The Book of Acts Chapter 4 Part 1
Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that we should be witnesses for the Lord everywhere we go. Today, we hope to discuss the beginning of persecution.
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Read Acts 4:1-22
D. The Beginning of Persecution. 1. The Persecution. In this section of the books of Acts Peter and John are essentially taken into custody by the Jewish religious leaders.
In this section of the book of Acts the religious leaders are concerned with the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is contrary to what the religious leaders were promoting.
However, here in the books of Acts, the healing of the over forty year old lame man and the positive excitement of the people made it difficult for the religious leaders to punish the courageous preachers.
- The devil's use of religious people. Notice in vss. 1, 4, 7 of this section of the books of Acts that it was the religious leaders of the Jewish community who sought to stop the Jesus movement.
Especially, we, who have been around the church for awhile and who have developed some rank, should be careful that the devil doesn't use us to be a stumbling block to the Jesus movement.
We learn from the book of Acts that whenever we are a part of slowing down or blocking what God is trying to do, we are letting the devil use us. The best way to discern God's will is to try or compare every situation against God's word.
If it is not contrary to God's word then we should be willing to give it a chance, knowing that if God is not in it, it will fail. Notice further in vs. 4 that God has a way of using even wicked people to carry out His will.
However, the wicked will not be blessed for their wickedness. In other words, God is going to have His way anyhow. Finally, notice in vs. 7 of the book of Acts that when we are more concerned with procedures than with people, we are often letting the devil use us.
Procedures are important, but they are not more important than people. Let's make sure that we don't let the devil use us.
- Guilty of promoting Jesus. Notice in vs. 2 of this section of the books of Acts that Peter and James were guilty of promoting Jesus' work and teachings. That is a wonderful thing to be guilty of.
Would we ever be arrested for being promoters of Jesus? We should be known for talking about the salvation and fulfillment that is offered by Jesus.
We should be known for our involvement in Jesus inspired good works. Let's work on being guilty of promoting Jesus.
- Christ centered boldness. Notice in vss. 8-10 of this secgtion of the books of Acts that Peter responded to his critics with a Christ centered boldness.
When the devil raises up people to try to block what God is doing through us, it is important to be bold but not bitter. And it is important to stay Christ centered, not self centered.
It is easy to become bitter and self centered when attacked by "religious people" who think they are better than you. However, discipleship is about denying ourselves and dedicating ourselves to following divine directions.
Let's work on having the Christ centered boldness found in the text. Boldness will be the product of developing our faith in God and starving our doubts and fears about what this world may do to us.
Faith development is nurtured by prayerful study and obedience with the support of like minded believers. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit.
- Jesus only. Notice in vs. 12 in this section of the books of Acts the idea of salvation only comes through Jesus.
Even though there is a great deal of energy given to being politically correct and inclusive today, as Christians, we are very narrow, when it comes to salvation.
Some may say that it is arrogant, but we believe that only through faith in Jesus' payment for our sins can one be saved.
Let's keep theological correctness above political correctness. When we can avoid unnecessary offensiveness, we should strive to live peaceably. But sometimes, we will have to simply take a stand.
- Godly workers. Notice in vss. 13, 16 of the book of Acts that Peter and John were unlearned. That is, they had not gone to the equivalent of the seminary of their day. However, it was obvious that they had been with the Lord.
First, their not going to school doesn't mean that school is not important. School is very important, especially in our information age.
However, information and formal education without salvation and discipleship still leaves one unprepared for ministry. The call is for "both and the other" not "one or the other."
Second, notice the unity of this section of the book of Acts. Peter is speaking, but they have so much unity that they are both referred to. Everyone cannot be the spokes person.
Some have to learn to be quiet and let the spokes person speak. And some have to speak up and be heard. But both need to be on the same team.
Third, notice in this section of the book of Acts that the Apostles had undeniable good works. If we are not careful, we will become so distracted by meetings and conversations with religious people that we will have no good works to show.
Some people will never be convinced by what we say. They will only be convinced by what we do, or they are just beyond being convinced. Let's work on being the godly workers of good that God is calling us to be.
- Taking a vocal stand. Notice in vss. 19-21 of this section of the books of Acts that we may be called to take a stand for God, which may mean taking a stand against human authorities.
First, God has instructed us to obey those who have rule over us (see Heb. 13:17; Rom. 13:1-5). Second, when human leaders lead us contrary to God's will then we should follow God's will, even if there are negative consequences.
On this point, we should remind ourselves that being contrary to our traditions or our preferences is not the same thing as being contrary to God's will.
Third, sometimes we are not the "Peter or John" of the text but the vocal crowd who supports the movement of God. There are too many who claim to speak for the quiet crowd, when the crowd should be speaking for themselves.
Those who look to please people more than God are often swayed by crowd response. Think about city hall and politicians. Let's work on having the wisdom and courage to take a vocal stand for God.
Conclusion: Let's work on being witnesses for the Lord everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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