VIDEO No Retreat

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

The eyes of the world are on Finland, where a prominent politician and medical doctor, Päivi Räsänen, faces criminal charges because she quoted the Bible on social media. Räsänen is a Christian who holds a biblical view about human sexuality and defends the scriptural position on marriage. Now she may go to prison for posting Bible verses on those subjects online.

Someone said, “Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.”

What happens when a godless society tries to silence the voice of morality? Well, God is never silenced, and the Bible cannot be chained. But culture can become corrupt, confused, and alienated from the God who created us all. Franklin Graham wrote, “Our nation has slowly and steadily drifted away from God—perhaps even turned our back on God in so many ways—and we are now reaping the devastating consequences.”[1]

Still, this is no time for discouragement or retreat. Let’s hold up the cross and uphold the Gospel. Let’s tread ahead with a boldness befitting the apostolic faith.

One of the special marks of the Holy Ghost in the Apostolic Church was the spirit of boldness. A. B. Simpson


Acts 4:13-22 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Studying the Scriptures

[Jesus said], “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39

J. I. Packer (1926–2020), in his classic work Knowing God, spoke of four well-known believers in Christ whom he called “beavers for the Bible.” Not all were trained scholars, but each one exercised great care to know God by gnawing into the Scripture, like a beaver digs in and gnaws away at a tree. Packer further noted that knowing God through Bible study is not just for scholars. “A simple Bible reader and sermon hearer who is full of the Holy Spirit will develop a far deeper acquaintance with his God and Savior than a more learned scholar who is content with being theologically correct.”

Unfortunately, not all who study the Bible do so with humble hearts with the goal of getting to know the Savior better and becoming more like Him. In Jesus’ day there were those who read the Old Testament Scriptures, yet they missed the very One they spoke of. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

Do you sometimes find yourself stumped as you read the Bible? Or have you given up studying the Scriptures altogether? Bible “beavers” are more than Bible readers. They prayerfully and carefully gnaw away at Scripture in ways that open their eyes and hearts to see and love Jesus—the One revealed in it. 

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What are some Old Testament Scripture passages that you recognize as “testifying” about Jesus? What better habits do you need to develop to become a better student of the Scriptures?

Father, open my eyes to see Jesus in all of Scripture so that I might love, obey, and serve Him more.

The Privilege of Knowing God

The one true God allows us to know Him, and we experience blessings as we learn more about Him.

Philippians 3:7-11

Knowing about God is different from knowing God. Anyone can learn a few facts about Him, but a sincere believer invests the time and energy to be His friend. 

One of the ways to learn about the Lord is through His Word. By reading the Bible, believers discover God’s character, principles, and ways of operating. Unfortunately, many men and women stop at this step, but it’s also important to meditate on Scripture, which involves thinking about God’s words and allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret them. This practice further deepens the believer’s knowledge. Finally, we apply what we learn, which is when we truly get to know God. 

For example, suppose you read in Psalm 46:1 that God is a very present help in times of trouble, and when trouble shows up, you rely on Him for aid. When He answers—and He will, although not always in the expected way—you learn something: God responds to your trust and dependence with a perfect solution to your problem. 

I frequently admonish believers to read the Bible, but I don’t mean skim its pages for facts. Scripture is a living document, and when you do what it says, you discover God is not some ancient, dictating deity but a vibrant friend who wants to connect with you.

Heaven’s Commonwealth

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

The translators of the King James Bible used the English word “conversation” in 18 passages, among which are five different Greek terms. Most of the words would be understood by our modern idea “manner of life” or behavior. However, in today’s verse, the word is politeuoma, derived from another Greek word, polites. Our English word “politics” comes from that, especially in the sense of citizenship as it relates to governmental oversight.

The apostle Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the “politics” word, and he does so only two other times. On one occasion, “all Jerusalem was in an uproar” (Acts 21:31) over Paul’s supposed violation of the temple. After giving testimony of his conversion and subsequent ministry to the unruly crowd, Paul said, “Men and brethren, I have lived [politeuomai] in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1), simply and boldy declaring that he now lived as a citizen of heaven.

Earlier in his epistle to the Philippian church, Paul had challenged them, “Let your conversation [politeuoma] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Paul’s challenge is just as clear to us: Live and think like our citizenship is in heaven.

Heaven’s rule may be best understood by our English word “commonwealth,” a political community founded for the common good. We are “joint-heirs” with Christ (Romans 8:17), and we should look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). HMM III

War

In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me: “Lord, deliver me from lying lips and a deceitful tongue.” What will He give you, and what will He do to you, you deceitful tongue? A warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning charcoal! (Psalm vv. 1-4).

Why does our Christian pilgrimage seem to be uphill so much of the time? It was the same for the early believers, who faced a tough climb, literally as well as symbolically.

This “pilgrim song” was sung by ancient Israelis as they journeyed up to Jerusalem for their annual feast days. Psalms 12-134 are also identified as “songs of ascent.”

The psalmist has been “burned” by lying lips and deceitful tongues. This personal verbal attack made by warlike adversaries is probably only the beginning of more direct assaults. Still, the sting of a slanderous tongue is enough to launch full-scale war.

In verse 3 he addresses his foes with a question: “What will He do to you, you deceitful tongue?” then answers with vibrant imagery. The wicked will be slain with a “warrior’s sharp arrows” and “with burning charcoal” (v. 4), The broom tree is mentioned because it’s excellent firewood burns bright, long, and hot!

From these verses I learn that God does not deal lightly with untamed tongues. He hates slander, lying, deceit, and gossip! Because individuals are made in the image of God, they are to be treated with dignity and respect, and we are not allowed to speak in an unrestrained manner about them. How typical it is to run rough-shod over God’s precious children! Paul speaks against “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” (Eph. 5:4). He tells us they are out of place for the Christian and ought to be replaced by thanksgiving talk!

Personal Prayer

Bridle my tongue, Lord, and keep me from speaking irreverently or thoughtlessly. Keep a song on my lips rather than shallow speech.

Don’t Dampen the Spirit

Don’t stifle the Spirit.—1 Thessalonians 5:19

The sin described in Scripture as “blasphemy against the Spirit” rarely occurs in the life of a Christian. It is rather a conscious resistance, and anyone worrying about it has not committed it. There is, however, a more frequent sin. It is one that almost all Christians have committed and is known as “quenching the Spirit.”

How do we “quench” the Holy Spirit? We can do this in many ways, but the chief way is by refusing to let Him have full control of our lives. The Amplified Bible says: “Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the (Holy) Spirit.” You see, it is possible for you to possess the Holy Spirit without the Holy Spirit possessing you. Dr. Handley Moule, the great Anglican bishop of a past generation, used to say: “The difference between someone who is quenching the Spirit and someone who is allowing the Spirit to have free course in their life, is the difference between a well in which there is a spring of water choked, and a well in which the obstruction is removed so that the water springs up and fills the well.” If we are choked by fears, resentments, indecision, self-centeredness, then we are suppressing the Holy Spirit who resides in us in order to free us.

I know that many are afraid to surrender completely to the Spirit, afraid that they will become what some people call “hot pots.” But the danger to the present church is not from “hot pots” but from “cold fish”! Unless I am greatly mistaken, our churches are more in danger of freezing up than burning up.

Prayer

O God, forgive me, I pray, for not allowing Your Holy Spirit to have full sway in my life and experience. Let Your divine fire burn within me, and help me not to dampen it. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 10:34-48; 2Co 3:17; Rm 8:2; Lk 4:18

What happened while Peter was preaching?

What liberty did this bring?

The Gift of God

Psalm 127:3

Eighteen years ago, our son John was killed in an automobile accident. John, to his friends, was a real day-brightener; and to his family “fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky.” Sixteen-year-old John, who enjoyed beating his old man at every game and in every race, beat his father to the grave.

Our own broken hearts are mending, largely thanks to many dear friends and co-workers. If in that year we relearned one lesson, it is that love not only begets love, it transmits strength.

We miss John very much. We wonder how he would look and what he would be doing these days if he were still alive. Indeed, John lives. Of that we are assured; he is with our Lord, and we will be there some day also.

When a person dies, there are many things that can be said, but the one thing that should never be said is, “It is the will of God.” Our consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that John should have died; God’s heart was the first of all hearts to break.

We cannot confess that our lives have always been bright and sunny. Soon after the promotion to Glory of John, I could not pray as I used to do daily. I was angry that John’s promising future had been taken away. I could not accept what had happened to him. This was the darkest time of our lives.

We were able to turn the corner by thanking God for John who was with us for those sixteen precious years, rather than theorizing on his unlived life. We started to pray together and to read God’s Word together again. We later learned that comrades in Korea spent special times in prayer for us. Certainly the gift of the Spirit was there. We learned that there were countless friends around the world praying for us in those days. No wonder the Lord had been with us in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, in those darkest days of our lives. We owe so very much to our Lord and to the power of prayer. We thank God for His deliverance of us, for through this experience we were able to prove yet once again, His love, His compassion, His goodness and His faithfulness.

Peter & Grace Chang, The Gift of God