Summary: Everything was going well for the church in the first three chapters of Acts. But the crunch comes in chapter four. How do the apostles respond? And how should we?
Passage: Acts 4:1-22
Intro: The first days of the early church were exciting, thrilling.
1. thousands of people believing in Jesus
2. signs and wonders, healing, “favor with all the people.”
3. they were successful, experiencing explosive growth.
4. but in this chapter, things change dramatically.
5. the honeymoon is over! From this point on, opposition to the gospel becomes the very arena in which the church exists.
6. we may not know much about persecution in our country, but the blood of the martyrs has and will continue to soak the ground the church is built upon.
7. while we may not know governmental persecution yet, we do experience resistance from family, co-workers, fellow students.
8. here, in this first occurrence of resistance, we are provided with steps we can take when resistance becomes a reality.
9. These steps are universal, can fit any situation.
I. Expect Resistance to the Gospel.
Il) one of the first thing we learned about living in Arizona is to expect dehydration. Don’t wait for it, but plan for it.
1. I wonder if the words of Jesus were ringing in Peter and John’s ears when this posse rounded them up.
PP) Luke 21:12-13
2. the group that arrested them was powerful.
3. “captain of the temple guard” was a priest 2nd only in power to High Priest
4. Sadducees a powerful group of leaders who interpreted and enforced Jerusalem’s religious laws
5. they interrupted Peters sermon because they had seen and heard enough
6. their specific complaint was the proclamation of resurrection.
PP Acts 23:6,7,10
7. Peter and John were not surprised, since they had seen resistance to Jesus before.
8. they expected resistance, and so were not surprised or puzzled or disturbed
9. we have an enemy, and he is in control of those who are spiritually dead.
10. if people resisted and rejected Jesus, they will resist and reject us.
11. this does not give us an excuse to be offensive in our presentation of the gospel
Il) last year in Chandler, 2 young men stood 10 feet from a tired group of fair goers waiting for a shuttle bus and blasted “the gospel” at these people through a bullhorn.
12. Peter and John merely healed a man and then explained what God was doing to a group of people eager to hear.
13. thats all it takes to get in trouble
III. When Persecuted, Execute Plan “A”
1. Peter and John spent the night in the pokey, then brought before a very august group
2. in fact, two members of this group had been the most directly responsible for the order to crucify Jesus.
PP John 18:24
3. they were both High Priests at one time, and Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas.
4. no doubt Peter and John had run afoul of the most powerful family in Israel!
5. question was simple: who or what is the authority behind your actions and preaching
6. they had asked the same thing of Jesus.
7. the Sanhedrin was the religious authority in Jerusalem, and as such had crucified Jesus.
8. to have healings and preaching being done in His name = by His authority, was a direct challenge to their decision to kill him.