Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Year: Acts 4-6 for Nov 17

What Peter the apostle had said at the end of Acts 3 to "the sons of the prophets and of the covenant" (3:25) provided the way forward for the nation to take. Though many did (5:14; 6:1,7), the existing leadership of the nation was against the teaching of the apostles. Was the scene going to be merely a power-struggle between followers of one teaching versus another, the entrenched versus the new?

Another way of asking this question, for the Christian, is this: "is it God, that exists, or merely competing religious explanations?" Does He do things, or is He a theoretical markup of events? If so, then are the events capable of being marked up another way?

Certainly in Acts 4-6 He does things, and the events in these chapters don't lend themselves well to multiple paradigms that ignore Jesus Christ. The resurrection-based (4:10) facts keep multiplying. Peter tells the entrenched rulers, and the whole nation, that the "man has been made well" (4:9) by "the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead" (4:10).

Not only that, but Jesus does not stand merely as the name (power and authority) behind a miracle, but a name behind salvation, indeed, the only one (4:12). If there is no salvation in anyone else but Christ, then "we" -- Peter and his listeners too -- must resort to Him for their salvation as well.

As if it were not mismatched enough a contest, obedience to God versus obedience to the conflicting orders of man on the other (4:19), the contestants do not comprise just the apostles versus those who are threatening them (4:29). There is the groundswell (4:31), among which there emerges (6:3, 5) Stephen, a non-apostle but "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (6:5), whose very face the Council saw "like the face of an angel" (6:15). It was not just the apostles against the Council. Gamaliel was right, in Acts 5:39. The Council was finding themselves to be fighting against God.

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