GOSPEL SPREADS EVEN IN DIFFICULTY TIMES
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Act 4:1-4)
Jesus Christ came here to establish the Kingdom and He appointed twelve men to be the foundation of this kingdom. He prayed that more would be added to it who He expected to further the interest of His kingdom. Your relationship to this kingdom is known on this basis – are you carrying out the interest of this kingdom? Are you watching from a distant or are you fighting it? If you many think that you are just a spectator. But I would like you to know that if you are only a casual observer, then you are not only opposed to the kingdom but also fighting actively to destroy it. Many people are out to see the end of the kingdom of Christ the King but this passage will disappoint those who even imagine that they will succeed. The Kingdom that Christ is giving us is a powerful kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).
How is this kingdom brought to sinners and how do they receive it? The kingdom if God is brought by proclaiming or preaching it. But what does the preaching involve?
1. PREACHING THE GOSPEL INVOLVES SPEAKING TO PEOPLE
We are told that, they were speaking to the people. These mighty men of valour, furthering Christ’s interests were not speaking to animals or to themselves – they were speaking to the people. Note that they were not discriminating those that they were speaking to – for we are told that they were not just speaking to the Jews but to the people. You realize that they did not start by asking who are the elect or reprobates – they were only speaking to the people who would led them ears.
The gospel of God goes forth to whoever would be willing to hear. It is proclaimed indiscriminately. It is propagated to all those who are near even those who are a far off. What they said concerned them all, and they spoke it openly and publicly. They taught the people, and taught them knowledge. They taught those who had not yet believed, for their conviction and conversion as well as those who had believed, for their comfort and establishment. They wished them well that they may be conveyed from the eternal peril to the marvelous light of Christ in which there is eternal security to those who will believe.
They spoke to people as they were – they did not ask them to mend their ways first and then get a dose of the gospel to make them super. They proclaimed the gospel to whoever would listen. It is among those who listens that Christians are made. Those who hear the gospel are the ones who receive the gift of faith, and those have faith are the only ones who are justified (For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Rom. 3:28)
The question for you is have you been hearing the gospel preached to you? Have you believed? What hinders you from taking seriously God’s warning of the danger of hell? What prohibits you from appropriating the promises of God to be yours but yourself?
Please I beseech you do not ignore this message as you have done to so many. Do not leave this hall the way you came. Do not go back obstinate sinner as you have always been because then you would be scoffing the only hope for you to be saved. The message has been brought please accept this message and trust the One who is making the promise of salvation to be able to save you to the uttermost for He is able. He has saved so many in the past and will save you as well if you will come to him in faith and repentance.
2. PREACHING INVOLVES TEACHING THE PEOPLE
Reasoning and reaching to their minds, the Spirit enabled the ministers to do their part, and the people theirs. They faithfully delivered on the doctrine of Christ. They informed their minds of the things of God because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17).
Uninformed minds provide the best soil for ignorant unbelief. He who knows the sinfulness of men, the holiness of God, the wrath of God on sinners but is informed of His grace, love and mercy that He is willing to extend to any sinner who will flee to Him in repentance and faith – he will for sure run to claim the mercy and grace of God.
He who does neither realize either the danger or the benefit that would befall him after doing something will remain aloof until the information reaches to his ears. Take for example a person in a burning building who does not know that the house is on fire, He will continue with his work as if nothing is normal until when the news will reach him and he will act completely differently. In the same manner, a person is going to act differently on learning that the fire fighters are there and that all is in control. Information makes the whole difference.
Therefore, preachers must aim to reason with the minds of the hearers in the simplest language and with the best of methods to make sure that God’s Word reach the ears of people that they may be saved. The best methods must be used (though it is not the methods that save). God has clearly revealed to us that He uses means and we should not taint these means with our sins and hinder the work of God to save.
In teaching them Peter addresses them directly, “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:14,15,19)
You have been taught very clearly the Word of God. You have constantly postponed your conversion though the Saviour is willing. You have delighted in unbelief against all odds because the penalty has been paid and this wonderful has not been kept secret. Once and again you have heard one preacher or the other teach you that Christ is willing. Please hear this word today and do not harden your voice (Hebrews 4:7).
3. PREACHING INVOLVES PROCLAIMING CHRIST ALIVE
It is the Jesus who died for the remission of our sins whom we preach; it is the resurrected Christ who is the subject of the gospel. The theme of apostles’ sermons was ‘the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead’ (Through Christ of course). They did this by verifying and proving that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. They preached the resurrection of Christ as their warrant for what they did (v.10). Look at how Peter does this “… the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,” (Acts 3:13,14) But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, (vv.18,19)
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead made everything else matter because in this case, the apostles were saying that the man who was blind by Solomon's colonnade was healed on account of Jesus’ resurrection. Because Jesus is alive, then this man has been healed if you deny this then you can deny your own name as well! The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the hallmark of Christianity – deny it and you will have denied the whole Christian faith. This is what Apostle Paul says very strongly in his defense of resurrection in 1 Cor. 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain, And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
Therefore this is the truth: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”(1Cor 15:3-8). This should settle the debate about resurrection and should provide us with the reason for believing in Him for our salvation. Knowing this demands that we repent and turn to Him in faith.
They told the people what this resurrection secured to all believers. The resurrection of the dead includes all the happiness of the future state. This they preached through Jesus Christ, for it is only attainable through him (Phil. 3:10, 11), and through him only. Redemption is only obtainable through the Redeemer and He is One – the Lord Jesus Christ.
We preach Christ crucified, who died for our sins and is now alive for ever and we have numerous witnesses to this effect. Would you come to this historical Christ and turn over to Him and seek Him to forgive you your sins. I can’t believe that you can find the strength to live without Him. And for those who like me have put their hope in Him, may you be assured that He who began good work in you will bring Old Testament to completion. He is faithful and will surely make you to know and experience the inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pet. 1:4,5). Praise is to the Lord for He will for sure save us!
4. TRUE PREACHING DEMANDS A RESPONSE
It might annoy
It annoyed them that the gospel was preached so publicly and boldly and that the people were so eager to hear it. They thought that when they had put Christ to such a disgraceful death, his disciples would be too ashamed and afraid to own him. They had assumed that people would have impregnable prejudices against Christ and His doctrine. So it was annoying and disappointing that Christ’s gospel got ground, instead of losing it. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved, Psa.112:10. They were grieved at that which they should have rejoiced in –that which angels rejoice in.
It grieved them that the apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 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 worse to hear it so well attested.
The chief priests were grieved that they preached the resurrection of the dead through Jesus, for they could not agree to any honour to Him who they had crucified though their own consciences bore a contrary witness. Though they professed to believe the resurrection of the dead against the Sadducees, yet they would rather give up that important article of their faith than have it preached and proved to be through Jesus.
This is how so many even to this day treat Christ. They would not go to the church and they would not listen to preachers who preach Christ and Him crucified. Others prefer going to a church to be entertained by tantalizing music. They cannot stand being in a service like ours where it’s the Word of God that is given preeminence. Yet there are so many who only go to church to for various reasons – may to meet with their business clients or to meet their girlfriends, name anything but not to hear the Christ preached to them.
It might lead to persecution
It has been historically observed that sadly, wherever Christ is faithfully proclaimed, opposition is never long in coming. It is even more heartbreaking that the opposition was coming from religious leaders – the apostles were closely following their Master who himself was killed by the same hands of religious people. this is because there is servant who is above his master. This pattern is still the one that we as Christian should always expect. If they hated Christ who bore us, how much more will they hate us His offspring? The chief priests and their party now made head against them, and did what they could to crush them. However, all they managed to do is to tie their hands for awhile, but their hearts were not in the least changed.
They were the priests; you may be sure, in the first place, they were always sworn enemies to Christ and his gospel; they were as jealous for their priesthood as Caesar for his monarchy, and would not bear one they thought their rival now, when he was preached as a priest, as much as when He himself preached as a prophet
With them was joined the captain of the temple, who, it is supposed, was a Roman officer, governor of the garrison placed in the tower of Antonia, for the guard of the temple. This means that there were both Jews and Gentiles allied against Christ.
The Sadducees also, who denied the being of spirits and the future state, were zealous against them. “One would wonder” (says Mr. Richard Baxter) “what should make such brutes as the Sadducees were to be such furious silencers and persecutors. If there is no life to come, what harm can other men's hopes of it do them? But in depraved souls all faculties are vitiated. A blind man has a malignant heart and a cruel hand, to this day.”
How far they proceeded against the apostles (Act_4:3): They laid hands on them (that is, their servants and officers did at their command), and put them in hold, committed them to the custody of the jailor until the next day because it was evening. See how God trains up his servants for sufferings by degrees, and by less trials prepares them for greater; now they resist unto bonds only, but afterwards to blood as later, they killed Stephen the deacon, James the apostle and so many others who had trusted in the Right Saviour, so that throughout the New Testament the blood of Jesus’ is splattered all over.
It might lead to faith.
The hearers cheerfully received it (Act_4:4): Many of those who heard the word believed; not all - perhaps not the most, yet many, to the number of about five thousand, over and above the three thousand I preached about in chapter 2. See how the gospel got ground, and it was the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit. Though the preachers were persecuted, the word prevailed; for sometimes the church's suffering days have been her growing days.
Christ gave His life as a ransom for many and many are saved every day. It might not as visible as it was for the early church but it is sure that Christ is saving His elect. When the gospel message is sounded, God uses it to bring many to salvation. This day saw the increase of the church of Christ that is built on the rock so that gates of Hades cannot and will never ever prevail against it. Let the world be used of the devil to persecute the messengers of Christ who sound His message, let them do whatever they will but the gospel message will finally triumph. The world raged against Paul in Corinth, but Christ’s response is, “I have many in this city who are My people” Amen.
Those who like me preach the gospel have reason to rejoice because we have the assurance from Saviour himself that He is going to save those who are His. It might appear as if we are losing the battle like is was in this situation here – but no, Christ is going to save with the persecutors looking on. They will not stay the Hand of Christ from saving. Those who will have in Christ even now will be numbered with His people. Make sure that you are among the saints when they go marching in to the great inheritance to the great banquet. Please do not through your soul away go to Christ like these who made the number of the elect to be 5,000!