Commentary

Revival Scares People

The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:44-52.

It is one thing for a man to be preaching to a crowd. It’s another thing altogether when the crowds come out to hear him. And then it goes up a level of concern when it starts to change people’s lives. That’s because the status quo usually benefits someone, and that person, or persons, don’t want you rocking their boat.

Throughout history there has been a complacent ruling class. Once Christian religious leaders became part of that ruling class, they didn’t like the status quo being challenged, either. Before the Reformation in the 1500s, the Catholic Church would tamp down heretics that spoke out against the church’s wealth and corruption. When the printing press was invented, and the Bible started being published in various languages, the church did what it could to suppress that. When reformers spoke up and got a large following, the reformers were imprisoned, forced to recant, and/or were executed. And here, in America, we have had our Great Awakenings. And every one of them had opposition from the established churches of most if not all denominations. It will be no different now.

Our preaching and teaching should oppose the status quo. That is because we live in a sin-cursed world that is loathe to acknowledge the God who created us. It’s a world that wants to redefine reality in a way that satisfies its redefined morality. And it wants you to abandon your rights and your religion, and your nuclear family, and your traditions, and your gender roles, and anything that you think is normal. And if you resist it, you will be shamed, depersoned, cancelled, prosecuted, and punished to the full extent of their ever changing laws. So, if were going to stand up to the status quo, we had better win.

Live Not By Lies

Learn about our current “soft totalitarianism” and how you can be a Christian dissident. Woke ideology, also known as social justice, is leading us to a new tyrannical movement where you will be labeled as a racist, bigot, homophobe, or with some other manufactured charge in order to silence your speech or make you back down to bullies. More than ever, we need the true Gospel preached, and subversive lay people to replace sellouts who cave in to the woke mob. Get a copy here.

Paid It Forward

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:36-41.

Peter is telling these people, some of whom were demanding the crucifixion of their Messiah, that they will be forgiven if they repent. And not only that, but they will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that this promise is extended far into the future to all their descendants. It is the exact opposite of digging up past sins of yours, and those of your ancestors, and extracting some kind of payback.

The concept of “Pay It Forward” is one where you repay a favor by doing a favor for someone else, and tell them to return that favor to yet someone else. This idea has been written about long before the 2000 movie of the same name, in which a boy launches a movement as part of a class project in which the good deed is to be repaid to three new people. Ben Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and even coach Woody Hayes were proponents of the idea. It’s actually a microcosm of the Gospel. Like when Peter was forgiven by Christ, received the Holy Spirit, and paid it forward to 3000 people on the Day of Pentecost.

During these times of accusation, recrimination, and manipulation, let us remember that we can be free of this bondage by insisting on our freedom in Christ. Then we can pay it forward by telling others that God is not holding their sins against them, and that they are also free.

Withholding Forgiveness

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:19-23.

When we withhold the Gospel, keep our mouths shut before a lost world, our lost friends and neighbors and coworkers, we are withholding the means of forgiveness. And no, this was not just a charge given to the first century apostles that has long passed away. The great commission was never rescinded. And it has not been subcontracted out to a professional class of Sunday morning orators. We are all Christ’s ambassadors: “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Today the world is scrambling for the false reconciliation of revenge, settling scores, and exploiting old wounds for monetary reparations. They prosecute anyone they can as accessories after the fact, even when the facts are centuries old, and the evidence has to be manufactured. All this is happening now because we have left a vacuum and kept the solution to ourselves. We are the possessors of the great secret that the price for all sin has been paid, and we are liberated from all grudges, incoming and outgoing. We are forgiven, and have the power to forgive.

Choosing the State Over God

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. John 19:1-16.

Pilate had to be confused. The Jews have no love for Rome, but here they are declaring their loyalty to Caesar over this other worldly preacher who rubbed them the wrong way. They are even questioning Pilate’s loyalty to Caesar for wanting to release Jesus. They just want Him dead.

This could not have happened in Capernaum, or Bethsaida. These are much smaller towns, where the people were more estranged from their government. Jerusalem was an urban center, where the religious rulers were used to interacting with the occupying force that ruled over them. In the small towns, everyone probaby knew someone Jesus healed. In Jerusalem, it was a disturbing sight to see the multitude calling Him the Son of David. He was a disruption of the political order to which the ministerial class had become accustomed.

If you are seeking first the kingdom of God, and Jesus is your king, you may have to ditch your patriotism at some point. And when you choose your country over your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are casting your ballot with the state over God. This is a time when some self-examination is in order.