"Courage In Proclomation"
Intro: When I caught a mouse and faced bat
When we look at the book of Acts over the next five weeks, we will see a reoccurring theme. That theme is courage.
Chapter four of Acts is the continuation of the story from the lame beggar that was healed in chapter three.
This part of the story is the continuation of a very public reaction to a healing that took place. Prior to this point in Acts you would read how the crowd reacted to that healing.
Today we will begin to see the response from the infamous Sanhedrin. This same group of men who tried Jesus and had him sentenced to death on a cross.
Now they are at work again because the name of Jesus just won't seem to go away. They don't change their tactics of intimidation either.
They use powerful threats that have proven in the past to be murderous and they are not going to stop here.
Over the next five weeks we will break down the book of Acts, chapter four, and see that the early Christians had a very courageous faith.
They had a complete faith in the sovereignty of God and in the resurrection of Jesus.
We need chapters like this for our spiritual growth. In Acts four we will focus on Peter and John and their courage in the proclamation of God's message in the name of Jesus.
We will also see that when we are filled with holy courage, we will understand how to handle opposition, how to pray, and how to take care of one another. Read passage: Acts 4:1-7
1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Often times we will find that some believers strongest opposition comes from religious leaders, but nevertheless, we must make sure that we never stop proclaiming the name of Jesus.
Today we will see three effects that come from proclaiming the name of Jesus. The first effect that we will see is that there is always a...
1. Reaction to the proclamation (vv. 1–3)
While Peter and John were still speaking the opposition began. Their reaction seems quite noticeable in Luke's words. He said that they were greatly disturbed.
Why wouldn't they be though. They thought that they got rid of that Jesus character and now he seems more active than even before.
This early opposition came often from the Sadducees. They saw themselves as protectors of tradition and Jesus defied tradition. Once again, right before them, their tradition was in jeopardy.
The official function of the Sadducees was to interpret and teach the scriptures. Now think about it from their perspective for a moment, these well learned and schooled men were being shown up by two unschooled fishermen.
These two fishermen were teaching about Jesus, the Messiah, to great crowds. They had to have been fuming.
Their biggest problem was not that they did not believe in a Messiah, but that the Messiah was not an ideal person, and they did not believe in the Resurrection.
So, when they heard any talk that Jesus' resurrection was a fulfillment of prophecy then it would have been very offensive to them and their theology.
Lawrence Richards wrote about this idea. He said, "When Frank accepted Christ as his Savior, his parents saw his conversion as a denial of their family religion. At first they argued and ridiculed.
Then, as they sensed the depth of their teen’s experience with Jesus, they increased the pressure. They offered Frank that set of expensive drums he’d wanted, if only he’d give up this nonsense!
Finally, the Leparises locked their son out of the house. If he would not remain true to the family faith, he would be cut off." Illus: Tribal family disowned Albert because he proclaimed Jesus.
The early church saw a lot of opposition like these. As change and growth continued, the church increasing by the thousands, so came great opposition.
When traditional foundations are challenged, we will often see this reaction. Peter and John were then arrested and placed in jail overnight.
The problem with that is that the message of Jesus was spreading like a wild fire and it could not be squelched.
The reaction to the preaching of the living Christ will be inviting to many, but as we see here with Peter, it will often be followed with great opposition.
But with opposition to the name of Christ we will also see the next effect of proclaiming the name of Christ and that is...
2. Blessing from the proclamation (vv. 4)
Now as we saw this great opposition in place, we still saw these men preaching and proclaiming the name of Jesus and the response was incredible.
Some 5,000 men had joined this group of believers! That my friends is the blessing that took the opposition and spun a new perspective.
Like Jesus, these men were arrested with no true reason, yet the testimony of the apostles, and the testimony of the lame beggar was too overwhelming.
It had a profound impression on far more many than the Sadducees could have ever imagined.
What an incredible display of God's power. The power of the proclamation of Jesus by his apostles brought about faith in this group.
Their words were so convincing that the church grew by thousands that night.
Remember the miracle at Pentecost where the church grew by three thousand, coupled with the words that said, the Lord continued to add to their numbers daily.
And now the joining of 5000 more people are a part of this movement. Friends, the church was not growing, it was exploding! Illus:
In this sequence of events, we see that some accepted and some rejected the name of Jesus but there was a fact that could not be denied.
That fact is that this train was moving down the tracks fast and it did not seem like anything was going to be able to stop it.
There have been many who have tried to stop the will of God (Nero, Hitler, Stalin, Castro). There have been many who have tried to suppress the church and stop it in it's tracks.
God has a plan, and you can try to hinder it but you can never stop it, so you might as well get on board or get out of the way! Because when we pray, "thy will be done", oh it is going to get done!
So, when opposition meets its own opposition, you will see people go to great lengths to try and stop the bleeding. With the arrest of John and Peter, that is what is taking place.
The only problem is, they only saw the situation getting worse. It was growing and growing by leaps and bounds.
So why not do what worked in the past? Why not trap them with a question? They tried that with Jesus and were able to have him killed, so why not Peter and John?
The third effect of the proclamation of Christ is the...
3. Questions about the proclamation (vv. 5–7)
Let me rephrase that last part if I can. They were essentially asking Peter and John, "Who do you think you are?" Let's not forget what Peter proclaimed in chapter 3.
"It was not us who healed this man, no, it was the power of the name of Jesus!" He was about to tell them who they were and by what power they said these things!
So Annas and Caiaphas are present, and both took a part in the crucifixion of Jesus. It was in this question that you could see them looking to catch them in their little trap.
The words that end out verse seven, “By what power or what name did you do this?”, more likely is directing to their teaching and not so much on the healing of the beggar.
How eager we look for opportunities to be a witness for Jesus. For us it seems difficult, at best, to look for these opportunities to fit in just any conversation. No problem for that here.
They asked the million-dollar question and let me tell you something, we will see next week, that they got the million dollar response.
Now as we bring this to a close this morning let me make one thing abundantly clear. There will be times that you will be called on to proclaim the name of Jesus and it will be so painfully obvious.
That being said, it may also bring about angst and fear. I am sure that Peter and John new that this question was coming. I am sure they sat in jail through the night just talking about how they were going to respond.
I bet that as they laid their heads down in the quiet cell, they knew how they needed to respond. They had to have reflected on the words that Jesus had said to them some time before on the night before His death.
Read: John 15:18–25
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
Next week we will see how they respond, but how do you respond today? Do you tremble in fear of what the world might say? Do you doubt that the name of Jesus can sustain you?
Or do you believe that the power of the name of Jesus can save?
Repent, ask for forgiveness, be saved, and be baptized. That is what I am asking of you today. Some are beginning to respond already. How about you?