Good evening and happy Sabbath! Fall is definitely upon as as noted by the leaves coming down and grocery store aisles being filled with pumpkin spice everything...
For those in Columbia, we will have our booklet discussion on "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" The church will provide some snacks, but please feel free to bring a snack to share!
Because we are a bit out of sequence due to cancelling services for a couple of weeks, we will not start our Booklet Discussion of our next booklet "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy" until December. Please continue reading this week in chapter two "Israel's Golden Age."
Are you reading this?
As mentioned in last week's letter, I'd like to take a few weeks to focus on the blessings God has granted to us in this country, as descendants of Jacob, specifically, Manasseh. Just the fact that I can write you this letter and express views on the Bible is a freedom much of the world does not have. Have you considered what a blessing this is?
The freedom of speech/press/assembly is a foundational part of the governing documents of the United States, specifically, the First Ammendment to the Constitution. Where might we be without it? Consider what the previous paragraph might look like if written in a nation where there was no freedom of speech:
While you were told this in the previous correspondence, we find it necessary to remind you of the privilege the State has given you to exist. Your basic necessities of food and shelter are made possible only by the power and might of the glorious State. Any attempt to fault this undeniable truth will be met with swift and severe punishment, delivered with extreme prejudice. Are you aware of how fortunate you are for the privileges the State has granted you?
Pretty extreme, but it makes the point - having freedom to read and study the Bible, as well as preach the gospel is a precious blessing from God!
Early struggles to preach the gospel
The book of Acts is fascinating. It's been said that reading the book of Acts is like sticking your finger in a light socket and receiving a jolt of electricity, akin to the excitement and fervor that existed in the early church. For example, consider what was happening in chapter 4 of the book of Acts. Peter and John had been arrested for preaching the gospel, and were forbidden by the authorities of their day to even mention the name of Jesus.
What was their response? After being threatened and released, they gathered together with an assembly of believers and prayed, "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word" (Acts 4:29 NKJV). They prayed for boldness to preach the gospel, and they received it!
Different world, same cause
The world we live in today is far different from the one Peter and John lived in. They were not free to say what they wanted to about the Kingdom of God. We are. So the question becomes, do we have the boldness they prayed for? Or have we become complacent, in a society where everyone is free to say anything they like, have we lost our zeal to preach the gospel?
We might not have to fight for the freedom of speech like the early church did, but let's not forget what it was they were fighting for - the preaching of the gospel. While not all of us give sermons, or appear on the Beyond Today program, or ever write an article for the United News, let's make sure we boldly proclaim the gospel of the coming Kingdom, in whatever opportunities God may present to us!