Summary: THIS PORTION OF SCRIPTURE BRINGS US TO THE RELEASE OF PETER AND JOHN. THEY HAD HEALED A CRIPPLE THE PREVIOUS DAY (CHAPTER 3). THEY HAD BEEN ARRESTED FOR CREATING A COMMOTION IN THE TEMPLE AREA, DETAINED THAT NIGHT, AND THEN FACE THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE
Acts 4:23-31 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
INTRODUCTION: THIS PORTION OF SCRIPTURE BRINGS US TO THE RELEASE OF PETER AND JOHN. THEY HAD HEALED A CRIPPLE THE PREVIOUS DAY (CHAPTER 3). THEY HAD BEEN ARRESTED FOR CREATING A COMMOTION IN THE TEMPLE AREA, DETAINED THAT NIGHT, AND THEN FACE THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HAD PRESIDED OVER THE TRIAL OF JESUS THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY RESULT IN HIS CRUCIFIXION. THE END RESULT OF THIS INQUISITION WAS TO HAVE THEM THREATENED AND RELEASED. NOW, WE SEE THE RESPONSE OF THE CHURCH.
TRANSITION: IT IS IN THIS EXCHANGE, BETWEEN CHURCH AND APOSTLES THAT WE GLEAN SOME THOUGHTS REGARDING THE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S WILL AND PLAN, AND THE VERACITY OF PRAYER.
PROPOSITION: IT IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERY BELIEVER TO DEVELOP A THEOLOGY OF PRAYER – WHAT IS MY KNOWLEDGE OF AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS PRAYER?
I. UNDERSTANDING THE EARLY CHURCH THROUGH PRAYER
a. PRAYER WAS THEN AND IS NOW A COMMUNICATION WITH GOD
b. WE ARE EXPECTED TO PRAY
c. GOD RESPONDS TO OUR PRAYERS
i. HE HEARS THEM
ii. HE ACTS ON THEM
iii. HE WITHHOLD ACTION
II. WHAT WE SEE HERE IN THIS PASSAGE IS THAT THE EARLY CHURCH HAD AN AMAZING UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORK OF GOD AS EVIDENCED IN THEIR PRAYER
a. THEY UNDERSTOOD THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD – VERSE 24
i. FIRST TIME THIS TERM IS USED!
ii. THEY UNDERSTOOD THIS EARLY IN THEIR WALK WITH CHRIST!
iii. THE EARLY CHURCH UNDERSTOOD THIS ASPECT OF GOD, WE SHOULD ALSO
b. THEY UNDERSTOOD THAT THE PLAN OF GOD INCLUDES OPPOSITION FOR BELIEVERS – VERSES 25-28
i. WE NEED TO EMBRACE THIS AS WELL
ii. GOD IS STILL GOD EVEN IF THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL FOR US – THE WAY WE THINK THEY SHOULD GO.
iii. GOOD IS WORKING THINGS OUT FOR HIS GOOD, NOT OUR GOOD.
III. WHAT WE SEE IN THIS PASSAGE IS THAT THE EARLY CHURCH HAD AN AMAZING UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR OPPORTUNITY THROUGH PRAYER
a. THEY COULD AND DID PRAY FOR BOLDNESS IN ORDER TO BE AN EFFECTIVE WITNESS FOR CHRIST!
i. WHAT DO WE PRAY FOR?
ii. WHY DO WE PRAY FOR WHAT WE PRAY FOR?
iii. THE MOTIVE OF THE EARLY CHURCH WAS SIMPLE, SINCERE, AND PURE!
b. THEY UNDERSTOOD THE FUTILITY OF ANYONE TO STAND AGAINST THEM.
i. THE TEXT SAYS, “LORD CONSIDER”.
ii. THE MEANING IS FAR FROM SIMPLY PONDERING.
iii. IT MEANS TO LAUGH – GOD LAUGHS AT THE PLANS OF MEN.
iv. JUST THINK FOR A MOMENT, WHAT DOES THAT REALLY MEAN? IT MEANS THAT GOD SEES WHAT THEY ARE DOING, EVALUATES WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND ENDS UP LAUGHING AT WHAT THEY THINK THEY CAN DO WITH WHAT THEY ARE DOING!
v. IN OTHER WORDS, GOD THINKS IT IS ABSURD TO THE POINT OF HUMOR!
vi. WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU HAD A VISION OF GOD, THAT YOU UNDERSTOOD HOW ULTIMATELY POWERLESS
IV. WHAT WE SEE IN THIS PASSAGE IS A SIMPLE PATTERN FOR PRAYER THAT PROVES POWERFULLY EFFECTIVE.
a. START YOUR PRAYER WITH PRAISING GOD
i. IF GOD DOES NOTHING MORE FOR US, WHAT HE HAS ALREADY DONE FOR US IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE
b. GET SPECIFIC ABOUT THE ISSUES
c. ASK GOD FOR HELP
i. GOD WILL EITHER REMOVE THE PROBLEM, OR
ii. GOD WILL GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH AND COURAGE YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM!