Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically today’s passage is found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preached; that if thous 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 is 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 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 heard? 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 10:1-21).
When you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the apostle continuing his discourse concerning the nation and people of Israel. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of this chapter you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring how his heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel was that they would be saved. This is something which we must needs recognize and understand when reading chapters nine, ten and eleven of this New Testament epistle for within these chapters we find the apostle Paul turning his attention to the nation and people of Israel and how they rejected and despised the Messiah and the Christ when He was manifested unto and among them. If you take the time to read the New Testament gospels—specifically the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—you will find a tremendous rejection of the Jews toward the Messiah and the Christ. What’s more is that not only will you find the rejection of the Jews toward the Messiah and the Christ but you will find them rejecting both His words and His works. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that their unbelief and the hardness of their heart(s) led to the gospel being preached unto and among the Gentiles. The Jews themselves rejected and despised the Messiah when He was manifested among them—this despite the fact that when we come to the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostles preaching the gospel of the kingdom unto the Jews first. Within the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostles themselves preaching and teaching the gospel unto the Jews which were in Jerusalem first. What’s more is that up to the eighth chapter we find the gospel pretty much being limited to the city of Jerusalem and unto those Jews which were present in the midst of the city.
The more you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and the more you read the New Testament book of Acts the more you will find the Jews rejecting and despising the Messiah and the Christ much like they rejected and despised the ancient Hebrew prophets whom the Lord sent unto them. In fact, I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture concerning the rejection of the Jewish people toward the Messiah and the Christ it is absolutely necessary to turn and direct your attention to words which are found in the Old Testament. More specifically I firmly believe we must needs turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles as well as the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. Here within these passages of Scripture we find a wonderful and powerful description of the Jews who themselves rejected the prophets. Not only did the Jewish people reject the prophets but the Jewish people raised themselves up against them and stoned and killed them. Even Jesus Himself emphatically declared how the Father sent the fathers of the Jewish people prophets who would rise early in the morning warning them through and by the word of the Lord and how the Jewish people despised and rejected them. The scribes and the Pharisees which were present during the days in which Jesus walked upon the earth built up the tombs of the prophets as a sign that if they were alive during those days they would not have despised or rejected the prophets. That which they were too blind to see, however, was that they had indeed rejected and were rejecting the Messiah and the Christ whom the prophets spoke and prophesied of.
It is with this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives beginning with the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand just how incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of how the Jews which were present during the days of Jesus rejected the Messiah and the Christ but how their fathers rejected and despised the prophets. Jesus was very clear that those who would make the decision to walk with and follow Him would be persecuted and would suffer affliction in this life just as their fathers persecuted the prophets. There is not a doubt in my mind that we need to examine these passages which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives as well as the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah and the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles. With this being said I now invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture beginning with the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 4:10-12).
“Hear another parable: There was a certain household, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dogged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandman, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandman, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandman took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandman saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandman? They say unto him, He will miserable destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:33-44).
“Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:34-39).
“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:31-35).
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the fathers of those who existed and dwelt within the land of Judaea and Galilee and within the city of Jerusalem during the days of Jesus. Jesus held no punches and spoke emphatically and authoritatively when he declared unto the scribes and the Pharisees that their fathers persecuted, stoned and killed the prophets which had come before them. Jesus emphatically declared how they not only refused to enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves but they also refused to allow others to enter into the kingdom. Jesus declared unto the scribes and the Pharisees how they built up and garnished the tombs of the prophets as a sign and symbol that if they had existed during the days of the prophets and during the days of their fathers they would not have killed the prophets. What they failed to realize and understand, however, was that they might not be stoning and killing prophets, however, that which they were doing was persecuting and raising themselves up against the Messiah and the Christ. The Messiah and the Christ was come unto and minister among them and their could neither recognize the Messiah nor receive Him. The scribes, the Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders of the people, the lawyers, the Sadducees and the entire religious establishment during those days despised and rejected the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only rejected Him but rejected His words and His works. Moreover they rejected His claim that He was indeed the Son of the living God. We know that the angel Gabriel declared unto Mary that JESUS would be the Son of the Highest, we know that John the Baptist declared that this was the Son of God and we know that Simon Peter, Nathanael and Martha each declared that Jesus was the Son of God, however, the religious system of that day could not accept or acknowledge that.
Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew which reference Jesus addressing and speaking to the scribes and the Pharisees. Begin reading with the twenty-third verse of this chapter and you will find the following words present within this chapter:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which staring at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:23-33).
I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand these words for they help set the tone and the stage for the language we find in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah as well as the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles. There is indeed a great need to pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture as it brings us face to face with the fact that Jesus spoke of the scribes and the Pharisees which were present during those days and how they made the boast that if they were alive during the days of their fathers they would not have partaken in their iniquity or their wickedness in the sight of the living God. What Jesus would declare unto them, however, was that they were witnesses unto themselves that they were the children of them which killed the prophets. Despite the fact they built up the tombs of the prophets as a sign that they somehow would not have partaken in the iniquity of stoning and putting to death the prophets like their fathers did they would nonetheless persecute and ultimately deliver Jesus unto Gentiles to be scourged and to be put to death. Within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus declaring of the scribes and the Pharisees that although they believed within their hearts they would not have partaken in the same iniquity of their fathers in stoning and killing the prophets they were actually partaking in something much more sinister and much more wicked than their fathers did for they would persecute the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God. What’s more is Jesus knew that it would be the scribes, the Pharisees and the entire religious establishment which would indeed seize Jesus in the secrecy of night and would wrongly and falsely accuse Him before not only delivering Him into the hands of Gentiles to be scourged and killed but would also cry out for His blood to be shed. With this being said I invite you to now consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah beginning with the first and opening verse:
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:1-7).
“Behold, ye trust in laying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? Saith the LORD: Do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the LORD God; behold mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched” (Jeremiah 7:8-20).
Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning to read with and from the seventh verse of the chapter concerning the iniquity of the northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah:
“For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they build them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fence city. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: for they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. Ye the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day” (2 Kings 17:7-23).
Please don’t miss the incredible significance of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the fathers of those who dwelt in the land of Judaea, the land of Galilee and within the city of Jerusalem during the days of the Lord Jesus. Their fathers would not only walk in disobedience, rebellion, iniquity, transgression and wickedness in the sight of the living God but they would also persecute the prophets which the LORD sent unto them rising early in the morning. The living and eternal God would indeed send prophets unto the children of Israel during the days of their fathers and yet not only would they despise the prophets but they would also persecute, stone and kill them. With this being said it must be understood that perhaps the single greatest book which describes the treatment of the prophets during those days is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. Within and throughout this Old Testament prophetic book you will find Jeremiah cast into a cistern, you will find Jeremiah cast into prison, you will find Jeremiah afflicted, you will find Jeremiah despised, you will find Jeremiah abhorred by both the political and religious leaders which were present during those days. It was and has been said of Jeremiah that he was “the weeping prophet,” however, what I would like to also declare concerning Jeremiah is that if you read the prophetic book which bears his name you will find that he was one of the prophets who most associated with the sufferings, the afflictions and the persecutions of the Messiah. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the suffering and the affliction which Jeremiah experienced as a prophet of the living and eternal God. Jeremiah would indeed experience a tremendous amount of suffering and affliction from those who were present during his generation—not only men from his own hometown but also from political and religious figures alike.
Building upon this particular truth I find it necessary to turn and direct your attention to the New Testament book of Acts for within this book we find the apostle Peter together with the other apostles speaking unto both the religious and political leaders which were present during those days. After they had killed and crucified Jesus of Nazareth—although the living God raised Him from death to life on the third day and although He would ascended unto the right hand of the Father forty days after His resurrection—they would not only despise the preaching of the word and name of this same Jesus whom they had killed and crucified. In fact you cannot read the words which are found in the first nine chapters of the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous rejection of the word, the name and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth by the religious and political leaders which were present during the days of the apostles after Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven and after Jesus had indeed and had in fact sent the promise of the Father from heaven. From the day of Pentecost forward you will find the apostle Peter together with the other apostles emphatically declaring unto the religious and political leaders that they themselves were responsible for delivering Jesus of Nazareth unto Gentiles and into the hands of sinners that He might be killed and crucified. What’s more is the apostles would hold the scribes, the Pharisees and both the religious and political system during those days personally responsible for the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the second chapter:
“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 mist 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…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 are all 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 2:22-24, 30-36).
“Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power of holiness we had mad 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, whom he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murder 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 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 should, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the propel. 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, belting grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was not eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. And it came to pass 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, EY 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 your 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 4:1-12).
“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 4:15-22).
“Then the high priest rose up, and 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 that 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 gin 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 is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:17-32).
“and to him they agree: 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 5:40-42).
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:51-60).
“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 hailing men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of the way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
“And after that many days were fulfilled, The Jews took counsel to kill him: but their laying await away was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket” (Acts 9:23-25).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the language that is found within these passages of Scripture for within them we find the chief priests, the Pharisees, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Sadducees and the rest of the religious and political leaders which were present during those days raising themselves agains the apostles. It is impossible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. In the opening verse of this chapter the apostle Paul emphatically declared how his heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel was that they might be saved. Furthermore the apostle Paul would go on to describe and declare how they have a zeal of God, however, that zeal of God was not according to knowledge. The people of Israel were ignorant of God’s righteousness and went about to establish their own righteousness and as a result have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when you continue reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find the Jews in the various cities and places whithersoever the apostle Paul went opposing themselves and blaspheming that they might contradict the words which the apostle Paul declared and proclaimed unto them. What’s more is there were even Jews who would come unto Antioch and proclaim that unless one was circumcised they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven and would and could not be saved. There were certain Jews who would dare try and subvert the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth by declaring how it was necessary to be circumcised according to the Law that they might obtain righteousness. This is precisely what the apostle Paul was referencing here in this passage of Scripture for the Jews were such who went about attempting to achieve their own righteousness according to the Law. What’s more is not only did they attempt to achieve their own righteousness according to the Law but they also attempted to achieve it by and according to works and even circumcision itself.
With this in mind I invite you you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi as well as the words which were written by the apostle Paul unto the churches in Galatia within the epistle written and sent unto them. Consider these passages of Scripture beginning to read with and from the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi:
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them by dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through t he faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal leaven this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:1-16).
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).
“If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? Good forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I throughly the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:15-21).
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5).
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the week and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well: yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:16-20).
“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump> I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:7-12).
The words which we find in these passages call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding that righteousness which men and women try and lay hold of and attain apart from and outside of Christ. The apostle Paul spoke about the Jewish people who had a zeal of God but not according to knowledge and how they were ignorant of God’s righteousness because they went about to establish their own righteousness. It would be in the process of establishing their own righteousness that they refused to submit themselves unto the righteousness of God for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness which believes. The apostle Paul would write unto the saints which were at Philippi that he did not have his own righteousness which is of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ—the righteousness which is of God by faith. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of—particularly when reading the words found in the epistle written by the apostle unto the saints of Rome—for within it he sought to demonstrate that men and women were not justified in the sight of God by and according to the Law but they were justified by faith alone. The apostle Paul would emphatically teach, preach and even write that the just shall live by their faith alone and that we are not justified by, through and according to the Law of Moses. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to describe how Christ is the end of the law to those who believe for Christ is the righteousness which is made available unto us. Christ perfectly and completely fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses and was able to make an offering for our sins that we might have the righteousness of God rather than a righteousness which is according to the Law of Moses. The scribes and the Pharisees believed themselves to be righteous in their own eyes and believe themselves to be holy in the sight of the living God and yet their righteousness was entirely and altogether based upon their observance of the Law and even their own statutes and traditions. The entire religious establishment during the days of Jesus of Nazareth and the apostles was built and established upon observance to the Law and would in fact lead men into bondage unto the Law which produced legalism, religion and hypocrisy.
If you read the words presented in the tenth chapter of this epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the apostle Paul writing unto them concerning the Jewish people who rejected Jesus Christ because they went about seeking their own righteousness which was according to the Law of Moses and not according to that which comes by faith in the free gift of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of as it calls and draws our attention to our own pursuit of righteousness and whether or not we are pursuing our own righteousness which is of the Law and according to the traditions of men or whether we are those who pursue the righteousness that is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would write unto the saints which were at Rome that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes for Moses described the righteousness which was of the Law that the man which does those things shall live by them. The righteousness which speaks and is of faith, however, was something which was nigh unto those to whom the apostle Paul was writing—even in their mouth and in their heart. This righteousness comes by the word of faith which was preached by the apostles that if men would confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and would believe in their heart that God had raised Him from the dead they would be saved. Moreover the apostle Paul would also go on to declare that with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. The scripture emphatically declares that whosoever believes 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 calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. This is precisely what the apostles Peter and the other apostles would preach unto the Jews in Jerusalem as well as that which the apostle Peter would preach unto Cornelius and his entire household in Caesarea. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the appeals which the apostle Peter and the other apostles made unto the Jews concerning Jesus of Nazareth and finding salvation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth:
“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” (Acts 2:38-39).
“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 4:8-12).
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all: that word, I say, ye know, which wa published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:34-43).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to remind you of the tremendous importance of confession of the Lord Jesus with our mouth and belief within our hearts that God raised Him up from the dead. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that all who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved echoing the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel prophesied during his generation and which the apostle Paul repeated on the day of Pentecost. The apostle Paul emphatically declared and proclaimed that all who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved and that all who confessed with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believed with their heart that Jesus was raised from the dead by the Father would indeed be saved. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for the apostle Paul did not profess that those who confessed with their mouth the Savior Jesus, nor the Redeemer Jesus but rather the Lord Jesus. This confession is one that is incredibly critical if one wishes to walk with and follow Jesus of Nazareth for while it is indeed true that He is both Saviour and Redeemer He is also Lord. Confessing Jesus as Lord places ourselves in a position of surrender and submission before Him and relinquishes all control and authority we think we have over our lives and places it squarely and solely in His hands. It was the apostle Paul who emphatically declared that those who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believed with their heart that He was raised from the dead would be saved and it was the prophet Joel, the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul who would declare that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This is something which must needs be recognized and understood for it brings us face to face with the truth of what the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Philippi. Here in this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul emphatically declared that the Father had given Jesus a name that is above every name that at the mention of His name every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that He is Lord. I leave you with these words written by the apostle Paul in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostles Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi beginning with the first verse:
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in loveliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 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 name 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 2:1-18).