2014.01.12 The Good News is Proclaimed
We who love the Lord Jesus and who have committed our lives to Him….. care about reaching the lost…. We want to win people to the Lord…… That's what we're here for…..
Acts 1: says That we are here to finish the work that Jesus both began to do and teach…… We are here to do His unfinished work….. the work of reaching men with the Good News of gospel….. This is our task…… Jesus said, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
And He commissioned us to pick up where He left off….. Jesus said, "You go into all the world and you preach the gospel to every creature." "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth."
I believe that we really want to win people to Christ…. It´s just that most of us don´t want it bad enough….
Some people want it so badly that they actually do it…... Other people want it bad enough that they pray about it…... Other people just hope it happens……
As we have been studying the New Testament church in Acts…. We have seen an effective and powerful move of God…. People had heard the Word of God…. The Holy Spirit used the Word to transform hearts and lives…. Many were saved and the church exploded…..There was great excitement…. The church was pure…. God was at work
Purity power persecution
The church is pure and on fire…. It is powerful as the Holy Spirit fills them and leads them…. When the Spirit of God moves on hearts and lives…. There is always a reaction…… Many heard the Gospel and were convicted of their sins…. They repented and believed the Good News….. Others tried ti stay fans of Jesus….. But when God struck down Ananias and Sapphira….. The hypocritical fans realized that following Jesus was serious business…. It was and it is not possible to be a fan of Jesus…. You cannot live your life…. Do your own thing…. And add a little of Jesus to the mix…. You know…. Put together your own remix of the world and Jesus…..
Others hated Jesus….. We have already seen the beginnings of persecution in the early church…. Remember Jesus said you will be hated of all men because of me….. You see those who refuse to repent and believe the Gospel reject and even hate him….. They are still trying to kill Jesus….. They get to him so they attack His people instead….
As we pick up our text from last time we see more persecution…Peter knew a lot about persecution….. listen to what he says in I Peter 2:20, "But if you do well and suffer for it, take it patiently. This is acceptable with God. God planned it this way. You should suffer." 3:17, "It is better if the will of God be so that you suffer."
Chapter 4:14, "If you be reproached for the name of Christ happy are you." Say speak for yourself, Peter. No happy are you, "For the Spirit of glory in God rests upon you." It's terrific. Verse 12, "Just commit your soul to Him who is the Creator because it's His will that you suffer." That's what it says three times in Peter. It's God's will for you to suffer. Did you know that?
God's will for your life is you be
1 saved, I Timothy 2:4,
2 Spirit filled, Ephesians 5:15,
3 sanctified I Thessalonians 4,
4 suffering I Peter…..
That's God's will.
God ´s will for us includes the kind of suffering that comes from irritating the world……. The world is angry with us because we belong to Jesus…. They are still trying to kill Him…… Because He is the Light of the world….. Jesus shows us our sinfulness…. Either we repent and cry out to God for mercy….. or we rebel and live as enemies of all true believers……...
In Matthew 5 Jesus said… "Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Listen to this one: "Happy are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad," "For great is your reward in heaven.
Verse 17 here comes the persecution…… I want you to remember that this time they must have been getting excited about it because the first time they got persecuted everything good happened. People got saved, they were united, their prayers were answered, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and Jesus was glorified and you can't get any better things than that. And so here came persecution again. As always it's a plus, verse 17.
Now all these miracles go on, all this preaching going on really upsets the leaders. "Then the High Priest rose up," and it doesn't mean he got out of his chair. It means he was very angry…. "He rose up and all they that were with him." And he had his cohorts, the sect of the Sadducees. The word sect is the word from which we get our word heresy. "And they were filled with indignation." The word indignation is zelu, which means jealousy. They were mad because they were jealous. If there's anything a religious organization can't stand is the success of another religious organization.
Now the Sadducees were the collaborationist leaders. They were the ones who were a very small minority, very wealthy and very influential Jews. They had this particular designation, Sadducees, which distinguished their party from the Pharisees, who were the legalists. The Sadducees were the theological liberals of their day and they were the ones who collaborated with Rome and were kind of Rome's puppets in keeping peach in Israel. They were the ruling party in Israel as it were. And they were really uptight. This thing was going like wildfire. They thought they stamped out this Jesus movement when they executed Jesus, but they only seemed to speed it up. And now thousands upon thousands of people were naming the name of Jesus Christ. Miracles were happening under their nose all over the city of Jerusalem. There was no way to deny it when everybody that came into town that was sick got healed. You can't handle that many miracles by just explaining them away. And they were really shook.
Now Palestine was always inflammable and the Jews were always ready to start something at the drop of a hat, especially when they hated the dominance of Rome anyway, and the Sadducees could see that their place was threatened because if an insurrection started they would really be the losers. Earlier in Chapter 4, they said to them in verse 18, "They commanded them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus." We don't want any more of that. Stop it, you're not allowed to do it. And to which Peter and John said, "I'm sorry, they've already told us not to do it so we have to do it. Now you judge whether we ought to obey you or God," which is a good question.
So they were really upset. They were filled with a jealous rage. So they took some action, verse 18. "They laid their hands on the apostles and they put them in a common prison."
Verse 19, "But an angel of the Lord, by night, opened the prison doors and brought them forth." See this angel, God sends His angel down, he says, now you get down and you let those guys out and this is exciting. This is the most defiant kind of miracle. You see God didn't use an earthquake and I'll tell you why. The Sadducees had two theological doctrines that set them apart. Number one they believe in no resurrection, or they didn't believe in a resurrection. They did not believe in a resurrection. What was it that the disciples were preaching all over everywhere? The resurrection. That's what burned them so much see. There was a second thing they didn't believe in and that was angels. They had always taught that there were no angels, so God very defiantly says okay, "Angel, show them." So this angel comes down and opens up the place and lets them out. And so the very being they denied God defiantly used to release to preach the very doctrine they didn't believe. Now that's what's known as defiance. And so the angel lets them out.
Well watch what happens. Verse 20, "Go, stand, and speak." Now that's a good sermon outline. Go, stand firm and speak in the temple? Is He kidding? We just got out of there. They threw us in jail. Go back there? They don't get any argument. It just says, "Go, stand, speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."
Verse 21, "When they heard the, they entered into that temple." Oh I like that. But you say, "That's not smart." Well you see nobody ever said in the Word of God that we're supposed to figure out what's smart. All we're supposed to do is be obedient, right? I think God knows what's smart. He's got it all planned out.
So the angel says, "Go, stand, speak." That's solid, forceful and God wants that kind of defiant courage, that kind of boldness that really confronts. The command sounds incredible. everything Satan tried to do to put them out only added fuel to the fire, 'cause another miracle happened.
Now look at the end of verse 20. "Now go and speak all the words of this life." That little phrase is a beautiful thing. Our gospel is the gospel concerning the words of life. Paul said to the Philippians, "Holding forth the word of life." You know that the message that we preach is the message of life? Jesus has come into this world to give life to dead men, spiritually dead men. The world is spiritually dead, right? Men are dead spiritually. They are insensitive to God. They can't sense His presence. To be spiritually dead means that you can't sense God. You can't sense Him.
Christianity is not a part of life, it is life and apart from it you're dead.
I love that phrase: "All the words of this life." This is life, isn't it? This is everything. I heard a man say Christ is the center of my life. I said, "Wrong. Christ is the circumference of your life or He's nothing." Everything is on the inside. He's not in the middle of everything. Everything is inside Him. He is your life. He that hath the Son hath what? Life.
So this is what you declare. You go in there and you tell them how they can all have life. Get in there and preach and the key to life was the resurrection. Jesus said, "I'm the resurrection and the life. Because I live ye shall live." So the key to the message of life was preach the resurrection. So back they went like little corks bobbing up again, right into the temple and away they go on the resurrection again. We find that in verse 21.
"And when they had heard that they entered into the temple early in the morning and taught." Here they go again. This is absolutely terrific. And what is so interesting is the Sadducees and the Chief Priests and everybody don't know where they are yet. So meanwhile back at the High Priest’s, or whatever, verse 21 in the middle, "But the high priest came," and you can see the austerity of this occasion. They're getting ready now to deal with these upstarts. "The high priest came, and they that were with him," he had this little gang that trailed around, that were kind of attached to him theologically, "And they called the council together," that's the Sanhedrin, the ruling elders of Israel, and then they got in addition to that, which is the senate," which is grusia, which has to do probably with all of the elder, older Jews, the wise older men who in years past had served in many capacities and they called together this kind of a Senate of wise men made up of many Pharisees.
So they had all of the brain trust of Israel meeting together to dispense with these guys and then they sent to the prison to have them brought. You go and you bring the prisoners. We'll deal with them. So it gets kind of humorous here. I don't think they were laughing, but it's somewhat humorous. Verse 22, "When the officers came, and found them not in the prison," it's the great escape. Nobody's home. Verse 23, "They return and told saying, 'The prison truly found we shut with all safety.'" I mean that place is locked up like it's always been, all the padlocks in the right spot. The bars are all there. The hinges are all there. That place is shut up like it’s always been. And we found the keeper standing outside before the doors. The guards are on duty. They've secured that place. The only thing we didn't find was the prisoners. We looked in there but they're gone.
Now you can imagine the shock of this moment. I mean they've had enough miracles already to gag them and they're not about to believe. They never thought of that option. Too hardened were they in their unbelief. One of my professors in seminary said that they had probably all by this time committed the unpardonable sin of apostasy so they were beyond the possibility of belief and these evidences were for the people, not for them. But whatever, they were so cold and so hard and so indifferent that rather than believing the miracle they just kind of filed it away in their minds and didn't even want to know anything about it.
And here was another one they had to face in addition to the thousands of miracles that had been going on all through the city. So their reactions in verse 24: "Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple," that's the temple police chief, "and the chief priest heard these things they were perplexed." Now that is mild. The Greek means they were at their wit’s end. They were on the verge of going bananas in the vernacular. They were in a state of sort of semi-panic. They were really stirred up. They were really messed up. They were scared to death and they couldn't stop this thing and they knew they couldn't stop it. And they knew that their authority was being disregarded, heresy was being preached. God was opposing them by miracles.
Every effort to stop had failed and great success was following them and more and more were believing and they were trying this last thing and they were gone out of there and there was not way to explain it because it was all locked up and the guards were still standing in front. And they were on the edge of panic. They were probably thinking to themselves where did they go? We'll get them where did they go? And they were probably thinking about how they would plot their escape.
And then comes the final defiance, verse 25. "And then came one and said unto them, 'Behold,'" that's a very strong word. You will never believe this. "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple teaching the people." They're right back in there doing it. Now that is defiance. I mean they're not stashed away in the hills anywhere. They're right back there going at it again and I'm sure they were so excited. I mean I would have stuck around just to keep seeing the stuff that God was doing in their lives. They were probably, at this point thinking, "Boy, I wonder what's going to happen when we get arrested this time." I mean these things are so exciting. And the people were listening to them and people were believing and people were being won to Christ. So there they were.
I like that kind of defiance, don't you? I like that kind of boldness. God does too. That kind that always bobs up and comes back for more. Then look what happened in verse 26. Apparently cooler heads prevailed for the moment, "And the captain with the officers went out and brought them without violence."
Now I imagine, it says without violence because the violence was in them. They were ready to rip them limb from limb, but they restrained the violence. Oh you say, "That was nice of them." Not so nice. Look at the end of verse 26. "They feared the people lest they should have been stoned." The only reason they weren't violent was 'cause they knew the people were listening to them and the Jews would stone somebody almost on the drop of a hat when emotions were ripe. And so they said, "Boys play it cool. Fellows, we'd like to speak with you for a few moments if we might."
And the disciples could have said, "Forget it, we're staying right here," and then they could have made a violent move and the disciples said, "All right everybody, stones out." No, there's none of that. There's none of that violence on the part of the disciples either. They're very content to go because they know that whatever they get into God's got some fantastic plan in mind.
And I mean just think of the thrill of going through a jail cell when it was locked. Not too many have that opportunity for several reasons. They don't usually get in, hopefully, but nevertheless there was no resistance. They could have resisted at that point very easily, but they went so willingly. And probably on the way Peter is plotting out his sermon outline because he knows that the Lord is going to give him a second, this is the second service that they'll be holding in the Sanhedrin. He's probably getting it all outlined, of course, and figuring out the order of worship, or whatever.
But anyway they're taken captive again and the non-resistance is beautiful. You know this kind of non-resistance is what opens up opportunities. Remember the apostle Paul in Chapter 25 of Acts? That's really a great section there. He's under trial by Festus and the Jews have accused him of all these things and he says, "I haven't done anything against the Jews. I'm a Roman citizen. If you're going to try me you'd better try me before Caesar." And then he says this in 25:11, "If I be an offender or committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die." In other words I'm going to do whatever you want me to do. I just obey the Lord and if the consequences are die, I'll die. You see that's the right attitude.
Now we're to obey the government but when the government contradicts the command of the Lord we're to obey the Lord. But then when the government says you die, we die. But that's alright too, because Paul says, "For me to live is Christ and to die is," what? "Gain." So that's only a promotion. And he even said it's nice to be here but I'd rather be there. I like you people, you're wonderful, but I'd rather be with the Lord anyway.
And so Paul is simply saying, "If I've done anything wrong that's fine. I'm willing to take the penalty for it." So they had disobeyed so they said okay guys we have to go now and off they went. Do you remember what happened to Paul in Acts after they said, all right you're going to Rome and you're going to get it? What did he do all the way to Rome? Preached Christ. They had a big shipwreck and he was holding forth the word of life. They were all worried about drowning in the ocean Paul managed to rescue everybody. They got on Malta and the snakebite thing and then he got a chance to declare God's power again. And pretty soon he got to Rome and he got into Rome and at the end of the book of Acts he was having a great time a prisoner in Rome. It says in verse 23, it says, here's what he was doing, listen to this: "He expounded and testified the kingdom of God persuading them concerning Jesus and he did it from morning to evening." Paul did it all the time he was in Rome as a prisoner. "And some believed." He was winning converts.
And then in verse 30 it says, "Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house." Remember he was a prisoner in his own house chained to a Roman soldier. And what did he do for those two years? He preached the kingdom of God teaching those things, which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ. Did he have any results? Listen to this: Philippians 4:22, he writes to the Philippians. He says, "All the saints greet you." Listen to this: "Chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." See God said, Paul you're going to get in trouble here so we'll just use it for My glory and all these people kept getting saved because Paul didn't resist. And he said I'm willing to be offered remember? I'm going to go Rome and I'm willing to be offered. So you see that's the right attitude in the situation of persecution.
Now look at verse 27. "And when they had brought them they set them before the council and the high priest asked them," here they are right back and the stage is set for sermon number two to the Sanhedrin, and the attendance has grown because now the senate is there. This is even better. And they said, "Did we not strictly command that you should not teach in this name?" That's the first indictment. You've disobeyed us, and they had, but then they told them they would. Chapter 4:18 they said, "We command you not to speak and Peter says you judge whether we ought to obey you or God. We cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard. We will speak." So they did. And so when they came to arrest them for disobeying, they went.
So the first indictment was disobedience. The second charge they made against them was that they had accused them of the death of Christ. Notice it at the end of the verse: "And you intend to bring this man's blood on us." You're saying all over the place that we are guilty. That's right. That's exactly what we've been saying. You guys have really gotten it right. Your charges are totally accurate. We've been disobedient and we've been indicting you.
I mean all the way through his messages Chapter 2:23 he says, "You have taken and by wicked hands crucified." Chapter 2: 36 he says, "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, Lord and Christ." Chapter 3:15, "You killed the Prince of life." Chapter 4: verse, I think it's 10 and 11, "Be it known unto you all, all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified." Sure, we've been saying that all along. You did it. But have you forgotten Matthew 27:25? Jesus was to be crucified and they all screamed crucify Him, crucify Him and then they said this, "His blood be," where, "On us." They wanted it. Peter is not accusing them of anything that they didn't desire to be accused of.
They had the indictment right. They were disobedient and in fact they were accusing them of crucifying Christ. Then this wonderful commendation in the middle of the verse: "And behold you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." Praise the Lord! That's what we've been trying to do. Mission accomplished! Saturation evangelism! What a commendation. But notice in this verse as I noticed it, there's no question about the miracle of the escape. You know what? They don't dare to ask them about it because they don't want to hear about it. They're so sick of hearing about miracles they're already so messed up in their minds that another miracle would just really be too much to handle. So in all of that conversation they don't even ask them how in the world they got out of jail. You know, my mind is made up. Don't confuse me with facts.
So you see the effective evangelism of the early church was built on purity, power, and persecution. Let me give you a fourth one and then we'll wrap it up. And I changed it while I was sitting here. The fourth one in your outline is preaching. Put down persistence. That's a better word for it. That reflects what it's really saying.
Persistence! And this again is the idea of the cork that keeps popping back up. They just never quit. Now you'd think this time after this malediction that was fired at them in verse 28, they'd kind of say, "Well that's so true. We've kind of, sorry about that." No, they're just persistent. Verse 29, "Then Peter and the other apostles," Peter answering for them said, "We ought to obey God rather than men." And you see there he sets them against God. Boldness, fearlessness. We're not in the business of obeying you folks, we're in the business of obeying God, if you don't mind. And then he takes off in his sermon.
Now listen to this, verse 30: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." Yikes Peter. That's just what they accused of doing, was indicting them. Why don't you relax for a few minutes? No. Persistence. Absolute persistence in evangelism. Aggressiveness. You've been shot down once? Don't ask for an honorable discharge. Go out again. Pack up your purple heart and retire? Get in the battle. Bob up a little bit. Well I tried that endeavor and oh my, I put in my effort. Let somebody else do it for a while. So we all droop after one little skirmish we ask for our honorable discharge. Not them! Peter got right back in that Sanhedrin and said, "Right. That's exactly what you did, you slew Him and hanged Him on a tree." The one that God raised up as your Messiah, you hanged on a tree. Oh man is that powerful stuff. It puts them at odds with God. That word slew is an interesting word that's used only one other time in the New Testament, very unusual word. It means to murder with your own hands. And Peter had never used that word before. Instead of backing down he gets more aggressive.
Before he had said, "You by use of the Gentiles have killed." And then he just kind of generally said, "You killed the Prince of life." Now he says, "You killed Him, not only had Him killed, you did it with your own hands." Now that is persistence, friends. And if people want to say that the Jews are not guilty of the execution of Jesus Christ they'll have to argue with the Greek text. And let me hasten to say this: I have a love for Jewish people and I don't think that the Jewish people, as a population, did the execution. I think what the New Testament is indicating is that the indictment belongs against the leaders of Israel. But nonetheless it is very obvious that they were held guilty by God and even had cried, even the people cried His blood be upon us.
So he says, "You not only slew Him but you hanged Him on a tree." Why does he say that? Well He was crucified. He could have said that, but to say hanged on a tree ties it in with Deuteronomy 21:23. The Old Testament said, "Cursed is anybody who hangs on a tree." That was the most shameful, despicable, cursed death a man could die, and they chose that one for the Son of God. So boy does he ever indict them. He really does.
And then he takes step two in his sermon. After indictment there is always exaltation of Christ as Messiah, verse 31. "Him hath God exalted with His right hand." Right hand means power. God by power ripped Christ out of the grave and exalted Him and made Him a Prince and a Savior. Now you thought He was nothing. You thought He was something to be trampled, but God lifted Him up and made Him better than a Prince. The word is archigas, which means King, Pioneer. It's got so many meanings I can't even tell you all of them. Creator, Originator, Author. All of those words, archigas, has so many concepts. Peter was a fisherman. Maybe one concept that we haven't talked about that Peter may have had in mind is this: on each ship there was a strong swimmer, who was called the archigas. Whenever the ship got into trouble, his job was with a rope around his waist to dive in, swim to shore, secure the rope and then everybody else could get to shore on the rope. But the archigas was the guy who had to make his way there and secure the rope.
He says Jesus Christ is the one who having been killed on this earth when the ship wrecked God lifted Him up, took Him to heaven, He left the rope there and all of us are able to reach it on the basis of His provision. And so Jesus Christ is the archigas, the strong swimmer who secured the anchor to God and then the Savior who gathers us and takes us into God's presence. And He offered you, he says at the end of verse 31, "He offered you repentance and forgiveness and beloved there's no forgiveness for a man apart from repentance.
That's the missing ingredient so much in the message of salvation. People always talk about salvation and they leave out repentance. You'll never be saved until you've turned from your sin. That doesn't mean you become sinless. That means you're sorry for your sin and you say, "God help me and make me different." Forgive me, and He does. So He was Prince and Savior.
And verse 32, he closes by saying this: "And we are his witnesses of these things." We know He is. We knew Him. We lived with Him. We saw Him. Not only that, so also is the Holy Spirit whom God hath given to them that obey Him. They said, were not just telling you what we know, we're telling you what the Spirit inside of us is saying through us.
In John 14:26, Jesus said, "I'll send you the Comforter. He shall lead you into all truth. He shall bring all things to your remembrance." In Matthew 10:19, the Bible says this: "But when they deliver you up, in front of those who hate you, don't be anxious how or what you shall speak for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak." And who gave it? The Holy Spirit. Peter says, we haven't been shooting off our own mouths about our own opinions. We've been talking about the things that the Holy Spirit is saying within us. Persistent. They were persistent and as long as they yield to the Spirit's power in their life they were absolutely victorious.
What did the apostle Paul say? "Be strong in the Lord and in," what? "The power of His might." Listen we can reach this world for Jesus Christ but we've got to keep both of our feet planted upon the Spirit of God so that His power flows through us and we only can do that as we are pure.