Summary: A vibrant church is faithful in its witness even through persecution. Lessons for us from peter and John facing the Sanhedirn.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept.
Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- "Semper Fi" the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful."
Oh, that the church of Jesus Christ can say we are “forever faithful” to our mission.
A. We continue our study on the Vibrant Church of Jesus Christ
B. Last week we considered four characteristics of a VIBRANT CHURCH (body, not building); taken from Acts 2 (following Peter’s sermon at Pentecost). These four characteristics of the early church contributed to the success of that fellowship. The lessons we learn from their success can be applied to our church as we build our vision for the coming year.
01. They respond to the message (vv. 36-41)
02. They mature spiritually (vv. 42-43)
03. They grow in love in harmony (vv. 44-46)
04. They reach out to others (v. 47)
C. As we reach out to others we can be certain of opposition. This is an absolute.
01. Those who experience no opposition to their testimony are sharing it with other Christians
a) Avoiding confrontation to a fault; “if I keep my mouth shut, I won’t make any waves”
b) We fear what we will say if someone rise up against our testimony
c) Too much “FUD” – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt; keeps us from being faithful
D. As the early church began to grow, it drew the attention of those who despised their message
01. As we begin to grow at Fontana, we too may face opposition
a) Some will dismiss our attempts; others may challenge our message
02. This is precisely what happened to Peter and John; yet despite the opposition, they continued their mission. Turn with me to Acts 4; let’s see the secret to their boldness
2. BE PREPARED FOR OPPOSITION (vv. 1-7)
A. Peter and John were prepared for the opposition they faced
01. They were eyewitnesses to the teachings, the life and the resurrection of Jesus
02. Jesus Himself prepared them for this day (John 15:18-25)
B. Notice the arrest did not impact the response of those who believed (5000)
C. So how do we prepare?
01. Be in the word and in prayer daily
a) Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
b) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (1 Peter 3:15)
D. SUCCESS OCCURS WHEN OPPORTUNITY MEETS PREPARATION (Zig Ziglar)
3. BE PURPOSEFUL IN OPPORTUNITIES (vv. 8-12)
A. When faced with the opportunity, Peter fulfills his PURPOSE; he doesn’t waste an opportunity
B. He was FILLED with the Holy Spirit, Just as Jesus had promised
01. And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me – yes, to witness to the world. When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. (Matt 10:18,19 NLT)
C. He probably wishes he had not been arrested; but he took the opportunity anyway
4. BE PATIENT IN THE FACE OF OBJECTIONS (vv.13-22)
A. We won’t always get the response we want
B. Those we reach out to won’t always see the light the first time; they may argue, reason, antagonize and even ridicule us
01. They might dismiss our message several times before convicted by the Holy Spirit
C. The VIBRANT CHURCH is made up of believers who are patient in the face of opposition
According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man, weary from age and journey, coming toward him.
Abraham rushed out, greeted him, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man’s feet and gave him food and drink.