The Consequences of the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Part 2
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Today, we will look at another prototype of our times in the book of Acts. We are amid the perils of the last days, and the times of refreshing are soon to fall on God’s people, like in the days of the apostles. But the wicked still rage against the righteous, and they will make laws that restrict them and will cancel them. You can see this in the public square. There is a hatred of religion or at least certain types of religion. And it will only grow and become more focused. So, let us review in another chapter in the book of Acts because it has great lessons for us today.
As we begin let us pray. Our father in heaven, we pray that as we study today Your Holy Spirit will minister to our souls. May we be refreshed by the genuine history from Acts in chapters 3 and 4. May we learn lessons that will apply to our lives and our times. And may we accept the truth, and the hard realities of the last days as a joy to suffer for Christ’s sake. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 3:1-10. This miracle was designed to attract attention to Peter and John. But the intention was to give them an opportunity to share Christ and the gospel with them.
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.”
There was nothing special about Peter and John except that they were believers in Jesus and were partakers of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. They were sinners like everybody else. But they had an experience with Jesus and had surrendered their lives completely to Him. And the Holy Spirit was now going to use them powerfully.
But the fuller reason this miracle is recorded in the book of Acts, is so that we can understand, all the way down at the end of time, how to have genuine faith, and the magnificent way the Holy Spirit will work in our day with those who have been partakers of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. It is also a warning to beware that the reaction of the church leaders will also be similar as the Holy Spirit again works around them by layman and some ministers who are called and are sanctified by His powerful grace.
Let’s read verse 11. “And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”
Peter explained to them how they killed Jesus, the Prince of life, who gave this man his health back, and how they could have faith and believe too. He called on them to repent of their sins. There were about 5,000 men that believed plus women and children. But when the interests of the kingdom of heaven are successfully carried on, the powers of darkness are ready to put a stop to it, if they can. Let’s read chapter 4:1-4.
“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.”
The priests and Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, and the temple captain who were charged with keeping the peace, arrested them. These groups were the sworn enemies of Christ and they hated His gospel as much when He was preached as a heavenly priest as when He was preached as an earthly prophet. They were as jealous of their priesthood as Caesar was of his monarchy. You had to have permission to preach or teach. You had to have credentials as it were. And they could not tolerate anyone who they perceived was a rival to their influence and challenged their power and authority. They were not of the same spirit and mind as John the Baptist who said “He must increase and I must decrease.” The captain of the temple was probably a Roman officer charged with guarding the temple. So, in this we have both Jews and gentiles allied against Christ and His disciples.
These priests and Sadducees were grieved and appalled, we are told, with the holy boldness and fearlessness of Peter and John. They were preaching without approval of the church leaders. They were upset with them because they were not in control of the messaging that went out from the temple. And it was undermining them. The message was also politically incorrect. But moreover, they were upset that there were so many people willing to hear it. They thought that after they put Christ to such an ignominious death, His disciples would ever after be ashamed and afraid to identify with Him. But they were not. They also expected that the people would have invincible prejudices against Him and His doctrines so that they would not be so easily persuaded. Now it vexed them greatly to see the miracle of healing just like Christ did, and that the gospel was gaining a lot of ground instead of losing it. Was the influence of Christ spreading through His disciples they asked?
Psalms 112:10 says, “The wicked shall see it, and be grieved…”
They were grieved at that which they should have rejoiced in. They were grieved at that which angels rejoice in. Miserable is the case to whom the glory of Christ’s kingdom is a grief. That glory is everlasting, and it follows that their grief will be everlasting too. The Sadducees were grieved that the resurrection from the dead was preached, for they opposed that doctrine and could not bear to hear of a future state, and to hear it so well attested, and with such convincing conviction. The chief priests were grieved that they preached the resurrection of the dead through Jesus. Though they professed to believe the resurrection of the dead, yet they would rather give up that important doctrine and oppose it in the disciples, than have it preached and proved to be through Jesus.
Jesus was their number one enemy and His disciples were now multiplied and preaching His doctrine everywhere. They had to crush the movement if they could. So, they laid hands on them, that is, their servants and officers did so at their command. And they committed them to the custody of the Roman officer until the next day. They could not examine them immediately because it was evening, and Jewish law forbade them to hold trials at night. Plus, they needed to organize their strategy and questioning for the next day when they would arraign the apostles.
God knows how to train up His servants for suffering by degrees. By lesser trials He prepares them for greater trials. For now, they got used to the trial of prison and bonds only. And it was a trial, but it was also training. But that training prepared them to endure stronger suffering, even unto blood. God is merciful and He will do the same training for us. When they have run with the footmen, they will then be prepared to contend with the horses (Jeremiah 12:5).
There was no religious liberty at the time of the apostles in Jerusalem. We take it for granted today, although not for long. We are losing religious liberty today right, left, and center. These disciples were about to speak truth to power, and they knew the animosity and hostility that was brewing.
Listen to this from Acts of the Apostles, page 61.
“The enemies of the disciples could not but be convinced that Christ had risen from the dead. The evidence was too clear to be doubted. Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, refusing to repent of the terrible deed they had committed in putting Jesus to death. Abundant evidence that the apostles were speaking and acting under divine inspiration had been given the Jewish rulers, but they firmly resisted the message of truth. Christ had not come in the manner that they expected, and though at times they had been convinced that He was the Son of God, yet they had stifled conviction, and crucified Him. In mercy God gave them still further evidence, and now another opportunity was granted them to turn to Him. He sent the disciples to tell them that they had killed the Prince of life, and in this terrible charge He gave them another call to repentance. But feeling secure in their own righteousness, the Jewish teachers refused to admit that the men charging them with crucifying Christ were speaking by the direction of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s read Acts 4:5-7, “And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”
The Jewish courts in those days apparently sat in a circle and anyone being judged or arraigned stood in the middle. The setting was rather intimidating, as their enemies were on all sides of them.
Psalm 22:16 says, “The assembly of the wicked has inclosed me.”
Psalm 118:12 says, “They compassed me about like bees.”
Isaiah 1:21 has pointed testimony for the church. “How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.”
But the disciples were confident in Christ. They held their heads up and they were ready with their testimony. Not that they had predetermined their answers. But the Holy Spirit rested upon them and they had confidence in God to give them the right answers that could not be refuted.
“By what power, or by what name, have you done this?”
This question was really asking by what authority do you do these things? This was the same question they asked of Christ. “Who commissioned you to preach such a doctrine as this? Who empowered you to do such a miracle as this? You have no license from us, and since you are accountable to us, tell us where you got permission. But they knew very well that they preached Jesus, and the resurrection of the dead, and the healing of the sick through Jesus, yet they asked them to try to get anything out of them that looked criminal.
Listen to the plea of Peter before this hostile tribunal in Acts 4:8-10. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”
Peter is essentially saying; “If we be called to account as criminals for a good deed done to the impotent man, as anyone would say that it is; If we are put to the question by what means, or by whom he is made whole, we have an answer ready. It is the same answer we gave to the people and we will repeat it to you, and will stand by it. Be it known unto you all who pretend to be ignorant of this matter, and not to you only, but to all the people of Israel, for they are all concerned to know the answer to the same question, that by the name of Jesus Christ, that precious, powerful, prevailing name, that name above every name, even by him who you in contempt called Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, both rulers and people, and whom God hath raised from the dead and advanced to the highest dignity and dominion, even by him doth this man stand before you all, a monument to the power of the Lord Jesus.”
Peter and his colleague realize that they are to be counted criminals because of the good deed that they did to the beggar. But they are not ashamed. It is not a new thing for a man to suffer for doing good. In fact, that is the Christian’s lot. Those who live in Western countries do not understand this as they ought because they are used to being able to say what they want, do what they want, go where they want, and be what they want. They have had freedom. And they don’t know what it’s like without that freedom. So, they can’t really fully understand what suffering for Christ’s sake is like, and are largely unprepared for it.
But it is becoming more and more apparent that we are losing the freedoms we have enjoyed up till now. We will soon see how fragile freedom is and will be thrust into the crucible for our faith in Christ and especially the Sabbath. And while it isn’t apparent yet, they will soon see that Rome is behind it all, and that the Jesuits have been in the middle of it.
And let us make it clear who is behind all this. It is a principle of Rome that they will do everything possible to remove liberty and freedom. They hate freedom because they cannot control the people and manipulate the nations unless it is removed. They are like their father, the enemy of all mankind, who also hates freedom and liberty and uses them to destroy it.
Listen to this from Great Controversy, page 565.
“‘The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’… The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’”
Peter charges the murder of Christ upon his judges themselves; “It is he whom you crucified.” Peter is working for their conversion. He endeavors to convince them of sin, and he aims to bring them to repentance by stirring their consciences. He has to tell them the truth. After all, they put Christ, the Lord of glory, to death. What a mistake they made! The very Messiah, the one whom they should have accepted in their hearts and elevated with their tongues, they crucified and murdered.
Peter tells them that which they do not want to hear, that God raised Christ from the dead. So, they had advanced the argument that the disciples came at night and stole his body to make people think that He had risen from the dead as they claimed. But this miracle is too obvious to deny. Peter takes advantage of this opportunity to point out that they are theologically and morally out of step with heaven. Do you think religious leaders can be out of step with heaven today? Of course, they can and many are. In fact, anyone who has the spirit of control will be led to persecute and stand against heaven. Cancelling, demonizing and marginalizing is designed to control the people and limit their influence.
Peter also has in mind all the bystanders and observers. They will repeat his words to their neighbors. “Be it known to you all that are here present, and it shall be made known to all the people of Israel, wherever they are dispersed, in spite of all your endeavors to stifle and oppress the truth, everyone will know of the Lord Jesus and the power of His resurrection. And many will believe in Him because of this divine revelation of grace and goodwill to men.”
Peter continues in verses 11-14, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”
Peter just keeps at it. He kindly tells them that there is no salvation outside of Christ. That was also a very hard statement. The Jews viewed the temple, or the institutional church, and their race as the basis of salvation. But Peter told them that this is not true. Today, we have a similar problem. Many people think that membership in the institutional church is the basis of salvation. And they will do everything they can to protect the institution and its leader’s reputation, even when it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are working at cross purposes with God.
The court could not refute the testimony of these “unlearned and ignorant men.” They had spoken words that could not have been of themselves. The Holy Spirit had fulfilled Christ’s promise in Luke 21:15, “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”
These men, they had to acknowledge, had been with Jesus and had partaken of His wisdom. The miracle of the healing of the lame man could not be denied. He was standing right there in front of them with Peter and John. The Jewish tribunal was stuck and could not prosecute them further.
Please notice that the disciple’s response was not designed to clear themselves. It was intended to preach Jesus, which was the reason that they saw themselves set before their judges. After all, Jesus had told them that they would be brought before governors and kings, to whom they would not otherwise have access, and this would give them an opportunity to preach the gospel to those in power. So, they were negligent of their own preservation. The Holy Spirit would have to defend them. They would preach Jesus by His convincing and convicting power, be the consequences what it may.
What an example for us today when we are brought before the same types of people. Don’t worry about what you will say, because you’ll be given the words by the Holy Spirit. Concentrate on the purpose for which you are there and see it as an opportunity to speak the truth to power. If you look for every justification you can to get yourself off the hook, or to avoid some punishment, you won’t fulfill the purpose of God and you will be defeated.
It’s also ironic that the man who denied his Lord three times, the cowardly Peter who followed Jesus to the crucifixion at a distance, is now as bold as this. He has been converted and the Holy Spirit controls him. He is not afraid to face persecution for Jesus sake.
People are placed in positions of power to rule with righteousness, whether it’s in the church or the state. And if they are wicked and cause the people to error or to sin because of their own example, or by their influence, they will have a far greater responsibility for this in the judgment. So, God has to bring them testimony so that they will be forewarned of His judgments for evil and wickedness. His servants are merely instruments in His hands.
Let’s read verses 15-17, “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to 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. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.”
The three men were ordered out of the council in order to hide the purpose of the priests and conceal their perplexity. Notwithstanding the determined hostility and hatred of the priests for Christ and His disciples, they could not, they dared not do more than threaten them, because they were afraid the people would rise up and protest, maybe violently, and remove them from their position. Wicked men have always taken counsel against the Lord and against Christ. And His followers receive the brunt of their hostility and suffer for His sake.
Very willingly they would have punished the apostles for their preaching, but they lacked the courage because the people knew that a great miracle had been done and would rally to their defense. The fact that it was done at the gate of the temple made the opinion and awe of the apostles universal. The priests and rulers couldn’t punish them because they would have lost all credibility with the people and would have been abandoned as enemies to both God and to man. They couldn’t find a plausible excuse to punish them because the people knew too much. They knew it would be unrighteous to punish them. They should have restrained themselves from punishing them for fear of God who reads men’s hearts; but they were only worried about offending the people.
It is amazing how the councils of hell fight against the councils of heaven. God would have the knowledge of Christ spread all around the world, but the chief priests would have it spread no further than it had already gone.
Acts 4:18-22, “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 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. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”
They give no reason why the doctrine of Christ should not be preached. They just demand that it be suppressed. They cannot say that it is false or dangerous. But the preaching of Peter and John testified against their hypocrisy and wickedness, and shocks their tyranny.
They forbade them from preaching at all, especially in the name of Jesus. They were not too speak publicly or privately. They were simply to hide their light under a bushel. There is no greater service done to the devil’s kingdom then by the silencing of faithful ministers who give the straight testimony. Think about what these men were saying. They were not only trying to stop the preaching of the gospel, but they were threatening to punish it as a heinous crime. Religious freedom was nonexistent, but God knows how to prevent harm to His cause nevertheless.
The day may come when you will be threatened in the same way from preaching or teaching the truths of the sanctuary message and the Sabbath or the second coming of Christ. Wicked men adopt the spirit of persecution and hatred against God’s messengers whom He sends to the world as sheep among wolves. Don’t think that the end of time will not be as difficult as the beginning of the gospel. It may be worse. But God is up to it, and you can depend on Him. He will defend His work. Though you will suffer for His sake, His cause will still go forward.
Peter and John did not have to confer with one another to know each other’s mind. After all they were both actuated by the same spirit. And they gave an answer to the wily priests. With holy boldness and without fear Peter and John told them “whether it be right in the sight of God, to whom we all are accountable, to hearken unto you more than unto God, you judge. For we cannot forebear to speak to everybody the things which we have seen and heard and are ourselves witnesses and are filled up with grace and power. And furthermore, we are charged to publish it by the One who is resurrected and ascended into heaven and is sitting at the right hand of God.”
These men told them that their priestly authority had no weight and their malignity had no power. In effect, they tell them that they are resolved to go on preaching and justify it by the command of God and by the convictions of their consciences.
It is always the wisest course to obey God than to break a divine command in obedience to a human injunction. How could finite men create laws in conflict with God’s infinite law, or justify persecuting God’s servants when He has commanded them to preach? Right now, nations have made laws that conflict with the laws of God on many fronts. But a day of serious reckoning is coming. If Peter and John weren’t going to publish the truth, who would? These priests were not going to do it, although they should have.
They further threatened them and let them go. They knew how to keep men in fear of excommunication. There were many who they had frightened into obedience to their unrighteous decrees. And they thought they would have the same influence with these apostles. But they seriously underestimated them and the God that they served. For the disciples had been with Jesus.
There are many lessons in this story not the least of which is that’s spiritual impotency can be healed just like this impotent man was healed of his impotency. The power of divine grace is sufficient to annul your evil habits and tendencies. And when you gain the victory, the joy is magnified and the testimony to the truth is more powerfully received.
We have to be careful with perspective. The Sadducees had their perspective. The priests had their perspective. And today many would say that they just understood things differently than the apostles. In this way we satisfy ourselves that we do not judge. But is that correct? People have their perspective but many times our perspective is wrong. Just because you have your perspective doesn’t mean you see things as you should. We have to do everything we can to understand God’s perspective, not our own. God’s perspective is often very different from ours. But that’s the one that counts! Error is no less error because it’s one’s perspective. And you still have to oppose the error. We still have to bring light and truth in the darkness and wickedness of this world.
Today, probably the most controversial subjects are shrouded in perspective. There are 70 some different gender identities. And people think that they can view themselves as they wish, and their imaginations will become true. They think that they can believe something other than the truth, or what the Bible teaches and that becomes their reality.
Acts 4:23-31 verses say, “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
Listen to this from Acts of the Apostles, page 67.
“While Peter and John were prisoners, the other disciples, knowing the malignity of the Jews, had prayed unceasingly for their brethren, fearing that the cruelty shown to Christ might be repeated. As soon as the apostles were released, they sought the rest of the disciples and reported to them the result of the examination. Great was the joy of the believers.”
But the disciples took a lesson from the experience. This is from the same book pages 67 and 68.
“The disciples prayed that greater strength might be imparted to them in the work of the ministry; for they saw that they would meet the same determined opposition that Christ had encountered when upon the earth. While their united prayers were ascending in faith to heaven, the answer came. The place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were endowed anew with the Holy Spirit. Their hearts filled with courage, they again went forth to proclaim the word of God in Jerusalem. ‘With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,” and God marvelously blessed their efforts.’”
And the lesson is applicable down to the end of time. Listen to this from Acts of the Apostles pages 68 and 69.
“This principle we in our day are firmly to maintain. The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A “Thus saith the Lord” is not to be set aside for a “Thus saith the church” or a “Thus saith the state.” The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.”
Does the experience of Peter and John remind you of anything happening in our day? It happens all the time. Anything that is not according to the official narrative is not only suspect, it is marginalized and persecuted within the church. Those who oppose the coercion of conscience toward the current medical advice, for example, and opposes the General Conference statement about it because it doesn’t allow for freedom of conscience, and supports worldly public policy regardless of conscience, is shut down and not allowed to speak or have a voice. They are cancelled, criticized, marginalized, and opposed. And even though it is only the perspective of church leaders, they are intractable. They will not bend. And they double down and close ranks and will not discuss alternatives. And the reason is that they are so invested and depend on the money that is derived from the deranged and corrupt system that it is impossible for them not to support it for they would go bankrupt. But they also don’t have a good answer to those who ask about religious liberty. It is as if they have made a covenant with death. But the church is following the world and quite literally following the money. Isaiah has some things to say about this in chapter 28:15
“Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves…”
The world today is full of selfishness, pride and the love of money. This is a covenant of death and an agreement with hell. This leads to lies, abuse and a censorship of anything that disagrees with the deception narrative. They do not want to hear the truth. And this affects everything about our society. And God’s church is going along with it. Lagging behind, like a dog following his master.
Good people are afraid of the consequences of standing out and being different. When their jobs or their means of making a livelihood are threatened, they self-censor, and thus they become a party to the deception narrative even if they don’t believe it.
God is a God of truth who allows the enemy to play out his agenda so that, in the end, all can see the end result of doubting God and His word and can choose to voluntarily obey Him or choose not to. As time goes on Satan will be allowed to ratchet up greater and greater lies and deceptions until he is able to make all truth seem as if it is all lies, and all lies as if they are all truth. He will then personate Christ at an opportune moment to seal those for damnation who choose to believe him.
The church mirrors the world. A dominant narrative that tolerates no disagreement has become a feature of the politics of the church as it has in the world. And the few courageous individuals who have stood in opposition to the dominant narrative have been censored, removed from important posts, and generally isolated. Cancel culture has been a reality in the church long before it had that name. I should know. I and my colleagues experienced it.
Conservatives and liberals in the church are strongly opposed to each other over things like women’s ordination, standards, and last generation theology. Conservatives are just as ready to cancel opponents as are liberals and will adopt very similar attitudes towards those who do not accept the conservative dominant narrative.
Censorship of dissents has always been a feature of totalitarian regimes. From the days of Jezebel in Samaria to the days of Christ, from Middle Ages to the puritan era, from the American colonies to the modern-day opposition to certain medical interventions, censorship is the emblem of those in power. When they don’t have a good answer to strong opposition, they resort to censorship. It has only been the constitution of the United States, and similar constitutions in Western countries, that has held in check and prevented social censorship until recently. But now those constitutions are being ignored and they’re being dismantled.
But there have always been those who would desire to censor any opinions that are uncomfortable for public figures. And the church has much of this itself. But there is also a “conspiracy” of silence among those conservatives who are grieved with the apostacy. They see the disobedience to God’s will, but they will not speak up. Even conservatives in high-ranking positions at the very top of the hierarchy are involved in the silence. The times call for a more pointed testimony than that given by John the Baptist.
Listen to this statement from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, page 321.
“In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.”
The hierarchy exists to perpetuate itself, and therefore it will defend itself. For example, recent attempts to ask, or plead for the hierarchy to relook at its position on certain medical jabs have been met with censorship, removal of dissenters from committees, and shutting down discussions at important church meetings. These are classic totalitarian tactics.
Unable to defend their positions adequately, leaders of every level close ranks in order to protect the institutional system and the individuals charged with preserving it. They use coercive muzzling strategies like removal of memberships in associations, delicensing, gaslighting, defunding, retracting, marginalizing, and vilifying of those who were only moments before credible and respected individuals who now refuse to tow the official narrative. In essence, it is a bullying form of censorship called “cancel culture” which tries to disappear not only the heretical language or ideas, but also the heretic who uttered them.
And now that the church has embedded liberals in its very fabric there is a baked in disdain for the truths that made it what it once was. The COVID pandemic was a lesson that should be heeded by liberals and conservatives alike. It was an opportunity to become familiar with the tactics that will ultimately be employed by society and the government to restrict the speech and movements of God’s faithful people. But it is alarming to see the church using them too.
The world has a long history of invoking contagious diseases to justify segregation laws against despised minorities. The most notorious of these in the 20th century were the Nazis who segregated and quarantined Jews because they were not as genetically strong as other Germans. Eventually, they gassed them to death. Are we about to experience similar things in the 21st century? Will the church co-operate with totalitarianism? They did during World War II to save the institutional church from suppression by the Nazis. They apologized publicly for the cancellation of the memberships of Jews who were members, 60 years later when all the perpetrators we’re dead. The lateness of the apology undermines the perception of seriousness.
A failure to recognize and acknowledge the truth of a matter does not change the truth, but it steels the perceptions against the truth. And it allies the individual to the falsehood and deception more strongly. When once you have committed a wrong act, it is easier to commit another wrong act.
When the institution, or the church itself is at stake leaders and administrators seem to be immune to logic and reason. They don’t realize that they are persecuting the very ones that are speaking the truth to power. The truth is just as unwelcome today by those in ecclesiastical power as it was in the days of the apostles.
One final note. It’s from Acts of the Apostles page 69.
“We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way. We are to go forward in Christ’s name, advocating the truths committed to us. If we are forbidden by men to do this work, then we may say, as did the apostles, ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’”
The time is coming when we will have to have a prayer life similar to that of the apostles, for we will face the same issues that they faced. It is an amazing time that is before us. We will see things that we have never seen before. And we will experience persecutions like we have never experienced before. Now they are just inconveniences compared to what’s coming. So, please get your life ready for the crisis ahead. Unite with Jesus and let no man get in the way of your relationship with him.
Let us pray, dear father in heaven, we’re on the verge of experiencing persecution like the disciples did when the Holy Spirit was poured out. We pray that we will have a close walk with Jesus and a connection that will make it possible for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us. At the same time, we pray for the strength to stand against the enemy. Thank You for Your promises. Please stand with us we pray, in Jesus name, amen.
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