Friday, July 31, 2009

The "ABCs" of Acts

When I was a student at Lipscomb University back in the mid 90s, Dr. Gerald Fulks, one of the Finance/Economics professors, taught a class every semester on personal evangelism. During that class, he made the argument that it was essential to have a good recollection of the main ideas of the book of Acts when attempting to teach someone God's plan of salvation.

In keeping with this, Dr. Fulks presented the concept of the ABC Outline as a tool for remembering the key points of each chapter. It works by matching the sequence of the alphabet with the sequence of each chapter (i.e. Chapter 1 = A, Chapter 2 = B, and so on). For each chapter, we were encouraged to come up with a keyword that captures the main idea, and also begins with the designated letter.

This has been a powerful tool for me, and is something that I have shared with a number of classes through the years. I've always challenged my students to come up with their own keywords, and the following chart contains some of the best from these classes and from my original notes at Lipscomb. I hope this is something you can use, and please let me know if you have any good ideas for alternative keywords.

The Acts ABC Outline
Chapter - (Letter) Keywords


Chapter 1 - (A) Ascension
*Christ ascended to heaven

Chapter 2 - (B) Birth (of the church), Beginning, Baptized
*Beginning of the church at Pentecost
*3000 were baptized

Chapter 3 - (C) Cripple (cure)
*Peter and John heal the lame man at the gate

Chapter 4 - (D) Dungeon
*High Priest placed Peter and John in Prison

Chapter 5 - (E) Evil (enters the church)
*Annanias and Sapphira

Chapter 6 - (F) Feed the Families, False Witnesses, Face (of an angel)
*Feeding of the Grecian widows (7 deacons)
*False witnesses were called against Stephen
*Stephen’s face appeared as the face of an angel

Chapter 7 - (G) Glory of God
*Stephen saw the Glory of God (heaven)

Chapter 8 - (H) Havok, Holy Spirit, Humiliation, Hear
*Saul persecutes the church
*Holy Spirit comes to the Samaritans
*Simon is humiliated
*Eunuch hears the word of Jesus from Philip

Chapter 9 - (I) I AM, Instrument, Inauguration
*Saul’s conversion (Christ says “I am Jesus”)
*Saul was to be God’s instrument to the Gentiles
*Saul’s inauguration to apostleship

Chapter 10 - (J) Joppa (Journey to), Justice
*Conversion of Cornelius (Peter in Joppa)
*Justice to the Gentiles

Chapter 11 - (K) Kinsmen
*Peter defends his actions to his Jewish brothers

Chapter 12 - (L) Life - 1, Life - 2, Loosen
*Herod kills James the apostle
*Herod’s life is taken by the angel of the Lord
*Angel loosened the chains of Peter

Chapter 13 - (M) Missionary
*Paul’s first missionary journey

Chapter 14 - (N) New Organization
*Established elders

Chapter 15 - (O) Opposed - 1, Opposed - 2
*Opposing of false teachers (end of 1st MJ)
*Opposing of Barnabas (beg of 2nd MJ)

Chapter 16 - (P) Purple, Philippi
*Conversion of Lydia
*Conversion of Philippian jailer

Chapter 17 - (Q) Quest (for knowledge)
*Athens – Alter to unknown god

Chapter 18 - (R) Rome
*Aquilla and Pricilla chased out of Rome

Chapter 19 - (S) Silversmith
*Diana – goddess of the Ephesians

Chapter 20 - (T) Troas, Tragic
*Tarried 7 days to break bread with church
*Death of Eutucus – False teachers enter the church

Chapter 21 - (U) Uninformed
*Paul accused of bringing Gentile into the temple

Chapter 22 - (V) Victory
*Paul recounts his conversion

Chapter 23 - (W) Wisdom
*Conspiracy to kill Paul – foiled by commander

Chapter 24 - (X) FeliX
*Paul appears before Felix

Chapter 25 - (Y) Yield
*Paul would not Yield to be tried in Jerusalem, but instead appealed to Caesar.

Chapters 26-28 - (Z) Z-end of the book

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)

21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

I think that most of us who spend any time reading the Bible have a favorite passage of scripture. For me, it is Romans 3:21-26, because this passage reveals God’s great mystery of redemption, and answers one of the most pivotal questions of the entire Bible: “Why did Jesus have to die?” Perhaps we sometimes allow ourselves to think that certainly God could have come up with a different way. However, Paul explains here how God in his infinite wisdom overcame what to most would seem like an impossible dilemma.

If our transgressions truly separate us from God (v. 23), then how could God freely give salvation (v. 24) without trivializing sin? If God simply forgave us of our failings, without a payment being made, then sin would have no weight. The only way was to offer Himself, through His Son, as the sacrifice for our sins (v. 25). With this plan, God ensured that justice was served and that salvation could be given to mankind as a free gift through His grace (vv. 24 & 26)

However, this gift is only available to those who have faith in the one who made the payment for us (vv. 22, 25-26). “Faith in Jesus Christ” specifies the necessary object of our faith, Jesus Christ, and indicates that one has dedicated their life to following the will of God and His Son.

Follow-up: What is your favorite scripture, and why?


Lord, we recognize you as being the author of our salvation through the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ. We praise you for the free gift of grace that you pour out on all those who have faith in your Son. Please help us to fully understand the significance of His payment, and to never take it for granted. Please give us the courage to take the good news about your Son to a lost and dying world. In your Son’s most holy name, Amen.