Acts 4:24-26 -- 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. There are just two people groups in the Bible: saved and unsaved; righteous and unrighteous; good and evil; Heaven bound and Hell bound. It really is just that basic.
Have you ever noticed that, inevitably, conflict develops when somebody endeavors to be this straightforward? If you’re not convinced, the next time you’re in a group of people call out and say, “All who are wicked stand on one side and all who are good stand on the other side.” What do you think will happen? I have a feeling there will be a whole lot more lining up on the “good” side. There aren’t many that are going to freely acknowledge they are wicked. By the way, try defining “wicked” these days.
Anyone willing to postulate such a distinction will be frowned upon as mean spirited, insensitive, hateful, bigoted and even worse. This puts Bible believers in a precarious position. We’re responsible for speaking the truth of the Scriptures in love. However, we also run the risk of being mislabeled or vilified if we open our mouth and say what the Bible says — even if we speak from heartfelt concern.
What are we to do?
We have to be prepared to undergo the ramifications of speaking the truth in love. That’s what happened to those in the verses above. Without getting into the whole context let me just give a few of the previous verses.
17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 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. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21 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.
I’m kind of thinking we believers keep our mouths shut more than we’d like to admit. Realistically, we don’t want to be the odd man out and possibly suffer the consequences for opening our mouth. That didn’t stop these early believers though. It was their willingness to speak the truth that got them into trouble. But, it was also their willingness to suffer the consequences for their words that brought them closer together as a group. Their bravery also helped to spark the embers in those who would follow in their steps and pay the ultimate price with their lives for the cause of Christ. A good example is Stephen in Acts chapter 7.
As we come to the 4th of July, I don’t have any misty eyed hope that our country will return to the ways of God from which it has so egregiously strayed. We’re in trouble. Whatever hope there remains for our country is to be found in the outward vocalization of Scriptural truth. If we don’t open our mouths boldly (v. 31 “they spake the word of God with boldness”), we have no one to point the finger at but ourselves. Our country’s head long slide into the wrath of God will continue at breakneck speed.
The heathen are enraged. The heathen have always been enraged. Why? Perhaps our silence emboldens them.
We have the Gospel message of deliverance. It’s up to us to proclaim it. Scary? Yes. But, God will help us if we’re willing to …
“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Ps. 2:11