VIDEO Powerful Promises

John MacArthur Apr 12, 2015

John 14 is our text, John 14.  I just will say very briefly – because I don’t want to go into too much review that chapters 13 through 16 are what are basically called the Upper Room Discourse, the Upper Room Discourse.  It’s unique in the gospels.  No one else records this, none of the other writers.  But John does and he does in detail.

This is Thursday night.  This is the night that Judas left, where Jesus gathers with the disciples; and after they gather and they sing a hymn, they go to the Mount of Olives, and He goes to pray.  And then He is arrested; and then on Friday, He is crucified; and on Sunday He rises from the dead.  So this is His last night with His disciples, and He provides for them the most marvelous, thrilling, stunning litany of commands, warnings, promises, commitments that have ever been given.

This is the legacy of Jesus.  This is His final will and testament to His own apostles.  It is a moment like no other moment in the life of the disciples, as well as in the life our Lord.  Staggering words from the lips of the Savior.  They are amazing; they are shocking; they are wondrous.  They have an immediate application to these 11 men and they have an extended application to all of His disciples through all of history.  We know that because He seals all these promises in 13 to 16 with a prayer in chapter 17.

That same night, He offers that great prayer and He says, “I pray not only for these, but for all who will believe in Me,” which means He’s extending these promises to all of us.  So it is 13 to 16, the listing of all the promises; 17 He prays for the Father to fulfill all the promises that He has given those that apply directly the apostles and those that are extended to all His followers through all of human history.  It is an unparalleled portion of Scripture.  We sort of want to listen to the last words of people just before they die.  Those are very important things that are on their mind at the end.  Well, this is our Lord’s final talk with those He loves.

We looked at chapter 13, and chapter 13 was how He began.  And it’s a chapter on love, how much He loved them, and how much He wanted them to love each other.  That was very, very important.  “He loved His own who were in the world to perfection.”  That’s how 13 begins.  And it ends with Him telling them to, “Love one another so that all men will know that you are My disciples.”

It’s a chapter on love.  He demonstrates what love does by washing dirty feet, something they weren’t willing to do, but He humbles Himself.  Love is humble; love does the most humble tasks; that’s what love is.  It’s an action, it’s not just a feeling.

Now in the middle of that love chapter, there are two dark moments.  That 13th chapter has two dark moments.  In one of those, He exposes and confronts Judas who is about to betray Him and He sends him to finish his betrayal.  The other dark moment comes at the end of the chapter when Peter is told that he will be a denier of Christ.  He will Christ three times.  So there are some dark moments in that 13th chapter.

But it is about love and about humility, and then those two little moments – one with Judas, critical; one with Peter, equally critical.  Judas, never restored, hanged himself, and went to his own place, eternal hell.  Peter restored and became the great apostolic preacher that launched the church on the Day of Pentecost.

But as we come to chapter 14, the section on love and humility is in the background, and now it’s time to comfort these disciples.  They now know He is leaving.  He is going to die.  He has told them that repeatedly, although they had a hard time processing it.

He described to them details:  “I will be arrested by the chief priests and those who are in charge in Israel.  I will be beaten; I will be spit on; I will be abused.  I will even be lifted up.  I will be crucified.”  And then He went on to tell them, of course, that in three days He would rise from the dead.

So they know He is leaving.  They’re having a very difficult time processing this.  In just hours before this, He had told them that the whole temple system would be completely destroyed; not one stone would be left on another.  Divine judgment would come on Israel on Judaism.  They thought the Messiah would come and bring divine judgment on the rest of the world.  He says it’s coming on the Jews for their apostate religion, they’re defection from true worship of God.  So things are really crumbling in a very rapid way.

Monday looked good.  He came into the city, the triumphal entry.  Everybody’s spirits were high.  They were shouting their Hosannas to the one who comes in the name of the Lord, Son of David.  The masses of tens of thousands of people were hailing Him as the potential Messiah.  But now it’s Thursday, that’s all gone bad.  They’ve turned against Him.  The leaders have turned against Him, the crowds are turning against Him, and now He announces His death; and He calls on them in the midst and the throws of all of this, even facing a denial of one apostle and the betrayal of another to make sure they’re faithful to Him and faithful to love each other.

In the crumbling realities of their dreams and ambitions, He starts in chapter 14, verse 1, to prop them back up with some very important, comforting words.  Let me begin reading in verse 1, chapter 14.  We’ve already gone through the opening section, but I want to read it just to give you the context.

“Do not let your heart be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me.”  I just want to stop there and say this:  There is a transition that’s going to happen now, and these words speak to that transition – and I’ll say more about that.

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way where I’m going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where You’re going.  How do we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also.  From now on, you know Him and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?

“The words that I say to you, I do not speak of My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.  Believe Me that I’m in the Father and the Father is in me; otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.  Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father.  Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Now this is very profound, and you can see what the theme is.  It’s Christ and the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Father all the way through.  “The Father’s in Me; I’m in the Father.  The Father will do this; I will do this.”

He is showing His intimate, essential connection to God the Father.  That is absolutely critical.  Why?  It’s introduced in verse 1:  “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me,” or, “You believe in God, you believe also in Me.”

In other words, what He’s saying is a transition is about to take place.  “I’m handing you off to God.  I’m giving you to God.  I am leaving.”  And He hold them a number of times earlier; and we’ve already looked at it:  “I go to My Father.  I go to My Father.”  He has said that.

They understood God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They knew He was the Son of God, and now He’s saying, “I’m going to the Father,” and they are troubled by this; deeply troubled by this.  And so He is saying, “You need to come to the place where you believe in Me and you believe in God.  You’ve got to trust the Father.”

Now what makes that challenging is this:  “You have seen Me.  I have been here.  I have, as it were, held your hand for three years.  I have provided your food.  I have provided on occasion your tax money.  I have provided your shelter.  I have provided your protection.

“I have taught you the truth of the kingdom of God.  I have answered every question you’ve ever had about life and doctrine.  I have done everything I can to make you understand the truth.  I have been your source of instruction, your source of wisdom, your source of strength, your source of protection.  I have been your hope for the future.  I’m leaving; I’m handing you off.  I’m leaving.”  They have to be able to trust the one to whom He is giving them.

Do you remember when He prayed in John 17?  He prayed this way:  “Father, I have fulfilled Your will.  I have taken care of My own.  Now, Father, I give them to You.  Take care of them.”  That’s the prayer in 17.  That is His petition regarding this commitment, this transition.

In a sense, it’s pretty easy to live by sight, right?  You wake up every morning and Jesus is there.  Wherever you are in the traveling group for three years, you wake up every morning and Jesus wakes up probably earlier than you, and He’s there.  And sometimes maybe you might fear that as things were going bad, He might not be there.  But He seems to be able to escape every difficulty.

He goes to the synagogue in Nazareth and they’re ready to stone Him, and He just disappears out of their midst.  He seems to be able to avoid imminent death when He will say clearly, “They’re plotting to take My life,” and He has so far avoided it.  So you’re very used to the fact that no matter how tough things are – and also you’re used to the fact that you go into certain towns and they reject Him, and you sort of shake the dust off your feet and go to the next town, and He survives that.  And every day you wake up and He’s there, and He’s there for everything you need.

I can’t even imagine if you were among the disciples that you’d be asking a serious question to another disciple when you had Him.  Why would you want to get some kind of medial answer when you can go to the source of all truth and wisdom?  He’s everything to them, absolutely everything.  And they’ve lived, up to this point, by sight.

Nobody in the Old Testament really could say, “We lived in the presence of God physically.”  There were people in the Old Testament who had visions of God; that’s for sure.  There was Jacob who, in Genesis 32, wrestles with an angel.  There was Moses in Exodus 33 and 34 who has a glimpse of the sort of shaded glory of God’s.  There’s Manoah, father of Samson who sees God.  There’s Moses and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu who see God’s glory.  There’s Isaiah who talks about the vision of God’s glory in chapter 6.  There’s Ezekiel who sees the glory of God in Ezekiel, chapter 1.

But apart from those very rare and very unique and very muted visions of God, there’s no actual physical presence of God.  Yes, there’s a cloud while they’re wandering in the wilderness – a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night – but nothing like God in human flesh.  So this is an incredibly, wondrous experience for a very few people – 12 to be precise – on a 24/7 basis, and then the women who were surrounding them and often traveled with Jesus, and then others of His followers who were walking to follow along at some point in the three-year journey.

But it was a rare, singular experience for God to manifest Himself in human form this way.  So for them to have had that and now be told, “I’m going to the Father, and I’m going to go there, and I’m going to prepare a place for you.  I’m going to do some work to get ready, and I’m going to come back – ” as He said in the opening verses “ – and take you to be there,” it’s a bit scary because they’d been living by sight.

And so Thomas isn’t sure about this, and in verse 4 Jesus says, “You know the way I’m going,” and Thomas speaking for the rest says, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going,” and he’s speaking collectively, “We don’t know.”  He’s not the only one who feels this way:  “We have no idea where you’re going and we don’t know the way.”

And then He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  The way to the Father is through Me.”  But they’re having a hard time being sure that God will receive them the way Christ has, that God will care for them the way Christ has, that God will meet their needs the way Christ has, that God will be their protector and their source of truth and wisdom the way Christ has.  It’s a huge change, huge change.

That sets up the whole point of verses 7 to 14, which we’re going to look at, because here, our Lord has one goal in mind, and that is to assure them that being handed over to the care of God is better.  It’s not just okay; it’s not even an equal transition.  If you look at chapter 16, verse 7 – chapter 16, verse 7, same Upper Room, same evening, a little later:  “I tell you the truth, I’m telling you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away.  It’s to your advantage that I go away.”

That would have been very difficult for them to comprehend.  How could anything be better than having the Lord Jesus, the Son of God with you all the time?  “It’s to your advantage,” and we’ll talk more about that in a moment.  He wants them to understand that being handed over to the care of the Father is better for them because Christ in His incarnation had certain limits.  He was limited physically.

Although He was with them for that three years, He wasn’t always in their immediate presence, but He would be after He left.  His power was always around them, and they saw that power and they experienced that power.  But they were about to experience it in a way that was beyond what they’d seen with Him.

And He provided resources for them, physical resources, the things they needed in life.  But He was about to open the floodgates of heaven and pour out blessing which they couldn’t even comprehend.  So to comfort them, our Lord reveals three things.  He reveals His person, His power, and His provision; His person, His power, and His provision.  And it’s all about this whole idea of getting them to be able to deal with the transition to the care of the Father.

Let’s look, first of all, at the revelation of His person in verses 7 to 11.  “If you had known Me,” I’ll stop there for a minute.  Wait a minute; they knew He was the Christ, the Son of God; they said that.  They knew He was the Holy One of God; they said that  They knew He was the Messiah, the Anointed One; they said that.  They knew He was the Son of David; then knew all of that.  What does He mean, “If you had known Me”?

As much as they knew, it wasn’t the full story.  Yes, they knew He was the Son God, but what did that fully mean?  Yes, they knew He was the Messiah, but what did it fully mean?  Yes, they knew He was the Holy One of God as they confessed back in chapter 6, but what does that fully mean?  Obviously, it came short of knowing this:  “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

So what they didn’t really understand was that He was in truth God incarnate.  Was He deity?  Yes.  But what did that mean?  What they didn’t understand is what I read you in Colossians, that He was the fullness of the Godhead bodily, that He was, “The exact representation of God,” Hebrews 1:3, that He was the visible image of the invisible Father.

In other words, their Christology was accurate, but not complete.  They didn’t get the whole thing.  And, furthermore, they didn’t understand the relationship between Him and the Holy Spirit.  He had told them that He did what He did by the power of the Holy Spirit, and to blaspheme Him was to blaspheme the Spirit who is doing the work through Him.  But they didn’t fully understand.  They were a little short on their Trinitarian theology.

Now we can give them a little space on that because that’s a very difficult doctrine.  Trying to unscrew the inscrutable is trying to explain the Trinity.  So they come a little bit short, and in a sense, it’s a sad thing.

Jesus said to them, “I’m going to My Father and I’m going to My Father’s house, and in My Father’s house there are many rooms.  So I’m going to start making rooms ready for you, and I’m going to come back and get you and take you there.  And by the way, I am the way there; you don’t have to worry about that.  I am the way; there’s not another way.  I am the way.

“Through Me, you will get there.  I’ll come; I’ll get you; I’ll take you to the Father’s house and to the room I’ve prepared for you.  If you really knew Me, you would know there’s nothing to fear in passing you on for the time-being to the care of the Father; because if you fully knew who I was, you would know that I and the Father are one.  And so My care for you is no different than the Father’s care for you.”  That’s the message.

“From now on, you know Him,” present tense.  “From now on, you can say you are knowing Him and have seen Him.”  What does He mean by that?  “From this moment forward, your knowledge of the Father is going to grow.  Your knowledge of the Father and My relationship to the Father is going to grow through My death and My resurrection particularly.”

Do you remember what happened when all the disciples were finally gathered eight days after the resurrection, and Thomas walked in the room and Thomas saw Jesus?  Do you remember what he said?  Listen to John 20:28.  “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and – ” what “ – my God.”  They got it, but it wasn’t until after the resurrection.

“My Lord and my God.”  Son of God; yes.  Holy One of God; yes.  “My Lord and my God.”  The resurrection.  The resurrection was the exclamation point on His deity that validated His claim to be one with the Father.  They understood it; they understood it.  Then when they understood that He and God were one, they could then trust that the same care He gave them, the same provision He gave them, the same power He had displayed to them would be what God would provide for them because they were one.

From now on, from this point on, the end of the resurrection, they understand He is God.  But there’s so much more than that.  That’s not the end of their “from now on” lesson.  Let me show you what I mean by that.  Turn to chapter 14 and go to verse 16.

“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.  Who is the other helper?  Who’s going to take My place?  The Father who gave Me to you will give you the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it doesn’t see Him or know Him.  But you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.  He’s going to give you the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit has been with you; you know that all along.  Now He’s going to be in you.  This is a greater dimension of the Spirit’s presence, so you’re going to know the Father.  You’re going to know the Father because I’m going to ask the Father.  And the Father cares about you, and the Father’s going to give you someone to take My place, and that someone is going to be the Holy Spirit, and He is the Spirit of truth.  You’re not going to lose touch with the truth; you’re not going to be absent from class; you’re not going to lose your teacher.  You’re going to have the Spirit of truth as your instructor.”

Go down to verse 26.  There, again, He is identified as the Comforter, the Comforter, the parakltos, the one called alongside to help, “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name.”

Again, He’s saying, “Look, the Father’s not going to leave you without help.  The Father gave me to you, and now the Father is going to give the Spirit to you, and He will be your new teacher, and He will be your Comforter.  He will be your helper.  He will be to you everything that I have been.  And the Father will send Him in My name.  We agree on this; we work together; we’re one.  He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  You’re not going to lose out on anything.  The Spirit of God is coming from the Father.”

Chapter 15, verse 26:  “When the Comforter comes, or when the Helper comes, whom I will send.”  In chapter 14 He said, “The Father would send.”  Here he says, “I will send.”  Because they’re in perfect agreement, they act together.  “He is the Spirit of truth whom I will send from the Father.  He proceeds from the Father.”  In other words, He is part of the Trinity.  He is of the same nature as God.

What’s happening here is our Lord is instructing them on the essence of the Trinity, on the nature of the Trinity.  There’s no loss with Jesus leaving.  “It’s the same God who is in Christ meeting your needs, who will be back meeting your needs through the sending of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father just as I proceeded from the Father, who is one with the Father just as I am one with the Father.”

Then in chapter 16, you could look down to verse 13:  “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”  Again, the emphasis here is on instruction, truth.  “He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak.  He speaks for the Trinity.  He speaks for the Father, He speaks for the Son, and He will disclose you what is to come.  He will glorify Me.  He will take of Mine and disclose it to you.

“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore, I said He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you – the Father, through the Son, through the Spirit; everything comes down to you.  The Spirit comes to you to take what is Mine and give it to you; and what I have to give to you is what the Father has given to Me.”  This is Trinitarian theology at its best, at its best.  “So you have nothing to fear.  You have nothing to be concerned about.”

Now go back to chapter 14 for a moment.  He’s making this promise.  And, of course, they hadn’t heard all that I just read to you because it’s coming a little bit later.  But He says, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.  From now on you know Him and have seen Him.  You’re going to begin now to know Him,” although that knowledge didn’t come until after the resurrection when Thomas says for everybody, “My Lord and my God.”

And then the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost and all that is the Father’s and all that came through the Son comes now through the Holy Spirit, and they have the fullness of everything.  And then it’s crystal clear to them, and they launch on the Day of Pentecost; they launch with a full Trinitarian theology.  But now, even though Jesus says, “From now on, this will become knowledge to you,” Philip shows at that moment they’re still ignorant.

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it’s enough for us.  Sorry, Lord, we have to see it.  We want to see God.”  This is disappointing; this is very disappointing.  Shallow, faithless question.

By the way, it’s we.  Don’t lay all this blame on Philip.  He’s talking for the rest of these guys who are having the same problem:  “Show us the Father.  Show us the Father.”  Sounds like a sort of pre-charismatic charismatic:  “I need a vision.”

All right, maybe he thinking of Jacob wrestling with an angel of God.  Maybe he’s thinking of God visiting Abraham earlier in Genesis.  Maybe he’s thinking of the Mosaic vision of God, or Ezekiel, or Isaiah.  But I don’t know if they’re really going through the litany of Old Testament revelations of God.  There were those rare visions of God.

I think he’s saying more than that.  I think he’s just saying, “Look, I don’t think we can do this thing by faith.  I really don’t think we can do this by faith.  God’s going to have to show up.  God is going to have to show up.  You’re handing us off here and we’re used to having You in our grip.”

I doubt that he’s a biblical scholar and that he threw those kind of things at our Lord.  This is just weak faith, and we know they had weak faith because Jesus kept calling them, “Oh, you of little faith.” 

“We want a vision of God.  We want a visible God.  We want a God we can touch, a God we can handle, or we’re going to have trouble believing.”  This is a preview of Thomas:  “If I don’t see, I won’t believe.”

This is their mentality, and Jesus says to him with some pathos in verse 9, “Have I been so long with you and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?  Come on, you’ve been with Me three years.  You still don’t get it.  You have been with Me; you have been with the Father.  He who has seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

They should have known.  They should have known.  And He reminds of the two categories of evidence, verse 10:  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

So beginning of verse 10:  “Believe Me for the words and believe Me for the works.  My words are the words of God,” John 7:46.  Nobody ever spoke like this man, nobody.  “Why are you saying, ‘Show us the Father?’”

I expect that our Lord did expect that because in chapter 8 and verse 19 when He was talking to the Pharisees, the Pharisees said to Him – this is John 8:19, “Where is Your Father?  Where is Your Father?”  Jesus had said, “The Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”

So they say, “Where is Your Father?  Show us Your Father.”  Jesus says, “You don’t know Me or My Father.”  But they said, “Show us Your Father.  God is Your Father?  Show us God.”

We expect that from cynical, skeptical, unbelieving Jewish leaders; but from Philip?  “Come on, you can’t live by faith?”  No man has seen God at any time in His fullness; God is not visible.  God is the invisible God.  Sometimes He manifests Himself in a cloud, or a pillar of fire, or some vision; but has never manifested Himself with such clarity as He did in the person of Jesus Christ.  They want a vision of God.  It’s really a heartbreaking moment I think.

You know, just to set the record straight, if you came here to see a miracle; sorry, you’re not going to see one.  If you came here to hear the voice of God or if you’re thinking somewhere along the line you’re going to hear God talk to you; you’re not.  If you came here to see God in some vision or some form; it won’t happen.  If you came to experience some supernatural revelation or some phenomena; sorry, it’s not available.  If you came here to be surrounded by angels or to talk with your dead uncle; not going to happen.  You’d be better to go to a séance because Satan can falsify all of that.  He can falsify all of it.

Here, we live in faith.  I have never seen Jesus, never like those disciples.  I’ve never had a vision of Jesus.  I’ve never met an angel.  I’ve never known if an angel was around.  I’ve never heard God speak.  I’ve never felt the presence of God.  I have never heard heavenly voices.  I have never had a conversation with my dead parents.  I’ve never seen God.  But I believe with all my heart that God is, Christ is, and the Holy Spirit is.

Why do I believe?  Do I have some esoteric, elevated, gnostic, spiritual sight?  No.  I have this book and it is all the evidence I need.  It is obviously the revelation of God and the only one I need.

I do see Jesus in this book.  I do meet angels in this book.  I do hear the voice of heaven here.  I do understand the location of my dead parents by reading this book.  I do see God revealed throughout the pages of this book.  And this book has stood the scrutiny and the tests of all the true believers and all the haters and skeptics throughout history, and it has stood unassailable.  It is without flaw, without error.  It is the truth and I believe it.

But we live by that faith, faith in the God of Holy Scripture.  So we’re not here offering miracles, we’re not here offering supernatural experiences.  The miracle that we see all the time is the miracle of salvation when God transfers someone from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  That is a total transformation of an entire human being called regeneration, new birth, new life.

But we don’t live by sight, we live by faith.  We are the blessed who having not seen, yet believe.  And it isn’t that we believe just willy-nilly, we believe what Scripture says.  Here lies the evidence.

So my prayer is not, “Show me God; show me Jesus; show me the angels; do a miracle; give me some kind of mystical experience.”  My prayer is the prayer of the apostles in Luke 17:5, “Lord, increase my faith.  Increase my faith,” and I will clue you in.

Your faith increases proportionately to your understanding of Scripture.  Scripture reveals God; and the more you see God revealed in Scripture, the greater your faith becomes, the stronger it becomes.  You know that.  You’ve sat here long enough that your faith is anchored.

Three years didn’t seem to be enough for Philip and his friends.  They still didn’t have sufficient faith to calm their troubled hearts at the prospect of Jesus disappearing from the scene physically.  He says, “You’ve had enough.  You’ve had the words.  Do you not believe?”  That’s the issue.  “Where’s your faith?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?  You’ve heard the words.  You’ve seen the works.  Believe Me.”

He says, “Do you not believe?” in verse 10.  “Believe Me,” in verse 11.  It’s about believing.  Verse 12:  “He who believes.”  It’s a believing issue here.

“You’re going to have to go – ” He says to these guys “ – from sight to faith.  You’ve heard My words.  You know no one’s ever spoken the way I speak.  You’ve seen My works.  You know no one can do these works except the power of God be in him.  You should know who I am.”  So this is the revelation of His person meant to comfort them to know that He is one with the Father, and it will have an unfolding kind of reality that will eventually grip their hearts and anchor them down.

Quickly, there’s a second revelation, the revelation of His power; not just His person, but His power.  Look at verse 12:  “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me – ” again, it’s about believing “ – the works that I do, he will do also; and greater than these he will do because I go to the Father.”

What is that?  What is that?  First of all, the primary interpretation to the apostles, 11 apostles, “You who believe in Me, you’re going to do what I have done.  You’re going to do also what I have done.”

What does that mean? “You’re going to do miracles.”  Read the book of Acts.  Read the opening of the book of Acts.  The apostles, the associates of the apostles had that miraculous power.  They used their miracle power to do the very same miracles that Jesus did – miracles over disease, miracles over demons, miracles over death.  That power was extended beyond Jesus, so in a sense, it’s greater in extent.

It was Jesus; and you remember, He delegated those powers to the apostles, but we don’t see illustrations of the apostles doing miracles.  In fact, sometimes they come back and report, “We tried, but we couldn’t pull it off.”  And now all of a sudden that’s going to change, and not greater in kind because you couldn’t do greater in kind or nature of miracles, you couldn’t do greater miracles in terms of what they actually were, but greater in extent.

“This is going to spread through all 11 of you and those associated with you,” even someone like Philip.  So He says, “Greater things are going to happen.  As this is multiplied, miracle power is multiplied through you starting on the Day of Pentecost.”

In Acts 2, you read how it flows through the Apostolic Age.  This is the power given to the apostles.  It’s defined for us clearly in 2 Corinthians 12:12, the signs and wonders, and miracles of an apostle.  And it’s in Hebrews 2:4 where it says that the message the apostles preached was confirmed by signs and wonders and mighty deeds done by the apostles.

Before the Scripture was written, the way God validated those preachers was by miracles.  They’re not going to do greater in kind.  What’s greater than a healing, a resurrection, casting out demons?  Nothing.  But greater in extent, greater in extent.  This is primarily to the apostles.  But when that Apostolic Era ended, by the way, there’s still a sense in which greater works are being done.

Compare, for example, the fact that Jesus’ entire ministry was in a little, tiny country about 60-plus miles long and a few miles wide.  In fact, that’s always amazing to me that the Israeli Air Force can only fly two-and-a-half minutes east and west without going across a border or into the ocean.  It’s such a tiny place.

He never got out of that place.  He crossed the border to the north, the border to the east side just a few steps really.  And now look what’s happened.  Through the disciples of Jesus, the gospel has encircled the entire globe, and it’s doing it all the time.  It’s alive right now in the air, on the Internet, and through radio and media constantly, through print – every means possible.

“One of the reasons that it’s better that I go away is that when I go away, you’re going to have the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is going to come and fill up your Trinitarian understanding of Me.  Another reason it’s good for me to go away is that when I go away, the Holy Spirit’s going to come and you’re going to do greater works, and the works are going to get out of this little, tiny country and they’re going to cover the globe.  And you’re going to do even more miracles than I did; and this is all going to happen because of the Holy Spirit.  He will lead you into all truth.

“But the Holy Spirit will come upon you – ” Acts 1:8 “ – and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.  The Spirit will empower you for global ministry.  All of this because I go to the Father, because I go to the Father.”

There’s a third point – just enough time maybe to make it; leave a few things out.  Our Lord reveals to them His provision, His provision.  Verses 13 and 14:  “By the way, you think My being gone is going to create some serious issues in you receiving what you need?  Let Me say this:  Truly, truly I say to you.”

This is hard to believe, that’s why there’s that emphasis.  “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me,” here we are about believing again.  He says, “Do you not believe?” in verse 10, “Believe,” in verse 11, “He who believes,” in verse 12, and down in verse 13, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”  Wow.  “If you ask anything in My name, I’ll do it.”

Again, He’s connecting Himself with the Father so that the Father may be gloried.  “The Father and I are one.  The Father wants what I want; I want what the Father wants.  What I want for you is what the Father wants for you, that’s why the Father is sending the Holy Spirit to take My place, and it’s even better.  You’ll have a clearer revelation of My person, a greater expression of My power, and you will have an unparalleled opportunity at my provision, whatever you ask in My name.”

Well, what does that mean?  Does that mean if you ask anything and say, “In Jesus’ name, amen,” whamo, that sets it off?  No.  It’s nice to say that; I think we should say that; it’s good to say that.

But what does His name mean?  Consistent with His identity, consistent with His person.  That is it’s as if you’re standing in His place.  It’s as if when He says, “I’m sending the Spirit in the Father’s name, I’m sending the Spirit because that’s the Father’s will.”  If He says, “The Father sends the Spirit in My name, it means that the Father is sending the Spirit because that’s My will.  So if you say, ‘If you ask anything in My name,’ it means in consistency with My will.”

First John 5:14, we have this confidence that we ask anything according to His will, we know that He hears it, and we have the petition we ask of Him consistent with His person, will, His purposes, what He’s attempting to do in the world when we pray for what is consistent with His nature, consistent with His purpose, consistent with His perfections, consistent with His glory.

We’ve been taught to pray:  “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done as it is in heaven.”  We ask God for anything that is consistent with His person, His purpose, and His perfection, “And I’ll do it.  I will do it; personal promise.  I will do it.”

He doesn’t say it’ll happen like in some passive form.  “I will do it.  I’m going to be working for you through the Holy Spirit.  The Father’s working for you through the Holy Spirit.  The whole of the Trinity is on your side providing everything you could ever need.”  And what we need to pray, and what they needed to pray:  “Okay, I hear you.  Lord, increase my – ” what “ – my faith.  Let me believe that.  Let me believe that.”  Let’s bow in prayer.

Such an amazing, amazing kindness, grace, mercy extended toward these men who seem to struggle so much with the things that were most obvious; and yet, Lord, how gracious You were to them, finally bringing them to a full understanding of who You were after Your resurrection.  And by the coming of the Spirit of truth, You taught them everything, and showed them all the things concerning Yourself; took what was the Father’s that was given to You through the Holy Spirit given to them.

What an incredible thing that You would care enough to deposit the truth about Yourself with us.  And then not only that, not only that through the Spirit of truth and the Word of truth, but that You would plant in us the Holy Spirit.  And because we have the Holy Spirit, we receive power.  “We’re able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all we can ask or think – ” Ephesians 3:20 “ – according to that power that works in us,” extend the gospel to the ends of the earth; and provision.  And all it asks is prayer, prayer.  We are simply to ask what is consistent with Your person, Your purpose, Your perfection; what is to Your glory and the glory of the Father.  Lord, we thank You for this revelation of Yourself.  May we be comforted in it.

Yes, it would be wonderful to have been there and walked with Jesus for three years.  But in a sense, that’s a step back because we have much more than they did.  Even after those three years, they didn’t understand.  But through the coming of the Holy Spirit who’s taken up residence in us, we have a true understanding of Your person, we have a true expression of Your power, and we have a true access to Your provision.  We are so blessed and so grateful, and we thank You.  We are unworthy.  But make us faithful, and use us for Your glory we pray.  Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-73

Is Your Love For Jesus One That Will Never Let Go?

never let go

February 17, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

“Jesus never let go my hands,
He will never let go my hands,
Though the storms may come,
And the winds may blow,
He will never let go my hands”

Will you leave me too? Jesus asked His 12 disciples, after many other disciples left following Jesus.

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:63-66)

Peters answer is heart-breaking as much as the question from Jesus. “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Peter the unlearned and ignorant fisherman knew who Jesus was, and what Jesus had. What about you dear believer?

Peter denied Jesus, messed up multiple times, but after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he lived believing, everyday. God did wonders and miracles in and through him. He believed and saw the glory of God, and he made sure, never to let go.

Never let go of Jesus

Dear believer, you are no different from Peter. The Holy Spirit that he was baptised with is the same working in all Spirit baptised children of God. What’s stopping you to live in power, love and a sound mind? (2 Timothy 1:7).

Soon and very soon, we are going to meet the King. Jesus is our all in all. If you are reading this, wake up from your settled state in life. Rise up in prayer and an intentional personal study of God’s word.

Let God glorify Jesus in and through you. Maranatha, praise God and amen!

Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It

 • Volume 50, Number 3 • Christopher F. Rufo


Christopher F. Rufo is founder and director of Battlefront, a public policy research center. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and a former Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. As executive director at the Documentary Foundation, he has directed four films for PBS, including most recently America Lost, which explores life in Youngstown, Ohio, Memphis, Tennessee, and Stockton, California. He is also a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers topics including critical race theory, homelessness, addiction, and crime.


The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on March 30, 2021.

Critical race theory is fast becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy. Yet most Americans have never heard of it—and of those who have, many don’t understand it. It’s time for this to change. We need to know what it is so we can know how to fight it.

In explaining critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built its political program on the theory of class conflict. Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.

During the 20th century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million of their own people. They are remembered for their gulags, show trials, executions, and mass starvations. In practice, Marx’s ideas unleashed man’s darkest brutalities.

By the mid-1960s, Marxist intellectuals in the West had begun to acknowledge these failures. They recoiled at revelations of Soviet atrocities and came to realize that workers’ revolutions would never occur in Western Europe or the United States, where there were large middle classes and rapidly improving standards of living. Americans in particular had never developed a sense of class consciousness or class division. Most Americans believed in the American dream—the idea that they could transcend their origins through education, hard work, and good citizenship.

But rather than abandon their Leftist political project, Marxist scholars in the West simply adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic dialectic of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.

Fortunately, the early proponents of this revolutionary coalition in the U.S. lost out in the 1960s to the civil rights movement, which sought instead the fulfillment of the American promise of freedom and equality under the law. Americans preferred the idea of improving their country to that of overthrowing it. The vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., President Johnson’s pursuit of the Great Society, and the restoration of law and order promised by President Nixon in his 1968 campaign defined the post-1960s American political consensus. 

But the radical Left has proved resilient and enduring—which is where critical race theory comes in. 

WHAT IT IS

Critical race theory is an academic discipline, formulated in the 1990s, built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. Relegated for many years to universities and obscure academic journals, over the past decade it has increasingly become the default ideology in our public institutions. It has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks, and school curricula.

There are a series of euphemisms deployed by its supporters to describe critical race theory, including “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Critical race theorists, masters of language construction, realize that “neo-Marxism” would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere nondiscrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression. 

In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism. In the name of equity, UCLA Law Professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth and redistributing them along racial lines. Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of (i.e., unaccountable to) the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.” 

One practical result of the creation of such a department would be the overthrow of capitalism, since according to Kendi, “In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.” In other words, identity is the means and Marxism is the end.

An equity-based form of government would mean the end not only of private property, but also of individual rights, equality under the law, federalism, and freedom of speech. These would be replaced by race-based redistribution of wealth, group-based rights, active discrimination, and omnipotent bureaucratic authority. Historically, the accusation of “anti-Americanism” has been overused. But in this case, it’s not a matter of interpretation—critical race theory prescribes a revolutionary program that would overturn the principles of the Declaration and destroy the remaining structure of the Constitution. 

HOW IT WORKS

What does critical race theory look like in practice? Last year, I authored a series of reports focused on critical race theory in the federal government. The FBI was holding workshops on intersectionality theory. The Department of Homeland Security was telling white employees they were committing “microinequities” and had been “socialized into oppressor roles.” The Treasury Department held a training session telling staff members that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and that they must convert “everyone in the federal government” to the ideology of “antiracism.” And the Sandia National Laboratories, which designs America’s nuclear arsenal, sent white male executives to a three-day reeducation camp, where they were told that “white male culture” was analogous to the “KKK,” “white supremacists,” and “mass killings.” The executives were then forced to renounce their “white male privilege” and write letters of apology to fictitious women and people of color. 

This year, I produced another series of reports focused on critical race theory in education. In Cupertino, California, an elementary school forced first-graders to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities, and rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.” In Springfield, Missouri, a middle school forced teachers to locate themselves on an “oppression matrix,” based on the idea that straight, white, English-speaking, Christian males are members of the oppressor class and must atone for their privilege and “covert white supremacy.” In Philadelphia, an elementary school forced fifth-graders to celebrate “Black communism” and simulate a Black Power rally to free 1960s radical Angela Davis from prison, where she had once been held on charges of murder. And in Seattle, the school district told white teachers that they are guilty of “spirit murder” against black children and must “bankrupt [their] privilege in acknowledgement of [their] thieved inheritance.”

I’m just one investigative journalist, but I’ve developed a database of more than 1,000 of these stories. When I say that critical race theory is becoming the operating ideology of our public institutions, it is not an exaggeration—from the universities to bureaucracies to k-12 school systems, critical race theory has permeated the collective intelligence and decision-making process of American government, with no sign of slowing down.

This is a revolutionary change. When originally established, these government institutions were presented as neutral, technocratic, and oriented towards broadly-held perceptions of the public good. Today, under the increasing sway of critical race theory and related ideologies, they are being turned against the American people. This isn’t limited to the permanent bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., but is true as well of institutions in the states, even in red states, and it is spreading to county public health departments, small Midwestern school districts, and more. This ideology will not stop until it has devoured all of our institutions. 

FUTILE RESISTANCE

Thus far, attempts to halt the encroachment of critical race theory have been ineffective. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, too many Americans have developed an acute fear of speaking up about social and political issues, especially those involving race. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77 percent of conservatives are afraid to share their political beliefs publicly. Worried about getting mobbed on social media, fired from their jobs, or worse, they remain quiet, largely ceding the public debate to those pushing these anti-American ideologies. Consequently, the institutions themselves become monocultures: dogmatic, suspicious, and hostile to a diversity of opinion. Conservatives in both the federal government and public school systems have told me that their “equity and inclusion” departments serve as political offices, searching for and stamping out any dissent from the official orthodoxy.

Second, critical race theorists have constructed their argument like a mousetrap. Disagreement with their program becomes irrefutable evidence of a dissenter’s “white fragility,” “unconscious bias,” or “internalized white supremacy.” I’ve seen this projection of false consciousness on their opponents play out dozens of times in my reporting. Diversity trainers will make an outrageous claim—such as “all whites are intrinsically oppressors” or “white teachers are guilty of spirit murdering black children”—and then when confronted with disagreement, they adopt a patronizing tone and explain that participants who feel “defensiveness” or “anger” are reacting out of guilt and shame. Dissenters are instructed to remain silent, “lean into the discomfort,” and accept their “complicity in white supremacy.” 

Third, Americans across the political spectrum have failed to separate the premise of critical race theory from its conclusion. Its premise—that American history includes slavery and other injustices, and that we should examine and learn from that history—is undeniable. But its revolutionary conclusion—that America was founded on and defined by racism and that our founding principles, our Constitution, and our way of life should be overthrown—does not rightly, much less necessarily, follow. 

Fourth and finally, the writers and activists who have had the courage to speak out against critical race theory have tended to address it on the theoretical level, pointing out the theory’s logical contradictions and dishonest account of history. These criticisms are worthy and good, but they move the debate into the academic realm, which is friendly terrain for proponents of critical race theory. They fail to force defenders of this revolutionary ideology to defend the practical consequences of their ideas in the realm of politics.

POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT

No longer simply an academic matter, critical race theory has become a tool of political power. To borrow a phrase from the Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci, it is fast achieving “cultural hegemony” in America’s public institutions. More and more, it is driving the vast machinery of the state and society. If we want to succeed in opposing it, we must address it politically at every level. 

Critical race theorists must be confronted with and forced to speak to the facts. Do they support public schools separating first-graders into groups of “oppressors” and “oppressed”? Do they support mandatory curricula teaching that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”? Do they support public schools instructing white parents to become “white traitors” and advocate for “white abolition”? Do they want those who work in government to be required to undergo this kind of reeducation? How about managers and workers in corporate America? How about the men and women in our military? How about every one of us?

There are three parts to a successful strategy to defeat the forces of critical race theory: governmental action, grassroots mobilization, and an appeal to principle.

We already see examples of governmental action. Last year, one of my reports led President Trump to issue an executive order banning critical race theory-based training programs in the federal government. President Biden rescinded this order on his first day in office, but it provides a model for governors and municipal leaders to follow. This year, several state legislatures have introduced bills to achieve the same goal: preventing public institutions from conducting programs that stereotype, scapegoat, or demean people on the basis of race. And I have organized a coalition of attorneys to file lawsuits against schools and government agencies that impose critical race theory-based programs on grounds of the First Amendment (which protects citizens from compelled speech), the Fourteenth Amendment (which provides equal protection under the law), and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race).

On the grassroots level, a multiracial and bipartisan coalition is emerging to do battle against critical race theory. Parents are mobilizing against racially divisive curricula in public schools and employees are increasingly speaking out against Orwellian reeducation in the workplace. When they see what is happening, Americans are naturally outraged that critical race theory promotes three ideas—race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation—which violate the basic principles of equality and justice. Anecdotally, many Chinese-Americans have told me that having survived the Cultural Revolution in their former country, they refuse to let the same thing happen here.  

In terms of principles, we need to employ our own moral language rather than allow ourselves to be confined by the categories of critical race theory. For example, we often find ourselves debating “diversity.” Diversity as most of us understand it is generally good, all things being equal, but it is of secondary value. We should be talking about and aiming at excellence, a common standard that challenges people of all backgrounds to achieve their potential. On the scale of desirable ends, excellence beats diversity every time. 

Similarly, in addition to pointing out the dishonesty of the historical narrative on which critical race theory is predicated, we must promote the true story of America—a story that is honest about injustices in American history, but that places them in the context of our nation’s high ideals and the progress we have made towards realizing them. Genuine American history is rich with stories of achievements and sacrifices that will move the hearts of Americans—in stark contrast to the grim and pessimistic narrative pressed by critical race theorists. 

Above all, we must have courage—the fundamental virtue required in our time. Courage to stand and speak the truth. Courage to withstand epithets. Courage to face the mob. Courage to shrug off the scorn of the elites. When enough of us overcome the fear that currently prevents so many from speaking out, the hold of critical race theory will begin to slip. And courage begets courage. It’s easy to stop a lone dissenter; it’s much harder to stop 10, 20, 100, 1,000, 1,000,000, or more who stand up together for the principles of America. 

Truth and justice are on our side. If we can muster the courage, we will win.


VIDEO How Bad Do You Want Freedom From Sin?

 December 3, 2018  by Shane Idleman

I remember reading an article about a man who avoided the beach in the summer after admitting his addiction to pornography to his wife. He concluded that being around people who were barely covered often triggered his compulsion. Other cases involved a man who stopped visiting certain sections at a local video store and a woman who stopped reading romance novels. Both concluded that viewing this material was stimulating lust. What about the gym and the yoga pants trend? Enough said!

How bad do you want freedom? Although these examples may seem extreme, to counter lust as believers we must avoid places, people, or things that stimulate that desire. I find it ironic that most of the Christian books that were written over a hundred years ago have a strong emphasis on holiness and obedience, but today we find these words offensive. We want New Testament power but not New Testament holiness. For example, J.C. Ryle (1816–1900) in his book on holiness said that we must stand guard as a soldier on enemy ground. The problem is that many love the world and have a hard time separating. They believe in heaven, but they don’t truly long for it. They “say” that they fear God, but they don’t live like it. They indulge temptation rather than fight it. They enjoy sin rather than confront it. And they compromise rather than conquer.

The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction. Holiness, to them, is outdated, old-fashioned, and too conservative, but holiness is clearly biblical and always linked to freedom from sin. Most people want to coddle their sin rather than crucify it. Again, how badly do you want freedom? An extreme attack requires an extreme defense.

Proverbs 5:3 reminds us that “the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil.” Sin is always enticing: it fascinates before it assassinates! But be encouraged: being tempted isn’t sin—surrendering to it is. Temptation is also an opportunity to do what is right by turning from it. First Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The door of temptation swings both ways—you can enter or exit. If you choose to enter, once inside, you may not see the exit sign so clearly again.

To hit SIN right between the eyes, we need to “go back to the old paths” (Jeremiah 6:16)—the old paths of holiness and a deep hunger for righteousness. Accountability is great, and software protecting your phone or computer is important, but nothing compares to keeping your eyes on Christ and obeying Him. This forward motion leads to the filling of the Spirit. You can’t be filled with sin and the Spirit at the same time. One or the other will prevail depending on whether you  feed your flesh or starve it.

The context of Jeremiah’s words is very relevant for us today. God said, “When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife” (Jeremiah 5:7–8). Since we crave more of what we feed, consider fasting to silence the voice of the flesh. Gordon Cove reminds us in his book, Revival Now through Prayer and Fasting, that “fasting arrests the appetite of sex because food feeds all desires and appetites of the flesh and fasting starves them. A luxurious diet and habitual overfeeding produce an unbalanced animalism” (Schmul, 1988). A free download of my book, Feasting and Fasting, is available here for those needing additional support.

Conviction is a gift from God; use it to return to the old paths. We also must stop making excuses and see the death in sin. America’s porn epidemic will continue to pervert, with the ultimate goal of destroying. Men, stop the silly video games, get off Facebook, kill your porn habit, and tell your ungodly friends to hit the road. You’re called to lead, love, and die if necessary for your family. We are the reason the nation is deteriorating. We are the reason the family is breaking down. We must stop blaming everyone and everything, from God to the government, and face the truth that we are the stench in the nostrils of a righteous, holy, pure God.

I can hear it now: “Shane, you’re being too hard on the guys.” If that’s your thinking, wake up! Life is a battleground, not a playground. In the 1970s, Ted Bundy was one of America’s most brutal serial killers and rapists, who was put to death by electrocution on January 24, 1989. He said, “I’ve lived in prison a long time now. I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography. Without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by addiction to pornography.”

And Ariel Castro, who was exposed in 2013 for kidnapping three women and holding them prisoner for ten years, admitted that a deep addiction to pornography fed his perversion. He eventually committed suicide in prison. His idol promised pleasure but brought death and destruction. But don’t let discouragement and failure stand in your way. Follow the apostle Paul’s advice, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Forget your past mistakes, but remember the lessons learned because of them, and fully surrender your life to Christ. He is our only hope.Additional support: Both these videos will offer hope and freedom for those who struggle with pornography.

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

And a helpful article is here: 

The Peril And Power Of Porn

https://shaneidleman.com/2018/11/26/the-peril-and-power-of-porn/

How to Handle Persecution, Part 2

Oct 1, 1972 John MacArthur

Let’s bow in prayer as we come to our study. Father, we do thank You for the wonderful opportunity that is ours to look into Your book, and to see what it is that the Spirit would teach us this morning. Make us to be open, and help us to be teachable, and not that we only learn it in our heads, but that we translate it into our lives. Bless our time, Father. May Jesus be lifted up, we pray in His name. Amen. Take your Bible, if you will, and look at Acts, chapter 4, which will be our passage for this discussion this morning.

And we are dealing with the subject how to handle persecution, and this is our second and concluding study of these verses in this particular section. In our continuing study of the early church, we have come in chapter 4 to the first persecution. The book of Acts, as you well know if you’ve been with us at all in our study, records for us the life and times of the early church, from its birth through the early years of its growth and its spread to the world. Now, along with the birth of the church, we were to anticipate a reaction from the world.

In John, chapter 15, Jesus Himself had warned by saying, “Don’t be surprised if the world hates you; they hated Me. And they will kill you eventually,” chapter 16 of John tells us. So, Jesus warned that there would be hostility to the church, just as there was hostility to Him; that it is to be expected, that it is inevitable. And so, it comes in chapter 4, in the very early days of the church. The church has been born in chapter 2; through chapter 2 and chapter 3, the great sermons of Peter, the church grew.

And by the time we come to chapter 4, verse 4, it is likely that there were probably at least 20,000 people involved in the early church. The 5,000 of verse 4 has to do with men; in addition to that, women and children would be included, or young people. And so, the threat to the Jews is very serious. They had attempted to get rid of Jesus Christ by executing Him, and now they are having to live with people going all over everywhere proclaiming that He rose from the dead, and it isn’t a handful anymore.

It’s probably between 10,000 and 20,000 of them that are doing this in Jerusalem, so, they’re scared, and opposition naturally comes, politically and religiously. Now, the event that teed off the persecution is recorded in chapter 3. Now, you’ll remember that Peter and John went for the afternoon prayer time down to the temple, and coming through the gate called Beautiful, they came across a lame man, who for 40 years had been lame, and was probably a fixture at that particular gate, where he would daily beg for alms.

At that point, they healed the man; he jumped up and hopped all over everywhere, praising God. And such a thing drew the crowd into the courtyard; so startling was the miracle, and so familiar was the man, that everybody gathered around. And Peter and John jumped on Solomon’s porch, and with the man standing between them, Peter preached a great sermon on Christ. Announced that their Messiah was Jesus of Nazareth, that they had rejected their own Messiah and executed Him; and he indicted them for that, and then offered them salvation through the grace of God.

Now, as a result of this, many believed, and the number came to be about 5,000 men, as we see it in verse 4. In response to this sermon and to the growth of this new faith in this Jesus, there came to be a tremendous antagonism on the part of the leaders of Israel, and in chapter 4 that breaks out. And it progresses to be more severe as we go through Acts, even as it did in the case of Jesus. Now, the persecution in Acts takes the form of physical abuse. Although there is some threatening in the beginning of this persecution, it finally finds its way to personal abuse.

And in most cases, you might say, “Well, that really doesn’t relate this text to me very well, because we don’t have that kind of persecution.” Well, I’m not sure we wouldn’t if we didn’t – if we did confront the world in the same way that they did. But aside from that, I think Satan is subtle enough to know, that as we said last time, the kind of persecution that gets to your ego may be more severe than that which gets to your body.

The kind that hits you in the area of status, or acceptance, or pride, or makes you fearful of losing your reputation or your position in the community, may be the most subtle and devastating of all. I think that Christians are wont to depreciate their testimony, and to back off from naming Christ as they ought to, because of the fear that somebody might not like them. Or the fear of being ostracized from their society. Or the fear of being fired from their job. Or the fear of being shut out of a community of people that they’d like to be a part of.

Or the fear of being ignored as some kind of a strange commodity. I think we fall prey to the temptations and the persecutions in the area of ego, and acceptance, and pride, more than anything else, and if I’m honest in examining my own heart, I think that’s what gets to me. Now, there have been several occasions where physical abuse has been a reaction in terms of my preaching Christ, and that didn’t have a negative effect at all; it had a positive effect.

But there are times when I feared to name the name of Christ because I’m afraid of being an outcast, or looked down upon, or spurned, or being shut out, or being thought to be some kind of a weird individual, or a religious nut, or a freak, or whatever. But one way or another, a Christian who really confronts the world is going to get some reaction from the world, and we went into that a little bit last time. In 2 Timothy 3:12, we took a key from that, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

It’s just a known fact, revealed in the word of God repeatedly, that if you live for Christ in the face of the world, you’re going to get some flack. That has to happen, because you’re running cross-grain to the system. It can’t be smooth. The apostle Paul recognizes this, and in Philippians 1:29, he says this – now, listen: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” That’s part of being a Christian. That’s not a foreign element to the Christian life.

That’s a natural response to the Christian who really lives his Christianity in the world. And he says in verse 30, “You should have the same conflict which you see in me, and hear to be in me – if you’re doing what I’m doing, then suffering is a part of it.” And so, when you say to somebody, “You ought to suffer for Christ’s sake,” that doesn’t mean run out and, you know, do something masochistic, beat on your head with a hammer or something, so you can – it simply means, “If you confront the world as I do,” Paul’s saying, “you’re going to get what I got when I did it.”

It’s the measure of your commitment, you see. Now, as we saw last time, the persecution begins in the first part of chapter 4. But the great instruction that we want to look at is in verses 5-31, because this gives us principles for handling persecution, and that’s what we began to study last time. But let me just preface it by giving you a kind of a little picture of persecution that maybe you’ve never seen before. If handled right – now watch it – if handled right, persecution is a blessed experience.

It is a wonderful experience. It is a plus, not a minus. It is a positive, not a negative. I’ll show you what I mean. Look at James, chapter 1, to begin with, and we’ll just kind of pick up a couple of points there. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” When you have problems, whether persecution or whatever, consider it a great joy. Why? “Knowing this, that the trying” – or the testing – “of your faith works patience.” God has a plan. He wants to make you patient. “But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.”

Don’t avoid the persecution. Don’t get away from it, because in it, God’s going to bring you to maturity. Let it have its perfecting work, you see. In your life, God has a desire, and His desire is to bring you to maturity. That’s very clear. The plan of God is that you be perfected, or made mature. And there are really two things that bring you to maturity. Number one is the Word of God, 1 Peter 2:2; this is what makes you grow. But number two, trials; and under the area of trials, persecution, suffering, problems, whatever.

These two things are to bring you to maturity. And so, you must allow for persecution as part of the process of spiritual growth. So, if you’re going to grow, you’re going to have to be confronting the world and getting persecuted. That’s part of growing. You don’t run away from it, you accept it; verse 12. “Blessed is the man that endures temptation” – or trial or testing – “for when he is tried, he’ll receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” So, what do we learn from James?

We learn that persecution, number one, brings maturity; persecution, number two, brings reward; maturity and reward. Now, I want you to listen to Peter. Now Peter knew a lot about persecution. In 1 Peter 2:20, listen to this – interesting. “For what glory is it, if, when you are buffeted for your faults, you take it patiently?” In other words, you know, if you’re being punished for your sins, that’s not persecution, that’s punishment for your sins. No glory in that. “But if when you do well” – you serve God – “and you suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”

Verse 21: “For hereunto were you called.” You were called to suffer. Now, some people have gotten it all twisted around, and there are some people who have become concerned with making themselves suffer. There’s a certain order of the Catholic Church, for example. I met a man in that order, who desired to suffer. Therefore, this man wears around his waist a belt that has inserted into it sharp, pointed nails. He wears it all the time, because he does not understand what it means to suffer. He thinks that to suffer itself is redemptive.

And there are other people in Europe, and you’ve seen them on television at certain periods of time, called flagellants who go down the streets, and with cords filled with bits of glass, beat themselves until the blood runs out of them. And they do this in the name of Jesus Christ, because they are feeling that they must suffer. But you see, they are suffering by a masochistic effort to suffer, not as a result of confronting the world with the truth of the gospel, and getting the reaction that God has naturally promised will happen.

You see, to suffer independent of proclaiming Christ is ridiculous. And some people would go around and say, “Well, my husband is my suffering. Well, I bear my cross, it’s my son.” That is not your cross. Now, that may be one of the problems, but to suffer for Christ is to get the response of the world to an open proclamation of Jesus by your life and your lip. And that’s the only kind of suffering that pleases God. The kind that comes as a result – in terms of persecution – that comes as a result of your active, aggressive, living godly in Christ Jesus in the face of the world.

And that is exactly what Peter is saying. “This is what you were called to, but suffering apart from that kind of life has no significance in terms of persecution.” Now, look at chapter 4 of 1 Peter, verse 13. Now, here’s his attitude in persecution. “But rejoice” – isn’t that terrific? In verse 12, he says, “Don’t think it’s some strange thing when fiery trial comes. Rejoice, inasmuch as you’re partakers of Christ sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.

“For if you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Isn’t that wonderful, to get persecuted? The Spirit of Glory and the Spirit of God rests on you; glory is connected with persecution. You want to really experience glory? Persecution brings it. Back in chapter 1, he said, “The glory of man fades as a flower of the grass.” If you put yourself in a culture, and you try to accommodate yourself to the culture, and accommodate yourself to the society, you may grab a little temporary glory, but it’ll fade like the grass.

But you accommodate yourself to Jesus Christ, you confront the world with your message, boldly proclaim Jesus Christ, and you may get flack from the world, but you get glory from God. And so, he simply says, “If you suffer, happy are you,” because glory is involved. In verse 16: “Yea, yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God.” So, what do we learn? Persecution is wonderful. It brings growth, it brings glory, it brings joy, and it brings reward; terrific.

And I warned you by what I said earlier, that that doesn’t mean you run out and suffer, and then say, “Boy, am I racking them up with God. I’m beating myself.” No. Something else Peter says in 1 Peter 5:10, “That the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus” – there’s glory, again connected with suffering. All through Peter, he connects glory with suffering, because first the suffering, then the glory – “unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

You want to be established, strong, settled, and perfect? How are you going to be it? Say it. Suffer. That’s hard to say, isn’t it? That’s part of growth, you see. That’s part of maturity. That’s part of arriving where God wants you. And as I say, it’s not masochistic; it’s the proclamation of Christ by your life and your lip that sets up a reaction in the world by Satan, and you get it. And yet, there’s nothing negative about it, you see? There’s nothing negative at all about suffering. It’s entirely positive, from beginning to end.

You say, “Well, I get scared out there. What happens if I get out there, and the Lord leaves me?” That’ll never happen. I’ll read you – you know this passage – Romans 8:35. It says this: “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or” – what? – “persecution?” No. And he says in the next verse, “As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are killed all day long.’” We’re expendable. “’We’re counted as sheep for the slaughter.’ But in all these things we are more than” – what? – “conquerors.”

That’s victory, you see? I mean, to go through persecution is a fantastically wonderful experience. It’s growth, it’s glory. It’s joy. It’s reward. It’s conquering. It’s all those things. Listen to Paul’s attitude. Second Corinthians 12:9. And here he’s kind of saying, “Lord, I’ve got a thorn in the flesh, and Satan buffets me with it, and it could be possible that I could rid of it, if You’d like, Lord. But, he says in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I like you weak, Paul, because then you lean on Me. Then he says this, “Most gladly therefore will I glory” – there’s that word again – “in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Now, listen to this; this is a statement that is strange, apart from what we have said. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmity, in reproach, in necessities, in persecutions.” You say, “He really enjoys his persecutions. Why?” “For when I am weak, then I am” – what? – “strong.” You see, when I’m being persecuted, I lean on Jesus.

God save us from a placid life where we never get persecuted, because then we can hack it on our own. But when the going really gets tough, and we are weak, and we are incapable, and we can’t make it, that’s when we lean on Him. And so, we pray that God would bring us trials, and God would bring us persecutions, that in our weakness, His strength may be made perfect. And so, you see, all the way through this thing, persecution is a plus. It is never a minus.

Paul said – and this is good – in Philippians 2:17 – I’ll give you two more things that he said, and then just take off from here. But 2:17. “Yea,” and he says, “if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” That is terrific. Now, Paul didn’t suffer for his own sake; he was already saved. He could have grabbed his scrolls, tucked them under his arm, and taken off for the hills, you know? Sure. I mean, he could have said, “Look, people, I don’t need to do this.

“I mean, I don’t need to go into town and get stoned” – with rocks, of course, you understand. He could have said, “I – this – I don’t need this. I’m saved. I mean, I know what the Spirit-filled life is like. I don’t have to do this.” But he said, “Look, if I can be offered for your joy, I get a joy out of it. If my life is a sacrifice, if I have to die to reach you, man, that’s a great thing.” And Paul considered persecution a blessing, because he was getting persecuted in order that others might hear about Jesus.

He’d go into town, and he’d preach Jesus. People get saved, and they’d throw him in jail, and he’d say, “Hey, you know something? I got thrown in jail for preaching Jesus, and people got saved; why don’t I do more of this?” Because, you see, his life was expendable. This is the whole point. As a Christian, as we said last time, your life is expendable. You can spend your life on somebody else, and if you die in doing it, what a blessing if you’ve brought somebody to Christ. We’re expendable.

We have to look at persecution as an opportunity to suffer for the sake of somebody else. You know, you might have an opportunity to preach Jesus or to talk about Jesus somewhere, and you’ll clam up to protect your ego, and because of that somebody won’t hear the message of Jesus Christ. And therefore, you have considered your own pride, and your own status, and your own selfish comfort, above the salvation of that individual. True? True? You see, it’s only when you recognize that you are expendable, and that you, like the apostle Paul, will say, “I will sacrifice myself for you.”

That is when you understand the blessing of persecution. It is not because you get some intrinsic joy in suffering; it is because you know that you’re suffering, number one, so somebody else can know Jesus. That’s a blessing. Listen, there’s a second reason that Paul suffered, and this is beautiful. Colossians 1:24. This verse confuses a lot of people, and they find it difficult to understand it. It isn’t really that difficult. Let me see if I can open it up to you a little bit. Colossians 1:24, here’s another way Paul looked at his suffering.

This is beautiful. He says, “I, Paul” – verse 23, he’s talking about himself – “am made a minister” – and then he goes on – “Who now rejoice in my sufferings” – what are the next two words? “for you.” You see? But that’s the first thing about it is, I’m not doing this for me, it’s for you. I’m expendable. And this is the whole point of Paul’s life. “If I live, I live unto the Lord; if I die, I die unto the Lord. So, if I live or die, I’m the Lord’s, and it’s for you.”

But he says this, “I rejoice in my sufferings for you” – and here’s a second thing he loved about his sufferings – “I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, the church.” Now, there’s two things he’s saying here; number one, I do it for you. I suffer for your sake, for your sake, for your sake. But secondly, I have the wonderful opportunity of filling up in my flesh the afflictions that are meant for Christ. Now, watch what he means by this. Beautiful thought.

Since the time the world began to persecute Jesus, they haven’t stopped. Today, the world is still hating Jesus. And you know what it is about you and me that the world hates? It is not us, it is Jesus. True? So that when we are persecuted, who is it that they are really persecuting? It’s Jesus Christ. They don’t even know us. I mean, I may go into some place and proclaim Jesus all over everywhere, and they may attack me, and they don’t understand that just personally I am a nice guy. You know? I mean, I am not that bad.

I mean, I’m not a warmonger. I’m not a murderer. I’m not there to assault anybody, but they’ll get infuriated, and they may pounce upon me, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me at all. Who is it that they’re after? It’s Jesus. And you see, since the time the world began, they finally got so far that they killed Jesus, but that didn’t stop it anyway. They’re still trying to kill Him again and again and again. There are people in this world, and there always have been, who are after Christ constantly.

All the false systems in the world are after Christ, persecuting Christ. And when any Christian, standing really in the place of Jesus Christ, gets persecuted, he is really getting that which is directed at Jesus, but Jesus isn’t around anymore to get it, so we get it instead. True? That’s exactly what he’s saying. “I fill up that which is still left behind of the afflictions meant for Christ.” You see? In other words, “In my body I bear” – Galatians 6 – “the marks” – of whom? – “of Jesus.”

These aren’t meant for Paul. They’re meant for who? You see, people are still trying to kill Jesus. They’re still trying to get rid of Jesus. And because He’s not around anymore, those who stand in His place are the ones who get it. And so, Paul says, “You know something, folks? Persecution is so wonderful, because after my Lord suffered so much for me, can I do less than suffer some for Him? I mean, He bore all my reproach. Can I bear a little of His? I mean, He died and provided all that for me. Can I take a few of the darts meant for Him?”

He endured because it was necessary, to be a blessing to the church to endure, and secondly, because he loved the fact that what he was suffering was meant for Jesus. You know, I think that there are some people in your life that you might suffer for. I’ve often thought that – and you have too, probably – that if one of your children went through something extremely painful, you might have thought to yourself, “You know, I’d have gone through that for them. I wish it had happened to me.” Ever thought that?

Or some pain and anguish that somebody went through, and you thought because you loved them so much, “I wish it had happened to me, and not them.” You don’t say that about too many people, do you? But the ones you deeply, deeply love. Now, that’s how much Paul loved Jesus. He said, “You know what, I’ll take it all for Jesus. If He can just be up there in glory, getting what He deserves, I’ll stick around down here and I’ll take it. I’ll fill up in my body the afflictions meant for Jesus.”

So, persecution is a good thing. It’s good for the sake that Paul says, that we are allowed the wonderful privilege of taking in the arrows of Satan meant for Jesus. So, it is in this sense that all true believers who live godly stand in the place of Jesus Christ, and get the afflictions that are meant for Him. That’s what Mark 13:13 means when it says Jesus said, “You shall be hated of all men for My sake.” See? “Not because they hate you, but because they hate Me in you.” Second Corinthians 1:5, Paul said this: “The afflictions of Christ overflowed toward us.”

You see? “That which the world had meant for Him came to us.” He says, “I’m always bearing in my body the putting of Jesus to death,” you see? The world is always trying to kill Jesus, and they can’t get to Him, and they keep getting to me. “I’m always bearing in my body the putting to death of Jesus.” What a tremendous testimony. “I’m out there confronting the world, constantly face to face with the world, and I am so representative of Christ that I keep getting what they mean for Him.” And he says, “Oh, what a joy.”

And he even prayed further in Philippians 3:10: “Oh that I may know Him and the fellowship of His” – what – “of His suffering.” I get to share in what is His to suffer. You see, that’s great joy. So, for the Christian persecution is a wonderful thing. It produces growth. It produces glory. It produces reward. It produces joy. It produces blessing. It produces salvation and encouragement to those whom we reach. And it produces the privilege of identification with Jesus Christ, to fill up the sufferings that are meant for Him.

Now, maybe you don’t love Jesus enough to want to do that, but Paul did, and so did Peter and John. And so here, as we look at Acts, chapter 4, we see this kind of spirit. And here we’re going to find – that’s the introduction; now I’ll get to the sermon. You say, “Boy, MacArthur, I never thought of persecution like that.” I know. That’s the way to think about it, though. That’s the only way. And if you really live Godly in the world, and confront the world, you’re going to have the wonderful opportunity of getting persecuted, and having all those blessings come to pass.

But the beauty of this passage – now, understanding that the persecution began – was how they handled it, and there are seven principles here for handling persecution. Last week, we looked at the first three. And here we’ll look at the remainder, reviewing briefly. Seven principles involving how to handle persecution. Now, they got it, Peter and John did, and here’s what they did. Number one principle – you have an outline in your bulletin, which we’ve changed a little bit from last week, so you might want to follow along.

Principle number one in handling persecution: be submissive to it. Remember that from the beginning of chapter 4 clear through verse 7, to the time they got set down in the middle of the hall of hewn stone where the Sanhedrin met together, they hadn’t resisted at all. They had just willingly gone right along. And they weren’t cowards, and they weren’t afraid; they were submissive. They said this in their minds: “God brought us this far, He must have some reason. Let’s see what He’s going to do.”

And they didn’t fight against it. They – when persecution came, they willingly submitted to it. You never hear Paul doing anything but that. In the Philippian jail, when the jail started to fall apart at the earthquake, what did he do? Say, “At last we’re free, and wheem.” And no, he didn’t. He just stayed in there. He submitted, because he knew God had purpose. It’s a good thing he stuck around, too. God wasn’t finished with what He wanted to do in that place. But you see, they were submissive.

Whenever God brings you into a situation of persecution, stick around and see what God’s going to do. Don’t fight it, be submissive. That’s principle number one. And we went into that in detail, and you remember that Paul and Silas stuck around in the Philippian jail, and they could have gotten away. They could have gotten out of there fast, and they stuck around, and who got saved? The jailer and his whole family. Now, do you know what? The key to the salvation of that jailer, apart from the theology, the circumstantial key to the salvation of the jailer was persecution, right?

They got persecuted. They got thrown in jail. They were having a great time singing songs in there. The place got all rattled. Everybody was panicky. The man was going to fall on his sword. Paul introduced he and his whole family to Jesus, and it all came about because of persecution. Again, a classic example of Satan doing his best, and being overruled by God. Second principle we saw last week, not only be submissive to persecution, but secondly, be filled with the Spirit. Verse 8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit.”

You get into a situation like that, and you’re going to have to lean on some power other than your own. And so, he yielded to the Spirit of God, he and John. And that was victory in itself, right there. They didn’t try to handle it in their own strength, and develop their own techniques, and their own cunning. They yielded to the Spirit. Third principle, boldly use it as an opportunity to present Christ. And this dynamic. They got into this situation, and they saw an open door to present Christ right in the middle of a persecution.

And it would have been so easy to say, “Boy, am I scared and we may never get out of this.” See? And they didn’t really have any historical precedence as a church either. This was brand new stuff. And they could have panicked at that point, and just kind of faded away, and just clammed up, but they didn’t. They – and they could have watered down their message, and as I told you last week, they could have come out with a few little religious platitudes that would have been innocuous and inoffensive to anybody, and just kind of gently accommodated themselves, but not them.

They used it as an opportunity to present Christ. Jesus had told them “I want you to go into all the world to preach the gospel to” – whom? – “every creature.” And here was some “every creatures,” sitting right there. They may have had a big sign on them, Sanhedrin. Boy, that didn’t make them not “every creatures.” And so, Peter and John say, “Hey boys, we’re here; we’ve got to do it.” Off Peter went. Verses 8-13, he preaches Jesus. And he even indicts them for crucifying Him.

And then in verse 12, he says, “You know there’s no salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” He lays it on the line. He says, “Guys, this is the only hope, is Jesus. This man was made well by Jesus physically, and you will be made well by Him spiritually, or you will not be made well at all.” No other name but Jesus. And so, they are bold, unbelievable boldness, in the face of persecution, and to the Sanhedrin, the highest court in Israel.

That’s how to handle persecution: be submissive, be Spirit-filled, boldly use it as an opportunity. Now, what was the effect of it? Look at verse 13, and we’ll move into our study for this morning in terms of this text. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant” – which means that they were not educated in the rabbinical schools, not versed in prevalent Jewish theology, and the word ignorant means they were amateurs as opposed to pros – “they saw that they were unlearned amateurs, they marveled.”

They were shocked. I mean, how could you explain two unlearned amateurs handling a disputation with the Jewish high supreme court, and coming out on top? “And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” See, only the Ph.D.s were supposed to be able to handle these tougher matters, but these two guys had such poised assurance and bold confidence that they were shocked. And the boldness is unbelievable in the face of possible death. And it says in verse 13 – I love this: “They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

Now, I’m not going to spiritualize that, because I don’t think it needs to be spiritualized. It’s not some foggy ethereal thing. It simply means this: they kept remembering that these guys had been associated with Jesus, and what reminded them of it was the fact that they were doing what He did. Because it was exactly what Jesus did, that they were doing. What do I mean? Just this. The thing that shocked the Jews about Jesus was this: “He taught them as one having” – what? – “authority.” And He had never been to the rabbinical schools.

He didn’t go to the right school. In fact, He came out of that cruddy place, Nazareth; would anything good come out of there? Not only that, He was an amateur. He wasn’t one of the pros. “He taught them as one having authority.” Well, what happened? Not only that, what else had Peter and John done here? They’d done a miracle, hadn’t they? And what did Jesus always do? Miracles. Another thing that Peter and John had done so well is in verse 11, handling the Old Testament, and Jesus was the master at handling the Old Testament and applying it.

And they had done the same thing, just as masterfully as Jesus did it, because they did it directly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They were like Jesus, in the fact, number one, that they had authority; number two, that they did miracles; and number three, that they interpreted the Old Testament. They were just like Jesus. And they were saying, “Wow, it’s obvious that these guys have been with Jesus. Here we go again. We’ve got this same problem all over again.”

None could equal Jesus in person, but they were the equal of Jesus in the miracles and the message, because it was Him speaking through them. And so, they took notice of them, that they had been with Jesus, because they had the same pattern that He had. And they marveled. And then that brings us to the fourth feature in handling persecution: be obedient to God at all costs. Verses 14-22, be obedient at all costs. In this little simple narrative, you’ll see how obedient they are.

Verse 14: “And beholding the man who was healed standing with them, they couldn’t say anything against him.” Well, what are you going to say? The guy’s been 40 years a cripple. All of a sudden, he’s jumping around, having a great time. And he’s standing there, and everything seems to be in great order, you know. His legs are doing terrific. And if I read my Bible right, he’s been standing for at least three hours. Now, if you haven’t stood in 40 years, standing for three hours is pretty good. And he’s still hanging on to Peter and John; they haven’t gotten rid of him yet.

Not that they wanted to, but he’s hanging on. And so, what happens is, it says in verse 14, “And beholding the man who was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” I guess not. What are you going to say? They really didn’t have any argument. It’s a tough problem. What are you going to do? But it’s interesting that though they couldn’t argue about it, and they couldn’t deny it, they wouldn’t accept it either. This is the blindness of sin. Here they were face to face with truth, with power, with all of these things, and they blindly had their eyes shut.

And John 3:19 tells us that it’s simply that, “Light has come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light” – why? – “because their deeds are evil, and they don’t want to come to the light, because if they come to the light, their deeds will be reproved.” So, they know the truth, but they avoid the truth. And Jesus hit it right on the head in John 8 when He said this: “You are of your father” – whom? – “the devil, and from the beginning he was a liar. And so, because I speak the truth, you don’t understand.”

Now, if I talked lies you’d read Me clear. And so, they know the truth, but they reject it. Boy, that’s the character of unbelief. In the face of absolute evidence, they reject. People say, “Well, if – I’ll believe if God will do a trick. Do a trick, God, and I’ll believe. Do a miracle.” Oh, you hear that all the time. “If there’s a God, why doesn’t He do a miracle?” Listen, in the case of Lazarus, you remember, and the rich man? The rich man said, “I want to go home and tell my brothers.” And it was said to him, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would they believe that one rose from the dead.”

And you know something, somebody did rise from the dead, and they don’t believe. It’s not a miracle that brings people to belief. It’s that brokenness of spirit, and that conviction of sin, and the knowledge of the truth. Now, a miracle may have a part in it as a sign, but miracles alone don’t do it. They have a very limited use, even in the life of Christ. And so, they simply do not do anything positive about it at all. They’re going to figure out what to do negative.

Verse 15: “When they had commanded them to go aside out of the council” – they sent Peter, John, and the man outside; they had a committee meeting – “they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men?’” Now, that is a stupid question to begin with. What had they done to deserve you doing anything to them? “What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle has been done by them, is manifest to all those who dwell at Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.”

Now, if that doesn’t give you some insight into the terrible plight of the blackness of their unbelief; they had a miracle that was obvious, they could not deny it, there was no way they could set it aside, and yet they were intent on rejecting it and getting rid of these people. Now, that is the character of unbelief in its hardest type. And so, they have to have a meeting as to what to do with these people. I mean, they didn’t have any laws against doing miracles. And they didn’t have any law against good deeds, either.

And Peter and John were now popular heroes, you see. I mean, they were – they had healed a guy, and so everybody – it would have been disastrous to the public relations department of the Sanhedrin if they had pulled off some deal and punishment for Peter and John, because they were heroes. So, they had to find a compromise without starting a reaction among the people. And here’s their decision, verse 17: “But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them.” They say, “We’ll lay it on them with our authority.”

“And that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.” And they all decided “Yea, we’ll do that.” So, they brought them in, verse 18, “And they called them, and they commanded them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus.” “That’s it. Do not speak and do not teach in the name of Jesus.” They command them never to mention Jesus again. And I’m sure they put all their authority behind it. Isn’t it an interesting thing that the early church had to be commanded to be quiet, and the modern church has to be commanded to speak?

Boy, we’ve come a long way. I’m not sure in what direction. So, they desperately wanted to be rid of the name of Jesus. You know, they still can’t get rid of the name of Jesus. You know, it’s such a strange thing, but they had thought they might get rid of Him when they killed Him, but they didn’t. Now there’s 20,000 people running all over Jerusalem proclaiming Him. And it just got worse.

And you know, even today, as I was in Israel, the thing that struck me the most, I think, the most – the clearest thing that I could see in terms of just kind of identifying certain factors, the thing that overwhelmed me every day, was that right in the middle of Judaism, which rejects Jesus, are all of the things that relate to Jesus. I mean, just think how much easier it would have been if Jesus had been a Chinese individual, and it just cleared away – of course, then it wouldn’t have started the conflict.

But just imagine having to live in Israel, and one bus load after another of pilgrims coming to see the places where Jesus was. “There goes another one.” They’re all over the place. And everybody’s carrying around little olive wood New Testaments, and little Jesus symbols, and everywhere you go in the midst of Israel there are churches with crosses and Jesuses everywhere. They cannot get rid of Jesus, no matter how they try. They can’t. And here, they hope that they had gotten rid of Him when they killed Him, and now they hope they can get rid of Him by shutting up Peter and John.

Do you realize that if they had shut them up at this point, that church history would have been totally different? What a disaster. I mean, it all boiled down at this point to two guys who were really the ones. Boy, am I glad they were faithful. So, they said, “We don’t allow you to speak.” And the word they use for speak there in verses 18, 17 and 18, is an unusual Greek word, used only one other place in the New Testament. It means to speak publicly, to speak aloud, public speaking. So, they put a ban on preaching; no more preaching about Jesus.

And they put all their authority behind it. And they hoped this would shut them up, and it didn’t. Peter and John recognized a higher authority. Jesus had said “Go into all the world and” – do what? – “preach the gospel to every creature.” So, you know, if they had been like me, and like most of us, they’d have probably said, “Now, look let’s not say anything. Let’s just play it real cool, and we’ll get out of here and do what we want.” See? But no, they’re so bold. Verse 19: “Peter and John answered and said unto them” – now, I don’t know if they had this memorized so they could do it unison, but anyway.

“Peter and John answered and said unto them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” Whoa, what a bomb that is. He says, “You’re the supreme court of Israel. You judge this. Here’s the decision. Is it right to listen to you or God? Help.” If they say, “Listen to God,” then they can’t say anything to them. If they say, “Listen to men,” they reject their faith in God. They’re stuck. They’re not only on the horns of a dilemma, but it has also been determined that they and God are at opposite ends of the world.

And so, with holy courage, they don’t sneak away. They don’t cower away. They simply say, “We have a higher authority.” You say, “But doesn’t Romans 13 say, ‘Be subject to the powers that be, for they are ordained of God?’” Sure, and I think in the general rule and the general principle, this is absolutely accurate. Peter himself, in 1 Peter 2, even says that we’re to be subject to the king, and the governors, and those that rule over us. But when it comes into conflict with a higher command from God, then that’s different.

Do you remember Daniel? The king said, “You will not pray, that’s a new edict.” What did Daniel do? Prayed. Somebody may come along and say, “You will not read the Bible,” but the Bible says it needs to be read. Somebody will come along and forbid you to proclaim Jesus, but Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Somebody may come along and command you to do something that is wrong, and against the direct statement of God and the word of God. Don’t do it. You see, there comes a point when you must be obedient to God.

Peter and John knew that they were to be subject to authority. Christians should be the finest citizens possible. But at the same time when it comes to violating the command of Jesus Christ, that’s when we obey Christ and disobey the government. And they don’t argue, and they don’t hassle, and they don’t make a big deal out of it. They simply say, in verse 20, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” We must do what God says. Now, here they are, obedient at all costs.

They realize they’re expendable by putting their life on the line, but they want to be obedient. Over in chapter 5, verse 29, they said the same thing, “we ought to obey God rather than men.” And so, they don’t snivel around, and they don’t sneak out, and they don’t hide. They courageously state who they will obey. Somebody said the trouble with most Christians is that the voice of their neighbors is louder in their ears than the voice of God. But not in the case of Peter and John. They knew to whom their allegiance belonged.

You know that historically there have been great times in the history of God’s dealing with Israel that disobedience has been important, and I mean disobedience to governments. In Exodus 1:17, you know that they want to get rid of the Hebrew babies in Egypt, and so there was an edict sent out. but it says in verse 17 of chapter 1, “The midwives feared God and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.” You know, it’s a good thing they did that. It’s a good thing they did that.

It’s a good thing they disobeyed the king and saved the children. For they are the progeny of the race. Then there was an interesting command: “And Pharaoh” – verse 22 – “charged all his people, saying, “Every son that is born you shall cast into the river.” Well, that’s a pretty good – you say, “Well, did they disobey that?” Well, sort of, they threw Moses into the river, but they had a boat, you see. But they disobeyed and isn’t a good thing that they disobeyed because Moses was God’s chosen instrument.

You see, whenever conflict arises between the command of God and the command of men, whom do we obey? We obey God. And this is all, you can trace this all the way through the Old Testament, suffice it to say, at that point. So in the great tradition of men of God, they obeyed God, even though they knew it could mean their lives. And I love it in verse 20: “For we” – what is the next word? – “cannot.” Remember what Paul said, “woe is unto me if I” – what? – “preach not the gospel.” I can’t do anything else but speak this.

“We can’t be silent,” they said; “we have to speak this.” And so, the Sanhedrin lays a heavier threat on them. Such obedience. It would be so convenient, you know, to get into persecution, and say, “Well, I’m going to obey you and not preach Jesus, because I’m going to subject myself to the powers that be. Romans 13:1, see, I’m all right.” They knew who their higher command was. Verse 20 – 21, they had threatened them more. “So when they had further threatened them” – they really laid it on now – “they then let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people.”

You see, they were all involved in politics. All involved in prestige in keeping their position. “For all men glorified God for that which was done.” Why? Because the man was 40 years old in whom the miracle of healing was shown. So, they were afraid of the people, and so they just had to let them go, after they’d really put the heavy threats on them. And so, we see here complete obedience to God’s will. Persecution breaks out, but it doesn’t break them. They remain obedient in the middle of it.

You don’t ever want to stop doing what you’re doing just because you get persecuted. No bribes, no threats, should ever tame our spirits, should ever steal our zeal. No claims, mental or physical, against us, no chains that would bind us, should ever make us violate the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. I love the statement of Chrysostom, the great Christian of the early years. He was summoned before the Roman emperor Arcadius, and he was threatened with banishment. And he didn’t – he had preached Jesus, and Arcadius said, “If you do not cease to preach Jesus, you will be banished.”

And this is what he said: “You cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will slay you,” exclaimed the angered emperor. “No, but you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God.” “Your treasures will be confiscated.” “Sire, that cannot be, my treasures are in heaven where none can break through and steal.” “Then I will drive you from men, and you will have no friends.” “That, you cannot do either, for I have a friend in heaven who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”

Ultimately, he was banished to Caucasus, which is on the edge of Armenia, but when he got there, he was so greatly influential by the letters that he was writing all over the world, that his enemies determined to banish him further away, to a place called Pityus, and he died on the journey getting there. Couldn’t stop him; couldn’t stop him. No threat broke his spirit. No threat broke his obedience to God. He knew his priorities. And so we are to be obedient; obedient. How do you handle persecution?

Be submissive, be Spirit-filled, boldly use it as an opportunity, and be obedient at all costs. Skip some thoughts here, the time is gone. Number five, bind yourselves closer together. And this is beautiful, look at verse 23: “And being let go, they went to their own company.” They got together with their friends. They went – you know, persecution drives us together. We often talk about the unity of the body, but persecution is such an important ingredient.

If we all confronted this world, and if we all had to live in a hostile world, and if the world was persecuting us, it would drive us together. You know, I think sometimes Christians get so tied up in picayune little dumb things, you know, and we all sit around, and our whole Christian life boils down as to what we wear to church or, you know, “Well, lookit, there’s Mrs. So-and-so, she’s had some terrible things to say about Mr. So-and-so.” And you know? And we live in these little, really dumb little things, that we get all involved in.

And we spin our wheels on piddlies, you know? When, if we’re really out there confronting the world, we’d be getting so much heat back that we wouldn’t have time to mess with all that stuff. And we’d be driven together for the common love and security of the body. If we really confronted the world, there’s a key to our unity. It would drive us to each other. As it is now, we don’t confront the world, so we live a kind of a placid, innocuous existence, and there’s not enough trouble so that we need anybody else.

We can buy our way out of our problems, you know? Because everything’s so nice. But they were persecuted, and they bound themselves together. Over in 32-35, it talks about the fact that they had one heart and one soul, and if anybody needed anything, somebody else provided it. The next thing, the sixth one – and this is what they did when they got together – is bless the Lord. This is the next reaction to persecution. Verse 24: “And when they had heard that” – they reported to them, all the chief priests and elders, it said.

“And when they heard that” – it says – “they fell on their face and cried, and said, ‘O God, save us.’” Is that what it said? No, it doesn’t say that. It says, “They raised their voice to the Lord in one accord, and said, Lord thou art God.” Isn’t this terrific? “And you made the sea, and the heavens, and the earth, and everything that’s in it.” They acknowledge God. “God, You’re in this. You made everything. You’ve allowed this to happen.” They didn’t come back in a state of mental depression.

They came back rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Jesus. I mean, they had just been filled with the Spirit. They had just preached to the Sanhedrin. What greater thing could have happened? And they all might have come back with the attitude, you know, better a live chicken than a dead lion. But they didn’t. They were a whole gang of Joshuas and Calebs, you know; they believed it could be taken for the Lord. Their reaction is PTLA, Praise The Lord Anyhow, and they’re happy.

And they address the Lord as Lord, and the Greek word there is the word that – it’s a very unusual word for Lord; it’s a word that translates into English, despot. It’s the most severe kind of dictatorship. They recognized their absolute bondage to Christ. “Lord, You’re running the show, and if this is what You want, great, we’re in it.” They praised God for His sovereign power. “You’re on it. You made the sea, You made the heaven, You made the earth. You made us, You made the situation, You know what’s going on.

“It’s Your deal, and we’re going to go right in it with You.” Praise the Lord. And then they quote the Old Testament, Psalm 2, verse 25, and I’ll give you the translation of this. “Who by the Holy Spirit through the mouth, of thy servant David” – that phrase should be in there – “has said, ‘Why did the nations rage and the people imagine vain things. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers are gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’” And here, they say, “Hey Lord, clear back in Psalm 2, You said the world would persecute Jesus.

“Clear back in Psalm 2, You said the world would kill Jesus. You said all the nations are going to get together against Him. We know that. So this whole persecution deal, You know all about that, don’t You, Lord? For a truth, boy, it happened, against Thy Holy servant Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed or made a Messiah. Herod, Pilate, the nations, and Israel gathered together, Lord, just like you said: persecution.” But when it was all over, look at verse 28: “They did whatever” – Whose hand? – “Thy hand and”- whose counsel? – ”Thy counsel determined before to be done.”

Isn’t that something? The world gave its best shots to Jesus and was all done. You know what they had accomplished? They’d accomplished salvation. Psalm 76:10 simply says, and gives us the principle, “He maketh the wrath of men to do” – what? -”praise Him.” And see, they’re comforted in the fact that Jesus got persecuted, but when His persecution was over, through His death, salvation was provided for the world. And again, Satan had overdone himself. And that’s exactly the point right here. This is their comfort.

The God who turned the persecution of Jesus to salvation can certainly turn their persecution into something wonderful. Now, you see, that’s what you need to recognize when you’re getting persecuted. “Hey Lord, what wonderful thing are you going to do out of this? Why, when Jesus got persecuted, You brought the redemption of all men. What are you going to do about this?” So, they’re just praising God and having a wonderful time. That’s trust.

I’m reminded of the story of Joseph. You remember Joseph got persecuted, first of all by his own brothers. Genesis 37:8, he got persecuted by his own brothers, remember, sold into slavery? Then he got into Egypt, and he went to work for some guy name Potiphar, and he got persecuted by them. And they – his wife told all kinds of lies about Joseph, and had his coat to supposedly prove it. And Joseph got persecuted by Potiphar. Next thing you knew, he got into jail, and he was in there and he got – he had done his best to help some people, you remember the butler and the baker situation? He got persecuted by them.

He got nothing but persecuted, persecuted, persecuted, and when it was all over with, he got exalted didn’t he? To the highest place next to the king in Egypt, and he was able to supply everything for everybody that they needed, even those who persecuted him. And the book of Genesis wraps up with a fantastic statement in chapter 50, and the statement is in verse 20: “But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it this day, to save many people alive.”

You meant it for evil, God meant it for good. And this is the principle of these verses. They’re praising God and saying, “Bless the Lord, because look at this evil coming that God can turn into good.” That’s the only way to look at persecution. So what’s the principles, then? To handle persecution, be submissive, Spirit-filled, boldly use it as an opportunity, be obedient, bind yourselves together, and bless the Lord, the last one. Beseech God for greater boldness. You say, “Are you kidding?

“You mean, they want to go back into the thick of it again?” Sure. Verse 29: “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants” – slaves, connected with that same word, Lord – “to Thy bond servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word.” With how much boldness? All boldness. “We want to go right back out and speak again.” You say, “Oh, they told you not to do that.” See? Well, we need power to do it. “And then, God, stretch forth Your hand to heal; and do some signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.”

“Let’s really give it to them, both barrels, God. I mean, they’re talking against You. Let’s go.” That’s exciting. They prayed, and they didn’t pray for the Lord to smash their enemies. It was too good. Why eliminate the joy, right? “Lord, don’t – just let them do what they’re doing, we love it.” So, they were looking not for an out, but an in. They were looking for not an escape, but a power. And so, they said, “God, give us power.” You think God will answer prayer like that? Yeah, He did, in verse 31.

“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled.” Some of you can relate to that. You know what that experience is like. Can you imagine when that whole thing’s shaking? “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” There they go, He answered their prayer. You know what persecution did? Did it have its effect? You better believe it did, but its effect wasn’t the one Satan meant it to have. They flew out of that place, and verse 32 says, “And the multitude of those that believed were of one heart and one mind.”

They went out of there, and people got saved all over the place. It doesn’t even tell how many; so many, they didn’t even count. They asked for more power, and God gave it. This could be your experience, beloved, if you live godly in Jesus Christ. Now, some of you have never experienced this, because you’ll never really live a godly life. You may be a Christian, but you’ll never confront the world, so you’ll never know this. Others of you will live godly, and persecution will come, and you’ll crumble, and that’ll be it.

A few of you will live godly, you’ll suffer persecution, and in the midst of it, you’ll be submissive, you’ll be Spirit-filled, you’ll boldly use it as an opportunity, you’ll be obedient at all costs, you’ll bless the Lord, and you’ll beseech God for great boldness, and yours is the victory, and the growth, and the glory, and the reward, and the joy. Let’s pray. Father, we thank You this morning for teaching us again how it is that we’re to be responsible to confront the world with the claims of Christ.

O God, we pray that we might be bold for Jesus. And even as we go from this place, Father, we pray that we might put into practice in our own hearts and lives those things that You’ve taught us by Your Spirit this morning. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

END

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1715/how-to-handle-persecution-part-2

Defeat fear for good!

November 6, 2020 by Dr. Jack Graham

Let me ask you a question, and I’d like you to be honest with yourself about the answer…

What percent of the decisions you make on a daily basis are made out of fear?

If we’re honest, I think we’d all say the answer is a lot more than we’d like it to be. That’s because fear has a way of gripping us like no other emotion can. And it haunts us incessantly… prompting us to replay the worst-case scenarios over and over again in our minds.

But I love the acrostic the late Zig Ziglar gave us: F-E-A-R: False Evidence Appearing Real.

You see, fear, anxiety, and worry are results of listening to lies from the enemy. And Satan is a really good liar. But when we instead focus on God’s promises to take care of us, we begin to hear those lies for what they are, and the way we think about and handle our fears begins to change.

It’s interesting that the word worry comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word würgen, which means to “strangulate.” It paints a picture of a wolf at the throat of its prey.

Worry, anxiety, and fear will choke the life out of you. They cause you to assume a burden that God never intended for you to carry… and that burden can hinder you from accomplishing God’s work in your life.

But I love the promise found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power.”

Maybe today, you’re tempted to run from something wonderful God has for you because of fear. Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed with worry about the current events of the world. Let me assure you, those feelings aren’t from God — they’re from Satan. And as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit power within you to defeat them for good!

https://resources.jackgraham.org/resource-library/articles/defeat-fear-for-good/

If You’re A Target of Bullying, Here’s A Way to Make Friends

Cartoon Bully intimidating a man. Isolated

 / CHERIEWHITE

friends

To feel better about themselves and keep from feeling powerless, too many targets of bullying resort to bullying others who are even more vulnerable than them. And it’s not right.

In many cases, targets of bullying who bully, or “bully-victims” bully not because they want to. They bully because they feel like they have no choice.

In bullying, bullies unwittingly teach their targets that to degrade and disparage another person is what it takes to stay on top or off the bottom! And let’s face it, nobody wants to be on the bottom.

One of the uglier characteristics of humans is that everyone wants to be better than somebody! The attitude is that if you’re not above somebody, anybody, then who are you better than? The sad reality is that people equate not being better than someone, even if it’s only one person, with being powerless. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

friends

But just the same, they do it because they don’t believe there’s any other way to stay out of the basement and boost their self-esteem. But!

What if I told you that there was a better way to get the same psychological benefits? What if I told you that there was another way you could feel better about yourself and eliminate those toxic feelings your bullies have instilled in you for so long? Even better, what if I told you that you could get those benefits without causing harm to another person?

Well? You can!

Here’s how you do it!

Instead of targeting more vulnerable people, how about connecting with and befriending them? Because they get bullied just like you. They may get bullied worse than you. You never know.

hope

And let’s face it. No one person is an island. There’s no way you can have even a little bit of power by yourself. We’d like to think that we can survive and do anything in this world just fine by ourselves and that we don’t have to depend on anyone, but that’s not reality.

The reality is that power means relationships. And we all need people as loved ones, friends, and allies.

Therefore, make friends with those who are weaker than you! Stick up for those people and be their buddy instead of their bully. Make them feel good about themselves and encourage them to stick up for themselves and to realize that they too matter in this world.

These targets need someone who they think has more strength than them to have their backs, and to be someone they can trust and look up to. These people will need you and depend on you, and that’s what you want.

friendship

Let me explain this a little deeper,

If you’re a target of bullying, the last thing you want to do is seek the approval of your bullies or their followers. You never want to build a power base with people more powerful than you are. They’ll only eat you alive!

And if they’re stronger than you, how can you expect them to depend on you? To make friends in your situation, you must look for people who will count on you. And they have to in some way, shape, or form, need you.

And the “weaker” targets will be the ones who must have you around to ensure their safety and to validate their importance and their deserving of love and friendship. They will need a friend, protector, and advocate. And you can be those things to them!

It’s much smarter to seek out and make friends with the “weaker” targets and create a relationship on their dependency on you. Because when you do, you become their pillar of strength. You become their voice and their backbone.

friends alliance allies

And because the other targets are more vulnerable, they’ll know that to turn their backs on you would be to do so at their own risk. Throwing you under the bus would only bring them hardship and pain.

In a friendship like this, you will have the power. So use that power to promote solidarity with them, uplift them, and have their backs!

And if ever you need something done, you won’t have to use force to get your new, less powerful friends to help you out. They’ll be more than happy to oblige because you’ll be their fearless leader, their encourager and protector, and the last thing they’ll want is to lose you. They’ll know that without you, they’d be in a pickle.

The beauty of this is that you and all the other victims will become a group. You’ll band together and become as one. And you’ll gain strength from your numbers.

I promise you that things will only get better once you put this into action. And the only things you’ll have to lose are your low self-esteem and your feelings of powerlessness!

C.S. Lewis “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one … without signposts

November 28, 2020 • C.S. Lewis 

His death went unnoticed, as he died the same day John F. Kennedy was shot.His books are some of the most widely read in English literature, with over 200 million sold worldwide.Read as PDF …

Miracles in American History-Vol. TWO: Amazing Faith that Shaped the Nation

Nearly 50 years after his death, his books continue to sell a million copies a year.His name was Clive Staples Lewis, born NOVEMBER 29, 1898.

At age 19, he fought in the trenches in World War I.After the War, C.S. Lewis taught at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1925-54; and was professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, 1954-1963.

Originally an agnostic, C.S. Lewis credited his Catholic colleague at Oxford, J.R.R. Tolkien, whom he met in 1926, as being instrumental in his coming to faith in Jesus Christ.J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, 1937, and Lord of the Rings, 1937-1949, which is one of the best-selling novels ever written–with over 150 million copies sold.

C.S. Lewis’ writing style was influenced by George MacDonald, a writer and Christian minister.MacDonald’s fantasy literature pioneered an entire genre, influencing Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, 1900; J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, 1937.

C.S. Lewis regarded MacDonald as a “master,” stating:”Picking up a copy of Phantastes (1858) one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later, I knew that I had crossed a great frontier.”

G. K. Chesterton cited George MacDonald’sThe Princess and the Goblin (1872) as a book that had “made a difference to my whole existence.”

George MacDonald wrote:

  • “There are things that must be done in faith, else they never have being.”
  • “Faith is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it; or, not knowing it, stands and waits, content in ignorance as in knowledge, because God wills – neither pressing into the hidden future, nor careless of the knowledge which opens the path of action.”
  • “Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood … Doubts must precede every deeper assurance; for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed.”
  • “The principle part of faith is patience.”
  • “A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.”
  • “All about us, in earth and air, wherever the eye or ear can reach, there is a power ever breathing itself forth in signs, now in daisy, now in a wind-waft, a cloud, a sunset; a power that holds constant and sweetest relation with the dark and silent world within us. The same God who is in us, and upon whose tree we are the buds, if not yet the flowers, also is all about us- inside, the Spirit; outside, the Word. And the two are ever trying to meet in us.”
  • “If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead.”
  • “Any faith in Him, however small, is better than any belief about Him, however great.”

C.S. Lewis was also influenced by Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s book, The Everlasting Man (1925), written in rebuttal of H.G. Wells’The Outline of History.

Lewis explained:”The best popular defense of the full Christian position I know is G.K. Chesterton’sThe Everlasting Man.”

Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man, 1925:“Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something . Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else.It is really far more logical to start by saying ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ even ifyou only mean ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.’For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one.But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else.”

He continued:”I do not believe that the past is most truly pictured as a thing in which humanity merely fades away into nature, or civilization merely fades away into barbarism, or religion fades away into mythology, or our own religion fades away into the religions of the world.In short I do not believe that the best way to produce an outline of history is to rub out the lines.”

G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man, 1925:“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic.A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.”

He added:“As for the general view that the Church was discredited by the War — they might as well say that the Ark was discredited by the Flood.When the world goes wrong, it proves rather that the Church is right.The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do.”

G.K. Chesterton continued:“Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died.Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”

Miracles in American History-Vol. TWO: Amazing Faith that Shaped the Nation

C.S. Lewis described in Surprised by Joy, 1955, how he resisted believing, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.”Finally, in 1929, he came to believe in God:”You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen (College, Oxford) night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.

… That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

In 1931, after a late-night discussion with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson,Lewis described his deepening spiritual journey in Surprised by Joy:

“I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.I was driven to Whipsnade zoo one sunny morning.When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached to zoo I did.Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought.Nor in great emotion. ‘Emotional’ is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events.It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.

… And it was, like that moment on top of the bus, ambiguous.Freedom, or necessity? Or do they differ at their maximum? At that maximum a man is what he does; there is nothing of him left over or outside the act.As for what we commonly call ‘Will,’ and what we commonly call ‘Emotion,’ I fancy these usually talk too loud, protest too much, to be quite believed, and we have a secret suspicion that the great passion or the iron resolution is partly a put-up job.

… They have spoiled Whipsnade since then.Wallaby Wood, with the birds singing overhead and the blue-bells underfoot and the Wallabies hopping all round one, was almost Eden come again.”

Among C.S. Lewis’ most notable books are:

  • The Problem of Pain, 1940;
  • The Screwtape Letters, 1942;
  • Abolition of Man, 1943;
  • Miracles, 1947; and
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, 1950-1956, which includes: The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.

There Really is a Santa Claus -History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions

Lewis stated in The Oxford Socratic Club (1944. pp. 154-165):”If … I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit science.If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of atoms,I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.”

In The Problem of Pain,Lewis wrote:”The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil.Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt …God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world …No doubt pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion.But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment, it removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul …Suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God …… If tribulation is a necessary element in redemption, we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees the world to be either redeemed or no further redeemable.”

In Mere Christianity, 1952, C.S. Lewis wrote:”All that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Lewis expressed in Mere Christianity, 1952:”I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’That is the one thing we must not say.A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

… You must make your choice.Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

In The Screwtape Letters, 1942, Lewis wrote:“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

In the final chapter of The Abolition of Man, 1943, Lewis warned:”I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”

C.S. Lewis wrote:

  • “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'”
  • “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
  • “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
  • “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”

Lewis wrote:”Christianity … is a religion you could not have guessed … ‘It is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up.It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”

He wrote in Mere Christianity, 1952:”The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus in a woman’s body.”

In Mere Christianity,C.S. Lewis wrote:”God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion.God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing”–Read as PDF … C.S. Lewis “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one”

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John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”

by Bill Federer

“The monster was hideous to behold…scales…wings like a dragon, feet like a bear…out of his belly came fire & smoke

What would it be like to be imprisoned for 12 years just for preaching the Gospel without a license from the government?

This was the fate of John Bunyan, author of the world renown book Pilgrim’s Progress.

John Bunyan was born in Bedford, England, in 1628, nearly a century before the Europe’s Age of Enlightenment.

He worked as a poor, unskilled tinker by trade.

In 1644, at the age of 16, Bunyan joined the Puritan Parliamentary Army and fought under Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War.

After three years, having escaped death several times, Bunyan returned to his cottage in Elstow, where he learned from his father the trade of a tinker and got married.

In 1657, at age 29, Bunyan became a Baptist minister.

When Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell died in 1558, it led to royalists restoring the monarchy in 1660, with King Charles II.

This began a new wave of persecution of non-conformists.

Puritans, Separatists, Baptists, and other dissenters were spied upon, censored, and arrested for holding illegal religious meetings or for preaching politically incorrect views.

In 1662, Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity, which required all preachers to believe exactly what the government told them to believe in order to be ordained by an Anglican bishop, It required them to use the revised Book of Common Prayer.

In 1664, Parliament passed the Act of Conventicles, which made it illegal five or more people to have a religious meeting apart from the Church of England.

In 1665, Parliament passed the Five Mile Act where a dissenting preacher was not allowed to come within five miles of any town.

Currently, many socialist, communist, and Islamic sharia regions around the world have laws discriminating against Christians who spread Biblical views, as in areas of the Middle East, Iran, North Korea, Europe, Africa, South America, Turkey, China, and now Hong Kong.

In the United States, this has manifested in leftist driven courts, as well as state and federal government bureaucracies.

Advocates of LGBTQ values exhibit aggressive intolerance toward those holding Biblical views, as evidenced in cases regarding cake bakers, photographers, and, in August of 2014, when Houston’s first openly lesbian mayor subpoenaed the sermons of the city’s pastors who opposed a LGBTQ ordinance.

The U.S. Department of Justice (WND.com, August 31, 2017), issued a subpoena to force a Baptist pastor in Culpeper, Virginia, to disclose under oath his views on sharia Islam.

Culpeper, Virginia, discriminated against Baptists under its colonial Anglican government prior to the Revolutionary War, as James Madison wrote to William Bradford, January 24, 1774:

“There are at this time in the adjacent Culpeper County not less than 5 or 6 well meaning men in jail for publishing their religious sentiments which in the main are very orthodox.”

In 17th century England, John Bunyan was arrested for having an unauthorized religious meeting and for preaching without government permission.

Bunyan wrote in A Relation of My Imprisonment:

“Upon the 12th of … November 1660 … the justice … issued out his warrant to take me … as if we that were to meet together … to do some fearful business, to the destruction of the country;

when alas! the constable, when he came in, found us only with our Bibles in our hands, ready to speak and hear the word of God …

So I was taken and forced to depart … But before I went away, I spake some few words of counsel and encouragement to the people, declaring to them … that they would not be discouraged, for it was a mercy to suffer upon so good account …

We suffer as Christians … better be the persecuted, than the persecutors.”

Bunyan was imprisoned from 1660 to 1672, and again, from 1675 to 1676.

During his imprisonment, John Bunyan supported his family by making shoelaces.

It was during this time that he began writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, eventually published in 1678.

John Bunyan died August 31, 1688.

At the time of his death, the world was experiencing momentous events:

  • England’s William and Mary were leading the Glorious Revolution;
  • William Penn was founding Pennsylvania; and
  • Ottoman Muslim Turks were laying siege to Vienna.

Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory where a pilgrim traveler, named Christian, flees from the City of Destruction.

He is directed by Evangelist to follow the straight and narrow path toward the Celestial City of Zion.

Along the way, he overcomes temptations, depressions, deceptions, and persecutions.

The friends and dangers that Christian meets along the way inspired many subsequent stories and novels, such as:

  • Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrim’s Progress (1869);

  • Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838) is subtitled “The Parish Boy’s Progress”;

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Celestial Railroad (1846);

  • C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Regress (1933);

  • Sir Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian (1818);

  • Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868); and

  • L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz (1900).

John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress was translated into over 200 languages and, after the Bible, was the world’s best-seller for hundreds of years.

Considered one of the most significant works of English literature, it was found in nearly every colonial New England home, along with the Bible and Fox’s Book of Martyrs.

Ben Franklin wrote in his Autobiography:

“From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.

Pleased with The Pilgrim’s Progress, my first collection was of John Bunyan’s works in separate little volumes …”

Franklin continued:

“My old favorite author, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress … has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible.”

President Grover Cleveland had memorized The Pilgrim’s Progress as a youth, commenting:

“I have always felt that my training as a minister’s son has been more valuable to me as a strengthening influence than any other incident in life.”

President Theodore Roosevelt stated while laying the cornerstone of the office building of the House of Representatives, April 14, 1906:

“In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress you may recall the description of the man with the muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand, who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote January 19, 1936:

“When Theodore Roosevelt died, the Secretary of his class at Harvard, in sending classmates a notice of his passing, added this quotation from Pilgrim’s Progress:

‘My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it.

My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.'”

President Bill Clinton remarked at the Retirement of General Colin Powell in Arlington, Virginia, September 30, 1993:

“General Powell, I am reminded of the words of another young valiant warrior, spoken when, like you, he was finishing one journey and beginning a second.

John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress of the warrior valiant at the end of his life, as he prepared to present himself to the Almighty,

‘My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage and my courage and skill to him that can get them. My marks and scars I carry with me to be a witness for me, to Him who shall be my rewarder.'”

President Ronald Reagan greeted Australia’s Prime Minister, June 30, 1981:

“Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, ‘We are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world.

And the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend – they keep us worthy of ourselves.”

John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress began:

“As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream.

I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and, as he read, he wept, and trembled; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, What shall I do?”

Leaving the City of Destruction, Christian was chased by Obstinate and Pliable, who tried to get him to turn back.

Determined to keep going, he was mired in doubts crossing the Slough of Despond, but was rescued by a man named Help.

Christian was easily led astray by Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and then tried to obey Mr. Legality.

Almost crushed by Mt. Sinai, he was rebuked by Evangelist who put him back on the King’s Highway of grace.

At the door of the Wicket Gate, Christian was shot at by the arrows from Beelzebub. Just in time, Goodwill reached out and yanked him through the doorway.

Continuing along in The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan wrote​:

“Christian ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross …

So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back.”

Traveling further in The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan wrote:

“Then said Christian, You make me afraid, but whither shall I fly to be safe?…

To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life-everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward …

Frighted with the sight of the lions … Christian said to himself again,

These beasts range in the night for their prey; and if they should meet with me in the dark … how should I escape being by them torn in pieces? …

He lift up his eyes, and behold there was a very stately palace before him … He entered into a very narrow passage … he espied two lions in the way …

The porter at the lodge … perceiving that Christian made a halt as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying,

Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that had none. Keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee …

He went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions of the porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm …”

John Bunyan continued, that after leaving the Palace Beautiful, clothed in the Armor of God, Christian had to go alone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where he recited Psalm 23:

“Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Christian traveled further:

“But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it … a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon.

Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground.​

But he considered again that he had no armor for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.

Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground …”

Bunyan added:

“The monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales … wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke …

Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said … prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den, that thou shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul.

And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it …

Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot …”

Bunyan concluded:

“This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent; for you must know that Christian, by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker …

Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now.

And with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life; but as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying,

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back …

And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more …

A more unequal match can hardly be, —

Christian must fight an angel; but you see,

The valiant man by handling Sword and Shield,

Doth make him, though a Dragon, quit the field.”

Soon after, Christian met a friend named Faithful, and the two of them traveled to Vanity Fair where they were almost enticed by pleasures, but Faithful confronted the sin of the town and was martyred.

Christian escaped, and met another traveler, Hopeful.

The straight and narrow path was rocky, so they took a parallel softer path, which gradually got them lost.

They were trapped by Giant Despair, who chained them in Doubting Castle and told them to commit suicide.

Depressed in the dungeon, they began to sing praise songs. Suddenly, they remembered they had the Key of Promise which unlocks every door.

They escaped, but almost fell asleep crossing the Enchanted Land, and were almost led astray by Flatter and Lucre.

Seeing Immanuel’s Land in the distance, they saw someone walking toward them in the opposite direction.

It was Atheist who told them that there was no Heaven and God, and to turn back.

Thankfully, they had been previously warned by Shepherds, so they continued on.

They saw a man named Ignorance get into a ferryboat named Vain Hope , trusting in his good works instead of God’s grace.

The ferryman took him across, but he ended up on a byway to Hell.

John Bunyan concluded his epic with Christian and Hopeful finally crossing the River of Death to be gloriously welcomed into the Celestial City of Zion:

“Now while they were thus drawing towards the gate, behold a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them …

These are the men that have loved our Lord when they were in the world, and that have left all for his holy name … that they may go in and look their Redeemer in the face with joy.

Then the heavenly host gave a great shout, saying, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Oh, by what tongue or pen can their glorious joy be expressed! …

Now I saw in my dream that these two men went in at the gate: and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured, and they had raiment put on that shone like gold.

There was also that met them with harps and crowns …

Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the city rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them, Enter ye into the joy of your Lord.

I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying, Blessing and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.”

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