The first century Christians were courageous. Consider Paul’s thought process – “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20 CSB)
What gave the first century Christians their great courage? This week we have been looking at three important principles:
Principle #1 – The Power and Authority of Jesus’ Name
Principle #2 – The Power and Authority of God’s Word
Principle #3 – The Power and Authority of the Holy Spirit
Anyone who has studied much in the book of Acts knows that the Holy Spirit played a major role in the development of the church. Some have even considered the book of Acts to be the “Actions of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus instructed His disciples to wait upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49 ESV) We learn in the book of Acts what that heavenly power was. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1:8) The Greek word for ‘power’ is dumanis from which we get the English word – dynamite!
The working of the Spirit’s power can be seen very clearly in the book of Acts. It was the Spirit who gave the Apostles the ability to speak in other languages on the Day of Pentecost. (see Acts 2) It was also the Spirit which gave Peter and John the strength and courage to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them…
What does it mean to be ‘filled with the Spirit?’ Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5 that being ‘filled with the Spirit’ is the same as being totally yielded to the Spirit. “Don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18 CSB)
There is great power and authority in being filled with the Spirit. He produces a confidence and courage in us that enables us to do things that we normally couldn’t do. He can enable us to love the unlovely and He can enable us to boldly proclaim God’s truth even during times of opposition.
Acts 4:23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness… 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. NIV