Summary: This sermon covers the theme of courage as it relates to the example of Peter and John’s close relationship to God discussed in Acts 4.
Members of the 4th grade class at Spring Hill Elementary School in McClean, Virginia were asked the question: "What Is Courage". Their answer was: "Having faith. Being brave. Doing something when you’re scared of it. Doing something when you think you can’t. Trying something that you’ve never done before. Being nice to people with disabilities. That’s courage!"
This morning I want to talk about the subject of Christian courage. C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
According to Acts chapter 4, verse 13, the Jewish leaders saw the courage of Peter and John. Not too long ago Peter denied that he even knew Jesus not once but three times. Now he is regarded as courageous by the same people who ordered the death of Jesus Christ. What caused this change to happen?
Let’s review the events in Acts and see what has occurred. In Acts chapter 2 we know the believers received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Then after that amazing infilling the Holy Spirit gave special courage and wisdom to Peter which we hear about in Acts chapter 3 and 4. With John by his side, Peter healed a crippled beggar, preached the first Christian sermon, spent a night in prison, and then gave testimony to the truth and power of Jesus Christ in front of the same people who ordered the death of Jesus Christ. Amazing!
What helped Peter and John to demonstrate such great courage? What will help you and I live Christian lives of courage? Let’s look first at some things that Peter and John had going against them. The absence of these things in their life shows that they hold no connection to living a life of courage.
Peter and John were not wealthy men. Before they healed the crippled beggar in Acts 3:6, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have...”
Imagine that you lived in a time before credit cards. Some of you here may remember that far back. Would it bring you confidence to have some money in your pocket? It may bring you confidence, but it won’t bring Christian courage.
It’s like Henry David Thoreau said, “Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.” Living a courageous Christian life has nothing to do with the amount of money in your bank account.
Peter and John found themselves without freedom to do as they pleased, for in Acts 4:3 it says, “[The rulers] seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.”
Even going to jail and losing their freedom didn’t stop Peter and John from having courage. Do you ever feel strapped by the government and laws of our world? No matter what our freedoms are or aren’t, we can still have courage. When Peter and John kept their courage in jail they experienced God’s help over their circumstances.
In Acts 4:13 it says the Rulers and Elders, “realized that [Peter and John] were unschooled, ordinary men”
This doesn’t mean that Peter and John didn’t have wonderful minds. In their day anyone who didn’t have special training in Greek rhetoric was considered unschooled.