Acts 4:1-4 ESV
“And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”
Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake
There are many people today within the institutional church and in the world who are disgruntled with those of us who are speaking to the people and who are proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ as he taught it, and as his New Testament apostles taught it. For, they don’t want to hear it. They want to hear the feel-good messages which do not confront them with their sins, and which do not call for repentance and obedient walks of faith in Jesus.
They want to hear that they can believe in Jesus, have their sins forgiven (past, present, and future), and have heaven secured them as their eternal destiny, but that they don’t have to repent, obey, or submit to Christ as Lord, and that they can continue making sin their practice, deliberately and habitually sinning against the Lord, and that God’s grace will cover it all. But this all “flies in the face of” a holy God who died to free us from our sins.
In some places of the world they are arresting and physically persecuting and putting to death those followers of Jesus who are serious about their walks of faith and who are following the Lord in obedience, and who are spreading the truth of the gospel so that many will be saved and will have eternal life with God. We are not quite at that point here in America, but it is heading that direction. We are being persecuted, though.
People who merely give lip service to the Lord Jesus, who make confessions of him as Lord and Savior, but who live no differently from the world, are not generally among the persecuted here in America for their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. It is those of us who are dying with Christ to sin and who are living to the Lord and to his righteousness, and who are spreading the truth of the gospel who are under scrutiny and are being persecuted.
Now, generally speaking, we are not physically being persecuted, but I am certain there are exceptions, especially in instances of spousal and child abuse where a spouse or a parent may physically abuse those under his care because of their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. The majority of the persecution here in the USA, though, is more in the realm of censorship, which is what the apostles were facing here in this recording in Acts 4.
The Freedoms We Have
Now we still have a lot of freedom on the internet to share the gospel, which is why I am still able to write what God gives me to write and to post it on the internet, but there are things being done and said that give clear indication that these freedoms we now have will, not long from now, be no more. For they want everyone unified and of the same mind and heart, and they want us all in uniformity with the powers that be and their agenda.
The church, as a whole, though not everyone, has been moving away from teaching the truth of the gospel for a long while now, and they have made serious moves in the direction of the world and of conformity to the government and toward an ecumenical movement which is really a precursor to the one world religion. For example, look at how many denominations united together to teach Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life.” This says a lot.
The church in America has largely united, but not with Christ and with his word, and not with his will and mind and heart, but with the world and with the government and with conforming the church to the world in order to attract the world to the gatherings of what is falsely called “church.” For, the church is not a building or a denomination or a business but it is the people who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, in truth, in practice.
And since they are now appealing to the world and to human flesh, they have altered the gatherings of the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to make them more in conformity with the world, more to their liking, and more to what will attract them and draw them to unite with “the church” in their gatherings. And thus they have removed from the gospel God’s requirements for repentance, obedience, and submission to him as Lord.
Therefore, those of us who are still holding on to the truths of the gospel and to biblical church and its purposes and to how she, the church, is to operate under the Lordship of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit are largely being shunned, invited to leave and to go someplace else, rejected, mocked, criticized, falsely accused, harassed, persecuted, and abandoned. For we are now outcasts who they regard as self-righteous or as hyper-religious.
A Blessing in Disguise
But some of us, who have been ostracized by the institutional church, the Lord has sent to the internet to share his gospel and the teachings of Scripture, and so we have been able to use the gifts the Spirit has given to us, and we have been able to serve in the universal body of Christ in the way that God intended, and according to his calling on our lives, and according to his assignments for us within the body. So, we are blessed.
Also, the Scriptures teach that we are to come out of Babylon, which is the world’s system, which has infiltrated the church, and which the church has largely adopted. So, the Lord had his way of pushing us out of those situations because we didn’t understand that the institutional church is not the true church, and so we thought we were being with the true church until the Lord made it clear that we were not, and that we needed to depart.
Now I can’t speak for anyone else because we don’t all have the same experiences as each other, but for me what this meant was not only that I could now be who God created me to be, and to have the freedom to use the gifts he gave me, and to serve in my assigned role within the universal body of Christ, but now I could be a world missionary in sharing the gospel on the internet which then the Lord took to people all over the world.
And I believe that many throughout the world have heard the true gospel and that many have believed in Jesus as a result of hearing the truth, and that many who were not walking with the Lord as they ought have since returned to faithful obedience to the Lord, and that many have been encouraged in their walks of faith, and in knowing that they are not alone in their trials and in knowing that God will be their support.
And I believe this because the word of God says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). If we are faithful to the Lord in sharing his gospel message, his word will not return empty, but it will accomplish the purpose of the salvation of human lives from their sins for the glory of God.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
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