Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus of Nazareth which is the Church as it was written and recorded by Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twelve through forty-two of the fifth chapter. “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And belivered the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:12-16).
“Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we have opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captains with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to bey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and for forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:17-32).
“When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching thse men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:33-42).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a strong and powerful contrast between three different elements which took place during the days of the early church. As you read the words found in the later portion of the fifth chapter you will find the continuation of the opposition of the religious leadership in the city of Jerusalem toward and against the apostles. What’s more is that this opposition was not merely directed toward and against the apostles but against the gospel which they preached. The religious leaders in Jerusalem and the Jews themselves had thought and believed they had rid the city and the land of the influence, the name and the remembrance of this Jesus of Nazareth when they delivered Him unto Pilate to be crucified by the Romans. Much to their surprise and astonishment rumors and reports began circulating that this Jesus had been raised from death to life on the third day as He said He would. Not only this but on the third day there was a great earthquake which struck the land as an angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone from before the entrance to the tomb. With the stone having been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb the Holy Spirit would raise Jesus Christ from death to life and bring Him forth from the grave fully alive after having been buried for three days. On the third day the stone was rolled away, the guards were terrified and brought to their knees in the presence of the angel who descended from heaven, and Jesus of Nazareth was brought forth from the grave. Moreover, it would be on the third day when the graveclothes which Jesus’ lifeless body had been bound with that were left behind in the tomb as dead men made alive have no need for graveclothes. DEAD MEN MADE ALIVE HAVE NO NEED FOR GRAVECLOTHES! DEAD MEN MADE ALIVE NO LONGER NEED TO WALK IN AND WEAR THE GRAVECLOTHES THEY WERE BOUND IN.
It is absolutely astonishing to read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts for not only did the Jews and the religious leaders of that day have to contend with the report and rumor of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ but now they had to deal with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth in His name as well as healing in the name of Jesus. We cannot read the book of Acts without encountering and coming face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the words and works of the apostles for not only were they emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth in His name but they were also empowered to heal in the name of Jesus. It would be in the third chapter of this book we find the first recorded miracle in the post-Jesus of Nazareth era as Peter and John went up to the Temple of the LORD at the hour of prayer which was the ninth hour. It would be there at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful that a man who had been lame from birth who was daily laid in that place to beg for alms of the worshippers that would come and appear before the LORD. On this particular day the apostles Peter and John went up to the Temple and this man looked upon them asking of them alms as he had of almost every worshipper that went up unto the Temple. Luke writes how the apostle Peter fastened his eyes upon this man and undoubtedly led by the Holy Spirit instructed and commanded this man to look upon them. It would be in that moment that Peter would declare that silver and gold had he none but such as he had he gave unto him. What happened next would be the first recorded miracle of the apostles and early church as He would command this man in the name of Jesus to rise up and walk. Immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened and he would walk in the Temple together with the apostles Peter and John.
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this for the four New Testament gospel narratives conclude with Jesus rising from the grave on the third day with the exception of the New Testament gospel narratives written by John Mark and Luke also recording Jesus ascending unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. It would be in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we not only find Luke writing of Jesus’ resurrection from death to life and showing Himself alive during those forty days after His resurrection but also ascending unto the right hand of the Father. The apostles and those who were present with the Lord Jesus at the mount called Olivet would return unto the city of Jerusalem which was a sabbath’s day journey and gather together in one accord in one place giving themselves to prayer. On the day of Pentecost there would come a sound as of a mighty rushing wind that would fill the room and place where they were gathered together and cloven tongues of fire would rest upon each of them as the Spirit had arrived. Not only had the Spirit arrived but the Holy Spirit would provide unto them the ability to speak in diverse tongues as they were given utterance. The beloved physician Luke writes of the purpose of these tongues as those from the nations and lands round about Judaea and Jerusalem heard the wonderful works of the living God being spoken in their own native tongue and language. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the events which took place on the day of Pentecost and how the Spirit’s arrival would initially fill and indwell each of the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room. The Holy Spirit’s arrival would grant unto each of them the ability to speak in other tongues as they were given utterance as they would declare and proclaim the wonderful works of the living God in other tongues and languages.
What we must needs recognize when considering the words which are presented before us in the book of Acts is that after the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost things would get incredibly interesting in the city of Jerusalem. The Spirit’s arrival created more than simply the ability to speak with other tongues as men were given utterance for the Spirit’s arrival would also produce preaching in the name of Jesus as well as healing in the name of Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would indeed arrive on the day of Pentecost and would grant utterance unto those in the upper room to speak with other tongues, however, there would be two additional manifestations of the person, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that would be present during those days. It would be as a direct result of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that the gospel of the Lord Jesus would begin to be preached during those days and when healing in Jesus’ name would be done. This is quite interesting when you take the time to consider it for we already know from reading the gospel narrative written by Luke that the seventy whom Jesus appointed as ambassadors who went before His face cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus would appoint seventy others aside from the apostles to heal the sick, to preach the gospel unto the poor and to cast out demons in His name and they would return rejoicing in the fact that even the demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus.
Oh I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and I can’t help but see a tremendous picture of the apostles and the early church and how the Spirit’s arrival would incite the preaching of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth in His name as the apostles would preach concerning His crucifixion, His burial, His resurrection from the grave and His ascension unto the right hand of the Father. For ten days after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ there would be absolutely no activity in the upper room nor among the apostles and the one-hundred and twenty as they would simply gather together in one place and in one accord in prayer. For ten days there would be no preaching in Jesus’ name nor would there be any healing in Jesus’ name as the apostles and the rest of the one-hundred and twenty would merely give themselves to waiting, to worshipping, to praising and praying. During those ten days Jesus of Nazareth would be absent from the earth and the Holy Spirit would not yet be present in the midst of it and there would essentially be period of intermission between the ascension and the arrival. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what it was like for the religious leaders and the Jews during those days as Jesus of Nazareth was no more and as all teaching, all preaching and all healing stopped. What’s more is that we might even declare that during those forty days after Jesus’ resurrection from the grave there would be no healing or miracles performed among men as Jesus would devote Himself to showing Himself alive unto His disciples and followers and teaching them before He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father. For a period of fifty days there would be absolutely no preaching nor any healing that would take place in the city of Jerusalem and I can’t help but wonder if the religious leaders and the Jews enjoyed this period of time as a respite from what they had experienced over the past three and a half years.
On the day of Pentecost, however, something would dramatically change the landscape of the city of Jerusalem from that day on until the great persecution would break out in the midst of the city after the death of Stephen the early church’s first martyr. After the events of the day of Pentecost occurred things would begin to be dramatically different in the city of Jerusalem as not only would healing in Jesus’ name begin to take place in the city of Jerusalem but so also would preaching in the name of Jesus take place. It would be on the day of Pentecost that preaching in the name of Jesus would begin to be manifested in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and it would be that preaching that would produce the first converts and those who would believe on the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth during those days. On the day of Pentecost there would be three thousand souls who would be added unto the church as men and women would believe the word which the apostle Peter preached concerning Jesus in His name before them. It would be on the day of Pentecost there would be a great boldness that would take place within the heart and soul of the apostle Peter together with the eleven as he would stand up together with them and preach Jesus of Nazareth unto them—He whom they delivered up to be crucified and yet who was raised from death to life and ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven.
As you read the words found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will not only find healing in the name of Jesus continuing to take place in the city of Jerusalem but you will also find the continued opposition against the apostles for their preaching in Jesus’ name and their healing in Jesus’ name. There is not a doubt in my mind the Jews and the religious leaders thought that when they crucified Jesus of Nazareth all preaching and healing would cease in the midst of the earth and yet on the day of Pentecost preaching would resume in the midst of the city. The preaching which would ensue in the city of Jerusalem would not be the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth Himself but would be the preaching of His apostles as they would be emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach and proclaim the name of Jesus of Nazareth. With this being said it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that this preaching of the gospel of Jesus would be about so much more than simply His life and ministry within and upon the earth but it would be about His death, His burial, His resurrection from the grave on the third day and His ascension unto the right hand of the Father. If we wish and desire to understand the gospel concerning Jesus—the gospel which the apostles preached as well as the gospel which the apostle Paul preached—we must needs recognize and understand that it was a gospel centered entirely and altogether upon Christ crucified, Christ buried, Christ resurrected and Christ ascended. When the events of the day of Pentecost had transpired the apostles would be emboldened to preach a gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews and their religious leaders delivered up to the be crucified by the Romans after standing trial before Pilate. What’s more is that if you read the words found in the second, third, fourth and fifth chapters of this New Testament book you will find the precise gospel of Jesus of Nazareth which the apostles themselves would preach after being emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in these chapters and the gospel which the apostles preached during those days:
“…Ye men of Israel, hear there words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36).
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:38-40).
“…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 ancle 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” (Acts 3:4-10).
“…Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? OR why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorant ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord: and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:12-26).
“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” (Acts 4:1-2).
“And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 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. 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” (Acts 4:7-12).
“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” (Acts 4:19-20).
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:29-32).
Oh as you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will encounter example after example of the apostle Peter being filled with the Holy Ghost standing up in the presence of the Jews in the city of Jerusalem as well as together with the apostles before the leaders and rulers of the Jews during those days. The apostle Peter together with the apostles, being filled with the Holy Ghost, would preach the gospel concerning this Jesus of Nazareth whom they had delivered unto Pontius Pilate to be condemned and sentenced to death. This gospel which the apostle Peter and the apostles preached was indeed a gospel which centered upon Christ being crucified, Christ being resurrected from death to life, Christ being ascended unto the heavens, and Christ being exalted upon the right hand of God. What’s more is the apostle Peter would also preach concerning this Jesus of Nazareth that He shed forth the person, the promise and the power of the Holy Ghost which they were witnesses of. It would be from the right hand of the Father which was in heaven this Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified would indeed send the promise of the Holy Spirit unto all those who believed. Those one-hundred and twenty men and women who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost would indeed be the first to receive the person and presence of the Holy Spirit as the room where they were all gathered together would be filled with the sound of a mighty rushing wind. What’s more is that it would be there in the upper room that cloven tongues of fire would be manifested unto and upon them as they would be given utterance to speak in other tongues as they proclaimed the wonderful works of God in the tongues of other nations, languages, tribes and people.
As you read the words found in the book of Acts you will find that after the events of the day of Pentecost transpired in the midst of the city of Jerusalem it would set off a chain of events that would not only lead to the apostles preaching in the name of Jesus but also healing in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. What’s more is that the events of the day of Pentecost would indeed and would in fact lead to tremendous boldness within the hearts and souls of the apostles as they would stand up in the midst of the Jews and their rulers and leaders and preach this Jesus of Nazareth. The first sermon which the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost would indeed be a response to that which the people thought and perceived concerning the events which took place on that day. There were those who beheld the events in wonder and amazement as they could not fathom what had taken place among them while there were others who thought and perceived them to be mad and drunk with new wine. Of course we know and understand that these in the upper room were not mad but were instead filled with and baptized by the Holy Ghost whom Jesus had sent from the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. The apostle Peter emphatically and boldly declared and proclaimed the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth who had sent the promise of the Holy Ghost unto those who believed beginning with those who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. The events which transpired on the day of Pentecost were the direct response of the arrival of the Holy Spirit just ten days after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this as it draws and calls our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the arrival of the Holy Spirit and what it would mean for the early church and the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The more I read the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that there were certain things which took place during those days which we might look upon and deem unusual and out of the ordinary. It would be during those days when the apostles who were witnesses unto the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth would preach in Jesus’ name how He was crucified, how He was raised from death to life and how He had ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. It would be during those days when healing in the name of Jesus would indeed take place as a man who was above forty years old who had been lame and impotent since birth would be healed and made whole in the name of Jesus. It would be during those days when the LORD would daily add unto the number of those who believed such as should be saved as what would begin with one-hundred and twenty would increase by three thousand and would eventually reach upwards of five thousand souls who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the power, the presence and the person of the Holy Ghost would empower and embolden the apostles and the followers of Jesus who were witnesses unto His resurrection would preach in His name repentance for the remission of sins. What’s more is that in addition to preaching and healing in Jesus’ name be manifested during those days we also read of prison doors being opened and buildings being shaken.
PRISON DOORS BEING OPENED! HOUSES SHAKEN! Oh there is something truly remarkable and powerful when you read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts as within it we find events which took place there which could only be explained by the power, the presence and the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be within the fourth and fifth chapters of this New Testament book where we find the apostles returning unto those who believed and who were gathered together and making them aware of the opposition and persecution they suffered at the hands of the Jewish rulers and leaders. In the fourth chapter of this New Testament book we read of the apostles being threatened by the religious leaders and the rulers of the Jews concerning preaching in the name of Jesus. Not only this but the Jewish rulers and leaders would also command them to cease all preaching in the name of this Jesus of Nazareth whom they declared had not only risen from the grave but had also ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. It would be in the middle portion of the fourth chapter of this New Testament book we encounter and come face to face with the apostles hearing and receiving the threats from the Jewish rulers and their leaders and returning unto those who believed rejoicing and praising God that they were counted witnesses unto the great and mighty name of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous response of the living God unto the prayers and preaching of the apostles during those days. Within the fourth chapter we find the response of the Jewish rulers and leaders to their preaching in Jesus’ name as well as the response of the living God to their praying together on behalf of the threats they received from the rulers of their own people. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostles returning unto those who believed and not only making them aware of what happened but also giving themselves to prayer before and unto the Father who was in heaven:
“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” (Acts 4:23-31).
Please do not miss and lose sight of what is found in this passage of Scripture as it brings us face to face with something truly astonishing which took place during the days of the early church. The more I read the book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the fact that not only did the apostles and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ preach in the name of Jesus and not only did they heal in the name of Jesus of Nazareth but so also were buildings shaken, rooms filled with wind and fire, and prisons opened unto those who believed. I read the words found within the first five chapters of the New Testament book of Acts and I can’t help but encounter the tremendous response to them that believed during those days as in response to their praying before and unto the living God the building where they were gathered together was shaken and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Not only this but in the fifth chapter of the same New Testament book we find the apostles being put in the common prison by the rulers and leaders of the Jews during those days. Because it was eventide the rulers of the Jews put the apostles in the common prison until the following day when they might bring them forth for to be tried and quite possibly sentenced to death. What we find in the book of Acts, however, is that during the evening an angel of the LORD would open the prison doors where the apostles were gathered together and would not only command them to go forth but to also preach the gospel and word of life unto all those in the Temple. Early the next morning the apostles went unto the Temple and just as they had done previously began preaching the gospel and word of life concerning Jesus of Nazareth and His being crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended and exalted. Much to the amazement and astonishment of the rulers and leaders of the Jews they would receive a report that the prison where the apostles were held was secure with all surety and nothing amiss or awry with the exception of the apostles no longer being imprisoned and instead preaching the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth in the midst of the Temple.
It is actually quite remarkable to read the words found in the fifth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts for within it we essentially find a Holy Ghost inspired prison break as an angel of the LORD would be sent during the night to bring forth the apostles from the midst of the prison in which they had been placed. What’s more is that this wouldn’t be the first prison break that would take place during those days as there would be at least two other prison breaks which would take place during the days of the early church. It would be in the twelfth chapter of this same New Testament book we find the apostle Peter being imprisoned after Herod had already put to death James the brother John with the sword. Because Herod saw how the death of James so greatly pleased the people he purposed to do the same thing to the apostle Peter and would have brought him forth from the prison on the following day. What we find in this book, however, is an angel of the LORD entering into the prison by night and not only loosing the shackles which were upon the wrists and ankles of the apostle Peter but also opening the prison door of the cell where he had been held. It would be during the night an angel of the Lord would loose Peter from the shackles that bound him, would open the prison door which contained and would not only lead him out of the prison but would lead him as far as the gate of the city. What’s more is that in the sixteenth chapter of this same book we find the apostle Paul and Silas being imprisoned in Philippi after preaching the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and after casting out an unclean spirit that was present within a girl who brought much fortune and wealth to others. Luke writes who in the midnight hour Pau and Silas were singing praises and worshipping God there in the prison while the other prisoners heard and listened to their song. It would be at the midnight hour the earth would begin to shake in that place and not only were the shackles which bound Paul and Silas loosed and their prison doors opened but so also would the shackles of every other prisoner be loosed and their prison doors being opened.
DO YOU THINK IT STRANGE? DOES THIS SURPRISE YOU? DO YOU VIEW THIS AS OUT OF THE ORDINARY? I find it absolutely worth noting and mentioning that within the book of Acts there wasn’t just one prison break, nor was there two prison breaks, but there was a third prison break which took place during the days of the early church. What’s more is that during those days—not only were prison doors opened and shackles loosed but there were those who walked away completely and utterly free. Despite man’s best effort to imprison the apostles there was one occasion when all the apostles were delivered out of the prison they were being held and there was another time when the apostle Peter was himself delivered out of prison and returned unto the company of believers. Although there wasn’t an angel of the Lord who brought Paul and Silas out of the prison there in Philippi we find them being brought forth out of the prison after the jailor prepared to take his life thinking the prisoners had escaped. The apostle Paul would cry out to him and entreat him to do no harm unto himself for all the prisoners were still present and accounted for in the prison. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts for there were events which transpired during those days which we in our modern culture and society would think was out of the ordinary and strange. In our modern day and generation we don’t have a context for buildings being shaken and prison doors being opened and prisoners being set free and yet prisons were opened three times during the days of the early church. Oh it would be one thing for prisons to be opened once during those days and it might even be one thing for prisons to be opened a second time but the truth of the matter is that prisons were opened three different times in three different places during those days.
I sit here reading the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the events which took place during those days and how the Jewish rulers and leaders delivered Jesus up to be crucified and put to death and now they were carrying out their opposition against the apostles. The Jewish leaders and rulers could not handle the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ and as a direct result delivered Him up to Pilate to be condemned and sentenced to death and now they were directing their opposition and persecution against His apostles for preaching and healing in the name of Jesus. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind the Jews and their rulers and leaders thought they had rid the land of the name and remembrance of Jesus of Nazareth and His words and works and yet here were His apostles emboldened in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and preaching in His name as well as healing in His name. From the day of Pentecost on the apostles would teach and preach in the name of Jesus—and not only would they teach and preach in the name of Jesus but they would preach Him as being crucified and delivered up unto Pilate by the Jews and their rulers to be put to death. The entire core of the gospel which they preached was the death, the burial, the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus and how after Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father He shed forth the promise of the Father which was the person and presence of the Holy Ghost. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the presence and power of the Holy Spirit empowering and emboldening the apostles to stand up and preach and heal in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
THE WORK IS NOT DONE! THE NAME IS NOT GONE! THERE IS A WORK THAT WAS LEFT UNFINISHED! THERE IS MORE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! THERE IS MUCH I DID NOT DO WHILE I WAS PRESENT AMONG YOU! I HAVE RAISED YOU UP FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS! THIS IS YOUR TIME AS MY APOSTLES AND FOLLOWERS TO CARRY OUT THE WORK WHICH MY FATHER ORDAINED AND APPOINTED ME TO DO! I HAVE LEFT YOU A WORK TO CARRY OUT AND GIVEN YOU THE PERSON OF THE HOLY GHOST! A WORK TO COMPLETE AND A COMPANION TO ACCOMPANY YOU! Oh I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the work which Jesus left unfinished. Despite everything Jesus of Nazareth did while He walked upon the face of the earth there was still a great work which was still before the apostles. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that while Jesus was present upon the earth He didn’t heal every sickness nor every disease present among those in Judaea, Galilee and in the city of Jerusalem. Although Jesus healed a great many people of all manner of sickness and disease there were still many who had not received their healing while He was present among them. Even this man who was lame from his mother’s womb who experienced healing in the name of Jesus was above forty years old when he received healing. This suggests that this man was born before Jesus Himself was born into the world and had been lame throughout the first thirty years Jesus dwelt among us as the Word made flesh in obscurity and even during the three and a half years Jesus dwelt among us as the Word made flesh in power and in anointing. This man was born lame before Jesus entered into the world, was lame throughout the thirty years Jesus abode in Nazareth, and would continue to be lame during those three and a half years Jesus engaged in public ministry. This man would not receive healing in his physical body until after Jesus had ascended unto the right hand of the Father and after the Holy Ghost had been given unto those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I find it absolutely incredible to read the words found in these opening chapters of the New Testament book of Acts for within them we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the work which the Lord Jesus left unfinished and not completed. Despite the fact that Jesus of Nazareth would devote three and a half years to teaching and preaching concerning the kingdom of heaven and despite the fact that during those three and a half years He would heal all manner of sickness and disease, despite the fact that he would open blind eyes and dear ears, despite the fact that He would raise dead to life, despite the fact that He would cleanse lepers and accomplish so much more He would not do everything that could be done during those days. There was indeed a work He left unto the apostles after He departed from the earth and ascended unto the right hand of the Father. We must needs recognize and understand this for Jesus would teach His disciples how they would do greater works than those which He did because He ascended unto the right hand of the Father. I have previously written that this must not be understood in terms of quality but quantity as Jesus was but one man during those days who wrought healing in one place at a time as He walked among us as the Word made flesh. The apostles could do greater works than that which Jesus did for they would be empowered by the person and presence of the Holy Spirit and would be twelve men who would preach in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and heal in the same name of this Jesus who was crucified, raised from death to life and ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that there was indeed a work left undone and unfinished by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost was indeed sent by Jesus from the right hand of the Father—not only to be a companion for and unto the apostles and followers of Jesus which remained in the earth but also to assist and empower them to carry out and continue the work which Jesus began in the earth. Remember the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints in Philippi when he declared that He who began a good work in you would be faithful to complete it? I would like to propose an interesting spin and twist to this particular declaration made by the apostle Paul and declare that there was indeed a work which was begun during those three and a half years Jesus was present among us in the earth and yet that work was not finished nor was it completed during that time. When Jesus would depart from the earth and ascend unto the right hand of the Father He would leave the apostles and His followers with a commission, with an assignment and with a work which was left unfinished and incomplete as He ascended unto the right hand of the Father. The Holy Ghost would be more than simply a companion for the apostles and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ but would actually be an abiding presence that would empower and embolden them to carry out and continue the work which Jesus of Nazareth had left unfinished and incomplete. With this being said it is absolutely necessary for us to understand that there is still a work in the earth which has been left unfinished and incomplete. When Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father He left a work unfinished and incomplete and when the apostles and followers of Jesus Christ in the early Church died and were buried the work would still remain and abide within the earth.
THE WORK STILL REMAINS! AN ABIDING WORK IN THE EARTH! A WORK LEFT UNFINISHED BY JESUS! A WORK LEFT UNFINISHED BY THE APOSTLES! A WORK LEFT UNFINISHED BY THE EARLY CHURCH! I have to admit that I am incredibly challenged with and by the fact that there was a work which was left unfinished by the Lord Jesus Christ which was entrusted unto the apostles after His departure from the earth and ascension unto the right hand of the Father. Much like there was a work left unfinished when Moses died and his body was buried somewhere in the earth which needed to be carried out by Joshua, and much. Like there was a work left unfinished by David after he died and was buried which his son Solomon would carry out, and much like there was a work left unfinished by Elijah after he was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind in a flaming chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire so also would there be a work left unfinished by Jesus of Nazareth when He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. Not only this but we must needs recognize and understand that there was a work left unfinished by the apostles who were the first to be entrusted with it upon the earth by the Lord Jesus. The apostles of the Lord Jesus and the early church were the first to be entrusted with the work which was left unfinished by the Lord Jesus Christ and yet throughout the centuries there have been those who have been entrusted with a work left unfinished and a work which. Needs to be completed and carried out. For generations this work has been completed and carried out as each generation has been given a part and place in the work.
Perhaps the single greatest question you and I must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are taking up our place in the work left unfinished. Are you and I willing to take up our place in the midst of the earth to carry out and continue the work which began with the Lord Jesus Christ? We know that the Father began a good work in the earth through and by the person of the Lord Jesus and that He will finish and complete that work at the coming of the Lord Jesus. That work would first be continued and carried out by the apostles and the early church as they would be the first to be entrusted with the work. Perhaps this is what is so significant about the parable of the wages and workers who were hired at different times during the days. Jesus delivered a parable concerning a certain master who hired servants to work in his vineyard early in the morning and throughout the day would hire additional servants to work in his vineyard. There would be one work which needed to be done in the vineyard and that work would be carried out by many servants who would be hired throughout the day until the end of the day came and it was time for each laborer to collect their wages. We might very well understand the apostles and the early Church as those first servants who were hired by the Father and by the Lord Jesus Christ and yet with each generation we find additional servants who were hired by the Master to labor and work in His vineyard. Throughout the generations the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have been invited to participate in the work within the vineyard as the harvest has truly been plentiful. Jesus of Nazareth left a work unfinished and that work was one which would be take up first by the apostles and followers of Jesus in the early church. Throughout the years and throughout the generations that work has continued within and upon the earth and will continue until it is ultimately finished and completed by the Father in the midst of the earth.
There are those who would argue and contend that we are living in the last of the last days and that we might very well be the generation that witnesses and beholds the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds as the dead in Christ rise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. With that being said we must needs recognize and understand that there will indeed be that final generation—that eleventh hour generation—that will not only be hired to work in the vineyard but will also be entrusted to carry out, continue and perhaps even complete the work which began centuries ago with the person of Jesus Christ. It is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to ask you what your place is within this work which. Needs to be done in this generation. We know there are those who seem to have been at the forefront of the work as they are pastors of churches, evangelists, missionaries, and the like, and yet the truth of the matter is that the work which is present in this generation cannot be accomplished nor can it be carried out by a few men and women alone. The work is far too great and there is a need for too many laborers for only a handful of men and women to carry out themselves. What we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are aware of our place within the work and whether or not we are willing to take up the mantle of the work which was left behind by Jesus as He departed from the earth and ascended unto the right hand of the Father who is in heaven. You and I must needs recognize that we each have a unique place in the midst of the earth and have a unique place in a work that has been left unfinished and incomplete. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that we have been given the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to assist us in this work and that we have a great need to step forward and step into this work. Oh that we would be those people who would be filled with the Holy Ghost and would step into the work which is before us in this generation. Oh that we would recognize and understand that we have a place in a work left unfinished and incomplete and that we cannot and must not be those who remain idle in the marketplace like those in the parable Jesus told unto His disciples and followers while He was yet present among us in the earth.