Today we are having a Youth Confirmation and an Installation of a Teacher. Our message in Acts 4 fits perfectly. And I think it will be a blessing for you even if you aren’t being confirmed or installed. Before we begin our study, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Story
This morning we’re going to pick up with our study exactly where we left off. Peter and John had just healed the Paralyzed Man at the Gate called Beautiful. It was a miracle so amazing that a crowd had gathered after the miracle. And Peter had used the opportunity to do two things: (1) give a public confirmation of his faith in Jesus and (2) teach the people about Jesus and his message.
The reality is that while many believed, not everyone did. Not everyone in the city was a believer.
Not everyone in the city was a part of the church.
But while some just didn’t believe and went about their business without becoming a part of the church; others took their unbelief a step farther:
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. (V.1-2)
A couple notes from this section:
They were greatly disturbed. These people didn’t just ‘not believe.’ They were ‘disturbed’ by what was being taught. (That’s a word that’s usually used for tragedies or horror films). These people were disturbed at Peter’s teachings.
Which might seem strange! Everyone else was excited and in awe of the teaching that had enabled this Paralyzed Man to be able to walk.
But these people weren’t surprised.
They were disturbed.
Proclaiming the Resurrection. That’s what Peter’s teaching was all about. He was teaching that not only could the Paralyzed be able to rise up to their feet; but one day the dead will be raised to life.
That might be a bit disturbing – if you think of zombie apocalypse – but also might be disturbing if you didn’t think it would ever happen.
If you think that the resurrection will never happen, then Peter’s message was dangerous! It was causing people to be distracted from important things like money, fame and family – and focusing on worthless things that would happen – like eternal life.
In Jesus. That phrase tells us the reason that Peter believed a resurrection would happen. It was because of Jesus.
The guy that the Sadducees had falsely arrested.
The guy that the Sadducees had falsely convicted.
The guy that the Sadducees had killed.
And the guy that had ‘supposedly’ come back to life.
They thought they had killed the message of Jesus with the death of Jesus!
But now he was supposed to be alive.
And his message was definitely alive and well.
And so, they take action:
They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. (v.2-3)
The next morning, I imagine Peter and John awoke to a gruff, “Get up! It’s time to go.”
One soldier bent down to unlock the chains around their wrists, while another stood close by – sword draw – in case of any funny business.
They walked through the dark hallway of the underground and slowly made their way up the torch lit stairwell. The sun was barely risen – it’s dawn light revealing the path to a large courtroom.
As Peter and John entered, the hubbub of the crowd turned to loud hisses!
Every direction the disciples looked they saw eyebrows furled and teeth clenched in anger.
And there – at the front – in the middle of this angry crowd were two men that the disciples recognized: Annas, the former high priest and Caiaphas, the current high priest.
(If those names sound familiar to you, they should. These were the exact same two people that were in charge of the courtroom when they sentenced Jesus to death.)
“Silence!” Caiaphas barked. He leaned in and started the trial:
“By what power or what name do you do these things?” (v.7)
Some kind of illegal drug?
Peter cleared his throat. All eyes were on him.
Peter knew what they were capable of.
Peter knew that he was teaching the same message that had gotten Jesus killed.
Peter knew that if he spoke about Jesus, he could possibly be killed right now.
...and he didn’t care.
“Rulers; elders…It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (v.10-12)
II. Withstanding Opposition
Now, (Cullen; Jenni).
You’ll probably never be put on trial.
You’ll probably never have to face crucifixion.
You’ll probably never be faced with death because of your faith.
But…you will encounter opposition.
The high school teacher who tells you that your faith is foolish!
The preschool parent who thinks that kids don’t sin, and you shouldn’t tell their kids he’s a sinner.
The friends who tell you ‘church’ is stupid. And you’d be stupid to go to church.
Your own family question your career choice because…” You could make a lot more money somewhere else.”
Here’s the truth:
You will encounter opposition because you are Christian.
How will you respond?
Stop mentioning Jesus in your Bible time lessons?
Tell your friends, “I just come because my mom and dad make me.”
Hide the fact that you love Jesus on your Facebook profile?
Will you be like Peter?
Will you boldly confess your faith?
Will you boldly state that you follow Jesus?
Will you boldly share that YES! I believe?
It is my prayer and our prayer and God’s desire that you confess boldly.
In fact, this lesson teaches us that we have a lot of reasons to confess boldly.
1. You are Spirit-Filled
Did you catch that right before Peter spoke? The Bible tells us that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” (v.8) That’s God’s himself. That’s the Almighty Lord. That’s the same Holy Spirit who did incredible things on Pentecost Day!
He was able to give them instantaneous foreign language comprehension; the scribes took years to perfect Hebrew alone.
He placed flamelike apparitions upon their head; the teachers of the law had acolytes keep the candles in the sanctuary burning for them.
He made a tornadolike sound come into the midst of the living room; the Sadducees could only make a quiet raspberry noise.
And that same Holy Spirit is with you.
And He is way more powerful than any spiritual opposition you will face.
2. You are backed by Resurrection Power
In fact, verse 10 says, “By the name of Jesus Christ, whom you killed but whom God rose from the dead,” we speak this message. In other words, the disciples had seen Jesus die. But then they saw him come back to life. And then he promised that he would bring them back to life as well.
Think about that! If someone who had the ability to bring you back to life promised to bring you back to life, would you be a lot bolder?
It’s like on a video game when you have a few lives more than you usually do when facing Bowser at the end of Mario. You are more confident and do things more dangerous than you normally do!
You have been promised that you will live even though you die.
You’ve been promised this by one with the resurrection power to heal you.
You have a powerful resurrection backing you.
A resurrection more powerful than sin….
More powerful than guilt.
More powerful than death.
And more powerful than any threat the group of angry religious leaders could make.
3. Your faith is Essential
Peter says this, “There is no other name given to humans by which we must be saved.” (v.12)
Think about that.
The name “Cool” won’t save.
The name “Popular” won’t save.
The name “Enlightened,” won’t save.
Only the name “Jesus” will save.
Don’t disown the one name that will save. That’d be like fall off the dock down at Shelley Lake. And you aren’t good at swimming. And you start to flail. And you start to drown. And you need someone to help you. And you see your friend Bob over there on the dock. And he’s got a life preserver in his hand. And he’s a trained lifeguard.
But…your friends told you, “Bob isn’t cool.”
And you don’t want anyone to hear you asking for Bob’s help so…
You keep flailing…
That’s what it’s like to throw away the name of Jesus.
His name alone saves.
Jesus alone is our Savior.
Jesus alone died for you and rose for you.
There is no other name under heaven, given to mankind, by which we must be saved. (v.12)
No one else did that.
Not your friends.
Not your classmates.
Not some preschool parent.
Not even your family.
Only Jesus did.
III. What Now?
Confess your faith boldly.
And I don’t just mean in a minute when Cullen, you are able to confess your faith before loving family and friends.
And I don’t just mean in a moment when you, Jenni, are confess your faith and desires to teach before a congregation that is excited for you to teach.
I mean confessing boldly in front of whomever opposes your faith.
Because Jesus confessed you boldly before the devil himself.
When the devil said, “She’s a sinner.”
When Satan shouted, “He’s a failure.”
Jesus spoke loudly and confidently,
“He’s my son.”
“They are a part of my kingdom.”
Jesus boldly confessed us in the midst of the fiercest opposition. You boldly confess Jesus, in the midst of any opposition.