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Summary: A GREAT CHALLENGE WE FACE WITH REGARDS TO SALVATION IS TO BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN LOVE US ENOUGH TO SAVE US. THIS MESSAGE DEALS WITH THIS ISSUE.

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THE CHALLENGE OF SALVATION

ACTS 4:1-11

INTRODUCTION:

ONE SUNDAY MORNING A PREACHER WAS MAKING THE POINT THAT DEATH IS A NATURAL PART OF THE LIFE CYCLE. HE QUOTED GENESIS 3:19 SAYING THAT WE CAME FROM DUST AND TO DUST WE WILL RETURN.

AFTER THE SERVICE A FIVE YEAR OLD BOY CAME RUNNING UP TO THE PREACHER. ALL OUT OF BREATH WITH EXCITEMENT HE ASKED, “IS IT REALLY TRUE THAT WE CAME FROM DUST AND RETURN TO DUST.”

THE PREACHER SAID, “THAT’S RIGHT, MY BOY. THAT’S WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS.”

THE BOY REPLIED, “THEN YOU’D BETTER GET OVER TO THE HOUSE RIGHT QUICK AND LOOK UNDER MY BED BECAUSE SOMEONE’S EITHER COMING OR GOING.”

TODAY WE LOOK AT A VERY INTERESTING CHALLENGE, BUT ALSO A FUNDAMENTAL CHALLENGE TO OUR FAITH. TODAY WE GET TO WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD AS FAR AS OUR FAITH IS CONCERNED, AND WE ASK THE QUESTION, “IS IT OR ISN’T IT TRUE?” IF WE SAY IT ISN’T TRUE THEN WHY DO WE GO THROUGH ALL THIS, BECAUSE THAT MEANS THAT WE LIVE AND WE DIE AND THAT IS ALL THERE IS TO IT.

IF WE SAY IT IS TRUE, AND I’M HOPING THAT YOU WILL SEE THIS TODAY, THEN WE ALSO HAVE TO AGREE ON THE TRUTH OF MANY OTHER ISSUES IN CHRISTIANITY. THESE ISSUES COULD BE DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH, BECAUSE THEY COULD INVOLVE DEAR FRIENDS, AND VERY LOVED FAMILY MEMBERS, BUT THEY ARE NONE THE LESS TRUE.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND:

LET ME GIVE YOU SOME OF THE BIBLICAL BACKGROUND FOR THIS PASSAGE. EVER SINCE THE DAY OF PENTECOST IN ACTS CHAPTER TWO, GREAT THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH. PETER’S PREACHING HAS TAKEN OFF WITH AN INTENSITY AND DEDICATION THAT HAS NOT BEEN KNOWN UP TO THIS POINT. PEOPLE ARE BEING BAPTIZED BY THE THOUSANDS AND THIS NEW GROUP THAT WILL LATER BE KNOWN AS CHRISTIANS HAD TAKEN A FIRM FOOTHOLD IN SOCIETY.

THE LEADERS OF THE DAY THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD DIE OUT WITH THE DEATH OF THEIR LEADER. WHAT THEY DIDN’T RECKON ON WAS THE RESURRECTION. THE RESURRECTION WAS THE PROOF THAT JESUS WAS WHO HE SAID HE WAS, AND JUST AS HE WAS TRANSFORMED BEFORE THEIR EYES AS HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, SO TOO WERE THE APOSTLES TRANSFORMED IN THEIR DETERMINATION AND COMMITMENT TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS OF SSALVATION IN CHRIST.

NOW IN CHAPTER THREE WE ARE TOLD THAT PETER AND JOHN WERE GOING UP TO THE TEMPLE TO PRAY WHEN THEY ENCOUNTERED A MAN WHO WAS CRIPPLED FROM BIRTH. NOW TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, THIS MAN WAS HEALED BY THEM IN THE POWER OF GOD, AND PETER USED THE EXCITEMENT THAT THIS CREATED AS A REASON TO PREACH TO THE PEOPLE.

CHAPTER FOUR TELLS US THAT THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE GUARD, THE SADUCEES, AND THE PRIESTS WERE VERY DISTURBED BY THE SUCCESS OF PETER’S PREACHING. VERSE 4 TELLS US THAT THE NUMBER OF MEN GREW TO ABOUT FIVE THOUSAND, AND THEY DON’T RECORD THE WOMEN OR CHILDREN WHO BELIEVED. THIS FIVE THOUSAND COULD POSSIBLY COME FROM THE THREE THOUSAND ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST, AS THE TIME FRAME FOR THIS ACCOUNT WOULD BE EXTREMELY CLOSE TO PENTECOST.

THE RESULT IS THAT PETER AND JOHN ARE ARRESTED AND BROUGHT BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN. MANY NOTABLES ARE THERE. ANNAS WAS THE HIGH PRIEST, CAIAPHAS WAS ALSO THERE. THERE WERE THE ONES THAT FOUND JESUS GUILTY ONLY A SHORT TIME BEFORE THIS.


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