Perry Duggar |
The filling of the Holy Spirit enables us to speak boldly about our faith whenever an opportunity arises.
Church Empowered – Message 4
October 11, 2020
I. Introduction: We continue our survey of Acts named Church Empowered.
A. Today’s message is entitled, Boldness.
- Theme verse: Acts 4:20 (NLT)—“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
- APP.: Does that verse describe you, or, are you afraid to tell others about your faith?
- Today, we will see that Peter and John were opposed after healing a lame man and preaching that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah from Old Testament prophecy.
- We will learn how to respond to confrontation with boldness.
II. Exercising boldness includes…
A. #1 - Encountering Opposition. (Acts 4:1-7; C/R: John 11:47-48; 15:18-20; 16:2; 2 Timothy 3:12)
- Acts 4:1 (NLT)—While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests [conducted sacrifices], the captain of the Temple guard [chief of temple police force of Levites], and some of the Sadducees [one of four N.T. sects].
- The four major sects were Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots.
- The Pharisees were committed to obeying the law of Moses and their traditions, believed in the afterlife and resurrection of the dead; rebuked by Jesus for their legalism.
- The Essenes separated from society in preparation for the end of the world, which they thought was imminent; they produced the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- The Zealots also believed the end of the world was soon and could be brought about by inciting violent revolution against the Roman occupiers.
- The Sadducees were very influential and extremely political; they were wealthy landowners and aristocrats who wanted no trouble with Rome. (Jn.11:47-48)
- They did not believe in an afterlife, angels, spirit beings or bodily resurrection.
- They rejected the sovereignty of God, believing that man was master of his own destiny.
- Acts 4:2 (NLT)—These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.
- The Sadducees wanted to silence this teaching which challenged their doctrine and authority, but also because Peter and John were unqualified to teach as rabbis.
- Acts 4:3-7 (NLT)—3They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. [Jewish law didn’t allow trials at night, law violated in Jesus’ case.] 4But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers now totaled about 5,000, not counting women and children. [Great response!]
5The next day the council of all the rulers [chief priests] and elders [heads of tribes and families] and teachers of religious law [law experts, mostly Pharisees] met in Jerusalem. [Sanhedrin = 71 member ruling body (under Romans) and supreme court.]
6Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas [Annas not current high priest, deposed by Romans, but remained the real power], John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. 7They brought in the two disciples [placed them in center of semi-circle to question] and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name [under whose authority], have you done this?” [Sanhedrin had not granted them authority.]
- Jesus had warned His disciples that they would face opposition. (Jn.15:18-20; 16:2)
- This warning applies to us as well when we stand firm and speak for Christ—for faith, but also for biblical morality—and refuse to be silenced or shouted down. (2 Tim.3:12)
- APP.: Have you ever experienced opposition or mistreatment for your faith?
Exercising boldness includes…
B. #2 - Engaging opportunities. (Acts 4:8-15; C/R: Psalm 118:22; Luke 12:11-12; 21:12-15; Ephesians 5:15-19)
- The Sanhedrin’s question provided an opening for Peter.
- Acts 4:8-9a (NLT)—8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, 9are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man?”
- Peter subtly accused the Sanhedrin of injustice since they had arrested him for healing a lame man—certainly that couldn’t be wrong!
- He continued: Acts 4:9b-11 (NLT)—“Do you want to know how he was healed? 10Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ [Ps.118:22]”
- Peter could have protected himself by apologizing for his unauthorized actions, but instead he displayed great courage by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to the very people who were responsible for His execution; he confronted them! (Not defensive.)
- Was he just being reckless? No, he was bold because he was filled with the Spirit, committed to God’s purposes, instead of his own preservation.
- Acts 4:12 (NLT)—12There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” [Pathway of salvation is narrow; Jn.14:6.]
- Peter offered these religious leaders the chance to embrace Jesus as the Messiah they said they looked forward to seeing—and to receive salvation!
- He told them that their teaching was being fulfilled, but how did they respond?
- If we truly care about people—all people—we will be more concerned about telling them how to be forgiven, saved, than protecting our popularity or social position.
- Compromising with people in sin is not kindness, it is cruelty; perhaps it protects you from rejection, but prevents their chance to be convicted, repent, and turn to God.
- When people profess faith, we should remind them what they are embracing, including both the theological, but also the moral standards, of Christ.
- Acts 4:13 (NLT)—The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. [APP.: Have you been with Jesus? If you have, it will show in your life.]
- These religious leaders were surprised by the behavior and understanding of these two uneducated men; they were impressed by the influence of Jesus on their lives.
- But they weren’t drawn to faith in Jesus, they only saw a dilemma, a problem, to solve.
- Acts 4:14 (NLT)—But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. 15So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.
- APP.: Does your life, your healing from sin and selfish living, confirm the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you take opportunities to tell others how they can be forgiven?
Exercising boldness includes…
C. #3 - Expressing convictions. (Acts 4:16-22; C/R: Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 9:16; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 3:13-16)
- Acts 4:16 (NLT)—“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it.” [sign = sēmĕiŏn, an indication of divine involvement]
- Peter and John had broken no laws and even defended themselves from the O.T.
- The Sanhedrin knew about the undeniable, divine, healing—and so did the people.
- Acts 4:17-18 (NLT)—17But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” 18So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. [Why? They put Jesus to death, but the miracle-working power of these men confirmed the involvement of God. They wanted to avoid unrest, trouble from Rome.]
- Acts 4:19-20 (NLT)—19But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” [ILL.: They have to be commanded not to speak, we have to coaxed to speak!]
- APP.: Are you filled with the Spirit and truth so you cannot hold it in? (1 Cor.9:16)
- The Bible teaches us to obey the government (Rom.13:1-7; 1 Pet.2:13-17), but not when God’s commands conflict with those of the government; we respect, but don’t obey.
- Acts 4:21-22 (NLT)—21The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God 22for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years. [The healing was undeniable a work of God.]
Exercising boldness includes…
D. #4 - Entreating God’s assistance. (Acts 4:23-31; C/R: Psalm 2:1-2; Ephesians 3:14-15; 6:18-20; 2 Timothy 1:7)
- Acts 4:23-24 (NLT)— 23 As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—”
- Faced with opposition, they took comfort in God’s sovereignty and turned to Him in prayer, secure in the fact that He knows and controls all things (including elections).
- Acts 4:25-31 (NLT)—25“you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? 26The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ [Ps.2:1-2; rulers opposed to God.]
27“In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. [God was sovereign over Jesus’ crucifixion.]
29And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. [memory verse. Didn’t ask for protection, asked for boldness to preach.] 30Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” [To confirm Gospel.]
31After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit [3rd ]. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. [Eph.6:18-20; 2 Tim.1:7]
- APP.: Do you desire boldness to tell your faith story? Courage to teach God’s truth?Ask!