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Walk This Way: Peter and John

July 8, 2010

Two weeks ago we looked at Christians doing their job; living their lives as real Christians ought. Not being the casual, lukewarm, Christian that Christ says in Revelations 3:16 that He would ‘spit from His mouth.’ We looked at the cerebral Christian who has a head full of knowledge but doesn’t put any of it into practice. And that, like John the Baptist and Jesus, we need to spread the word that people should “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Today we are going to continue through this course of practical, real life Christianity and look at doing our job with BOLDNESS.

Setting the stage, Peter and John were at the temple to preach.

A lame man was by the gate to the temple begging. This is a man who, lame from birth, had probably been at the temple gate every day for a log time. He was well known. He asked Peter and John for some money, and they give him something better.

Acts 3:6-8

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

So the people seeing a man, who they knew, who was lame from birth, get up and walk and leap – were pretty amazed. They rushed into the temple to listen to what Peter and John had to say. So Peter took this great opportunity to lay down the gospel to this large crowd of people.

As they are speaking, people come in and arrest them.

Acts 4:1-4

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

5000 men. One sermon. 5000 men came to Christ. Not to mention the women and children. This is an amazing example of how the gospel was having an immediate impact on the people in Jerusalem.

So Peter and John are on trial.

Acts 4:7-12

And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was  rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

AMEN! This is a powerful answer to the charges against them. This sets the court on its heels. They don’t know what to do. Not only have Peter and John preached to the people in the temple, but they are preaching to the court!

Acts 4:13-18

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

So the rulers in Jerusalem have told them not to preach the gospel. A big “shut up and go home.” Again, Peter and John answer the charge.

Acts 4:19-22

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

These threats came from the highest civil authority. Obeying Christ in a hostile environment is difficult. What are believers to do when we face opposition to our sharing the gospel; when some day we are told that the message of truth of salvation through Christ is to no longer be preached? What did John, Peter, and the other Apostles do?

Acts 4:23-30

When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,  said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’ —

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 plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants  to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

The Believers Prayed for Boldness!

The word from Peter and Paul send the whole group into immediate prayer. They address God as ‘Sovereign Lord’. This title is not common in Scripture. It signifies God’s complete ownership of His people. What He owns, He will protect.

In verse 29, where they call out to the Lord to grant that they continue to speak the Word of God with boldness, we see them make a bold statement of what God will do. The disciples knew that their owner God would give them His power to spread the word boldly.

It’s not often that we are ordered to not share the Gospel. Usually it is our own fear or self conscious feelings that keep us silent when we should be proclaiming the Gospel. When Jesus was coming into Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, a great multitude of people were gathered together. Here the Pharisees are urging Jesus to quiet His disciples.

Luke 19:38-40

saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

I ask you today, how long will it be before the rocks cry out? Have they already begun to cry out, because we are not speaking boldly?

Acts 4:31

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

At the end we see that the room they are in is shaken. A sign from God that He will give them this boldness. God will support and strengthen His people for their work.

Just like God did for the people in Jerusalem, He will do for us. We should be praying for boldness. We should be crying out to God to put people in our path that are in desperate need of the truth of the Gospel, and that our hearts are broken for them. That we can’t help but boldly share the love of God with them.

This is how Peter and John walked. With boldness they preached the Gospel powerfully to friend and foe alike.

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