Air Force’s first core value is, “Integrity First.” Every airman was required to learn what it meant. Two of the better definitions were: doing what is right even if no one is watching, and doing what is right even when it hurts. It takes courage to live with integrity.

            In Acts 4:18, the Jewish government commanded the apostles to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. The apostles were confronted with a choice, they could obey the command, or they could disobey. Disobedience would result in punishment. Once the Sanhedrin council made this pronouncement, it became law. Would they maintain their integrity?

            In Acts 4:19-20, Peter and John answered the Jewish government. They said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (ESV). They made a choice to maintain their integrity. Jesus had commanded them in Acts 1:8 to be His witnesses. Peter, John, and the others would continue to do just that, even if it meant suffering.

            Today, we enjoy the freedom of speech according to the first amendment of the Constitution. If the government asks us what we believe, we may say so. If the government tells us to stop speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus, we may ignore it. It has been difficult to conceive of a circumstance that would lead to the government silencing the Gospel, but some in our country are becoming increasingly concerned about it. If we follow the example of the apostles in Acts 4:19-20, we should not be concerned about that ever coming to pass. We will speak and teach anyway.

            Everybody in the US has the right to free speech, including those who would shout us down or exclude us from polite society. The good news of Jesus is inherently offensive because it requires people to change. Social media, gossip, and threatening messages are an immediate threat to those who would speak and teach in Jesus’ name. But just as we would respond to a government trying to silence us, so too must we respond to public outcry. We must speak and teach in the name of Jesus. Jesus requires it of His servants, even if it hurts. That requires integrity. (It also requires us to know the Gospel, otherwise we will not be speaking in Jesus’ name.)

            What is the Gospel? Jesus is God. He created this world. He came to this world, taught, and died cruelly in order to reconcile mankind and God. If one believes that, then the Gospel requires turning away from sin, declaring Jesus as Master, submitting to immersion in water, and living each day after that for the Master. Do you want the Gospel for yourself? Sit down with me over an open Bible and study if these things are so.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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