The Time To Speak Is Now
The book of Acts is one of the most exciting and enlightening tomes found in Scripture, for it gives us the blueprint of what the church should be. The church, as a whole, should not be cold, stagnant, liturgical, or dull, but rather it should be dynamic, expressive, Spirit-filled, and full of life.
Acts provides Christians with doctrine in action—doctrine with specific earmarks that distinguish it from every other entity on earth, and those earmarks are: the preaching of salvation by the blood of Christ, preaching on the baptism with the Holy Spirit, preaching of divine healing, and preaching on the soon return of Christ.
Luke wrote Acts as a continuation of the gospel that bears his name. The gospel of Luke was written to exhibit the work of Christ during His earthly ministry, whereas Acts is the work of the disciples during the early church. As well, there is a common style and themes that unite the two books together: miracles, messages, defenses, and sufferings run parallel throughout the two books. The fact that the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts are nearly identical in verbiage and that His trusted witnesses continue everything that Christ began to do and teach leads us to recognize the authorship of Luke.
Themes Found In Acts
There are three major themes found in Acts that are brought to our attention: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, miracles, and persecution. The first miracle performed by the early church is found in Acts 3, the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. The ensuing chapter addresses the first time the early church faced persecution, and it came from the most devastating place. There are three significant antagonists to the true Bible-believing church: the world, the state (civil authorities), and organized religion.
The persecution that Peter and John faced in Acts 4 came from organized religion, a group known as the Sadducees. These were members of a Jewish sect that bitterly opposed Christ during His ministry. They vehemently denied the resurrection and grew enraged at the fact that these “unlearned and ignorant men” used the name they bitterly hated to perform this miracle. After the death and burial of Christ, they assumed that they were done with this man called Christ, and yet, they find that these Galileans used this name in the healing of the lame man and promptly placed Peter and John under arrest.
Taking a side quest, let us confront the issue of religion. We need to grasp the idea that there are scores of people who are sitting in churches across our great country who have never accepted Christ as Savior. I understand that some of you may find that to be far-fetched, but unfortunately, it is the truth. They have never made a profession of faith in Christ but feel that they belong to an organization that deems them fit for heaven when the only requirement to make it to heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
However, some within the church who have never declared faith are opposed to those who follow Christ. Take a look at the ministry of Christ and the early church. Both were labeled as insurrectionists by religious leaders and targeted for destruction. It is no different today. Religionists are deceived into believing they are doing God a service by persecuting the true believer and destroying the platform, in whatever capacity that may be, given by God. That is why religion is one of the greatest hindrances to the work of God. In fact, it is Satan’s business to stop the gospel from progressing, and at times he will use organized religion to do his dirty work.
The Holy Spirit
So, what should our response be to the persecution of the saints? I believe we have a blueprint on how to handle persecution found in this fourth chapter of Acts as Luke writes, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 4:8). The Holy Spirit is the power of the church, for without the Holy Spirit, nothing can be done for Christ. I did not say little can be done, but without the Holy Spirit nothing can be done for the cause of Christ.
Without the Holy Spirit, the church has no power to combat the forces of darkness, and neither can the church see people brought out of sin. Without the Holy Spirit, the church would be non-existent. If Peter and John needed the Holy Spirit, then how much more do we need the infilling of the Holy Spirit today? It is God’s will that every born-again believer go through to the infilling of the Holy Spirit because power is needed to be a proper witness for Christ (Acts 1:8).
It was under the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit that Peter spoke directly to the heart of the issue with the Sadducees. He stated that it was through the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that brought about this miracle; that it was them (Sadducees) that crucified Christ; and that God, who raised Christ from the dead, had the power to raise this lame man and make him whole. He declared that it should have been the Sadducees who were building the kingdom when they had rejected the chief cornerstone and that there was no other means of salvation other than Jesus Christ. This infuriated the religious leaders. However, they could not repudiate what took place, for it was apparent to all that a miracle of note happened. As a result, the religious leaders conferred together and used the message of fear to try and stop Peter and John from preaching the name of Jesus anymore.
The Time To Speak Is Now
What would Peter and John do? Would they acquiesce to the demands of these religious leaders? Once again, we go back to the fact that these two men had been with Jesus and now were walking with power from the Holy Spirit. They did not obey the commands of these evil men but spoke with authority and asked them a question that we should be asking ourselves now—should we obey men or obey God? Of course, the answer was relatively obvious; they would obey God regardless of the consequences.
Today, I’m afraid that too many Christians are choosing to remain silent out of fear of what others may think or say. Too many have decided to close their mouths in obedience to men when God says otherwise. Peter spoke and calmly articulated that they could not help but speak the things they had seen and heard. They had seen the miracles performed by Christ and through the name of Christ, and they had heard the words of Christ that spoke life to the masses. These men were not the originators of this message yet were eyewitnesses of this message.
Today, there are two types of Christians: those who will not speak and those who cannot help but speak. And it seems to me that there are more who will not speak than those who cannot help but speak.
The time is now for Christians to stand up and be counted as those who cannot help but speak what they have seen and heard. We are not the originators of this message but essential eyewitnesses to the work of Christ, and we must not be silent. In reality, there should never be a quiet Christian, whether in word or deed. Time is of the essence, and our voice needs to be heard. The time for silence is over. Let us stand together, united in faith and declare the goodness of God to those around us.
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