Lesson 6 -- fourth quarter 2005
October 9, 2005
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Do you carry the Gospel with you wherever you go?
Do you conceal it, or convey it?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Christians have a message they bear.
Wherever they went, the early Christians carried the Gospel message and that they faithfully proclaimed. Not only had they found the great treasure and not only had they personally sold out for it, they wanted to make sure others made the same acquisition (Matthew 13:44).
Persecution enhanced the proclamation of the Gospel.
"We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace...now therefore come, that we may go and tell..." (2 Kings 7:9). "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you..." (1 John 1:5). "And we declare unto you glad tidings..." (Acts 13:32).
The "dogs" received a full meal...and a full transformation.
The adversaries of Christ thought to contain and destroy the Church. They succeeded...in enhancing the further and faster spread of the Gospel. While opposition and persecution surely had a dampening, discouraging, defeating effect on some, the majority "went every where preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Peter and John weren't alone in their testimony that "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
Questions and Responses
Why did God allow His people to suffer persecution?Since God "spared not his own Son" (Romans 8:32), it hardly seems fitting for the Son's followers to expect the Father to spare them. When the apostles faced the threats, we have no record that they demanded to know why God would allow such a thing. Listen to a portion of one of their prayers: "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word" (Acts 4:29).
At one point in His own ministry, Jesus had referred figuratively to non-Jews as dogs who should not enjoy the children's bread (Matthew 15:26). On an earlier occasion he had forbidden the twelve from ministering in any Samaritan city (Matthew 10:5). In today's lesson we see the "dogs" being transformed to children and receiving full rights as children!
Furthermore, the apostles recognized God's sovereign will and plan at work. Before their above request for boldness to speak the Word, they acknowledged to God that their Master had suffered from His enemies "whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:28). As Sovereign, God is fully entitled to do as He wishes. We have no legitimate or logical grounds on which to challenge or question Him. He has no obligation to tell us why He does any given thing. And if He were to tell us, would we always understand anyway? "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8,9).
Yes, but why?
"Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake.... And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:4,6,8).
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12).
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings" (Philippians 3:10).
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5).
"But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:13).
"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:12).
"We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3).
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
"The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also" (John 15:20).
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