Acts 4:1-6, “1While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the leading priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees came over to them. 2They were very disturbed that Peter and John were claiming, on the authority of Jesus, that there is a resurrection of the dead. 3They arrested them and, since it was already evening, jailed them until morning. 4But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so that the number of believers totaled about five thousand men, not counting women and children. 5The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. 6Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.”
According to Jewish custom they could not convene a meeting of the Sanhedrin at evening time although they did with Jesus. What really is the issue here is of power, greed verses grace, a false theology verses a true theology, a denial of the resurrection, ignorance and stubbornness to the Law of God. The Apostles could not have a greater audience than the one in which they had presently. All of the nations leaders the Sadducees who denied the resurrection The Sadducees were mostly aristocratic, wealthy, landowners. To protect their power and position and wealth, the firmly opposed any overt opposition to wealth (John 11:47-48), but it is significant to note; however, is that the religion of the Sadducees was mainly based upon social custom. They believed only in the written law not the oral tradition so vital to the Pharisees. In contrast to the Pharisees, they denied the existence of angels and the spirit world (Acts 23:8). Finally they rejected predestination and the sovereignty of God, believing man to be the master of his own destiny. These theological liberals were the first to persecute the church for greed not grace was the primary motivation behind this, power not love was the motivation behind giving the Apostles a hard time.
Mark 11:9-11,” 9But when these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. You will be accused before governors and kings of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 10And the Good News must first be preached to every nation. 11But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry about what to say in your defense. Just say what God tells you to. Then it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus had here promised the disciples of Christ not just these disciples in this situation but all those for all time who would stand before there persecutors the strength and the mercy to carry on, and so here the first real conflict between the truth of the claim of Christ and the claims of the Law keepers or Gate keepers occurs. Those who hold the keys in church leadership must here awaken and hear and heed the Word of God. Power is fleeting for God humbles the powerful and gives to the weak. He uses the willing not the powerful those who are childlike and real before God shall be used by Him the greatest. If we desire so much to be used by God so much then in turn we will not seek of the power of the things of which ministries are built upon but of the power that will built the ministry to its fullest tilt, that is the power of the Holy Spirit found through a church that prays, fellowship and preaches the whole entire Word of God historically and theologically to its congregation.
You see the Council here mentioned above while important missed the whole entire point and nature of the Law, for they figured the Law to be kept by them, when in fact the Law was meant to point them as a teacher towards the One who would come to redeem them. Yet it was upon this premise that they somehow missed even being experts in the law they failed, even being the most educated in the day they failed. Why they failed was because of pride. They failed to realize that Satan fell because of pride, and we fall when we are prideful and not humble. Yet the reality is that the power struggle was because the established leadership wanted to keep the power, so then the reasoning was because of greed verses the good news of God’s grace, but it went deeper much deeper into a false understanding or a false theology of God of Israel from a true understanding and theology of the God of Israel. How the Sadducees viewed God strictly denied any possibility of redemption or salvation for them, in fact it showed that they only wanted the power not the God of Israel. Really though what it boils down too is the fact that the established church much like today is bound upon traditions. They want traditions and make laws to keep those traditions, yet in the same way are like the Sanhedrin that crucified our Lord. There are those Pastors in the Body that oppose unity, in fact one of them told me one time, “David you have to be able to convince me of your theological stances.” Yet the reality is that if we are purely all about the theological studies and argumentation then we will miss out on what is most important to our churches, not arguments or divisions among churches, but love amongst our brothers and sisters. Our flock see our example and look up to us as leaders in His Body for guidance. Let us ever be vigilant on our knees before God. There is no need for power struggles between churches, for there is only one true church and that is the Body of Christ of whom all members of His Body are part of. The rest is just silliness and man made, for God’s church is not built within the confines of a building but within the hearts of those who believe in Yeshua (Christ).
Acts 4:7-12, “7They brought in the two disciples and demanded, "By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?"
8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Leaders and elders of our nation, 9are we being questioned because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? 10Let me clearly state to you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed in the name and power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, the man you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead. 11For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
`The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’
12There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them."
The Council them by what power of whose name have you done this is important. In Jewish custom if a miracle was to occur, the person committing the miracle would then have to be tested to see if the teaching was in fact for real. If the teaching of the teacher who did the miracle was wrong then they were to be stoned. So here we see that this is much more than just another event that occurred, but a significant event that we should take notice of. F.F. Bruce said, “It is particularly striking that neither on this nor on any subsequent occasion did the authorities take any serious action to disprove the apostles affirmation-the resurrection of Jesus. How it seemed possible to refute them on this point, how eagerly would they opportunity have been seized! Had their refutation on this point been achieved, how quickly and completely the new movement would have collapsed! It is plain that the apostles spoke of a bodily resurrection when they said that Jesus had been raised from the dead; it is equally plain that the authorities understood them in this sense. The body of Jesus had vanished so completely that all the resources at their command could not produce it. The disappearance of his body, to be sure, was far from proving his resurrection, but the production of his body would have effectively disproved it. Now the apostles’ claim that Jesus was alive had received public confirmation by the miracle of healing performed in his name. It was, for the Sanhedrin a disturbing situation.”
Acts 4:13-22, “13The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14But since the man who had been healed was standing right there among them, the council had nothing to say. 15So they sent Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.16"What should we do with these men?" they asked each other. "We can’t deny they have done a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. 17But perhaps we can stop them from spreading their propaganda. We’ll warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again." 18So they called the apostles back in and told them never again to speak or teach about Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, "Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard."21The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God 22for this miraculous sign--the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.
The evidence for Christ was overwhelming because of the testimony of the Apostles here. This goes to show us that it is our testimony that is profoundly influential in the nature of our Christian lives. When we walk closely with God will be met with opposition on all fronts, yet it is through abiding in Christ and in letting the Spirit operate through us that we can endure the attacks that may come our way on our journey. You see it is only as we abide and know Him that we can endure these things, it is not on our own strength. As Jesus was in the Garden, He did not pray to Himself, yet He could have, He prayed to His Father who art in heaven that His will be done. As we submit to Him and give Him the things of this life we will naturally be stronger inwardly so that in turn we can be stronger outwardly when the persecution seems like it is coming from all sides at all times.
The motivation for letting the Apostles go wasn’t because the Council was right or wrong, it was purely once again greed verses grace, ignorance verses stubbornness. The leaders of the nation had heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ yet they failed to realize was that this Gospel was the very thing that they had so wanted, yet they rejected. It goes to show even further that while education is important in some respects, for the propogation of the Gospel, such as translating the Word, which involves many different disciplines, it is intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ that ought to be of primary concern to us as we walk towards heaven’s gates, let us ever be mindful that intimacy not our ministries or our jobs ought to be our main concern. There is a time and a season under the sun to do everything, and while these Apostles were released they were given conditions yet to them Peter and John said , “19But Peter and John replied, "Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard” And so it is with us who love our Lord. Let us be about the work of preaching His Word to the nations that others may in turn see the evidence for Christ and turn in repentance and faith in His name. The evidence of which the Apostles gave to the Council was overwhelming, and it is still today.
A changed life is the greatest testimony of the evidence of Christianity. It is there in those who have passed the old bags of life unto the Cross of Christ, carried the Cross, and thereby realized that in this life, is merely a matter of surrendering our will, our desires and all that we are to the Lord, that in time we will be perfected as we stand before Him If we desire to be such a great testimony by surrounding ourselves with such a great witness then we would naturally in turn as well, be about being the testimony as well to the nations which need the testimony of God’s Word to the nations, in love, for the souls of the nations.
What is at stake here is more than what we see within the confines of these few verses. While the established church in America is fastly leaning towards liberalism and the like and in turn denying the Word of God they so aptly claim to preach it is the reality and our focus and mission as believers to be ready in season and out of season to repove and correct those who stand in error. While the greatest testimony of God’s grace may be to see the exchanged life the greatest testimony a person can have is to know God’s Word inside and out, thereby knowing God intimately in terms of knowledge and experience of what He has done and what He will in turn do throughout the ages. In this we can trust that knowledge is not merely head high, but heart level,
When we understand that God does not merely want us to know more about Himself, but to kneel more before Him in prayer and worship then we will naturally in turn be driven to our knees, in study of His personhood. It is in this though that the Apostles were our example, for they were men of prayer and study of God’s Word who knew God intimately not just because they were with Him, but because the evidence that they witnessed, the miracles, the teaching, death, resurrection and Ascension of Jesus were so overwhelming that they were changed forever by the life of Christ. It is the same today, if you walk with Jesus your testimony matters, it matters cause the evidence for Christ’s claim on your life is at stake. So believer take seriously your faith, study it, and own it. Don’t hide behind your Pastor’s knowledge, study what your Pastor is saying, and study the Word for yourself, for we all have a responsibility to know what we believe, so that we can in turn share it with others. The reality is that the evidence for Christ is on the line. Will you stand or will you fall? The evidence also demands a decisions to follow in obedience to carry the Cross and be a servant or to fall away and not.
If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior today, I invite you to. If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today, all you must do is decide today that you want to change your behavior, and believe upon what Christ did for you today by tearing apart the veil that separated you from Him, thus enabling you to enter into His presence. If you did that today, I would love to hear of your decision at firstname.lastname@example.org