Summary: We need to be bold in our witness for Christ. We are one generation away from being a pagan nation.

This sermon series entitled “The Ends of the Earth” is about how we, as the body of Christ, have been directed to reach a lost world for Him. So how are we doing? Not how has the church done in the past, but how is the church in reaching the lost doing today?

The fact is, we are but one generation away from being a completely pagan nation. Each generation is responsible for reaching the next. I could quote the surveys and the statistics of how far we have digressed but I won’t. We can watch the news, read the newspapers and just look around and see that the we, the church, have not done all that we have been called to do. Jesus command is clear:

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We are commanded to be witnesses to Jesus throughout the world. But being witnesses, we have been promised power in being that witness. The question is, are we using that power that Jesus said we would receive from the Holy Spirit?

The first part of the story we will be reading concerns Peter and John. The the power given them by the Spirit, the healed a lame man, lame since birth. Because they were attributing it all to Jesus, the man whom they had the Romans put to death previously and they were preaching Jesus raised from the dead, the officials of the temple had them hauled in before the high council of the Sanhedrin. Peter and John spoke boldly to them. Let me repeat the last verse of that reading:

Acts 4:12 (NKJV) Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

This is our message to the world. Only by the name of Jesus may anyone be saved. Not by the name of Buda, not by Mohammed. But salvation only comes by Jesus and Jesus alone. We will read these next 18 verses, so we have the whole story.

Acts 4:13–31

Opening Ill. Bobby Richardson was a second baseman New York Yankees back in the early 60’s. Bobby was also a strong Christian who led Mickey Mantle to faith in Christ before he died. It was the seventh game of the 1962 World Series between the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants. The Giants had a man on second base, which put him near New York Yankee All-Star second baseman, Bobby Richardson. When the Yankees decided to pause the game and change pitchers, Bobby Richardson, seized the moment as an opportunity to share the Gospel. While the new pitcher was warming up, Richardson walked over to the man on second base and asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and the middle of the seventh game of a World Series!

When the base runner reached home and then went to the dugout, he asked fellow Giants’ teammate, Felipe Alou, who was also a strong Christian, what in the world was going on with Richardson. He yelled out, "How can you people talk about Jesus in the seventh game of a World Series???"

There is something more important than a baseball game. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter and John were so moved by the Gospel that they were willing to suffer beatings for the Name of Jesus and then boldly proclaimed, "We cannot help but speak the things which we have heard and seen!" [1]

Part of being bold is speaking out when the opportunity presents itself and speaking out when no one else will.

Acts 4:13 (NKJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

These uneducated men, fishermen from Galilee, were conversing with religious scholars and authorities of their day. Not only that, just a few weeks previous, while Jesus was being tried, Peter was cowering and when confronted by a mere servant girl, he chose to deny Jesus.

Yet in this passage, many of those that tried Jesus and put Jesus to death, including the high priest were present, and here Peter and John are standing up to them, boldly professing Jesus to them. What changed? They were filled with the Holy Spirit whereas before they were not. Look back at verse 8:

Acts 4:8a (NKJV) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them ...

The Holy Spirit gave them the courage and boldness. Jesus told them what to expect:

Matthew 10:19–20 (NKJV) But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

The Spirit will speak and give us the words when we are on trial for His sake. But we must be in the habit of opening up to the Spirit. We must be in continued contact with Almighty God through the Word and prayer. We are not excused for being unprepared.

The Sanhedrin could not say much in this case because public opinion was against them. And by the power of God, through Peter and John healed the formerly lame man, who was lame from birth and now over the age of 40. This man was dancing and jumping in front of the Sanhedrin, his miraculous healing could not be denied.

It is interesting to examine this exchange with the Jewish high council, called the Sanhedrin. They will not even mention the name of Jesus. They will only say “that name.” All they could do was threaten Peter and John. They charged Peter and John not to preach in the name of Jesus. Their answer to the Sanhedrin?

Acts 4:19–20 (NKJV) But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

They were being the witness that Jesus commanded them to be. And being that witness to Jesus was done in the power of the Holy Spirit as evident by their speaking in all boldness. Peter and John went back to their companions and reported all that had taken place. They heard the report and they prayed, so let us now examine that prayer that is recorded for us.

Acts 4:24 (NKJV) So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

They prayed together, with unity (with one accord). First thing they acknowledge is the sovereignty of God. God created all things. A side note here: The doctrine of creation is foundational to all other doctrines. When we fully realize that God made everything and all belongs to him, thereby making us and all mankind answerable to Him, that changes everything. We all are beholding to Him. When we pray in the Model prayer (The Lord’s Prayer) for His will be done on earth as is in Heaven (Matt 6:10), we subject ourselves to be his tools in His hands.

They also prayed scripture, acknowledging the truth of the Word.

Acts 4:25–26 (NKJV) who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’

They are quoting Psalm 2, word for word from the Septuagint. (The reason it is a little different from Psalm 2 in our Bibles because our Psalm 2 was translated directly from the Hebrew and what they quoted was from the Greek translation of the OT.) After quoting psalm 2, they preceded and prayed how it applied to them:

Acts 4:27–28 (NKJV) “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

What is amazing here is that they are accepting the fact that persecution and opposition is part of the plan of God.

2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

The Word does not tell us that if you live a godly life you might encounter persecution, the Word is quite clear, living godly in Jesus Christ, you will be met with persecution. What did Jesus say?

John 15:18–19 (NKJV) “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

And also Jesus told us:

John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

So what did they pray? They did not pray that God smite their enemies, or for God to make their way smooth.

Acts 4:29–30 (NKJV) Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

They prayed for boldness, for courage to stand up to world and without any shame or embarrassment to proclaim the gospel. They prayed for boldness knowing full well the result will be more persecution. The highest object of our prayers is the glory of God, not our safety. Boldness is gift through the Spirit of God. It comes with being full of the Holy Spirit. And how did God answer their prayer?

Acts 4:31 (NKJV) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Please note that they ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and they ALL spoke the word with boldness. It was not just the apostles, the elders, the pastors or the deacons, but everyone spoke the Word with boldness. In the New Testament, there is no mention nor distinction between clergy (paid professional holy men) and laity (regular, unpaid church folks). Those that were designated pastors, elders, deacons were designated from within the church. All had the responsibility of speaking the Word to a lost world with boldness.

And being filled with the Holy Spirit, we will experience truest form of freedom of speech. To those the Spirit empowers, they can speak the truth in all boldness. Speaking the Word in all boldness will also change our outlook on the persecution we will endure. Later, they were again hauled in before the council:

Acts 5:41 (NKJV) So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Are you willing to suffer for the name of Jesus? The persecution they experience in the early church resulted in them being scattered all over the known world. This resulted, not in them going to live more comfortable lives, but resulted in the furtherance of Gospel:

Acts 8:4 (NKJV) Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

What do we ask when we pray? Do we ask for safety, or do we ask for courage and boldness to be the witnesses we were called to be?

There is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved. We have a lost world all around us that is without Jesus. And without Jesus, they are doomed to godless hell. Who will tell them? Who will warn them?

We will face opposition and ridicule. Will we, like those in the early church, rejoice in the opposition, rejoice knowing that we were worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus?

The call is to be filled with the Spirit. That takes practice. We cannot rest in that we may have prayed for the Spirit’s fullness in our lives last year, or last month or even last week. But we must engage in constant prayer for His fullness, so we can continue to be in His will, speaking the Word in all boldness.

I don’t know about you, but I find a weakness in myself, in my life, and in my witness for Jesus if I falter in my daily prayers and communion with the Lord. We are to call on the Lord constantly. The word tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17)

We are called to be filled with the Spirit and in that power speak boldly the Word to a world that is lost and in opposition to us.

Are we up for it?