Summary: The Early Church begins to be a power in Jerusalem
The Growing Earthquake
Jeff Hughes – March 16, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. The Sanhedrin, which was the ruling council for the nation is Israel had a problem on their hands. The apostles, Peter and John had been teaching the people that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, and that He had risen from the dead. Furthermore, they stated that salvation could not be found through Jewish heritage, and religious ceremonies.
b. To the contrary, they taught that faith in Jesus was the only was to salvation. Their teaching had spread through Jerusalem like wildfire, and now the group of Jesus followers numbered over 5,000 men, not including women and children.
c. This was not only a threat to their social and political standing, but to their very way of life. They could no longer bully and burden these people with obscure regulations of their own making, because these people knew the scriptures, and had a very good command of them, even though they were not educated men. Many of their leaders were Galilean fishermen!
d. These fishermen had been teaching in the temple courts, and a great miracle was performed through them, A man, lame from birth was healed, and was now walking, and praising God. But not only that; he stood by these two fishermen, giving weight to their message.
e. They had to act. They had to do something to try and shut these guys up. We will look at their attempt, and what effect it had on the early church, as we continue our study through Acts today. But first, let’s pause for a word of prayer.
a. Fritz Kreisler was a world-famous violinist. He had earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?” he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it.”
b. The gospel was like this violin, and despite a powerful group of people trying to keep it quiet, it could not be kept quiet. This message was too good to believe. It was too good not to tell others. Along that line of thought, I ran across this -
c. A gentle old Scottish Presbyterian minister named George Macdonald died in 1858, but he left behind a collection of sermons that have taught many about grace. MacDonald preached the gospel of grace so strongly that one of his sons protested, "It all seems too good to be true!" Macdonald replied, "Nay, it is just so good it must be true!"
d. The message that Peter and John were set about delivering was both good and true. Our eternity hinges on the decision we decide to make with that news. Some accept the gospel and readily believe, but others turn away, hardening their hearts.
e. Today, we are going to look at two different groups that made two different decisions as to what to do with that information. Our study comes from Acts chapter 4, verses 15 through 31.
f. If you don’t have a Bible, just raise your hand. Follow along with as we read -
i. 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 And 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. 23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 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, 25 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.’ 27 "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. 29 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." 31 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.