Summary: The church persecuted by the world, but is triumphant
SERIES: Adventures in Acts 004
TITLE: The First Persecution of the Church
TEXT: Acts 4:1-12
INTRO: After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at the Feast of Pentecost, Peter preached his first sermon and 3,000 people were saved. Following that, he and John healed a man who had been lame from birth. Then Peter preached his second sermon and 5,000 people believed. The religious leaders in Jerusalem became greatly disturbed and so began the first persecution of the church.
I. THE BOLD PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL (3:12-26)
A. What Peter Preached
1. God sent His Son to fulfill His promise to the Jews
2. They had denied Jesus and sent Him to His death
3. God glorified Him in raising Him from the dead
4. It was through faith in Jesus' name that the lame man
was made whole
5. Then Peter called on his audience to repent so their
sins could be blotted out
# A Baptist pastor in the Soviet Union approached the minister of religious affairs for permission to build a church. The Soviet official refused, saying, “As long as I am alive, there will never be a Baptist church on that location.” As the pastor was leaving his office, he replied, “Sir, I respect the fact that you serve as a minister of the Supreme Soviet State. But, I serve as minister of the Most High God and I will pray that God will spare you and not take your life so His church can be built on that piece of property.” The Soviet official was shaken by his comments and replied, “You’re serious aren’t you?” Eventually the church was built & the minister of religious affairs even came to the dedication service. All because of the preacher’s boldness!!!!
B. The Results of Peter's Bold Preaching
1. Of those who heard 5,000 believed & were saved
2. When the religious authorities saw the boldness of
Peter & John, they perceived it as a threat to their
power & so began the persecution of the church
II. THE FIRST PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH (4:1-22)
A. The Persecutors
1. The Sadducees had them arrested (1-3)
-Hard headed Skeptics
-Did not believe in Angels, the Supernatural or the
-Someone said, "They were Sad-U-See?"
2. Next day, brought before the Sanhedrin, the highest
court of the Jews (5-7)
-Consisted of 70 members plus the Chief Priest
-24 Priests (Sadducees... the Compromisers)
-24 Elders (Pharisees... the Traditionalists)
-22 Scribes (Scholars... interpreted the law)
B. The Persecution
1. The authorities perceived that Peter & John had been
2. They could not deny a miracle done in public
3. All they could do was threaten them & command them
to not speak in Jesus name
C. Peter and John Responded
1. (v. 12) "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
2. (v. 20) "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
B. There is No One Else Like Jesus
# Jesus was born in a tiny little place called Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago. His birth divides all history into BC and AD. He never wrote a book and yet, the books that have been written about Him are in the libraries of this world. He never painted a picture never did a sculpture and yet, He has been the inspiration for the greatest art of this world. He never wrote a song but think of the songs that millions are singing about Him. He never raised an army but, He has an army of followers who are willing to die for Him, to live for Him, to share His love. He never went outside the circumference of that little land of Israel; and yet, the sun will not set on people worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He only started with a handful; and yet, today over 30% of the world’s population say they believe in Jesus Christ. He only taught for three years, and 2,000 years later we’re still studying every word that the Lord Jesus said. He had no formal education; but, think of all of the universities & seminaries, that have been founded in His name.
III. THE PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
A. Peter and John Led the Church in Prayer (v. 23)
1. For more boldness in witnessing
(v.29) And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word
2. Their prayer was answered
(v. 31) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
3. God's grace was showered upon them