“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Inconvenient Truth, by Randall D. Kittle
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If most believers had their way, the birthing of the Church would be a three-act play. It would start with Act 1 (the first chapter of the book of Acts) — the scene is set, the characters are introduced, and the charge is given “you will build My Church, but first wait for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” In the second act (Acts chapter 2) the promise comes, the power is poured out, the Church is birthed, the Gospel is preached, and thousands are adding to this new-born Bride of Christ. As if things weren’t going well enough, the third act (Acts 3) brings an exciting conclusion to our play with a miraculous healing, the Gospel again proclaimed, and God’s heart of blessing affirmed as many more hear and head the wonderful message of life the apostles declare.

But the story of the Church doesn’t end there … it is still unfolding to this day, and will never conclude until the very end of the age. As grand and glorious as the first three chapters of the book of Acts are, something changes in chapter four. In the Acts 4 we see the realness and truthfulness of the Bible as it begins to reveal to us the cost of discipleship — persecution. Up until this time we have had Jesus teaching, the Holy Spirit poured out, dramatic miracles, and thousands responding to the Gospel message. But in Acts 4 we begin to see the rest of the story:
“The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed … They seized Peter and John … they put them in jail until the next day … They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them … Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus … After further threats they let them go.”

The reaction of the Jewish leaders to the Gospel was not conversion but consternation. Their world was being severely threatened, and they felt that the only way to keep things the way they were was to begin to threaten those upsetting the status quo. And these were no ideal threats (as we will come to see in later chapters of the book of Acts). Here we see Peter and John arrested and thrown in jail. “And for what?” they must have thought to themselves as they spent the night in a dark and dank dungeon, “All we did was speak the truth!” Yes, all Peter had done was follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to bring healing to a man crippled from birth and then declare the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But that was, and is, too much for this world to accept, for the truth of the Gospel opposes and affronts the world in which we live.

The Good News of reconciliation that Jesus has given us to share is a remarkable truth … a miraculous truth … a truth of inestimable worth. But because we live in this fallen world, it is also an inconvenient truth. In fact, it is the most inconvenient truth to the ears of much of this world. It is inconvenient because most of the world does not want the applecart of their already overloaded lives upset. It is inconvenient because it requires humility and repentance to accept, and our society is full of pride and “passing over and pressing on.” It is inconvenient because for every believer who has really been transformed by the power of the Gospel,
“… we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). And it is inconvenient because it confronts this world head-on declaring that it is the only way of salvation, which always offends the pet doctrines of our age — Tolerance & Pluralism.

So, knowing that we have been given the truth of the ages, which is both more precious than any other truth and yet when shared with this world very likely to attract persecution like a magnet draws iron shavings; how then should we live? First, we must remember that only a truth truly worth dying for is actually worthy living for! And this is the truth we have heard, believed, and possess. Secondly, we must realize that it is the most inconvenient truth in this world because it is the only truth that can change sinners into saints, transforming the lost and making them sons and daughters of the Living God. So, let us put away any fear or apprehension in sharing the wonderful news of the glorious truth we have received. Any persecution we receive is just a sign that the truth we have been given is touching the world around us, and let us pray,
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29).

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