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Early Writings

by Ellen G. White

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The Disciples of Christ

Peter and John had a boldness after Christ had ascended to heaven that they never had before.
Peter and John had a boldness after Christ had
ascended to heaven that they never had before.

Illustration © Review and Herald Publ. Assoc.

With mighty power the disciples preached a crucified and risen Saviour. Signs and wonders were wrought by them in the name of Jesus; the sick were healed; and a man who had been lame from his birth was restored to perfect soundness and entered with Peter and John into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God in the sight of all the people. The news spread, and the people began to press around the disciples. Many ran together, greatly astonished at the cure that had been wrought. {EW 192.1}

When Jesus died, the priests thought that no more miracles would be performed among them, that the excitement would die out and the people would again turn to the traditions of men. But lo! right among them the disciples were working miracles, and the people were filled with amazement. Jesus had been crucified, and they wondered where His followers had obtained this power. When He was alive, they thought that He imparted power to them; but when He died, they expected the miracles to cease. Peter understood their perplexity and said to them, "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he [193] was determined to let Him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know." {EW 192.2}

The chief priests and elders could not bear these words, and at their command Peter and John were seized and put in prison. But thousands had been converted and led to believe in the resurrection and ascension of Christ by hearing only one discourse from the disciples. The priests and elders were troubled. They had slain Jesus that the minds of the people might be turned to themselves; but the matter was now worse than before. They were openly accused by the disciples of being the murderers of the Son of God, and they could not determine to what extent these things might grow or how they themselves would be regarded by the people. They would gladly have put Peter and John to death, but dared not, for fear of the people. {EW 193.1}

On the following day the apostles were brought before the council. The very men who had eagerly cried for the blood of the Just One were there. They had heard Peter deny his Lord with cursing and swearing when charged with being one of His disciples, and they hoped again to intimidate him. But Peter had been converted, and he now saw an opportunity to remove the stain of that hasty, cowardly denial and to exalt the name which he had dishonored. With holy boldness, and in the power of the Spirit, he fearlessly declared unto them, "By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the [194] corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." {EW 193.2}

The people were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John and took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus; for their noble, fearless conduct was like that of Jesus when before His enemies. Jesus, by one look of pity and sorrow, reproved Peter when he had denied Him, and now as he boldly acknowledged his Lord, Peter was approved and blessed. As a token of the approbation of Jesus, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. {EW 194.1}

The priests dared not manifest the hatred which they felt toward the disciples. They commanded them to go aside out of the council, and then conferred among themselves, saying, "What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it." They were afraid to have the report of this good deed spread among the people. Should it become generally known, the priests felt that their own power would be lost, and they would be looked upon as the murderers of Jesus. Yet all that they dared to do was to threaten the apostles and command them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, lest they die. But Peter declared boldly that they could but speak the things which they had seen and heard. {EW 194.2}

By the power of Jesus the disciples continued to heal the afflicted and the sick who were brought to them. Hundreds enlisted daily under the banner of a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. The priests and elders, and those particularly engaged with them, were alarmed. Again they put the apostles in prison, hoping that the excitement would subside. Satan and his angels exulted; but the angels of God opened the [195] prison doors, and, contrary to the command of the high priests and elders, bade the apostles, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." {EW 194.3}

The council assembled and sent for their prisoners. The officers unclosed the prison doors; but those whom they sought were not there. They returned to the priests and elders and said, "The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within." "Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." {EW 195.1}

Those Jewish leaders were hypocrites; they loved the praise of men more than they loved God. Their hearts had become so hardened that the most mighty works wrought by the apostles only enraged them. They knew that if the disciples preached Jesus, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, it would fasten guilt upon them as His murderers. They were not as willing to receive the blood of Jesus as when they vehemently cried, "His blood be on us, and on our children." {EW 195.2}

The apostles boldly declared that they ought to obey God rather than men. Said Peter, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance [196] to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." At these fearless words those murderers were enraged, and determined to imbrue their hands again in blood by slaying the apostles. They were planning to do this, when an angel from God moved upon the heart of Gamaliel to counsel the priests and rulers: "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." Evil angels were moving upon the priests and elders to put the apostles to death; but God sent His angel to prevent it by raising up among the Jewish leaders themselves a voice in favor of His servants. The work of the apostles was not finished. They were to be brought before kings to witness to the name of Jesus and to testify of the things which they had seen and heard. {EW 195.3}

The priests unwillingly released their prisoners, after beating them and commanding them to speak no more in the name of Jesus. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Thus the word of God grew and multiplied. The disciples boldly testified to the things which they had seen and heard, and through the name of Jesus they performed mighty miracles. They fearlessly charged the blood of Jesus upon those who had been so willing to receive it when they were permitted to have power over the Son of God. {EW 196.1}

I saw that angels of God were commissioned to guard with special care the sacred, important truths which were to serve as an anchor to the disciples of [197] Christ through every generation. The Holy Spirit especially rested upon the apostles, who were witnesses of our Lord's crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension— important truths which were to be the hope of Israel. All were to look to the Saviour of the world as their only hope, and walk in the way which He had opened by the sacrifice of His own life, and keep God's law and live. I saw the wisdom and goodness of Jesus in giving power to the disciples to carry on the same work for which He had been hated and slain by the Jews. In His name they had power over the works of Satan. A halo of light and glory centered about the time of Jesus' death and resurrection, immortalizing the sacred truth that He was the Saviour of the world. {EW 196.2}

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