Summary: four characteristics of a bold witness as illusrated in the life of Peter and John from Acts 4
“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John”
There is a faint knock at your door. You open it to find a
cowering man who timidly asks, “You wouldn’t want to buy a vacuum cleaner, would you?”
Unless you either take great pity on this poor excuse for a salesman or you badly needed what he was selling, you would not respond positively to his weak presentation.
Though there are many differences between salesmanship and evangelism, there are a few parallels. An obvious parallel is that if you want to communicate effectively, you must be confident about your subject. The best salesmen honestly believes that his product is something that people really need. The best evangelists are confident that Jesus Christ is the only Savior and that people desperately need to trust in Him or they will perish.
God had just used Peter and John to heal a beggar in his forties who had been lame from birth. The spectacle of this man walking, leaping, and praising God draws a crowd, and Peter begins to preach the gospel to them.
Suddenly Peter is interrupted as the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees as they are upset that Peter was teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
They arrested Peter and John, put them in jail over night. The next day they are brought in front of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Although they were on trial before this intimidating council, Peter quickly turned the tables on the Sanhedrin, showing that it was they who were on trial.
He points out that it was not a crime to do a good deed to a cripple. Then he indicts the Sanhedrin because they had crucified Jesus, whom God had raised from the dead and in whose name this lame man had been healed. Furthermore, Peter let them know that there is salvation in no one else except Jesus Christ (4:12).
Peter doesn’t see a court; he sees a congregation.
The members of the council are amazed at the boldness
of Peter and John, who had not been educated in their schools. After a private conference, the council commands Peter and John not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
However, Peter and John replied that they had to obey God, because they could not stop speaking what they had seen and heard.
While Peter and John had to be commanded to stop speaking, most of us need to be reminded of the command to speak to others about Jesus Christ.
Many modern Christians think that Jesus’ Great Commission was really the Great Suggestion.
We all should seek to be a bold witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ as Peter and John.
Note four characteristics of a bold witness
I. A bold witness is EMPOWERED (filled) with the Spirit (8).
To picture this scene correctly, we need to understand
how threatening it was for Peter and John.
The Sanhedrin was like our Supreme Court. The high priest was the most powerful Jew in the city, and the captain of the temple guard was second behind him. They were standing before powerful men.
Just a few weeks before, Peter in order to avoid possible arrest had denied that he knew Jesus Christ to a lowly servant girl. But here he is before this powerful body of men, boldly reminding them that they had crucified Jesus, that God had raised Him from the dead, and that He is God’s only way of salvation.
What made the difference? Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter’s witness before the Sanhedrin was not due to his natural boldness, but to the filling of the Holy Spirit
The key to everything in the Christian life is the power of the Holy Spirit
The Bible teaches that we receive the Holy Spirit the
moment we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Spirit of God literally comes within our bodies and lives with us for the rest of our lives. It’s a one-time event, and He never leaves. But what makes the difference in Christian living is the degree to which we are filled with His presence. To be filled with the Spirit means that we are completely controlled by the Spirit.
Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the empowering work of the Spirit gives Peter a boldness that enables him to share the gospel before a powerful, intimidating group of people.
I think of Peter Cartwright, a circuit riding Methodist preacher of the 19th century. He was to preach to a large congregation, and right before the service, he was informed that President Andrew Jackson would be in attendance. They told Peter Cartwright, "We thought you would want to know so that what you say won’t be offensive to the President." Peter Cartwright said, "Thank you for telling me."