Perhaps the Gospel was never more clearly or forcefully presented than it was by the early apostles. A few months earlier Peter had fled in fear at the possibility of being associated with Jesus, was now, in the face of threats by the highest authority in among the Jews was presenting the gospel message. This history should be a constant reminder of the critical nature of the gospel message. They were mighty empowered by God, not to feel good but to preach the gospel message to all that would listen.
Why could they not compromise with the Sanhedrin? Why could they not work something out with the chief priests? They were good and decent men, most of them.
Why could they not be more diplomatic and conciliatory? After all these men were very religious and even worshiped the same God.
The passing of time, the influence of our culture the changing mindset of this world cloud this once clear conviction that the message of salvation must always be presented unadulterated.
It was especially important then while the record was being created, while the faith was being set down, while the truth was being revealed. Think what would have happened had Peter negotiated with the opponents of the faith. What would that have said to those of us who now look at their record. The Christian gospel would not now be worth tinkers damn.
But we also bear some influence. And those who look to us and at us are also persuaded to some degree by our record. We can show the same concern for the faith and help perpetuate the influence of the apostles or we can leave the impression that somehow it no longer matters as much.
A. “WHICH IS RIGHT”?
1. Both sides would have agreed on the answer.
1. This is where the rub comes in
2. This is where the rubber meets the road
3. To us it is self-evident, but not to the Jewish authorities.
A. Evidence on the side of the Sanhedrin and priests.
1. They were the recognized religious authority- for centuries.
2. They occupied Moses seat, an office of God
3. They were learned in the scriptures
4. They were highly educated
5. They by far represented the majority opinion.
6. No one had seriously questioned them before, until Jesus.
B. Evidence of the Apostles
1. They demonstrated the power of God’s Spirit
a) Demonstrated by boldness and ability of unschooled men to orate the message
b) Acts 4:13 ... they were astonished ...
2. By their word unquestioned miracles were done. Acts 4:14
3. They had scriptural support.
a) They quoted the Ps in chapters 1,2 and 4 and Joel in chapter 2
4. Even the authorities knew “they had been with Jesus” v. 13
A. The answer is hidden but-
1. Jesus said.
Mark 3:5 ... deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,...
2. They felt they had a lot to loose.
3. Impressed by their own following and their own authority.
B. Their own traditions.
1. Mark 7:6-9
He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; ...
C. Regarding the dogma of the immortality of the soul today
1. Authority? Reformed theologian Louis. Berkhof = “Over and over, traditionalists writers begin their argument with accepted dogma rather than with the text of Scripture, cite confessional standards with too much authority, and replace actual exegesis with an accumulation of proof-texts left unexplained. Fire that Consumes,
2. Scholarship? Jon E Braum published in 79 “Pagan Greek thought patterns entered the Christian stream early in its history and have flowed along almost unnoticed for many centuries.”
3. Majority? Braum reminds us, “After all, the Reformation is expressly founded on the fact that all Europe had erred on the most important doctrine of Christianity for more than a 1000 years…”
4. Stubbornness, centuries of tradition? Ward Beecher charges the traditional church with, “a fixedness and immobility which is not the result of any antecedent profound investigation, but simply of unreasoning inertia and uninquiring tradition”
A. God Shook the Church
1. Result, they “spoke the word of God boldly”
B. THE WORD (GOSPEL) WAS (IS) THE THING
1. Apostles were involved in the “ministry of the word” Acts 6:2, 4
2. They “preached the word”
3. The “word of God spread”
4. The “word grew”
5. Miracles were to confirm the word. Acts 14:3
A. Acts 6:7 ... a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
1. Baptist Theologian, Clark Pinnock, “But there comes a time when our own faith in response to the Word of god must express itself wi5th conviction. It is now time for evangelical thinkers to forsake the unimaginative mimicry of ‘textbook theology’ and forge an expression of biblical faith which will have the power to grip our generation”
2. T.F. Torrance, “we are emancipated in a remarkable way from the tyranny of duelist modes of thought which have throughout the history of biblical interpretation done such damage”.
3. Robert E. Webber publ. 1978. “Because we live on this side of theological formulation, we have the advantage of the cumulative thought of almost two thousands years. However, if we are to succeed in grasping truth as the early church did, we may have to regard our 2000 years of cumulative theology, and especially our current “position” as a disadvantage. “… we may have to suspend our t5heological presuppositions, denominational teachings, and personal bias in order to stand with the earliest Christians who stood on the other side of theological debate and formulation”.
Conclusion: Peter and the apostles found themselves going against the mainstream of current theology and years of tradition. Yet God was mighty among them. They were not polished, flawless but their message was the word of God. They taught resurrection, not a deathless soul. They taught Jesus coming back not the church going away. They looked forward to the approaching Kingdom of God, not in the improving nobility of man.