This is a 20 lesson series on Acts 1-12. These may be used as individual lessons or as part of the Series.
ACTS 4:1-22 – HANDLING THE PRESSURE – The Model Church #8
Since the beginning of the church true believers have faced persecution in one form or another.
It has been as simple as being poked fun it for one’s faith and as harrowing as facing death because of commitment to Christ.
John 16:2-3 – They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
From the beginning, Christians have had to learn to handle pressure because of their faith.
The last time we came together, we saw that Peter and John had healed a man who had been handicapped for over 40 years. This resulted in another evangelistic message from Peter. In the passage before us, Peter and John are forced to handle the pressure that followed this healing and message.
OPPOSITION BY THE LEADERSHIP – Vss. 1-3
Vs. 1 – There is a rule of thumb in ministry. If Satan tries to oppose what you are doing, chances are you are having an impact for God.
Vs. 1 – This message took place in the temple area. The temple officers showed up. Included in the crowd were the priests. They were probably the priests on duty at the time.
Also there was the captain of the temple. He was the head of the temple guard and second only in rank to the high priest. Third in the group were the Sadducees. They were a sect within Judaism that included the high priest and his family. They were the religious liberals of their days, only believing in the first five books of the Bible and not believing in angels, the resurrection or future punishments or rewards.
Vs. 2 – These people were grieved with Peter and John. First, they were grieved that they taught in the first place. These apostles were no more approved to preach by the authorities than John Bunyan was. They were not official teachers. They didn’t want the Jewish people influenced by the Christians. They were also grieved because they preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
There are people today who don’t want the Gospel preached. They are unhappy when it is preached and often call those who preach salvation in Christ “narrow-minded”.
Vs. 3 – They did what they could to stop the apostles. They arrested them and placed them in jail for the night. The hour was late.
In our country today it seems like everyone except the Christian has rights. Christians are discouraged from sharing their faith at work, and Christians are now restricted in the classroom and at graduation exercises for public schools. They have kicked God out of the classroom and off the job.
OPERATION OF GOD’S SPIRIT – Vs. 4
In spite of the opposition, God’s Spirit went to work. Over 5,000 people since the beginning were now believers. Over 1000 probably came to Christ as a result of this sermon.
Of course those opposed to Christ are going to oppose the preaching of God’s Word.
But God’s Spirit will use God’s Word in order to bring others to Christ.
Sometimes, when things are going their worse, God is at work. We once had a Daily Vacation Bible School, which included my car breaking down, David got sick and Mark put his hand through the storm door and required 19 stitches. The end result of the Bible School though was three new families coming to the church.
OPPORTUNITY FOR PETER – Vss. 5-12
Vss. 5-6 – The official ruling body of the Jews was the Sanhedran. It was like a supreme court. It was they who gathered together. There were the rulers, probably heads of the 24 courses of priests, elders who were family heads and heads of tribes, and scribes who were the religious scholars.
In Verse 6 we are told that the family of the high priest was present.
Annas was called the high priest, but in reality at this point it was his son-in-law, Caiaphas.
Once a person was high priest, he was still referred to as such. Annas evidently was the real power. Five sons, a son-in-law, and a grandson all served in that capacity.
Vs. 7 – The council asks by what power or in whose name did the apostles work the miracle. Now think about it, they were placed in a position of giving a testimony for the Lord. A lot of times when we are asked why we do the things the way we do, we will have opportunity to share our faith. Sometimes persecution turns out to be an excellent preaching opportunity.
1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Vs. 8 – The Holy Spirit took over! This is exactly what Jesus promised! Luke 12:11-12, Acts 1:8
OPPRESSION FROM THE SANHEDRAN – Vss. 13-18
OBSTINACY OF PETER AND JOHN – Vss. 19-22