The apostles had been told not to preach anymore. They had to make a choice as to whether to obey God or men (Acts 5:29).
There are many Christians today who live in a land that allows freedom of speech but have never told anyone about Jesus. We have allowed the extent of our evangelism to be the preaching of the gospel on Sunday mornings, and we say, “That is what we pay the preacher to do.” Rarely do we try to bring up the subject of religion, and when we do often we allow ourselves to become entangled with reasons why we should not use an instrument or why we don’t have women preachers or . . . We shake our heads and say the world is not interested in his message anymore; we become recluses in our buildings, and hope that maybe, just possibly, someone may stray into our worship services, and hear the gospel and become a Christian.
Contrast this with what we have studied thus far in Acts on Sunday mornings. Yes, there was public proclamation of the gospel (Acts 2 and 3); but there was also the “continuing in the apostle’s doctrine and prayer, in fellowship, in praising God and having favor with the people.” These were men and women who rejoiced in their salvation and wanted everyone else to know. They told others about the resurrected Jesus and the fact that salvation is offered to all because of his death on the cross and his resurection.
By Acts 4, the preaching of Jesus had brought consternation to the leaders so much that they had Peter and John arrested until they could deal with the issue. They found that Peter and John were uneducated and untrained (words that meant that they had not gone to approved “schools of learning” or sat at the feet of the prominent Rabbis of that time). Who gave them the authority to teach? What right did they have to preach? Had they cleared it with the proper authorities? No, these were just “regular men,” fishermen, as it were, who preached about Jesus. Yes, they had a message to tell – and the miracles were done to confirm the word they preached. It was all about the message.
And now, they were being told they couldn’t preach anymore. What would you do?
Simple thing, isn’t it? They prayed. They took their dilemma to God! Jesus had commanded them to preach the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20). Now the leading authorities told them not to do it anymore!
Look at the prayer.
“Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,” This part of the prayer reminded them that God was in charge! Not the Sanhedrin. Not the leaders! GOD! Beloved, we must always remember that God is in charge! And Jesus is in charge of HIS church.
“Who by the mouth of Your servant David have said, “Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.” We find the apostles quoting Scripture in their prayer. Did God need to be reminded of what he inspired David to write? No – it just emphasized that they saw how his prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus, and how God would fulfill all his word with regards to Jesus and salvation, including his return. The world will rage against Jesus – because he stands against the falsehoods and sin in the world. It is also possible that, as they quoted this passage, these were words of encouragement to them – God is true, what he said is true – he prophesied about it, and he can be counted on to do what he said!
“For truly against your Holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” Does it amaze you, as it does me, that God and Jesus knew these things would happen to him yet carried out this plan anyway? Do we also see that Jews and Gentiles were all involved; government officials (as seen in Psalms 2 as well). Are you amazed? I am! And I rejoice in what they were willing to do for me!
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.” Again, in this prayer, the assembly stressed the fact of Jesus being God’s “Holy (chosen) Servant.” He served God to be able to serve us in saving us from our sins.
God shook the place where they were assembled together, and they received the answer to prayer – they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Some quick questions.
- 1.What is stopping us from teaching and preaching God’s word? Our fear of men?
- 2.When was the last time we prayed together as a church for boldness to preach his word?
- 3.Have we truly considered the price God paid to save us? And the price Jesus paid as well?
- 4.WHAT WILL WE DO?