A Front Row View Of The Church
Christ, and Christ Alone….. - Mon, 24 Nov 2014
I’ve been reading and thinking quite a bit lately about the single most important “thing” in this life,and most certainly the life to come. This “thing”,for lack of a better term, is “Salvation”. “Salvation”. No matter how you describe what happens at the end of this life,every Christian has this hope within them that by […]
“You’ve Never Seen This One….” - Fri, 21 Nov 2014
That’s what someone told me last night as I was watching the sunset on the beach. I had just commented to a lady who worked at the restaurant and had stopped working to gaze at the sun setting that it seemed kind of silly for a bunch of grownups to be so excited about watching […]
“No Man Cares for My Soul” - Wed, 19 Nov 2014
Originally posted on The Hope Blog:
This below was originally posted in August of 2013. My friend Teeky in the UK put up the attached video in conjunction with the Sanctuary Conference they held that year. I listened again to the audio of the pastor speaking, and all I can say is, yes. This is…
Religion vs. God – LGBT issues - Thu, 20 Nov 2014
A recent article by the Huffington Post is doing its part to undermine the truth of Scripture. Entitled, “The Gender You Associate to God May Indicate How You Feel About Gay Marriage.” The truth is that we have no right to assign a gender to God. He is God and the Father of our Lord […]
Persuasive Preaching - Mon, 17 Nov 2014
Persuasive Preaching A review by Stuart Brogden R. Larry Overstreet has subtitled this book, A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion, and in his prologue (page 4) makes the case that in order for preaching to be persuasive it must include a public invitation. We will see, in chapter 12, that […]
King of Kings, Majesty - Sun, 16 Nov 2014
As we prepare for times of worship through the weekend, may our focus be solely on our King of Kings, He who alone is our Majesty. If you are attending somewhere that Christ and Him crucified is not where the attention of each person is directed, then you are in the wrong place.
Do Not Be Surprised
Persecution, Thanksgiving, Perseverance, and Fellowship - Wed, 26 Nov 2014
by John MacArthur
The New Testament church faced persecution from its inception. As the church grew and its influence spread from Jerusalem throughout Israel and to the rest of the Roman Empire, persecution grew more intense. But at no time was any of it out of God’s control. In fact, He used the persecution to scatter believers—and with them, the gospel—across the known world.
As we’ve seen over and over through our series on persecution, God is never caught off guard by our suffering and trials. On the contrary, He’s at work in the midst of all our circumstances, directing all things for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). So rather than running from persecution, we need to look for what the Lord is accomplishing in the midst of it.
To help us understand how to biblically respond to persecution, we’ve been looking at a key episode in the life of the early church. In Acts 3, Peter and John healed a crippled man and preached a compelling gospel message to the awestruck crowd. That powerful moment was quickly interrupted by the temple officials, who arrested Peter and John and brought them before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). Since they had broken no laws, the religious leaders tried to intimidate them into silence. Their plan did not work, and they were forced to release the two.
Acts 4:23 tells us that Peter and John returned to their friends and fellow believers to recount their imprisonment and trial. Undoubtedly the apostles warned that the same thing could happen to any of them. Christ’s warnings to the apostles about the persecution they would face for His sake were coming true (John 15:18; 16:1-4).
In previous posts we’ve drawn lessons from Peter and John’s response to the Sanhedrin. Today we want to draw three lessons from the response of the entire church to persecution.
Thank the Lord
After hearing Peter and John’s story, the whole body of believers prayed to the Lord.
And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. (Acts 4:24-28)
The immediate response to persecution was praise to God. They recognize God’s absolute control in all things, and their role as His slaves. It’s a beautiful expression of confidence in God’s authority as Creator and Sustainer, and in His might to see them through any opposition or persecution.
And by acknowledging the invisible hand of God at work in the actions of Herod, Pilate, and everyone else who contributed to the murder of Jesus, they’re expressing their faith that the Lord is always at work in the midst of even the worst crises.
That attitude is critical when it comes to bearing up under persecution. The believer’s comfort in suffering comes from the firm confidence that God’s plans have not been thwarted, but that they are always unfolding in every situation. Our circumstances are never outside the power and purpose of the Lord. Persecuted believers need to find confidence and comfort in the preordained plans of our sovereign God. We need to look at our own suffering the way Joseph did, saying “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Pray for Greater Boldness
Another principle stands out about how the early church responded to persecution. After praising and thanking the Lord for His sovereignty, they made a prayerful request to Him. But it wasn’t for deliverance, as we might assume. Instead, they prayed for greater boldness in the face of persecution.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30)
Slaves don’t question their Master, and they don’t recommend alternative solutions to Him. The early church understood that the persecution they faced was part of the work the Lord prepared for them, and they accepted it as part of His sovereign plan.
Their request was for greater boldness in the face of opposition, and for the Lord to keep performing miracles to verify the gospel they preached. They weren’t concerned with their own safety but with the continued spread of the gospel. They didn’t want persecution to hinder or silence the preaching of God’s truth, so they petitioned the Lord for His sustaining grace and bold confidence in the face of persecution.
And that’s a prayer God loves to answer in the affirmative. “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Bind Closer to Other Believers
Persecution propelled the church toward thankful praise, bold proclamation, and finally, close fellowship.
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. (Acts 4:32)
We’ve already discussed how persecution purges the church of false teachers and phony believers, and how that leaves a purer church body, more fit for use and service to the Lord. It also stimulates fellowship and unity within the church. Persecution causes you to depend on your brothers and sisters in the faith. It knits your hearts together in fellowship, as you bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
Persecution inevitably produces unity, as the church supports and sustains each other in the midst of persecution. That support for each other is an expression of their mutual love for Christ. In the midst of suffering believers circle the wagons, protecting, defending, and encouraging one another. Individually they hold tightly together as they collectively cling to the promises and provision of God.
Today, believers stand on the shoulders of the faithful persecuted Christians who came before us. We owe a great debt to the early church fathers, the heroes of the Reformation, the Puritans, and countless others who history does not remember by name, but who nevertheless played an important part in sustaining and extending the reach of the gospel in the face of persecution.
As our world grows more hostile to the truth of God’s Word, let us commit to carrying on that legacy of faithfulness as we respond biblically to persecution.
Persecution and Obeying God No Matter the Cost - Mon, 24 Nov 2014
by John MacArthur
The endgame for most persecutors is silence. Whether they attempt to silence you through intimidation, violence, or death, the point is to stamp out your message and your influence.
In recent months we’ve seen that scenario play out repeatedly in the Middle East. Among the thousands targeted, many believers in that part of the world have been driven from their homes. Others have nobly accepted martyrdom, refusing to reject Christ and pledge allegiance to Islam. In the end, their persecutors seek to cut off the influence of God’s Word and His people in that region.
The members of the Sanhedrin had the same goal in the fourth chapter of Acts. Faced with Peter’s bold proclamation of the gospel—including his indictment of them as Christ’s murderers—they had to decide how to stop the apostles’ evangelistic ministry.
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:13-18)
Peter and John healed a man who had been crippled for more than forty years. There was no denying their miracle, and they hadn’t broken any law. That left the Sanhedrin in an uncomfortable position. We’re told earlier in the chapter that the Jerusalem church had 5,000 men in it, but the total number of members could have been as high as 20,000. With that many followers, the Sanhedrin couldn’t simply imprison or kill the apostles; they likely feared a revolution.
But neither could they turn them loose to continue their exploding ministry. So instead they attempted to intimidate Peter and John into abandoning their gospel preaching altogether.
It didn’t work.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened. (Acts 4:19-21)
Scripture doesn’t tell us what the Sanhedrin threatened to do to Peter and John, but it doesn’t matter. No threat could sway their commitment to preach the gospel. Their response is incredibly shrewd—the apostles defied the command by appealing to the very authority the Sanhedrin was supposed to represent. These supposedly “uneducated and untrained men” had confounded and exasperated Israel’s religious elite.
You might wonder if Peter’s response here contradicts what he would later write in his first epistle: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13). In that passage, he goes on to explain how it’s ultimately the Lord who puts authority in place, and that your faithful submission adorns the gospel and builds up the credibility of your testimony.
But when that authority commands you to stop speaking the name of Christ, to stop preaching the gospel, or to do something immoral, unjust, or unrighteous, you cannot obey. As Peter himself would later explain to the Sanhedrin on another occasion, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
We see that same conviction in the life of Daniel. Under normal circumstances, Daniel had no difficulty submitting to the authority the Lord had placed over him. In fact, he excelled and prospered under pagan leaders, putting his God-given skills to good use in their service. But when that authority contradicted the law of God (Daniel 6), Daniel had no choice but to obey the Lord and face the due punishment of the law.
As the world becomes more hostile to the truth, it may not be long before more Christians face similar consequences for preaching the gospel. We need to be resolved not to cave to the pressures of society, or even to fierce persecution and violence. We need to have the same attitude as the great Scottish reformer John Knox, of whom it was said that he feared God so much that he never feared the face of any man.
When persecution comes, we cannot give in to the pressure or fear. We need to faithfully obey God, no matter the cost.
Persecution and Boldly Proclaiming the Gospel - Fri, 21 Nov 2014
by John MacArthur
By God’s grace, not all believers face harsh legal or physical persecution for their faith. Many of us don’t live under the threat of being beaten or hauled into court for preaching the gospel. But there are many places around the globe right now where that is the daily reality for believers. And as the world grows more hostile to the truth of Scripture, we can expect those kinds of persecution to become more commonplace.
But one of the blessed byproducts of persecution is that it often spawns courtroom ministries and prison ministries. Opposition creates opportunities to boldly proclaim the truth to persecutors (Philippians 1:12-14).
That was the case for Peter and John in Acts 4. They were arrested for preaching the gospel and healing a man who had been crippled from birth. The next day they were hauled before the Sanhedrin. That elite group of priests, scribes, elders, and other dignitaries would have seen the apostles as nothing more than troublemakers—just a couple Galilean fisherman-turned-street evangelists who threatened their authority with stories of a resurrected Christ.
Perhaps that’s why the members of the Sanhedrin unwittingly gave Peter and John a perfect opportunity to confront them head-on with the truth of the gospel. In Acts 4:7, they demanded these uneducated men answer for their teaching: “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” That was all the invitation Peter needed.
Find Strength in the Holy Spirit
The next verse highlights another response believers need to have in the face of persecution: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . .” (Acts 4:8). Just as Peter did, persecuted Christians need to find their strength in the Holy Spirit.
Thanks to rampant false teaching and abuse of the third member of the Trinity, today there’s considerable confusion about what “filled with the Holy Spirit” means. But what happened to Peter in the midst of the Sanhedrin wasn’t an emotional experience or an ecstatic exhibition.
Instead, being filled with the Spirit is setting aside your will, your wisdom, your strength, and your expertise, and instead relying on God’s. It’s yielding to the power of God at work in you through the Spirit to use you as a vessel for His truth. It’s not a passive, trance-like experience—your mind is fully engaged; it’s surrendered to the Lord, not spinning on your own steam.
In the face of strong persecution, believers may likely feel underprepared, overwhelmed, and outmatched. But in those moments, we need to remember that God uses our weakness to display His strength (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Boldly Proclaim the Gospel
What Peter said as he was filled with the Spirit is remarkable. Boldly answering the Sanhedrin, he declared:
Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:8-12)
In the face of harsh persecution, boldness may seem counterintuitive. Most people would be more likely to try to smooth things out with an apology or some overt contrition.
But not Peter. Filled with the Holy Spirit and aware of the gospel opportunity before him, Peter pokes a verbal finger into the chests of Christ’s condemners, highlighting their hypocrisy and spiritual blindness.
Beginning in verse nine, Peter turns the tables on his indicters.
If we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. (Acts 4:9-10)
He starts by acknowledging that they’ve been unjustly arrested for doing a good deed—healing a man crippled from birth (Acts 3:1-10). He then answers their question by declaring that it was accomplished through the power of Jesus Christ, whom they had just weeks earlier condemned to death.
Including the name “Christ” was a reference to Jesus’ role as the Messiah the Sanhedrin was supposedly looking for. This turned Peter’s explanation into a damning condemnation. While the Romans actually carried out Christ’s death sentence, Peter identifies the Sanhedrin as His true murderers.
In the face of severe persecution, Peter didn’t soften or tamp down the truth of the gospel. He remained bold and direct, in spite of the consequences. Why? Because for the gospel to take hold in a person’s life, sin must be exposed and confronted.
Some people will tell you that softening the harsh edges of the gospel—and particularly the truth about sin and hell—is a good way to make the truth more acceptable to the world. That it would make Christians less off-putting and more relatable if we just “love on people” instead of being so confrontational. But that approach only shows the world that we’re willing to compromise, and that the gospel isn’t so exclusive after all.
That was not Peter’s approach. In fact, he made sure to highlight the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12)
That’s a far cry from the claims of many contemporary preachers who foolishly say, “Who am I to say who will be accepted by God? That’s up to Him.”
Instead, with his life potentially on the line, Peter made abundantly clear the facts of the case. The Sanhedrin had conspired to murder Christ, whom they should have recognized as Messiah. Jesus wasn’t defeated by their plot or the grave–God raised Him from the dead. Only through faith in Him can anyone hope to find salvation.
Facing similar circumstances, would we have the same boldness? Regardless of our situation, we ought to be no less committed to faithfully and accurately preaching the truth of the gospel, particularly to those who are hostile to God’s Word.
Next time we’ll see how the Sanhedrin reacted to Peter’s explanation, and consider another aspect of responding biblically to persecution.
Ligonier Ministries Blog
Expose of the (not so) Holy Ghost Movie with Tim Wirth and Sandy Simpson - Tue, 11 Nov 2014
I watched this video about a week ago and the memories of the things I had once been involved with brought me to tears. These are the exact things that I was personally a part of and have been speaking … Continue reading
Prayer Needed - Sun, 12 Oct 2014
Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:
I received the following email from my brother-in-law this morning. 10/09/14 Thursday 6:39 P.M. Prayer Request from Dan and Marilyn Wilson Missionaries who are in the areas that are being attacked by ISIS are…
1 John 4 How Well Are We Learning? – - Sat, 16 Aug 2014
Have you ever read another person’s words and thought to yourself “I could have written that”? Well, here we are… This is all very reminiscent of when I was in the open, honest and upfront titled “new age ‘christian’ church”. … Continue reading
An Anatomy of a False prophecy - Sat, 15 Nov 2014
A review of John Mark Pool’s “A Tsunami of God is Coming From the Northwest to This Nation!” by Sandy Simpson Nov 3,2014 ElijahList is well known for sending out false prophecies on a daily basis. In fact they send anywhere from 3-5 emails daily. I have saved them all for many years because they [...]
The True Face of Islam - Mon, 03 Nov 2014
What Corrupt Western Politicians and Left Wing Media and Academics Who know they are lying call a “Religion of Peace & Tolerance”. From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to Iraq, to Nigeria, to Pakistan, to Iran and beyond – Please pray for the persecuted Christians whose little children are being murdered in the heathen Islamic countries which [...]
Pa$$ the Plate and Let Us Pray Video Series - Thu, 30 Oct 2014
Please click here to view the videos.
Possessing The Treasure
Thanksgiving trip and sabbatical - Wed, 26 Nov 2014
by Mike Ratliff 16 καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρίτης. (Luke 17:16 NA28) 16 and he fell on his face at His feet thanking Him and He was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:16 translated from the NA28 Greek text) I am leaving Wednesday morning to drive from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma […]
God’s Grace and God’s Justice - Tue, 25 Nov 2014
by Mike Ratliff 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “ In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly- […]
Obedience, a word study - Mon, 24 Nov 2014
by Mike Ratliff 1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, 2 ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις 3 περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, 4 τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, 5 […]
The Grace That Brings Salvation - Thu, 27 Nov 2014
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.Briefly today, back to Titus in order that we might finish with the Pastorals in 2009. I am tempted to give you 500 words on the use of the word “For” here, but I’m going to refrain from that to tell you this instead: this paragraph ought to make you weep, or want to weep.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-14)
If you live in this world at all – if you are actually in the world, even if you are not of the world (and you should not be of the world, but you must be in it)—you can see that people need saving. Often we go to the headlines to work this out to talk in some kind of meta-narrative way, but I can tell you that in my own life, the people around me need saving. The guy who quits his marriage to save his job needs saving from his self-contained and sinful values. The little guy who gets caught in a brush fire needs saving from a world in which the punishment for our sinfulness if death and suffering. The beer-gourmand needs saving from his beer, and the teetotaler needs saving from his tea.
And most of all, for the readers on this blog, the religious people need saving from the high-fallutin’ idea that their systematics make them the court of final appeal for other Christians and the church. The Grace of God has appeared, people! And it’s bringing salvation to all people -- it’s good news for all the people.
You know: good news. It's a refuge from this world. It's the joy that set before us. And it's good news to people who are hurting and dying. This is why it should make you weep: because it is so lavish, and we are often so stingy with it when it comes down to really being faithful to our alleged ideals.
Let's review what Paul has said up to this point:
- The church must be set in order
- To do so, we need Elders
- Elders are mature men who have manifested the fruit of the spirit
- They do so in order to credibly preach the word of God
- They are credible because they live like they believe this stuff
- They must teach others to do so as well
- Because the Grace of God has come, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works
Sola Dei Gloria
The Burden of Habakkuk - Wed, 26 Nov 2014
Something I was led to ponder on this evening. (Commentary from James Burton Coffman’s Commentary on the Bible) This chapter begins with Habakkuk’s plaintive summary of Judah’s wickedness (Habakkuk 1:2-4). Habakkuk’s Complaint 2 How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do […]
National director of the Anti-Defamation League rebukes John Hagee - Tue, 25 Nov 2014
From Religion Dispatches At the Zionist Organization of America’s gala Sunday night, Republican megadonors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson bestowed an award on Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee. In his remarks, Hagee called President Barack Obama “the most anti-Semitic president ever.” Chemi Shalev reports more details: The other stars of the night were the […]
Former Mossad Chief: The nation of Israel is galloping blindly toward Bar Kochba’s war on the Roman Empire - Mon, 24 Nov 2014
This is an interesting article appearing in Haaretz today, written by the former Mossad Chief, Shabtai Shavit From the comment section: “The right simply believes that it will bring the nation to this dangerous, unnecessary brink deliberately—simply to force the US’ hand and bring it into war with the enemies it has stirred up. In so […]
Thankful to Whom? The Person of Thanksgiving - Thu, 27 Nov 2014
I usually run this post around every Thanksgiving, because as I stop and reflect on what we should be stopping and reflecting on for Thanksgiving, my mind comes to these thoughts in particular. I hope this post serves to orient your thinking this Thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a funny thing. By its very nature the giving […]
Thinking biblically about riots: #Ferguson - Wed, 26 Nov 2014
Yesterday I was interviewed at The Daily Signal for a churchman’s perspective on the Ferguson rioting. I chose to limit my responses to the riots—as I think it is foolish to try and relitigate the guilt or innocence of Wilson or Brown. After all, one man is believed until he is cross examined (Prov 18:17), […]
A Biblical Exploration of “Kingdom”: The New Testament Ctd. - Tue, 25 Nov 2014
In my previous post, I explored the New Testament usage of “kingdom”in reference to human empires & reign (national) or Satan’s empire and reign on earth, God’s universal empire and rule, and general/passing references to “kingdom”, “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” in the gospels. That led to some rather interesting discoveries in various […]
The Watchman’s Bagpipes