The Trail of Blood – Part 1


The Trail of Blood – Part 1

December 31st, 1967 @ 7:30 PM

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 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 sitting in his chariot read Esaias 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 Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some 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: In his humiliation 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. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples. And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshiped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things. And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
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Part 1 of 3

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 8-20

12-31-67      7:30 p.m.



On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message, and by evening I mean until after midnight.  The title of the message is The Trail of Blood; and it is the story of the churches of our Lord from the days of their founding and organization to the present moment, this church in which we gather and this congregation to which we belong.

As you could have seen at the 8:15 o’clock service this morning and as you can see tonight, the men on our platform are our young dedicated gentlemen who are in college and university.  And we are so proud of them.  They are studying to be dedicated and consecrated teachers and doctors and lawyers and workmen, some of them ministers and missionaries and staff members.  And they are our true treasure, the inheritance of Jehovah.  And as they introduce these different men from different colleges and universities, I would like to add my word of love and appreciation for the president of one of our nearest, and finest and flailingest and growingest institutions, Dallas Baptist College.  We are honored tonight in the presence of their president, Dr. Charles Pitts, who is here tonight with his dear wife.  I saw both of them stand up in our recognition of guests; and we want to see you later on in the evening, Dr. Pitts; we have lots of time.

Now, the message is broken up into several sections; and this first one will be like a church service.  I am going to speak, going to preach, and at the end of this message, I shall give an invitation, somebody to give his heart to Jesus, someone to put his life in the fellowship of our dear church. Then after that invitation, you who have children can take them to the Beginner or Primary departments where they are prepared to take care of them until after midnight.  And after a brief intermission, we will all be back here in the auditorium, and I shall follow the story of the churches of our Lord through all of the centuries since the day of our Master [Revelation 2:1-3:22].  I shall speak of the Ephesian church that left its first love; then I shall speak of the Smyrnan church, of the martyrs; then I shall speak of the Pergamean church, married and identified with the world; then I shall speak of the Thyatiran church, wedded to idolatry, the church of idolatry; then I shall speak of the Sardian church of the Reformation; then I shall speak of the Philadelphian church of the open door; then I shall speak of the Laodicean church of the final apostasy; then I shall close with a word of one of the phenomenal characteristics of Christianity—which is revival.

 Always, in the church, there is the latent, potent, ever present possibility of revival.  And we are going to face the new year looking to God for an outpouring of His Spirit.  Now to begin with I shall speak of the church of the New Testament.  What was it like?  And had you attended the church in a New Testament time, what would it have been like?  We’re going to look at the New Testament church and then follow it through the ages thereafter.

Our Lord said, “I will build My church” [Matthew 16:18]; and He gave it its ordinances, its discipline, its fellowship, its commission [Matthew 18:10-22, 28:18-20].  And when our Lord returned back to heaven [Acts 1:9-10], He left in this earth a church.  But it was a church without quickening power; it was like a body without the breath of life.  And at Pentecost there was poured out upon that church of Jesus the Christ the living, quickening Spirit of God [Acts 2:1-4].  And the church followed under the leadership of the Holy Spirit the conquest, the increasing outreach of evangelizing the entire civilized world.  For the Lord had said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” [Acts 1:8].  So beginning at Jerusalem, the church began to expand under the leadership of the Holy Spirit according to that great outline given it of our Lord. 

First:  the church and its message was directed to the Jews, and the first members of the church were all Jews.  And the message of Peter and of the apostles was directed to the Jew in Jerusalem [Acts 2:5-8:4]; then the outreach began, and the message of Christ was delivered to a half -Jew, to a half-breed, to the Samaritans [Acts 8:5-17].  By the time we come to the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, the gospel of the Son of God is not being preached alone in Jerusalem or alone in Judea, but Philip, the deacon and the evangelist, is preaching the gospel to the half-breeds, to the Samaritans who are half-Jews [Acts 8:5-12].  And God greatly blessed them; and the hand of the Lord was with them.

Then the next thing we find:  the gospel of Christ is being preached to a Gentile proselyte of the temple [Acts 8:26-39].  There are two kinds of proselytes:  there was a proselyte of the temple, and there was a proselyte of the gate.  Now the proselyte of the temple was a man who became himself a full-fledged Jew:  he was circumcised, he belonged to the Jewish congregation, he was a member of the family of Israel, and he observed all the rites and rituals of the Mosaic legislation.  So after the gospel was preached to the Jew in Jerusalem [Acts 2:5-8:4], then to the half-breed Jew in Samaria [Acts 8:5-12], then it goes beyond, and it is delivered by Philip, the deacon and the evangelist, to a Gentile proselyte of the temple, an Ethiopian eunuch.  And this man who was a convert to Judaism from Ethiopia and had come up to Jerusalem for to worship [Acts 8:26-27], there had found a copy of the prophet Isaiah.  And as he went back to Ethiopia, he was reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah [Acts 8:28].  And the Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Join yourself to the chariot” [Acts 8:29].  And hearing him read Isaiah [Acts 8:30], he said, “Do you know of whom the prophet speaketh?”  And he preached unto him Jesus” [Acts 8:34-35].  And the man was converted and baptized [Acts 8:36-39]; and the church included then in its outreach a proselyte, a Gentile of the temple, a man who had become a full-fledged Jew. 

Then the next outreach of the gospel, spreading out, spreading out, was to a Gentile, a proselyte of the gate; that is, a man who remained a pagan, he remained a Gentile, but he had forsaken his pagan gods and had found rest for his heart in the purity of the revelation of the one Jehovah God in the Mosaic law.  And such a man was this centurion by the name of Cornelius, who lived in Caesarea [Acts 10:1].  And there in Caesarea, the gospel of the Son of God was preached by Simon Peter to Gentiles, to men who were not circumcised, to men who were not members of the family of Israel.  They accepted the moral law of the gospel, but they had gone no further; and there in Caesarea, out and out Gentiles, pagans, proselytes of the gate were added to the church of the Lord [Acts 10:1-48].

Then the message continues out, and continues out, and continues out, and finally in Antioch, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Acts, the gospel there for the first time is preached to an out and out idolater [Acts 11:19-21].  These are men who have worshiped in the name of Venus in their sexual orgiastic worship services.  These are men who know no other thing than the filth and the vileness and the iniquity of the unspeakable, indescribable, unnamable heathen worship.  And there the gospel of Christ by these Greek speaking Jews is delivered to out and out idolaters; and a marvelous thing comes to pass:  these men who have no acquaintance with the law of Moses, these men who were not proselytes of anything, out and out idolaters, heathen, these men turned to the Lord and are wondrously saved, the first time such a thing had ever happened in the history of mankind.  Men, who were in iniquity, worshiping gods and goddesses, turned and were miraculously and marvelously saved.  And when tidings of such a thing came to the apostles at Jerusalem, they couldn’t believe their ears.  And they sent Barnabas up there to Antioch to look upon such a thing, who, being a Hellenistic Jew himself, being a Greek speaking Jew himself, when he saw what had happened, rejoiced; he praised God that such a thing could be; that men could be taken out of heathenism and out of gross idolatry and could be converted and added to the kingdom of God [Acts 11:22-24].  And Barnabas, finding his hands weak under so great a conversion and such a great turning to the Lord, went to Tarsus to find one Saul of Cilicia, the capital city of Tarsus, and brought him back.  And there in Antioch, they worked together for Jesus; and God’s hand was with them, and the power of the Holy Spirit was upon them [Acts 11:25-26].

And the great outreach of the Christian faith began to go on and out and beyond.  No longer is it Jerusalem, the capital, but now it is Gentile Antioch [Acts 11:19-24].  And out of Antioch, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them” [Acts 13:2].   And the first missionary journey, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, goes to Cyprus [Acts 13:4], then across to the mainland of Asia Minor [Acts 14:1-25]. Then that precipitated the tremendous conference in Jerusalem:  “How is it that a man who is an idolater could become a Christian, could be saved and not keep the law of Moses?” [Acts 15:1-5].  So the Judaizing sector, denomination, of the Christian faith said, “The men must be circumcised, and they must keep the law of Moses, or else they cannot be saved” [Acts 15:5].  And Paul and Barnabas stood up and said, “No, we are saved not by keeping any law, and not by doing any good works, and not by following any ritual; but we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord [Acts 15:1-4, 12].  His blood is all sufficient; His atonement is all that is needed to wash us from our sins.”  That precipitated a tremendous confrontation in the early churches [Galatians 5:10-12].  So they went down to Jerusalem, in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, and there it was decided that the Gentile Christian should remain free from the law.  No burden upon it, no burden of Sabbath day keeping, of sacrifices, of a thousand this and that’s, cleans and uncleans; but a man for Jesus’ sake is to love God and serve in His blessed name [Acts 15:13-35].

So when Barnabas and Paul come back, Barnabas takes Mark and goes with him on a missionary tour [Acts 15:36-41].  And now in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, we have the second great missionary journey.  And Paul takes Silas and swinging through Asia Minor, he crosses over for the first time the Hellespont into Europe; and he preaches the gospel to Europe [Acts 16:9-12].  What an amazing turn when you look at history; because Paul wanted to go east to Bithynia, to the Caucasus, to Armenia, to India, to China, to Japan, Paul wanted to turn east [Acts 16:6-7]; and had he turned east, it would have been the missionary coming to the Western world from China and from Japan; but the Holy Spirit forbad him and turned Paul west [Acts 16:6-7].  And Paul coming down to Troas heard the man from Macedonia calling to him [Acts 16:8-9].  And across the Hellespont did he go and preach the gospel in Europe [Acts 16:10-17:34].  Then returning to Jerusalem, then to Antioch, he begins, in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts and the nineteenth, the third missionary journey; and preaches the gospel in illimitable, immeasurable power in the city of Ephesus [Acts 18:23-21:27].  And the Roman province of Asia is moved God-ward and Christ-ward; and the churches in Asia are founded.  Then finally, in the twenty-seventh and the twenty-eighth chapters of the Book of Acts [Acts 27:1-28:16], Paul is preaching the gospel in the city of Rome itself; the imperial city of the Caesars [Acts 28:23-29].  And in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Gospel of Acts, the story ends [Acts 28:29-31].

Now in that day, had we attended a New Testament church, what would it have looked like?  How would the services have been?  From the record here in the New Testament, it is very easy to see it.  First, it had two ordinances, and they were very prominent, very prominent.  There was the ordinance of baptism; the initial ordinance, the entrance into the church, into the body of Christ, into the household of faith.  “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  I want to be baptized” [Acts 8:36].  The first thing that a man feels in his heart when he’s been saved, when he hears the gospel of Christ and responds to it, “I want to be baptized.”  When a man refuses to be baptized, he hasn’t been saved; for the first thing that a saved man will want to do is to be baptized.  That is in keeping with the Great Commission of our Lord:  “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” [Matt 28:19].  “I want to be baptized.”  But Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” [Acts 8:37].

First, God asks of us that we trust in Jesus as our Savior; that is first [Acts 8:37].  The requirement to be baptized, to be a member of the body of Christ is not how old you are, it is not how learned you are, it is not whether you are male or female, black or white, tall or short, fat or thin, learned or unlearned, rich or poor, anything; there is just one requirement of God for Christian baptism, and that is, “Have you accepted the Lord as your Savior?”  And when the eunuch said, “I trust in Jesus with all my heart” [Acts 8:36-37], they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and Philip baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit caught away Philip that the eunuch saw him no more.  And that eunuch went on his way rejoicing [Acts 8:38-39].  Hallelujah, glory to God!  So if you went to a New Testament church in that ancient day, you would have noticed first that they baptized all of their converts upon a confession of faith.  “They were buried with the Lord,” as Paul says, “in the likeness of His death; and they were raised,” Paul says, “in the likeness of His glorious resurrection” [Romans 6:3-5].

Another thing you would observe in that ancient church:  you would observe that they seriously, prayerfully observed the second, the recurring ordinance, the Lord’s Supper.  “For I have received,” said the apostle Paul, “that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed” [1 Corinthians 11:23] and that’s why I loved to observe the Lord’s Supper at night,

The same night in which He was betrayed took bread:  And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat:  this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me [1 Corinthians 11:23-25].  And after the same manner also He took the cup, when He Himself had drank of it, and said, Drink ye all of it, for this is My blood of the new covenant, of the new promise, shed for the remission of sins [Matthew 26:27-28].  For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come, till He come [1 Corinthians 11:26].


So the church is there, many times, frequently observing the Lord’s Supper.  They are blessing bread, breaking it, and eating it.  They are blessing the cup, and all of them are drinking of it.

Not only did that early church have two ordinances, and only two, but they also had two officers.  In the first verse of the first chapter of Philippians, Paul writing to Philippi said to the Philippians, “And to the bishops and the deacons” [Philippians 1:1].  Now, all through the Bible you will find those referred to: a bishop, an elder, a pastor; and a deacon.  In the third chapter of the first letter to Timothy, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” [1 Timothy 3:1], then is the qualifications for a minister [1 Timothy 3:2-7].  Then as he goes on he says, “Likewise must the deacons,” then he gives the qualification for a deacon [1Timothy 3:8-13].  Now as I turn the page and look at Titus, I find there in the first chapter of Titus, that he will use the word, presbuteros, “elder”; and the word, episkopos, “bishop,” referring to the same man and the same office [Titus 1:5-7].  And in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, I find all three words referring to the same officer.  In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, Paul will call the pastor of the church the poimēn, the “pastor”; he’ll call him the presbuteros, the “elder” of the church” [Acts 20:17];  and in the same chapter, he will call the same officer, he will call him the episkopos, translated “the bishop” of the church [Acts 20:28].  So in that early church, there were two officers, and only two.  There were two orders of ministry: there was the presbuteros, the episkopos, the poimēn, all referring to the same man.  The word episkopos is the Greek word for “overseer.”  The word presbuteros is the word for “an older person, the elder.”  And the poimen is the Greek word for “the shepherd.”  So the officer who presided over the church is called sometimes in the New Testament an episkopos, a bishop; a poimen, a pastor; a presbuteros, an elder; all referring to the same officer.

Then in the church was the deacon, and the deacon in the New Testament was a man who helped the pastor in all of his work and especially in the care of the church.  Now, in the New Testament church, one of them was paid.  Guess which one.  And not only was he paid, but after I get through preaching tonight, I’d like to have a convocation of the church, and the deacons especially, for the Book says, “Let the elder, let the pastor, let the bishop, let the presbuteros, the elder, let the elder that rules, that guides the church, worthy, be counted a man to receive double” [1 Timothy 5:17],  and you have the Greek translation here “honour,” honor; the Greek word is timē  and that means “pay!”  That’s what the Book says!  Are you listening, chairman of my board of deacons?  That’s what the Book says; let that elder that does his work well be counted worthy of double pay, raise his salary; for the Scripture saith, “They shall not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,” and again, “the laborer is worthy of his hire” [1 Timothy 5:18].  How do you like that?  Man, that sounds good—that’s preaching brother!  That’s right, the pastor was paid; the presbuteros, the “bishop” was paid.  And if he did well, they raised his salary.  Now I’m just kidding you about our church here; this church pays me twice as much as I’m worth, God bless them, they’ve always been so good to me.

Not only did you have two ordinances in that early church; and not only did you have two orders of ministry in that early church, you had a pastor and you had a deacon; but there were two characterizations of their worship.  First and foremost and most noticeable, they worshiped on Sunday.  That was an amazing departure in the early days of Christianity; they met on Sunday.  For example, Paul at Corinth pulled out the Christians from the Jewish synagogue and set them over here by themselves [Acts 18:7].  And again, Paul pulled out the Christians at Ephesus and set them over here by themselves [Acts 19:9-10].  Now one of the marks of the Jew was that he observed a Sabbath day [Exodus 20:8]; and it was very noticeable wherever the Jew went.  Wherever the Jew goes today, it is very noticeable that he observes a Sabbath day.  But the Christians were a different kind, they were a different set of somebodies; and they met on Sunday.  And there is no deviation from that story of the Christian church; they met on Sunday [Acts 20:7].

 Now look at it through the Bible. First, when Jesus was raised from the dead [John 20:1-7; Mark 16:9], He met with His disciples on the first day of the week, that night; He met with them on the Lord’s Day, on Sunday [John 20:19-23; Luke 24:1, 36-49].  Then eight days later, and from the Jewish way of reckoning, writing this book, counting Sunday to Sunday, the eighth day is Sunday; Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  The way they counted it, on the eighth day again, that is the next Sunday night Jesus met with His apostles and disciples [John 20:26-31].  So they started meeting, in the beginning, on Sunday.  Now, as time went on, in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts, we find Paul preaching at Troas on the first day of the week, and observing the Lord’s Supper while he was preaching, and he preached until past, how long?  The Book says here “past midnight” [Acts 20:7-8].  Amen.  And when we gather here and the preacher is preaching until past midnight, he’s doing just like they did in the Bible. 

Paul at Troas preached until past midnight.  And one of his hearers, Eutychus, fell sound asleep and out the window and broke his neck [Acts 20:9-10]. Isn’t that something?  Isn’t that something?  It was in the hot summertime, and they had a lot of lamps going in the temple, in the house, and he was seated upstairs in a window that was open and went sound asleep and fell out and broke his neck.  Well, apostle Paul raised him from the dead and everything went along.  And did he stop preaching?  No.  He went back up there, opened his Bible, and started out all over again as though nothing had happened [Acts 20:11].  That’s great days; those were marvelous times.  But they met on Sunday; and Paul preached to them on Sunday until after midnight.  Now, in that same passage, I see they observed the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, on the first day of the week [Acts 20:11]

Then in the first Corinthian letter, in the sixteenth chapter, in the second verse, I see that they brought their offerings and laid them aside for God on Sunday, on the first day of the week [Acts 16:1-2].  Then in the last book in the Bible, I see where the apostle John on the isle of Patmos, where he was shut off from his brethren and he could not go to church, he was in the Spirit, he was in prayer, he was talking to Jesus, all by himself when time came that his brethren were worshiping God on the mainland.  He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day [Revelation 1:10], praying to Jesus, loving Jesus, singing songs to Jesus, just happy in the Lord, though he was by himself on an island to die of exposure and starvation [Revelation 1:9].  Sunday was the day of worship of the early Christians.  Now when you go beyond the Bible, we’re going to run into Pliny just a little later on—Pliny the Younger was the proconsul of Bithynia, he was the governor of Bithynia, that’s all that country just south of the Black Sea—now Pliny the Younger was a famous man and a gifted man; a man of literature, of culture, and of letters.  So he wrote to Trajan a letter; and we’re going to read part of that letter a little later on.  And Trajan said, “These Christians over here meet on the first day of the week.  And they sing a hymn to Jesus as God, and they pray to Him as the Lord.”  So from the beginning, the Christians met on Sunday.  And it was the great demarcation between them and the Jewish sects out of which they had come.

All right, a second thing about their services, when they met together; the Jewish people had their synagogue services, but when the Christian people met, oh, my! everything went on, everything went on.  They were happy in the Lord, they were glad in the Lord; they had preaching, and they had preaching extensively.  “For,” wrote the apostle Paul, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” [1 Corinthians 1:21]…”And he preached unto him Jesus” [Acts 8:35]…”And Paul preached until past midnight” [Acts 20:7].  When you went to that early church, you would have found that elder, that pastor, that episkopos, that presbuteros, that poimēn, you would have found him preaching, opening the Word of God and telling the people what God said in the Book.  All right, another thing about that early church, in the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians and verse 19, you will find them singing.  Isn’t that right?  Isn’t that right?  “Singing,” it says, “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord” [Ephesians 5:19]

And that’s one thing about us I don’t understand.  You can go to an English church and everybody will sing, everybody will sing, everybody will sing.  You come to our church, and about a third of the people just look like they had drunk stump water, and all kinds of gall bitternesses, and just sitting there; man how do you do it? Yeah!  He said, “Preacher, that’s preaching.”  Listen, listen, some of you say, “But I can’t carry a tune.”  God never said that we had to sing beautifully.  All the Lord said was, “We are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord” [Psalm 100:1].  Did you ever hear a drum by itself?  Why, it’s the worst sounding thing in the world, but put it in a band, and my land, how that thing beats the time.  Well, you can do that.  If you can’t sing, growl; just keep time with it, just keep time.  Tap your foot, clap your hand, anything; but they all did it.  The church had a great music program; and they rejoiced in the Lord.

All right, a third thing about that early church:  they shared in the services.  And that’s the only difference between us and them that I know of today.  I have never yet quite figured out how it is that we could get our people to share more in the services.  In the fourteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, you have an extensive outline of how it was the people went to church.  Some of them had a doctrine to expound; some of them had a revelation from God, God had spoken something to their hearts; some of them had a testimony to give; some of them had a praise and a thanksgiving to add to Jesus [1 Corinthians 14:26]

Did you know the most like that, I think, that I ever attended was in a mission; and I have no idea what kind of a mission it was.  But a long time ago, I was walking late at night down the streets of the city of Chicago, and I heard hymn singing, and I crossed the street and walked over there, and in an old place that looked like an empty store building, there was a Christian service going on.  I never saw such a polyglot bunch of bums in my life; they looked like they’d been gathered out of the gutter, out of the sewer, out of the streets of the city.  So I just went in and sat down in the back seat, and I looked at them, and I watched them. Well, bless you, I never was more, I never was more fed in my life.  One of them would stand up and say—and they all were foreigners, they spoke with foreign accents—one of them would stand up and say, “I have learned a passage out of God’s Book,” and he’d quote a passage from the Bible.  And another would say, “I have written a song to Jesus,” and he’d get up there, and he would sing the song that he’d written to the Lord Jesus.  And another one would get up, and he’d testify how much Jesus had meant to him.  And another one would get up there, and he’d tell how he’d been so wondrously converted.  Why, it wasn’t long until I was seated back there on the back end of that chapel on a hard bench in that empty store building looking at that nondescript bunch of bums off of the street, and I just sat there, and just the tears rolling off of my face, just loving God for what God is able to do; taking up such flotsam and jetsam of life and setting their feet on the Rock and putting a song in their souls. 

Now that was the early church; they all shared in it.  And whatever we can do in this church, whatever we can do in a Sunday school, in a Training Union, in prayer services, in missions, in the organized life of our people, whatever we can do to make it possible for our people to share in the worship and the love of God, let’s do it.  For the more we go in that direction, the more we are like a primitive, early, New Testament church.  To be ritualistic, to be reserved, to be removed, to be starchy, to be lifted up, to be unapproachable is the opposite of the people who first found the Lord in a stable, laid on the hay in a manger [Luke 2:8-16].  There’s nothing stilted or removed in a true church of Jesus the Lord.  In the church of Christ, you’ll always find warmth, and love, and tears, and blessing, and praise, and thanksgiving, and loving God and God’s work.

Well, that was just a little introduction that I had prepared for what I was going to do this first service, now I haven’t got to it yet.  Well, what we better do is this:  we better have our invitation, we better have our appeal.  And then we’ll have our little intermission when you can take your children.  Then we’re going to pick it up and carry it on through the centuries that lie beyond.

Now while we sing our song—is it “We’re Marching to Zion”?  While we sing our song, to give your heart to Jesus, or to put your life in the fellowship of our dear church, a family you, or a couple you, or one somebody you, while we sing our song and while we make this appeal, you come and stand by me.  “Here I am, pastor, I choose tonight.”  Do it now, in the balcony round, you; on the lower floor, into this aisle and down to the front, what a glorious time this New Year’s Eve, what a glorious time to begin with God,  “Pastor, I open my heart to the blessed Jesus, and here I come.”  Or, “Pastor, this is my wife, and these are our children; all of us are coming tonight.”  Or just a couple you, while we sing this song, you come.  Right now, where you are, make the decision.  And in a moment when we stand to sing, you stand up coming.  “Here I am, I make it now,” while we stand and while we sing.