Thursday, July 13, 2006

Encounters With Sadducees

Christians nowadays have it pretty easy. Not often will sharing the Gospel of Jesus send us to jail as it did Peter and John. Still we run risks in trying to win others to Christ. And while most of us might be willing to spend a night in jail if it would bring 5,000 people to Christ, shouldn’t we also be willing to suffer for the sake of one?

In Acts Chapter 4, Peter and John were sharing the Gospel of Jesus when – as scripture records – “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to [them.]” What we need to understand about this group is that they were members of a powerful Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They stood to gain financially by cooperating with the Romans; and it was they who engineered and carried out Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. The Sadducees had almost unlimited power over the temple and thus they were able to arrest Peter and John for no other reason than teaching something that contradicted their beliefs. And they did!

Now Peter and John stood before the same council that had condemned Jesus to death. Peter and John were questioned and this whole incident is considered the first persecution of the Church. But. . . instead of being defendants, the apostles were on the offensive: boldly speaking out for God and presenting the Gospel. In Acts 4:12 we find the final thrust of Peter’s defense speech. As Peter stood before these powerful, sophisticated, cultured, wealthy rulers of the Jewish people, the Holy Spirit gave him these words: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Now, the Sadducees – along with many “Sadducees” of today -- reacted negatively to the fact that there is no other name than that of Jesus to call on for salvation. They say, "That’s too extreme. We believe in diversity and in accepting all “spiritual paths.” Surely Jesus isn’t going to send Indians, Chinese, Tibetans, and so on, to hell because they don’t believe in Jesus!"

Well, you may go ahead and call me a narrow-minded, extremist preacher! I will not apologize for preaching that there are only two paths: the broad way, which goes to hell, and the narrow way, which leads to eternal life with Jesus. You may accuse me of believing in this absolute truth that Jesus is the only Savior of the world. I do not mind because Peter’s statement is absolutely true: "There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." Peter did not decide this. The Church did not decide this. It is the specific teaching of Jesus himself (John 14:6).

As believers, we will encounter Sadducees. Perhaps you are a Sadducee – unwilling to accept that only Jesus saves. Be assured, Jesus alone saves! Not Jesus and Mary, nor Mary and the saints, nor our baptism as a child, nor “good works.” Whether we believe it or not, Jesus alone saves, and his purposes shall be accomplished! Are you willing to put yourself on the line for the gospel as did Peter and John? Are you willing to stand up to the Sadducees? Are you willing to stand up for Jesus when those around you start talking about “diversity” and accepting all “spiritual paths?”
- Pastor Mark

No comments: