Summary: If the GLORY of God through the SALVATION of sinners is what we desire, then this is HOW we must pray!
We come back to our series in the book of Acts this morning after a wonderful missions conference last weekend. I've entitled this series "The Church on Mission." And by God's grace, that is what we will become with increasing degrees of obedience. The result of our conference last weekend is that $54,000 was pledged by our people to give to missions over the next 12 months through our Faith Commitment Offering. That is amazing! But of even greater importance is that 33 people committed to go on a short term mission trip over the next 12 months.
I was a child of the 70's and 80's. As such there was a TV that I watched called The Dukes of Hazzard. I tuned in every week to see what kind of mischief Bo & Luke Duke got into with Boss Hogg and the sheriff, Roscoe P. Coltrane as they drove their orange Dodge Charger around Hazzard County. Now one of the cinematic devices the creators of this show used very effectively was the "freeze frame." As you'd be following the action, just as they got to a critical point in the show, the action would freeze just before they went to a commercial. They'd freeze it right there in the middle of the action and you'd have to wait to see what happened. Bo and Luke would be driving their car, the General Lee, and it would go off some huge ramp. I don't know why there were so many ramps stationed around Hazzard County, but there were. Their car would go up and the show would freeze frame as they were in mid-air. At that point the narrator of the show, Waylon Jennings, would come on and say something very profound like, "I wonder what them Duke boys are gonna do now..." And as an 11 year old kid, I'm on the edge of my seat, just waiting to see what will happen.
I mention that because that's where we are today in our study through the book of Acts. In our last episode before our Missions Conference we were left at this freeze frame point. Last time we left Peter and John and they had been arrested by the Sanhedrin. They were taken away, thrown in jail overnight and the next day they stood before the high court of all Judaism. That ruling council of the Jews ordered them not to teach any more in the name of Jesus. And you remember what Peter & John say very courageously and defiantly: 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19
Then it goes on to say that the council threatened them further and they let them go - Freeze frame. What's going to happen next? How will Peter and John Duke respond to the threat of the council? Where do they go from here; what do they do?
Do they keep on preaching? Do they go underground? Do they walk away despondent and discouraged? Do they start planning for the overthrow of the Sanhedrin? Do they start stockpiling weapons swords and shields to prepare for a military coup? What do they do? Well let's un-pause the freeze frame and see what happens next in Acts 4 beginning in verse 23:
23When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Isn't it interesting what Peter and John do immediately upon their release? They do one thing that's very natural, and they do another thing that's very supernatural. The natural response is to go to your friends. The supernatural response is they prayed. And not just that they prayed, but how they prayed and the result of that prayer. As we go through the message today you'll notice on the outline that I have five points to cover. The first point is the natural response of Peter and John to the threat from the Sanhedrin, the remaining 4 and where we'll spend the bulk of our time together is examining the supernatural response to the threat.