"Is Your Courage Seen?"
Our story continues but shifts from the crippled man who was healed to Peter and John giving their testimony to the Sanhedrin. These men had a new courage to speak. These men spoke openly about Jesus and even challenged the spiritual leadership of the Jews.
Is Your Courage Seen?
A. You may have heard the sad phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It is a rather pessimistic and cynical phrase. Yet, there are some here who can attest to the fact that when you do something good for someone you find yourself being berated by another or being told it wasn’t enough by the person you were helping.
B. We read last week how Peter and John healed a lame beggar in the name of Jesus. The people were amazed and Peter and John took that opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus, including convicting them of killing him on the cross, but testifying that God raised him from the dead. The people were listening. A great miracle had just been done and no one could deny it. But did that miracle confirm that a resurrected Jesus was the power behind it? If it did, then are we not all going to be raised from the dead and face a judgment? This is great! The good news of Jesus is being proclaimed and people are accepting the truth. Praise God!
C. Except… we read (4:1-4). Okay, a man is healed who was lame from birth and the people responsible get put in jail because someone doesn’t like hearing a message about resurrection. What was that about “no good deed goes unpunished?”
D. Wouldn’t it be simpler, easier, and safer to just keep your mouth quiet? But let me ask you, is your spiritual courage seen? How many nights do I have to spend in a jail before I simply say to Jesus, “I love you, but I can’t love you and keep my life?”
E. When Jesus walked with his disciples he taught them what it meant to be a disciple. Now his teaching has to be implemented. Remember those words of Jesus? “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)
F. They spent the night in jail. The next day their rulers, elders, scribes along with the high priestly family gathered there in Jerusalem and placed these men in their midst. With all the intimidation of the people of power they asked these fishermen, “by what power, or by what name, did you do this?”
I. Stand Up For What You Believe
A. Is your spiritual courage seen? Peter, filled with HS, responds with a proclamation that this man was healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. By him this man stands before you well. Understand the people to whom Peter and John were talking. They were Sadducees who did not believe in a resurrection, the high priest and family who had Jesus nailed to a cross, and the elders of the people who sided with these men and cried out “Crucify him!” Peter stands up for what he believes. The time of intimidation and hiding in an upper room is over. It is now a time to speak out boldly the name of Jesus and call him Christ. He is the “anointed one of God.”
B. Rev. 21:8 makes a short list of people who will be thrown into the lake of fire. The first group listed are the cowardly, or the fearful. This particular word is only used in one other occasion and both Matthew and Mark record it. It is when Jesus is asleep in the boat and the storm comes and the disciples wake him up saying, “Don’t you care that we perish?” Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves and turns to his disciples and say, “Why are you fearful (cowardly)? O you of little faith.”
C. Fear marked much of the problem of the disciples during the ministry of Jesus. But when the HS came upon them, they shed their fear and they lived by faith. These men kept up their spiritual teaching of the Messiah by telling these religious learned men who Jesus is (not was, but IS). He IS the stone that was rejected by you. Salvation is in no one else. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Do you believe that?
D. People around you might agree that there is a God. They might even call Jesus his son. They may acknowledge the Holy Spirit but respond that no one understands his working. They might even tell you the Bible is God’s word, but they will question following it. But to say that there is NO other name under heaven by which we are saved but Jesus, that is pushing it. You will be called intolerant, bigoted, closed-minded, old-fashioned and unenlightened. You will be told that we all have our own path to God as we understand him. That world religions are just as good or philosophies will help you reach your inner peace. That is humanism at its height. There is no other name by which anyone can be saved.
II. Boldness Seen
A. We live in a day where a strong belief is viewed negatively by the cultural trendsetters. People want to trust more in being sincere than in Jesus. Friend, you can be sincerely wrong. Morals alone will not save you. You are not saved by works, but by the blood of Jesus Christ.
B. Look with me at Acts 4:13-14. These were not men who had religious degrees after their name. They were not men of power and influence because of the money and birthright. They were common men. That might have been thought of as a negative statement, but I take pride in it. It wasn’t these men that they were seeing. They recognized that they had been with Jesus.
C. It has not been that long ago that these religious leaders put Jesus on trial. They had his tomb sealed because they thought that Peter, John and the other disciples might steal the body. They knew the resurrection was true. The guards of the tomb told their story and these religious men paid them to lie and say his body was stolen. No, these men understood truth, understood the resurrection, and the boldness of Peter and John took them back to Jesus.
D. But here is the problem (verses 16-17). They loved their own power, prestige and position within their religious doctrines more than they loved truth. A choice had to be made. Do you believe in the one you rejected or do you reject the truth to live a lie?
A. Verses 18-22. I will not apologize for my belief in Jesus. There is no name other under heaven by which men can be saved. I cannot stop speaking what I understand the Bible to teach. That is what I have seen and heard. These men lived under a threat. The threats will become more physical soon and it won’t be long until some of these men begin to be murdered. But they won’t stop speaking. The courage would be seen because they had been with Jesus. What a thought. The more I am with Jesus the more He is seen in me. It is a relationship that touches the world.
B. Peter Cartwright was a circuit riding preacher of the 19th century. He was to preach to a large congregation, and right before the service, he was informed that President Andrew Jackson would be in attendance. They told Peter Cartwright, “We thought you would want to know so that what you say won’t be offensive to the President.” Peter Cartwright said, “Thank you for telling me.”
He got into the pulpit and said, “I’ve been told that President Andrew Jackson is in the congregation, and I’ve been asked to carefully guard what I am going to say. I want to begin by saying that Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn’t repent of his sin.” You could have heard a pin drop. But, immediately after the service, President Andrew Jackson walked up to Peter Cartwright and said, “If I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the whole world.”
C. Will you stand up for what you believe? Speak the truth, speak it in love and with respect, but speak the truth. Salvation is open to all who will come. We are called to respond to God’s grace in faith. A faith that moves us to repentance, confess of Jesus as Lord, and to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus in the waters of baptism where the HS recreates us as a new being. That salvation is offered to you this day, if you will be come as we stand and sing.