Living Church: Persecution

Acts 4:1-31

“Attention shoppers! There will be a blue light special in housewares in 10 minutes. Be one of the first 5 shoppers at the blue light special and you will get an additional 15% a set of bath towels.”

Do we remember going to the Kmart and hearing that over the store intercom? It got your attention. If you did not know what the fuss was about, then as you went through the store you would see this round cart with a blue flashing light on top of a pole heading to specific place in the store to offer a deal. I think Kmart is still using that gimmick to grab the attention of shoppers.

As for the living church, we have no such gimmick. Oh, we have seen and heard such gimmicks. Preachers have used a certain average attendance for a certain number of weeks as a gimmick. The result would be the preacher would kiss a pig, preach from the peak of the roof, or get his head shaved. I think I have tried such a gimmick in my years of preaching!

What really gained the attention of the people in Jerusalem was the man born lame who became able to walk. Yes, as Peter and John went to the 3 PM prayer service they told a man to get up and walk in the name of Jesus. This healing caused such a stir that a crowd gathered around Peter and John. Peter then preached Jesus rose from the dead. At the end of the day the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees had Peter and John arrested for proclaiming in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead!

When we start healing people by faith in the name of Jesus, we too can proclaim in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. For the God who did such healing back then can do the same healing now! For the apostles who believed in Jesus back then preached repentance and resurrection inspire apostles today to preach repentance and resurrection.

A. Will we be arrested for proclaiming in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead? (4:1-12)
+++1. The rulers wanted to know by what power they did “this”
++++++a. The healing?
++++++b. The preaching about the resurrection through Jesus?
+++2. Peter told them the healing of the man born lame was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead
+++3. (4:12) “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by we must be saved.”
+++4. What a powerful act God did in healing the man born lame! What powerful words Peter spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit! Both got the attention of the religious leaders. It would be so wonderful to see God heal people like this today. Do you think by our faith in the name of Jesus that God can heal people today? Oh, and that exclusive claim that Peter made. In the diverse world of Peter and John, speaking about salvation in only the name of Jesus was scandalous. In our diverse world, speaking about salvation in only the name of Jesus is still scandalous. We live in a world where many people think that everyone is going to heaven. That sort of universal salvation is not exactly what Jesus taught. For we know the offer of God through Jesus is that everyone can receive salvation. However, it is only by believing and following Jesus Christ that we are saved. God wants us in his kingdom. But not many of us will choose to believe in Jesus so we can be with God in his kingdom. This amazed the religious leaders that these men could speak this way.

B. Could we pray for boldness? (4:13-31)
+++1. The religious leaders were confounded
+++2. The man born lame was standing with Peter and John!
+++3. So, the religious leaders ordered Peter and John to not speak anymore in the name of Jesus
+++4. Peter & John figured it was better to listen to God than to listen the religious leaders
+++5. The religious leaders threatened Peter and John, then released them
+++6. When they got back with their friends, they started praising God!
+++7. They realized the religious leaders were taking a stand against the Lord and Messiah, Jesus
+++8. What did they ask for as they prayed?
++++++a. Grant to your slaves/servants to speak your word with all boldness
++++++b. For God to stretch out his hand to heal, and to do signs and wonders through the Name of Jesus
+++9. God shook the house & the early church spoke the word of God with boldness
+++10. Yes, we read Acts 4 correctly. Peter and John were jailed for the healing of the man born lame and speaking about resurrection through Jesus. It was better for Peter and John to listen to God rather than the religious leaders. Oh, that we would pray for boldness. In this diverse world, we need boldness in speaking about Jesus. People will decide to ignore Jesus. But our role as apostles, as the living church, is to continue to speak in the Name of Jesus! People will look at us in funny way. People will ridicule us. Some of us may even get placed in prison, or worse. What else are we to do when the Holy Spirit is filling us?

Yes, for us to be a living church we pray for boldness in speaking about Jesus. This may upset us. This may cause us to question what we are doing as a church. I believe we will find it better to obey God rather than listen to people about how we can be a living church!

It is better for us to pray for God to continue to heal people, to do signs and wonders, than to not pray for these signs. In our world that has become chaotic and troubled, seeing God work is needed.

Yes, God does want people to come to him. The way to get to God is through Jesus. There is no other name under heaven given by which we must be saved. Will you pray with me that we would have boldness to speak about Jesus? Will you pray with me that God would heal people and do signs and wonders? For it is by the power of God that we can be a living church!


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