Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 26 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 4 today, and our focus is on the teaching of the early church about Jesus being the only way to life. Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in New South Wales, Australia, West Midlands, United Kingdom, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Punjab, India, and Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. Thanks for listening! Our goal this year is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
Let’s open with a comment from our youtube channel from our old friend WWH, from our resurrection episode a few days ago.
“We are all witnesses of this.” Peter is claiming here that all of the apostles, at least, and possibly the entire body of disciples, had seen the Risen Lord. This is a bold claim. The crucifixion had happened only 50 days prior, and Peter was preaching in Jerusalem, where the crucifixion happened. Had He not risen, as Morison points out in Who Moved the Stone , and as Habermas points out in The Case for the Resurrection of Christ , the body of Christ would have been quickly exhumed and displayed in the public square, putting an end once and for all to what Tacitus called a “mischievous superstition” about Jesus raising from the dead (Annals 15:44, exitiabilis superstitio ). Even after 50 days, the body would have been identifiable, and the signs of crucifixion obvious. If Jesus were not raised, then Peter was setting the church up to be ridiculed and laughed out of existence. Instead, 3000 were added to their number in one day. The body was never produced; the “Deadly cult” (Tacitus, ibid., alt. translation) was never stamped out. And to this day, as Flavius Josephus said millennia ago, “His followers have not abandoned Him.”… (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews , 18:3:3) It is also noteworthy that Pliny the Younger, having tried to get to the bottom of this Christianity thing by torturing a couple of table-waiting servant girls (i.e. Deaconesses), wrote to Roman Emperor Trajan that the Christians gathered on the first day of the week, at dawn, and sang hymns to Jesus, “As to a god.” They would then bind themselves with an oath to abstain from crimes, and afterwards share an ordinary meal. Very similar to what Justin Martyr wrote, in many ways, but including the element of worship.
Great information as always from our writer and researching friend WWH. Today our focus is still on the early church – their prayer life, their unity and love for each other, and most especially their audacious claim that strikes moderns as offensive and primitive. Let’s start with the church’s prayer life. Peter and John had been arrested, and the early church -still in its infancy, was already in trouble with the same governmental and religious leaders who had crucified Jesus just weeks before. How terrifying it must have been for Peter and John to go before the same group that had so quickly condemned their master to death! God delivered them, however, and they were allowed to go free with a warning to no longer preach in the name of Jesus. Their response was to state, matter of factly, that they must obey God rather than human authorities, and they returned to the gathered church and immediately met this problem head-on in the absolute best and most powerful way possible. The stopped everything and wholeheartedly prayed to God. This must be a lesson to all of us who are more oriented to acting, reacting, and doing – when faced with a significant threat such as the disciples were, the best initial response is ALWAYS to gather the church and pray together in unison. And God responded here – shaking their meeting location, and filling the whole group with the boldness to keep testifying about Jesus – even under threat of persecution and death. At the end of the chapter, we see the early church displaying incredible unity – sharing all of their worldly possessions and taking great care of all members of the church. What a beautiful picture! We see the apostles – with great power and boldness testifying to the resurrection of Jesus – the very message that got them arrested to begin with. We also see them testifying to one other paramount truth that is still very controversial – even among some people who call themselves Christians. What is this controversial message? Let’s read and find out!
Here is our focus verse for the day, Acts 4:11-12 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” I don’t think they could have made it any clearer, and I know it is an audacious claim, but it is only an immoral and wrong-headed and intolerant claim if it isn’t true. If there are indeed many paths to God, and many ways to salvation, and many teachers spread across the millennia and locations of the earth that told the different people how to have eternal life and go to Heaven, then what the apostles are saying here is indefensible and evil…but if Jesus is indeed the ONLY way, then what the disciples are saying here is commendable and should be proclaimed. Considering that Jesus Himself made this claim more than once, I’d say that is enough for me. Jesus is the way, truth and life and NO MAN comes to the Father EXCEPT by Him. (John 14:6) So – here is the question. Is Jesus a liar about being the ONLY way? If so – don’t follow Him – liars can’t save you. If, however, He is telling the truth, then shout it from the mountaintops because if there is only one way to LIFE – and there is – may we not neglect to tell a world separated from God about that ONE path that leads to life!
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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