Summary: A word on social responsibility
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 8
“Standing for Jesus: A Word on Social Responsibility”
The Christians in the early church made a tremendous impact upon the society in which they lived. There were some things that stood out about them and marked them as the saints of God in their day. What was characteristic of them, when they had been with Jesus, should be true of me and you today. Time does not change what the Holy Spirit brings about in us, when we are surrendered and dependent upon Him.
It is high time that the people of God begin to rise up and take their rightful place as children of the King of glory. It is time to get off the spiritual roller coaster and get committed to the cause of Christ. It is time for Christians in America to stand up and be counted. If you will allow Him, Jesus will begin to develop commitment and dedication in your life.
We last left the apostles Peter and John, they had been hailed into court before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish rulers of Jerusalem. With them was the former lame man who had been made whole. Peter had said to him, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I unto you; in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" (3:6). Peter and John had been arrested because they had used the occasion to preach Jesus and the resurrection.
The Jewish religious leaders found this preaching about Jesus and the resurrection threatening and was the cause of them sending the authorities to arrest them and bring them before the Jewish court. Once there Peter boldly charged these men with the death of Jesus and declared to them a magnificent truth. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," (4:12 RSV) No other savior has ever been provided for men anywhere in the world, in any age or time, than Jesus. That is the great message Peter preached. Now Dr. Luke takes up the account, beginning with verse thirteen of chapter four:
“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. (14) And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. (15) But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, (16) saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. (17) But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” (18) So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. (19) 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.” (21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. (22) For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.” Acts 4:13-22 (NKJV)
I. THE DEFENSE OF THE GOSPEL 4:5-12
Peter, John and the healed lame man were put in the center, of the assembled Sanhedrin and demanded to answer, “by what power, or in what name, have you done this?” The issue is a familiar one—that of authority (v.7). As the highest religious body in the land, the Sanhedrin felt they should authorize all teaching and ministry in their midst, especially that which was done in the precincts of the temple. Just who did these two “nobody’s” think they were, going into the temple as if they owned the place, doing and teaching whatever they wished?
Peter’s response to this challenge was incredibly short and to the point. It was a response empowered by the Holy Spirit (v. 8). He begins by pointing out that, far from doing any evil, a sick man has been made well (verse 9). This can hardly be a crime. And as to the power through which this benevolent deed was accomplished, it was that of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Nazarene, the very One they had rejected and put to death, but whom God had raised from the dead (verse 10). In rejecting Jesus of Nazareth, these leaders fulfilled the prophecy which foretold that the very cornerstone of God’s building would be rejected by the builders (verse 11, cited from Psalm 118:22). This cornerstone must be accepted, and those who rejected Him must repent, if they would be saved, for it was only through this name that one can be saved (verse 12). Jesus was the name by which the man was healed and through which the apostles ministered. Jesus was the only name by which any person could be saved.