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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

In  the  past   few   weeks  of  our  studies  of  the book  of  Acts,  we  have  seen  a catalogue  of  fulfilled  prophesies.  Pentecost came, and the Spirit came in great power.  Peter's   preaching in Acts 3, produced 3,000 converts.  As  a  result  of  the  healing  of  the  man  who  was  lame  from  his  mother's  womb, Peter  took  the  opportunity  to  preach  the gospel  to  those  who  gathered.  

Content  of  Peter's  message:  (a) Evidence  of the miracle  (b)Preparation  of  their  hearts  (addressing their ignorance) (c)  The  suffering  of  Christ  (d) Their  roles  (e)  The  need  for  repentance  and  conversion  (f)  The  impact  of  the  blood  (g)  The  hope  of  resurrection  and  the  lifting  of  the  risen  Lord.

Acts 4:  1-4 (As they spake unto the people ...)

Peter filled with the Spirit.  His  message  as  usual,  was  always  characterised  with  facts  from  the  scripture  with  simplicity  and  boldness,  not  of  fables  and  endless  genealogies.  He did not preach a message of condemnation.  He  recognised  the  fact  that,  what  Christ  suffered  was  as  a  result  of  ignorance  of  the  people  and  as  well  as  their  leaders,  Acts 3:  17-19.  He  pointed  it  out  painstakingly  that  God  Has  revealed  it  through  the  mouth  of  the  prophets  that  Christ  should  suffer;   However,  he  didn't  indulge  them  with  subtlety,  that  ignorance  was  an excuse.  His  message  was  "Repent  and  be  converted  that  your  sins  may  be  blotted  out".  Similarly,  he  reminded  them  of  their  heritage  in  Abraham ,  Acts 3: 25. This  is  hope,  and  God's  prerogative  of  mercy  placing  them  first  in  blessing  that  will  come  through  the  risen  Saviour. Therefore,  it  was  very  important  for them  to  turn  from  their  iniquities  if  they  have  thoroughly  repented. 

The  results  of  the  message - (Audacity  of  faith  and  hope  of  resurrection):

Generated  greater  conversion  of  5,000  souls  in spite  of  opposition  against  3,0000  souls  without.

Unruffled by the animosity of the religious leaders (the Sadducees came upon them)

Acts  4  begins  with  a  strong  and  sudden  reaction,  especially  from  those  who  were  Sadducees.  This  is  the  first  instance  of  opposition  and  persecution  in  the  book  of  Acts.  It  should  not,  however,  come  as  a  surprise,  to  us  or  to  the  apostles.  Jesus had forewarned the disciples that persecution was coming.  Men  would  react  to  the  apostles  and  their  teaching  because  they  had  rejected  Jesus  and  His  teaching  in;  John  15: 18-21;  Luke  12: 11-12;21: 12-15

 The  Priests,  the  commander  of  the  temple  guard  and  the  Sadducees  all  ?'came  up  to  them''   ?'greatly  annoyed  because  the  apostles  were  teaching  the  people  and  proclaiming  in  Jesus  the  resurrection  of  the  dead''. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Two things ?'greatly annoyed'' these Sadducees: 

(i)                 Unauthorised men were teaching the people in the temple precincts. 

(ii)    They  were  distressed  because  the  resurrection  of  the  dead  was  being  taught.  The implication  of  this  was  staggering  to  those  Sadducees  who  had  rejected  Jesus  and  taken  part  in  His  death.  Consequently, Peter and John were jailed.

 A  challenge  and  a  Bold  Response  in  the  face  of  Opposition.

Acts 4:  5-12

In  Acts  2  and  3,  the  gospel  was  proclaimed  in  the  open.  In  chapter  4  it  was  a  closed  door  confrontation  (Acts 4: 15-17).  Here  Peter  and  John  are  brought  before  the  Sanhedrin  to  give  account  for  their  preaching.  Peter spoke boldly regardless of the calibre of people present.  These  are  the  very  same  men  who,  just  a  couple  of  months  earlier  had  Jesus,  tried  and  demanded  that  He  be  executed.  (Mat 26: 57-59; Mark 15: 1; Luke 22: 66-23:1; John 18: 12-28

Peter's  preaching  was  so  powerful  and  so  skilful  that  they  would  not  have  known  he  was  not  trained  in  a  religious  school.  They seemed shocked to learn who Peter and John were.

Power of Religion; Approach and Antics

(i)The religious leaders had greater authority. Therefore,  to  maintain  their  statuses,  they  tried  to  intimidate and  threaten   Peter  and  John  so  as  to  silence  them  permanently.  As they did in John 7:  11-13; John 9:20-23; John 12:  42; John 19:38.

(ii)Carefully  crafted  Questions- ?'(By  what  power  or  by  what  name  did  you  do  this?'' (Vs 7). 

They  carefully  avoided naming  the  miracle  or the mention of Jesus  (vs. 14-16)  with  the  hope  that  Peter  and  John  will  get  the  message  of  keeping  silent,  thereby  killing  their  mission.

(iii)Why the fear?  The  link  between  the  power  of  the  Apostle,  healing  of  the  lame  man  in  the  name  of  Jesus  and  that  Jesus  had  been  raised  from  dead.

Boldness and Wisdom of God Exemplified.  Acts 4: 10- 22

Fear was dismantled.  Courage turned the table in favour of the Apostles.  Peter  identified  the  incongruity  between  their  actions  and  the  religious  leaders'  reaction.  "When did it become a crime to do something kind for one in need?"  "Why  the  need  to  be  brought  for  trial  before  an esteemed  group?"  In vs.  8  Peter  acknowledged  they  were  leaders,  to  make  their  guilt  greater.  They  rejected  Jesus  as  the  Messiah  and  saw  to  His  death. 

Vs 10-11.  Peter draws upon the prophecy of Psalm 118:22.  This  Jesus  is  the  stone  that  was  rejected  by  you,  the  builders,  that  has  become  the  cornerstone.

Mission  Accomplished;  Vs. 12  ?'And  there  is  salvation  in  no  one  else,  for  there  is  no  other  name  under  heaven  given  among  people  by  which  we  must  be  saved''.

Truth or Consequences? Vs. 13-22; Peter and John had no intention of being silent.

CONCLUSION:  ?'Men  don't  fail  to  believe  for  lack  of  evidence;  they  refuse  to  believe  in  spite  of  the  evidence''.  Rom 1:  18-23. ?'But  if  our  Gospel  be  hid,  it  is  hid  to  them  that  are  lost:  In  whom  the  god  of  this  world  hath  blinded  the  minds  of  them  which  believe  not  lest  the  light  of  the  glorious  gospel  of  Christ,  who  is  the  image  of  God  should  shine  unto  them''.2 Corinthians 4: 3-4.

 

Contributor: Martins Olubiyi

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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