Posts Tagged ‘The First Amendment’

Speak the Things Which We Have Seen and Heard

February 21, 2015

 

The title of this post comes from a verse in Acts 4.  With the upcoming TV series about the Book of Acts and Dr. David Jeremiah’s 12 week Turning Point Ministry sharing the Scripture behind the story, I began thinking about how the Apostles in the Book of Acts were received during their missionary journeys.  They encountered both joy from those who believed, and threats to shut them up from the establishment authorities who wanted to shut down the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Before I post the verses leading up to that particular Bible verse in Acts 4, I wanted to first share some quotes regarding religious liberty from the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy truly knew what our Founders meant regarding the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  He knew how vitally important the free exercise of religion was to our Founders, and how such rights would be threatened and attacked in our day.

Does the First Amendment declare the “separation of church and state”?  Probably 99 percent of the people in America today have been brainwashed into saying “yes.”  But it does not!  We must understand what the First Amendment says, because the relationship between these two “kingdoms” – church and state – has been long and difficult.  The founding fathers resolved that question in a marvelous way, but their solution is being completely disregarded in our time–and most people are not aware of it.

The First Amendment states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  What does this say about what the church can or cannot do?  What does it say about what a Christian citizen should or should not do?  Absolutely nothing!  It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The First Amendment forbids the federal government from restricting religion in any manner.  The Establishment Clause was only intended to stop the formation of a national church; and so it must be seen as merely a further limitation on government from restricting people from freely exercising their faith.

– Dr. D. James Kennedy

The founders of our nation wanted to avoid what was happening in Britain – the imposition of a national church upon the people. But the First Amendment and Establishment Clause were NOT meant to squelch the speech, worship, and associations of people and various denominations of churches from having the ability to freely exercise their faith.

Today, government is setting down a strong hand in order to restrict people from freely exercising their faith.  Most often these restrictions are being pushed upon those who hold to the Christian faith. Please read some of the previous posts here at Talk Wisdom for evidence of this fact!

As Christians, we know that God has called us to preach the Gospel of Christ – “in season as well as out of season.”  In today’s vernacular, we might say “when it’s popular as well as when it isn’t popular” to do so.

2Ti 4:2

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

However, being an honest book, the Bible has already told us that there would be those who would fight hard against the spread of Christianity!  Such goals were evident when the Apostles started preaching about Christ in the book of Acts.

Note these verses:

Act 4:15

But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

Act 4:16

saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

Act 4:17

“But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

Act 4:18

So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Act 4:19

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

Act 4:20

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Why did the council not want the miracle that was done through the Apostles and the teachings of Jesus Christ to spread? Because it interfered with their authority. They could not have this Jesus spoken of as the crucified, risen Savior of the world! It would threaten their religious authority.

Today, the name of Jesus Christ is often blocked from graduation speeches, but it’s OK to use His name as a curse word in any movie or TV show.

Read the previous verses to understand what they were objecting to:

Act 4:1

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,

Act 4:2

being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Act 4:3

And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

Act 4:4

However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Act 4:5

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,

Act 4:6

as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

Act 4:7

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Act 4:8

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

Act 4:9

“If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

Act 4:10

“let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

Act 4:11

“This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ [fn]

Act 4:12

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Act 4:13

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.

Act 4:14

And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

Note that the people who realized that Peter and John had “been with Jesus” and saw the man who was healed standing right in front of them – they could not say anything against it! But those Sadducee leaders saw it as a threat against their power, so they wanted this preaching to “spread no further among the people.” Thus they can up with a plan to “let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

Today, those who disagree with or blatantly hate the name of Jesus Christ continue to try to “command them [us] not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”

But the Apostles were not hindered by their threats:

Act 4:21

So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

Act 4:22

For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Act 4:23

And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

Act 4:24

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

Act 4:25

“who by the mouth of Your servant David [fn] have said:

‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?

Act 4:26

The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the LORD and against His Christ.’ [fn]

Act 4:27

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

Act 4:28

“to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

Act 4:29

“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

Act 4:30

“by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

Act 4:31

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Neither should we, my dear fellow Christian brothers and sisters, be shaken or hindered from speaking with all boldness the Word of God and His Christ – Jesus!

Paul reiterates that we should put on the armor of God, despite those who would want our speech and even our lives “to be in chains” in Ephesians 6; and thus “speak boldly, as I [we] ought to speak.”

Eph 6:20

for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

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It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. 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