1. Jeremiah lived in a time of moral decay, and in a country that would be destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar came three times to Jerusalem.
a. First to conquer it
b. Second to take it into captivity (Jehoiachin rebelled)
c. Third to destroy it completely (Zedekiah rebelled)
2. God gave Jeremiah the task of teaching people who did not want to hear what he had to say.
3. He was mocked and threatened and put in prison, and put down in a cistern.
4. But Jeremiah had something inside of him that was stronger than all his enemies:
"Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. BUT HIS WORD WAS IN MINE HEART AS A BURNING FIRE shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9)
I. THE EARLY CHURCH HAD A VERY GREAT FIRE OF ZEAL AND URGENCY IN THEIR HRARTS, TO TAKE THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD, THAT IT MIGHT OBEY HIM!!!
1. I challenge you to carefully consider the following:
a. Acts 2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
b. Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added unto the the church daily such as should be saved."
c. Acts 4:4 "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand."
d. Acts 5:14 "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
e. Acts 6:7 "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."
II. WHAT CAUSED THIS GREAT FERVOR OF LOVE, AND RAPID GROWTH IN THE LORD'S CHURCH?
a. Faith. "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" (Acts 2:22-24,32).
1. Acts 4:18-20: "And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye, For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." THEY WOULD NOT BE SILENT!
2. Acts 5:17,18: "Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison." THEY PUT THEM BACK IN JAIL FOR PREACHING JESUS!
3. Acts 5:19: "But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said." AN ANGEL OPENED THE PRISON DOORS AND LET THEM OUT!
4. Acts 5:20: "Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. SPEAK ALL THE WORDS OF THIS LIFE!
5. Acts 5:28: "Saying, did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
6. Acts 5:29: "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." WE MUST KEEP GOD'S COMMANDMENTS, TO BE SAVED!
7. Acts 5:40-42: "And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, REJOICING THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME FOR HIS NAME. AND DAILY IN THE TEMPLE, AND IN EVERY HOUSE, THEY CEASED NOT TO TEACH AND PREACH JESUS CHRIST."
III. INVOLEMENT (Acts 5:42): "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
1. Christianity is an ACTIVE FAITH, NOT A PASSIVE ONE!!
2. James 1:22-25: "But be ye DOERS OF THE WORD, AND NOT HEARERS ONLY, DECEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES. For if ANY BE A HEARER OF THE WORD, AND NOT A DOER, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh in to the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, HE BEING NOT A FORGETFUL HEARER, BUT A DOER OF THE WORK, THIS MAN SHALL BLESSED IN HIS DEED."
IV. RESPONSIBILITY: (Acts 8:3,4). "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and hailing men and women committed them to prison.THEREFORE THEY THAT WERE SCATTERED ABROAD WENT EVERYWHERE PREACHING THE WORD."
1. Romans 14:12: "So then EVERY ONE OF US SHALL GIVE ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF TO GOD."
2. 2 Corinthians 5:10: "For WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST; THAT EVERY ONE MAY RECEIVE THE THINGS DONE IN HIS BODY, ACCORDING TO THAT HE HATH DONE, WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD."
V. EXCITEMENT: THE CONVERSION OF THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
1. "And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning and setting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some g man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
a. In his humilitation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:26-39).
VI. THE DIVINE PLAN OF SALVATION CALLS FOR HEARING, FAITH, REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, AND IMMERSION OR BAPTISM!!
1. "According to Baptist doctrine (followed logically to a conclusion), there can be no such thing as a penitent believer. A penitent person is one suffering sorrow for sin. Saved people---those who have obtained pardon---are no longer penitent in this sense. The eunuch, having obtained forgiveness of sins, went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:39). In Christ our hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22), and baptism, the consummating act of salvation, is the interrogation of a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21, 22). A saved person is, therefore, no longer penitent. The Baptists teach that salvation comes at the point of faith. That is, in their view, the sinner obtains full and complete pardon at the very instant he believes.
2. Thus in the light of this position, one could not be a penitent after faith, for he is then saved. The sinner, in order to be penitent at all, must be so before he believes. It must, however, be after he repents, for obviously the sinner cannot be penitent before he repents! Penitence, then, according to Baptist doctrine, must be after repentance and before faith. But (to avoid other grave difficulties) they teach that repentance and faith are "inseparable graces," and cannot be dissociated---they are always together, and that the sinner believes, the instant he repents. Inasmuch, then, as the sinner cannot be penitent before he repents nor after he believes, and since he believes the very instant he repents, there is positively no place in the Baptist arrangement for penitence! It would indeed be interesting to hear a Baptist preacher attempt to explain when he thinks the sinner is penitent.
3. Baptism is a command. (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; etc.) In denying that baptism is essential to salvation, Baptists teach that commands are essential to the performance of duty, but not of salvation. Conceding that it is proper and right to comply with the commandments, they, nevertheless, insist that such obedience is not necessary to salvation. This being true, every command of God is thus ruled out as essential to salvation! Repentance and faith are commands. (Luke 13:3; Hebrews 11:6.) But commands are not essential to salvation they aver (with reference to baptism). Hence, logically, according to Baptist doctrine, repentance and faith should thus be excluded. True, they do not accept this conclusion; but it is irresistible in the light of their position. If obedience to a command is not necessary to salvation, inasmuch as repentance and faith are no less commands than baptism, why include them and exclude it?
4. The truth is: their rule was designed to apply only to baptism, and is an afterthought brought in to deny the essentiality of it because the teaching of the New Testament touching the purpose and end of baptism is in conflict with their basic assumption that salvation is at the point of belief, without additional acts of obedience. Just as "one lie calls for another" and another and another, so a false premise in religion leads the helpless espouser thereof from one absurdity to another until he finds himself in conflict with the truth wherever he meets it. It is impossible for adherents of false doctrine to discuss their views in the light of the New Testament without constantly contradicting themselves and it! Listen and see!1
CONCLUSION: WHEN WE HAVE FAITH, INVOLVEMENT, REPONSIBILITY AND EXCITEMENT, WE WILL BE ON FIRE FOR THE LORD AND HIS CAUSE!! THE EARLY CHRISTIANS HAD THIS FIRE! WHY DON'T WE? COULD IT BE THAT WE HAVE LET IT SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS OF OUR FAITH, AND LOVE FOR LOST SOULS!!??
(1) (1)Questions and Answers, Open Forum, pages 250 & 251, Freed-Hardeman College Lectures, by Guy N. Woods. BIBLOGRAPHY:
1. King James Version of Bible: The New Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Fifth Improved Edition.
2. The American College Dictionary
3. The American Heritage Dictionary
4. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine
5. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament
6. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
(E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org) Dear reader: In the event you find errors or mistakes in this sermon, spelling, scripture references, etc., please feel free to inform me of same! Thank you! (MLH).
Marlin L. Harless