"Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life."
Acts of apostles the model for acts of God's people always. Lessons on relation of the Church and the world. Gospel began to lay hold of the masses. Envy and hatred of the Sadducean party, because a religion which lifted up the people, they thought, would lower the wealthy and ease-loving. We must expect social difficulties as the kingdom of righteousness spreads, but the angel's message is the rule of all times; while opportunity offers, stand and speak, not your own message, but "all the words of this life." While we listen to the angel's words, we should keep our eye fixed on the unveiled secret of Divine strength delivering and protecting all true-hearted preachers of Christ's truth.
I. THE GREAT COMMISSION. "Speak... to the people."
1. Copy the example of the Master. "Common people heard him gladly."
2. Best on the adaptation of the gospel to the people's wants. They are deceived by false teachers, run after false remedies.
3. Take courage by the facts of the early history of Christianity. All moral prowess from the people. Illustrate in the course of Christianity in the Roman empire - from the cottage to the throne. In the Reformation, especially in England. Lollards. Luther. Preaching of the revivalists in the eighteenth and present centuries.
4. Note the events. The future in the hands of the people. Speak to them of Christ; for their power is great, and they may abuse it to the destruction of society. Babel-greatness must end in confusion and misery.
5. Consider the responsibility of Christians. Believe, and therefore speak; silence is shame. Activity is the hope of the Church, the cure of its strifes and the uprooting of its doubts.
II. THE GREAT MESSAGE, "All the words of this life."
1. Reality - life. Men's daily struggle is about life. Yet the world full of delusions about life. This life! That life! We invite the people to live the true life, Christ's life, the life that death cannot touch.
2. Announcement. "Words of this life." We proclaim facts, a Divine Person, a life that can be described by example, confirmed by testimony, studied in the written pages. Religion no dream of enthusiasts, no mere sentiment floating like a cloud in the air, no empty ritualism, but words of life translated into action.
3. Philanthropy. "All the words." Different from mere human teachers with their reservations and selfishness. Philosophers taught for money. Christ says, "Speak all to the people freely." Religion in the hands of priests has made the people enemies, but this new message in the temple would shake down the wails of superstition, prejudice, and pride, and build up a new humanity. In our message we must put so much heart that the people see we give them all that we have, because we love their souls first and their earthly interests as included in their spiritual welfare.
4. Aggression. "Go, stand in the temple;" "Be not afraid of their faces." Bold policy always the wisest in spiritual things. Special necessity that the desecrated temple should witness the faithfulness of Christ's messengers. False religion the great obstacle to progress of the gospel. People misunderstand the message; think of priests as their enemies; have reason to think so. The gospel does not reject what is good in other systems, but plants itself in the midst of the world as it is; finds in the temple of the old religion a standing-place from which to preach the new tidings. Every fresh instance of Divine interposition should embolden us. You are free now, go to the work again. In all fields of labor discouragement must be absolutely excluded. Follow the angels of God, and they will point to new platforms. We shall speak with fresh power if we refuse to be thwarted by opposition or put out of countenance by suffering. - R.
And kept back part of the price.
(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)Before the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira communism was the rule within the Christian fold. It was practised freely as a natural, nay, a necessary part of a whole-hearted following after Christ. After the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira communism ceased to be the rule — apparently it ceased to exist. In the very next chapter we find, not communism, but "charity," with all its paltry greeds and grudges. Why was this? What became of the communism? I say that Ananias and his wife killed it. Such a state of things depends essentially upon mutual confidence, and they killed that confidence. The fatal blow had been given: and what had been an actual working system, perfect in its principle, and boundless in its promise, faded at once into a beautiful dream Co-operation in the labours of life does very well for beavers, for they do not deceive one another, nor does one desire to grow fat at his neighbour's expense, neither does another wish to take credit for having done what he has not really done. Why cannot Christian men he as true to one another, and to the society of which they form a part, as beavers? Ask Ananias and Sapphira. Before they began, there were no suspicions, no grudgings, no wealth, and no poverty, "neither was there any among them that lacked." When they had ended there were rich and poor, there was "a murmuring" of one class against another, there was the foretaste of those monstrous evils which we deplore to-day. They only "told a lie," but that lie gave a mortal blow to the mutual confidence on which any system of communism has to rest. If it is only to-day that we are beginning to face the social problems of advanced civilisation in their naked ugliness, if it is only to-day that we are in a position to estimate the results of unlimited competition, and the reign of universal greed; if it is only to-day that we are becoming thoroughly frightened at the hideous contrast between the professed principles and the existing facts of Christian society; it is for this very reason only to-day that we are able to appreciate the true moral of that tremendous and unexampled judgment. The socialism of the first believers was the fairest work of the Holy Ghost — it was the truest following after Christ — it was the loftiest faith and the broadest charity translated into that simple language of everyday life, which must be read and loved of all men. The "Magnificat" is the inspired hymn of gospel communism, it is the Marseillaise of the Christian socialist. Striking at once to the heart of the matter, rising at once to the principle of the new order, forestalling (like all inspired strains) the end from the beginning, it pronounces without mitigation, it exults without qualification, that "He hath put down the mighty," etc.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
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