Signs, Wonders, & Sharing (Acts 4:23-37)

November 3, 2013

Book: Acts

Signs, Wonders, & Sharing (Acts 4:23-37)
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Scripture: Acts 4:23-37


Sermon Notes

Previously, Peter and John went to the gate, found a crippled man who begged for alms, but they healed him. People were amazed and a crowd gathered, but Peter pushed any credit away from himself and onto Christ – the Healer.

They then began proclaiming the gospel, that Christ was the Messiah, had died and risen from the dead, and that his good works would be multiplied in his apostles and disciples.

The early church was baptized by the HS on Pentecost to carry out Jesus’ work. Likewise, Jesus had been baptized in the Jordan by JohnB.

After Jesus baptism, he went out into the wilderness and was tempted (as Adam was tempted the first time – though Adam failed, Jesus overcame temptation).

After his temptation, Jesus went and began his ministry through the power of the HS, and he began to dismantle Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus had said that the disciples would also receive power when the HS came upon them (Pentecost) and they would be able to heal and do miracles through the power of the HS, in Jesus name.

This previous healing was one of the most significant up to that time.

Now when the temple guards and priests heard about this (those in the higher class – Sadduccees) they didn’t like it, came and arrested Peter and John. They put them in prison and brought them before the Sanhedrin. This was difficult, because the healed man was also with them.

A notable miracle had obviously been performed, the man was obviously healed, people obviously had heard, so they decided to just tell them to quit preaching – and they let them go. Peter said, “Whether to obey you or God…”

This brings us up to where we are now.

They went back and told the church people about what had just happened, and they began to pray in earnest. The Sanhedrin had POWER – aligned with the Romans, upper-class, etc. The church realized they needed divine help.

They used Psalm 2:1-2 as a basis for their prayer.

This was a common practice in the OT. “Peshuh?” It meant to take an old text and bring it into the modern day and interpret it as applicable to their time. They believed the prophets didn’t know fully what they had written because they couldn’t see into the future.

When they predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glory that would be revealed, they knew it was from God. “Even angels long to look into these things…” Peter – the real, inspired writings could only be interpreted IN the actual times and events with which they transpired.

People still try to do this. “The end of the world is coming!!!!” “This guy is the Anti-Christ!!!! He has all the marks of the AC!!!”

(These are usually all wrong – even Jesus said “no man knows the day nor the hour…” – not even Jesus knew.)

In Acts, the church is saying that Jesus’ death and persecution of God’s people were foretold in the Scriptures. God knew these things were coming and told his prophets.

4:28 “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

Here is an interesting parallel stream of (1) what God knows and (2) man’s free-will.

Where Man makes his own free choices and yet fulfills what God foreknew. – a bit of a mystery.

Matthew Henry – “Justice must be satisfied… As to the people’s act, it was an awful act of sin and folly.”

Genesis 45 – Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. (He was Jacob’s obvious favorite baby vs. 11 other brothers. They became murderously envious, and wanted to kill him – instead they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph was taken into the house of Potiphar. He was accused of trying to rape his wife – he was put into prison. Many, many bad things happened to him, but in prison he interpreted dreams of the Pharaoh’s servants. One died, one went back to work. Pharaoh then had a dream and the butler said, ‘Oh, that dude Joseph can tell you about your dream.’ Joseph came and said, ‘Wow. 7 years of plenty and after 7 years of famine.’ Pharaoh, ‘Wow. You’re the man to do it. 2nd in command, son ;)’ Then, in Canaan, the famine was affecting the family of Jacob – they went down to Egypt for food. And though they hadn’t recognized him the first time, they recognized him the second time when he revealed himself. So there is lots of fear, guilt and shame for all the time they’ve harbored this sin.)

In Genesis 45 Joseph said, “Don’t be too hard on yourselves. God sent me ahead of you to save you.” He saw God’s sovereign hand at work from the painful past into the promised future.

Joseph is a type of Christ. Transpose those same words to Jesus, “Don’t be too hard on yourselves (for your sin). God sent me ahead of you to save you.”

We’re all guilty of “selling” Jesus – crucifying him on the cross. We all sin, we all fail. Jesus alone provides the righteousness that we lack. Through his death on the cross, we are saved.

1 John 1:9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

There is a dual working together of God in his sovereignty ( “nobody can be snatched out of my hand” Jesus ) and the fact that we also must guard ourselves. (Martin Luther “all of Christian life is one of repentance.”)

The whole tenant of the gospel is that God has taken the initiative, and we must accept his free gift through faith.

We will take the Lord’s supper, but as Paul says, “examine yourselves”. So if we sin – or sin during the week – remember those words “don’t be too hard on yourself” and confess your sins.

Jesus has taken our guilt and suffering and shame. Hebrews “Jesus bore the cross, despising its shame…”

Derick Prince – received a testimony of a young woman who’d been gang-raped in her younger years, and had married a Christian man – but had never been able to truly consummate their union because of the past. You know, when Jesus was crucified, he was naked on the cross – he’d borne HER shame, he was naked, he was a man, he was her Savior. If she loved him, she loved the one he represented. That healed her – she finally understood how Jesus had borne her shame. It healed her personal life and marriage.

Jesus took our rejection.

His own people rejected him. He had gone around doing good, healing, and because of the jealousy of the priests, he was lied against and brought before Pilate – and they freed a criminal in place of him. How did he feel as a man? Rejected.

Then, whipped, scourged, crucified.

Then, on the cross, he’d been conscious of his Father God all through his life – but finally, even God couldn’t look at him “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now, no one could say that we are totally rejected.

Because Jesus was totally rejected, shamed, and bore all our guilt FOR us – now we are accepted.

In Paul’s letters (even Corinthians – the wild early Christians), we are called “Saints” – not by anything we’ve done – but because of what HE’S done.

Remembering all these things, the only thing that can hold us back – is if we don’t forgive others.

“If you don’t forgive others their sins, then your sins also won’t be forgiven.”

That’s the secret of the Christian life – forgiving others AND forgiving ourselves (if you don’t forgive yourself, aren’t you putting yourself in the place of GOD in your life? He’s already forgiven you. Are you greater than God? So that you won’t forgive yourself?)

Psalm 2:1-2 “The nations rage in vain.”

After crucifying Jesus, Herod and Pilate (former enemies) became friends (or frienemies) because they are united against Jesus.

The apostles’ prayer is also humble – they don’t want relief, but boldness and healing SO THAT they gospel will be heard and God’s name glorified.

In Acts, all things that are done effectively are done in the name of Jesus.

  • Acts 9: Barnabas told of how Saul had been saved by Jesus and how he’d preached fearlessly in Damascus in the name of Jesus.
  • Acts 8:16 Peter and John arrived in Samaria prayed for the people that they might receive the HS, they’d simply been baptized into the name of Jesus – but they still needed the empowering of the HS.
  • Acts 10:43 Sins are forgiven – Peter goes to Cornelius’ household and says, “All the Prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness from sins.”
  • Acts 15:17-18: Demons are cast out. A girl following Paul shouts out “These guys are God’s servants that are telling you how to be saved!” Paul got frustrated after many days, and he addressed the spirit and said, “COME OUT!” And he came out – but the owners of the slave girl had lost their fortune-telling spirit. The spirit was of Satan.

Just because it was right didn’t make it TRUE. Even prophets who prophecy something “right” doesn’t make it TRUE. If it takes worship AWAY from the Lord, it’s trouble. Especially the occult – even a Ouija board – needs to be repented of.

Since we are coming around the table of the Lord soon, it’s important to examine ourselves. Even somethings that look innocent or insignificant, ANY sin is an abomination to the Lord.

Keep yourselves clean and clear from anything that involves the occult. These things are loathsome and an abomination.

All of these things are done in Jesus’ name.

The NAME of Jesus Christ reveals the PRESENCE of Jesus Christ.

Flawed humans can bring about salvation by proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.

In his name we can overcome, we can be forgiven, and we can forgive others.

Let’s take some time to examine our hearts – to confess – we just “say the same things as” the Lord. We just say “Yes, Lord, you don’t like that, I confess that” and then we turn away from those things (repentance = doing a 180 away from sin, not MERELY saying “oops, sorry.”) and then we accept his salvation and his sacrifice for us.

On the day he was crucified, Jesus took the bread and the wine and said, “Do this in [loving] remembrance of me.”