The Honor of Testifying & Suffering with Christ


Sunday 03/20/22

Message –  The Honor of Testifying & Suffering with Christ

***Video is HERE***

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The Honor of Testifying & Suffering with Christ

For weeks now we have been going through Acts. Our goal has been to learn by example, how to do the work of the Kingdom with the Holy Spirit. To walk in step with Him, in cooperation in our common ministry of establishing the Kingdom of God or said another way – the rule and reign of Jesus in the hearts of man – beginning with our own.

As we reached the 5th chapter of Acts we began to see that miracles, signs, wonders, healing and deliverance from demons were commonplace and even quite expected in the early church. This begged the question of why we fail to see the same in as great of abundance as they did. 

We dealt with this for a few weeks and though there is MUCH more which might be said about it, we boiled it down to a simple list of 8 things which have a fair amount of overlap. They were…

  1. Reverential fear of God has left the building. Most modern Christians are living ‘Christianity lite’. There is little devotion to Christ outside of perhaps attending church and any more, many don’t even do that. As such they are not living testimonies of Christ. Their light is not bright and is often placed under a bushel to borrow from the words of Jesus.
  2. Because we have options. In the great majority of cases we have trained ourselves to take a pill for everything or seek the advice of the doctor, often God is little more than a last resort and this is a DIRECT result of a lack of intimacy with Him.
  3. Expectation – We do not expect it nor truly believe it.
  4. Selfish – We are more wrapped up in our own little lives than we are in the greater community of the believers.
  5. Desires of free flesh – We tend towards self-satisfaction and greed.
  6. We approach life on our own – we often do not think of the Holy Spirit as our partner in Ministry nor that the unlimited resources He has as God are therefore at our disposal.
  7. We make our witness (what little of it we do) more about ourselves and how we come off to others than we do about Christ and fulfilling His heart’s desire to honor the Father by inheriting the world.
  8. Humanistic worldview – We have allowed the world with its humanistic worldview to corrupt the purity of our thoughts and beliefs, reducing us to their level.

Any of the above could hold back miracles, signs and healings and if continued in definitely would! 

Sadly it occurred to me that I had not actually taken time to define these terms. For the most part they are pretty straight forward, but they still could use a little clarification.

All of these are supernatural which means they are an intervention into the normal course of nature by something outside of and greater than nature. This can be God or a demonic spirit.

When they are produced by God, their greatest aim and purpose is the revealing of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Kingdom in order to influence people towards belief. 

This is a VERY powerful truth which will keep you from error if you will hold onto it…


This is true even when the sign appears to be for another reason. For example – Paul mentions that there are signs or proofs that someone is a genuine apostle. He lists them in 2Corinthians 12:11-2.

“(11) I have become a fool. You yourselves forced me to do it, for I should have been commended by you. For I lack nothing in comparison to those “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  (12)  Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds.” ~ 2Cor. 12:11-12.  

So clearly these signs serve two purposes – to generate faith in those the apostles are sent to and also to verify that these men were in fact apostles of Jesus Christ. But even when the sign was merely to substantiate the apostleship of an individual that ultimately was only so that their message might be received and believed – and Jesus and Lord and King IS the message of the kingdom. So ALL signs reveal Jesus on some level. If a sign ONLY POINTS to man, their fame, their ministry, their message (apart from Christ) then it MAY BE a true sign, but it is NOT from God. 


  • Signs – These are miracles with a purpose. These are designed to elicit belief in the heart and prove the validity of a claim. In the case of the Gospel, they often follow ministers and as we mentioned earlier were one of the signs of an Apostle. So the sign proved the legitimacy of one’s apostleship, but also their message regarding Jesus and the Kingdom. 
  • Wonders –  Due to their extraordinary character, they are most likely going to be observed and kept in the memory. It is a miracle regarded as startling, imposing or amazing.
  • Healings – This seems clear enough, but is often used synonymously with deliverance from demons. One case in point is the syrophoenician woman, who was seeking the “children’s bread” of healing, but what she needed was her daughter to be delivered from a demon.
  • Deliverance – This can take the form of casting out or merely silencing demons in the lost OR helping to deliver a child of God who is being oppressed by a demonic spirit.
    • This, more clearly than any other, is a manifestation of the kingdom of God for it powerfully stops the rule of the enemy in a human heart and life.

Now that we have loosely defined these terms, we will refer back to them as the occasion warrants it.

We have been parked in Acts 5:16 for weeks now, so today we are going to go on in Acts 5:17 and hopefully finish this chapter. As we do however, we NEED to hold these things in our minds. Think on them, reflect on them, allow and invite the Holy Spirit to scrutinize our hearts and lives in the light of them that we might turn this around.

Acts 5…

“(17) Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. (18) So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail.”

It seems significant to me that these were said to be of the party of the Sadducees. Later, when believers were given the name Christians at Antioch [Acts 11:26], it meant, “those of the party of Christ” or those who support His kingdom and cause.

“(19)  But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said,  

(20) “Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.”  

This is reminiscent of the words of Peter to Jesus when asked by Him if the disciples were offended that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood as is recorded in John 6:68, to which Peter said, “Where would we go, You have the words of Eternal Life.” In like manner, these men were instructed by the visiting angel to go and preach the words of eternal life or said another way, to teach people to KNOW the Father through Jesus which is eternal Life! They taught the people – Jesus!

“(21) In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach. 

When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin–the full Senate of the sons of Israel–and sent orders to the jail to have them brought.  (22) But when the temple police got there, they did not find them in the jail, so they returned and reported,  

(23) “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!”  

(24) As the captain of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, as to what could come of this. (25) Someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple complex and teaching the people.”  

(26) Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them in without force, because they were afraid the people might stone them.  

(27) When they had brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, (28) “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”  

“(29) But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. (30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. (31) God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  

(32) We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  

(33) When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.  

(34) A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while.  

(35) He said to them, 

“Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men.  

(36) Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing.  

(37) After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered.  

(38) And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; (39) but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” 

So they were persuaded by him.”

This is the SAME Gamaliel who was Paul’s teacher when he was Saul of Tarsus [Acts 22:3].  

“(40) After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.”

The words, Had them beaten sounds like a severe overstep of their authority, but in Judaism it really wasn’t and even though they were under a New Covenant, they still respected that authority as did Paul many years later. 

The punishment here given was the forty lashes minus one,” which is also mentioned in Acts 22:19; 2Cor. 11:24 and was predicted by Jesus that it would happen in Mark 13:9

The apostles had disobeyed the religious authorities and took their punishment for their “disobedience” as was outlined in the Law in Deut. 25:2-3.

In Acts 4:18 they were warned, now in proper accordance with the law, they are being beaten.

What type of beating was this? 

Well, I taught a lesson on it when we covered The Kinsman Redeemer in our studies, Thru the Bible.

It is important to realize that there are consequences for actions both spiritual and natural. 

Spiritual consequences refer to those where man has wronged God by acting against His nature and therefore defiling His image which they bare. If this was not a Capital crime, these always resulted in a sacrifice being offered to cover their sin. 

Then there were consequences for injustices between men. These were structured consequences which could be assigned by man for the wrongs against our fellow man. 

In Israel, God had a hand in assigning both. 

In civil disputes, God gave the judgment into the hands of the Judges who would determine if a particular crime warranted punishment. If so, they assigned a value to the crime and a number to the beatings – but God gave the cap to not exceed 40 strikes. 

Now because the Jews, were scrupulous in their keeping the “letter of the Law”, regardless of all their faults, they NEVER allowed someone to be beaten the full 40 times allowed by the Law. They did this to safeguard themselves from even miscounting the number of strikes a person had received, so they only allowed 39 stripes to be given lest they go past the punishment allowed by God in the Law. 

Thus the phrase came about “40 times save one”.

The word “flogged” conjures thoughts which are almost certainly inappropriate to what was being prescribed by God. It is nearly certain that this was done to the underside of the feet on the arches rather than on one’s back. 

There are 2 reasons which make this likely: 

  1. Because whipping the feet was a typical form of punishment in the early world. Surprisingly, ours is one of the first generations where it has not been as widely practiced, though it was practiced even in America all the way up until the late 1960s.
  2. Traditionally offenders were made to lie down – something not really necessary for stripes on the back – and in fact such may have rendered beating on the back a punishment too severe since there would be no allowance for giving in a forward motion in response to the impact of a whip or rod.

In more “civilized” societies, people were bound in a way as to restrain the feet from moving. This was done so as to not cause unwanted damage to the feet by hitting anything but the arch area which is particularly susceptible to pain, but which also are very resilient and quite capable of withstanding the hits.

In the ancient world, uncovering one’s feet in public was often considered:

  • a form of humiliation
  • a social disgrace
  • a form of social shaming 

Since we know that at least some form of social stigma was associated with bare feet, it stands to reason that the beatings here mentioned were upon the bare undersides of the feet. It was a social shaming as well as a very painful, yet largely non-damaging form of punishment. 

If done correctly, the one punished in this way could literally walk away from their punishment under their own power. 

The instrument used was formed of three cords, terminating in leather thongs, so that thirteen strokes of this counted as thirty-nine stripes. That this was different than flogging or being beaten on the back with rods seems evident by Paul’s reference to having been beaten by the Jews in this way AS WELL AS having been beaten with rods.

2Cor. 11:23-25,  “(23) Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  (24) From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;”

That this was as much for shaming as it was for punishment, is further proved by the next verse…

Acts 5…

“(41) Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of THE NAME.  

(42) Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah is Jesus.”

All of this was Koinonia – between the children of God, and between God and His children!

Witnessing was a collaborative effort between the Spirit and the Church AND IT STILL IS!!!

It was in the fires of this type of opposition that Peter learned from the Spirit things he later taught. Let’s look at an example of this as we close…

1Peter 4:12-19, “(12) Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. (13) Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. (14) If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (15) None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler. (16) But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name. (17) For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? (18) And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? (19) So those who suffer according to God’s will should, in doing good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!