Summary: Exposition of three truths in Acts 4:1-22 regarding the trial of the apostles before the Sanhedrin
Text: Acts 4:1-22, Title: You’re the President of What? Date/Place: NRBC, 8/12/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: John Kenneth Gailbraith, in his autobiography, A Life In Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family’s housekeeper. It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. "Get me Ken Gailbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson." She replied, "He’s sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him." "Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him." "No, Mr. President, I can’t do that. I work for him, not you." When Galbraith called the President later, he could scarcely believe what the President said: "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House!"
B. Background to passage: This chapter is one of the most powerful chapters of Acts yet. There are some amazing statements with deep impact on our lives in chapter four. I will not do justice to it today, so reread it, and restudy it, and allow God to use it in your life. Remember that Peter has just finished his sermon after the healing of the lame man. And as we will see today, it had great impact, not only on the people, but upon the rulers of Israel, which brings about our situation today. Mosaic law prescribed that if someone was using a miracle to teach the people, they must be examined to ensure that they were not leading people away from the God of their fathers. Note that even under their arrest many people still believed in Christ, and the church grows under persecution.
C. Main thought: In the text today, we will see three truths
A. A case for exclusivism (v. 10-12)
1. I wonder if Peter and John slept peacefully that night, or if they realized the gravity of the situation and spent the night in prayer. Because when they got up, the switched from the defensive position to the attack position. It’s almost as if Peter knew what they were going to ask and was ready. And during his explanation, he gives one of the most offensive statements to them, and even now in our culture: this Jesus whom you killed, God raised up, made Him chief cornerstone, and there is no other name whereby we must be saved! Expound on the words of the verse some. They were disturbed about the doctrine of the resurrection, but they were being accused of killing their own messiah. And they understood the implications of Peter’s statement.
3. Illustration: Tell about Dad coming to church with us one day and hearing me teach on Acts 4:12, and realizing the implications for the first time on the way home, Charles Templeton, the world renowned agnostic and apostate evangelists said that it was an “insufferable presumption” for the Bible to claim that besides Jesus there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. “Christians are a small minority in the world. Four out of five people in the world believe in gods other than the Christian God…more than five billion people…are we to believe that only Christians are right?” Joel Osteen on Larry King live was asked about atheists, then about devout people of other nations and other faiths, on both occasions he said that he didn’t know, and tried to put some spiritual slant on it about God deciding who gets to heaven… no prayer requests for lost people or nations at the associational pastors mtg,
4. Our culture is pluralistic, relativistic, and intolerant toward those who don’t line up, and we hear it every where we go. This is one of the main beliefs that our society and culture takes aim at constantly. They tell lame illustrations like the three blind men and the elephant or climbing up different sides of the mountain. And where the point of contention is the battle lies. We must earnestly contend for the faith handed down. And it is clear in the NT that this is what was taught. This is a doctrine that we question in our own hearts from time to time because of the implications, unless we are cold and heartless. We would like for their to be another way. Because if it is true, millions, in fact, billions are in eternal danger. This is the reason that it is so important to hold fast to this doctrine. To not respond to this truth is similar to seeing smoke coming from the basement door, and quickly closing it so as to have a peaceful family dinner. It is the motivation for evangelism and missions. Churches and individuals that lose this biblical conviction will inherently move away from the conviction that being born again is the greatest need in anyone’s life, and therefore move away from evangelistic ministries and missions. Young people will fight the most difficult battle over this in our schools as our society moves further and further away. And it is offensive to some, and some will probably not come back to our church because it is proclaimed here, but we must hold fast to it. “This is the kind of truth that either makes converts or enemies.” Do you ever really consider the implications of this doctrine on your friends, neighbors, and the nations?