APRIL 1, 2019
The early church had to overcome many obstacles as it sought to make Christ's name known to the world. In this passage, we find the disciples warned again to keep their ideas about Jesus to themselves.
The disciples were no longer to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
God had a clear plan and purpose both in Christ's humbling sacrifice upon the cross and in his exaltation via the resurrection. The crucifixion would, Jesus predicted, "draw all people to myself" (John 13:32), that they might find forgiveness and salvation.
So, knowing what would happen to them, after their miraculous escape from prison, the apostles went right back out and begin their teaching about Jesus.
And you know what happened? They were dragged right back into the Sanhedrin courts. There, Peter shared this plan of Jesus with the chief priests, so that they might know why he continued to "teach in (Jesus') name" despite the council's directive to cease.
The Apostles teach us to be courageous in the light of enormous pressure. In today's society we are continuously under some kind of peer pressures. Teenagers feel that they will not be accepted if they don't humble down to a directive that might be wrong. Adults are bowing to compromises. Whether it is in their spiritual relationship or a business deal. Our attitude today is "Everyone else is doing it!"
Peter, John, and the other apostles were consistent in their lives. They lived by a guiding principle that said, "We must obey God rather than any human authority."
They always focused on God's will other than their own. The Apostles knew that Christ had called them to be witnesses. Jesus' command in the Gospels was for his disciples to go into the world and share the good news.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus' command is recorded--"To be witnesses." In fact, he gave us a promise, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses….to the ends of the earth." This is the gift that keeps on giving---the power of the Holy Spirit.
With this gift, we have wisdom that gives us the strength to avoid temptations. The ability to say no to peer pressure. The courage to proclaim the Word of God with boldness.
Why, because we have experienced Christ. And when we believe in Christ, God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We all have heard the Credit Card commercial that reminds us of the gift that keeps on giving. Especially around Christmas time! Spend and Spend and Spend--you know!
That can be said, without going into debt, about God's gift to us.
Jesus promised this gift that keeps on giving to the disciples before he died on the cross. The gift started coming when he shared with them in the upper room.
John 3:4 tells us, "God never gives the Spirit in measurements," degrees, or quantities, because the Holy Spirit is the personal gift that keeps on giving to all believers.
Notice personal. The personal gift. Each of us who accepts Jesus as our personal Savior is given this gift.
Peter said, "And we are witnesses to these things and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him (Acts 5:32)."
Will you obey him today and accept the free gift?In the Name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.