Share This Episode
Beacon Baptist Gregory N. Barkman Logo

Report from Renato Giuliani

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2023 2:00 am

Report from Renato Giuliani

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 563 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

Again, it's a real joy to be with you all again. We do want you to know we are encouraged every time we come, the way we are embraced and loved and supported. We feel it, and it seems like with the passing of the years, it is ever sweeter to come among you.

True Christian fellowship is harder to find in Italy, so appreciate it here that you have lots of it, especially when we compare it to what we have in Italy. I'll be singing a song here. These are Lutheran lyrics.

We just wrote the music to it, but it's an encouraging tune and song. Jesus lead us on till our rest is won, and although the way be cheerless, we will follow calm and fearless. Guide us by your hand to the promised land. If the way be drear, if the foe is near, let not faithless fears overtake us. Let not faith and hope forsake us, for through many a foe to our home we go. When we seek relief from an old felled grief, when temptations come alluring, make us patient and enduring, show us that bright shore where we weep no more. Jesus lead us on till the rest is won, and although the way be cheerless, still support, console, protect us till we safely stand in our fatherland. When we seek relief from an old felled grief, when temptations come alluring, make us patient and enduring, show us that bright shore where we weep no more. We'll be in the Book of Acts this evening, and I was able to speak some about the ministry this morning for Sunday School so that we will have the opportunity to preach the Word of God to you this evening.

And as usually happens, I don't prepare any specific sermon when we visit in the States, but basically share the thoughts and the concerns and the burdens that God has given us in Italy. And to introduce the theme, I would just like to make reference to 1 Corinthians 12 in the 12th chapter where Paul stresses these two aspects of the life of the local church, the individual and the body. So Paul says there are individual members, and every member has his own or her own gifts and plays in the local church, but there's also a body.

There's also a collectivity. And Paul says that we must have regard for both of these aspects. In fact, that is true in marriage. There's a sense in which we must be mindful that there is a man that is different from the woman and the woman that is different from the man, and yet this individuality must respect also the sense of unity that you must have in marriage. And so the unity must not compromise the individuality nor the individuality must compromise the unity.

I wish they would remember this in society. There tends to be sometimes and there's always an individualistic tendency in human nature that shows up in every way, but there's also been ideologically attempts to bring a sort of collectivism to where the individual differences are erased and destroyed. And as wrong ideologies try to make us all the same, somewhat a clone of one another. But Paul says that this is true also for the local church. We must respect the individual differences and yet those differences might not be stressed to the point of hurting the collectivity, the body life of the church. And this is true also for the spiritual battle. We hear much talking about the individual spiritual battle, how every one of us must fight the good fight of faith and faithfulness to the Lord.

And yet there is also a sense in which we fight this battle together. And not only broadly speaking as far as evangelical Christianity generally, but as local churches, as local churches. And as we think of a passage of scripture that addresses this very aspect, the battle of the local church, the early chapters of the Book of Acts are perhaps the best portion of the Word of God that can help us to understand what is involved in the spiritual battle for the life and testimony of the local church.

I mean for the preservation of the life and testimony of the local church. We know that marriage can be both a blessing but also a trial. And so the local church, it is a blessing to nurture a family and cultivate that rich, beautiful family life that we have in Christ, that we can have in Christ. But we also know that it is difficult. There are many challenges in nurturing and maintaining that family life.

And that is true also for the local church. It is not an easy thing to see a church begin and mature and grow. There are many challenges. Sometimes it seems to me it could be the greatest challenge in the world, even sometimes just to keep together a body of professing Christians that are called to love one another in the local church. And the necessity to understand this theme is becoming more and more important, it seems, as our world is completely degenerating and perhaps even professing Christianity is degenerating.

So to continue to be a true spirit-filled local church is becoming ever more a challenge. So what can we learn from these early chapters of the Book of Acts? Now in Italy we're going chapter by chapter, portion by portion, to have an in-depth study of this very matter.

And so here what I will try to do with the time that I have is to just look at the main points and just leave you perhaps time as you please to go back and rethink and pray as we are doing in Italy. So we are in Acts chapter 1. And one thing that we will notice is that the one thing that sometimes we miss when we read chapter by chapter and sometimes we do not sufficiently connect the events that take place and we lose sight of the picture as we strive sometimes and we focus so much on the details.

But there is a picture here, there is a sequence here, there are events that are connected to one another. And if we understand how they are connected, we can better understand this whole theme of the spiritual battle for the life and the preservation and the testimony of the local church. So Acts chapter 1, we will immediately focus on a central text, verse 8 of Acts chapter 1. When the Holy Spirit, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.

In Italy we call this the impossible mission, the impossible mission. Here we have a band of unlearned, uneducated, simple-minded believers. These were fishermen, these were carpenters, these were no man of influence. They are unknowns of the world and yet they have been chosen by Christ to preach the gospel to the world, in fact to the whole world, to the ends of the earth. Now just imagine how these poor disciples must have felt as the Lord gave them this challenge, this charge.

You shall be witnesses to me beginning in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. Even as we think of their prejudices, I mean they had prejudices, we know that, Jewish prejudices. And to think of preaching the gospel in Samaria, oh my. The Samarians and the Jews have no relationship, they don't talk to one another.

See this is very contemporary here. And worse still, the end of the earth, all the nations of the world. We know from chapter 10 that even Peter had a difficult time understanding how he could even enter a house of a Jewish, of a Gentile human being. And so they must have felt overwhelmed before this charge. And even more so when they thought that they must begin from Jerusalem. Because of all places Jerusalem was certainly the most difficult. In Jerusalem they had the Saint Hedron, the highest court of judgment in all the nation of Israel that could decide for life or death over you. And the same Saint Hedron that had condemned the Lord to death and had requested that he be crucified along with the Pharisees and all the people of Israel. And then in Jerusalem you had the Roman authorities, the same ones that had condemned to death our Lord. And you had still all the people there that had come for the Passover 40 days before. The same people, the same crowd, the same mass of people, Jewish people that had come to those feasts and that had cried out crucify him and crucify him. So of all places this was the worst.

Humanly speaking if we think of a strategy you would not begin from here. That would have much more gladly begun from Galilee. That was their home. There had been people that had been converted there. They lived there. They spoke Galilean. So why not Lord begin there? It's a lot easier.

Why put us in this mess? In fact we know that they were very afraid to speak out for Christ. They're basically hid in that room upstairs. But the Lord reminded them that this impossible mission is not impossible with the power of the Holy Spirit. But a strong adversity there.

But this is what will make the difference. You will receive power, power to be witness, to be witnesses, to testify, to preach the gospel to the world when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You must have that fullness of presence and power and unction to be able to do this.

This is not something you can do with your own strength. Now the power is only in the Holy Spirit. He is the only source of power that is mentioned here. Which means that there was no power in them. Which we know because the Lord had already spoken to them and said I am divine you are the branches, the branches in and of their own cannot do anything.

So this is so encouraging. I mean the knowledge that in us there is no power and that all power is in him. Because even as we went to Italy and you begin from zero, ground zero, where is the power to do that? It is in the number. Well knowing it's not in the number because since every one of us can do zero, if you add zero ten times or a hundred times or a million times the end result is always zero. So the power is not in that. The power is not in the number. The power is not in the intellect. The power is not in the financial resources. The power is not even in literature. The power is in the Holy Spirit.

He can do far beyond what we could ever ask or think as he will prove in the day of Pentecost. So this is very encouraging. The knowledge that it doesn't matter whether you are by yourself or you begin with two people. Where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ there you have a Christian community. The beginning of a Christian community. And so we must never be downhearted or discouraged.

It doesn't matter how dark it may get. Because all the power resides in the Holy Spirit, as soon as they returned to that room what did they do? Well verse 14 tells us that the disciples when they returned to the room they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers. And that's all they did. All they did is pray. And that word supplication means pleading, pleading. Now there's a difference between asking and pleading isn't there? You ask for anything but you plead for something that you must absolutely have.

It's an absolute necessity. And that's what they're asking. They pray and they plead because they must absolutely have the Holy Spirit otherwise they have no power. They have no zeal.

They have no love. They have no courage to preach the gospel in the ears of their own enemies. So they pray and they plead and they pray and they plead. They pray together. Men pray.

Women pray and plead together asking for that fullness. The Lord did not tell them when the Spirit is going to be given. So they pray. They pray for 10 days which teaches us a couple of things. First of all that the reason, I believe the reason why the Lord had them to begin from Jerusalem was for that beginning church to get a sense on their complete inability. The Lord places us before impossible missions, impossible situations.

Why? And I'm not just talking about evangelism. Life presents itself with abundant ways in which we can put in places of utter difficulty where we feel we can't make it on our own. Why does the Lord place us in these situations? Because he wants us to come to a place where we recognize our utter inability and on the other hand our complete trust in him.

Second Corinthians chapter 12 is one of the most wonderful passages of scripture as far as I'm concerned when Paul says, I have learned that when the Lord makes me feel all my weakness, he does that to make me strong in him, not in me but in him. So we must get rid of all pride, of all sense of ability and just learn to rely completely on the only one that can do things that will last because they are true, they are just, they are good. So, and this is not just a place where we must reach individually but as a body, a church, a local church must come to that place of understanding and not just theoretically with a theoretical understanding of theology, the powerlessness of men, but with an experiential, personal, heartfelt, visceral understanding that we can do anything even as a local body apart from the fullness of the Spirit of God. And in what way does a church show that the church really understood its own powerlessness when the church gathers to pray and plead? And that's why prayer meetings should be well attended.

A church that can gather in great number on Sunday and then you have just a little group of people that gathers on Wednesday when it's time to pray together evidently has not understood its own powerlessness. And so much to learn, much to learn and as I was saying in the beginning we're only hinting at some of these themes that we have developed in Italy more specifically as we're taking time. So they prayed and in chapter 2 the Holy Spirit does come. And it's very interesting here. There's been so much talk about Pentecostalism and Charismatism and speaking in tongues and a lot of times the real sense of that gift is lost.

Let us try to understand really what happened here. It says in verse 3, then there appeared to them divided tongues as a fire and one set upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak. You see that's the first thing that we must notice. As soon as the Spirit fills them they began to speak. That's where the power came. The power to witness unashamedly courageously for the Lord comes from the Spirit. They were silent until the Spirit filled them.

But as soon as the Spirit filled them they began to speak. Which is the only true evangelism there is. Spirit filled, Spirit moved, Spirit caused evangelism. So evangelism is not a program. It's not a crusade. It's not an obligation.

It's not just a duty. It is the spontaneous outcome of the presence and the fullness of the Spirit in our life that fills our own soul with concerns for others, love for others and the desire to see God's, God acknowledged, recognized, believed, loved and worshipped everywhere around us. That's the only genuine kind of evangelism which again is not something we can prop up. It's not something we can do.

It's not something we can generate. It's only something that He can do as He fills us and He moves us. So that's what they do. But I'm sure they were surprised by the coming of the Spirit and this new courage and desire to witness. But there was also a second surprise which was the gift of tongues. They began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This was God's doing. Not something they thought, not something they orchestrated, but something that God did.

Surprisingly, they were not expecting any of this. And what kind of tongues were they? They were dwelling in Jerusalem. Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven and when the sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused because everyone heard them speak in his own language. They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, look, are not all these who speak Galileans? They even have the Galilean accent. And how is it that we hear each in our own language in which we were born?

Parthians and Medes and Elamites and then he cites all sorts of people from all sorts of regions in the Roman Empire. Even Jews from Rome says in verse 10 and then in the end of verse 11, we hear them speaking our own tongues, the wonderful works of God. So this is what the miracle of tongues was about.

The unlearned ability, but the divine given ability suddenly to speak in a language, in a human language you have never studied, you have never learned. For what end? To preach the gospel. To whom? To people from all sorts of different regions of the Roman Empire.

For what purpose? Well, let us go to chapter 8 just for one second to catch a glimpse of God's design because there are many surprises here for the disciples. As you know, later on in the chapters, the church will fall under a very heavy persecution and when that happened here, it says in verse 4, therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. When the persecution erupted, little by little it became so violent and brutal that Christians in Jerusalem and Galilee were forced to spread and scatter everywhere. And there is no question that those who were converted in the day of Pentecost, as they came from all the regions of the Roman Empire, they had enough time to be prepared by the apostles as they were taught apostolic doctrine and then they had to go back to their own regions.

For what? To preach the gospel in all the lands that are mentioned in the beginning of chapter 2. So you have a God who is orchestrating all this amazing miracle of Pentecost and the gift of speaking unlearned human languages was a specifically evangelistic gift. That's why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14, the local church is not the place for tongues. You know, the real place for tongues is abroad, is out there in the world and early Christians were given that gift to be able to reach the end of the earth. As the Lord said, you must preach the gospel everywhere and to gift, to give to the church the ability to do so, the Lord taught him languages.

He himself was the instructor. The Holy Spirit was the instructor. Now from what we understand of history, that gift pretty much ended in that apostolic era. The Bible doesn't tell us how long God would have, you know, maintained that gift.

Only history can tell us that. But the genuine gift of speaking in tongues is just this. That's why Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 says, in the local church, I'd rather speak five words that are understandable, intelligible, instead of 10,000 words that no one can understand because you're speaking in a language that's not spoken by the local people. What sense does that make? You're abusing the gift of God.

Don't do that. So history teaches us that this gift pretty much expired by the end of the apostolic era, which is not surprising if we keep in mind other things, but this is not the issue at this point. But the beautiful thing is what we can see, the miracle of Pentecost in verse 41 after the church preaches the gospel even through the mouth of Peter, but every one of them was a gospel preacher. And in verse 41, then those who gladly received his word were baptized and that day about 3,000 souls were added to them.

3,000. You see how God is preparing this multitude that in a few months' time will be scattered everywhere in the world. But he will give to this newborn Christian church, the first church of the New Testament, time enough to, as we read in verse 42, continue steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of the bread and in prayers. You see, time enough is given to them before the persecution breaks out so that this vast multitude of converts can be taught and can have enough knowledge to then go abroad and preach the gospel everywhere. What an amazing miracle that was, the day of Pentecost. God was preparing wonderful things that no one expected, no one even dreamed of. He did it himself.

Now, you know, there's one question that must be asked. How is it that in the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were converted? These were the same people that had condemned the Lord to death. They didn't hear him when he preached. So here you have Peter preaching. Is Peter a greater preacher than Christ?

No, and none of them were. So the difference was not in the preacher, and the difference was not in those who were here because those who heard were the murderers of Christ. The only answer is the sovereignty of God.

There can only be one answer, even if you think about it psychologically. God just poured out his Spirit. I think it ties back to what we read in Acts chapter 10. When Cornelius and his friends were listening to the gospel, suddenly the Spirit came over them and regenerated them. That's what happens.

That's how it happens. As the gospel is preached, God comes down, and he changes people's hearts. He can do it in the life of one. He can do it in the life of ten. He can do it among some friends or in the house of Cornelius.

He can do it with a multitude of people all together if he so pleases, even 3,000 at a time. But it can only be ascribed to the sovereignty of God. There is no other human explanation than the sovereignty of his grace. In chapter 3, the gospel again is preached. In the beginning of chapter 4, we read in verse 4 that the number of the men alone that has been converted has now grown to 5,000, which means if you unite the women and some young people, perhaps what we have here in a matter of a few weeks' time is a congregation that will be about 10,000, 15,000 people.

Only God can do that. Only God can save one, and only God can save a multitude. But now, after having all this liberty and success in the preaching of the gospel, the first is the subject of the first attack from the enemy. We read in the beginning of chapter 4, now as they spoke to the people, the priest, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them.

This is talking about Peter and John being greatly disturbed, upset, angry, that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and they laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. So here you have the first attack. Now, we do not have time to elaborate, but I would like to stress the fact that the first attack was from the outside. It's the most basic form of attack. It comes from the world, and it is violent. It is violent. Satan has a lot more other types of instruments that he can use to disturb, attack, destroy the life of the local church, but this is the most obvious.

Physical, spiritual persecution, torture. And so the St. Hedron finally comes to the point, what is the St. Hedron after? Well, verse 18, so they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. So that's the point. That's what they're after.

We can say that's what the enemy is after. It doesn't focus on us to persecute us because we're better than anybody else in and of ourselves. He's after us because we speak the gospel, because we share the gospel. And the reason why he hates it so much was very clearly described by Peter in verse 12, nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. There's no other means of salvation, no other way of salvation except through Christ, through the God who became man and paid the gift of our sin before his own court of judgment.

There's no other way in which a man can be justified and forgiven of his sins, even as we read Isaiah 53 this evening. And because it is the only way that people can be snatched from the mouth of this lion, that's why the lion hates the gospel and wants to do all that he can through the different means that he can use, beginning with the government to shut the mouth of the church, to silence the church. Do not speak.

You can do everything else, but do not preach the gospel. The answer of Peter and John, verse 19, Peter and John answered and said to them, whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. As far as we are concerned, we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

What an amazing statement. He didn't say we cannot speak. We cannot but speak.

We cannot do otherwise because of what we have seen and what we have heard. What you can perceive here is all the conviction and all the transport of these apostles as they cannot be silent. And if you wonder where this courage came from, we learn in verse 8, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Now when it says, you know, then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, it's not talking just about a characteristic in and of himself, but he was filled with the Spirit in that very moment. And so that's where that courage came from, face to face with their enemies. The same Peter that a few days earlier was so scared, intimidated by a servant woman. Now he's standing before the very enemies of Christ, those who crucify the Lord, and without blinking an eye, he answers them.

Whether it is right to obey you rather than God, you judge. As far as we are concerned, we cannot be silent. We cannot be silent.

That was a challenging answer, a challenging answer. The text says that the Sanhedrin recognized that these were simple people, unlearned. But look at the wonders God did through this unlearned man.

So much encouragement here for all of us. And so in verse 23, being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. Peter and John did that because they understood that these intimidations did not regard them alone, but the whole church. The whole church was being threatened by the authorities. And so the whole church must find the same courage as Peter and John did. And so what did they do? What is it that we must do when we are intimidated, when we are threatened, when we are persecuted? We must cry out to God.

And so they did. It'd be wonderful to dwell some in their prayer. So clearly a prayer of complete confidence in the sovereignty of the God who has everything in control because all that they did to Jesus, Pontius Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, and everybody else was actually accomplishing God's design. So the church prays. There's hardly a statement that's stronger than this concerning the sovereign plan of God that includes both good and evil. God is not responsible for evil, but he is very much in control of it.

He is as perfectly in control of it. So verse 31, when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. That's a marginal aspect. The most important aspect was this, that they were all filled with spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness. It is amazing that Luke's episodes always end this way. The challenge, the response of the church, the appeal to God, the renewed unction of the spirit, and the sharing of the gospel, the preaching of the gospel that continues.

Every episode ends this way, which tells us that, for Luke, this was the basic issue. Will the church continue to preach the gospel or not? Will the church be allowed itself to be silenced by the enemies, by the threats, by the intimidations? The church is called to preach the gospel. As we saw, the gospel is the only message that can say, so it must continue to be the message that we preach.

We cannot replace it with anything else. We have the gospel alone as a message to preach, but let me add this. That's the fact that the gospel is the message of the church, that the church does not address any other issue, because it can only speak the gospel. Well, never in scripture read that the church must only speak the gospel. The church must address also moral issues, let's say abortion.

Isn't the church called to say something about that? Of course, of course, but as the church does that, whatever moral issue is at stake in human society, it must never take the place of the centrality of the gospel as the church speaks out and gives its defining message. Whatever issue is faced or discussed, it must always lead to the gospel. It must always lead to the gospel. When the Lord was asked concerning paying taxes, that's what he did. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but here's the gospel. Give to God what is God's. The church can address all fundamental moral issues, must do so, must do so, but never replacing the gospel, the centrality of the gospel, and whatever issues it tackles, that must be taken as an opportunity to speak of the gospel so that the end message must remain the gospel always constantly.

We have only a few minutes to end our thoughts, but let me at least touch on what happens in chapter five. We know chapter five, Ananias and Sapphira, they lie to the church. Somehow they wanted to appear as spiritual as the other Christians who were sharing their goods, but at the same time, they also loved the goods.

So they tried to have both worlds, the best of both worlds, amazing spirituality and attachment to earthly treasures. And so they lied to the local church. They lied also to God. Now Peter doesn't say, you deceived God.

You can lie to God, but you cannot deceive God because God knows all things at all times. But let me just say this, as we already know the story, I would like to make an important statement here concerning another issue. Now notice here in chapter five that the second attack that is received by the church stems from within.

The first attack was evident expected from without. The world attacks the church. That's to be expected, but here the enemy works within the church.

Why has Satan filled your heart with this deception, O Ananias? So Peter knows that here it's not just a church member that's messing up things. Here the enemy is using a church member to attack the life of the church at a vital point.

What was the vital point? The vital point was the moral testimony of the local church in the way they loved one another. Both Acts chapter two and Acts chapter four tells us that the Christians back then, even as the church of Jerusalem and Judea faced this big issue of poverty, they had a lot of poverty, a lot of poor widows, and faced with that kind of challenge spontaneously, not out of an order issued by the apostles, but spontaneously believers begin to sell their, let us say, superfluous properties, their fields and some extra homes, some extra field.

If they had any surplus, they would sell it and then give the money to the apostles so that I could use them to help those who were poor within the Christian church. And the people of Jerusalem had never seen anything like that. In fact, in chapter two it tells us that the people of Jerusalem were very impressed. The church had the respect of the people because the people saw how they loved one another.

They loved one another. And let me say, another theme that we emphasized in Italy when it came to this very passage is the love that should be seen among church members, even in terms of real care for one another, knowing how the other one is doing, if he has any needs. The whole element of visitation, of hospitality, and then true friendship, I've seen again and again and again through the years church members attending the same church for decades without developing any kind of true friendship.

And how can that be? So there is a lot to think about here that concerns the life of the local church. We should develop true friendship among us, have that kind of hospitality that we open our homes to one another, taking time to get to know one another, women with women, men with men, encouraging one another, going beyond even the times in which the local church gathers to implement all the more and cultivate all the more the life of the Christian family within the local church. And another thing that is very evident here, that because the spiritual and moral testimony of the local church was so strong, it made their evangelism very effective because people not only hear with their ears but also with their eyes.

If what we say when we speak of God's sacrificing for us does not match the way we live, and while like we accumulate earthly treasures and not heavenly treasures and are not willing to help each other love one another, then how can our preaching of the gospel be effective? And so the enemy saw that, and because he did not succeed in silencing the church through external intimidation, he will try to get into the life of the church and destroy its moral testimony. When Peter was informed of Ananias lie and his wife too, Peter and the apostles were faced with a choice. Are we going to face this disciplinary necessity here?

Are we going to let it by and just pretend it's not there? If the apostles had not faced this deception, this prideful deception would have spread, continued to spread among the church and would have in the long run destroyed the very testimony, moral testimony of the local church. So the maintaining of sanctification, the goal of sanctification in the life of the local church is absolutely necessary.

And when something is of a disciplinary action, if it is serious, it must be faced. Otherwise, the very life of the church is at stake. And let me conclude with one thought. Ananias and Sapphira were church members. And it is amazing to see how the enemy used two church members to try to destroy the life of the local church. So this is something to keep in mind. Just like when Peter was used to Satan to tempt the Lord, you shall never die.

And the Lord said, get behind me, Satan. You have no understanding of the things of God but the things of men. And so we must be mindful even as genuine converts and members of the local church.

Then if we're not careful, we can be used to hurt the life of our very local church. We always tend to think in individualistic terms, well, this behavior of mine just has to do with me. What do you care what I do at home? What do you care how I treat my wife? How do I care how I treat my husband? What do you care how I treat my children? What do you care about how I treat my parents?

Well, no. We must care. We must care. Because in the end, these things will work their way into the very life of the local church. And if we don't keep the bar to where it should be as far as moral consistency and coherence, then in time, the life of the church will lose its testimony. And when it loses its testimony, it will also lose the effectiveness of its evangelistic ministry. And then the church will no longer be, that local church will no longer be the salt of the earth and the light of this world, which is the very objective that Satan wants to get to. Destroy us, not only individually, not only as families, but also as local churches. There is much more to say.

I'm sure you understand. In chapter five, the 12 will be attacked, which reminds us that, again, there is an external, internal, external, internal attack. You can see that chapter six, internal attack.

Chapter seven and eight, external attack. There's this constantly being attacked from all sides, which reminds us that we must be alert. We must gird the loins, as Peter says, and be watchful of our minds and be watchful as what is happening. So I must end here, but let me just say we're living in very difficult times. Living in such a world as this can be very discouraging at times.

We'd really like to be somewhere else in another place, but we are here. But let me say that even as the world gets darker and darker, we can shine brighter and brighter. The value of our testimony must not depend on what the world does. We must remain what we are in Christ. We must live our Christian lives.

We must be followers of him. The darker we get, the more clear we'll be the light of the Lord in our life. Let me also say, as the world will degenerate more and more, we can sense all around us that people, even sinners, lost people, are getting more of a feel of how dark the world is. There is a growing awareness of the utter senselessness and stupidity and absurdity and emptiness of this life. The world is going to hell, and even lost people are becoming more and more aware of the darkness of it all, which opens up an opportunity for us to preach the gospel. So in a way, we are privileged to live in these difficult times, in difficult times. So we must be encouraged and see this as an opportunity all the more to make the gospel known around us. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-02 22:06:18 / 2023-11-02 22:21:51 / 16

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime