Summary: Find courage in the fellowship of the saints, your faith in the Sovereign Lord, and in the filling of the Holy Spirit.
One summer evening, during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can't, Dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with your daddy.”
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy.”
I guess there some men who never grow up. On the other hand, there are some men who are not intimidated by anybody. There are some men who are not afraid of anything.
Let me tell you: those are the kind of men and women we need in the church today that finds itself in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile towards the things of God.
The question is: where do we find the courage to stand up for Christ today? Where to we find the courage to stand up for what’s right when all the rest of the world is cheering for what’s wrong? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Acts 4, Acts 4, where we see Peter and John boldly standing up for Christ in their day.
Acts 4:1-3 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. (ESV)
That is, too late for a trial.
Acts 4:4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (ESV)
Let me tell you: Peter and John were incarcerated, but they’re not inhibited. 2,000 men trusted Christ that day. There were 3,000 converts the first time Peter preached (2:41), making a total of 5,000 believers at this time, and that doesn’t even include the women and children! Howard Hendricks calls it the law of spiritual thermodynamics – the greater the heat, the greater the expansion. Peter and John were incarcerated, but not inhibited.
Furthermore, they were interrogated, but they’re not intimidated.
Acts 4:5-6 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. (ESV)
This is the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Israel, the same people who sentenced Jesus to death just a few weeks before this.
Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (ESV)
In other words, “Under whose authority did you heal the lame man?” (It’s the miracle described in the previous chapter.)
Acts 4:8-12 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)
Peter tells them, in no uncertain terms, that the lame man stands whole in the name of Jesus. It is a bold witness in the face of certain death. Peter is not intimidated at all – not like he was just weeks before, when he stood in the courtyard of this same place and denied even knowing who Jesus was.
Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, actually accuses his accusers. He accuses them of putting him on trial for “a good deed” (vs.9). He accuses them of crucifying their Messiah, the One God raised from the dead (vs.10). He accuses them of rejecting the One God has made foundational to His plan (vs.11). They’ve rejected the very “cornerstone” of their existence!
There is an old legend about the building of this Temple here in Jerusalem. The huge stones for it were shaped at a quarry away from the Temple, and then sent to the Temple where they were pieced together – like one giant 3-D puzzle.
When one particular stone arrived on the scene, the builders couldn’t figure out where it fit, so they threw it away. They rejected it, because it was an odd size and shape.