The Church Acts | The Starting Line

The Church Acts | The Starting Line
Lee Reams

THE CHURCH ACTS | THE STARTING LINE |  LINK TO TEACHING PDF  | LINK TO TEACHING VIDEO

INTRODUCTION | THE GREATEST RACE | Seabiscuit Vs. War Admiral

Seabiscuit was the perfect horse for his time.

He did not look the part of a great racehorse. He was relatively small and knobby-kneed with a laid-back demeanor that suggested he would much rather sleep than step into the starting gate. It appeared he could not run a lick when he dropped the first 17 starts of his career, leaving him as the butt of bad jokes in his own barn.

But a change of hands to unlikely connections would ultimately transform Seabiscuit into a much-needed star, a source of hope when one was desperately needed during the Great Depression.

As an article published on April 27, 1940 in the Saturday Evening Post read: “Seabiscuit is the Horatio Alger hero of the turf, the horse that came up from nothing on his own courage and will to win.”

His climb from nowhere to notoriety only enhanced his appeal at a time when suffering men, women and children looked for something, anything, to cling to. Who could not want to embrace a horse that finally won on his 18th try? Who would not want to reach out to a horse that was available three times for the modest price of $2,500 as a 2-year-old but went untouched?

He would race 35 times as a 2-year-old – an unheard of grind these days – and produce five wins with seven second-place finishes. He would win only four of his next 12 starts for his trainer, the acclaimed James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, before car salesman Charles Howard purchased him for $8,000 and entrusted him to a much lesser-known conditioner, Tom Smith.

Smith was known for his unorthodox methods, but they struck a chord in Seabiscuit. Smith sensed the greatness that was there, and he and new rider Red Pollard made sure to bring it out of him. Victories soon followed in the Detroit Governor’s Handicap and the Scarsdale Handicap at old Empire City Racetrack in Yonkers, N.Y. When Seabiscuit shipped by train to California in the autumn of 1936, he capped his turnaround 3-year-old season with impressive victories in the Bay Bridge Handicap and the World’s Fair Handicap.

Seabiscuit suffered a devastating setback, finishing second by a nose to Rosemont, in the Santa Anita Handicap early in 1937 in a defeat that endeared him to the public all the more. It turned out that Pollard never saw Rosemont surging because he was blind in one eye due to a riding accident during training hours, a fact he had kept hidden.

Howard remained unwavering in his loyalty to Pollard. He was rewarded when “the Biscuit” swept 11 of his 15 starts and finished the year as the leading money earner in the United States only to lose the  Horse of the Year title to War Admiral, a Triple Crown winner that season.

That set the stage for those two giants to meet. It was only a matter of where and when. For various reasons, the much-anticipated match race did not occur until Nov. 1, 1938. War Admiral, with his blistering early speed, was heavily favored in what was hailed as the “Match of the Century.”

Seabiscuit, with George Woolf replacing the injured Pollard, would have none of that. Smith had been secretly training Seabiscuit to break sharply when he heard the starting bell and to display early speed he had never flashed before. Approximately 40,000 fans at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course and another 40-million fans who listened intently on radio followed in disbelief as “the Biscuit” took early command.

As Pollard instructed him to do, Woolf gave his horse a breather down the backstretch, allowing War Admiral to fully engage him. Pollard was sure “the people’s champion” would respond by fighting as if his life depended on it. And so it was that Woolf experienced a tremendous surge as his mount eyeballed the Triple Crown champion and roared off to dominate the 1 3/16-mile contest by four lengths.

“The Biscuit” was named Horse of the Year in 1938, the highlight of a rags-to-riches 89-race career that allowed him to finish as the all-time leading earner with $437,730 in purse money. He was retired to Ridgewood Ranch in California. In a testament to his popularity, Seabiscuit entertained more than 50,000 visitors in the seven years he spent there before he died.

During hard times when spirits needed raising, “the Biscuit” surely did his part. https://www.americasbestracing.net/the-sport/2016-seabiscuit-true-rags-riches-story

Seabiscuit soundly defeats War Admiral in a match race at Pimlico in November 1938. (Joe Fleischer/Blood-Horse photo)

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 NIV

23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

TEACHING TEXT | ACTS 1:1-26

ACTS 1:1-26 NLT 1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. 13 When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.

Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

15 During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. 16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

18 (Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. 19 The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— 22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.

THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT | ACTS 1:1-5 NLT

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:1,2

1, 2. former treatise–Luke’s Gospel. 

began to do and teach–a very important statement, dividing the work of Christ into two great branches: the one embracing His work on earth, the other His subsequent work from heaven; the one in His own Person, the other by His Spirit; the one the “beginning,” the other the continuance of the same work; the one complete when He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, the other to continue till His second appearing; the one recorded in “The Gospels,” the beginnings only of the other related in this book of “The Acts.” “Hence the grand history of what Jesus did and taught does not conclude with His departure to the Father; but Luke now begins it in a higher strain; for all the subsequent labors of the apostles are just an exhibition of the ministry of the glorified Redeemer Himself because they were acting under His authority, and He was the principle that operated in them all” [OLSHAUSEN]. http://www.biblestudytools.com/

 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:2

2. after that he, through the Holy Ghost, had given commandments, &c.–referring to the charge recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 , 16:15-18 , Luke 24:44-49 . It is worthy of notice that nowhere else are such communications of the risen Redeemer said to have been given “through the Holy Ghost.” In general, this might have been said of all He uttered and all He did in His official character; for it was for this very end that God “gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him” ( John 3:34 ). But after His resurrection, as if to signify the new relation in which He now stood to the Church, He signalized His first meeting with the assembled disciples by breathing on them (immediately after dispensing to them His peace) and saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” ( John 20:22 ) thus anticipating the donation of the Spirit from His hands and on the same principle His parting charges are here said to have been given “through the Holy Ghost,” as if to mark that He was now all redolent with the Spirit; that what had been husbanded, during His suffering work, for His own necessary uses, had now been set free, was already overflowing from Himself to His disciples, and needed but His ascension and glorification to flow all… http://www.biblestudytools.com/

During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:3-5

3-5. showed himself alive–As the author is about to tell us that “the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” was the great burden of apostolic preaching, so the subject is here filly introduced by an allusion to the primary evidence on which that great fact rests, the repeated and undeniable manifestations of Himself in the body to the assembled disciples, who, instead of being predisposed to believe it, had to be overpowered by the resistless evidence of their own senses, and were slow of yielding even to this ( Mark 16:14 ). 

after his passion–or, suffering. This primary sense of the word “passion” has fallen into disuse; but it is nobly consecrated in the phraseology of the Church to express the Redeemer’s final endurances. 

seen of them forty days–This important specification of time occurs here only. 

speaking of–rather “speaking.” 

the things pertaining to the kingdom of God–till now only in germ, but soon to take visible form; the earliest and the latest burden of His teaching on earth…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:4

4. should not depart from Jerusalem–because the Spirit was to glorify the existing economy, by descending on the disciples at its metropolitan seat, and at the next of its great festivals after the ascension of the Church’s Head; in order that “out of Zion might go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” ( Isaiah 2:3 ; and compare Luke 24:49 ).…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:5

5. ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence–ten days hence, as appears fromLeviticus 23:15 Leviticus 23:16 ; but it was expressed thus indefinitely to exercise their faith..…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

THE ASCENSION OF JESUS | ACTS 1:6-11 NLT

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:6-8

6-8. wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?–Doubtless their carnal views of Messiah’s kingdom had by this time been modified, though how far it is impossible to say. But, as they plainly looked for some restoration of the kingdom to Israel, so they are neither rebuked nor contradicted on this point..…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:7

7. It is not for you to know the times, &c.–implying not only that this was not the time, but that the question was irrelevant to their present business and future work..…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:8

8. receive power–See Luke 24:49 . 

and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . in Jerusalem . . . in all Judea . . . and unto the uttermost part of the earth–This order of apostolic preaching and success supplies the proper key to the plan of the Acts,which relates first the progress of the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria” (the first through ninth chapters), and then “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (the tenth through twenty-eighth chapters)..…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:9-11

9-11. while they beheld, he was taken up–(See on Lu 24:50-53 ). Lest it should be thought He had disappeared when they were looking in some other direction, and so was only concluded to have gone up to heaven, it is here expressly said that “while they were looking He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” So Elijah, “If thou see me when I am taken from thee” ( 2 Kings 2:10 ); “And Elisha saw it” ( Acts 1:12 ).…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:10

10. while they looked steadfastly toward heaven–following Him with their eager eyes, in rapt amazement. Not, however, as a mere fact is this recorded, but as a part of that resistless evidence of their senses on which their whole subsequent testimony was to be borne. 

two men in white apparel–angels in human form, as in Luke 24:4 .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:11

11. Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, &c.–“as if your now glorified Head were gone from you never to return: He is coming again; not another, but ‘this same Jesus’; and ‘as ye have seen Him go, in the like manner shall He come’–as personally, as visibly, as gloriously; and let the joyful expectation of this coming swallow up the sorrow of that departure.”…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

RETURN OF THE ELEVEN TO JERUSALEM–PROCEEDINGS IN THE UPPER ROOM TILL PENTECOST.

MATTHIAS REPLACES JUDAS | ACTS 1:12-26 NLT

ACTS 1:12-26 NLT 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. 

13 When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.

Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:13

13. went up into an upper room–perhaps the same “large upper room” where with their Lord they had celebrated the last Passover and the first Supper ( Luke 22:12 ). 

where abode–not lodged, but had for their place of rendezvous. 

Peter,…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:14

14. continued with one accord–knit by a bond stronger than death. 

in prayer and supplication–for the promised baptism, the need of which in their orphan state would be increasingly felt. 

and Mary the mother of Jesus–distinguished from the other “women,” but “so as to exclude the idea of her having any pre-eminence over the disciples. We find her with the rest in prayer to her glorified Son” [WEBSTER and WILKINSON]. This is the last mention of her in the New Testament. The fable of the Assumption of the Virgin has no foundation even in tradition [ALFORD]. 

with his brethren–(See on Matthew 16:19 ).…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

15 During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:15-26

15-26. in those days–of expectant prayer, and probably towards the close of them, when the nature of their future work began more clearly to dawn upon them, and the Holy Ghost, already “breathed” on the Eleven ( John 20:22 ), was stirring in Peter, who was to be the leading spirit of the infant community ( Matthew 16:19 ).
the number . . . about an hundred and twenty–Many, therefore, of the “five hundred brethren” who saw their risen Lord “at once” ( 1 Corinthians 15:6 ), must have remained in Galilee.

http://www.biblestudytools.com/

16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 

17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

18 (Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:18

18. falling headlong, &c.–This information supplements, but by no means contradicts, what is said inMatthew 27:5 .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

19 The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”)

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:20

20. his bishopric–or “charge.” The words are a combination of Psalms 69:25 and Psalms 109:8 ; in which the apostle discerns a greater than David, and a worse than Ahithophel and his fellow conspirators against David..…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:22

21. all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–in the close intimacies of a three years’ public life. .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:22

22. Beginning from the baptism of John–by whom our Lord was not only Himself baptized, but first officially announced and introduced to his own disciples.
unto that same day when he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection–How clearly is the primary office of the apostles here expressed: (1) to testify, from personal observation, to the one great fact of “the resurrection of the Lord Jesus”; (2) to show how this glorified His whole previous life, of which they were constant observers, and established His divine claims. .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:23

23. they appointed–“put up” in nomination; meaning not the Eleven but the whole company, of whom Peter was the spokesman.
two–The choice would lie between a very few. .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:24

24. prayed and said, Thou, Lord, &c.–“The word ‘Lord,’ placed absolutely, denotes in the New Testament almost universally THE SON; and the words, ‘Show whom Thou hast chosen,’ are decisive. The apostles are just Christ’s messengers: It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear witness. Here, therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered to the exalted Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of His divinity” [OLSHAUSEN].
which knowest the hearts of all men–See John 2:24 John 2:25 , 21:15-17 , Revelation 2:23 . .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:25

25. that he might go to his own place–A euphemistic or softened expression of the awful future of the traitor, implying not only destined habitation but congenial element. .…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.

COMMENTARY | ACTS 1:26

26. was numbered–“voted in” by general suffrage.
with the eleven apostles–completing the broken Twelve.

.…http://www.biblestudytools.com/

THE CHURCH ACTS | SO WHAT NOW

Point | Jesus Left So That We The Church Can Become Christ To Others

PRAYER |

NEXT UP | THEY’VE JUST BEGUN | DAY OF PENTECOST (SEPTEMBER 24)

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