January 18, 2011

An event puts the Apostles in conflict with the religious authorities: Acts 3

Filed under: biblical studies — Petros @ 9:58 pm
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On our first evening of the 9th of December, we noticed that there were many points of comparison between the Christians in the Acts 1 and us.   They were losing their leader; they needed to wait and to depend on the Holy Spirit; they were dealing with religious authorities who were acting in disobedience to God; they were living in highly chaotic times; they would be empowered for mission.   Then last week, we saw how God used the special event of the Day of Pentecost when Jewish pilgrims from all around the world came to Jerusalem to worship—perhaps the only time in their lives to make this special trip.  That was the day when the Holy Spirit animated the believers to each speak in the different languages of the Diaspora Jews.  That day 3000 Jewish people from all over the inhabited world came to accept Jesus as the messiah and the church had its first big growth spurt—from 120 to 3120.  As an investor that’s pretty good growth (26x).  But it is just about the right size for a group of 12 leaders–each apostle would be responsible for a congregation of 260.  We focused upon Luke’s description of the Spirit-filled community as characterized by signs and wonders, unity, fellowship, breaking of bread, generosity, prayer and adherence to apostles teaching.  The Holy Spirit caused these believers to study, conserve, and obey the apostles’ teaching, unlike the claim of the false bishop Gene Robinson, who said in an article in the Washington Post, that the Holy Spirit causes us to accept the homosexual lifestyle.  No, the Holy Spirit teaches us to remember Jesus’ teaching as it was preserved by the apostles.

In our passage today we see Peter and John entering the temple, passing a beggar.  Thus, for the moment, the apostles remained in a quiet mode.  They continue to worship in the Temple; indeed, they are observing a standard hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 pm) which was also the moment of the evening sacrifice; and thus it appears that they continued tacitly to obey the leadership which had just condemned Jesus to the Romans to be crucified.  Perhaps we too can live in tacit obedience to the authorities, for a time.

Now the man whom God healed was visible to all who entered the Temple.  But now they do something that will put them again into conflict with authorities by powerfully healing a lame man.  This healing put the disciples in a confrontation with the officials of the Judaism, the Sanhedrin.  My question for Emmanuel Church is this:  When should we make our move?  When do we confront the Diocese and what form should our protest take?  When is it clear that the leadership has gone too far and their corruption is intolerable to God?

I was inspired by a story that I read in the American Thinker about a Pastor Walter Hoy; this man has gone to jail violating a bubble zone around an abortion facilty.  Chuck Colson writes (Breakpoint, Jan 14, 2011):

When Dr. King wrote his letter, From a Birmingham Jail, he addressed those who thought his civil rights activities unwise and untimely. In his speeches, Hoy also addresses those who say that his cause is worthy and just but that he should just wait. “I can’t wait.” Hoy says. “You see, my people are dying.”

Since 1973, he notes, over 14.5 million black babies have been killed by abortion. Every, single day, 1,200 black babies are put to death in abortion facilities, making abortion the leading cause of death among African Americans! Nearly half of all black babies concieved [sic] die in abortion chambers today. Hoy says this means that a black child is safer on the streets of the worst neighborhoods in American than in his mother’s womb.

Hoy notes that between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan. Today, abortion kills more black Americans in less than three days than the Klan killed in 86 years! Think of it.

American blacks make up twelve percent of the U.S. population, yet thirty-seven percent of all abortions are performed on black women. This is because eugenic-minded pro-abortion forces target American blacks by putting abortion clinics in black neighborhoods, according to Hoy.

The Rev. Hoy argues that there is a time to stand up to injustice; when is that?  When my people are dying.  But is it the time to stand up to the Diocese of Toronto?  Perhaps so.  When the church no longer upholds the teaching of the Apostles, then the result will be that people will no longer be able to hear the truth of the Gospel—the Gospel says simply this:  We are sinners estranged from the God who created us, and we need forgiveness from God.  God calls us to accept Jesus sacrifice for our sins and to turn back to him and away from our sins.  If people do not realize that they have sinned, then they are living in death.  And they will die; not a death of their body but the death of their spirit.  Our situation is every bit as grave as the genocide of black babies in the US.  Our passage says that God sent Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, to bless us.  But how?  By turning us from our wicked ways (Acts 3.26).  Not by accepting us as we are, and calling our sins not sin.  The Anglican church wants to bless homosexual couples.  Why not bless adulterous couples?  Why not bless murders and idolaters?  These are all things that the Bible forbids?  How can a Bishop begin to bless what the Bible calls a sin?   That is absurd.  God blesses us by turning us away from our wickedness, not by blessing what the Bible calls wicked.  Say I am thief or greedy.  Does God bless my thievery or my greed?  No!  He calls me out of my sin, so that I can be restored to God.  But do you think that the Anglican church even has a concept of sin anymore.  Or don’t you think rather that the Anglican church expects us to bless people in their sins?  My people are dying, lost without God and they don’t even know it because the church is unwilling to teach repentance.

So perhaps we need to follow the example of the Walter Hoy and say enough is enough.  Thus, maybe we should stand in disobedience to the wicked leadership of the Diocese.  Or perhaps we should take the quiet approach of the disciples and continue to worship in the Temple.  But I think that in either case, we need to prayer that God’s Spirit will act: to do signs and wonders and to draw attention to who is standing on the side of the right.

Questions about the text:

Comments about the texts:

Insights into how the text applies today:



  1. There is an underlying current in modern Christianity which says salvation is “apart from the law.” This was originally meant to only
    mean a certain thing, that the extremity of law will curse us always for no man can complete law in total. The atonement for this gap is Jesus as Perfect Lamb. But the law is still binding, not the law that men have contrived, but the spiritual law of God. Which is for Christians
    supposedly written on our hearts now.

    The beginning and the end of Law is Shema. Plus one, Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. How is it that Christians would ever decide abortion or homosexuality could be condoned, according to this? To allow homosexuality is to spread it, for it is a hidden sin
    in a man’s heart. Thus the loving of the neighbor is abrogated. Abortion: no statement necessary.

    A Church which makes controversy over these things has major issues. Such as knowing where our priorities are. Especially regarding
    authority. Apostles are to uphold GOD’S law, not make new laws according to the times. And we as laity must also serve the one God first and foremost.

    At very least Shema is always binding plus one.

    Comment by Sola Yeshua — September 13, 2011 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  2. Among pentecostals the idea that the charismatic gifts are nuanced directly from the baptism in Spirit might have implications here.
    Perception in the Church as a whole changes toward the unspiritual without the added baptism. The added baptism especially among the leaders may have something to do with not having issues such as these described.

    Although leaders too in pentecostal circles miss the point altogether when they add too many variations of law. All law stems from Shema, and all law must be upheld in the Word. For instance total abstinence both among UPC and AofG pentecostals is considered rule, at least among leaders. But it was never given as law by Christ or Peter or Paul or Barnabas or Luke or John or Mark. What makes US think
    we are better than them? True Eucharist cannot even be DONE without real wine. What the disciples of Jesus couldn’t take eucharist because they might have first been disciples of John? They had to disvow in fact their previous vow. So where do we get off reversing THIS?

    True holiness and sanctification must always be seen in light of the rule of God which begins and ends with Shema. It is never relative to the times, or to each other, or to the constructions of men.

    Comment by Sola Yeshua — September 13, 2011 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

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