Simony

David Bast

Read: Acts 8:9-25 May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! (v. 20) In 1514, Albert of Brandenburg became the archbishop of Mainz, the most powerful church leader in Germany. In order to win this appointment, Albert paid Pope Leo X an “installation fee” of 10,000 ducats, which Albert borrowed from a German banking house. To enable Albert to repay his loan, the pope issued him a license to sell …

Saul of Tarsus

David Bast

Read: Acts 7:54-8:3 Saul was ravaging the church. (8:3) The man we will come to know as the apostle Paul first appears in Acts as one of the men responsible for Stephen’s martyrdom. As a junior member of the mob that stoned Stephen to death, Saul was given the job of “holding the coats” of the actual executioners. According to early Christian tradition, Paul wasn’t much to look at—bald-headed, bandy-legged, little guy. By his own admission, Paul came across as …

The First Martyr

David Bast

Read: Acts 6 They could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (v. 10) The Greek word for “witness” is martyros. Originally, a martyr was someone who was able to testify to the truth about something. A Christian martyr was anyone who could witness to the meaning and reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. It was because so many of these first Christians sealed their testimony to Jesus with their blood that the word came …

God Isn’t Safe

David Bast

Read: Acts 5:1-11 And great fear came upon all who heard of it. (v. 5) What can we say about a story like this? One thing we can say is that it demonstrates Luke’s honesty as a historian. The English leader Oliver Cromwell supposedly instructed the artist who was about to make his portrait, “Paint me as I am, warts and all!” That’s exactly what Luke does in his picture of the early church. Here we see a glaring example …

No Other Name

David Bast

Read: Acts 4:1-22 There is no other name . . . by which we must be saved. (v. 12) In C. S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength, a character makes a commonplace observation: “I suppose there are two views about everything.” “Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything,” comes the rejoinder, “until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.” The commonplace view today is that, if we actually do need saving, there are a …