Greetings and welcome to another series of lessons.  We commend you for your interest in Bible study.  It is truly exciting to see others who are interested in the study of God's word.  We hope and pray that this will be an enjoyable study and that you will learn much from it.

The lessons in this booklet concern the church which the Lord purchased with His precious blood.  We encourage you to study your Bible along with the lessons and we remind you of the nobility of the Bereans.  Luke records in Acts 17:11, "These(Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."  From this verse we learn that there are two basic keys for successful Bible studyan open Bible and an open mind.  Notice that the Bereans had both.  We recommend to you to open your Bible and your mind to what the Bible says.

After you read the lesson and study your Bible, please answer the questions supplied with the booklet and send it back to your teacher.  Your teacher will grade it and return it to you along with a certificate of completion.  If you have any questions, your teacher will be glad to help you find the
answers.  Have an enjoyable study of the Bible!  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve you in this way.  May God bless you in your study and we hope that we will hear from you shortly.

 Lesson Thirteen

After Peter made the great confession to Jesus that "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16), Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18).  In the Bible the Lord's church is also called, "the body of Christ" (Ephesians 1:22-23), "the kingdom of His dear Son" (Colossians 1:13), "the temple of God" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), "the household of God" (1 Timothy 3:15), and it is referred to in many other ways.  Each of these terms show a particular aspect of the nature of the church and they show to whom the church belongs.  As we consider the church, we are considering the church that belongs to God and His Son.  We are concerned with the church of the Bible and not man made organizations claiming to be the Lord's church.

In Daniel the second chapter, Daniel interprets a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  The king had sought magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers to interpret his dreams but these false prophets were unable to interpret them.  Daniel requested the opportunity to interpret these dreams and by the power of God could interpret them.  Daniel explains that the dreams are of five kingdoms.  The first kingdom is Babylon of which Nebuchadnezzar is the "head of gold" (Daniel 2:38).  Next is "another kingdom inferior to thee" which is the Medo-Persian Empire (verse 39).  The third kingdom Daniel explains is a "kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth" which is the Grecian Empire.  Daniel continues by explaining that "the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron."  This is the Roman empire.  It is "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom" (Daniel 2:44).  Thus, the establishment of the kingdom of God, or the church, was prophesied to take place during the Roman empire.  Notice further that this fifth kingdom "shall never be destroyed . . . and it shall stand for ever."  It is, then, an eternal kingdom which is directly fulfilled in the words of Jesus when He promised "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 6:18).  Also, it is fulfilled in the inspired words recorded by Peter, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11).  Isaiah also prophesied of the establishment of the kingdom of God in Isaiah 2:2-3 which states:  "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."  Paul explains that the Lord's house is the church.  In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul the apostle of the Lord said, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."  Thus, Isaiah prophesied that the Lord's house or the church would "come to pass in the last days."  In Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter quoted the prophet Joel who also prophesied about the last days (Joel 2:28-32).  There can be no doubt that the fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah 2 and Joel 2 is Acts 2 for Peter said, "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16).  Further, notice that this took place in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14) which is the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophesy, "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."  Even further, notice that Isaiah prophesied that "all nations shall flow unto it."  The fulfilment of this is Acts 2:39, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

In the days of Jesus, it was taught that "the kingdom of God is at hand". The phrase "at hand" simply means that it was near in time.  Mark summarizes Jesus' early ministry in Mark 1:14-15, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."  This was also the message of John the baptizer (Matthew 3:2) and the disciples of Jesus (Matthew 10:7).  Later we learn that Joseph of Arimathaea, who asked for the body of Jesus after the crucifixion, "waited for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43).  During the ministry of Jesus, the kingdom was so close that Jesus once taught, "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28).

On the day of Pentecost (fifty days after the crucifixion of Jesus) Peter and the eleven preached the first gospel sermon.  The sermon is recorded in Acts 2:14-36.  The following chart is a brief outline of Peter's sermon on that day.
 Introduction (verses 14-21)
     I. Jesus Approved by God (verse 22).
     II. Jesus Delivered and Put to Death (verse 23).
     III. Jesus Raised From the Dead (verses 24-32).
     IV. Jesus Exalted to the Throne of God (verses 33-35).
Conclusion (verse 36).

After the evidence was shown, the only reasonable conclusion was "that God hath made that same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).  In the following verses, Luke records the reaction of the listeners and God's answer to the listeners' question.  Acts 2:37-41 says,  "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."  Thus, we have the beginning of the church.  It began in Jerusalem as prophesied.  It came with power as signs and wonders were done on that day. It came in the lifetime of some of those to whom Jesus taught.  It was proclaimed to all nations.  Later when Peter taught Cornelius and his household the gospel, Peter referred to this day as "the beginning" (Acts 11:15).

 Questions for Lesson 13

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