2015-09-02 / Religion

Speak God’s word with boldness

Sunday School Lesson

Rev. James Temples Rev. James Temples Acts 4:23-31

The group known as the church — the called out ones — began on the day of Pentecost, following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We are told that “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4.

Following this great event, the Apostle Peter preached to the crowd that assembled. Three thousand souls were added to the group of 120. Acts 1:15; 2:41. This message began to spread throughout the city of Jerusalem.

All of those who had come to know this experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit were Jews. Thus, they continued to see the temple as the center of their religious life. “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour (i. e., three o’clock in the afternoon).” Acts 3:1. As they entered, they prayed for a lame man, “and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.”

Obviously, all of this commotion attracted the attention of the others who were gathered there for prayer. Simon Peter, again, used this situation as an opportunity to preach to the crowd. His topic was Jesus Christ — his life, work, and ministry. The religious leaders were upset at that which was taking place before their eyes, within their domain — the temple. The major objection from the leaders was their speaking of the resurrection — “Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2. These leaders were of the religious sect, known as the Sadducees. They did not believe in any kind of miracles, especially the resurrection from the dead. “And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.” Acts 4:3. This official action did not stop the working of the Holy Spirit, and the acceptance of the hungry souls — “and the number of the men was about five thousand.” Acts 4:4.

The next day, these men were questioned — “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Acts 4:7b. Peter gave them the answer that they did not want, nor appreciate — “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” Acts 4:10. His explanation contained a spiritual directive that was not expected by these selfrighteous men — “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

The assessment of these men left no room for wonder — “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13. Peter and John had been fishermen. The evidence of the power of God stood before them — “And beholding the man which had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” Acts 4:14.

The speech and the evidence before these men caused them to go into “executive session,” and came out with their report — “But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.” Acts 4:17. When this edict was given to these two men, they had an answer that has echoed down the corridors of time — “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20.

These leaders realized that they could do nothing to stop this great move of God. Thus, they resorted to their threats — “So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.” Acts 4:21, 22.

The record is quite clear concerning the next action taken by these men — “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.” Acts 4:23. It is obvious that these men did not resort to usual human response of licking their wounds. They knew that they had been given a commission, and they intended to carry out the words of our Lord — “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…” Mark 16:15.

The Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) allowed Luke to record the essence of the petition that these people made before God — “they lifted up their voices to God in one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.” These people were able to recognize the source of this opposition, as that which had been present since time began — “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” These people knew what they needed help to carry out the great commission — “And, now, Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that [1] with all boldness they may speak thy word, [2] By stretching forth thine hand to heal; [3] and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” Do we dare to pray that prayer, today? We should echo this heart-cry!

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