- Sermon Notes
Boldness in Sharing
Illus. 500 Zip Codes.
Today we pick up in Acts chapter 4 where we see the response of the early church to Peter and John being threatened and released after sharing and proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ after healing a man through the power of the Holy Spirit in the temple.
It also began in chapter 3, when a man was healed, who had been lame for 40 years followed Peter and John into the temple and the people were amazed. The people in the temple began running in groups to see what had taken place, they were looking at Peter and John as miracle workers, but Peter asked the question, “why are you looking at us as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk?” And from there, Peter in his second sermon directed their attention to Jesus.
He proclaimed to all the people that the man was healed on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name. That Jesus was rejected and crucified by them, but God resurrected Him to life. Peter tells the people to repent and return and what see is that after he preached, the number of people who had turned to Jesus in response to His life, death, burial, and resurrection was now growing and had reached over 5,000.
And though many were responding positively, the religious leaders responded quite differently. In the beginning of the chapter, the priests, the chief priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees were greatly disturbed because Peter and John were sharing boldly about Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. They put Peter and John in prison for a night and then they stood trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court). The trial did not put Peter in denial, rather, when asked by what power, or what name the man was healed, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaimed no other name than Jesus.
The Sanhedrin could not deny the miracle that had occurred, the man healed was over 40 years old and they could see it plainly. Their response was an order for Peter and John to no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but they boldly responded that they would choose God’s commands over theirs and would not speaking about what they had seen and heard.
The group that gave them orders was the same group Jesus had stood before when He stood trial and was ultimately sentenced to be crucified. The group they stood before was powerful and Peter and John knew this. While Jesus stood trial, Peter was afraid and in denial, but after seeing Jesus after His resurrection personally, Peter was willing to share and declare the resurrection of Jesus boldly and publicly.
In response to Peter and John’s unwillingness to stop speaking and teaching about Jesus, the religious leaders threatened them thoroughly and then set them free and we pick up this morning in verse 23 where we see that these threats would not stop them, rather, the threats would lead them to the Lord and encourage them to ask for greater boldness in sharing.
Boldness: Lack of fear or hesitation in the face or risk of danger.
Sharing: To give some of something to another.
I. Make it a Priority to Share in More Prayer
Acts 4:23-24(a), When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord…
- Peter and John head back to their companion after being thoroughly threatened and then released. Likely, the companions mentioned here are not the 5,000 who repented and turned to Jesus after hearing Peter preach, it seems most likely that “companions” here are the group of 120 that were gathered in Jerusalem.
- Where they go when faced with persecution, is important to recognize.
- They faced and endured threats, persecution, pressure, imprisonment, and intimidation and then went to their congregation, back to the church to report all that had been said to them. And then, the people lifted up their voices to God in prayer!
- We aren’t given the specifics about what they shared, I imagine they shared with the others the specifics of the miracle of a lame man who began walking and leaping and praising God, that the number of Jesus followers was now up to around 5,000, that they preached the Gospel, that they were put in prison, and that they powerfully spoke of Jesus’ resurrection before the Sanhedrin, were threated, but released!
- While we aren’t given the specifics of what they shared, we are given the specifics of their prayer.
- Peter and John readily shared what had taken place, and in hearing it all, the entire group readily shared a time of prayer!
- The first response of those present, was to pray. They hear what Peter and John said, and they all decided to pray immediately.
- This should be our response to the realities in our world. To the opposition and persecution that is present in our day; the first and foremost decision we make, should be to pray!
Acts 2:42, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
- This is one of the points that we desire would shape our community continually, persistence in prayer. We desire to be a community that is: Devoted to God’s word, engaged in fellowship, examples of Jesus in the world, and persistent in prayer!
- In Acts 4:24, the people heard all Peter and John had to report, they join together and share in a powerful prayer. We essentially get to listen in, to the way they prayed after threats and persecution.
- Regardless of the degree, sharing in prayer should be our first priority, just like we see with the early church.
Acts 4:24, And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.
- The people begin by appealing to God, and recognizing the reality of who He has been, and who He is presently.
- “O Lord, it is you who made the heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them…”
- The word Lord here is not the common word for Lord in the New Testament, here they call upon the Lord with the Greek word, despotes, which is the word from which we get our English word, “despot.” It is a term that is applied to an absolute master, one in total control, a ruler of everything whose power cannot be questioned.
- They say ruler of all, You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them!
- They begin their prayer with an acknowledgement of Who they are praying to. It is not God who needs this type of reminder, it is us who are praying.
Jeremiah 32:17, Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.
- When we pray to God, we are praying to God, the ruler and maker of everything.
- God has power over everything, and therefore has the power over what we are facing.
- When you realize and recognize that it is to the Lord of all the earth that you are praying, you are ready, willing, and enabled to share in more prayer, and those prayers are filled with faith.
- “Lord you made everything, the heavens, the earth, and the sea!” That is the acknowledgement we need…He is our sovereign God, our God can do anything; nothing is too difficult for Him.
Acts 4:25-28, Who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? ‘The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
- As the prayer continues, the people look back to Psalm 2 and God’s perfect plan.
- The acknowledgement is that the words of David were words given by the Lord through the Holy Spirit.
- Psalm 2 specifically describes the rebellion of the nations at Christ’s second coming when the kings of the earth and rulers of the earth take a stand against Jesus Christ.
- The ultimate fulfillment of that prophesy will be at second coming of Christ, but the people had seen the rulers and the people come against Jesus Christ already, and they in that day were experiencing people coming against them as they were witnesses for Him in Jerusalem. They allowed the Scriptures to speak to their current situation.
- No matter how difficult things seem presently, God has it all planned out, He is working all things currently, even in difficulty, but in the midst of it all we should remain purposed in prayer, trusting the Lord, knowing that in Christ, there is victory.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58, thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
- It is all part of God’s plan, and though the rulers on earth were plotting against Jesus, although they had crucified Him, it was all going to work to fulfill God’s purpose and plan.
John 16:33, In the world you have trouble, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- The people acknowledge who God is, that everything has come from His hand, that things are moving according to His plan, and their willingness to recall and walk according to His word.
Colossians 1:16-17, By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Colossians 3:2, Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.
- They pray with an understanding of God Word that was already given, with the awareness that God made everything, is in control of everything, and it was all according to His plan and perfect will.
Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- The people make it a priority to share in prayer. And that is our opportunity as well when we come together, to share in more prayer!
Quote: Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all, pray! – R.A. Torrey
II. Press Forward and Let God Keep the Records
Acts 4:29-30, And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
- Notice first the progression of their prayer, they began with adoration, worship, acknowledgement and understanding of His word and will, and then petition.
Matthew 6:9-13, ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’
- Jesus told us to pray this way, an acknowledgement of who God is, His divine will, our daily needs, to see things as He sees, to be more like Him, and to help us in this life to do what is right.
- So, the church prays together, acknowledging the Lord’s will, and now the petition. Their petition is not for ease, but for strength and continued confidence to speak God’s word in their world.
- I love this, “Lord take note of their threats, and help us to move your mission forward.
- “Lord you keep the records, help us to proceed forward!”
- The people did not pray for divine judgement, swift or harsh justice, they did not pray that God would wipe those people away, that He would remove their threats, put an end to their persecution, or even for personal protection. They did not pray for vengeance, rather, they knew that vengeance is His.
- The people prayed that they would be given the strength to press forward and that His will would be done.
- We need more of this mentality, “Lord you see, Lord take note, enable us to “go!”
Illus. Take note?
Acts 4:29(b) – 31, …grant it to Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
- What is amazing to me about this petition is that they ask the Lord for more of what got them into trouble in the first place.
- They are asking for more strength to do what they had been ordered specifically to not do because they knew what the Lord had called them to do.
- As the Lord gave them strength to speak His word with confidence, they understood that the Lord would extend His hand to heal, and signs and wonders would be done through Jesus.
- I love that, Lord, enable us to do our part, and we know that you will do yours.
- Lord, grant it to us to speak your word, to go and make disciples, to be your witnesses in the world, and we know that all the while, your hand will be extending to change hearts, change lives, and bring healing to a world in dire need.
- Lord, help us to do what you have called us to do, and Lord, do what only you can do.
Acts 4:31, When they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
- They had prayed according to God’s will and God heard them!
- In Acts 1:8, Jesus said they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and that empowerment would allow them to be His witnesses in the world. And today, I believe we need to pray in a similar way.
When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported everything that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
‘Why were the nations insolent,
And the peoples plotting in vain?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant it to Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.