TODAY’S READING: ACTS 4-5
“‘And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:29-31
What was the word the apostles were teaching?
What was the name the apostles were teaching?
The obvious answer is Jesus.
But, what does it mean that the apostles were teaching the word of Jesus and in the name of Jesus?
One thing that we know is that whatever this word and name they were teaching in angered the priests, the scribes, and the other Jewish leaders.
“And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed…And they arrested them and put them in custody.” – Acts 4:1-2, 3
“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.” – Acts 4:17
“And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them.” – Acts 4:21
“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.” – Acts 5:17
“When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.” – Acts 5:33
“And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”- Acts 5:40
Take a good look at what the priests, the scribes, the Sadducees, and the Jewish authorities were doing.
- They were greatly annoyed at what the apostles were teaching.
- They arrested the apostles.
- They warned the apostles not to continue teaching the word and the name.
- They further threatened the apostles.
- They were filled with jealousy.
- They arrested the apostles a second time.
- They were enraged.
- They wanted to kill the apostles.
- They beat the apostles.
The actions of the Jewish authorities in these two chapters are in direct contrasts to the apostles.
“If we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this has been healed.”- Acts 4:9
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12
“But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” – Acts 4:14
“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord of Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” – Acts 4:33
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.” – Acts 5:12
“And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” – Acts 5:14
“They people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”- Acts 5:16
“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” – Acts 5:20
“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” – Acts 5:41
Take a good look at what the apostles were doing and teaching.
- They did a good deed, healing a crippled man.
- They taught the name by which men and women are saved.
- The man they healed remained with them.
- They taught the resurrection, the going from death to life, of Jesus.
- They did many signs and wonders, which clearly means healings in the context of these two chapters.
- They added to the Lord, which means they brought people to life.
- They healed every sick person and all those afflicted with unclean spirits that were brought to them.
- They taught the words of the Life.
- They rejoiced at their persecution because they were counted worthy of suffering for Jesus.
There is quite a stark contrast between the apostles and the Jewish authorities.
The Jewish authorities reacted the way they did because what they taught was different than the word and the name the apostles were teaching. In fact, we could say that what the Jewish authorities taught was the complete opposite of the word and the name that the apostles taught.
Do you see what the fundamental distinction is?
The Jewish authorities did and taught death.
The apostles did and taught life.
The Jewish authorities believed that God was both life and death. Therefore, they believed they were doing the works of God by putting the unworthy and the blaspheming of God to death.
The apostles believed that God was life and life only. Therefore, they healed everyone who was sick and afflicted that was brought to them.
In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul sums these two ways of ministering and teaching.
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6
Who were the ones filled with the Holy Spirit?
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:31
Therefore, the apostles did and taught life. This is the word and the name they taught.
Who were the ones that taught the letter?
The Jewish authorities.
Therefore, in the end, everything they did was about death.
“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14-16
Whose minds were hardened? Who had not come to the Lord?
The Jewish authorities.
They read the Old Testament with a veil over it. They could not see the real nature of God in it. Therefore they taught it literally, meaning that God was both life and death.
Who had come to the Lord? For who was the veil lifted?
They read the Old Testament without a veil. They could read it clearly because Christ had taken the veil away. They saw God in the Old Testament as life and life only.
How did the Christ do this for them?
“By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.” – Acts 4:11
The apostles had come to know that death was defeated. Jesus was dead, but God had raised him to life.
“This Jesus…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” – Acts 2:23-24
“For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:20
What had the apostles seen and heard?
“That which was from the beginning, which we heard, which he have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you.” – 1 John 1:1-3
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5
In other words, God is life and there is no death in him at all.
“God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:16, 18
Therefore, an angel of the Lord said to the apostles, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
The word that the apostles taught was life.
Always and only life.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” – John 6:63
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68
“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.”
Life is the word the apostles heard from Jesus. And, life is the word they taught.
Therefore, they taught in the name of Jesus. The fruit of teaching in the name of Jesus was salvation and healing. Salvation and healing are life.
This should come as no surprise.
Jesus is the Author of life.
Jesus is savior.
Jesus is the English version of the Greek name that is Joshua. Joshua means Jehovah saves.
Jesus’ very name means he saves, he heals, he gives life.
So, how in the world do we ever get it in our minds that he will do something other than heal, save, and give life?
How do we ever think that Jesus is going to come back and kill, send people to hell, burn them in eternal torment and destruction?
The veil has not been removed.
The Bible is read by the letter, literally.
Death has not been defeated.
For those that teach this way, it is as if God has not raise Jesus from the dead.