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Loyal to the Truth

Acts 4:16-20
'What are we going to do with these men?' they asked. 'Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.' Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.' (NIVUK)

The religious court had a problem. They could not deny the evidence that Peter and John had commanded a lame beggar to walk, in the Name of Jesus, and he was healed (Acts 3:6-10). Neither could they say that such healing was anything other than a good thing. But they still hated Jesus. They feared that even though they had crucified Jesus, His followers would be more troublesome than their Master, claiming that He is alive. If Jesus was more powerful than them, then what would happen to their powerbase (John 11:48)?

They hoped to scare the apostles with threats, to stop them talking about Jesus. They had no understanding that the Spirit of Jesus was within the men, and in thousands of others who believed in Him (Acts 2:38-41). So when the apostles were told to stop teaching about Jesus, they had to explain that their primary loyalty was to Him. Their teaching was not another touring philosophy lecture, but the overflow of their hearts (Luke 6:45) based on their personal relationship with Jesus - having worked with Him, met Him on several occasions after the resurrection, been commissioned by Him, seen Him ascended into heaven (with the promise that He would come back), and been filled with the Holy Spirit. They had to tell the world that Jesus is God's Saviour (Acts 1:8)

Through the last 2000 years many believers have done the same thing. They have been quite clear that their first responsibility is to please the Lord and to keep on spreading the gospel. They have been respectful of the authorities but refused to deny Jesus or be ashamed of Him (1 Peter 2:13-17). Millions have been persecuted and thousands have been martyred. However, the church in those areas has eventually grown because there is power in the gospel message (Romans 1:16); when people hear about Jesus, hungry hearts will repent and receive Him. It will be the same where you live and work. As you honour Jesus, some of your friends and colleagues will want to find Him as well (John 12:26).

Holy God. Thank You for bringing me into a personal relationship with Yourself through Jesus Christ. Forgive me for failing to make You my primary priority, and for being silent about Jesus because of fear. Please help me to be so full of Him that the way I live will express His gospel and His love so that others will be drawn to Him. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams