1 – Acts 3:22-23 (ESV) 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
RAF: Peter introduces a most important, dynamic reality at this point: Man’s sin problem is not one which can dealt with by virtue of the Law, it must be dealt with in respect to obeying the Gospel – in listening “to the prophet.” To not hear Jesus, is to be destroyed from the people. Everyone must reckon with Him. He is God, and all judgment has been committed into His hands by the Father (John 5:22). And Jesus Himself will reinforce this entire concept most powerfully in His parable of Matt. 5:25: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” Every man must “settle matters” with Christ. He alone can grant forgiveness of sins. He alone is the savior God has given to us. In His death alone is there any hope for salvation. Christ Jesus Himself is the critical matter. You cannot reject Him in any way and be saved. All other things are set aside, and what we do with Christ is the deciding factor.
2 – Acts 4:1-2 (ESV) And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
RAF: We do well to remember that the resurrection is an indispensable part of the Gospel. It is so for two main reasons.
a. If Christ is not resurrected, than we are still dead in our trespasses and sins (1 Cor. 15). Scripture is clear that He was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25). His resurrection is the proof of His sacrifice having been accepted. Resurrection is the hope of every Believer. If in this life only we hope in Christ, then of all men – we are the ones to be pitied most! (1 Cor. 15:19)
b. That all men will be raised from the dead to face judgment for what they did in this life is essential to press home: John 5:28-29 (ESV) 28 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Many imagine there is no real reckoning beyond the grave. And we must wake them up to the fact that their sins follow them into the next life – where all hope of forgiveness is finally lost. Each one will give an account for the things done in this life. No one will escape. All outside of forgiveness in Christ now, are presently abiding under His wrath (John 6:36) – which wrath is but a foretaste of eternal wrath to come.
3 – Acts 4:23-31 (ESV) 23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
RAF: Boldness. We most often consider the word and the topic when it comes to evangelism. Rightly so. Even our text today is addressing it in that context. Peter and John had been involved the previous day in the healing of the lame beggar on the steps of the Temple. Now, under arrest, they are faced with giving some answers to the Council. It is in this exchange that 3.13 notes: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Note first then that this boldness of theirs linked them directly with Jesus. Jesus Himself was a bold man. Bold, not brash, belligerent or harsh – bold. Quite simply fearless. Jesus lived without fear of any man or circumstance. He feared only the Father. That godly fear equipped Him to stand resolute irrespective of what He faced. His was not the boldness of human bravado or hubris. His was the bold calmness that comes from absolute confidence. When there is no need for self-protection or self-defense. It did not matter to Him if others disrespected or disregarded Him – at least not in the personal sense. In an age when disrespecting someone is virtually the worst offense we can think of (at least in this culture) Jesus seemed above it all.
The Disciples here, like Jesus, knew both WHO they were, and WHOSE they were. So it is shabby treatment, disrespect and opposition were not the things that moved them. They endured all without bitterness or hardness. All this, still broken over the condition of their enemies. Still reaching out to them and preaching to their detractors. Never a hint of the “I’ll show you” attitude that is prevalent in us when we are crossed or feel powerless. No striking back. They didn’t need personal power – they served Power personified.
Boldness can be easily lost. In fact, it often flees us under a number of conditions: a. When yielding to intimidation; b. When giving way to a response of bitter detachment; c. When reeling from the sting of rejection or misunderstanding; d. Or in the loss of confidence due to personal errors, failures, or unexpected opposition. e. When we believe others do not share any love or compassion toward us.
But boldness must be the product of a right Spirit. The commandment “you shall not kill” is often misunderstood because people fail to take into account more than one type of killing. Hence, some will even use God’s commandment to deny the death penalty, when the very same law DEMANDS the death of those who defy it. Murder and just execution are both killing, but light years apart. Boldness and brashness are similarly so. So it is when in Luke 9, Jesus (and the Disciples with Him) are disrespected by the Samaritans and not given the impromptu lodging they desired, James and John boldly want to call down fire from heaven to consume them. But Jesus rebuked them. Some manuscripts note Jesus saying “you do not know what spirit you are of.” What was the problem? They were indignant, but Jesus had not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.
So we note secondly that even after Pentecost and other confrontations, Peter prays in our text for continued boldness. He did not want to fall back under those old ways. To be bombastic or crushing when calm in the face of the storm would reveal Christ more. The Church needs boldness in our day. Not to out argue or shout down our detractors. To remain calm, steadfast and loving when fear would drive us simply to frustration and bombast.
Note thirdly then, in verse 31, that God was pleased to answer that prayer, and they “continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” The Word is what they spoke with boldness. Not their opinions, pronouncement, judgments or retorts – God’s Word, God’s message. In other words, they continued to gospelize their detractors.
So, how are you doing with your boldness?
4 – Acts 5:21-24 (ESV) 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.
RAF: How often we too are found asking the wrong questions. Notice vs. 24 – These men were more concerned about “what this would come to” – this preaching of the apostles after their miraculous release from prison, than they were what it MEANT that they were miraculously released from prison and preaching in the Temple again. Their vision was so narrow, they couldn’t think beyond what impact all of this would have on their power, position and authority. How they needed to open their eyes to what God was doing right in front of them. Heavenly Father – deliver us from the very same thing. Let us see things in light of eternity and your hand moving, rather than what might please us or impact us in the natural and the temporal. The remnants of indwelling sin still influences our thoughts and attitudes, and I know how easily I can find myself at odds with your sovereign work, because I am not seeing it from your perspective. Give us the eyes of Christ.