Christians have a high view of government, not because the government is always good but because it's given by God. Submitting to government is how we submit to God, that is, we don’t sing at church and are socially distanced. But sometimes and very rarely you have to make a choice between God and Government. Today's passage is one of those examples.
We saw last week a beggar who was lame for 40 years, he was instantly, completely, and permanently healed by the apostles in the power of Jesus name. The healed man proved that Jesus is very much Alive and Lord. Peter then called on them all to repent and their sins would be wiped out and over 5000 believed.
As Peter is preaching to large crowds in the temple area the Jewish leaders are upset and come to arrest him. They didn't like what was happening because the power base was shifting,
This Jewish council was the Sanhedrin. They came from rich high priestly families and they belonged to a group called the Sadducees. They sentenced Jesus to death and they were known for not believing in the resurrection. Peter is now preaching that the same Jesus is alive and the resurrection of the dead had begun. Peter and John are stopped in their tracks.
They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” ~Acts 4:7 (NIV)
That was a gift question, it’s up there with “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” With that question, they go straight to Jesus
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. ~Acts 4:10b (NIV)
Peter has come a long way in 2 months, he is no longer denying Jesus and he is now filled with the Holy Spirit and he gives bold witness to his Saviour, he does not hold back. The same Jesus you crucified, God raised to life and this mans healing is proof.
Its one thing confronting the crowd with courage but now Peter is confronting the leaders themselves. He quotes a psalm they would say as they went to Jerusalem.
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; ~Psalm 118:22 (NIV)
The stone they discarded on the cross, He became the most precious - who holds together all of Gods purposes and promises.
I once bought a second-hand surfboard at a garage sale in Mt Druitt for $20, it stayed in my garage for 8 years until I got rid of it by giving it to my nephew. He then sold it on eBay for $800.
The rock that was discarded proved to be most precious. So precious is Jesus that salvation is only found in him.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. ~Acts 4:12 (NIV)
That is a verse worth memorizing. The name of Jesus healed this man and saves our souls:
I knew a man who came to Christ at MBM, he use to be a Taoist (Ying/Yang). He used the name of Tao as his secret password to access his bank account and after becoming a Christian he replaced that name with Jesus. Of all the possible names there was only one name that could access his account. Of all the possible names there is only one name, Jesus, that gives us access to God's salvation.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. ~Acts 4:13-14 (NIV)
Shocked: not by the miracles but by the boldness of Peter and John. They were amazed that these guys were ordinary and untrained. But they were trained, these men had been with Jesus.
I am Ray Galea BTH, I would prefer Simon Peter BwJ (Been With Jesus). In Jesus, they saw it perfectly taught and then perfectly lived out. The leaders that once terrified Peter are now intimidated by him.
So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” ~Acts 4:15-17 (NIV)
If you not committed to truth, you suppress the evidence or explain it away, the healed man was irrefutable proof that Jesus is alive and Lord. The rulers lived in fear that this thing we call Christianity would spread faster than the COVID virus, so they issued orders to shut up about Jesus.
Now it came to just one question - Who do you obey? God or Government
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” ~Acts 4:18-20 (NIV)
Too many Christians use any excuse to justify civil disobedience. Like the church I heard in our area which kept meeting through the lockdown and with no social distancing, they believed the government was trying to suppress Christianity with COVID.
That makes sense… Governments around the world have trashed their own economies to destroy Christians who only make 5% of Australia's population. That is a false choice between government and God.
But here is a real choice, when given a choice to obey God or man they chose to obey God. They could have been silent, they could deny Jesus and get out of trouble but Peter knew what that was like. We all know what that is like, we have all seen God open doors that we have closed. We did it by our silence.
What an enormous change has come upon these fear-ridden men. Listen again. “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
It was only 7 weeks ago when Peter denied he knew Jesus three times “I don’t know him…” now he’s confronting Israel’s leadership. Notice how these Christians operate under pressure? Their first instinct to is pray, oh that we would learn to pray under pressure.
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. ~Acts 4:24 (NIV)
It begins with Sovereign Lord - If God is not in total control then I should panic because God is useless and so is prayer.
The ones who are making the threats are just creatures created by God. They say if you’re nervous giving a speech then imagine everyone naked. I would suggest imagining that each person is created by God, just like you and you will be less intimidated. God controls the universe and He controls the future.
Peter then quotes Psalm 2 that predicts the cross, in this psalm God laughs at the stupidity of rulers of the world who think they can take on his Messiah. It’s like standing in front of a semi-trailer barreling down the highway at 120 km per hour thinking the truck is going to come off second best.
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. ~Acts 4:27 (NIV)
Everyone shares the guilt, the Jews and the Gentiles, the governors and the King. Together they planned out Jesus execution.
They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. ~Acts 4:28 (NIV)
From one vantage point the cross is humans at their worst, that when we had the chance to meet God in the flesh, we killed him.
From another vantage point the cross is God at his best, bringing about the salvation of the world. They did what Gods will decided beforehand should happen.
Learn this lesson, humans are responsible and God is sovereign, like twin train tracks running through the bible. If you get this you are more likely to pray about anything and less likely to be frightened about everything. That is what Peter does.
Now, Lord, consider their threats ~Acts 4:29a (NIV)
They don't tell God what to do! We leave it in your hands, God. There is plenty of stuff in your life you need to leave in Gods hands. Then they prayed for boldness.
…and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. ~Acts 4:29b (NIV)
The apostles are more worried about wimping out then being wiped out, the persecution is going to escalate. What was worse than being arrested, beaten, imprisoned and killed for Jesus, it's denying him, Peter does not want to go back there.
The apostles prayed for boldness which would cause more trouble.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. ~Acts 4:31 (NIV)
God answered their prayers and he will answer yours as well. It’s not a boldness that comes by believing in yourself or feeding your mind with positive thoughts. It’s a boldness empowered by two things, first the Spirit of God. You don’t need another miracle to give you that confidence, you don’t need another sign to speak up for Jesus, but you do need the power of the Holy Spirit.
Seriously, have you ever prayed for spiritual courage? This courage is supernatural, its not limited to extraverts. Let the God-given evidence speak to your doubts.
I was given a box for a belated 60th birthday gift, it's an urn - awkward, I have a box that will one day hold my ashes and it’s a touch unnerving because it made my own death that much more real. So I asked myself is this the end of me?
No! Why not? And then I recalled the evidence.
And now this lame beggar is completely and instantly healed in the name of Jesus which no one can refute. What proves they are telling the truth? These witnesses just 2 months before had denied Christ, so convinced that what they saw is true they will defy authorities and be willing to be arrested, imprisoned and die, proving that Jesus is alive and Lord and that salvation is
found in only him.
No, this urn won't carry me or you, for Jesus is alive and the resurrection from among the dead has begun. So pray for courage to speak in the name of the Living Lord, Jesus.
Partner with us at MBM. Today is Commitment Sunday and the last day for pledges, if you believe Jesus is alive and there is no other name for salvation, then prove it. Put your money where your mouth is, so that others may know that Jesus is alive and salvation is found in only him.
Pray for boldness, pledge generously and ponder the evidence.