Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 10:26b “. . .for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and
hid, that shall not be known.”
Jesus warned us, unbelievers will ridicule and speak against us. David said the throats of evil people are like open sepulchers (PS 5:9). Many good people’s reputations have been buried in someone else’s mean mouth. The world has perfected the evil art of putting a bad spin on morality and a good spin on immorality.
This world is susceptible to illusion and deception. However, a day of reckoning is coming. Right and wrong, truth and falsehood, fact and fiction, are racing to a head-on collision. From this melee, Jesus will emerge victorious. Truth will triumph, all will be explained, everything understood, everyone will understand.
On Judgment Day, God Himself will set the record straight, all will be made right. The concealed will be revealed in a world-wide, yea cosmic-wide, unveiling of hidden things. Our message will be vindicated, the lies told about us corrected.
No more disguises–Christ’s enemies will be unmasked, exposed for what they truly are. Abuse against us Christians–shunning, sneering, and scorn from family, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow students–will be set on the table. Our persecutors will be exposed and embarrassed, believers exonerated and embraced.
Therefore, dear fellow believers, do not fear what unbelievers say about us today. Fear what God will say about us on Judgment Day. Knowing we will be vindicated then should make us bolder to speak now. We shall give an account before God for our faithfulness, or lack thereof, in speaking for Him in this world.
Matt. 10:27 “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”
Realizing ridicule could happen to us at any moment can easily cause us to despair, to give up hope. Fear of abuse readily lends itself to our shrinking back in fear, but Jesus calls us to surge forward in courage. We can’t control the tongues and actions of our opponents, but can control our hearts. Let no terror reign there.
Christ’s expectations are crystal clear. What He told the Twelve in darkness, in private, and whispered in their ears, was to be published openly for all to hear. Our assignment is to fill the world with words, to broadcast the teachings of Jesus publicly, on the housetops, where people visited in Jesus’ day, and where public announcements were made because they could be heard a long way off.
By nature we want to avoid ridicule and hardship, but self-preservation and ego-protection are not valid excuses for silence. We are not provided the option to hunker down and cringe in silence. We are to speak boldly and openly for Jesus.
Fill the world with words. In the parable of the sower, a keynote is the fact plenty of seed exists. The sower throws seed everywhere, indiscriminately casting it every direction on every type of soil. The motto of Wesley, Falwell, and others still applies: send the word to everybody everywhere everyday every way we can.
Talk talk talk, be abuzz, spread holy gossip. Saturate radio and TV. J. Vernon McGee said radio, his medium of choice, was the best way to preach on the housetops. I think TV, my medium of choice, is a powerful communication tool.
Distribute Bibles and tracts. Print, the medium that provided wings for the Reformation, is still effective. Use the internet. Fortunately, churches seem to be grasping the potential of the worldwide web. WWW is actually an acronym for “wonderful way to witness.” The internet is already providing us another medium whereby we can broadcast on the housetops, and thereby fill the world with words.
Everything the whole human race needs to know about God and how to live has already been revealed. It was conveyed to us in toto via the life and words of Jesus. Our job is to tell it all to all. There are no secret teachings for privileged initiates, no first class and second class, no bluebirds and buzzards, all information provided is for all. We are to take the truths we received and publish them abroad.
The Twelve took Christ’s command seriously. They did it. They obeyed, and their obedience was blessed beyond comprehension. Jesus conveyed truth to a handful of followers in private obscurity, in a little corner of the world called Palestine. They in turn have passed it on to billions in every section of the globe.
“In no part of the earth was there ever such thunder heard as the voice of the gospel, which resounded through the whole world” (Calvin). The spark exploded into a firestorm, the whisper crescendoed into a shout echoing throughout the world. The lamp lit by Christ has been shone through the earth by His followers.
Our Master was absolutely determined to impress upon the Twelve how serious He was about His command to spread the word even in times of abuse. After He ascended, the Apostles were jailed by the High Priest. In this time of intense persecution, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night and commanded, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (AC 5:20). Even when the heat was most intense, they were not to hunker down and hide out, but were to speak in the most public and conspicuous place in Jerusalem.
The early Church caught this contagious, driving enthusiasm of the Twelve. In the catacombs of Rome, at least 2,000,000 Christians were buried in 600 miles of tunnels burrowed beneath the earth due to persecution. An inscription often found etched on the catacomb walls is a sentence written by Paul while imprisoned in Rome, “The word of God is not bound” (2 TM 2:9). Amen. It never shall be.
The resolve of early believers was breathtaking. They steeled themselves against every assault hurled at them. Their determination reminds me of the time I saw the news anchorman Dan Rather break down emotionally. He was telling of a mother whose children had been killed in an attack during Ireland’s Civil War. He quoted her, “We will grieve. We will bury our dead. We will carry on our cause.”
Were it not for the admonition of Jesus, as verbalized in our text, we would cower into silence at every hint of resistance. Without a holy boldness that rises to the fore when under fire, Christianity would have died long ago, but with it, we join the sacred progression of courage begun by Jesus and His band of Twelve.
The success which crowned their efforts continues to fall upon attempts to propagate the Word. Ours is not a doubtful enterprise. It shall continue to spread.
The little cloud will cover the heavens. The small stone will grow into a mountain. The mustard seed will become a majestic tree. The lullaby will swell into a symphony. Our faith in this enables us to march forward boldly and gladly.
We live in the glorious age of the unending adverb. Dr. Luke, the beloved physician, was confronted with a literary dilemma when completing the book of Acts. How does an author end the most important historical treatise ever written?
As the narrative winds down, Paul is under house arrest in Rome. Beneath the watchful complacent gaze of Nero, who is clueless as to the power contained in the Gospel, Paul is free to receive guests at will, and thus continues to preach the kingdom of God and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness.
This victorious note, foreshadowing Christianity’s success, seems an appropriate end to the book, but the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to add one more word, an adverb (akolutos), meaning unhindered. It was Luke’s literary way of saying the story has no end. It goes on, like a dove released into an infinite future. We serve under the blessing of Luke’s adverb. Unhindered, the word goes forth. In ripples flowing forth from the epicenter of Second Baptist, let’s fill the world with words.