At Hoffmantown kids, we have been walking through the New Testament in detail in 2017. We began with the book of Acts and we are going to go through each book until we finish the book of Revelation. Let’s take a look at the commands given to the disciples by Jesus before He ascended into heaven in order to set the stage for Peter and John’s testimony.
- you will receive power
- the power will be the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Spirit will allow you to be a witness for Christ to all
- you are to live a life of missions, seeking to make disciples of all nations and ethnic groups
- evangelize and equip/train those who believe
- teach/preach/proclaim/share the Word of God with all who will listen
- you are to make disciples starting in Jerusalem and moving out to the ends of the earth
Peter and John are in Jerusalem carrying out this promise from Christ. They have the Holy Spirit. They are busy teaching/equipping the new believers and testifying of Christ to anyone who will listen. In Acts 3, Peter and John share the Gospel with a lame man sitting in front of the temple. This man accepts Christ and is healed. Immediately, this man runs into the temple and begins to share what happened to him and how he has accepted Christ. This draws a crowd so Peter and John take advantage of the crowd and share the Gospel of Christ with all who could hear. Everything is going great, until the religious leaders show up and are furious. It is ironic because people seeking after God are in a position to be connect to God and the people who make their living off of helping people connect with God are the ones who try and shut everything down.
I. Positive response to the Gospel
First off, the lame man had a positive response to the message of the Gospel. He had been waiting for this all of his life. He was passed every day by people who were going to worship God and no one had ever shared the message of the Gospel with this man. Peter and John have nothing to share with the man except the life changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This changed everything for this man. He sets up the opportunity for Peter and John to share with many, many people in the temple.
4 But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
How do we know that “many” means a whole lot? In Acts 2, we see that of all the people listening to Peter’s sermon, 3,000 people accepted Christ and were baptized into the faith. After Peter and John preach in the temple, the number is up to 5,000. It could have been 1,999 accepted Christ in the temple after the proclamation of the Gospel. If you add the lame man, the number hits 2,000 plus 3,000 gives us 5,000 mentioned in Acts 4.
The people who have a negative response to the Gospel have to admit that God is doing something through the disciples.
13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Peter and John are confident because they had been well trained by Jesus Christ. They were untrained according to the world’s standards. They were uneducated when it came to worldly knowledge yet, they were well trained and extremely knowledgeable because they had walked with Jesus for over three years, learning from Him day and night. In a sense, this was a positive response to the Gospel, even though they did not bow to the message of the Gospel, they recognized that something was going on in their midst.
II. Negative response to the Gospel
The spiritual leaders of the temple were there to help people connect with God. When Peter and John came in and preached the Gospel, the people were starting to connect with God. Look at how the leaders respond.
1 As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them,
2 being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3 And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and therefore, they did not like the fact that Peter and John were preaching that in Christ, there is going to be a resurrection because Jesus was resurrected from the dead. They could not deny the message. They could not contradict the message so they decided to shut up the messengers. They took Peter and John and threw them in jail simply for helping a lame man walk again and helping people who were searching for God find Him.
18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Since they could not contradict the message or keep these men in jail, they reverted to threats. They “commanded” Peter and John not to do what they themselves made their living doing, teaching others how to connect with God. How were Peter and John going to react to this persecution, these threats? Let’s discover for ourselves from the Word of God.
III. Obedience to God, not man
First of all, we see that Peter and John do not back down in the face of intimidation. They are seized and put into prison. Then they are brought before the spiritual leaders to be intimidated.
7 When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people,
9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead -by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
11 “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.
12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
They are being persecuted for preaching the Gospel and they see the persecution as an open down for more opportunities to preach the Gospel to even more people. When they stand before the spiritual leaders to defend themselves, they simply testify of Christ, just as they were told to do. The spiritual leaders cannot intimidate them and they cannot stop the spreading of the Gospel. They move to threats. Peter and John answer correctly.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;
20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
As they were told in Acts 1:8, after receiving the Holy Spirit, they would be witnesses everywhere. This was their answer to the spiritual leaders. We cannot stop sharing what we have seen, heard, and experienced. You can beat us, threaten us, and insult us but we can never stop. After being let go, Peter and John actually rejoice at the fact that they are threatened and intimidated.
29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,
30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
The idea of persecution just adds fuel to the fire of the Gospel. The people testify and the Gospel spreads more and more. God is being glorified through His people as they walk with Him in obedience and testify about Him to others. Is this your way of life? May the Lord help us be a witness every moment of every day of our lives.