ACTS 4:17 THE DESIRES OF THE RELIGIOUS WORLD.

As we left off in ( Acts 4 ) the last time we see where the religious leaders, that council had set the Apostles Peter and John aside so they could talk privately about what to do with them. Just to recap. in ( verses 15-16 ) But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves. ( 16 ) Saying, What shall we do with these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

Let me start with this verse: ( Ephesians 6:12 ) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principilities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

One of the first things I noticed about this as I read it was the secrecy. These men went to a private place to talk. This Bibles says: ( Ye shall know the truth and the truth, shall make you free ) ( John 8:32 ) Everything Jesus Christ done, he done out in the open that is, all but pray and, often he did that openly. The complete word of God is written to us, all about him and there is nothing hid from us, nothing done in secret.

I’ll just add this to give you something to think about. My wife and I; a few years ago visited a Church a few times that believed in speaking in tongues. I don’t speak in tongues and, don’t see it as a particular gift for today. My wife however, believes in speaking in tongues and I don’t have a problem with it. The morning we went to this Church this is what the pastor said to his people. If any of you feel a need to relay a message in tongues, go talk to one of our deacons and, they will hear what you have to say and decide whether it needs to be said or not.

I just wonder, does anyone else see a problem with that? Is that not a picture of what we are studying right here in Acts? Can you give me any scriptue for what happened there? I don’t want to get into another study here but, what man decides what is needed on a given day and what is not? I can tell you situations where revival broke out in a Church and, the pastor never got to speak. The reason for that is, it’s not the pastor we need to hear from. it’s the Holy Spirit. I can see how, in this instance, while the Apostles Peter and John were Locked up, the Spirit of God was alive, well and very active outside the meeting of the council. In more ways than not, it’s the same thing in our local Churches; that is, if the people in that Church are Spirit filled. What happens within that building, while it might be a good thing; can also be very minor.

The religious world has a desire to control, who speaks, where they speak and all that they say. In this segment it’s my desire to point out how I believe that the religious world has infiltrated our Churches today. I believe the process began in the very early days of the Church and, it has become more scientific over the years, also more deceitful. Let’s look at two verses of scripture.

( Galatians 2:4 ) And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.

( Jude 1:4 ) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condenmation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

We can’t simply read by verses like we see in ( Acts 4: 14-18 ) and act like they don’t exist. We see in the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Galatia that it had began even back in the very early days. Now, I want you to notice something in these two scriptures. In ( Galatians 2:4 ) it explains that the false brethren were ( brought in ) and in ( Jude 1:4 ) it says they ( crept in ). We see the enemy at work. It actually doesn’t matter how they get in, the damage is done.

So, let’s consider the letter to the Galatians. Now, this is just my theory about how it worked then and also, now. The Apostle Paul came to that city with great passion, preaching to true gospel of Jesus Christ. In this segment, I’m going to explain what I believe that envolves. Since he preached with that Holy Ghost conviction, many people truly were born again. However, some of the people that made a profession of faith doubted what he preach and disagreed with him on some points. In the verses we are looking into in Acts; so you remember they were working ( behind close doors )? Well, although these peop,e didn’t agree with all the Apostle Paul was teaching, they didn’t just leave did they and, they also kept their thoughts to themselves until the time they seen an opening to began to sow their discord. The Apostle Paul said this about those that ( preach another gospel ) ( Galatians 1:8 ) But though we or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, ( LET HIM BE ACCURSED ).

We see in ( Jude ) that often they simply crepe in. They see a situation where the spirit of God is moving and souls are being saved so they simply decide to become a member and then, began to disrupt. In this case, it’s still behind ( closed doors ) because they don’t let you know their true intent.

The Apostle Paul is saying that these kind of people need to ( Go to hell ) be accursed. I call this ( spiritual abortion ). I’ll get to that a little later but, we think that is hard. Consider, these are people that purposely deceive people and cause them to die without Christ. They hide truth from the lost and cover up the only true way to salvation. To God the Father; that is no small thing and, Jude and Paul recognizes this, so do I.

In the last few decades, what we see in our physical lives with abortion and, even birth control is, without a doubt because of ( spiritual abortion ) that began in our local Churches. It’s within our ability to stop true spiritual birth from taking place. Common sense will tell you that if you stop a child from being born then, that child will never have children. It’s exactly the same way in our spiritual lives, if you never truly get born again then, you will never have any spiritual children. You might get people to join your religious organization or Church but, that’s far from being born again, truly being filled with God’s Spirit.

Look at what they say to the: ( Acts 4:17-18 ) But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them,that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. ( 18 ) And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The title of this segment is ( The desires of the religious world ). The number one desire of all religion is to stop people from speaking in the name of Jesus. ( I believe ) this goes much deeper that we like to consider or, that most people understand. My desire is to attempt to show all that is being stated here.

Jesus Christ gave his life for all sinners on the Cross of Calvary. On the third day he arose from the grave and forty days later he ascended into heaven and, is now setted at the right hand of the Father. He has now been sitting their for around two thousand years. Therefore, where is the power of God now?

When Jesus walked umong men he, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, even raised people from the dead. Now, the Apostle Peter has the ability to simply speak his name and do the very same thing. Now, other than the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul, can you show me any other person in the New Teatament that had the ability to do this? However, what is the one thing that the other people could do as well as every born again believer today? Those of that day and we alike have the ability to ( speak in his name ). Outside of that council that day, while no one was being made to walk and the blind was not being made to see, the one thing that was happening, they were speaking in the name of Jesus Christ. Because of this many people were believing and trusting in the name of Jesus.

Think about this. As each person believed, what were they expecting? With that in mind; the day you were saved, what were you expecting? These people were expecting Jesus Christ to return at any time and, they acted on that simple belief. Don’t we do the same thing? I’ve been a believer now for 45 years, looking for the return of Jesus Christ and, I still believe he is going to return and set up his Kingdom right here on this earth. I’ve grown a lot and matured as a believer over the years by the very spirit that lives within me. The people of that day were no different, as time moved foward, they made a decision to either allow the spirit of God within them to teach them or, they listened to the religious world and remained babes in Christ or unsaved.

Now, let’s look at what they told Peter and John and, how those two responded. ( Acts 4:18-20 ) And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. ( 19 ) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. ( 20 ) For we cannot but speak the things which we seen and heard.

I didn’t write ( verse 17 ) but in that verse it says: ( let us straitly threaten them ). But, we see in ( verse 20 ) that they say: ( we cannot but speak the things that we seem and heard ). As a believer, I see this statement as something inspired by the Holy Ghost. Do you remember in ( Genesis 3:1 ) Now the Serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree in the Garden?

Satan made God’s word a question. Whether it is the leaders of the religious world or, simply our weak flesh, he still seeks to do the same thing today. The power of God is within each born again believer. We call it the Holy Spirit but, unless we are willing to ( only speak of the things he tells us to say ) then, to whom do we actually serve? These religious leaders threatened Peter and John. As we continue we will see some of the things they threatened them with but, the question is, today; what are you threatened with?

I’d like to name some things that ( I believe ) men are threatened with today that actually weakens the cause of Christ. My stand is that Peter and John stood on what they knew to be true. As the Holy Ghost revealed new things to them they altered their understanding of what needed to be taught to the people. If those people were wise they listened as the Spirit spoke through the men that they followed. At this time, that is, right after the day of Pentecost. it was most important for the people to listen to what Peter and John taught and, yield to that teaching. That is, not because of John or Peter but, because of the Spirit that led them from within. They were not following Peter and John but, the Holy Ghost of God. Peter and John just happened to be the mouth pieces of that Spirit.

Now, let’s get to some things that I believe are ways that men are threatened today: ( 1 ) Pastors are threatened with losing their job or livelihood. When Peter and John were preaching; their whole passion was hearing and saying what the Spirit of God told them to say. At this point in scripture, we don’t even see any mention of any money changing hands for the preaching of God’s word do we? These men didn’t preach as a part of their livelihood, they done other things to feed their families and themselves. Their preaching was a passion.

We could almost write a book on this one thought. How did we get to this place? By way of teaching, I want you to notice something here. Peter and John went into the temple. What these two men preached was Holy Ghost sent. However, they could not stay in the temple could they? The religious leaders wanted them to leave. Therefore what do we see as a problem here? The building and not the message has become the god. That might lead us to our second way of threatening. ( 2 ) We have made our institutions more important than the message or the messenger. This can be seen in two different lights. While we do love our Church buildings and organizations, it’s people that control those entities. Therefore the people decide what is taught or done inside those buildings. Peter and John stood inside such a building and made this statement: ( But we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard ).

Although men today might not be threatened with prison time death for preaching, actually this threat is more damning because of where it causes people to spend eternity. If Peter and John are put in prison but, the word of God is still preached then, the people are still given truth. However, If they submit to the will of the religious leaders then the people are the ones that lose. Let’s consider something here. If a pastor says he is led to come to preach in an area but, once he comes to a specific Church, the people of that Church rejects him. Why not simply leave the building, go across the street and preach anyway? Does God call men to buildings or communities?

That brings us to: ( 3 ) We are now threatened with education. We either get education or we can’t pastor in our religious institutions or Churches. As a matter of fact, most Churches don’t even want their Sunday School teachers simply teaching from scripture. They want them to use literature from a given source. So, in reality; they want the educated people to tell the uneducated people what we need to say.

I’m going to teach this in just my ( country boy ) way of saying my heart. Let’s read somthing in: ( Revelation 2:6 ) But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. This is Jesus Christ speaking.

I show you this verse because of the word ( Nicolaitanes ). But if we go back a few vreses we see this: ( 2 ) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

The Bible also says here. speaking to the Church of Ephesus that he has somewhat against them, ( that they had lost their first love ). ( Verse 4 ) What might that be? That first love would be me, or any believer simply sitting and listening to God the Father, one on one. God, through his Spirit talking and instructing me or you.

You see, the religious leaders wanted the people to listen to them. The Apostle Peter and John desired for the people to hear what the Spirit of God was saying. As we continue through you will see that the Apostles grew in their understanding of how the Church would work as they listened to God’s Spirit. We could use the ( Book of Acts ) as template of our own personal growth from being a babe in Christ until being spiritually mature. It all starts with the birth of the Holy Ghost within us. As he instructs, we grow.

Thye doctrine of the ( Nicolaitanes ) was that laity or priests taught the people, and that not necessarily by the Holy Spirit. The Apostles Peter and John are leaving the temple or, Church not having to stamp of approval of its leaders on them but, the power of God is with them. The absolute greatest threat to any believer is ( the fear of being wrong ). If we allow the fact the we don’t have all the answers keep us from preaching the gospel then we have already failed.

When these apostles left that temple that day and, all the people that believed outside, they had no idea how God would form ( His Church ). This is simply the first ( line upon line ) ( precept upon precept ). It is exactly how you build your own personal spiritual walk. ( Isaiah 28:13 ). Each believer must preach the gospel. We must be willing to be wrong, correct that wrong and continue to move toward spiritual maturity, just as these did or, at least some of them.

My ( country boy ) way of saying it can be found in the gospels. ( Matthew 25:24-25 ) Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: ( 25 ) AND I WAS AFRAID, and went and hid my talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

So, if I give him back just what he gave me, what good is that? We need to step out, plant, take chances and seek to multipy. Be willing to make mistakes, fix those mistakes and move foward. If we sit in our perspective Churches and are just ( fed with the Manna ) of the religious world, God is not, nor will he ever be pleased with that mindset.

So. we move foward. The next segment will be: ( Acts 4:23 ) PETER AND JOHN LEAVE THE TEMPLE

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