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.”
Repent, and Turn Back to God
Peter and John had just been instrumental of God in the healing of a man who had been lame from birth. This drew a crowd, and so Peter addressed the people and he told them about Jesus, and who he was, and of what they had done to him, that they had killed the author of life, and that it was in his name that this man was healed (see Acts 3).
And then he called the people to repent of their sins and to turn back to God, that their sins might be blotted out (Acts 3:19). He told them, “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:26).
But the religious rulers and leaders in the temple of God didn’t like what they were saying. And I don’t believe they were unhappy with them just because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead, for Peter had just accused the people of Israel of killing the author of life, God incarnate, whom God had raised from the dead.
And he had just told the people that they must repent and turn back to God, and that Jesus was sent to them to bless them by turning them from their wickedness, and that they must listen to Jesus, and that everyone who doesn’t listen to Jesus by doing what he says will be destroyed. And when Jesus had said these kinds of things to them, they hated him for it.
Church Leaders Today Annoyed
If we are sharing (or teaching) the truth of the word of God with people (the whole counsel of God), the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially with others who claim to also believe in Jesus Christ, we may also face rebuke from leaders within the church who may resist hearing the truth.
For, many pastors and elders within gatherings of the church (or what is falsely called church) are teaching a false (half-truth diluted) gospel which tickles itching ears and which appeases people in their sins rather than calls them to repent of their sins and to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ.
Thus, many who are still holding to the truth of the gospel are being rebuked for their stand on the truth of God’s word, and they are being rebuked by church leaders and by church people, too, who are teaching or who have bought into the cheap grace gospel message.
They don’t want to hear that we must repent of our sins and turn to our Lord in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). They don’t want to hear that we must submit to Christ as Lord and surrender our lives to him to following him in his ways and in his truth.
And they definitely don’t want to hear that if we don’t repent, and if we don’t make obedience our practice, but if we continue living in sin, making it our practice, that we will die in our sins and that we will not inherit eternal life with God. For, they are teaching a gospel which gives its adherents free license to continue living in sin, only now without guilt or remorse.
So, we may be asked to cease speaking the truth in Jesus’ name. And we may even be kicked out of or invited to leave certain church fellowships and to go someplace else where we will be a “better fit.” Some may even tell us that they were warned about people like us with “strong convictions.”
For, the old time gospel that Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles taught is being pushed out and it is being supplanted by a cheap grace gospel which, in many cases, is teaching people they don’t have to repent or obey the Lord or submit to him as Lord.
Thus, those of us who are still teaching (sharing) the gospel of Christ (the original) are also being pushed out and/or told to stop speaking the truth.
“For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the Lord;
who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’
and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’” Is 30:9-11
God Has a Plan
Despite all of this, God has a plan. For, what he opens no man can shut, and what he shuts no man can open. Although it may appear sometimes that is not the case, God is still in control. He is completely sovereign over all that he has made. Nothing can happen if he does not allow it.
Let me just share a personal example here. When I was (and I am) really serious about my walk of faith in the Lord, and when I sincerely shared what the Lord was teaching me from his word and the truth of the gospel of our salvation, under church authority, I often faced rejection.
And as the church began to become more worldly and market-driven, and as they began to teach the cheap grace gospel, the more that rejection increased. And I was invited to leave or I was pushed out of several church fellowships in hopes that I would leave, not because of sin in my life, but because of my stand on the truth of God’s word.
But it was through that rejection that the Lord opened another door for me. Then he called me to write down what he teaches me from his word and to put it out on the internet, and I’ve been doing that daily (or nearly daily) for the past 15 years.
And many are hearing the truth of the gospel who might not have otherwise heard the truth because so many out there are preaching lies. So, what Satan meant for evil in my life, to try to destroy me, God used and is using for good, for the spread of the truth of the gospel so many may hear.
So, if you are out there sharing the truth, and if you are being rejected and pushed away, and perhaps even hated, don’t let that dishearten you. Don’t give up and don’t retreat. God is working all things for good. Just keep on speaking the truth in Jesus’ name. God’s word will not return empty.
And if you are one who is still living under bondage to sin convinced that God doesn’t require you to repent, obey, and submit to him, but that heaven is still your destiny, please read the Scriptures in context one verse after another, and God will reveal to you the truth if you listen.
For, the Scriptures are quite clear. Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. If we continue living in sin, we will die in our sins. But if we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we will have eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
In the Hour of Trial
Lyrics by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music by Spencer Lane (1843-1903)
In the hour of trial, Jesus, pray for me,
Lest by base denial, I depart from Thee;
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.
With its witching pleasures, would this vain world charm
Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane
Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.
If with sore affliction, Thou in love chastise,
Pour Thy benediction on the sacrifice.
Then upon Thine altar, freely offered up,
Though the flesh may falter, faith shall drink the cup.
When in dust and ashes, to the grave I sink,
While heaven’s glory flashes o’er the shelving brink,
On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
Lord, receive me, dying, to eternal life.
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