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More People, More Problems (Acts 6:1-7)

June 11, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon unfolds with an issue among the early believers. Pastor Carter proposes the solution to the diversity issue that the Gospel creates is the Gospel. The focus of this sermon is on how the Apostles identified and acknowledged the issue, established the Churchs priorities, and selected seven select men.

Identifying and Acknowledging the Problem

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Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (Acts 6:1).

Pastor Carter identifies three elements of this issue that are helpful to note. First, the nature of this issue was people. Secondly, the source of the issue was the diversity within the church. Lastly, the solution to this issue is the same Gospel that made these disciples followers of Christ (more people) and brought them together along with their different backgrounds and perspectives (diversity). In other words, the Lord was delighted to increase the believers of Christ, uniting them together as one Body despite their differences, so that these believers would become less like themselves and more like Christ (John 3:30; Ephesians 2:15; 1 Peter 1:10).

Establishing the Churchs Priorities

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tablesBut we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2, 4).”

The Apostles knew Christ intimately. They saw Him give great attention to preaching and prayer, so much so that He sent them out to preach and taught them to pray (Matthew 6, 10). They were not going to let the Church get off the mark by neglecting the two inseparable gifts that Christ has given, namely, preaching the Gospel and praying for the hearers. Christ built His Church upon them. He preached from the moment He was inaugurated at His baptism until His Resurrection. He also prayed many times before crowds, before His disciples, and even for His disciples. They would soon follow His example. Hence, the Apostles planned to keep preaching and prayer at the forefront of the Church’s vision, despite any issues that arose in the process.

Selecting Seven, Select Men

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty (Acts 6:3; ESV).

The Apostles set three criteria for selecting seven men to meet the needs of the widows: 1) these men must be found among those believers, 2) must have faithful testimonies, and 3) be full of the Holy Spirit. First, these seven men must be chosen from the context of that community. This was essential considering they would be familiar with the needs of their fellow believers (cf. Judas’ Replacement, Acts 1:21-22).  Then, these men must have a good reputation within and outside of the community of faith, blameless – not meaning perfect or sinless – instead free from accusation (1 Timothy 3; Titus 2). Above all, these men must be full of the Holy Spirit, which meant they had to be bold for Christ, His love must inform their deeds and words, and their life must be self-controlled (tactful). Leading the church in serving the widows was as important as the priorities of the Church; therefore, the Apostles pick the best men to care for the temporal and everyday needs of the Church.

Are you beginning to look more like Christ?

The Church is more than just soul winning, evangelism, and preaching. It is not only winning souls to Christ, but also caring for the souls won (cf. Paul, Acts 14:21-28, 15:36; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8).  The blessing of more people creates the issue of serving more people. Diversity is both a blessing and a challenge, because we all have preferences, but they are not all driven by Biblical data.

In addition, Satan desires to disqualify men for leadership in the Church (1 Peter 1:13-25). Above all, do not allow the Church to give more importance to anything other than preaching the Gospel and praying that God would use it according to His will. The Church is the only entity in the world given the charge to be the salt and light for Christ (Matthew 5:13-16).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Suffering and the Goodness of God (Acts 5:33-42)

June 4, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates how the Holy Spirit produces unspeakable and inexplicable joy in the midst of suffering by consistently pointing the Christian to Christ. Pastor Carter describes both the reality of the suffering and the goodness of God in an ungodly world. The focus of this sermon is on four biblical reasons of suffering, which is the result of: 1) the human experience in a fallen world, 2) our own sinful and foolish living, 3) the attacks of the enemy and 4) standing up for Jesus.

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Suffering: The Result of the Human Experience in a Fallen World

“…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:17-19; ESV).”

Why do we suffer? Living in a world marked by sin is living in a world marked by suffering. After the Fall, suffering became part of life, whether physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially. Nonetheless, God in His goodness and mercy toward humanity provided the ultimate end to suffering through the suffering of His son, Jesus Christ. Christ suffered pain from beatings, dehydration, and alienation from the Father for the sin of all humanity, that the Christian might understand that present suffering is only a means to a greater end.

Suffering: The Result of Our Own Sinful and Foolish Living

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).”

Meanwhile, not only did the results of the Fall cause suffering in our lives, but we also suffer due to our own sinful and foolish living. Sin causes scars that often have lasting and lingering effects. Not only does it hurt us when we sin, but it also causes pain to those around us. For example, the foolishness of a father is often the burden of their children (cf. Adam, Abraham, David). When this happens, if this individual is in Christ, they often experience the loving and gracious disciplining hand of God (Proverbs 3:11, 13:24, 19:18). God loves His children too much that He will not spare the rod. If they go wayward, He is going to bring them home (Heb. 12:6).

Suffering: The Result of the Attacks of the Enemy

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10; ESV).”

Another reason for suffering is the attacks of the enemy, namely, Satan. When stealing, killing and destroying comes, there comes suffering (cf. Job). Satan desires to shake the Christian’s faith and confidence in Christ, by the same means he used on Eve, mainly, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (Genesis 3; Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 John 2:15-17). God may allow Satan for a time to try you, to show the world and the devil that His people are different and hold out under trials and tribulations. Although these afflictions are real in this world, those who are in Christ have overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).

Suffering: The Result of the Standing up for Jesus

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21-22; ESV).”

Above all else, the Christian suffers in this ungodly world because of their faith in Christ. The apostles and other believers felt the shame and dishonor for being beaten and mocked publically, yet they rejoiced not because the pain was not real, instead they were convinced that Christ would be glorified through their suffering. Suffering is a means, not an end. Christ is the glorious end to all suffering. Christ said, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his master, and the servant as his lord”, thus, for the disciples to take on the name of Christ meant taking on his labors, even to the point of shedding their blood for His sake (Matthew 10:25). Along with the many benefits of following Christ (i.e. peace with God, unspeakable joy, etc.), also came constant trouble, tribulations, and afflictions. This is the cost factor for being a child of God in an ungodly world (Luke 14:26-33; John 17:13-18).

Have I been counted worthy to suffer for Him?

Despite popular opinion, Christians suffer loss in this ungodly world just as non-Christians. However, the Christian does not grieve as the world does, because we have a hope in Christ, which gives us a different perspective. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).

How do you discover joy in the midst of suffering? How can you rejoice and be glad when the world troubles you? It is only when you look beyond your circumstances to a Sovereign God, who is in and over your circumstances. Then and only then, can you rejoice in the midst of suffering (Hebrews 12).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Rejoicing to Suffer in His Name (Acts 5:33-42)

May 28, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates why the Gospel is an offense to an ungodly world. Pastor Carter cautions against the misconception that enduring persecution is contrary to the Christian life. The focus of this sermon is on three important things to understand about following Christ: 1) the displeasure of the Council, 2) rejoicing after persecution, and 3) the fellowship of His sufferings.

The Displeasure of the Council

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When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them (Acts 5:33; ESV).”

While they marveled at the miracles performed, eventually, the council became angry with these early believers. In fact, the council was enraged so much so that they desired to kill and silence these believers. Why were they so displeased? The council had warned the disciples not to preach in Jesus’ Name, because they understood that Jesus’ teaching was in direct opposition to theirs.  Therefore, just as they plotted to kill Christ, seeking to silence Him and cover up His Resurrection, the early believers faced this same satanic spirit from the council when presented again with this Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 28:11-15; John 8:31-59).

Rejoicing after Persecution

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the peopleAnd he said to them, Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose upHe was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose upHe too perished, and all who followed him were scatteredSo in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God! So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing(Acts 5:34-40; ESV).

Oftentimes, the Lord uses even the rulers of this world to prophesy or speak prudently according to His plans, unbeknownst to them as to the weight of what they were saying (Proverbs 21:30).  Gamaliel, who was the mentor to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3), sought to patiently abate the rage of these councilmen by reminding of them of the failures of Theudas and Judas the Galilean.  However, just as Caiaphas before him, Gamaliel’s words gave credence to Christ. Like Theudas and Judas the Galilean, Christ died.

However, unlike Theudas and Judas, Christ rose from the dead, reassuring His followers that He has all authority (John 11:47-52, 18:14; Matthew 28:18-20).  For this reason, when the council decided to beat the apostles, and send them on their way, the apostles did not become sadden or despair. They rejoiced. They rejoiced in that they knew Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, with the hope that they might also be made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10).

The Fellowship of His Sufferings

“…that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus (Acts 5:41-42; ESV).

The early believers endured much persecution for the sake of Christ, yet they rejoiced in the midst of their sufferings, because Christ called them blessed (Matthew 5:10). Their suffering had an expected end, fellowship of Jesus Christ, to which they continued to preach that Jesus is the Christ. Christ came to suffer and rise from the dead the third day that those whom God had chosen would have eternal life in Him (Luke 24:46-47). With this mind, the early believers understood that if Christ had paid their debt and reconciled them to God the Father, their reasonable service was to live a life pleasing to God rather than man. When that meant being beaten, bloodied, exhausted, or even killed, they counted these things as a necessary loss for obtaining the joy of knowing the grace of God through Jesus Christ, Amen (so be it).

Have I been counted worthy to suffer for Him?

The problem with the world is not that they have investigated Christianity and found it lacking, but that they have not investigated it all (G.K. Chesterton). Instead, they would rather silence the voices of Christ’s disciples, than investigate our claims, because the world knows that if Christ is right, then they are deadly wrong. To stand up for Jesus in an ungodly world will cost you (e.g. maybe a relationship, finances, family, death, etc.).

Has your faith ever cost you anything? Persecution and suffering for Christ is practically foreign to American Christianity. However, suffering is a sure reality for the faithful Christian, along with courage in the One who saves and absurd joy in knowing He is faithfully working out His good in us according to His unfailing love for us, despite our present circumstances (Romans 8:36-39).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Freed from Prison (Acts 5:12-32)

May 22, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon highlights the Power of God’s Word and Spirit at Solomon’s Portico. Elder Duncanson warns against having an indifferent attitude toward Christ. The focus of this sermon is on how the Gospel requires a response and reliance on Christ in the face of persecution.

A Response: Disbelief/Apprehension

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None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem (Acts 5:13; ESV).”

These early believers had a message they could not contain.  Solomon’s Portico was becoming a commonplace for them to share and show the love of Christ in unexplainable ways, through signs and wonders (v. 12). Unfortunately, the hearts of the people in this area were not much different from when Christ displayed the power of God (John 10:23-42). Elder Duncanson describes their attitude as indifferent, to which they were unwilling to believe the message of the Gospel. Although they held the church in high esteem, their hearts were hardened toward the message of Christ.

Another Response: Belief/Awakening

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed (Acts 5:14-15; ESV).

Christ understood the significance of conversion. In fact, He directly linked seeing, hearing and a penitent heart to His healing power (Matthew 13:13-17). Therefore, He charged His apostles along with their fellow-believers to preach the gospel to all the nations and make disciples, teaching them what He had commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20).  The early church desired to obey Christ, knowing that their popularity would lead to definite persecution.  As a result, Christ honored His Word by drawing men and women unto Himself and granting these believers the words to say in the face of persecution (Matthew 10:15-26).

Reliance: Boldness in the Face of Persecution

But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life. And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach (Acts 5:17-21; ESV).

Apparently, the religious leaders did not understand that their efforts of trying to stop the proclamation of the Gospel were just adding fuel to the fire. They did not understand that Jesus Christ is Lord, Leader and Savior (cf. Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod). However, Peter reminds them that Christ is Lord of All. He is Leader because He has life-sustaining power. He is also Savior because He alone saves completely (vv. 31-32).

How will you respond in light of the Gospel?

The problem for the religious leaders and the indifferent was not a deficiency or lack of signs and wonders to accompany the Word of God, the problem was the hardness of their heart. Indifference will not be an option on the Day of Judgment.

Do you want to know why we cannot remain silent? This community of believers walked faithful to their calling, they were unashamed for the Gospel’s sake, and they face persecution boldly for Jesus because when it comes to obey God rather than man, we cannot be silent.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

All Things Common (Acts 4:32-5:11)

May 14, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon illustrates how Christ makes the community of believers unique. Elder Ducanson emphasizes that the power of the Holy Spirit provided unity for the early church, despite Satan’s attempt to sow discord among the believers. The focus of this sermon is on how unity was a distinctive mark of the early church and how the Holy Spirit reveals the hearts of men.

Unity among the Believers

20140311-184658.jpgNow the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles ‘feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (Acts 4:32-35; ESV).”

Unity is a valuable asset to have when trying to accomplish something, whether good or evil (cf. Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-11). This unity was unique because it was grounded upon a shared belief in Christ.  Likewise, these earlier believers understood God’s love and mercy toward them, hence, them giving their testimony. They were not hesitant to share what they had with those in need. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit empowered them to give beyond social class or status, so that none lacked among them (Deuteronomy 15:4-11; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15).

The Holy Spirit Reveals: The Heart of Barnabas

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles ‘feet (Acts 4:37; ESV).

Jesus Christ was perfect in His speech, conduct and love for people, yet He knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).  Nonetheless, Jesus commended His cousin, John the Baptist for His faithfulness in proclaiming the message of repentance (cf. Matthew 11:11). Luke follows Christ’s example, by commending Barnabas for his generosity. The Holy Spirit revealed and exposed Barnabas’ heart by leading him to sell what he had for the sake of Christ and His Church.

The Holy Spirit Reveals: The Heart of Ananias and Sapphira 

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles ‘feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to GodWhen Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his lastImmediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last (Acts 5:1-4, 5, 10; ESV).

In contrast to Barnabas, the Holy Spirit also exposes the issues of Ananias and Sapphira’s heart.  Elder Ducanson stresses the fact that Satan used their greed, pride, and deceit, to respond to Barnabas’ generosity with a feigned act of generosity (cf. Judas Iscariot and religious leaders). Ananias and Sapphira did not really intend to give their resources because they reluctantly held back. They loved the praise of men, but did not love their fellowman or woman enough sacrifice themselves for the good of the community. Lastly, their heart was exposed when they tried to deceive God the Holy Spirit by bearing false witness, placing them under His swift judgment (Proverbs 19:5; Galatians 6:7).

Do you fear the Lord?

God is to be feared, He is Holy and will punish sin (Exodus 34:6-7). Satan always looks to cause division amongst the unity of believers.  His strategy is to cause disunity and he uses whatever means necessary, whether lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes or the pride of life (Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 2:15-17).  However, Christ has promised that He will not leave His Church in the hands of Satan. To let sin go unpunished is to let Satan cause disunity and disruption in the Church. Christ said He will build His church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Has the fear of the Lord filled your heart today? Do you see yourself at the mercy of Christ for salvation? Sin and the holiness of God is nothing to toy with. The judgment of Ananias and Sapphira was swift because the purity of the Church was at stake. Christ loves His bride, so much so, that He gave His life for Her that when He returns He will present Her to Himself without spot or blemish, ready to be received in His Kingdom (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Released (Acts 4:23-31)

May 7, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates how the Word of God boldly proclaimed fuels the Power of God. Pastor Carter encourages the saints to appreciate their time together, especially after constantly battling against the flesh, the world and the devil. The focus of this sermon is on Peter and John gathering with fellow-believers for prayer according to God’s Person, Plan, and Power.

Praying According to Gods Person

20140311-184658.jpgWhen they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 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, 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? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ (Acts 4:23-26; ESV).”

The early church was a praying church. It would seem that the Apostles recalled the model prayer that Christ taught them, because we see in this prayer the same core elements of Christ’s prayer – acknowledgement, submission, and supplication (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-13). These believers understood that God was, as Pastor Carter explains, despotes (Greek) or the Ruler of all things.  In fact, the first self-revelation of God in Scripture is that He is the Creator of all things (Gen. 1:1). Likewise, they comforted one another with this truth, since God is the Ruler of all things, that would also include all nations and people, including these men who persecuted them shortly before.

Praying According to Gods Plan

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, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (Acts 4:27, 28; ESV).

Whenever the Bible speaks about the plan of God, it is always speaking about His eternal, immutable, sovereign, predestinating plan. Predestination was given to us as a source of comfort and point of praise, not to cause disputes among the Body. Therefore, the early church came to terms with the fact that Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Gentles crucified Jesus Christ, but they realized also that these men could only do so according to God’s plan (cf. John 12:23-28, 19:11).

Praying According to God’s Power

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:19-21; ESV).

Having acknowledged that God is sovereign, they ask for boldness.  Why would they ask for boldness in speaking God’s Word, considering that was the reason for their imprisoned and persecution? Sure, they knew that if they continued to speak the Word of God boldly trouble was coming. Yet, if for no other reason, boldness (courage) with God’s Word is a great blessing in the face of trouble.

Who is the Lord?

Biblical faith is not blind or deaf. Instead, it is a sure conviction and reliance upon the Word and Power of God. The early church believed that God was who He said He was in His revealed Word. God revealed Himself as the Creator, as Redeemer in Jesus Christ, and as Sustainer in the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1; Luke 19:10; 2 Cor. 1:21-22). We see the early church pray a prayer of faith and trust, asking God to take note to the threats of their enemies and relying on Him in His sovereign power to deal with them according to His plan.

Where do you stand with God today? Are you concerned with His plan? There is a sovereign God, who is in control of everything and is predestinating our lives for His glory and the nations to their end. God has only one plan: the plan of redemption (Christ came to rescue a hopeless people by suffering and dying in their place). God is not making things up as history goes along, soon every man and woman shall stand before Him to give an account. Will you be ready?

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Unashamed: The Boldness of Peter and John (Acts 4:13-22)

April 30, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon underlines the need for boldness in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter expresses that the Christian life is not one of simply knowing about Jesus Christ, instead it is one characterized by being sure of His life-giving and sustaining power in your life. The focus of this sermon is on how the Holy Spirit enabled Peter and John to rely on the promises of Christ made them unexpected, undaunted, and unashamed.

Peter and John: Unexpected 

20140311-184658.jpgNow when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition (Acts 4:13, 14; ESV).”

How could these men dare stand up against the religious leaders, who by their accolades, achievements, and popularity among the people?  They perceived Peter and John to be unlearned and ignorant men (KJV). Pastor Carter expounds on these two words. Carter points out that unlearned or agrammatos (Greek), meant that these men were seen as poorly educated or illiterate, and ignorant or idiotes (Greek, to which we get the word “idiot”) in the eyes of these religious men. However, the irony was although these were educated and not ignorant, they acknowledged that Peter and John had been with Jesus and knew Him well. Thus, the mere fact that Peter and John had nothing to boast in expect the power of Christ and His promises, they were undaunted when standing before these men to witness for Christ.

Peter and John: Undaunted

But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name. So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17, 18; ESV).

Apparently, these religious men were not as educated and wise as they perceived themselves. They had previously recognized that Peter and John were with Jesus and held firmly to what they saw Him do and told them. Jesus told His disciples to preach. The council tells them not to preach. Think how illogical this approach to try to stop these men from spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ was for these religious men.  Therefore, the disciples ask themselves, “Should we listen to God or man?

Peter and John: Unashamed

But Peter and John answered them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened (Acts 4:19-21; ESV).

Peter and John rightly understood to whom they should fear (cf. Prov. 1:8, 9:10).  They did not fear the council. They did not fear the people (cf. King Saul, 1 Samuel 13). In fact, Peter and John were bold for Jesus. They refused to be silent after all they seen and heard from Christ their Lord and Savior. They were walking in the promises of Christ.

Shall I listen to you or should I listen to God?

Sin is not rational, nor is it logical. Desire for popularity approval will numb your spiritual senses (Jer. 17:5-10). You can know about Jesus Christ and not know Him (John 5:37-39). The council wanted Peter and John to deny Christ. Nevertheless, Peter had sinned in this way against Christ before, and since he received forgiveness from Christ, he had a heart of gratitude that compelled him to obey His commands this time around.

Is that you today? Have you received the grace and truth found only in Jesus Christ (John 1:14)? When you have seen the power of Christ in your life and others, no one can tell you to deny Him. When you spend time with Jesus, your life will become an undeniable testimony of what He has done. Boldness comes when you forget about yourself and you really consider Christ (Heb. 12).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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