To Speak Or Not To Speak

 “And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). The initial success of Pentecost brought swift opposition to the preaching of the resurrection.  Peter’ first sermon declared that the Christ was crucified, buried, and came from the grave after three days. The risen Savior became the cornerstone of New Testament preaching. Still, the Apostles and the activities of the early church met resistance from the Jewish authorities. The Sanhedrin, the ruling religious body of the Jews, met often in those early days in efforts to quell the success of the Christians. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). People who have been with Jesus act in certain ways. Despite great persecution, people who have been with Jesus will not be silenced.

Consider the display of God’s power. “And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14). The Apostles healed the lame man; no one could deny this. To lessen the influence of the miracle on city, population, the Apostles were told to the stop speaking in the name of Jesus.  Everybody in Jerusalem knew what had happened (Acts 4:16). The authorities had a public relations problem. The only thing they could do was to forbid any further mention of Jesus. Let the incident die down; then the people would stop believing in Jesus. Maybe the Apostles would be intimidated and stop preaching. These early Christians were faced with a choice. They could obey God or obey man.  They obeyed God. "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). They could not do otherwise?

While you and I have great freedom to speak about matters that concern us, it is still a “sign of the times” that an increasingly liberal culture seeks to limit or eliminate any mention of anything that might in some way offend someone else. Yes, we have the right to speak out, but only if it does not in some way reflect negatively on someone else. You see this in current debates about homosexuality, the practice of Islam in the United States, the abortion issue, and even illegal immigration. You must be tolerant and approve of every disparate viewpoint in society. If not, you are labeled as a bigot and hate monger.

How does this affect the gospel? Our duty is to “speak the truth in love.” Truth must be spoken. We can take courage from these early Christians. We can be strengthened by greater faith in the Lord. In all things, God must be glorified.