BY WHAT NAME?
Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We now come to see the priesthood being changed (Heb. 7:12) from the old economy of the law to that of the new covenant of grace. The Old Testament priests were involved in the organization of religion, while those after Pentecost were to be involved in the organism of the living Body of Christ! But these high priests, rulers and elders in our scripture, do not intend to just fade away. They, like many pastors and elders of our day, had been practicing priestcraft on the people so long, they have no intention of losing their self-appointed authority over the souls of those under them. Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
But the Lord Jesus Christ came with grace to render souls free from sin, and in sovereignty to make every believer a priest and king in his own right! Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Rev. 1:4-6).
For his effectual call to the heart of every soul that the Father has given him, is to Come unto me, in order to find soul rest! He does not call to religion, nor to religion’s priest. He calls all individually to the priesthood of the believer, to be taught of him by the Holy Spirit within.
There are those pastors who watch for their souls (Heb 13:17), but they do so as they that must give account of such stewardship to Christ! And they have no “dominion” over the faith of the believers! 2 Corin. 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
They are to diligently look (Heb. 12:15), after the Lord’s sheep. For that is the meaning of the following words, taking the oversight! 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
And they are never to set themselves up as lords over God’s heritage! For that Greek word, here translated, being lord’s over, is the same word translated, exercise dominion in Matthew 20:25. And there in that verse we find the church’s only High Priest (Heb. 3:1, 4:14,15, 8:1), clearly instructing that those of greatness in his kingdom are actually servants to all! Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
For that is how he came to be Lord over all! He made himself of no reputation, that is, he emptied himself of all privilege and rank, even to becoming obedient to the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (Phil. 2:8-9). What we mostly have in the pulpits across our land are Pharaoh-types who only want to use the people to build themselves pyramids as monuments to their own vain glory. By comparison, there are but few like Moses who wished not for himself to be forgiven, but actually requested to be blotted out of the Lord’s book if the people could not be forgiven! (Exod. 32:23). The Apostle Paul had these exact same sentiments for his people! (Romans 9:3).
The disciples had earlier asked the Lord Jesus if he intended at this time to restore the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6,7). But now that the Holy Spirit has come at Pentecost, Peter preaches the answer to his own question. Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. He instructs that the restoration, not just concerning the nation of Israel, but of the entire created order, made chaotic in Adam’s fall, was even now being restored by the power of the gospel!
He even writes in his letter, Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13). For the kingdom that he was both seeing and entering (John 3:3,5), was one, not of national identity, but one of the grace of righteousness. For he spoke to those who were a royal priesthood, and of a holy nation! (1 Peter 2:9).
Therefore Isaiah’s prophesies of a new heavens and a new earth were fulfilled in both the accomplished redemption by the Lord Jesus, and the application of the same by the Holy Spirit! Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
And then the Apostle John sees the new heavens and earth appear at Pentecost with eyes opened by the Holy Spirit! Rev. 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
For the rushing mighty wind of the Holy Spirit, as the very breath of God, brought down from heaven the living Body of the last Adam, the same as he had breathed into the form of clay in order for it to become the physical body for the first Adam! And now we can Behold the tabernacle of God with men, built by regeneration! 1 Corin. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Christianity is not a religion! Religion is practiced externally by the keeping of man’s traditions! But Christianity is a way of life, with that life being from the true God dwelling within his believers! John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Galatians 2:20 best defines true Christianity! I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
God is spirit! (John 4:24). And he does not dwell in temples made with hands! Acts 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; He dwells in the hearts of those to whom he has granted humility! Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Same Song Second Verse
In the Holy Spirit’s response through the Apostle Peter, we are given that wonderful statement of the exclusive opportunity of salvation only through Christ in Acts 4:12. And just before giving those religious priests that word, he gives them a verse that had previously been quoted to them by the very Lord Jesus himself! The Holy Spirit brings back around the very verse he brought through Jesus to these very priests.
Here is how the Apostle Peter states it: This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. And he was quoting Psalm 118:22. Now read Luke 20:17-20. And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? 18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. 20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
This first time that the Holy Spirit brings this verse to their attention, – they got it! Or rather, it got them! They perceived that he had spoken this parable against them! That is why that after they hear the Apostle Peter quote that same verse to them, it states, and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. The verse was effectually used to reveal their hearts to them on both occasions.
But this time all is different! It is the “same song!” But it is now quite different in its seriousness to them. Why? Listen to this word: Luke 12:10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
The first time it was given to them was by the very Son of God! And the greatest forgivable sin is sinning against him! But now it has been given them by the Holy Spirit! Notice Acts 4:8: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them … This is their last witness! And if they do not receive it and repent, it shall never be forgiven them! For blaspheming against the Holy Ghost is the greatest unforgivable sin!
O! Dear soul! How often have we seen sinners walk out from under a Spirit anointed gospel message, without the slightest concern?!? That is more dangerous than walking into the path of a speeding freight train!
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, … And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Hebrews 6:4-6.
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:28-29.
In closing we must note that there were two courses of action that these Jewish priests considered. And these show the heart of those practicing priestcraft upon the peoples of God even now! First, they wanted, but could not deny the notable miracle, as the man “stood” right there in their presence. Secondly, they decided to pull out the old, well used and ofttimes successful trick from Satan’s bag – Intimidation! …let us straitly threaten them ..
But the one power that the Apostles had that always overcomes Satanic intimidation was preaching with boldness! Notice Acts 4:13 and verse 29. The result? Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Pastor Gene Breed