No Other Name

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”  

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 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. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:5-12 NKJV.  

There is a new law in Russia that essentially outlaws the sharing of your faith whatever that faith may be. The Barnabus Fund which helps persecuted Christians across the world has this to say about the new law: The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith, even a casual conversation, to have prior authorization from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($770).”  

The new law was promoted by Putin as being needed to protect against terrorism according to a report by Radio Free EuropeRadio Free Europe also reported the law: “boosts state access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to the authorities. Encrypted programs must provide authorities a key, and the law also increases the number of crimes that 14-year-olds can be prosecuted for and restricts the activity of religious preachers.” The law is in violation of International law and of the Russia’s own constitution; however, the law, any law, doesn’t seem to matter to dictators. (WND 07.07.16 Many thanks to World News Daily for this article!)  

In the United States, and in other free countries we are seeing a creeping constriction of religious freedoms. What once was considered preaching the Word of God i.e. the Bible, is now seen by many as hate speech. There are those who are continually trying to constrict the ability of pastors to interpret the Bible according to how they are led by the Spirit. New laws are continually being proposed that would bring the United States closer to that of Russia’s now control, or attempted control, of any religious conversations.  

In Acts 4 after the healing of the lame man, Peter and John were confronted with whether or not to bow to the commands of the Sanhedrin, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).” Peter and John are not afraid of the Sanhedrin which could have severely punished them. Instead of bowing to the will of man, Peter and John make it very clear what they intend to do: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19b-20).” After their release they pray, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word (Acts 4:29).”  

What will the Christians in Russia do? Will they continue to share their faith, or will they bow to the will of Putin? I suspect that they will continue to cautiously share their faith when they have the opportunity, even with the risk of the legal penalties. How will those of us who live in other countries respond when our religious liberties are restrained? Will we have the courage to stand up for our faith? Will we have the courage to preach as did Peter that there is salvation in no other name than that of Jesus Christ of Nazareth; and that, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved?”  

In the United States, we still have freedom to speak of our faith, and to assemble to together to worship our God. Sadly, even though we have those freedoms, the vast majority of believers rarely exercise them; especially in the sharing our faith with another person. We can change the course of history by rising up in the name of Jesus, and speaking boldly of our faith, as did Peter and John. Will you do it? I think your God would like an answer.

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