One Nation Under God
“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained”…..George Washington, 1789, Inaugural Address
“If we ever forget that we are One Nation under God, then we will be a Nation gone under”….President Ronald Reagan
Comedian Jim Carrey, told 60 Minutes that he has replaced anti-depressant drugs with spirituality. He said, “I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Christian. I’m whatever you want Me to be….It all comes down to the same thing” (11/2004)
Today: We live in cultural setting very parallel to that we will find in our scripture passage. Initially, our country was founded on the Judeao-Christian belief of Acts 4:12, “……for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Today this is considered to be an exclusive type message/religion (one way to heaven and no other way is acknowledged). Our reasoning can be found by Christ in John 14:6. However, since the time our country established it’s Independence, it has moved to a Pluralistic society—meaning many different religions and worldviews exist and make claims on our eternal destiny; therefore, making it INTOLERANT to claim exclusivity by any one belief system.
With this in mind, we want evaluate this passage of scripture found Acts 4:13-22. By doing so, we want to look at 4 questions that will be addressed as a means to prepare Us on how to respond…..
Now, if you are here today, and have never placed your faith in Jesus Christ, in order for you evaluate these questions in your life----you will need to begin by your acknowledgement of your need for a Savior and placing your trust in Jesus Christ.
If you have a copy of God’s word please join in honoring the reading of His word by standing, if your are physically able in reading Acts 4:13-22.
· BACKGROUND Sadducees =The believed only in the written law. They did not believe in the resurrection of the body or in any future punishment or reward. (Acts 23) They denied the existence of angels and demons. They also rejected predestination and the sovereignty of God and believing man was the master of his own universe. In comparison they would the equivalent to a modern day deist &/or agnostic. Deist (God exist, but takes no part in the happenings of this life. Therefore, man is entirely the master of his own destiny and doing or evil is left entirely to man’s free choice). Agnostic– due to their disbelief in the unseen and eternal matters-one who believes that it is impossible to know if God exist.
· Pharisees = The Sanhedrin In voting, members stood, beginning with the youngest.
Reference: Acts 4:5-12
· Sanhedrin consisted of three groups of people:
· High Priest (most powerful and distinguishably wealthy)
· Captain of the temple – supervised the happenings of the temple
· The Elders – Priestly/Financial personnel (i.e. Joseph of Arimathea)
· Scribes – Mostly Pharisees (prof. Lawyers & trained in theology), as well as Sadducees (they were a outgrowth of the Greek customs/philosophies during the Greek influential reign--comparison to a modern-day deist &/or skeptics)
Question #1_Am I willing to let OTHERS know I am LIVING 4 Christ? (vss. 13)
Acts 4:13_ aNow when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, (Also note [4:8, ref Luke 12:11-12], 29, 31)
A. Acts 4:8-128Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Christ had precaution them of what was to come:
Luke 12:11-12 11“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
B. Acts 4:13 and perceived (see 1 Cor 1:27)that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
· 1 Corinthians 1:27_ But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
· Uneducated/untrained = they were not schooled in the tradition of the scribes instead were considered to be laymen (fishermen). It also could lend itself that they were not trained by a recognized rabbi. (It was widely understood that disciples lifestyle and character pattern after the one who trained them.
· Gen 39_2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him*; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
· ILLUSTRATION: Govt. Employee
ATLANTA (June 22, 2006) — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have filed suit in defense of an FAA employee who was disciplined for expressing his religious beliefs and views on homosexual behavior at work.
“Religious employees, including those of the federal government, are not second-class citizens,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. “No government employer is permitted by the Constitution to silence speech in the workplace just because it expresses religious views.”
Larry Dombrowski, an FAA employee, was suspended without pay and transferred to a position in another state after he expressed his views on religion and homosexual behavior to his co-workers. Both co-workers stated they were not personally offended or threatened by the remarks.
After filing a grievance contesting the disciplinary actions filed against him, Dombrowski was informed during a meeting that he has “no free speech rights in the government workplace.”
“The First Amendment does not allow government employers to engage in viewpoint discrimination,” Theriot said. “Censoring and punishing an employee for expressing his opinion on religion violates the Constitution, a fact that should have been clear to the defendants in this case.”
ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.
APPLICATION: Christ equips YOU/I with courage, when YOU/I become willing to be used by Him.
Question #2_Am I willing to make an Impact in the world around ME? (vss. 14-16)
14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable (remarkable sign) miracle has been done through them is evident to all (well known) who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. (Reference Acts 3:11, 1-10, the miracle account)
· Acts 3:7-11_7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.
(Jesus Himself appears before this same court)
· John 11:47_47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”
ILLUSTRATION: (Walgreens fires 4 pharmacists)
ACLJ sues Walgreens over ‘morning-after’ pill firings,Jan 27, 2006
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (BP)--The American Center for Law and Justice is suing Walgreens after the company fired four pharmacists who refused to dispense the “morning-after” pill because of religious objections.
The lawsuits were filed in Edwardsville, Ill., Jan. 27 on behalf of the four pharmacists, who had been placed on indefinite unpaid leave Nov. 28. All four were employees of Walgreens stores in Illinois EAST of St. Louis.
ACLJ, one of the nation’s leading public interest law firms, said that by firing the employees, Walgreens violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which makes it illegal for any employer “to discriminate against any person in any manner ... because of such person’s conscientious refusal ... to participate in any way in any form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.”
“It couldn’t be any clearer,” Senior counsel for ACLJ, said in a Jan. 27 news release. “In punishing these pharmacists for asserting a right protected by the Conscience Act, Walgreens broke the law.”
Many pro-lifers consider the “morning-after” pill to be an abortifacient because it not only restricts a woman but it can act after conception. The method can block process of an embryo, thereby causing an abortion, pro-lifers point out.
In December, ACLJ filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the same four employees, and the law firm is representing the pharmacists in lawsuits against the governor of Illinois and the state’s Department of Professional Regulations over a recently enacted law requiring pharmacists to dispense the “morning-after” pill.
Illinois is the only state to have a rule requiring pharmacists to dispense the pill. The Govenor, issued an executive order last year requiring all pharmacies in Illinois that carry birth control pills to also fill prescriptions for the “morning-after” pill, which is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. Under the regimen, a woman takes two pills within 72 hours of intimate relations and another dose 12 hours later.
The “morning-after” pill is known by two brands, Preven and Plan B, and the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether it will permit over-the-counter sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 16 years of age and older.
"Walgreens has been trying to excuse its firing of these four pharmacists by blaming the governor and his unlawful executive order. But none of the other major retail pharmacies have interpreted the order the way Walgreens has," The council said. For whatever reason, Walgreens chose not to respect its pharmacists. “
More than two-thirds, or 69 %, of pharmacists suveyed believe they should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions for the “morning-after” pill. The survey also revealed 39% of pharmacists believe they should not be required by state law to fill prescriptions they object to; 37 % said they should be able to refuse to fill a prescription but should be required to refer a customer to another pharmacist.
APPLICATION: Christ equips YOU/I to make an impact on the world, when YOU/I become willing to be used by Him.
Question #3_Am I am willing to be a spiritual THREAT to the ENEMY? (vss. 17-18)
17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
1 Cor 9:16 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
(The disciples reappear before the Sanhedrin court)Acts 5:27-30 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
ILLUSTRATION: ADF attorneys to defend Christian couple arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct
June 20, 2006
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund are defending a husband and wife arrested while preaching on the corner of a city block in downtown Kansas City. After ADF filed an appeal regarding the charges brought against the couple, the court granted a brand new trial in the case.
“Religious speech is not second-class speech, and Christians should not be arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights,” said ADF Litigation Counsel David LaPlante. “Unfortunately in this case, a Christian husband and wife were arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct for sharing the Gospel in a public place.”
Michael and Joy Wheeler spent a night in jail after being arrested at the Kansas City Area Transit Authority’s Transit Plaza on the corner of 10th and Main streets. A municipal court denied ADF’s motion to dismiss the case, but upon appeal the Wheelers were granted a brand new trial.
On Nov. 7th, 2005, Michael Wheeler was sharing his faith at the Transit Plaza park area alongside his wife, who was quietly praying, when a Metro bus supervisor approached them and told them to leave. The Wheelers began to pray, and police soon arrived to arrest the couple. Michael Wheeler was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and Joy Wheeler was charged with disorderly conduct.
“The First Amendment protects religious speech,” said LaPlante. “Mr. Wheeler has been sharing his faith in public at that location and locations across the country for the past 21 years. It’s hard to believe that we’ve come to a point in our country where Christians are arrested for sharing the Gospel on a public street corner.”
APPLICATION: Christ equips YOU/I to be a spiritual threat to the Enemy, when YOU/I become willing to be used by Him.
Question #4_Am I willing to GO boldly in the name of CHRIST? (vss. 19-22)
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
(No doubt by now, the Peter and John are remembering these words: found in---John 16:33_33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” NLT
1 Peter 3:15 “……be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
ILLUSTRATION: “God has bigger Plans”
· LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Baptist Press)--School officials edited the script of Brittany McComb’s graduation speech before she gave it, removing six references to God and two biblical references. But when she chose to use such language anyway, school officials turned down the microphone in the midst of her address to graduates June 15.
McComb, one of three valedictorians at Foothill High School in Las Vegas, Nev., said she was not surprised when she was told not to talk about God during the school-sponsored event because “even in the Bible it says that the name of Jesus will be hated.”
School officials told McComb her address would be offensive to some people, but she said some things people say are offensive to her yet she respects their right to express their views.
When administrators noticed McComb was deviating from the pre-approved text, they turned down her voice. But news reports indicate that jeers erupted from the nearly 400 graduates and their families in response to the school’s action and in support of McComb.
McComb added. “There was an atheist that called in to one of the news stations saying that I should have been able to talk and that they shouldn't have turned off my microphone. And he doesn't even believe in God.”
Part of God’s “bigger plans” is that McComb now has had opportunities to express her faith in Jesus Christ through national media outlets.
“God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my Lord and Savior.”
In 2003 the Clark County School Board, which governs McComb’s high school, amended regulations regarding religious speech, the Review-Journal reported, prohibiting district officials from organizing prayer at graduation or selecting speakers in a manner that favors religious speech.
APPLICATION: Christ equips YOU/I with boldness, when YOU/I become willing to be used by Him.
As WE read the paper, listen to the news and watch T.V., it becomes apparent that Our nation is detouring from its foundation. What is our response to this observance:
As we have heard today, there 4 possible questions that WE can answer that can direct our path.
1. Am I willing to speak up on behalf of my Faith? I am willing to speak!!!!
2. Am I willing to make a difference in MY world? I am willing to make a difference!!!!
3. Am I willing to be a spiritual threat to the Enemy? I am willing to be “spiritual” threat!!!!!
4. Am I willing to go boldly for the cause of Christ? I am willing to Go boldly!!!!!