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What is Important?
Acts 12 * .1 How valuable is human life?
.1 Often when people escape from some terrible natural disaster or from some great loss, they will say, “We are still alive, and that is what is really important.” .2 If there is a fire or some accident, sometimes people will say, “I am all right and that is all that is all that really matters.” .3 How important is human life? .4 There are two ways to answer this question incorrectly: .5 It is possible for us to place a lower value on human life than the Bible places on human life. This is wrong. .6 But I also want to say that it is possible for us to place a higher value on human life than the Bible places on human life. This is also wrong. .7 Here is the summary of my sermon, “The most important thing in life, is not life.”

* .2 Acts 12 helps us in understanding this idea. (explain & comment)
.1 (Acts 12) {1} "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. {2} He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. {3} When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. {4} After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. {5} So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. … .2 {11} Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." … .3 {18} In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. {19} After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while.
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.4 {21} On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. {22} They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." {23} Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. .5 {24} But the word of God continued to increase and spread. .6 (Деян.12) 1 В то время царь Ирод поднял руки на некоторых из принадлежащих к церкви, чтобы сделать им зло, 2 и убил Иакова, брата Иоаннова, мечом. 3 Видя же, что это приятно Иудеям, вслед за тем взял и Петра, - тогда были дни опресноков, - 4 и, задержав его, посадил в темницу, и приказал четырем четверицам воинов стеречь его, намереваясь после Пасхи вывести его к народу. 5 Итак Петра стерегли в темнице, между тем церковь прилежно молилась о нем Богу. .7 11 Тогда Петр, придя в себя, сказал: теперь я вижу воистину, что Господь послал Ангела Своего и избавил меня из руки Ирода и от всего, чего ждал народ Иудейский. .8 18 По наступлении дня между воинами сделалась большая тревога о том, что сделалось с Петром. 19 Ирод же, поискав его и не найдя, судил стражей и велел казнить их. Потом он отправился из Иудеи в Кесарию и [там] оставался. .9 21 В назначенный день Ирод, одевшись в царскую одежду, сел на возвышенном месте и говорил к ним; 22 а народ восклицал: [это] голос Бога, а не человека. 23 Но вдруг Ангел Господень поразил его за то, что он не воздал славы Богу; и он, быв изъеден червями, умер. .10 24 Слово же Божие росло и распространялось.

* .3 In addition this text in Acts 12, I want to bring to your memory several other biblical texts.
.1 Several places in the Old Testament, when the people of God come into the promised land they are told to kill everyone. (Men, women, children, … even animals.) .2 Let us remember that at the birth of Jesus, innocent babies died because Herod heard the King of the Jews had been born. (What words of comfort would
you give to those mothers?)

.3 I want to remind you that during the ministry of Jesus, John the Baptist is beheaded.
/opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch2809/78690810.doc 14 December 2011

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.4 A few chapters earlier in Acts 5, Ananias and Safaria die. .5 It has not been long since the first martyr Stephen was stoned to death. .6 When we look at these events, we must ask, “How important is human life?” .7 Let me say again, “The most important thing in life, is not life.”

* .4 As we read the 12th chapter of Acts we find several questions:
.1 God reaches into history to save the life of one person. Peter .2 God does nothing to save the life of James. Why? .3 You are the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, and you stand up and say two interesting things happened this week: Peter was miraculously freed from prison, and James was put to death with the sword. Praise the Lord. .4 How do you give meaning to what happened? .5 What do you say to the family of James? .6 If I had been James, the first thing that I would have asked God when I got to heaven was, “Why did you save Peter from prison and not me?” .7 James is the first Apostle to be martyred and the only one the Bible records. The original text uses only 7 words to record this event. Why not more? .8 That’s not the only question. I would also ask God, “Why did you free Peter from prison in a way that cost 16 solders their life?” Was the freedom of Peter more important than the life of 16 people? ( 4 or 16 solders died)
.a These solders were innocent in the loss of their prisoner. .b Certainly the loss of “innocent life” hurts more than the lost of guilty life.

.9 Then in verse 23 we are told that God killed Herod. Do you think that the worship of God was more important than his life? .10 As we read Acts 12, the Bible challenges our idea of the value of life. .11 And one of the things it says is, “The most important thing in life, is not life.”


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* .5 Modern society has created “moral values” which it has elevated above the Word of God.
.1 Life – Freedom – Human law – Human rights .2 Life – Jesus ask about the benefit of gaining everything in physical life but loosing your eternal soul. .3 Freedom – According to Genesis, people were not created to be free, … not in the ultimate sense of freedom from God. .4 Human law – democracy (I can find more Christians in America who will die for democracy than who are willing to die for the spread of the gospel.) .5 Human rights – In the Old Testament people died for homosexuality, today it is the opposite. .6 All of these things can be good, but also can be taken to an extreme.

* .6 If life is not the most important thing in life, then what most important?
.1 {24} But the word of God continued to increase and spread. .2 24 Слово же Божие росло и распространялось. .3 In the context of Acts 12, this is more important than human life, justice, politics, economics, or anything else. .4 I think the war in Iraq is wrong. Please listen closely, because I do not think that the pulpit is the place to make a political statement, and I do not mean this as a political statement.
.a I am not talking about justice. .b I am not talking about weapons of mass destruction. .c I am not talking about terrorism. .d I am not talking about the cost of war or the number of people who have been killed. .e I think the war in Iraq has produced the opposite effect that is talked about in verse 24. .f This war may be right in every way, … except one, … it has hurt the process of world evangelism.

.5 And in the end, the most important thing in life, is not life. .6 So what: This allows us to suffer injustice for the cause of Christ.
/opt/scribd/conversion/tmp/scratch2809/78690810.doc 14 December 2011

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