need, was a prophet, a teacher… But if somebody were to ask, “What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?”, what would be the appropriate answer? Or better yet, what essential elements must be included in one’s answer for it to be considered “good news”? The answer to the question, “What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?” is something that should be on the mouth and in the heart of every born-again believer. It is central to salvation. Without the essential elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ all is hopeless, or in the words of Paul, “We are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

The Essential Gospel

Without further to-do, one of the most concise descriptions of the gospel of Jesus Christ is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

[1Co 15:3-4 NKJV] 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

Three elements from this passage (which are expounded on elsewhere in scripture) that are absolutely essential to salvation are

  1. Jesus Christ died for our sins
  2. Jesus Christ rose again and is alive forever more
  3. It was was the Christ (Messiah), the anointed Son of God, who died for our sins according to Old Testament scripture

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Examining the Deity of Jesus Christ. Two Popular Interpretations: “Oneness” (or Modalism), and “Trinity”. Are either correct?

This study will demonstrate the following:

  1. Introduction: We rarely get a chance to study the unfiltered doctrine of scripture without having already been told what we are supposed to get from it.
  2. Full understanding should not always precede faith. There are truths about Jesus Christ we can and should believe even if understanding is not there.
  3. The definitions of “Oneness” and “Trinity” are very similar yet also different.
  4. There could be some potential issues with rigid traditional “Oneness” teachings. The following beliefs/statements will be challenged:
    1. The Son is not eternal. The Son began at the virgin birth (the incarnation).
    2. Jesus is the name Father.
    3. Jesus Christ the Son is just another manifestation of God, such as the burning bush or voice of God from heaven.
    4. Jesus at the right hand of God is just a metaphor.
    5. There is only one on the throne in Revelation.
    6. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are just three titles of Jesus.
    7. God does not change
  5. Trinitarians have done a poor job representing the deity of Jesus Christ due to 1) a misunderstanding of the original intent of the word “Trinity” 2) miscommunication through the word “persons” 3) learning the creed before experiencing the revelation of scripture.
  6. When one looks at the original intent of the word “person”, and how time works differently with God, a strong case could be made that the difference between “Oneness” and “Trinity” comes down to semantics.

*This study will use the NKJV version of the Bible unless otherwise indicated. Continue reading


It’s my Right, but is it Right?

I believe we can get to the point where we delight in putting aside our privileges for the sake of others. It’s a way of loving like Christ loved…

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Qualifications of the First Evangelists

If God qualified witnesses to proclaim the birth of his only begotten Son, how much more will he qualify those bearing the message of a resurrected Savior?

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Accepting God’s Gracious Discipline

We will stumble and fall sometimes, but let us fall into the hands of a loving and restoring God. Even when traveling through our personal Babylon, submitting to God’s directive will always yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

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Resolve to Be Content this Year

Have you ever heard the advice, “Don’t shop on an empty stomach”? Likewise, we shouldn’t rush to make promises to ourselves or others without being full of God.

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Taming That Tongue

James doesn’t just tell us to bridle our tongues and leave it at that. He gives us a checklist of traits to judge whether what we are saying is of God or not.

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The Solution to Pride

The opposite of pride is not necessarily humility. Humility can still be self-seeking. What is the solution?

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Was there a Specific Baptismal Formula Given in Scripture?

There is no record in scripture of a baptizer speaking any words over the person being baptized at the time of baptism, i.e. “I now baptize you in the name of…”

The closest we see is an instance were the baptizee called on the name of the Lord at the time of baptism (Paul’s baptism-Acts 22:16), but there is no clear example of “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, “in the name of Jesus” or “into Christ” being spoken by the baptizer as a formula at the time of baptism.

This study will attempt to find if there was a formula given in scripture and what is best for the church to say at baptisms today.

The study will attempt to find a baptismal formula in:

  1. Ceremonial Washings : Formula?
  2. Proselyte Baptism ” Formula?
  3. John’s Baptism : Formula?
  4. Jesus’ Baptism : Formula?
  5. The Great Commission and New Testament (post-resurrection) Baptism : Formula?

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On Biblical Eldership & Church Government

Two offices and only two offices appear to have been established for church government: elders (or overseers) and deacons. This study will examine the offices that are laid out in scripture and how certain gifts can function within these offices. This is beneficial for anyone attempting to  re-structure or plant a Christian church that imitates the churches read about in scripture. It is also important for anyone seeking for spiritual gifts to flow as effectively as possible.

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Many People will do Great Works in the Name of Jesus and Never be Saved. Why?

In one of the most sobering passages in scripture, Jesus says that there will be “many” who enthusiastically confess him as Lord, prophesy (teach & preach under inspiration) in his name, cast out demons in his name (not try or pretend to, but actually do it), and do many mighty works (could also be translated miracles or works of power) in his name. Yet these people will be told to depart into eternal condemnation because they never knew Jesus.

It does not say that they once knew Jesus then fell away, it says he never knew them at all; they were never saved, never reborn. Yet these people seem genuinely shocked at their judgment.

[Mat 7:21-27 NASB] [21] “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. [22] “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ [23] “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’

To best understand this passage it must be taken in context. Jesus is actually concluding a sermon. One must read Jesus’ full dissertation in Matthew 5-7 in order to understand the passage. The answer should not necessarily come from somewhere else in scripture while one guesses what Jesus is talking about, nor should Matt 7:21-23 be taken out of context and plugged into topical sermons without referencing all of chapters 5-7. If you are reading this and have not read all Matt. 5-7, it would be beneficial to do so before continuing.

We could break down Jesus’ sermon like this:

  • Matt 5:3-16 The characteristics of citizens of the kingdom of heaven
  • Matt 5:17-20 Introducing how citizens of the kingdom of heaven practice righteousness
  • Matt 5:21-48 Specifics on how to practice righteousness, particularly against the false traditions of the religious teaching of the day.
  • Matt 6:1 – 7:12 Specifics in practicing righteousness through living by faith.
  • Matt 7:13-27 False believers vs. True believers

Let’s first look at Jesus’ full conclusion of the sermon:

[Mat 7:21-27 NASB] [21] “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. [22] “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ [23] “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’

[24] “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. [25] “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. [26] “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27] “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

“Therefore” is an important word here. It is referencing the previous thought. So in light of what Jesus just said about those who say “Lord, Lord” being cast away, we read an illustration about those who hear and do the words or Jesus vs. those who hear and don’t do the words of Jesus. Each is likened to a house. One house has a good foundation, the other a bad foundation. It’s likely these houses both looked similar from the outside, as a house’s foundation is typically not visible.

The next thing that is essential to see is that Jesus is attaching salvation and damnation to “these words of Mine” (vs 24). Jesus is continuing his public speech when he says this, so “these words” are referencing Matthew 5:3 up to this point. I’m reiterating that again because it seems Jesus has provided the core of the information we need to understand our main passage in his previous words.

We know that in order to enter heaven one must do the will of the father (vs 21) and act on the words Jesus just spoke (vs 24), and we know Jesus speaks the will of the Father (John 12:49). One must look to the previous verses then to know the words Jesus spoke and the will of the Father. Jesus’ primary motif is the possessing of the kingdom of heaven, hence he begins with clear and precise qualification beginning with the first beatitude of “poor in spirit” = kingdom of heaven through “persecuted for righteousness sake” = kingdom of heaven. He builds on these beatitudes and ends by referencing those who will reject his sayings and therefore never be eligible for the Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s do a brief survey of each section then.

Matt 5:3-16 The characteristics of citizens of the kingdom of heaven

Only those who are poor in spirit, who recognize their own spiritual poverty, who mourn over their sinful state, who hunger and thirst after true righteousness are ready to receive salvation. One can do many works that appear Christ-like to the world, but to realize one’s sorrowful state, repent and turn to Christ is the essential foundation, and is in itself a work of God in someone’s life.

Matt 5:17-20 Introducing how citizens of the kingdom of heaven practice righteousness

[Mat 5:17-20 ESV] [17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus begins the next portion of his sermon by stating that he has come to fulfill the law. He then sets up the next section by referencing “these commandments”. The language would seem to imply that he is speaking of the commandments he is about to reference. While one could try to argue that these are new commandments, one could better show how that these are the Torah commandments shown in their proper application and outside of the extra-biblical traditions incorporate overtime by the religious leaders in the second temple period. Jesus himself would go on to keep the law perfectly and die a substitutionary death for sinners. All would be fulfilled in him.

Jesus’ statement about one’s righteousness having to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees sets up the “you have said,, but I say…” portion of his dissertation. The commandment Jesus is about to reference is how one’s righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. It would make no sense for him to say the statement and move on to another topic. The words that Jesus has spoken and will continue to speak over the next chapter and a half are what we must “act on” (7:24) so that we “do the will” (7:21) of the father.

Matt 5:21-48 Specifics on how to practice righteousness, particularly against the false traditions of the religious teaching of the day.

Jesus shows clear examples of the difference between doing works related to God and doing the will of God because of relationship with God. For example: they have heard it said that whoever commits murder will be liable to the court. This is true and good. However, if one withholds from murder in order to avoid punishment but secretly hates in their hearts, they are not doing the will of the Father regardless of any outward appearances of righteousness. Not murdering or not being violent may look good on the surface, but God is more interested in a genuine relationship. Hence a hateful heart, or lustful heart is the same as murder and adultery to him. It’s impossible to be righteous without a genuine relationship with God, without knowing (7:23) him. One could argue from Jesus’ sermon that one who truly knows God would never think they could substitute their righteous works for his.

Jesus shows us that it’s possible to keep the letter of the law and still be a transgressor of the law. If the scribes and Pharisees were keeping the letter of the law, those who would enter the kingdom of heaven must exceed what they are doing (). This can only be done by fulfilling the later half of the “you have heard it said… but I say unto you…” statements. A glance over the qualifications for the kingdom of heaven up to this point force one to realize that it’s impossible to enter in outside of the grace of God.

Matt 6:1 – 7:12 Specifics in practicing righteousness through living by faith.

These examples show the importance on valuing the unseen things and storing up treasures for heaven, not for earth. Some examples are giving, prayer and fasting. These should all be done faithfully to the invisible God. The spiritual reward is negated if done to be seen by others. Again, to be righteous one is seemingly forced to have a genuine relationship with God. There is no getting around it; whether it’s keeping the letter of the law without keeping the heart behind the law, or doing seemingly righteous works with the wrong motive, God will not except either. One who feels justified by external works and external appearance only is one who does not know God, and one who will give say “Lord, Lord!” and give their resume on the last day yet be turned away with the accusation of being a work of iniquity/lawlessness.

These teaching began with Jesus’ statement that he came to fulfill the law and prophets (5:17). This section ends with him in a sense telling them to do the same.

[Mat 7:12 NASB] [12] “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matt 7:13-27 False believers vs. True believers. Conclusion.

Jesus concludes by contrasting those who will not enter with those who will.

13-14) Many will enter the broad gate to destruction, only a few the narrow gate to life

15-20 False prophets will arise. One can differentiate between the good and the false by the fruit. Jesus led with the beatitudes describing the characteristics of those who would enter the Kingdom of Heaven (5:3-10). It’s likely that this is the fruit he is referring to, for it is evident that works, miracles and prophecy are not necessarily signs of a good tree. Again, it’s tempting here to jump to other passages like Galatians which talks about the fruit of the Spirit, and while that may be theologically accurate in terms of what to look for in a true believer, one should first look for the answers provided in context. Jesus has given us his own list of fruit in this sermon: treating others how you would want to be treated, faith, love (both friends and enemies) being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering after righteousness, peace, pureness of heart and suffering persecution are some that I see, although there are probably more.

21-27 is the conclusion of the matter and our key scripture. Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom. The will of the father is that we do what he says (Matt 12:50). Perfectly? No. Sincerely? Always. Jesus’ whole sermon (5-7) describes those who sincerely keep his word and those who misrepresent it by having a corrupt foundation. The ones who are surprised on judgment day may have thought they were sincerely doing the will of God; they had never been poor in spirit and hungry enough to allow God to work repentance in them. Again, the text says, “I never knew you”. This is not a case of starting out well then missing the mark due to performance, this is a case of never been reborn, never being a sheep, never being saved to begin with. In a frightening prophecy, Matthew records those who will do works or power, cast out demons, preach in the name of Jesus, yet will be turned away.

This should an admonition to us all to make sure our foundation is solid and that the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ is built entirely on him, not any religious traditions we may have been incorporated into that modify the behavior but not the person. Those who truly have Christ as their foundation will do the will of God. Those who do not have Christ as their foundation may attempt to do the will of God but will really be working lawlessness.

Daniel 3:25. Was the fourth person in the fire an angel, a visible manifestation of God (theophany), or the Son of God?

This question recently made its way to me. I figured I’d give it a shot. Here we go…

Daniel 3:25 figure in fire


He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Dan 3:25 KJV

The KJV is the only version that says “Son of God”. Although, it was fascnitating to discover that the original King James of 1611 did not capitalize the word son.

He answered and said, Loe, I see foure men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they haue no hurt, and the forme of the fourth is like the sonne of God. Dan 3:25 1611 KJV

Here is the passage from two of the more modern literal Bibles:

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Legal Ramifications of Use of Media in the Church. Copyright Overview.

This article was originally written in 2011. Since then, some copyright laws and the technology associated with them have changed. There are still solid principles to pull from this article but please reference the sources if you are using this article to make decisions about media in your church. 🙂

What we will cover:

  • Basic Copyright Law
  • The Religious Service Exemption
  • Playing and Performing Audio and Music in Church
  • Video and Movies in Church, Including Online and Youtube.
  • Plays and Skits in Church
  • Bible Scripture Copyright
  • Examples of Legal Cases Involving Churches
  • Fair Use Act

The contemporary American church today utilizes a far greater amount of diverse media in their activities today than they did 20 years ago. Hardback hymnals have been replaced by dual rear projectors showing lyrics to the latest Christian radio song written by a popular contemporary artist while emotionally stirring graphics and images populate the background. Online sharing of video-recorded services make their way from the church website to social video sharing sites. Church members volunteer to do such things as sing, perform plays, create graphics, play music and create videos. “There are wonderful ways that technology can help us do things we could not do or do as effectively in the past” (Jewell 24). New media is spreading throughout churches, but often times the media is spreading faster than the knowledge of what the legal ramifications of new media could have on a church organization.

Like many religious organizations, the business aspect of the organization is typically not in the spotlight as much as a commercial organization’s. In smaller churches there can be a mentality that because the staff is mostly volunteers and working for the “greater good”, certain laws do not apply to them, or they may feel they can simply fly beneath the radar. This is not the case. A church could legally be fined up to $150,000 just for playing a movie without permission (“The Need”). The financial damage along with the damage to the church’s reputation make it imperative that churches are not ignorant of the copyright laws applicable to the media they are using. Continue reading

Can Christians get Tattoos according to the Bible? (Are tattoos sin?)

I had a hard time finding a Bible study on tattoos that:

  • Was comprehensive
  • Wasn’t fueled by emotion more than scripture
  • Wasn’t based around a pre-conceived answer the author clearly had before putting the study together


I will try to keep the commentary on this study to a minimum while we examine the scripture.


What we will cover:

  • The meaning of Leviticus 19:28
  • How to consider Old Testament laws today
  • How to deal with the issue of tattoos using New Testament scripture Continue reading

About Me


My name is Jonathan. This site was really just started as a way for me to keep track of my notes and make them accessible to others for reference.

You may have noticed the url for this site is “quicken me”. To quicken comes from the English style of wording used in the KJV Bible. In the context of Psalms 119, it means to make alive, revive, preserve or restore life. I believe the author of the Bible is not dead. God’s Word was in the Beginning (John 1:1), and Jesus is the Living Word of Life (1 John 1:1-2). Jesus said the words that he spake to us are spirit and life (John 6:63). It’s this thing we all the Bible, coupled with God’s Spirit (John 14:26) that God uses to teach, correct, encourage, save and judge. I pray to be made alive in Christ and to have life more abundantly according to God’s Word.


Hopeful Suffering

Hopeful SufferingThis is a study on how to suffer well. This may seem a tad odd at first. Typically in life we strive to avoid suffering. I can’t remember the last time I saw a book in the self-motivational section of the bookstore entitled “How To Be Good At Suffering”. For me, this study has been life changing. I hope it can be of some value to you as well.

Key points covered:

  • What we should fear and not fear as Christians.
  • Righteous suffering vs wasteful suffering.
  • Hope in suffering.
  • Why we should be good stewards of suffering.

Key Scripture: 1 Peter 3:14-16

14But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; Continue reading