Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Influence of Jesus

By Ron Thomas


    From Acts 2 and 3, we read of the Lord’s saints (apostles) proclaiming His message on the day of Pentecost, a significant day that generated, I am sure, curiosity. In chapter 4 we start learning a little more about the forces of resistance beginning to brew. Fresh in the minds of the Jewish religious leaders was the life, teaching, and rebuke suffered by them from the Lord. Aggravated as they were by Jesus, they were determined to put Him death. This they did, thinking they were able to put a stop to His influence. However, though they thought to put a stop to Jesus’ influence, they were now experiencing the ramifications of Jesus’ teaching with His disciples; they focused their attention on them.

    The Sanhedrin (a very significant source of civil and religious authority among the Jews) decided to take a stand against the apostles, but this was not before there was, at least, an additional 2,000 people who had committed to the Gospel message of the Lord. They asked them, in effect, “Who are you and by what authority are you doing these things?” The apostles were happy to give attention to this question; it gave them the opening they desired to talk about Jesus, and this they did (4:8-12).

    That is an important question to consider. “By whose authority do we do the things we do?”

    In conjunction with this, Peter made it very clear that of all the names given among men living under the banner of the heavens, there is no other name than Jesus, the only name by which any can and will be saved (Acts 4:12). What this means in practical terms is this: there is no acceptable religious devotion from any of the people of any community who rejects Jesus. This applies to all the so-called “great” religions of the world. If one does not submit to the Lord Jesus, then all necessarily submit to the adversary of the Lord’s people, the devil.

    After hearing the apostles, the Sanhedrin forbade them from speaking any further in the name of Jesus. To most, this would have been a sufficient reason to stop. Peter and John, however, thought differently. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard (Acts 4:19-20, ASV). The force of the resistance that opposed Jesus was beginning to throw its might against them, never considering that the force of the Almighty is on the side of those preaching the message of the Gospel.

    Some lessons to learn. First, regarding salvation, no one is saved before the Almighty without a positive, obedient response to the Lord Jesus. Second, the religiously oriented and highly educated Jewish community does not make one religiously right in the Lord’s sight. Whatever devotion they may have had, to reject the Lord’s Servant is to reject Him. Let that be a reminder to each of us that it is not only one’s sincerity and devotion that makes one pleasing to the Lord, but it includes accurate knowledge and obedience to that which is learned from the Lord. Knowledge contributes to one’s holiness, but the heart’s response to that knowledge in obedience to the holy will of God is equally important. Third, when you talk about Jesus do not speculate on things to which the Holy Spirit never gave any attention (cf. 4:20); only talk about those things you know (cf. Rom. 15:18). If you’re uncertain about something, take time to study and look for another day to converse. Fourth, the Lord’s church will grow when all who love the Lord are under His banner, not trying to take the lead on their own.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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