Introduction to the Doctrine of Suffering: Acts 4:14-17
“14) And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. 15) But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, 16) saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 16) But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.”” Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭14‬-‭17‬
It is counter productive to threaten those who are mighty in spirit with physical harm or punishment. They have already crucified the flesh in order to walk in the Spirit. They have set their minds on things above and not the things on earth. They have made Jesus Christ Lord and Master of their lives.
The rulers and elders of the people should have learned this lesson from their dealings with Jesus. He chose the cross above their threats. The resolve of His followers was multiplied many times over after Pentecost. Those truly filled with the Holy Spirit function at a different level than carnal men.
It is here, in the face of threats of physical harm and punishment that Satan’s ploys are exposed. He can only threaten on the level of the physical, but the redeemed have already forsaken the fleshly pleasures of this life to pursue God and what is called “Zoe” life in the Spirit. They have moved beyond mere “bio” life.
Jesus said; “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭28‬) ‭Satan’s reach is limited. It is temporal and not eternal.
I must conceded, all of the disciples feared for their own lives and safety before Pentecost. The event of being baptized in the Holy Spirit radically changed them. This fact was instrumental in my reconsidering the meaning and importance of the Promise of the Father as recorded in Acts 1:4-5. I believed in Jesus and loved Jesus, but I lived by my own fleshy efforts. I often failed and lived in fear.
Peter and John were no longer carnal. After Pentecost, they began to live and function on the level of the Spirit. They exemplified the teaching of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 2:1-3:3. God used this text to cut me open and expose that I was void of Spirit.
In this text, Paul argues that there are three kinds of people. There is the 1) spiritual man, 2) the natural man, and 3) the carnal man. Physical treats like those coming from the religious rulers are very effective against the natural man and the carnal man, but they are counter productive against the spiritual man or woman.
Paul presented the case that inner ministry of the Holy Spirit separates the spiritual man from the carnal man. They can share the same basic theology, but the inner man is very different. The carnal Christan is dependent on self effort, intellectual reason and self discipline to live the Christan life. The spiritual Christian is dependent on the inner ministry of the Holy Spirit for personal transformation and power for living.
The western church fears persecution. The persecuted church values persecution because it separates the sheep from the goats. Leaders in the underground church in China are not honored because of academic achievements, they are revered based on the suffering they have endured for the cause of Christ. Those tested by fire have a purity of devotion to Christ.
Acts 4 contains the introductory material on the doctrine of suffering for the Christian Church. Sadly, the doctrine of suffering is absent from the modern western church. Carnality reigns in the absence of teaching about crucifying the flesh to embrace the walk in the Spirit.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global