The Campus House Podcast is our collection of Sunday teachings, meant to encourage and equip you in your relationship with Jesus. Campus House invites you to listen, dive deeper into the Word, and catch a glimpse of God’s ongoing work in your life and in our ministry.
In Acts 9, we find Peter moving from city to city up the Mediterranean coast proclaiming the Gospel and performing miraculous signs and wonders. He does not have his own agenda, but is going with God’s agenda; listening to the Spirit, following His leading. He is in step with the Spirit. The question for him (and us) is this: What happens when you are in step with the Spirit and the Spirit takes a major detour? That’s exactly what happens in chapters 10 and 11.
The Book of Acts records the movement of the Gospel, the expanse of the Kingdom of Jesus into the unlikeliest of places; moving out from the epicenter of Jerusalem to the outsiders of Samaria, to the African continent, and throughout Palestine. Up to this point, every new Christian has been from a Jewish background, but that changes dramatically as Luke retells the extension of God’s grace and call to the Gentiles. The story of Peter and Cornelius, which includes angelic visits, disturbing dreams, perfectly synchronized knocks at the door, Peter’s confusion, yet obedience, the Holy Spirit interrupting Peter’s sermon, and Cornelius and his friends and family getting baptized… is an awesome story of the Big Plan of God, the grace of Jesus, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit as the Gospel comes to the Gentiles.
It is a story about conversion, not just Cornelius’s household, but for Peter, also, as he is coming to grips in real time with the ground shaking realization that the box of his assumptions and traditions was breaking under the weight of God’s grace. No one is beyond the outstretched arm of Jesus. Conversion stories are stories about beginnings (new life and new paradigms) but also about ongoings. God, meets us where we are, but (in His grace) doesn’t leave us as we are. To keep in step with the Spirit is to continue to work out the implications of salvation. We are converted to Christ but also converted from self-sufficiency, from ongoing cycles of sin and apathy, from prejudice and ego, from creating wall to isolate ourselves from others.
Ongoing trust in the love and grace of Jesus.
Ongoing listening to His voice and responding to His invitation.
In Acts 8, the church was scattered due to persecution, thus launching the next phase of Acts 1:8. Philip went to Samaria where crowds heard him preach the Gospel and saw signs and wonders and there was great joy in the city as people believed the Good News and were baptized. Among them was Simon who had ‘astounded’ the crowds with his magic for years. He and everyone else thought he was a big deal until Philip came to town proclaiming Jesus.
As Peter and John heard about what was happening in Samaria and came to see for themselves, they realized that the people had not yet received the Holy Spirit. So they prayed for people to receive the Holy Spirit which led to Simon offering to buy the apostolic power to give people the Holy Spirit. Simon wanted power without discipleship and Peter rebuked him and called him to repentance.
An angel then told Philip to go to the Desert Road that runs south of Jerusalem and to come alongside an Ethiopian eunuch who was in his chariot reading Isaiah 53. Beginning with that Scripture, Philip connected the dots of the passage to Jesus, baptized the Ethiopian, was “carried away by the Spirit,” and showed up on the Mediterranean coast where he continued his evangelism tour. Filled with joy and the Spirit, the Ethiopian most likely spread the Gospel in Northern Africa.
This chapter highlights the tandem of both the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Ministry among the Samaritans was a demonstration of Power as Philip preached the Gospel, cast out evil spirits, healed the lame and paralyzed, and performed miraculous signs and wonders. Ministry to the Ethiopian was an embodiment of Presence as Philip listened to the Holy Spirit, came alongside the Ethiopian, asked a question, paid attention, connected the dots of the text of Scripture to Jesus, and baptized the guy.
The passage invites us to explore the ways and means of the Holy Spirit and the evidence of His power and presence in and through our lives. “The Church is sent into the world to continue that which he came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.” - Lesslie Newbigin
In the first part of chapter 6, Luke describes the choosing of seven men to be servant leaders in the church; men who were full of wisdom and filled with the Holy Spirit. Stephen, one of those seven, was also described as full of God’s grace and power. Beyond waiting tables, he performed signs and wonders and, when his opponents brought false testimony and accusations, he replied with a 50-verse panorama of the Old Testament; not simply to retell the history of Israel, but to let his accusers know that they were the ones guilty of blasphemy. They had disobeyed the law, distorted the temple, and rejected God Himself through chronic infidelity. They killed the prophets and Jesus the Messiah. This was too much for the crowds to hear and, in their fury, they took Stephen outside the city and stoned him. Stephen became the first martyr, but the bigger story is that (except for the apostles) the church was then forced out of Jerusalem because of the persecution and thus, the concentric circles of God’s Kingdom mission (Acts 1:8) were set in motion (to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth). This was the unstoppable force Gamaliel predicted. This was and is the ripple effect of the Gospel via persecution.
The application is an invitation to look at another set of concentric circles, beginning with our own lives. Would we be willing to die for Jesus? Or the more pertinent question: are we be willing to live for Jesus? The essence of Stephen’s speech was that unless Jesus is the center of the story, the story is incomplete. What story are we living? If we are living for Christ, inevitably that will bring conflict and possible loss of reputation or work or friends and family. Paul’s words are encouraging:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” - Romans 1:16
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” - 2 Timothy 1:7
This sermon coincided with the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church and we took some time in the service to pray for the persecuted Christians in nine specific countries. Please continue those prayers.
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As the early church is multiplying rapidly, some folks are getting lost in the shuffle. The cultural and ethnic divisions that existed in Judaism had carried over into the church and, as the apostles were dispersing food to the needy, the Hellenistic or Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked. The apostles listened to the complaints and appointed seven men to serve, freeing up space for their primary calling to the ministry of the Word and prayer. This passage addresses our need to ask, “Who is falling through the cracks (both inside and outside the church), the integration of Word, prayer, and social justice and the Spirit-directed value of structure and organization.
Who is being neglected / overlooked?
What are the needs that exists on this campus? In our community?
What is your calling / gift / niche in the Kingdom?
How is that integrated into the life of the Body?
In what ways has your presence flavored Purdue with the truth of Christ?
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” [1 Peter 4:10]
In Acts 5:12-42 we see the Kingdom of God still advancing, filling all of Jerusalem, just as Jesus had commanded. The apostles continued to bring His life and message as they heard and responded to God’s voice. Empowered by the Spirit they filled the earth with God’s presence. In stark contrast stood the fearful, jealous, and enraged religious leaders of Jerusalem. From this story, we see the obedience of the apostles ushering in God’s unstoppable reign and rule. Even jail and persecution cannot stop what God is doing!
It was the best of times. It was the most confusing of times. The contrast between the end of the Acts 4 and the beginning of Acts 5 is stark. The fruit of the Gospel, the oneness and generosity of the new and exploding church community is suddenly rocked by the sin, lies, and abrupt deaths of a hypocritical married couple named Ananias and Sapphira. Through exploring the contrast between integrity and duplicity, between self-sacrificing community and self-promoting individuality, and between open-handed generosity and selfish scarcity, we are led back to the generous grace of God on display through the open-handed, outstretched sacrifice of Jesus.
This week we take a look back at the first four chapters of Acts. We see a pattern that emerges in the life of the early church. Adversity, Encounter, Expression, and Digestion. We will see how this pattern helped establish the church, but also carries through most of the bible. I believe as we see this pattern as normative it will deepen our relationship with God and transform the circumstances of our lives. Adversity leads to encountering God. Encounters need to be Expressed through obedience, proclamation and demonstration. What we Express needs to be Digested and become a part of who we are.
Coming off of the healing of the lame man outside the temple and Peter’s speech and the explanation that this miracle was done in the power and name of Jesus, Peter and John were confronted and arrested by the Jewish leaders. Peter and John stand before the council the next day to answer the question: “By what power have you done this?” Peter gives the explanation and shares the Gospel of salvation through Jesus. The leaders took note that Peter and John were ‘common’ (in contrast to their sophistication and education) and that “they had been with Jesus.” They also had a conundrum on their hands - obviously the miracle was real, but this new sect of Jesus followers was getting out of hand. So they threatened them to stop talking. Peter and John, after their release, went back to the church and reported the whole story which was met with prayers of praise and requests - not for protection, but for boldness. When they had prayed "the whole place was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began proclaiming the Gospel with boldness."
This sermon explores the irony of God using the specific definition of irony being ”incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.” Throughout history, God (who is eternally consistent) has consistently used the “unexpected” to do carry out His epic plans. Jesus’s selection of the twelve is an example and the irony was not lost on the perplexed and frightened Jewish leaders. What made the “common” not so common was the power (the name, authority, and kingship) of Jesus and that gave them the boldness to proclaim the Gospel at all costs. May we, in our ordinariness, pray as boldly and walk in the reality that in our “weakness His strength (His power) is made known.”
At the end of Acts 2, Luke writes of many “signs and wonders” being done in the power of the Holy Spirit through the apostles and chapter 3 is an example; specifically the healing of a 40 year old man who had never walked. Expecting to get a hand-out, the man instead got helped to his feet, having his legs completely healed. His response involved walking, leaping, and praising God. The response of the onlookers, however, was astonishment and wonders and questions. Peter’s response to their astonishment was to connect the dots to Jesus and invite them into repentance and relationship with Him.
As we engage the text with our imaginations as well as our minds and hearts, there are some particular snapshots that catch our attention: reframed expectations; the breaking in of the restorative nature of the Kingdom of God; the paradox of the “Beautiful Gate” that, for so many, was more of a barrier to worship than a door; and the emphasis throughout the text on “turning and looking.”
Peter engages their minds and hearts, explaining through Scripture what is going on, and calling them to encounter Jesus, to repent of their sin, to receive the grace and forgiveness of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit who then continues to sanctify and transform every part of their lives and, within the context of this new community called the church, to share this good news with others and bring the Kingdom of Jesus - justice and healing and restoration and reconciliation and peace and joy and hope and love into every part of the world.