A Commentary on Acts

A Commentary on Acts 415ueiiJyrL._SS300_

A review by Stuart Brogden

Writing a commentary on any book of the Bible is a daunting task. Especially, I think, a New Testament book. We tend to be more familiar with the New Testament and the theological divisions within the realm of Christianity are daunting. And we have much less commentary and interpretation by the Apostles of the New Testament than we have of the Old. And, as with any study of God’s Word, we all bring our presuppositions with us and have to conscientiously focus to seek the true meaning of Scripture rather than merely defend what we’ve been taught by others. Guy Prentiss Waters has spent untold hours to provide us a study commentary on the book of Acts.

Right up front, Mr. Waters makes it clear the perspective from which he views Scripture, which will delight his fellow paedobaptists but ought to give Baptists a bit of caution. Here, from the Introduction, page 9: “This commentary is Reformed in its orientation. It proceeds from the conviction that the Westminster Standards are the best summary of the Bible’s teaching in the church’s possession. It believes that Reformed theology and sound exegesis are not mutually exclusive alternatives, but the very best of friends.”

Many Baptists claim to be Reformed, but do not hold to the Westminster Confession. And putting any man-authored document as the lens through which to read Scripture is contrary to the very essence of being Reformed, which relies on the never-ending journey of Semper Reformanda, Always Reforming to Scripture for the glory of God. Some Baptists are just as guilty as some of our Presbyterian brothers.

That said, I think that Mr. Waters has written a very good commentary, focused on the redemptive story that holds all of Scripture together. This being a 600 page book, it’s not possible to give you a comprehensive review; so I’ve chosen to focus on a couple of passages in Acts chapter 2.

In a section titled, Promise Explained (page 84), our author does an excellent job explaining why Peter’s sermon (which Luke summarized for his account) points to Jesus as the promised son of David, pointing out: “First, David had ‘both died and was buried’ in Jerusalem. Second, David was a ‘prophet.’ Third, David had received the promise of God, on oath, ‘to seat one from the fruit of his loins upon his throne’ (Ps 132:11, cf 2 Sam 7:1; 1 Chr 17).” And just a few pages later, Waters leans (in a footnote) on the Westminster Longer Catechism to claim baptism as “a sign and seal of the forgiveness of sins that is granted alone through faith in Christ.” (page 89) There is no Scripture referenced and there is no Scripture that can be brought to defend this idea. It is conjecture conjured up by paedobaptists to support paedobaptism. One can argue from Scripture that circumcision of the heart or the Lord’s Supper or both are signs and/or seals of the New Covenant – which is what provides that forgiveness of sins (Luke 22:20 and Rom 2:29, respectively). Later on page 89 and onto page 90, Waters refers to Acts 2:39 and again allows his confessional tradition to influence his understanding of Scripture:

In Acts 2:39, Peter makes an important statement concerning the reach or scope of the promise of which he has been speaking. The promise pertains to three groups of people. First, it is ‘for you’, that is, the Jews – not simply these particular Jews gathered in Jerusalem, but for all Jews within reach of the gospel. Second, it is ‘for your children’. God had specially extended his promises to the offspring of believers under the Old Covenant, and will continue to do so under the New Covenant (Gen 17:7). Third, it is ‘for all who are afar off.’” Waters’ second point is one of the key areas that paedobaptists must not honestly examine, because the actual meaning of this Scripture undermines the foundation of their system. The promise given to Abraham in Gen 17:7 was not one that brought the offspring of Jewish children into the New Covenant. The other side of this covenant given to Abraham, described in Gen 17:9 -14, is what brought Jewish offspring into the Mosaic Covenant community – not the New Covenant. Most importantly, God’s Word tells us the proper interpretation of the promise in Gen 17:7: Galatians 3:16 (ESV) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. The promises were to Abraham and his seed – not seeds; to include Christ and His body in the New Covenant, not unregenerate Jewish or Presbyterian children.

But, the paedobaptist says, Scripture clearly says “the promise is for you and your children!” Two things must be observed from this passage in God’s Word. First, this verse cited in part by Waters and most paedobaptist defenders – For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. That little phrase at the end qualifies everything that precedes it in this sentence. Only those children that are called by the Lord our God to himself will be saved and, therefore, included in the New Covenant. Secondly, the promise mentioned in verse 29 does not refer to the Abrahamic covenant, as paedobaptists claim in their effort include their biological seed in the New Covenant. Context reveal no mention of Abraham in Peter’s sermon. Starting in verse 22 and continuing to verse 36, Peter describes how Christ Jesus is the heir to God’s covenant with David as fulfillment of God’s promise to David to raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

No matter how you slice Acts 2, you will not find Abraham’s covenant nor a promise by God to include all the children of a group of people in the New Covenant.

As with all things written by man, there is error in this book of which the reader must be wary. But there is much good, as well. Many Baptists and Presbyterians agree vigorously on how sinners are saved – it is a monergistic work of God. This view of soteriology shines brightly throughout this commentary and ought to be an encouragement to many.

If you are a fan of the Westminster system of theology, you will enjoy this book more than us Baptists. But we can all learn and benefit from it as it will cause the serious reader to dig into Scripture to see if these things be so.

Yet Still Stinking

Dear readers,

We live in a day and age where false doctrine and heresy becomes more and more rampant within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In any and every way possible, the evil one seeks to undermine the Scriptures with the oldest question in all of history spoken to the minds of people of all walks of life, but particularly to those who claim the name of Christ.

“Yea, has God really said?”

sinlessperfection

In this excellent video by Pastor John MacArthur, he deals with the false teaching propagated by many in mainline evangelical denominations and by those who in the Charismatic movements. This message entitled, “Spiritually Living, Yet Still Stinking” he deals with the false teaching of sinless perfectionism and that we can live a fully sanctified life before being redeemed from this corrupt flesh. This form of Arminianism was taught and spread by false teachers such as Charles G. Finney, who is considered the father of modern-day revivalism.

From MacArthur’s message found in the video below:

It was J.C. Ryle in his marvelous epic book written in 1879 by the title of Holiness who said, “Sudden instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see anywhere in the Bible.” And the reason J.C. Ryle didn’t see them is because they’re not there. That was an utterly unbiblical concept. He knew what all accurate theologians know, that justification and sanctification are inseparable. They both come at the instant of salvation. Justification is immediate and sanctification is progressive, but they cannot be separated. And sanctification is not some experience subsequent to salvation.

Paul claimed to be the chiefest of all sinners, and 1 John is clear that if anybody says he or she is not a sinner, then they are calling God a liar.  We will never achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, we can give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that one day He is coming back and He will change our corruptible bodies into that which is incorruptible. What a glorious day that will be.

The Little God Who Can’t

The Little God Who Can’timages

Is God unable to save everyone he loves?  Here’s more thought on a delicate subject.

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In reading about the life of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, one cannot help being struck by the enormity of what a failure it all was.  There were grand and glorious promises made to the Hebrew people about their life in their promised land, but the writings of Moses also contained prophecies about a crashing destruction that would come upon their nation in the end.  What was God doing?  Why would he create such a grand experiment in the life of humanity knowing that it would only end in failure and tragedy?  Was God unable to make such a great and elaborate plan a success rather than a failure?  The answer, of course, is made plain in the New Testament.  God’s full intention was to show and prove to all people that man has sinned against the God who made him and fully deserves eternal death.  It was and still is a hard lesson to learn.

In our world today man still has not fully understood what it was that the failure of Israel taught us — that man cannot save himself by being “good” and keeping laws — or even by making correct decisions. Even a large part of the Christian community today believes in a religious system that leaves the far greater part of humanity in a burning hell rather than “saved” because they have not “done” something to make themselves acceptable to God.

To many Christians today God is a failure. He means well, but He just can’t get what He wants. He supposedly wants to save the whole world of humanity from hell, but that obviously is not happening; and people that he (supposedly) dearly loves are being separated from him for eternity. Popular Christian belief today requires that a person must first hear the gospel, believe it, then repent and confess their sin.  Then they can become born again and go to heaven. The truth is , however, that for the first 4,000 years of human history there was no New Testament gospel as we have it today.  And even in modern times the greater part of the world’s population still has not heard it.

Has Israel’s failure to save themselves in Old Testament times now become God’s failure in our time?  The choice of heaven or hell is now (supposedly) in the hands of man. God is excluded from the contest (gamble). He wants everybody to be eternally “saved,” but the losses are terrible, and hell is filling up with unbelievers who do not choose God. What can God do? He is powerless. He made the rules and now He must abide by them. Will He grieve forever because people He loves are in a state of eternal torment? Is this the God we believe in?  Is something wrong?

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Radio Pastor Loren Henry Wilson

A CHRISTOTELIC VIEW OF DANIEL 9:24-27

What follows is an excellent approach to an optimum understanding of this famous but often Disp
misunderstood passage from God’s Word, written by Zachary Maxcey who blogs at Providence Theological Seminary Blog (http://nct-blog.ptsco.org/)

A Preliminary Plea for Tolerance in Non-Essential Eschatological Matters

Few areas of theological study ignite such heated controversy as eschatology. Sadly, on account of eschatological differences, Christians all too often hurl harsh, bitter invectives against those whom they would claim as their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Such behavior, not to mention the doctrinal divisions, both damages the public witness of the Body of Christ and significantly hinders the proclamation of the Gospel. In the words of the Apostle James, My brothers, this should not be  (James 3:10).[1] As believers in Christ, we must be able to lock arms together on all essential matters of the Christian faith, while agreeing to disagree in non-essential or disputable matters. We must remember that famous statement of Rupertus Meldenius, In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. [2] When we fail to do so, we stand in violation of Christ’s command to love one another as He loved us, an outworking of the second greatest commandment (John 13:34; Matt 22:39). As long as we accept the absolute essentials[3] of orthodox Christian eschatology, we can agree to disagree with fellow believers on such eschatological questions as the timing of the rapture, the issue of the millennium, or the Seventy Weeks prophecy. If we are unable to respectfully[4] differ in Christian love with fellow believers on these (and other) disputable matters, we, including this author, have absolutely no business communicating our eschatological opinions.

Download the 56 page document here: https://app.box.com/s/fmyp05zgs8t1b112nz52

What Does God say about Bioethics?

Christian Bioethics 517UykgR7dL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

A review by Stuart Brogden

This book, subtitled A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professional, and Families, is part of a series on Christian ethics published by B&H Publishing Group. I dare say anyone within each of those groups would be challenged to think more biblically about the relevant issues as well as being better informed by reading this book. In the preface, the series editor tells us the thesis of this book by asking this question: “How do we move from an ancient text like the Bible to twenty-first-century questions about organ transplants, stem-cell research, and human cloning?” This book, written by an ordained minister of the gospel (C. Ben Mitchell) and a physician (D. Joy Riley), gives solid counsel and these emotionally charged issues in 9 chapters, and is broken up into four parts: Christian Bioethics, Taking Life, Making Life, and Remaking/Faking Life. The format of each chapter is a look into a real life situation immersed in the subject, followed by questions for reflection, and Q & A between the authors. Other than a too frequent quoting of Roman Catholics as though that Church is Christian institution, this team provides solid insight from God’s Word on each of these topics.

Chapter 1 gives the reader an overview of the Hippocratic Oath which opened my eyes to the ancient context and false gods the oath was originally made to and the awareness that most doctors today do not subscribe to this oath, which we mostly know as the pledge to, First, do no harm. This was spelled out in explicit language that forbid euthanasia and abortion. The absence of a doctor’s oath to “do no harm” may cause a patient to wonder how much he can trust his doctor. In summing up this topic our physician author observes (page 22, italics in original) “Doctors should work hard to be trust-worthy and humble.” A few pages later (page 28), as they address stem-cell research, our minister reminds us, after quoting 2 Peter 1:3, “God has not left his people without guidance in every area of life. Although the Bible is not a science textbook, its message speaks to the deep underlying values that can guide decisions about scientific matters. Although the Bible is not manual of medicine, its truths may be applied to medical decision making.” This is a key perspective for every child of God to properly understand how to walk in the light of God’s Word. Much of the rest of chapter 2 is good advice for properly reading and understanding the Scriptures, taking into account literary, historical, and cultural context as well the genre of what is being read.

The chapter addressing abortion is sobering and probably eye-opening for most. The authors make a full-court press to establish the humanity of every life, starting from conception. Mitchell makes the essential connection between our view of Jesus and our view of humanity, developing the humanity of our Lord to show how every mortal is given value by the Creator – above all other life forms – from the time the egg is joined with a sperm. At the end of chapter 3, the authors exhort Christians to be active in opposing abortion and supporting life, but they draw no lines of getting involved with pro-life Roman Catholics. Christians must be deliberate and biblically thoughtful in deciding who to get cozy with in the public arena. The next chapter covers death and dying, providing thought-provoking observations about the details of pain and suffering and how one’s Christian world view informs us. A key element in handling the death of any person, they tell us, is to remember the patient (perhaps a close relative) is a human being, not merely a patient to be treated. “Much of the suffering of dying persons comes from being subtly treated as nonpersons.” (page 85) There is discussion of the efforts to extend life, even at the expense of that life being human. It is a long-held desire of fleshly human beings to grasp eternal life in our present form, without submitting to God’s revealed plan of redemption – which includes our death and resurrection. Being a faithful child of God includes how we approach death – do we trust our heavenly Father in our dying as did our Savior? Again, we get faithful advice (pages 100 & 101): “Through the resurrection of Christ, God has given us grounds to hope that death, however awful, will not have the last word.” Amen!

As they move from taking life to making life, the reader is presented with a biology lesson on how babies come into the world. They take this opportunity to reinforce the Christians view of anthropology (page 113): “Knowing that pregnancy occurs at fertilization rather than at implantation will help us make several important distinctions later.” They then cover several options medicine has provided for artificial this or that, discussing the line we cross regarding family integrity and God’s authority, observing (page 123), “When a third party intrudes on the procreative relationship, the divinely instituted structure of the family is altered. Trouble is bound to follow.” This may be unwelcome by some, who have such a great desire for a child that their love for the Word of God is overshadowed. All of us fall into this pit on one issue or another from time-to-time, so let us not rush to judgment.

The last part of this fine book covers the definition of death and the forces behind the changes we’ve seen in the last 50 years; organ donation and transplants; cloning and human/animal hybrids; and life extension practices. In this last category, we are introduced to trans-humanists, a group that wants to extent life in the human body and beyond. This was the topic of recent movie, Transcendence, which traced the consequences of a computer scientist whose “essence” was transferred into a powerful computer he had built. It gets very ugly before it ends. In summing up how we who profess Christ ought to look at aging, Mitchell provides a contrast between Christians and Trans-humanists (page 181): “Interestingly, the trans-humanists and Christians seem to have some common concerns. We share:

  • The quest for the good life.
  • Longing for immortality
  • Pursuit of the relief of human suffering
  • Appreciation for technology’s benefits.

Where we differ is in the mean to achieve these aims. For Christians the good life and the goods of life are found in God and his presence in our lives. The good life is not defined by the number of years one lives but the reality of God’s presence in however many years one lives. While we, like the apostle Paul, long for immortality, Christians understand that they already possess it. … Another place we differ with the trans-humanist is in loathing every human limitation. Because we are creatures and nor creators, we accept most limitations as gifts from the One who made us.”

And while there is much more in this book that will do the reader much good, I think that is a wonderful point on which to end this review. Christian – are you content with our God’s provision in your life? Do we think we deserve better than YHWH has given us? To quote the Apostle, “Who are you, oh man, to answer back to the One who made you thus?” Let us, as did the Lord Jesus, trust ourselves to the One who judges justly. Trust God, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. In living and dying – and all that comes between those two finite points.

A Lesson on Gratitude

A wonderful look at Christian gratitude from a dear friend of mine. You can read more of his work here: By Way of Reminder.

By Way of Reminder #83 Reminder
Gratitude (2/5)

On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying … “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:1, 6-7)

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)

In the previous issue we contemplated the end of our days on Earth, hoping we will look back and see how His word inspired us to action. Though we do not work to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth, our work in this life ought to be an example of what we consider important for the next. We must trust Scripture to stand as truth while many try to discredit His plan, words, and character.


All of the most popular religious beliefs (except agnostics) teach some form of afterlife. Protestants and pagans alike have been guilty of teaching that everyone will end up…somewhere. Hey, if it’s better than this life, why should we care to know more? Heaven is merely a relief from pain: “They are in a better place.”

I am grateful that Heaven is not just better than this life, but because our Lord is there! After the shaking of these dusty dwellings, the church will be together at last (Hebrews 11:40). The innumerable redeemed from every nation and tongue will finally look upon the King of Kings, face-to-face (Revelation 7:9-12).


The heart of man, raging against God, desires to put trust in a system of ever-evolving truths, rather than be accountable to one constant. This self-refuting way of life does not end in truth, nor does it give aid in times of uncertainty. “Science” is heralded as a system of religion, instead of cataloged hypotheses.

I am so grateful that God does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), nor does He excuse a sideways glance at His nature, His image, His name, nor His day(Exodus 20:1-11). This is grace, to command our attention (Hebrews 12:1-2) that we might not lose hope as we strive toward home (Philippians 3:12-14).


One of the most potent arguments against God is the exactness that exists in observable movements of space and time. Some reason that “winding the clock back” to the beginning of time would provide ample evidence that everything started with a bang, not a purposeful, inspired event by a sovereign Creator.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7, emphasis mine)

I am grateful, because His Kingdom stands just as He commands, just as He sustains all things (Colossians 1:17). Even the skeptics are being preserved by His word, that He might exact His plans. Contrary to what man thinks he knows,Yahweh of the Bible preserves clear instructions, commands, and evidences of His character within the pages of Scripture, and for our good (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Do justly. Love kindness. Walk humbly. Stay tuned.

In Christ,

CK Hicks

“I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” (2 Pt. 1:12)

Copyright © 2014 CKHicks.com, All rights reserved.

Divine Sovereignty

There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty.

Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.

There is nothing for which the children of God should more earnestly contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation—the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they kick around the most, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah.

Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne.

They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow Him to be in His position as Giver to dispense His gifts and bestow His blessings. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and uphold its pillars, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean.

But when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And when we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter—that is when men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when He sits with His sceptre in His hand and His crown upon His head.

But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.

Read more sermons by Spurgeon at Blue Letter Bible.