THE NEW TESTAMENT

” For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon
me; for woe is me if I preach not the gospel”— Paul— 1 Cor. 9: 16.

SERMON OUTLINES ON ACTS

By C. C. Crawford

MANY seem to have the impression that the books
of the New Testament just got together in some
mysterious manner. However, such an idea is false.
They are arranged in logical sequence. Matthew is
first because it ought to be first ; and Revelation is last
because it ought to be last. The books of the New
Testament arrange themselves, according to theme and
purpose, into four divisions.

1. Biography. The first thing that the sinner must
do is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the
living God. The first four books are arguments de-
signed to prove this central point of Christianity.
They have erroneously been styled “The Four Gos-
pels.” In reality, they are arguments to prove the
facts of the one gospel — the death, burial and resur-
rection of Jesus (John 20:30, 31; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).

a. Matthew shows how Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the
prophecies of the Old Testament and is therefore the
long-expected Messiah. Matthew writes to the Jew.

b. Mark writes to the Roman. The Roman loved
power and authority. He was a maker of law. Hence
Mark deals primarily with the wonderful miracles per-
formed by Jesus, demonstrating that He is the Son of
God because of His miraculous power, and should be
worshiped as the one to whom all authority has been
given in heaven and upon earth.

c. The Greek loved perfection of body and soul. He
appreciated the beautiful. Hence, Luke shows that
Jesus is the Christ by reason of His perfect humanity,
or perfection of life and character. Luke writes to the
Greek.

d. John was the bosom companion of the Master.
He reclined upon the Saviour’s bosom at the Last Sup-
per (John 13:23). To his safe-keeping Jesus com-
mitted His mother from the summit of the cross (John
19: 26, 27). He wrote at a later period than the other
three writers. He deals with the wonderful mysteries
connected with the inner spiritual life of the Master.
John writes to the later world.

Note the air of expectancy that prevails at the close
of each book (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:13-20; Luke
24:45-49; John 16:7-13; 17:20, 21). These passages
point forward to the descent of the Spirit, the preach-
ing of the gospel, and the baptizing of believers in the
name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All of this
we find in the subsequent book — Acts of Apostles.

2. History. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the
Son of God, the sinner now inquires what he must do
to be saved. This he finds in the next book, Acts of
Apostles, which records the more important cases of
conversion under the preaching of the apostles: The
apostles, we must remember, were guided into all truth
by the Holy Spirit ; and were but instruments used by
Him to speak the will of Christ as He brought things
to their remembrance. The Holy Spirit has always
been the great Revelator of the divine will towards
man. The sinner notes carefully what was preached by

the apostles, what they required sinners to do to be
saved, what was done in each ease and just how it was
done. Especially does he study the story of the con-
version of the eunuch — in which the process of conver-
sion is made so plain that all doubt is removed as to
what a man must do, under the gospel, to receive remis-
sion of sins and go on his way rejoicing. He notes
what the eunuch did and how he did it. He notes that
all who came into the church under the preaching of
the apostles came in the same way — by obedience to the
same terms of pardon. He turns from his evil way and
is baptized into Christ.

3. Instruction in service. Now that he is in Christ,
in the body of Christ, his sins blotted out, fully sancti-
fied, justified in the sight of God, he inquires what he
must do to please God and lead a Christian life. So he
reads the twenty-one letters of the apostles, some of
them special, and some general. He finds them all
addressed to Christians, to those who are in Christ,
instructing them as to what to do to serve God in spirit
and in truth. He finds them full of doctrine, reproof,
correction and instruction in righteousness. They tell
him what to do to keep in the strait and narrow way
that leads to everlasting joy.

4. Prophecy. Old age comes on. He realizes that
he is soon to go down the dark valley and cross the
Jordan of death. He desires to know something about
that eternal home towards which he has been journey-
ing. He turns to the last book — Revelation. There
he finds a splendid picture of the destiny of the
church, of the day of judgment, and of the home of
the soul. This is the consolation that he needs. Rev.
22:14.

 

What a wonderful book! It finds man groping in
the darkness of sin’s domination. It turns him to
Christ, the Lamb of God, who was slain for the sins of
the world. It tells him what to do to be saved and
what to do to keep saved. It shows him what to ex-
pect in his eternal home. It meets the wants of a man’s
spiritual nature in the order in which they manifest
themselves. Thus we can see the logical sequence of the
books of the New Testament (Heb. 8).