Profession and Proof

When the disciples of Jesus found themselves without the actual presence of their beloved Lord and Master, they began to realize that they were now thrown on their own resources. Nevertheless, so buoyed up were they by the memories of his radiant presence and inspiring words that there was no surrender to despondency. But on the contrary, St. Luke tells us in the concluding words of his Gospel, after being parted from him they "returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."

They later found, however, that for their own protection and for that of their ministry, with its proofs of joy and harmony and healing, it was necessary to establish some sort of organized body, which up to that time there had been no attempt to do. There is no evidence that this organized body adopted any name, or thought of itself as anything but a select group consisting of members of the Israelitish community who had come together to acknowledge their common faith in and allegiance to their Master. The title of Christian had not as yet been given to these new believers, and it is not until we are nearly halfway through the Acts of the Apostles, some time after St. Paul's conversation, that we find this brief note (Acts 11:26): "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

Their profession of faith had been very vigorous and had resulted in a good deal of persecution from the orthodox Pharisees, the leaders of the Jewish religion, as well as from the numerous intellectual Greeks, who delighted in controversy about religion. Nevertheless, we are told that daily in the temple, and in every house, they went about their work of teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Besides this, whenever the "signs following" were expectantly claimed in the assurance that the Master's promise would hold good, there the proofs followed, and in their train came great growth. Thus we have the incident at the temple gate (Acts 3:6), when, on Peter's adjuration, the cripple was immediately restored to normal activity. As the result of this incident and many more healings among the people, we are told (Acts 5:14), "Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."

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And When They Began
February 15, 1947

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