Friday, April 21, 2017, 9:10 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 5:12-32 (NIV).
Believers in Jesus (vv. 12-16)
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Jesus Christ, when he walked this earth, was fully God yet fully man. He lived a sinless life, although he was tempted in like manner as we are tempted. He suffered much like we suffer, too. He was despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows and familiar with grief. Although he did no wrong to anyone, and only did what was good, merciful, kind, loving, gracious, forgiving, righteous and just, many rejected him, and others hated him and were jealous of him, in particular the religious leaders in the temple. And, so they plotted how they might take his life. They arranged for him to be crucified on a cross, and yet this was his purpose for coming to earth, to die for us, and to take upon himself our sins and our punishment.
Yet, he did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead, and about 40 days later, after appearing to many of his followers, he ascended back to heaven. And, then he sent his Holy Spirit to the earth to indwell the hearts and lives of those who had put their faith and trust in him. When we put our faith in him as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we die with him to sin and we live with him to righteousness. We leave our old lives of sin behind us, and we now walk in his Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh, not that we are now perfect, but that sin is no longer our master. By the Spirit, we are now putting to death the deeds of our flesh and we are growing in the grace of the Lord Jesus, and we are learning what it means to follow him in faith, in service, in love and in ministry.
Collectively, believers in Jesus are his body, the temple of God, the church. As the church, we meet together for mutual edification and encouragement, that we might help one another in our walks of faith. We are each gifted of the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts and we are each given assignments of God within the body which we are to fulfill for the furtherance of the gospel and for the building up of the body of Christ in faith and in service. Every one of us has a part in the body. Idealistically, this is how it is supposed to work.
Yet, not all church gatherings are accepting of all these parts, or the gifts of the Spirit (biblically exercised), and not all church gatherings are actually meeting together as God intended, but they have turned the church into big business and are making the world their target audience. Thus, they often pattern their meetings in a way which will attract the world and that will keep the world coming back, and so it isn’t Christ’s body, but a gathering of all people, and thus many of the body parts are not being given a place to do their assignments within the church gatherings, or to use their gifts to mutually edify one another. And, this is intentional, and was plotted by our enemy, Satan, in order to destroy the church.
They Were Jealous (vv. 17-24)
Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
In America, it has not yet come to this, but it won’t be long, I believe. Not many are arrested here for their faith or for their testimonies for Christ, but that is not to say that some of us are not being persecuted. We are. And, we are being rejected, hated, judged unfairly, slandered, ignored, and cast aside because we take God and his Word seriously, and because we go against the flow, and we don’t do what the majority are doing, because they are following after humans, and they are diluting the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world.
Many of us have left the institutional church, because our Lord showed us that this is not his church. His church is not a corporation under the headship of the US government. His church is a living organism under the headship of Christ. But, this is not to say that we are forsaking the assembling of ourselves. We may just be doing it in non-conventional ways, such as via the internet and Christian discussion sites where we can meet together with other believers for mutual edification. So much of what is called “church” isn’t the church anymore, and it has become more about entertaining the world and soft-pedaling the gospel, so we don’t really belong there, and some of us have been told to “go someplace else.”
So, our enemy Satan may think he has defeated us now, but God is still in control. Amen? He can make a way where there seems to be no way. He will see to it that his body parts have a place to use the gifts he has given to them, just maybe not in traditional ways. Where men may close doors in our faces, God can open doors which no man can shut. God is not bound by man’s limitations they put on him. He is still a miracle working God. If he wants us to share the gospel with others, he can make a way despite what men might do to try to stop us. His purposes will not be thwarted!
We Must Obey God! (vv. 25-32)
Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Satan’s goal is to stop the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel Jesus and his apostles taught, that is. So, he has infiltrated the gatherings of the church, and he has convinced church leaders to dilute the gospel in order to grow their “churches.” So, they have persuaded many people that just being nice to people is good enough, i.e. that doing good deeds for others is spreading the gospel of Jesus. Now, good deeds are important, as faith without works is useless. But anyone of any religion can do good deeds, and that is the point, for this is all leading to the one-world religion where we join with the world in harmony and we accept all religions and all walks of life, and we don’t say anything that will offend anyone. But, the cross is an offense to those who are perishing.
So, there is a lot of pressure now within the institutional church to conform to the world and to not make waves, and for everyone to go the same direction, only the direction is the broad road leading to destruction, not the narrow way leading to eternal life. Many preachers have made the path to eternal life so broad that all anyone has to do is just say they receive God’s grace, so why wouldn’t anyone want to do that? But, that isn’t what the Word teaches. God exalted Jesus to his right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring people to repentance (turning from sin) and forgive their sins. That is why he died, after all, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, who is given the Holy Spirit? Those who obey him.
Today’s modern church says God does not require repentance or obedience, but they are dead wrong! So, don’t let them convince you otherwise. Don’t be intimidated by those who are trying to tell you that you are just weird or crazy if you follow Jesus in obedience, and if you take his Word to heart. Just keep on following him, and keep on teaching the full gospel message, and don’t give way to pressure to dilute the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world. Yes, it will mean you will be hated and persecuted, but people’s lives depend on us telling them the truth.
Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.
Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.
Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.
Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.
Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.
Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.
Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?
Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.