Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Church's Joy in All Circumstances

“...they...called the Apostles: and when they had beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the Council, rejoicing, that they were counted worthy to suffer rebuke for His Name. And daily in the Temple, and from house to house they ceased not to teach, and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:40-42, Geneva Bible). “Counted worthy” by whom? Not the Sanhedrin. The sovereign God Who had called them to the ministry of Christ caused their lives to be sermon illustrations of the world’s rejection of the Christ (much like the O.T. prophets!)...and this was the Church’s JOY. Why? First, the un-holiness of the Sanhedrin’s reaction to Christ highlighted the righteousness and holiness of God in Christ. Second, the hatred of unbelief is used of God to make His people more like Himself in their own experience of holiness. “Wherefore, let us also, seeing that we are compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, cast away everything that presseth down, and the sin that hangeth so fast on: let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider therefore Him that endureth such speaking against of sinners, lest ye should be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh unto you as unto children, ‘My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of Him [Proverbs 3:11].’ For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth: and He scourgeth every son that He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:1-6). The name of Jesus, so rejected by the world, is the Source of the JOY of the Church in all circumstances.

And yes, the catalyst of their persecution and the content of their daily teaching was Jesus Christ, but I want to point out that Peter’s defense (twice!) before the Sanhedrin was Trinitarian:
  • “Then Peter full of the holy Ghost, said unto them, ‘Ye rulers of the people, and Elders of Israel, for as much as we this day are examined, of the good deed done to the impotent man, to wit, by what means he is made whole, be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth [the Son], Whom ye have crucified, Whom God [the Father] raised again from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you, whole’” (Acts 4:8-10).
  • “Then Peter and the Apostles answered, and said, ‘We ought rather to obey God than men. The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus [the Son] Whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree. Him hath God [the Father] lifted up with His right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses concerning these things which we say: yea, and the holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him’” (5:29-32).

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