When the Name of Jesus Offends Political & Religion

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Christ—the book of Acts—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first twenty-five verses of the eighth chapter of this New Testament book. “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to. Prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

 

            “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles which were done” (Acts 8:5-13).

 

            “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as ye he was fallen upon one of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot int his matter: for thy hearts is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:14-25).

 

            When you come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find a period of transition which took place in the midst of the early church. As you approach this chapter you will find that the events which unfold here come directly on the heels of the early church’s first martyr as Stephen was stoned by an angry mob who had rushed against him, dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. IN order to truly understand the words and language which is found in this passage of Scripture you must needs recognize the pattern and progression which took place in the midst of the days of the early church beginning in the fourth chapter. If you want to truly understand the events which took place here in this passage of Scripture you must needs begin with and at the fourth chapter for it’s in the fourth chapters where we find and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the beginning of the resistance and opposition to the church. What’s more is that when you come to the fourth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the beginning of the opposition not being directed toward and against the early church as a whole but a more targeted measure and approach. In the fourth chapter of this New Testament where we find the beginning of the resistance and opposition of the word and gospel which was preached by the apostles.

 

            The truth of the matter when you read the New Testament book of Acts is that the opposition and resistance which was first felt was not directed against the church as a whole but was directed against the apostles. With this being said it’s important to recognize and understand that this opposition wasn’t even directed against the apostles themselves but it was directed against the word and gospel they preached. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament book you will find a notable miracle taking place. What’s more is that it wasn’t merely a notable miracle which had taken place but it was indeed a miracle which the religious leaders could neither speak against nor deny. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when and after this miracle took place the miracle itself and the testimony itself would enter into the Temple leaping and praising the living and eternal God. It would be in the third chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostles Peter and John being at the center of a miracle which would take place during the days of the movement and activity of the Holy Spirit. In the beginning of the third chapter of this New Testament book of Acts we find and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the miracle which would take place during the days of the early church as a man who was lame from birth would be laid at the gate of the Temple which was called Beautiful. This man who was lame from birth would be laid at the gate called Beautiful on a daily basis that he might ask and beg for alms. This man was undoubtedly used to asking and begging for alms during those days and on this particular day it would be nothing different—or would it? There would be a notable exception which took place on this day for the apostle Peter and John would look upon this man and Scripture reveals how Peter fastened his eyes steadfastly on this man who was lying there upon his bed at the gate called Beautiful.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative and I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that shortly after the events of the day of Pentecost took place we find the apostles Peter and John going up unto the Temple in Jerusalem at the hour of prayer. It would be upon going up to the Temple at the hour of prayer they would witness this man who was lame from birth and who was laid at the gate called Beautiful which was at the entrance of the Temple. This man was laid there daily that he might ask and beg for alms and on this particular day he would encounter two men whom he perhaps had absolutely no clue who they were. Scripture reveals how the apostle Peter fastened his eyes steadfastly on him and asked this man to look upon both he and the apostle John. This man supposed that they would give him an alms and instead of doing this the apostle Peter would emphatically declare unto this man that he did not have silver or gold. Despite the fact the apostle Peter did not have silver or gold he offered this man something which he did have—namely healing in the name of the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for the apostles Peter and John did not have silver or gold to offer this man, however, what they did have to offer and give to him was healing in the name of Jesus. The apostle Peter would command this man in the name of Jesus to rise up and walk. The apostle Peter would then reach for this man and would help him up as his feet and ankle bones would immediately receive strength and he would leap up upon his feet and would begin walking and leaping and praising the living God. What’s more is this man who had just been healed would enter into the Temple with the apostles Peter and John leaping and praising the living God. Not only this but when the people who were present in the midst of the Temple witnessed this man who had previously been lying outside the Temple at the gate called Beautiful they all rushed toward the apostles Peter and John as well as this man:

 

            “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain Liam man 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 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 3:1-10).

 

            “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. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, 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 ignorance 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 Moss 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 3:11-26).

 

            It’s important for us to recognize and pay attention to the words which are present in this passage of Scripture for when you come to the fourth chapter you will find a different response to the events which took place on this particular day. By the time you come to the fourth chapter you will find that while the people which were in the Temple responded to the witness of the miracle which had taken place among them outside the Temple this would not be the case shortly thereafter. As you begin reading with and from the opening verses of the fourth chapter you will find that while the apostles Peter and John were speaking unto those who had gathered themselves unto them in the Temple the priests, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees would come upon them. The reason why these leaders would come unto them was because they were grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. This is necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to when reading the New Testament book of Acts for the grief of the priests, the Sadducees and the captain of the Temple centered not around the miracle itself but around the word and gospel which the apostles preached. Luke makes it very clear when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that these religious leaders were grieved—not at the miracle and the testimony of the miracle which stood before them but because the apostles taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament book you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the resistance and opposition—not towards the apostles themselves nor even toward and against the miracle which had taken place among them. Pause for a moment and consider that prior to this Jesus of Nazareth had walked among them and had performed countless miracles among them. Even the gospel which precedes the New Testament book of Acts contains the account of Jesus giving sight to a man who was born blind and who undoubtedly sat the gate of the Temple asking and begging for alms. Moreover the people during these days were entirely and altogether used to the miracles, the signs and wonders which were performed among them at the hands of the person of Jesus of Nazareth. What we find here is the first recorded miracle in the book of Acts which took place—not by and from Jesus of Nazareth but in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh there is a tremendous contrast which exists in the book of Acts as compared to the four gospels for in the four gospels Jesus would give the command and speak the word that would bring healing and wholeness into the lives of countless individuals. What we find here in the book of Acts, however, is something entirely and altogether different for what we find here is the apostles performing a miracle in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The apostles would command this man to rise up—not according to their own power and holiness but rather in the name of Jesus of Nazareth who suffered in the flesh, who was crucified, who was buried and yet who was raised from death to life. The true source and foundation of this miracle was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus—and not only the resurrection of the Lord Jesus but the name of the Lord Jesus itself.

 

            WHEN THE NAME OFFENDS! If you continue reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find that it wasn’t the miracle itself which angered, outraged, incensed and infuriated the religious leaders which were present during the days of the apostles and the early church. The more you read the words which are found in this New Testament book the more you will encounter the tremendous truth that what angered and offended them so much was the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. This is important for us to recognize and understand for it was Jesus Himself who declared unto the disciples that they would indeed be hated of all men and of the nations for His name’s sake. It is as you read the four gospel narratives you will find Jesus speaking unto His disciples and declaring unto them that they would be hated of all men and all nations for His name’s sake. What we find here in the New Testament book of Acts is something truly astonishing for it wouldn’t be the miracle which took place among them that would so anger and offend the religious leaders. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter commanding this man to rise up “in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” What makes this truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that this man was healed—not according to the power and holiness of the apostles Peter and John but rather in the name of the Lord Jesus. Oh this is something we must needs recognize and understand for by this time Jesus had suffered in the flesh, Jesus had been killed and crucified, Jesus had been buried in the tomb and yet He had been raised from death to life on the third day. By this time Jesus had been raised from death to life on the first day of the week just as He said He would and forty days later ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. Oh this is something we must needs understand and acknowledge for it wasn’t the miracle itself which angered and offended the religious leaders but rather the name and the mention of the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

            The further you delve into the New Testament book of Acts you will find two of the greatest sources of offense in the hearts and minds of the religious and political leaders during the days of the apostles and the early church. As you continue reading the words which are found in this New Testament book you will find that what angered and offended them so much was the name of Jesus of Nazareth whom they had indeed delivered up to be killed and crucified as well as the preaching of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. There is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find in this passage of Scripture is anger and outrage at the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth as well as the preaching of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Eventually we will come to the fifth chapter of this New Testament book and we will encounter something else that angered and offended the religious and political leaders—namely that the apostles would indeed place the responsibility of the death of the Lord Jesus upon the religious and political leaders of the Jews. The apostles would themselves lay the responsibility of the death and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus solely at the feet of the religious and political leaders which would only compound and add to their offense, their outrage, their anger and their being incensed against them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for if you read the fourth and fifth chapters of this New Testament gospel you will find that what so angered and offended the religious and political leaders was not necessarily the miracle(s) which took place among them but rather the name of the Lord Jesus, the mention of the name of Jesus, the teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus as well as the preaching of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs pay close attention to for in the fifth chapter there wouldn’t be a notable miracle such as what we find in the third chapter but there would still be signs, wonders and miracles which took place among them in their midst.

 

            Before I turn and direct my attention to the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapter I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth and reality surrounding the word and message the apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. It would be on the day of Pentecost when the attention and focus of the people in Jerusalem would be drawn to the witness of men and women speaking with other tongues as the Spirit had given them utterance. It would be in the second chapter of this New Testament book we find the people of Jerusalem—particularly the devout Jews from the regions, nations and lands round about Judaea and Galilee who journeyed unto the city for the feast—marveling and being astounded that they would hear the wonderful works of the living God being spoken and proclaimed in their own tongue. It would be in response to their attention and their astonishment the apostle Peter would first begin preaching and declaring unto them that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of the prophetic word which the Hebrew prophet Joel had prophesied generations and centuries earlier. After declaring unto them that what they were witnessing was the prophetic fulfillment of the word which Joel had prophesied centuries earlier the apostle Peter would then preach the name of Jesus of Nazareth—and not only preach the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but also the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter as the apostle Peter would preach the name of one whom the religious and political leaders of the Jews delivered up to suffer and to be killed. The apostle Peter together with the apostles would not only preach the name of the Lord Jesus but would also preach the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are the words which are found in the second chapter describing the preaching of the apostle Peter concerning the name of Jesus of Nazareth and the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus:

            “Ye men of Israel, hear these 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: tTherefore 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).

 

            We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for this would be the first time the name of Jesus of Nazareth would be preached. Oh despite the fact that Jesus of Nazareth had suffered in the flesh and had been crucified there were undoubtedly many during those days who thought that He was indeed still dead and buried in the grave. What the apostle Peter would emphatically declare unto the people of Jerusalem on this day was not only the name of Jesus of Nazareth but also that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from death to life on the third day. Although there were many during those days who thought and believed that Jesus had indeed been killed and crucified and had been buried in the grave and was still in the grave the apostle Peter would declare and profess unto them that Jesus of Nazareth whom they had killed was indeed raised from death to life on the third day. This is important for us to recognize for it wasn’t merely that the apostles were preaching the name of Jesus of Nazareth but it was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus which the apostle would also preach. If you want to truly understand the New Testament book of Acts you must needs understand it through the lens of the name of Jesus of Nazareth as well as the resurrection of the same. In order to truly understand the New Testament book of Acts you must needs recognize and understand it through the lens of the preaching and professing of the name of Jesus of Nazareth—and not only the profession and confession of the name of Jesus of Nazareth but also that God the Father had made Him both Christ and Lord. What’s more is there is also the declaration and profession that Jesus had indeed been raised from death to life on the third day and was no longer in the grave. Thus during those days it wasn’t necessarily the miracles themselves which so angered and offended the religious leaders—even a number of the Jews themselves—but it was the profession and confession of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when we come to the fourth and fifth chapters of this New Testament book we find it written how the religious and political leaders were angered, offended, outraged and incensed with the apostles because they dared preach the name of Jesus of Nazareth and that He had been raised from death to life. Consider now the following words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters concerning the tremendous resistance and opposition to the word and name of Jesus of Nazareth as well as the word and profession of the resurrection of the same:

 

            “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 the min hold unto the next day: for it was now even tide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. And it came to p ass 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? 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 others: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:1-12).

 

            “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; 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. 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. 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” (Acts 4:13-22).

 

            “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 Herd, 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 speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:23-31).

 

            Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the twelfth verse concerning the miracles which took place during the days of the apostles and early church as well as the continued resistance and opposition to the word and name of Jesus of Nazareth as well as the resurrection of the same from death to life:

 

            “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wondered 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 believers were 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 of the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cites 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 had 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, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain 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 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 a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:17-32).

 

            IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH RISE UP AND WALK! AND HIS NAME THROUGH FAITH IN HIS NAME HATH MADE THIS MAN STRONG! BY WHAT POWER, OR BY WHAT NAME, HAVE YE DONE THIS? 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! BUT THAT IT SPREAD NO FURTHER AMONG THE PEOPLE, LET US STRAITLY THREATEN THEM, THAT THEY SPEAK HENCEFORTH TO NO MAN IN THIS NAME! AND THEY CALLED THEM, AND COMMANDED THEM NOT TO SPEAK AT ALL NOR TEACH IN THE NAME OF JESUS! AND THAT SIGNS AND WONDERS MAY BE DONE BY THE NAME OF THY HOLY CHILD JESUS! DID NOT WE STRAITLY COMMAND YOU THAT YE SHOULD NOT TEACH IN THIS NAME?

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we find the ultimate source of the offense of the Jews—and not only the offense of the Jews but the offense of their religious and political leaders—during the days of the early church. If you take the time to read the words which are found in these passages you will find that the true and ultimate source of offense during these days was the name of Jesus of Nazareth—and not only the name of Jesus of Nazareth but also the preaching of the name as well as the confession and profession of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This is something which warrants strong consideration as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that at the very heart and center of the persecution of and against the apostles was the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Neither the chief priests, nor the scribes, nor the elders of the people, nor the Pharisees, nor the Sadducees, nor the elders, nor the political leaders of that generation could handle the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The words we find within these passage of Scripture not only demonstrate how healing took place in the name of Jesus but they also demonstrate the confession and profession of the name of Jesus of Nazareth during those days. This is something which we must needs acknowledge and understand for if you want to truly understand the offense of many of the Jews together with many of their religious and political leaders you must needs understand just how offensive the name of Jesus of Nazareth truly was. With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the New Testament beginning to read with and from the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But bewar of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed,; and his, that shall not be known. What I tell you darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven(Matthew 10:16-33).

 

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

 

            “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

 

            “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

 

            “For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the angels be gathered together” (Matthew 24:21-28).

 

            “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, 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. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:18-27).

 

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killers you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Neverhtless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:1-7).

 

            “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in they heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heart? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:8-21).

 

            “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the namer of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputing: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:5-18).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found within these verses and passages of Scripture for they highlight and underscore the tremendous significance of the name of this Jesus of Nazareth. If there is one thing I find absolutely incredible about the New Testament book of Acts it’s that the religious and political leaders weren’t necessarily offended, angered and outraged at the signs, the wonders and the miracles which took place among them. That which angered and offended the religious and political leaders during those days was indeed the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This same Jesus of Nazareth whom they delivered up unto Pilate and unto the Gentiles that He might suffer in the flesh and might be killed and crucified was the same Jesus whom the apostles were now preaching—and not only were they preaching this Jesus but they were also preaching His name, they were preaching healing in His name, they were preaching salvation in His name and they were preaching resurrection from the dead in His name. The more you read the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters the more you will encounter the absolutely tremendous truth surrounding the offense within the hearts and minds of the religious and political leaders which were present during those days. The offense which was present within many of their hearts and minds wasn’t the offense of miracles, nor the offense of signs, nor the offense of healing, nor the offense of wonders but it was the offense of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only this but the apostles were preaching the name of Jesus and that he had not only been raised from death to life but that God the Father had made Him both Christ and Lord. Oh how absolutely wonderful this truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to just how divisive the name of the Lord Jesus truly was. The apostles would indeed confess and profess the name of the Lord Jesus during those days—much like Simon called Peter would confess Jesus as the Christ and Son of the living God, much like Martha would declare Jesus as the Son of the living God, much like Nathanael would confess Jesus as the Son of the living God, much like the Roman centurion at the cross would confess that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Consider if you will the following accounts of these confessions and professions of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God made by these individuals and how they would form the foundation of the confession and profession that would be made during the days and age of the Holy Spirit:

 

            “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

 

            “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee ministering unto him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children” (Matthew 27:51-56).

 

            “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanel , and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanel said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanel saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanel answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).

 

            “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:66-71).

 

            “Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee” (John 11:24-29).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages for within them we find certain individuals confessing and professing that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. From the apostle Peter, to John the Baptist, to Nathanael, to Martha, to the Roman centurion we find different individuals declaring of Jesus that He was either the Christ and/or the Son of the living God. This is something we must needs recognize when coming to the New Testament book of Acts for we will find two distinct realities presented among those who would hear the word and gospel which the apostles and others preached during those days. In fact one of these principles and realities is indeed found in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts when Philip preached the word and gospel in the region of Samaria. If you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find the incredible offense of the religious and political leaders which were present during the days of the apostles and the early church for they would be offended, incensed, angered and outraged at the name of Jesus of Nazareth. It would be in the fourth and fifth chapters of this book where we find the religious and political leaders commanding the apostles to cease preaching in the name of Jesus. What’s more is that we might even very well say that what they commanded them to do was to cease confessing, professing and making proclamation of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. What makes this truly captivating and challenging when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that it is in the third, fourth and fifth chapter of this book where we find the apostles declaring that it was in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and faith in His name that would make this man whole. What’s more is the apostles would also declare that there is none other name given under heaven and in earth whereby men can be saved. Moreover the apostle Peter would also quote the words of the prophet Joel when he would declare that all who called upon the name of the Lord would indeed be saved. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the confession and profession of the name of Jesus of Nazareth which was present during the days of the apostles and the early church.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this New Testament book the more you will encounter the tremendous truth that although Jesus had suffered in the flesh, although Jesus had been killed and crucified He had indeed been raised from death to life, had ascended unto the right hand of the Father and his name was now being preached and proclaimed by the apostles and the early church. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when you truly take the time to consider it for undoubtedly the religious and political leaders thought they had removed all trace of this Jesus of Nazareth and thought and believed they had removed His influence from among the people. What we begin to notice in the second chapter is the preaching of the word and gospel in the name of Jesus of Nazareth—and not only in the name of Jesus but also of His resurrection from the grave. What’s more is that when you come to the third chapter you will begin to see the power of that name and what faith in that name can truly accomplish as a man who was lame from birth would be healed in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying attention to for the religious and political leaders which were present during those days took great offense to the name of Jesus of Nazareth—this one whom they believed was crucified and killed and buried in the grave.

 

I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the offense of the name—the offense of the name of Jesus of Nazareth—during the days of the apostles and of the early church. You cannot read the words which are found in this New Testament book and not encounter and come face to face with just how offensive the name of Jesus of Nazareth truly was for the religious and political leaders could not handle the mention of the name of Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote that at the name of Jesus ever knee would bow and every tongue would confess that He was and is Lord and here we find the religious and political leaders of the Jews being highly offended with and by the mention of this name. There is absolutely no doubt that when you read the words which are found in this New Testament book you will encounter the incredible truth surrounding the offense of the name of Jesus during the days of the apostles and early church. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the great offense the name of Jesus had upon the religious and political leaders which were present during those days. With this being said I am absolutely convinced that such a reality was not only true of those days but is also true of our generation today as the name of Jesus of Nazareth is not only an offense to religious leaders among us but is also an offense to countless political leaders. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must needs recognize and understand that the name of Jesus—the confession and profession of the name of Jesus—is indeed and has indeed been an offense to many who are unable to handle it. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for a moment there aren’t and there have not been individuals who take great offense to the name of Jesus—and not only to the name of Jesus but also to the profession and confession that He was raised from death to life, that He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven and is coming back again for His spiritual body and bride which is present in the midst of the earth.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am confronted with the tremendous persecution which would come against the word and gospel of life which was preached during the days of the early church. What would begin with the persecution of the apostles as the religious and political leaders would command and demand them not to preach in the name of Jesus would eventually reach a point where Stephen would become the church’s first martyr. It is in the sixth chapter of this New Testament book we find Stephen being full of faith and power and performing many signs and wonders during those days. Not only this but there were those who sought to dispute and reason with Stephen but were unable to stand up to and stand up against the wisdom by which he spoke. This is something we have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that as a direct result of the pride, the arrogance and offense of those during these days false witnesses would be raised up against Stephen accusing him of things that would eventually bring him before the Sanhedrin and council. It would be there before the council Stephen would present his defense by recounting the history of their fathers beginning with Abraham and continuing through the history of Joseph, Moses and even David and the Temple. Eventually and ultimately those who heard the words which Stephen spoke would offend and anger those who heard him and as a direct result of this they would drag him out of the city and would stone him to death. What’s more is that in the eighth chapter we find a man by the name of Saul of Tarsus who consented to the death of Stephen. Not only this but in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book we find Saul of Tarsus wreaking havoc upon and against the early church. It would be Saul of Tarsus who would enter into houses and homes and haling men and women out would commit them into prison. It would be in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts where we begin to see the persecution come to a head as it would no longer be limited to the apostles nor even to the death of Stephen but would be direct against the church as a whole and would even have a champion of the persecution itself.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely incredible to call and draw your attention to the tremendous and incredible truth that is found in verses fourteen through twenty-five. It is in these verses where we find the apostles which were at Jerusalem hearing that Samaria had received the word of God and sent unto them Peter and John. When these two apostles came unto Samaria they prayed for those who had heard the word of God that they might receive the Holy Ghost for He had not yet fallen upon them. The only thing they had experienced was the experience of being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for it calls and draws our attention to another reality concerning the name of the Lord Jesus and how in addition to the confession and profession of the name of Jesus, in addition to faith in the name of Jesus, in addition to power in the name of Jesus, and in addition to healing in the name of Jesus there was also baptism in the name of Jesus. I am absolutely convinced we as the saints of God and disciples of Jesus Himself must needs bring the name of Jesus unto this nation as we confess and profess it without hesitation and without reservation. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the need to be those who are indeed willing to confess and profess the name of Jesus in our generation within this nation—regardless of who is offended or who might be offended by that name. Regardless of the amount of persecution that arises because of and for the name of Jesus we must needs be those who do in fact proclaim and confess it that men and women might indeed encounter the name that is higher than every other name and whereby men are saved.

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