The Unquenchable Life
(A Study of Acts Chapters 8 – 28)
by Russell M. Stendal
I have been called a wide range of derogatory names over the years, even to the extent of being denounced in some sectors as the antichrist (Matthew 5:10-12). One of the more interesting titles conferred on me (and not always intended as a compliment) is that of the Lone Ranger. As this topic continued to reoccur in one form or another I decided to do a little research. According to Wikipedia:
The Lone Ranger was named so because the character is the only survivor of a group of six Texas Rangers, rather than because he works alone (as he is usually accompanied by Tonto). A posse of six members of the Texas Ranger Division pursuing a band of outlaws led by Bartholomew “Butch” Cavendish is betrayed by a civilian guide named Collins and is ambushed in a canyon named Bryant’s Gap. Later, an Indian named Tonto stumbles onto the scene and discovers one ranger is barely alive, and he nurses the man back to health.
Tonto recognizes the lone survivor as the man who saved his life when they both were children. According to the television series, when Tonto left the Reid place with a horse given him by the boy Reid, he gave Reid a ring and the name Kemo Sabe, which he said means “trusty scout”. Among the Rangers killed was the survivor’s older brother, Daniel Reid, who was a captain in the Texas Rangers and the leader of the ambushed group. To conceal his identity and honor his fallen brother, Reid fashions a black domino mask from the material of his brother’s vest. To aid in the deception, Tonto digs a sixth grave and places at its head a cross bearing Reid’s name so that Cavendish and his gang would believe that all of the Rangers had been killed.
Hmm. This sounds interesting. My thoughts immediately went back to the fall of 1968. Our family was home on furlough from the mission field of Colombia and I went on a ministry trip with my father to the west coast while all the other young people of our church community (Bethany Fellowship of Bloomington, MN) went on a retreat at a camp in northern Minnesota. Tragically, a tornado hit the camp and the young people in my class were killed leaving me the sole survivor. These were the kids that I had gone to Confirmation class with. They would have grown up to be my friends, associates, and contemporaries in ministry. However, some of their parents and relatives have had a special place in their hearts for me ever since and have prayed for and supported me in ministry over the past fifty years.
My thoughts also went back to the 80’s and 90’s when so many missionaries and pastors (many of them personal friends and associates) were killed in Colombia and again, I was the survivor, having been captured by the FARC guerrillas and released after being tied to a tree for 142 days (when one of the guerrilla commanders realized that I was the one who had saved his mother). My brother, Chad, and I remained at the missionary base at Lomalinda where we had grown up and witnessed the departure of the last missionary airplane. All told, more than five hundred friends of my brother and I were killed in the dirty war, while by the grace of God we survived. Intervals of heavy fighting mixed with looting soon destroyed two thirds of the base and one third of the nearby town of Puerto Lleras. Yet God used us to raise up powerful radio stations at Lomalinda that to this day cover even the most remote borders. By the year 2000 close to 850 foreign missionaries had been withdrawn from eastern Colombia, and only my brother and I remained. Untold numbers of church buildings were destroyed, hundreds of pastors gunned down, and, according to the UN, over six million people displaced (second only to Syria).
I continued my research on the Lone Ranger:
The Lone Ranger has a creed put in place by Fran Striker at the inception of him portraying the character. It read: I believe…
That to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
I like the moral code of the Lone Ranger, but would clarify a couple points:
In order to have “the power within to make this a better world” we must be dead to our own plans and ambitions so that Jesus Christ can be alive in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Or in the words of the psalmist, Cause me to live according to thy mercy, so I shall keep the testimony of thy mouth (Psalm 119:88). In the highest sense, “the truth that never changes and lives on forever” is the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). God’s way for us to fight is to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Unless there are a sufficient number of people who understand the above truth, and the significance of what that sixth grave meant to the Lone Ranger, “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people” will fail. For the health of society, and of our nation, there must always be those who will stand alone, if need be, for truth and justice, willing to go against the groupthink of the secular or religious crowd, and against corrupt special interests and private kingdoms to set an example for others to follow.
Over the course of the 52-year war in Colombia my brother and I had many conversations with well meaning officials from the US Embassy and others who wanted us to leave the war zone in the interest of our personal safety and that of our families. They were, for the most part, unable to understand that we consider ourselves already “dead in Christ” and therefore no enemy has been able to overpower us with fear, even if, at times, we must stand alone. Of course, I have never really been alone, the Lord has always been with me and so have my wife, my brother, my children and countless others (friends and guides) that God has always provided to fulfill the role of “Tonto” or even to restore the original “posse”.
More research on the Lone Ranger:
In addition, Fran Striker (the actor) and George W. Trendle (the producer) drew up guidelines (among the following) that embody who and what the Lone Ranger is:
The Lone Ranger was never seen without his mask or some sort of disguise.
He was never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.
He always used perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang and colloquialisms.
Whenever he was forced to use guns, he never shot to kill, but instead tried to disarm his opponent as painlessly as possible.
He was never put in a hopeless situation; e.g., he was never seen escaping from a barrage of gunfire merely by fleeing toward the horizon.
He rarely referred to himself as the Lone Ranger. If someone’s suspicion were aroused, the Lone Ranger would present one of his silver bullets to confirm his identity; but many times someone else would attest on his behalf. The origin of this name was, following the Bryant’s Gap ambush, Tonto observed him to be the only ranger left—the “lone ranger”; Tonto’s choice of words inspired him to call himself “The Lone Ranger”.
Even though The Lone Ranger offered his aid to individuals or small groups facing powerful adversaries, the ultimate objective of his story always implied that their benefit was only a by-product of the development of the West or the country.
The Lone Ranger never drank or smoked; and saloon scenes were usually shown as cafes, with waiters and food instead of bartenders and liquor.
Criminals were never shown in enviable positions of wealth or power, and they were never successful or glamorous.
The Lone Ranger is a symbol of the brave circuit riding preachers, judges and marshals (riding alone or with one or two sidekicks unless circumstances warranted a “posse”) that only feared God and tamed the wild west, heralding well over a century of peace and safety not only for women, children and minorities, but their heroic actions ensured liberty for everyone to pursue happiness and worship God according to each individual conscience. This is unique in world history.
From 1974 when I returned from the University of Minnesota at age 19 to begin our Chaparral Ranch project in untamed eastern Colombia, and as a missionary jungle pilot, until the guerrillas kidnapped me in 1983, I almost always carried a weapon (a Smith and Wesson Highway Patrolman .357 magnum or a .38 Chief’s Special with a concealed carry permit). My first sidekick (in the role of Tonto) was Guillermo Romero, (one of his uncles was the Colombian Minister of Defense and his other uncle was Director of the National Police). My brother, Chad, sometimes rode with us (carrying his Colt .44). On several notable occasions he stopped merciless bands of rustlers from taking our cattle or from harming or raping innocent people.
In the lawless environment of the eastern Colombia cattle country we had many encounters with desperate criminals and always came out on top without ever having to shoot to kill. In one famous encounter I faced down a notorious bad guy who came to our place to wreak havoc with only one “silver” bullet left in my gun. These were special extremely precise bullets that I molded and reloaded on my own. After morning chores, I used to sit in the bushes beside a salt lick (reading C.S. Lewis) and shoot pigeons that were attracted to the salt. With one box of 50 of my special bullets I shot 51 pigeons through the neck or head (two lined up for one shot) and this always made for a good lunch. I also dropped a wild bull with one shot to the head, won shooting contests against nefarious characters, and shot an untold number of snakes through the head including a bushmaster over ten feet long that killed one of my horses (the horse died fifteen minutes after being struck). My brother killed a 22 foot anaconda, with a single shot, in the middle of a swamp in the dark, without a flashlight, that had a strangle hold on his dog.
For the Chaparral project my father had carefully selected the best pastors and evangelists that he could find in the big cities. Facing intense community life in the rustic, wild, hostile, rural environment, most of them failed miserably. The only one that did not get into serious moral trouble, a man that I greatly respected named, Paco, drowned in the river. This left me, at age nineteen, in late 1974, as the only spiritual “elder” that was not morally deviant. I stuck it out until I was kidnapped on August 14, 1983 by the FARC.
Following my miraculous release from the kidnapping on January 3, 1984 (brokered by my brother, Chad) I turned the ranch over to him and entered full time travelling ministry all over North America and Colombia. Since that time (33 years ago) I never carried another firearm, except on special occasions. Now my “silver bullets” are facets of the truth of God that I have been able to share and witness to the men and women and leaders of all the sides of the conflict. In fact, so many have come to Christ that the FARC conflict has ended.
Some of the most dangerous trips I have ever made were over the “paramo” or high alpine Andes above the tree line into territory that had been held by rebels ever since 1917. No churches or religious meetings of any kind were allowed. We went in with 10,000 back packs to give out to all the children filled with Bibles, books, solar powered radios, toys, clothing, school supplies etc. and recruited the children to evangelize their parents, the guerrillas and the army soldiers. The Lord provided me with two brothers to run the radio station I placed on top of a 13,500 ft. peak and as guides. After several almost fatal experiences with horses that failed, my guides bought me a wonderful high mountain stallion that I named, Silver.
On February 17, 2015, I was arrested in Bogota as a result of false charges apparently trumped up by dark enemies who did not understand the importance of seeing the guerrillas converted to Christ. Twenty-four hours later a judge released me and finally, the government was forced to apologize and withdraw the charges. Twenty random campesinos from Sumapaz (including my two guides) who had helped me distribute the children’s backpacks were also arrested and they were held for an entire year without formal charges being filed. They were offered their freedom if they would declare against me (the prosecutor wanted them to testify that I was a guerrilla). All of them stuck to the truth about me even when threatened with long prison terms. Our lawyers were finally able to obtain their release by filing a habeas corpus. This was a horrible miscarriage of justice and cost us quite a bit in legal fees and other expenses.
My enemies thought that they would use the law to “unmask” me but what happened at the trial showed what God had been doing all along. One million Bibles, almost three million good books and one hundred and twenty thousand Galcom radios fix tuned to our frequencies had been distributed throughout the war zones in addition to the thousands of back packs to children that had never been to church or Sunday School.
Silver never let me down. He could power through the treacherous peat bogs, and was sure footed on the slippery shale rock precipices even in the dark. Silver could jump chasms, go up or down seemingly impossible slopes and never caused me to fall (as had been the case with several lesser horses). For the past two years or so he has been out to pasture in the beautiful mountain valley pictured in our movie, La Montaña. It is filled with sweet grass and clover and as close to horse heaven as anywhere I have seen on earth (there are no ticks or horse flies). Both of us are slightly past our prime, but we can still ride. Therefore, when those who would belittle us or warn others not to follow our example call me a Lone Ranger, I really do not mind. I take it as quite a compliment.
Of course we know that God’s end game is for the body of Christ to come to maturity and to function corporately in perfection. He has placed ministry to aid this purpose (Ephesians 4). The day will soon come when Jesus returns with the armies of heaven and all of his saints (Jude 14,15). We will be caught up to meet him in the air and deputized as part of the real posse that will hunt down all the bad guys.
In the meantime, however, it may be necessary on repeated occasions to stand alone as necessary for the truth in the midst of this godless world or even among so called people of God who have become compromised due to selfish ambition and private kingdoms. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 stood seemingly alone in their day. Let’s join them.
1 Faith, therefore, is the substance of things waited for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
The heroes of faith that follow started out alone yet they are called “elders” here in Scripture. They are in God’s hall of fame because they submitted to him instead of blindly following human counsel. They look forward to the perfection of the body of Christ as the substance of things waited for, the evidence of things not seen.
3 Through faith we understand that the ages were framed by the word of God, that which is seen being made of that which was not seen.
God has used each age to fulfill his purpose and has used men and women of faith to demonstrate his will and character.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and by it he being dead yet speaks.
Abel stood alone in his generation. Does this make him a lone ranger?
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Enoch walked alone with God. Does this make him a lone ranger?
6 But without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him.
If we believe that God is and that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him, why would we want to trust in man?
7 By faith Noah, having received revelation of things not seen as yet, with great care prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world and was made heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Was Noah a lone ranger? (Every other human authority in the ancient world was condemned by Noah’s faith.)
8 By faith Abraham, being called, hearkened to go out into the place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he went.
What if Abraham had listened to the elders of Ur of the Chaldees instead of hearkening unto the call of God? Shem was still alive and there must have been other wise patriarchs that Abraham could have sought counsel from. Yet there is no mention in Scripture that Abraham sought advice or counsel from anyone other than God.
9 By faith he sojourned in the promised land, as in a strange country, dwelling in booths with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Even after it was clearly proven that Abraham walked with God and was his friend Abraham refused to build his own city. He refused to attempt to control others. He looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The only everlasting foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Does this make Abraham a lone ranger?
11 By faith also Sara herself being sterile received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she believed him to be faithful who had promised.
It should be very clear by now that faith begins as a very personal, individual thing. Each of us must believe God for ourselves and personally respond to his voice and promises. It is only after our hearts and minds have been cleansed that we may be properly joined to others in the body of Christ.
12 Therefore there sprang even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
Abraham started off alone in response to the call of God. He was promised spiritual descendants, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude (as a father of faith) and natural descendants, as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but seeing them afar off and believing them and embracing them and confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Who all died in faith, not having received the promises?
“Strangers and pilgrims” do not come in clusters. They mostly travel in ones or twos, like the Lone Ranger and Tonto (Jeremiah 3:14).
Does this refer only to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sara? Or does it also apply to their spiritual or natural offspring including us (like unto the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea)?
Some seem to think that God brings forth his people in “clusters,” (or in community in perfect “order” under the authority of “elders”) instead of God cleansing individuals by his Spirit and joining them together after they are clean. Bear in mind, however, that in order for elders like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham or many others to participate in such wonderful wholesome clusters a very important prophetic event must happen called the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4). For we are still in the time in which seemingly indistinguishable wheat and tares grow together in the same field as they both come to maturity. At the time of the harvest, however, the “wheat” bears good fruit and the “tares” produce deadly poison.
Moses spent forty years virtually alone in the desert, tending sheep. God used this as training for Moses to spend another forty years leading the children of Israel through the wilderness.
Was Moses a lone ranger?
What about David? He singlehandedly protected his sheep from lions and bears and then at a very young age stood up to Goliath when every other man in Israel cowered in fear.
Throughout Scripture God anoints individuals.
If the enemy can entice us to submit our ministry to a committee in which one or more of the members are immature or unclean this will begin to take the wind out of the sails of our being led by the Holy Spirit as the committee usurps the authority of God.
The Book of Acts gives very clear examples of how the authority of God flows and of how a ministry team of two or three people (similar in some ways to the Lone Ranger and Tonto) can transition into wonderful, vibrant congregations in which each member of the body of Christ is encouraged to come to maturity with a direct unbroken relationship with Jesus Christ as their head (as their government).
In the OT the elders were determined by the people according to such factors as age, number of progeny, character, genealogy, etc. and even in the NT God does not directly name elders. He decides whether or not to put his seal of the Holy Spirit upon them and the ministry that God has placed discerns this.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given directly by God (Ephesians 4:7-16). They are a gift from God to the body of Christ and are not to lord it over everyone else, but to serve. They represent the authority of God but they are not an intermediate clergy class between the people and God like the Levites and priests of the OT for there is only one mediator of the New Covenant (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:6).
There are examples in Scripture where ministry like Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus or others could discern and recognize and therefore ordain or set in elders in the congregations based at least in part on human initiative. There are, however, no examples where the people or the ministry could decide who is an apostle or a prophet or an evangelist or a pastor or a teacher. This takes a sovereign act of God accompanied by signs that can only be witnessed to and accepted (or rejected).
In the broadest sense all those among the people of God (men or women) who come to maturity in Christ are elders. And those who come to maturity in Christ are not interested in politics. The twenty-four elders in Revelation cast their crowns at the feet of the Lord (Revelation 4:10,11). They know that he deserves all glory and honor and virtue, and that they are only an extension of his government. Even though it is easy to imagine twenty-four literal elders (the twelve sons of Israel plus the twelve apostles of Jesus) they are also symbolic of all of those who have come to maturity in Christ.
Without coming to maturity in Christ it is not possible to do anything worthwhile (because without him we can do nothing). It is not difficult to attain this maturity because Jesus Christ is already mature (perfect) and if we are hidden in him this solves the problem. It does not have to take decades for us to learn this. It may happen quickly or there may be those who struggle for a very long time against the government of God unnecessarily.
The children of Israel could have travelled from Egypt to the Promised Land (symbolic of our inheritance in Christ) in as few as eleven days and they finally got there more than forty years later after an entire generation died off along the way (Deuteronomy 1:2,3).
A Psalm of David
1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, who trains my hands for the battle and my fingers for the war:
David’s fingers (trained by the Lord) were used for his bow, his sling, his sword, and his harp.
2 My mercy and my fortress; my high tower and my deliverer; my shield and he in whom I trust, who subdues my people under me.
David was king, but he did not desire to subdue the people of God under him. David let God do it. If the Lord has anointed any of us for ministry, like he did with David who was an example of prophet, priest and king (all in the same person), which is our inheritance in Christ, then we do not have to be concerned with subduing the people under us. If God has indeed given us authority, he will take care of it at the proper time.
3 LORD, what is man that thou knowest him? or the son of man, that thou esteemeth him?
Jesus came as Son of God, but also as Son of Man. He is the promised seed of Abraham and Son of David. Jesus overcame as a man, but the fullness of the presence of God dwelt inside of him. Anyone that loves the truth will love Jesus.
4 Man is like unto vanity; his days are as a shadow that passes away.
5 Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down …
One definition of the heavens is, where God dwells.
When Jesus came in flesh and blood, he was the Temple of God. Jesus received the Spirit without measure and the fullness of the Father dwelt within him (John 3:34, 14:9-11).
The heavens “bowed” and touched the earth as the Father descended and dwelt within his only begotten Son.
Jesus guidance was internal. His heart was indelibly linked to the heart of his Father. There is no evidence in Scripture to suggest that Jesus ever depended upon external guidance from man once he came to maturity (at about thirty years of age) and began his ministry. Jesus did not consult or depend upon elders or prophets (or even his own disciples) regarding his plans, journeys or any other facet of his ministry.
Jesus depended upon his Father. This total dependency rallied everyone who loved the truth to solidarity with him. Those who hated the truth became his mortal enemies.
Most of the priests, scribes, elders and Pharisees undoubtedly saw Jesus as a lone ranger. They thought that if they could kill him the confrontation would be over.
5 Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
What do the mountains represent?
Mountains can represent the kingdoms of men, the kingdoms of this world.
When Jesus touched the kingdoms of the religious leaders everything began to smoke. The elders of the priests, scribes, Pharisees and Saducees began to lose control. Everything started coming apart. The kingdoms of men could not survive in his presence.
6 Cast forth lightning and scatter them; shoot out thine arrows and destroy them.
The presence of God is as lightning and his arrows project truth that is deadly to the systems of man. (And remember that what was not fully accomplished at the first coming will certainly happen at the second coming.)
Who is them?
The mountains of any kingdom that is not the Kingdom of God.
7 Send thine hand from above; redeem me and deliver me out of many waters, from the hand of the strange sons,
Who are the strange sons?
If the world is the field and the wheat are the sons of God, planted by God (or by those sent from God), then the strange sons are the tares, the sons of the wicked (Matthew 13:38).
8 whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
Jesus enemies claimed to be sons of Abraham. Jesus told them the truth: Ye are of your father the Devil, and the desires of your father ye desire to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him (John 8:44).
9 I will sing a new song unto thee, O God; upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings I will sing praises unto thee.
There are nine references to a new song in Scripture. Here is the ninth and final reference: and they sang as it were a new song before the throne and before the four animals and the elders; and no one could learn that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who were redeemed from the earth (Revelation 14:3).
Only the redeemed may sing the new song and Jesus came to redeem us.
The new song is sung upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. The law of sin and death is based on Ten Commandments, but the “psaltery” of the grace of God brings forth the startling notes of deliverance and freedom by the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ, Jesus (Romans 8:2).
10 Thou, he who gives salvation unto kings, who redeems David his slave from the evil sword.
King David is an example of the Messiah (Christ) yet even so, David needed redemption like everyone else.
What is the evil sword?
There is the double-edged sword of the truth of God that is good, but there is also an evil sword with which our enemies attempt to destroy us. They attempt to trap us with their version of the truth and cause us to fall.
Look at this little exchange between Jesus and the elders:
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why do thy disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders but eat bread with unwashed hands? He answered and said unto them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they honor me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Mark 7:5-7).
Recently someone took me to court, and had a judge put me under oath thinking that if I told the truth I would fall into their trap.
They were unaware, however, that: I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20ª).
Therefore I have no vested personal interests to defend.
11 Redeem me, and save me from the hand of strange sons, whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
The native tongue of our adversary, the Devil, and his (strange) sons is to speak vanity (excessive pride that is worthless and futile). They derive their authority (the right hand is symbolic of authority) from falsehood. Even though they lie, they attempt to trap us by holding us to their version of the truth. They are essentially lawless, but they want to trap us if we do not comply with their interpretation of the letter of the law.
They know nothing of the way of the cross or of the promises of God: Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
Jesus did not come to fulfill the traditions of the elders. He fulfilled the law by the Spirit because his Father dwelt within him and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
They did, however, condemn him to death with the law. To pronounce the sacred name of God (literally, I AM) was blasphemy. When Jesus was put on trial before the Sanhedrin (the council of seventy elders) no one defended him. Their false witnesses contradicted one another and so, they finally asked Jesus, Art thou then the Son of God?
Jesus decided to tip the balance of the trial so that he could legally die for us and so he responded, Ye say that I AM. When Jesus pronounced the sacred name, the trial ended (Luke 70, 71). Jesus is the only human being that could truthfully pronounce that Name, declaring his eternal existence. This caused him to be sentenced to death by vain human elders.
Why did he decide to redeem us, and save us from the vanity and falsehood of the strange sons?
Here are some reasons prophesied one thousand years in advance by King David:
12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace;
That our sons may quickly mature and our daughters may become part of the polished foundation of the glorious new thing that God will accomplish with his people (Isaiah 42:9, 43:19).
13 that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets;
God desires to store up his word in the hearts of his people. We are the sheep of his pasture and he will cause us to be fruitful and multiply instead of being sterile. When God apprehends us from our own crooked ways, as he did with Saul of Tarsus, he immediately conducts us to the street called Straight if we genuinely desire to follow him (Acts 9:11). Then he may multiply us into thousands and ten thousands. (For God refuses to multiply anyone or anything that is not clean or that is incomplete.)
14 that our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in nor going out; that there be no shout of alarm in our streets.
The Cherubim, (special angels or living creatures) that minister unto the Lord and are associated with the realm of the Holy of Holies and with the throne of God have four faces, one of which is that of an ox (Ezekiel 1:10). The ox can be symbolic of ministry (in heaven and on earth). The Book of Acts portrays ministry selected by God that are strong to labor, like an ox. They are humble, hard working servants and help make sure that there be no breaking in nor going out (that the people of God are secure from attack and that no one would have reason to flee or to leave God’s sheepfold) and that there be no shout of alarm in our streets (no complaint of injustice). Jesus said: And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; it is expedient that I bring them also, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16). This is what God began to accomplish in the Book of Acts with ministry like Peter and Paul as the gospel was extended to the Gentiles. The fullness, however, of this promise, is reserved for our day.
15 Blessed is that people, that is in such a case; yea, blessed is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Throughout more than six thousand years of human history there has not been a unified people of God with the fullness of the blessing. There have been many individuals and even some excellent groups here and there. God’s people, however, have had a penchant for choosing human leadership while gradually turning their back on the Lord. The Book of Acts narrates an important inflexion point in which, by the Holy Spirit, God offers to place his government within each and every person that persuades him. It is by the Spirit that we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh so that we may live (not by submitting to man). The battle between the leadership and government of the Spirit versus the leadership and government of man has raged in Christendom for almost two thousand years.
This is about to change. The tares (or “strange sons” that spew poison at harvest time) are about to be removed from among the wheat. This will give way to a beautiful bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing at our Lord’s return coupled with the first resurrection. She will produce consistent good fruit of the Spirit clearly discernable to anyone with “eyes to see.”
Let us Pray:
May we not only understand your message but live it in the power of the Holy Spirit so that men may see our good works and praise our Father in heaven. Amen.
 I turned 13 in November of 1968.
 See Rescue the Captors 2, Chapter 12, The Last Bible Translator, ANEKO Press.
 See Rescue the Captors, Life Sentence Publishing.
 See Rescue the Captors 2 and God’s Plan for Spiritual Battle, ANEKO Press.
 To date, this movie (in Spanish with English subtitles) has almost four million downloads on www.youtube.com making it the most watched Colombian film of all time even though it was banned from theaters in this country by misguided government officials who seemed to want the guerrillas dead instead of evangelized and converted. In addition to soldiers, paramilitaries, campesinos and policemen, many guerrillas of the FARC discreetly became Christians and secret peace talks began in Havana, Cuba in late 2011. This led to open peace negotiations by the end of 2012 with Cuba, Norway, Venezuela, and Chile as sponsoring countries.
 And yes, we understand that children are to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1), and that young people are to respect and submit to their elders (1 Peter 5:5), but each us will ultimately be held personally accountable to God according to the responsibility he has bestowed upon us (Matthew 12:36, Luke 12:48b).
 And even then we must be very cautious not to make commitments to others that have not been approved by God. Otherwise our commitment to a given group or individual(s) may supersede our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and begin to quench the liberty of the Spirit.
 Approximately 2000 years of human history had gone by up until Abraham and in this entire period Scripture only mentions three men previous to Abraham as outstanding and pleasing to God (Abel, Enoch, and Noah).
 The spiritual and natural descendants of Abraham have been increasing for the past four thousand years and the promises have still not been completely fulfilled.
 And according to verse 2 it certainly seems that all of them (including Sarah) are considered, elders, in Scripture.
 I recently did a study of the 192 Scriptures that mention “elders” (See Appendix A) and found that even though it is God’s goal and plan for each and every one of us to come to maturity in Christ most of the examples in Scripture are of ungodly elders (who have come to maturity in the nature of Adam). The word, elder, has to do with maturity but we must keep in mind that maturity as “wheat” is one thing and maturity as “tares” is quite another. Acts 11:30 mark an important turning point with the first mention of reliable elders in the NT.
 Twelve is a number that symbolizes Divine Order (as opposed to man’s order represented by human elders). Twelve squared, one hundred and forty-four, (and remember we are in Psalm 144) represents the consequences of Divine Order (i.e. redemption). One thousand represents perfection. Therefore one hundred and forty-four thousand represents the perfect number of all of the redeemed. They are the only ones who can sing the new song.
 Servants are paid a salary and can quit. A slave belongs to an owner. When Jesus redeems us (from being slaves to sin) he becomes our owner. The sign or seal of his ownership is the Holy Spirit and where that Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (freedom to do the will of God).
 The last two chapters of Acts, in addition to being historically accurate and spiritually inspiring, are also a prophetic picture of the end of our present age. I recently compiled an accurate Dictionary of Proper Names in Scripture (published as an Appendix to the latest edition of the Jubilee Bible in Spanish and in English) and was able to discover the meanings of almost all of the proper names used in the Book of Acts by using old Spanish reference material that has not, for the most part, been available to English, Greek, Hebrew, or Latin scholars. The names in question were pre-Greek and pre-Roman. This was very helpful in unlocking the prophetic picture. Every church structure built by man, even if it was deemed necessary and served a useful purpose at the time, will ultimately shipwreck and fail in the imminent end time storm as we enter the Day of the Lord. The heart of God, however, is to save all of his people.