Week 7 — Chapter 7: The Church as God’s Presence

Jun 15, 2023 | Divine Council, Manuscripts/Outlines

Note: This manuscript is taken directly from my current small group series at church on Exploring the Unseen: The Supernatural World of the Bible. Contextual references to other lessons have been retained.

I. Pentecost: The Launch of Spiritual Warfare

Acts 2:1–8 (KJV 1900)
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Romans 15:8–13 (KJV 1900)
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
There we have it—as succinct an explanation of why Jesus came to earth as we may ever read in the Bible: He came to keep a promise for one group of people, and to surprise another group of people. The promise kept was for the Jew, who had been chosen by God but had become a nation of idolaters. The surprise was for the Gentiles, who had been delegated to live under the authority of evil spiritual powers. In defeating these powers, whether during his ministry or at the crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated mercy to the Gentiles. Johnson, R. (2015). Supernatural (A Study Guide). Lexham Press.

A. Acts 2 describes the coming of the Holy Spirit with wind, fire, and tongues.
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2, KJV)

B. This event is directly connected to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.
  1. The “divided tongues” and “confusion” in Acts 2 refer to the divided languages at Babel.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4, KJV)

  1. Luke, the author of Acts, used the Greek Septuagint translation of Genesis 11.
“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.” (Genesis 11:8, KJV)

  1. The connection shows God reversing the curse of Babel to spread the gospel.
“Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:9, KJV)

C. The list of nations in Acts 2 covers the nations under the dominion of other gods from Babel.
“Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,” (Acts 2:9, KJV)

The incredible part of all this is the list of nations in Acts 2 and the order they are presented . If you looked them up on a map , you would move from the east , where the Jews had been exiled at the end of the Old Testament in Babylon and Persia , westward to the farthest point known at the time . They cover the same distance and scope as the nations listed in Genesis 10 — the ones put under the lesser gods . — Heiser

D. The Spirit enabled the disciples to speak to Jews from all nations—to spread the gospel worldwide.
“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” (Acts 2:6, KJV)

II. Paul’s Mission: Reclaiming the Nations

A. Paul saw himself as continuing what began at Pentecost—spreading the gospel westward.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, KJV)

B. Paul’s goal was to get to Spain, the farthest extent of the known world, to finish his mission.
“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.” (Romans 15:24, KJV)

C. Paul described the spiritual forces opposing him with domain language: rulers, authorities, powers, dominions.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV)

D. Paul believed when the gospel reached all nations, “all Israel will be saved” and Jesus would return.
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:26, KJV)

God knew the task of spreading the gospel to all the world would ultimately be much greater than Paul could comprehend . God knew others would have to follow Paul’s goal for himself if the gospel was to reach every part of the earth . If we’re not actively trying to complete the task , we aren’t doing what we’re here on earth to do . If we want God only so he will come to us to meet our needs , then we’re more like the people at Babel than we are like Jesus , the Twelve , and Paul . — Heiser

III. The Supernatural Perspective: We Are Not of This World

1 Peter 3:18–22 (KJV 1900)
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

A. Believers are sacred space—God’s temple and dwelling place.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, KJV)

B. Where believers gather together is holy ground amid the powers of darkness.
C. Unrepentant sin cannot remain in the church, so Paul commands handing a man “over to Satan.”
“To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5, KJV)

D. Baptism is a pledge of allegiance to God that signifies victory over the powers of darkness.
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12, KJV)

For Peter , baptism “ corresponds ” to all this because it is “ an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ” ( 1 Pet . 3 : 21 ) . The Greek word for “ appeal ” refers to a pledge one takes . The Greek word for “ conscience ” often refers to an ability to tell right from wrong . But that isn’t the case here . Knowing the difference between right and wrong doesn’t have a specific relationship to the death , burial , and resurrection of Jesus . The Greek word can also point to making a commitment — and a good one , not a foolish one . That’s what Peter is getting at in 1 Peter 3 . In essence , baptism was a loyalty oath and a message to the demonic powers ( as well as any people present ) of just whose side you were on in the spiritual war . Ancient Christians understood this better than we do today . Early church baptismal rites included a renunciation of Satan and his angels because of this passage . — Heiser

E. Implications:
  1. We must live as holy ground, as different from unbelievers as Jesus was.
  2. Our churches should elevate God and accentuate his holiness and love.
  3. The powers of darkness see our allegiance and disloyalty through our actions.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” (Ephesians 5:8, KJV)

F. We live as foreigners in this world, in it but not of it, just as Jesus was not of this world.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19, KJV)

Taking the news of Jesus’ lordship into the Gentile world certainly drew a strong reaction. Resistance was everywhere, coming from all directions. Nonbelieving Gentiles certainly didn’t like hearing that a crucified Jew had ascended to a position of lordship over their own gods (this sometimes resulted in stoning; e.g., Acts 14:19). Many pagans did not believe in the idea of physical resurrection (see Acts 17:32) and therefore rejected the apostles’ message outright. Even Jews who accepted Jesus struggled in sharing his lordship with Gentiles. This was because all non-Jews were considered ritually unclean and thus unable to approach the God of Israel unless they converted to Judaism (Acts 10:13–15). In combining all these forces, we can see why Paul said that the gospel was a “stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks” (1 Cor 1:23). Johnson, R. (2015). Supernatural (A Study Guide). Lexham Press.

Unbelievers should be able to tell from our speech , behavior , ethics , and attitude toward others that we’re not cynical , selfish , or harsh — that our focus is not on getting ahead or on using people . We should not live to gratify ourselves . We are to be the antithesis of these things . In other words , we are to live as Jesus lived . People wanted to be around him because he wasn’t like most everyone else . — Heiser

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