Sunday Sermon: ‘They Could Not Be Silent

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I received an interesting text this week – “First entry in journal talking about Jesus to someone today! Yea!” If you’ve ever had that opportunity, you understand their reason for being so excited. For one thing, they probably felt like they had crossed a major hurdle in their life. They had finally won that battle so many of us face. In addition, they probably felt a great sense of joy. Sharing our faith in Christ can be one of the most exciting things we will ever do.

Today I want us to study through a passage that involves both Peter and John, as well as the entire church. This study can be divided up into three sections:

  1.  The Opportunities Before Them
  2. The Opposition Against Them
  3. The Outpouring Within Them

I. The Opportunities Before Them

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

We need to remember that the early church began very Jewish. Peter and all the other apostles were Jews and so were most of the first Christians. Therefore their association with the Jewish Temple was very natural. The Bible says that for a long time, the church met daily in the Temple. By this time they number into the thousands and therefore the courtyards of the Temple was the only place large enough to hold them.

Perhaps there’s another reason why Peter and John were there that day. They were there intentionally.

The Bible says that people were being saved ‘daily.’ Therefore there was probably a sense of expectation as the early Christians went about their everyday duties. Peter and John expected to be given the opportunity to proclaim God’s good news.

As they were walking along, they encountered a man begging for money. Peter quickly thought – “Here is a perfect opportunity to offer not only to this man, but to all those who will listen, the gift of eternal life.”

It requires great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to be so perceptive of our surroundings. Most of us can through the whole day and never once see an opportunity to share the Lord. But the early Christians did and no doubt that’s a major reason why people were being saved daily. The disciples were actively going out into the highways and the hedges and compelling them to come in.

Philip is a good example of someone who lived with spiritual sensitivity.

Acts 8: 26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias…

What a God-ordained moment. Philip obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit and discovered a man reading the Bible and full of questions. Long before Philip met this man, the Lord was speaking to him by His Spirit.

Jesus told His disciples – “I am sending you to reap the fields where other men have labored.” (see John 4:38) Every time I have the opportunity to lead someone to Christ, I think about the others whom God has already used to bring them to this point. Perhaps it was a parent or another relative. Perhaps it was a close friend or a coworker. It’s been estimated that the average person hears the gospel seven or more times before they make a decision to receive Christ. That may or may not happen in every case, but it helps to illustrate the importance of each of us being involved in the process. Paul wrote – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV) Then Paul went on to say: “For we are God’s fellow workers…” (1 Corinthians 3:9 NKJV) Reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ is a team effort. I’m part of the team and you’re part of the team and God is the coach. He calls the plays and He orchestrates the events so that each of us will have a part in His plan. He uses some of us to sow the seed, and others to water it. He then uses even others to help reap the harvest.

One of the ways we try to help you do this is by periodically putting on special events that will give you the opportunity to invite people to attend. Our annual Sportsmen’ Banquet is coming up in January. And, if the Lord wills, we will be doing our Passion Play again this year. These events, along with others like VBS and our church picnic, provide special opportunities for you to invite your friends and family to something where they will hear the gospel.

Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Peter did something that probably most of us will never be able to do. He miraculously healed the man. Jesus had promised this power to His disciples. Just before Jesus went back to heaven, He said to His disciples:

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Notice that scripture says that the power to heal people was given in order to confirm their preaching. Peter was doing much more than just miraculously healing this man. He was opening the door for an opportunity to talk about Jesus.

Acts 3:8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering. 12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

The Bible says that a man came to Jesus one night and wanted to talk about miracles. “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:2) But Jesus didn’t talk about miracles. He talked about salvation. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ (John 3:3)

Peter didn’t let the focus remain on him and his ability to heal the crippled man. Peter immediately turned the conversation to subject of salvation.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

What kind of impact did Peter’s words have that day?

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

That probably doesn’t mean that five thousand were saved that day, but that many were and by now the church was entering into the thousands. There were five thousand men alone in the church, let alone their wives and children.

Let me encourage you to do something this week. As you go about doing your daily tasks, look for the opportunities to talk about Jesus. Role play in your mind what you could say that might help that other person think about their spiritual condition and relationship with God. Pray also for boldness and then take a step of faith. I hope to get a lot of texts this week that will say – “Entry in journal talking about Jesus to someone today! Yea!”

II. The Opposition Against Them

I would love to tell you that every time you and I talk about Jesus, someone is going to be saved. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Considered the mixed reaction that day to Peter’s preaching.

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Peter’s preaching caused quite a stir. We’re not sure exactly how many were saved, but apparently quite a large number. Of course, the devil doesn’t like it whenever God is doing something good. He will do everything he can to hinder us. Notice his tactics with Peter and John.

Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Standing before the Sanhedrin was like standing before the Supreme Court. It consisted of a number of Israel’s leading elders, along with the High Priest. Most of the members were very wealthy and influential people in their community. The Sanhedrin had the power to punish those whom they felt guilty of breaking their laws, and on some occasions, they even had the power to put a man to death.

During their court hearings, the accused would have to stand before them as they sat around him in a semi-circle. It was meant to be a very intimidating. Yet Peter and John were not intimidated.

Acts 4: 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified , whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 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 that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth 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 unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Why were Peter and John so brave? It was all based upon their relationship with Christ.

1) They were closely associated with the Savior

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

One commentary says: “They gave evidence that they had seen him, been with him, heard him, and were convinced that he was the Messiah.” [1]

They had been with Jesus, not only during the 3 ½ years He walked upon this earth, but on a daily basis. These men were still closely associated with their Savior.

2) They were filled with the Holy Spirit

Consider the power of God’s Spirit in a man’s life:

Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Acts 1: 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

These men were full of spiritual dynamite!

3) They were committed followers of Jesus Christ

There was no halfheartedness in their spiritual walk. They studied the Bible on a daily basis and prayed as often as they could. Their lives had been completely changed by the Lord and they endeavored to live as obediently as they could. Such a walk gave them the confidence they needed to stand before those who tried to oppose them. “It is impossible for us to not talk about what we know to be the truth!” What could God do with a world full of such brave and committed Christians today?

III. The Outpouring Within Them

Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24 And when they heard that , they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said , Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

By now the church was beginning to realize that the threat of persecution was real. Jesus had told His disciples:

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you

It was evident now that persecution was going to be a real part of their choice to follow Christ. Therefore the believers prayed for God’s strength. The Bible says that God answered their prayers in a miraculous way:

1) The place were they were assembled was shaken

So dramatically did God answer their prayers that He literally caused their place of assembly to be shaken. There was no doubt in the believers’ minds that they were in the will of God.

2) They were all filled with the Holy Ghost

Scripture doesn’t say whether or not they spoke with tongues. It may well be that their filling produced what we read next.

3) They spoke the Word of God with boldness

That is what they had prayed for. “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word…” and that is what the Lord granted. Rather than being intimidated, they were inspired. They were filled with new courage for taking the Lord’s gospel to the ends of the earth.

[1] Barnes

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