Yes or No to Jesus
By: John Ankerberg Show
August 30, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
Will you say “yes” to Jesus when the world says “no.”
Last week, we saw a man who was healed by Peter and John. He was a lame man from birth, a 40 year old man. And they saw this miraculous thing happen by the Temple. And you would think that the religious leaders would be excited about this, that they would bring him in and congratulate him and praise the Lord for this, but just the opposite happens. In fact, they not only bring the man in, but they interrogate Peter and John for a good deed done to a crippled man.
And as we see this interrogation, I can’t emphasize how important this incident is in the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ. It is basically an indictment on the apostles, but pretty much an indictment on Jesus Christ Himself. And I want you to see how they respond and I want to empower you to respond in the same way. And that is really what I want to do today in our time together.
I want to show you who they rely on, the Holy Spirit, and how they speak when they are interrogated because we all know, we live in a day and age today where the world does not want to hear about Jesus. Amen? Now let me try that again for those who are awake. We live in a day and age today where the world does not want to hear about Jesus. Amen? And so we need to be bolder than we have ever been before to courageously testify to what God has done in our life. And I would submit in here, every one of us could say, God has done something in our life, right? And so I want to show today that in the text.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Acts Chapter 1…Acts Chapter 4, sorry, Verse 1. Acts Chapter 4, Verse 1. And when you get there, say “word.” Let me try it again for those who are excited to study the word. When you are in Acts Chapter 4 Verse 1, say “word.” For the guests, I want to apologize. We really do like studying the Word here at Brainerd Baptist. We are going to make up for it in just a moment, but for that. Lets study the Word of the Lord.
Verse 1. “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”
Now, if you are taking notes, there are three overarching insights I want to give you today. Write the first one down. And that is, the expectation for proclaiming Jesus. I want you to see the expectation for proclaiming Jesus. And the expectation was…get this…to be persecuted. They knew that when they stepped out in faith that they would be persecuted for the gospel.
Now, you would think that these men just starting their ministries, they had just set up their 501(c)3, they have the traveling itinerary evangelist ministry in full steam now. And you would expect people to be patting them on the back, right? Peter, that was an amazing sermon, Brother. Or what an atta-boy, or man, I have never heard anything like that. But that is just the opposite of what happens, right?
For preaching the gospel, Peter and John get imprisoned and persecuted for their faith. Now I said this earlier, I cannot stress the importance of what is about to happen here. Because what happens is, they gather the whose who of Israel into the temple to interrogate these men. And they are going to find out exactly what is happening here.
Now this is a big deal because the Sadducees, who were the religious teachers of the day, are interrogating Peter and John, not for what they did but for what they said. You see, you have to understand, Peter and John are saying that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and that was contrary to everything the Sadducees taught. You see, the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, which is why one pastor said, that is why they are sad you see, right? They are Sadducees. They don’t believe in a life after death. And I will show you the proof text for that.
Hold your place here. Go with me to Acts Chapter 23 and I want to show you Verse 8 quickly. “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.”
And so what is happening here in the text is, Peter and John…get this…are a threat to the religious system. They are undermining their power and their authority and they are straying people from their influence to follow Peter and John and they are about to put an end to it.
Now I want you to know the implications here that are pretty serious. The leaders are not trying to undermine the resurrection, they are trying to minimize the resurrection.
F. F. Bruce, who is a Bible scholar, said this, look at the screen. “I find it particularly striking that neither on this nor any subsequent occasion, so far as information goes, did the Sanhedrin take any serious action to disprove the apostle’s certain and central affirmation, resurrection of Jesus. Had it seemed possible to refute them on this point, how readily would the Sanhedrin have seized the opportunity. Had they succeeded , how quickly and completely the new movement would have collapsed!”
So what he is saying is this, they didn’t try to deny the resurrection. They couldn’t. They didn’t say, hey, listen, we have the body of Jesus. We have been hiding it in the back. Look, you guys are lying. They couldn’t do that. So instead of trying to disprove it, they minimized it.
Now up to this point, the apostles nor Jesus had any problem with the Sadducees. Oh, they had some problems, but the Pharisees far surpassed that. Remember, the Pharisees were the bullies, right? They were the ones who roughed up Jesus. They questioned Him at every turn of events. But the Sadducees now have taken on the spiritual snobbery from the Pharisees and they are becoming the spiritual elite. And they are starting to question the apostles here. Who do you guys think you are? You don’t even have an education. You guys don’t even know what you are talking about. So they started to criticize them.
And I want you to notice something interesting. Don’t miss this. It was men in the church who criticized other people in the church, right? It was the religious leaders criticizing Jesus’ leaders.
Now unfortunately, as great as our church here is at Brainerd Baptist, we have people in our church just like any church that think it is their duty to offer criticism for people in church who don’t do things the way they think it is supposed to be done. And they are right in their own mind. I like to say that God has given those folks the gift of criticism, right? The spiritual gift of criticism, right?
And so these people will take it upon themselves to criticize women who don’t wear dresses to church. They are wearing pants, right? Or pastors who, God forbid, don’t preach in suits and ties anymore. Now, I don’t know any guys like that, but you may. Or guys who would dare to come to church with a hat on!
Now friends, listen to me, just to speak to that for a moment. I would rather someone who does not go to Brainerd Baptist who is lost come into our fellowship not knowing the protocol of what church is like and hear the gospel than for us to disgrace them and demoralize them by telling them you need to dress a certain way or act a certain way and they leave this place and never come back and never hear the gospel! We need more encouragement in the church and less criticism, right? We need more blessing and less cursing in the church. As my Mom used to say to me, Robby, if you ain’t got nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all, right?
Now listen to me real closely. If that is you, Brother or Sister, listen to me and you have that Sadducean critical spirit, would you go to God as ask Him to take that away. Because the person that it hurts the worst is not necessarily the people you are criticizing, the person that it hurts the worst is you because you have to bear that burden.
So the religious leaders start criticizing Peter and John. They say, who do you guys think you are? Won’t you tell us what you are doing and in whose power you are doing it in? And Peter says, well, since you asked, I will go ahead and tell you. And it is almost as if they teed it up for them, right? Hey, listen, tell us what Is happening. And Peter says, well, since you asked, I will go ahead and tell you.
And so the first aspect of the text is, we see the expectation for proclaiming Jesus, which is persecution. Secondly, we see the exclusivity of Jesus or faith in Jesus. The exclusivity of faith in Jesus. And that is just a fancy word for only way. Jesus is the only way.
Look at Verse 5, “On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.” This is the whose who of Judaism. They have called everyone out for this affair.
“And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ The Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom YOU crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by Him this man is standing before you well.’”
What Peter shows us right out the gate is that Jesus Christ is the center piece of all salvation. Write it down if you are taking notes. Jesus Christ is the center piece of all salvation.
The trial by these religious leaders really is an exploratory mission to trump up charges against the apostles so that they can imprison them. They are really trying to figure out by what means and by what power are they doing this. And I want you to see in the text that there is a connection between authority and power in a name. And so they realize this. By what authority, what power, what name are you doing this? And Peter says, thanks for asking. It is the name of Jesus Christ. It is the guy you just crucified on the cross. It is the One YOU guys killed. And by the way, God raised Him from the dead. And do you know what Peter is saying there? You tried to remove His ministry, but you only multiplied it. You see, you thought you ended Jesus’ ministry, but you actually expanded it.
And the key phrase here is right at the end, look at Verse 11. “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the guilders, which has now become the cornerstone.”
Now for us today, to feel the weight of what I am about to tell you and particularly this verse, we have to go back to Jesus’ home 2000 years ago when Joseph was in the home.
Now for years, you and I have been taught that Joseph’s profession was what? Do you remember? Do you know? He was a carpenter, right? And so we have these images in our mind possibly of Joseph building tables or dresser drawers or wood frames for homes. And all of those things could be possible. But I want to submit to you, I don’t think Joseph was a carpenter. In fact, I think Joseph was a stone mason.
Now the way we get that is, we look at the text where we first see this. It is in Luke Chapter 4. Jesus goes back to His hometown to preach the gospel. At the end of the gospel presentation, it says the crowd was amazed and they said, “Is this not Joseph, the carpenter’s son?” The first time you see that word. “Is not Mary His mother?”
Now one side note about Nazareth was a small town possibly around 250 to 300 people when Jesus lived there. And I would even submit to you that many of the people that lived there were related to Jesus. So these people are all His family or close relatives. So they are all there, close friends of the family, family and close relatives…close friends or family or friends. Okay, so they are all there. And they say, Is not this the carpenter’s son? Well, that word “carpenter” in the language of the New Testament Greek, you can write it down, is tekton – t-e-k-t-o-n. That word “tekton” has a wide range of meaning. It can mean carpenter but it can also mean craftsman…get this…or stone mason. And I want to submit to you two reasons why I think Joseph was a stone mason.
The first one is this: If you have ever bone to Israel and you look at the structures that are still there from the time of Jesus, you will realize that 99% of the homes were constructed not with wood in the First Century but (what?) stone or rocks.
The second reason why I think Joseph was a stone mason, a craftsman that hued stones is because of this: If you look at a map of Jerusalem at that time, particularly Galilee, you will notice that Nazareth is close to a town called Sapphoras or in Jesus’ day, Sappora. You can look at the map. It is to the northwest of Nazareth. That town of Sapphoras was a booming ancient town. It was a town during Jesus’ day when He was born that they were expanding and building. And so they gathered all the able men who were able to work in that town. That is where it was booming at the time and so we can assume that Joseph would have gone there.
Now, on the way to the town which was just a stone’s throw away…some of you will get that later…from Jesus’ home town, there was actually a rock quarry on the way that they would have hewn these rocks and brought them over to Sapphoras to use to build the city.
I wanted to submit to you that Jesus’ father, Joseph, would have worked there, which I think Jesus did as well. But regardless of that, Jesus would have seen that.
Now, why is it important to believe that Jesus was a stone mason and his father than being a carpenter that worked with wood? Folks, when you understand this, the Bible will come alive for you.
Remember when Jesus was being interrogated by the religious leaders? He tells the parable of the wicked tenants. I want to show it to you on the screen. Luke Chapter 20 Verse 17. “Jesus looks directly at them and says, ‘What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?”
What Jesus is saying is this, in order to build a building, you need one stone that will determine the structure for the rest of the building and that is the cornerstone. If you don’t get the cornerstone right, the rest of the building will crumble. And Jesus is basically saying, I am the cornerstone, but you guys have rejected Me. And in essence what He is saying is, the whole structure that you are building on is about to crumble. And we know in A.D. 70, the whole thing did, physically and spiritually.
Peter decides to use that scripture when he is talking to these men. Look at what he says in Acts Chapter 4, we studied it today. “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Peter is trying to determine a motif to describe believers in the family of God in his epistle, I Peter Chapter 2 Verse 5. He uses stones. Watch this. “”You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Jesus, actually, get this, church, was walking with Moses in the Old Testament through the wilderness to the promised land. Well, Pastor Robby, Jesus wasn’t born yet. He wasn’t physically here. He was here, my friends, and we know that from the Apostle Paul. Look at I Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse 4, “for they (the Israelites) drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
Jesus says, listen, don’t build your house on sand which will falter, build your house on the (what?) on the Rock, on the Stone of Christ which is Me. Jesus is even described as a rock of offense by Paul in Romans Chapter 9 Verse 33, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.’”
When Peter gets it right in Caesarea Philippi when Jesus says, “Who do men say that I am, John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets. Jesus says, but who do you guys say that I am? Peter stands up and says Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And notice what Jesus says. Peter, you are correct and upon this Rock, stone, I am going to build My church.
And why is that important? Come in real close. Can you visualize right now God as the master craftsman, has your life delicately in His hands as He is forming and shaping you into the image of His Son. Of all the professions that Joseph could have partaken of, he could have been a vineyard keeper. He could have been a sandal maker. He could have had a fishing enterprise just like John and James and Peter and Andrew’s father, but he didn’t. He was a stone mason. And I believe Jesus saw that growing up and aren’t you glad Jesus Christ even today is the Master Tekton maker is still hewing followers for Himself. Aren’t you glad of that? Jesus is the center piece of our worship.
Secondly, not only is He the centerpiece of our worship, Jesus is the person of our salvation. He is the person of our salvation. Look at Verse 12, “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.”
Here is what he is saying, there is no other way to God. He is not saying there is another way or an other way, he is saying there is no other way to God except through Jesus. Now Jesus said the same thing. “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.” What does He say? “No one gets to the Father except by (who?) by Me,” the exclusivity of Jesus.
Now you and I both know, if you are in sales, that there is a lot of similarities between being in sales and being an evangelist. There are a lot of differences, I get that, but there are a couple of similarities between selling products and in a sense, promoting Jesus. And I learned this years ago when I was coming back from rehab for the first time, coming back from Tijuana, Mexico and why did I go there? That is another sermon for another day. But I went to Mexico to get off of drugs. Anyway, so I came back the first time from rehab and my doctor at the time said, Listen, you have to leave New Orleans because it is a bad environment for you and you are going to be pulled back in. And little did he know, that was a biblical principle, I Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” So he was right on. He just didn’t know it. And so he said, you have got to get out of the city. And so I moved to the only place I knew where to go and that was to live with my sister, who was finishing up college in South Mobile, Alabama. She was going to USA, and I lived in her one bedroom dorm room on a blow up mattress. And you talk about humbling a person, I went from having everything by the world’s standards to sleeping on a blow up mattress that every night with a pin prick would go pssssst…every night. And back then, there was no electric pump. You had to pump this thing up every single night. And I spent my days looking in the classified section for a job, right? And so I am thinking, I was good at an illegal import business, I may be good at sales. And it seemed like a logical idea. And I thought I found…take that off the recording by the way…anyway, I thought I found the perfect job, okay?
So I am looking in there and I found this ad. It said, Lucrative income. Benefits out of this world. You be your own boss. You can work your own hours. Incentives for sales. You come in when you want, but there are incentives if you hit certain goals. And not only monetary incentives but travel incentives and trips and electronics, which they had me there, and other vacation stops. And I thought, wow, this is going to be awesome. This is the job of my dreams. So I showed up for that interview. Well, apparently a hundred other people were in line to sign up for the same job. And when I got to the front, they got my information and they sat me down and they said, “Mr. Gallaty, are you ready for your life to be changed?” I said, “Absolutely. I am in. What is it?” They said, “We are going to sign you up to be an independent distributor to sell door-to-door Kirby vacuum cleaners.” And no offense if you sell Kirby vacuum cleaners. A man has got to live. I know that, but it just was not for me, right? And you have been before with people walking up to the door with that big vacuum cleaner. And in the sheepish, cowardly kind of way, they knock on your door and they say, you wouldn’t want to buy a vacuum cleaner, would you? And your answer is always no, I wouldn’t want to buy. Yeah, I just woke up today and thought I needed a new vacuum. Thanks for coming to the house. Great, perfect timing. Honey, didn’t you think about buying a new vacuum? No, you don’t want a new vacuum cleaner at the house. And they leave.
And one of the things I realized about most people in sales is that the reason you are not successful in sales is two reasons. To be successful in sales, you have to believe that what you are selling will help everybody, right? That the service you are providing will be a benefit to all people.
Do you know there is a parallel to evangelism there? Friends, if you haven’t solidified in your mind that Jesus Christ can help every helpless person by giving them hope in a future salvation and a present power now, you are not going to be successful in evangelism, right? So you have to be convinced that Jesus can help everybody. Do you agree with that?
But the second thing about sales in order to be successful is that you have to believe that your product is superior to every other product on the market. And in evangelism, it is the same thing. You see, if you haven’t got it right in your mind that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and not only is He the only way to God, but He is God, then you are not going to be very effective at evangelism.
But when you get that right in your mind and understand that Jesus is the only way and by necessity every other way is not the way to God, it will change your life. There is an urgency there to share the gospel with your friends and share the gospel with your neighbors and to go on missions and to be involved in discipleship. It changes everything. Can anybody attest to that? It changes everything.
And so Peter knew that not only Jesus was the exclusive way to heaven, Jesus was the only person of salvation. But then we see this last aspect of the text which is pretty interesting.
The people wonder, what is different about these men? And we see in the text, the empowerment of Jesus, look at this, or the empowerment from time spent with Jesus. These men said there is something different about these men. I want you to see it.
Look at Verse 13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, an perceived (get this) they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” I love that. “But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they said nothing to him…or they had nothing to say in opposition.” You see, what transformed Peter from a coward before a servant girl to a lion before religious leaders was not his intellect. It was not his theological prowess. It was not the fact that he had every answer to every systematic theology question. What made Peter a lion in the face of these men was an empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t his intellect, it was his reliance on God. He was a man that was unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The secret to his power was that he spent time with Jesus. And I love that because it says that they were blown away. They looked at these men as uneducated. That word “uneducated” is another word for unlettered, meaning they don’t have degrees. It is another word for unschooled. It is another word for untrained. But watch this, you can actually take the root word back to another word for idiot. They looked at these guys and they said, you guys are penniless fishermen who have no degrees, you have no doctorates, you have no PhD’s. Who are you guys to tell us anything? Oh, wait. There is something different about these guys. Oh, yeah, they spent time with Jesus.
Don’t miss this. You can have all the theological education in the world and not have Jesus, and you have nothing. But you can have no theological education, no systematic training and have Jesus. And guess what? You have everything, right? Friends, don’t be so heavenly minded that you become no earthly good. Amen? And it is more than just knowing about Jesus. It is not just knowing who He is. It is having an intimate time with Him and a relationship with Him and it is going to require work on your part. You have to put in the time to wake up and read the Word. You have to put in the time to memorize scripture. But no time spent in the Word of God is wasted time in the economy of God. No time spent.
I will say, every sport statistic that you have ever memorized, every team roster that you have ever learned, every sporting event that you have ever gone to and enjoyed all the statistics of, none of that is going to matter in heaven. Can I be frank? But every time you spend time in the Word of God, in memorizing the things of God, that will pay eternal dividends.
These men had spent time with Jesus. And when you spend time with Jesus, the natural response is, you begin to speak about Jesus. Not only did they spend time with Jesus, but they spoke for Jesus.
Look at the text. Verse 15, “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,” that word “notable” means undeniable, it means uncontested. They can’t contest this. “A notable sign had 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.’”
Peter says, we are not going to do it. And notice what he says. “For we cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard.’ And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.”
You see, instead of believing an undeniable miracle, the stiff-hearted…or stiff-necked and hard-hearted leaders decided to not only dismiss it, but to minimize it. And they said, hey, listen, we don’t care what just happened here. You guys have to be quiet from here on out about what just happened with this man. We don’t want you to speak about Jesus any more.
And one of the things you will realize about the New Testament believers is that they were fearless. You want to know what the problem with the modern church today is, is that we fear men more than we fear God. But the First Century apostles feared God way more than they ever feared men. We need men and women who are bold today, who will stand up in their classrooms and say, I don’t care if you guys don’t believe in Jesus. I do because I met Him. And leave the results to God.
Peter Cartwright was one of those men. If you know anything about him. He was a great Methodist circuit preacher who traveled from Tennessee to Illinois because of the slavery issue. They were still fighting slavery and it was still legal down here, and he didn’t want to be a part of that, so he moved up to Illinois. And he was pastoring a church there and he was speaking one Sunday, and the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America, Andrew Jackson, showed up to hear him preach. Now some of his deacons got wind of this and caught him in the back prayer study and said, “Pastor Cartwright, I just want to give you a heads up that our President is in the audience.” And the reason they kind of prefaced him was because he had the ability just about every week to go off the handle. He would fly off the handle and he would say things…he would say whatever he wanted. He didn’t care who was in the audience. And so they said, hey, listen, you might want to be respectful of our President.
Cartwright gets into the pulpit. Here is the first words of his sermon. He said, “I understand that the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, is here. I have been requested to guard my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he does not repent today!” Jackson came up to him and waited in the handshake line. He came up to him after and he said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men with that audacity, I could whip the world!”
Where are those men in the church today? Where are those ladies in the world today who would say, I don’t care what people think about my relationship with Jesus. I am going to take a stand for Christ! That is the kind of man he was. And I think we need more men like that. Don’t you agree? I think we need more women like that.
So, Robby, what do we do? How do we apply this text to our lives? Let me give you two walking points. One is a truth, the other one is an action. Here is the first one. Here are ways you can take this message home.
The first one is this. You have to believe that persecution is a natural part of the Christian life, or at least it should be. Persecution is a natural part of the Christian life. I want to dissolve the heretical teaching that some of you may have bought into. I know I did when I was a new believer. And that is that when you give your life to Jesus, it is a bed of roses. And when you give your life to Jesus, you are free from pain and persecution.
Friends, you don’t have to look very far to realize that is a lie. In fact, you don’t have to look beyond the New Testament. Of the twelve men that Jesus left behind, eleven of them died as martyrs. That is not your best life now. Pardon the pun.
John Macarthur said, “If this is your best life now, then you are heading to hell.” Anyway, that is another sermon for another day. That is not in the notes.
Jesus said in John 15 something interesting. He said, what is going to happen to you is the same thing that happened to Me. Look at what He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it even hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they would also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
Last year about this time, I preached the sermon series called “True North.” Some of you were here for that. And I touched on a pretty controversial subject, God’s design for sexuality. And what happened was, some liberal news outlet got that sermon, 52 minute sermon. They sliced and diced the message down to 8 minutes and basically had me quoting and reading scripture caused an offense to some people where they actually picked this up, they fabricated a headline that wasn’t true about the message and they put it on social media and the rest was history. It was viral. I think within one day it had been shared over 25,000 times on Facebook. It hit the Huffington Post, the Times Magazine blog. You name it. And at the time, we were in the crosshairs of a lot of people, both outside and some inside the church.
And you know, when you are hearing sermons and passages about persecution, it is easy for you to say, hey, I don’t care. For the glory of God I will be persecuted. It is not going to bother me. But let me just tell you something. When you are in the crosshairs, it is different. And Kandi and I for a couple of weeks, as we fielded nasty emails and phone calls and hijacking all of my social media accounts, it was pretty tough. One of my staff members even said, Robby, you really can’t get upset with them because what they have an offense with is when you are reading Leviticus. They are not mad at you, Robby, they are mad at the Word. And in fact, it is byproduct of you because they can’t see God and so they take it out on you. And so you are the visible representative of an invisible God.
And God, in His providence, did something to help me as we were in the midst of all this turmoil. Two weeks after it happened, I had a trip planned for the Middle East and Northern Africa. And God gave me that as a gift because as we boarded the plane with a small team and we went to one of the hardest places in the world to be a professing Christian. And I got to see men and women, I got to sit across the table from them and labor side by side with them who put their lives on the line every single day for their faith in Jesus Christ. And I am not talking about a raised eyebrow or a nasty email, I am talking about losing their life for the gospel.
And you know, when you are sitting across the table from someone like that, it puts everything in perspective, right? It kind of minimizes those emails and those phone calls. It is one thing to be persecuted outside the church, it is another thing to be persecuted inside the church.
You see, these Sadducees were of the church and it is harder when people inside the church persecute each other. They were the wealthy leaders of the community and so it was the church, in a sense, the church of Jerusalem or Judaism persecuting one another.
But do you know that the spiritual badge of a Christian should be persecution? Dietrich Bonheoffer said it this way, “Suffering is the badge of the true Christian. The disciple is not above his master. Martin Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church in one of the Memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg confession similarly defines the church,” watch this, “as the community of those who were persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake. Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ. And it is, therefore, not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.”
Now friends, persecution is not that bad, believe it or not, as Bishop Sheen said, “One advantage of being thrown on your back is that you are now facing heaven.” So it is actually a good thing in light of all things.
You know, maybe the reason you are not being persecuted today is because you haven’t put yourself in a position to be persecuted. You see, when the New Testament apostles would go to a community, if they were not being persecuted, it was abnormal.
You see, we live in America, where if we are persecuted, it is abnormal. And I don’t think it should be that way. Friends, whenever you speak about Jesus, you can expect to be persecuted, right? And so maybe the reason you aren’t being persecuted is because you aren’t speaking about Jesus enough. And maybe the reason I am not being persecuted is because I am not speaking about Jesus as much.
I want you to understand, persecution is not easy, but Jesus has given us a reward. “Blessed are those who are persecuted and reviled for My sake, Jesus said, because great is their reward in heaven.”
Persecution is a natural part of the Christian life. Secondly, what goes in the mind comes out the mouth. What goes in the mind will come out of the mouth. I believe what is happening in this text with Peter and John before the religious leaders is the realization of what Jesus promised what would happen in John Chapter 14. So I want you to look at the screen. John 14:26, Jesus said this, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Now some pastors have wrongly used this verse to say, the reason, folks, I don’t prepare all week to preach a sermon is because when I get in the pulpit, I want to be led by the Holy Ghost. And the Bible says, He will bring all things to my mind. You have probably heard that before. Some people have used this as a cop out to memorize scripture. Hey, listen, I don’t take the time to memorize scripture. That is too hard work. But the Bible says that the Holy Spirit will bring things to mind. The operative word in this text is the word “remembrance.” Do you know what that word “remembrance” means in the language of the New Testament? It means to remember! And in order to remember something, you have to first put it in your mind, right?
When Jesus said the Spirit will bring all things to remembrance, He is not talking about osmoses through telepathy. Jesus is talking about something that we have taken the time to learn and memorize and the Spirit, in that time, will bring those things to mind.
Friends, scripture memory is hard work, right? But there is a great promise. Jesus says, in your time of need, I will bring all things to remembrance. Well, you know what Paul said. Be lazy and show thyself approved. Is that what Paul said? No. Study to show thyself approved. A daily quiet time. I can’t stress this enough, is probably the most important spiritual practice of your life. Okay?
Now, I have to be honest. There was a time in my life when I did my quiet time at night and not in the morning. And I would argue ferociously against you when you would try to say, well, you know, the Bible says rise early. And I would have all these scriptures to back it up. And then I got convicted myself recently, I will just confess to you. And I realized that at night, and no offense to those who are doing their quiet time at night, maybe you will be convicted by what I am about to say and change it. But anyway, so I would do mine at night and it was good, but the problem was, I was loading a weapon that I was then putting under the bed into the gun safe. And the Lord showed me through prayer, why don’t you take that and move it to the morning. And when you read the word of God and meditate on the Word of God, it is like loading a revolver with spiritual ammunition that you can wield throughout the day and fire as needed. You are filling yourself up with scriptural ammunition to use.
And so just this past week, I will give you a for instance. A friend of mine who was about to make a big decision in life and it was really a faith decision. And he is like, Pastor, I don’t know if I can do it. He said, I am praying through this. I don’t know if I should do it. My family is involved. And he said, it is a big step of faith. What do you think I should do? And I said, well, let me ask you a question. Do you think God is leading you to do it? And he said, I do.
Now that week, I was reading through the book of Nehemiah. We are reading through the F260 with my discipleship groups and so we are in the book of Nehemiah now. And it says that Nehemiah, when he went to the city of Jerusalem, the Lord was with him. And then he surveyed the walls and the Lord was with him. And he rebuilt the city and the Lord was with him. And I said to this man, I said, let me tell you what I read this morning about Nehemiah, that when God leads a man, He goes with him. And Brother, if God is in this thing, God is with you. God’s work done God’s way never lacks God’s supply.
You want to be used mightily by the Lord? Listen to me, you don’t have to be theological. You don’t have to be educational. You don’t have to be intellectual. But you have to be committed and you have to be devoted to Jesus. And if you do those two things, I really believe God can use you mightily.
Alexander Maclaren said this: We need to spend time with Jesus. Look at what he said. “A soul habitually in contact with Jesus will imbibe sweetness from Him. Just as garments laid away in a drawer with some perfume absorbs fragrance from that beside which they lie.”
So let me ask you as we close, when people see you in the community, when people see you at work, do they say, this Brother has spent time with Jesus? Do they say that? Sister, when you walk into a restaurant or walk into a store or walk into a friend’s house, do they look at you and say, this lady has spent time with Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I want people to say that about me. I want people to see me and say, he has spent time with Jesus.
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