The Church Is Bold

The Church Is Bold ( Acts 4:1-31 )

Acts 4 is an exciting chapter in the life of the early church. God was using his apostles in mighty ways, and yet, frustrations occurred when God’s church started to grow.

In verse one, it is obvious Peter and John are in trouble. The trouble started brewing in the previous chapter ( Acts 3:1-10 ) when Peter and John healed the crippled beggar. Imagine being part of that great crowd listening to Peter and John as the “ spiritual leaders ” approached them. Was there a hush in the air? Were the people filled with fear? The text says that the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees were “ greatly disturbed ” ( v 2 ). Of course, the Sadducees would be upset since they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. These leaders needed to silence Peter and John because of their influence in spreading the gospel of Christ. In spite of the arrest of these two apostles, Luke tells us in verse 4 that “ many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. ” Cross-reference this verse with Acts 2:41 to see how quickly the church was growing.

Those who were upset with Peter and John amassed a larger council to meet and decide on the fate of these two men. When asked “ by what power or what name did you do this? ” Peter launched into a bold sermon. Luke noted that Peter was “ filled with the Holy Spirit ” ( v 8 ). In a situation where many would tremble in fear, Peter, took advantage of this situation and preached Christ to them. He reminded them through Old Testament prophecy and their recent role in the crucifixion of Christ that they continued to reject Jesus Christ. He boldly proclaimed that “ salvation is found in no one else ” other than Jesus ( vv  5-12 )!

The leaders were in a dilemma! It was time for a private meeting. “‘ What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked ” ( v 16 ). They realized that the entire city of Jerusalem was talking about this miracle. The leaders even acknowledged that it was a miracle! They knew this man had been healed. They had seen him carried to the temple gate every day to beg. Can you imagine their frustration? How would they stop these men from preaching? The greater problem was how to stop the church from growing. They were losing control.

After their deliberations, they decided to order Peter and John to stop preaching “ in this name ” ( v 17 ). Peter and John were even more emboldened when they replied in verses 19 and 20, “ Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. ” Verses 21 and 22 help us to understand the fear of these leaders. They were unable to do more than give stern warnings to the apostles “ because all the people were praising God for what had happened ” ( v 21 ).

When Peter and John returned to what must have been a very anxious crowd, the people responded with a phenomenal prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and petition for future boldness. In this prayer, they recounted the warnings from David in Psalm 2:1, 2, and they remembered the conspiracies of Herod and Pontius Pilate and what they had done to their Lord. They petitioned the Lord for greater boldness as a result of these threats. They asked God to “ stretch ” out his hand and perform more signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. God was given the glory for all that had happened and for what would happen in his name. They indeed did receive a sign of God’s blessing; “ the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly ” ( v 31 ).

It is easy for us to parallel these events with those who discourage us in proclaiming the Lord today. For those of us in the ministry, we can remember times when we had prayed about a matter, placed it in God’s hands and made a decision to go ahead, only to be criticized by those in leadership. We all know that we will face some level of persecution from those who are not believers, but when it comes from those who are believers, it hurts so much more.

Brothers and Sisters may we not criticize out of fear of losing control, but may we all learn from this text that God will honor the courage and boldness of those who seek to honor him with their faithfulness and commitment to His cause.

evesadam

 

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