Monday, January 08, 2007

Jesus' bold church (part 4)

For the last three posts, I have been quoting Scripture without comment to demonstrate Jesus’ bold church as recorded in the book of Acts which provides early church history. Today, I will briefly comment on selected portions of the previous nights’ quotes.
“But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4: 19-20 (NIV) This is a basic concept for all Christians. If there is a conflict between what the law of man is and the commands of GOD, we, as Christians, must obey the commands of GOD. We also must speak out against the evil being perpetuated by man. We should not; we can not remain silent when man is violating the WILL of GOD. Are we speaking out today against the evil practices of man as denounced by GOD? Of course, to do so according to GOD’S TRUTH, we need to KNOW GOD’S TRUTH.  
“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them…. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.’” Acts 4: 24 and 29 [originally quoted Acts 4: 23-29] (NIV) Christians recognized that GOD created the universe and all that is within. We must do the same and we must not allow man to lie about the creation of the universe. We also need to pray and to pray for boldness to speak and teach GOD’S HOLY WORD to a non-believing world. Boldness is ours through GOD if we want it!    
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filed with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4: 31 (NIV) GOD does answer pray! GOD will give us boldness to teach and preach his WORD if we want it and ask in prayer for it.
“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 the full message of this new life.’
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.” Acts 5: 20-21a [originally quoted Acts 5: 17-21a] (NIV) GOD provides the help his people need to withstand persecution. Christians are commanded to tell the FULL message of JESUS the CHRIST and to tell the TRUE message of JESUS the CHRIST.
     “‘We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’” Acts 5: 29b-32 [originally quoted Acts 5: 27-32] (NIV) Christians must obey GOD when in conflict with man. JESUS is the only SAVIOR for mankind regardless of  the claims of others; regardless of what other religions claim. The SON of GOD is the only hope for mankind. Mankind needs to repent; mankind must repent to receive forgiveness. All Christians must obey GOD. All Christians who obey GOD have the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT.      
     “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 5: 41- 42 [originally quoted Acts 5: 40-42] (NIV) To suffer for teaching and preaching GOD’S WORD is something to rejoice about. Regardless of any suffering, it is our responsibility and duty to continually teach that JESUS is the CHRIST and that salvation is only through HIM.
     “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Acts 8: 4 (NIV) No matter where we are; no matter how we got there; we are to continually preach the WORD of GOD to a lost and dying world.  It is a lost and dying world that does not like to be told that it is a lost and dying world.
     “He told them how Saul (also named Paul—my addition) on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
     So Saul (known as Paul—my addition) stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of Jesus.” Acts 9: 27b-28 [originally quoted Acts 9: 26-28] (NIV) The apostle Paul is a prime example of fearless Christianity as recorded in the book of Acts. Paul had originally persecuted Christians for their faith. Paul watched Stephen be stoned to death and consented to his murder. Paul had turned to JESUS the CHRIST and been baptized into HIS NAME. Paul taught and preached fearlessly about JESUS being the SAVIOR of the world. Paul spoke boldly proclaiming that JESUS is LORD and SAVIOR.
     “’He (JESUS—my addition) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.’” Acts 10: 42 [originally quoted Acts 10: 39-42] (NIV) The apostle Peter, who is speaking in this passage, as well as other Christians was commanded to preach and to testify that JESUS will judge all of mankind.      
“Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the word of God to you (the Jews—my addition) first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles…. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” Acts 13: 46 and 49 [originally quoted Acts 46-49] (NIV) Here is recorded another instance of Christians speaking boldly. This passage also tells that men can and do reject the WORD of GOD and by doing so they determine that they are not worthy of eternal life. It is mankind who rejects eternal life. It is their choice. GOD does not force mankind to be obedient to HIM. We have the freedom to reject GOD.  However, that rejection means those who do are also rejecting eternal life. Rejection of eternal life is the ultimate price to pay for rejecting GOD! Speaking boldly will spread the WORD of GOD, it does not guarantee that mankind with accept the WORD of GOD. The responsibility of Christians is to spread the WORD. Mankind has the responsibility to accept or reject that WORD.    
“But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord….” Acts 14: 2-3a [originally quoted Acts 14: 1-3a] (NIV) Another example of difficulties cause by those who reject GOD’S WORD. Another example of speaking boldly for GOD regardless of the difficulties present.
“ … But now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man (JESUS—my addition) he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him (JESUS—my addition) from the dead.’” Acts 17: 30b-31 [originally quoted Acts 17: 30-31] (NIV) All mankind is commanded to repent. All mankind will be judged by JESUS and judged justly by JESUS. The raising of JESUS from the dead is GODLY proof of the TRUTH that JESUS is the CHRIST.
“He (Apollos—my addition) began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
     When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” Acts 18: 26-28 [originally quoted Acts 18: 24-28 (NIV) Another example of a Christian boldly teaching about JESUS and a Christian using the Scriptures to prove that JESUS is the CHRIST. The Scriptures as the WORD of GOD revealed to man is our source for knowing GOD and JESUS the CHRIST.  
     “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God…. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Acts 19: 8 and 10 [originally quoted Acts 19: 8-10] (NIV) By boldly proclaiming the WORD of GOD over time the WORD of GOD will spread. GOD uses Christians to spread the WORD. Mankind does not receive the WORD by osmosis. The WORD must be spread by Christians who are obediently following GOD.
     “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” Acts 19: 20 (NIV) The WORD of GOD spreads through Christians boldly proclaiming the WORD of GOD.
     “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20: 20- 21 [originally quoted Acts 20: 17-21] (NIV) Paul declares that he boldly taught the WORD, taught it individually from house to house over a period of time, and taught once again that repentance is necessary as well as faith in JESUS.
     “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.’” Acts 20: 26-27 [originally quoted Acts 20: 25-27] (NIV) When Christians boldly proclaim the whole WILL of GOD they have fulfilled their responsibility to GOD in this area. Christians have the responsibility to proclaim the WORD. Christians can not hear the WORD for others. Christians can not have faith for others. Christians can not repent for others. Christians can not confess that JESUS is LORD and SAVIOR for others. Christians can not be baptized into CHRIST for others.  Christians can not be obedient to GOD’S WILL for others. The responsibility of Christians is to proclaim GOD’S WORD to a sinful world. Each person must make his own choice after that.      
     “’I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!’”
     “’Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.’” Acts 20: 29-30 and 32 [originally quoted Acts 20: 29-32 (NIV) Unfortunately, Satan does not rest even if we do. There will always be those who claim to be Christian who will distort GOD’S TRUTH and lie trying to persuade people to turn from GOD and not accept HIS HOLY TRUTH. Christians must be ever on guard against the deceitfulness of  Satan and help unbelievers know the difference between GOD’S TRUTH and the lies and distortions of the world. Christians must teach the TRUTH as given in GOD’S WORD.
     “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, ‘The Lord’s will be done.’” Acts 21: 13b-14 [originally quoted Acts 21: 12-14] (NIV) Christians must be ready and willing to die, if necessary, to teach and proclaim GOD’S WORD.
     “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28: 31 [originally quoted Acts 28: 30-31] (NIV) The very last sentence in the book of Acts declares that the WORD of GOD was being boldly taught and preached—teaching about the LORD JESSUS the CHRIST! From the beginning to the end of the book of Acts, the TRUTH was boldly proclaimed by Christians willing to suffer and die to help others hear that TRUTH.
     “If they persecuted me (JESUS—my addition), they will persecute you (the apostles) also. John 15: 20b [originally quoted John 15: 18-25] (NIV) Not every thing JESUS told the apostles apply to other Christians. This I believe does. Christians who proclaim GOD’S WORD can expect to be persecuted by an unbelieving world. However, that persecution is worth the effort. Others will have an opportunity to be saved based upon our efforts to spread GOD’S WORD. Our responsibilities are great. The gift of eternal life makes all efforts worth while. GOD does not want “armchair” Christians. We have a responsibility to teach and preach HIS TRUTH. We need to boldly proclaim that JESUS is LORD just as the early Christians of Acts did.    
     The apostle Paul in II Corinthians 11: 23-28 wrote about his own experiences teaching and preaching the WORD of GOD. This passage tells of all the suffering he had to endure while teaching and proclaiming the WORD of GOD. He suffered greatly. However, he experienced great results also as his efforts as well as the efforts of other obedient Christians spread Christianity through the world. We still have that responsibility today. We must boldly teach and proclaim GOD’S WORD to a lost world who will repay us for our love with their persecutions. So be it! BOLDLY PROCLAIM the WORD of GOD!!!        


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