I cannot stop speaking of what I should speak
Acts 4:13-22 (Pastor Heo)
4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
Persecution starts. The Sanhedrin had put Peter and John in jail, and the next day questioned them. The Sanhedrin was like the Supreme Court of that day.
- And they questioned them, “By what name do you do what you did?”
- Peter and John said, “by the name of Jesus whom you crucified.”
- Then the Sanhedrin conferred together to decide what to do with them. They came to them again and said, “Anyway, do not preach or perform miracles in this name again.”
- Peter, “If you are judges, judge for yourselves. Which is right? To obey you or to obey God?”
In everything, we are judges – we must choose one of two ways.
- Peter said, “We cannot stop preaching what we have heard, what we have seen.”
Actually, the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Peter and John, but they couldn’t do anything to them – because outside (over 5,000) people were praising God because of their work and preaching.
- They threatened them again, “If you do this again, you will be killed.”
Last verse says the man’s age was over 40. Let’s read once more.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were *astonished* and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Peter and John had great courage. Do you? Even today, we need courage. Yes, we know how cowardly Peter was only a few months before, but now he’s become such a courageous and fearless man. They were shocked.
This courage is possible because they were filled with the HS. Today to be powerful and effective witnesses for Christ, we need courage. Even in the secular world, to be successful, we need courage.
There are 3 kinds of courage.
1. Reckless courage –
we don’t know what will happen, we are unaware of the consequences.
2. Fearless courage (convinced) –
Yes, we are aware of the possible difficulties and dangers, but we also know there is something else beyond those dangers.
3. Decisive courage (resolute) –
Sometimes, courage does not mean “fearlessness” – actually, it may include GREAT fear, but a decision to DO what must be done and do it.
The courage of Peter and John now was “fearless courage”. How can we have courage? Do you want to be powerful effective witnesses for Christ? Then we need courage.
The best courage is fearless courage because we know there is something greater, beyond earth, heavenly reward. So, to have this courage, we need 4 things.
4 Necessities for courage
1. Pray – and your courage will increase
Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.”
2. Proclaim God’s promises to yourself
“Whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge, whoever disowns me, I will disown.” Jesus
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear. I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I will strengthen you, I will uplift you with my righteous right hand.”
Yes, we need to proclaim the Word of God to others, but we also need to apply it and proclaim it to ourselves.
3. Fear God
Fear God to fear nothing.
If you fear God fully, you will never fear anything in this world.
“The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.” – Proverbs
“Do not fear those who can kill the body, but not the soul. Rather, fear the one who can throw both soul and body into hell.”
The secret to be free from fears is to fear God – because he is maker and creator of all things.
4. Believe what Jesus has been doing and that there will be a reward from him
If we believe what he has been doing, past, present, future, then we will be free from all kinds of fears.
Yes, he died for our sins and was raised for our justification.
“God demonstrated his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“… Christ died for the ungodly”
Romans “Therefore, there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (in Christ theology)
If we are Christians, children of God, then we are heirs with God and co-heirs with Christ. If we share in his sufferings, we may share in his glory. The present sufferings are nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed.
Rev “Behold I am coming soon.” – Jesus said 3 times. “My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
If it is true that Jesus is God become man and died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our salvation and justification, then, no matter how much we do for him, we cannot do too much for him.
In this story, we can see Enemies attack, Christians defend. We also experience this in spiritual war. In this case, we should have our defense. What kind of defense?
Enemies’ attack: 2 characteristics
v. 13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and **realized that they were unschooled [ignorant], ordinary men [laymen without special professional qualifications], they were astonished** and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
They had no learning in the regulation of the Law.
i.e. The Sanhedrin regarded Peter and John with contempt: as ignorant and non-professional – no certifications or fancy letters at the end of their names.
But “in Christ” provides a certain (real and holy) dignity that no special qualifications or titles can give.
v. 21 “After **further threats** they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.”
We must remember that what men do to us are only temporal – but the things of God are eternal.
The things of Man are temporal, but the things of God are eternal.
In the face of these attacks from the enemies, Peter and John had 3 defenses.
3 Defenses against enemy attacks
1. The defense of unanswerable fact
The man who was lame was healed. They couldn’t deny it.
The most unanswerable fact of Christianity is a Christian man or woman – the changed life of a Christian.
2. Total loyalty to Christ
If they had to choose between obeying man or God, Peter and John would have no question which path to take.
“The trouble with so many people today is that the voice of their neighbor sounds so much louder than the voice of God.”
Yes, we have 2-3 voices in our lives:
- The voice of God
- The voice of Satan
[also, the voice of neighbors – and our own voice]
- The voice of God in Genesis: “If you eat this fruit, you will surely die.”
- The voice of Satan in Genesis: “God is a liar. If you eat this, you will be like God. God wants you to be unhappy.”
Yes, even today, the voice of God (or Satan) can come through the voice of our neighbors. That’s why we need to be wise, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Satan: “Do what seems safe, easy, comfortable, gives glory to yourself.”
- God: “Do what is right, true, good, glorious to Christ.”
3. (Greatest defense): Personal experience of Jesus Christ
Peter and John’s story of Christ: they knew first hand that it was true and sure – and they were willing to stake their lives on it.
5 Points as real lessons for application in our lives
1. God is LONG-suffering with lost sinners
The religious leaders had rejected:
- John the Baptist
So, God gave them another opportunity to repent and be saved. So, we must also give thanks to God for his patience and long-suffering with us. We need patience when we witness to this world.
2. True witness involves bad news of sin and guilt as well as the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ
Remember, there can be no true faith in Christ if there is not first repentance of sin. We are preaching the good news of salvation, but when we preach this wonderful good news, we must also preach the bad news of sin and guilt so that they may truly receive the good news.
Without the bad news, they cannot truly experience the good news.
3. Whenever God blesses, Satan appears.
Are you blessed? Satan appears to oppose the work, to silence the witness. Even today, sometimes Satan uses religious people to do his job.
In this story, the same crowd who opposed the ministry of Christ is also opposing the ministry of the apostles, and Satan today is trying to oppose our own ministry. Expect the attack of Satan, but do not let it stop your ministry.
The important thing is not that we’re comfortable, but that the name of Christ is glorified through our message.
4. God has also promised to bless and use his Word,
so let us be faithful continuously. Even today, Christ is praying earnestly for us so that our witness may be successful. So, we have every reason to be encouraged because there is power in the name of Christ. We need not fear witnessing and calling others to repent.
5. The name of Christ has power and authority.
Even today, we can give somebody a cup of cold / hot water, or receive a child / baby in the name of Christ. Still these ministries are important. We can ask in the name of Christ – and when we do it is as though Christ himself is asking it.
Do you know what “In Jesus’ name” means? “In the name of Jesus Christ”
This means: It is like Jesus himself is asking what we are asking. If we remember this, it will help us ask only something worthy of the name of Christ.
Let us go forth in the name of Christ as conquerors – he gave his life for our salvation and justification.