Acts 4:13 ESV
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
I love how this states that the religious rulers and elders in the temple of God recognized that Peter and John had been with Jesus. They recognized Jesus’ influence on their lives and that the things they were doing and saying were not things normally people of their stature and education level would be capable of doing, especially not with such boldness. So they attributed their words and actions to the influence of Jesus Christ on their lives.
And this is how it should be with us if we are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in our own flesh. If we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, and if we are, thus, following him with our lives in obedience to his commands, and by daily dying to sin, by the Spirit, it should be evident that we have been with Jesus, too. His character should be reflected in our lives, in our attitudes, in our speaking, and in our actions.
Now, in America, this does not mean that the religious rulers and elders, in the gatherings of what is called “church” these days, are going to recognize that we have been with Jesus. And it is because they, for the most part, don’t know what it looks like to be with Jesus, because so many of them have a false idea of who Jesus is and of what it means to be in an intimate relationship with the Lord to where we would begin to take on his likeness.
In fact, they are more likely to see us as outside the norms of Christianity, perhaps more like the Judaizers who were trying to get the Christians to be circumcised and to obey some of the Old Covenant laws and customs. For they often will see those who teach the true gospel as legalists, and as self-righteous, and as those who are teaching “works-based salvation,” because they don’t really know the truth, or they are denying and ignoring the truth.
Acts 4:14-20 ESV
“But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
Because so many elders, pastors, and rulers within the gatherings of what is called “church” here in America today are following after other humans and their philosophies, propaganda, and marketing schemes, and because they are patterning their gatherings after the felt needs or likes of the people of the world, in order to attract the world, and because they are also altering the gospel to make it acceptable to the world, they oppose the truth.
So, many of them are, as well, charging their people not to teach or to speak in the name (character) of Jesus Christ. They are telling them to “stay in your own lane,” and to not say to people what might offend them, or to wait until you have been friends with someone for two years before you talk with them about the gospel. Or they are requiring that they accept the “cheap grace gospel” and that they reject the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Or they are telling them that they should not talk to people about the gospel but that they should just “be the gospel” by doing good deeds for people or by inviting their neighbors over to watch a movie or to play games and to eat pizza and pop popcorn or whatever. Inviting neighbors over is great, and there is nothing sinful about playing games or watching movies as long as they are decent, but if we do this and not ever mention Jesus, that is bad.
Also, not only have they altered and diluted the gospel that is taught in the Scriptures to make it more acceptable to the people of the world and to human flesh, but many pastors are attacking the gospel as taught in the Scriptures (the whole counsel of God) and they are discouraging their people from believing the true gospel by maligning it and by calling it false while they call the “cheap grace gospel” the truth.
So they are also attacking and maligning those who are teaching the truth of the gospel, and in some cases they are pushing out of their gatherings those who are teaching the truth because they have “strong convictions” and because they might offend people. And so they might tell them to “go someplace else where you will be a better fit,” because we don’t fit with the modern market-driven churches. So, that is actually a blessing.
But when we are treated that way, and when we are attacked and maligned for teaching the truth, and we are falsely accused of things we did not do, and when we are asked to change our message to make it more acceptable to the world and to human flesh, we need to respond in the same manner as did Peter and John. We have to listen to God and not to man, and we have to keep telling people the truth of the gospel, even if they hate us in return.
And the truth is that Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on that cross many years ago in order to put our sin to death so that we can now, through faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness. For, when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we are crucified with him in death to sin and our old self is put to death in order that we might no longer be enslaved to sin but to the righteousness of God.
And the truth in Jesus Christ is also that if we do not die daily with Christ to sin, and if we do not walk (in conduct, in practice) in obedience to his commands, and if righteousness is not our practice, but sin is our practice (habit, addiction), and so we are still walking according to the flesh, then we do not know God, he does not know us, and we do not have the promise or the hope of eternal life with God. So, please take this to heart.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / August 8, 2012
Based off Ephesians 1:3-10 NIV
Praise be to God, the Father of Jesus,
Who has blessed us in heavenly realms.
For He chose us in Him from beginning
To be His holy children of God;
All in accord with His will and pleasure;
To the praise of His glorious grace.
In Jesus Christ we receive forgiveness.
We have redemption through His shed blood.
Glorious grace God freely has given us
In the One He loves and adores;
All in accord with the riches of His grace
Which He pours out on those He loves.
With all His wisdom and understanding,
God has made known His will unto us,
According to His will and good pleasure,
Purposed in Christ till all be fulfilled;
To bring all things on earth and in heaven
Under our Lord Christ; be unified.