October 11/12, 2014
We, the Church of Jesus, are sent – sent into the world to make disciples, teach, and baptize. In order for this to happen, each believer must embrace this as his or her mission. You are sent. So far, we have learned:
- We have been sent by Jesus – Matthew 28:16-20
- We have been sent with the Holy Spirit – Acts 1:1-9
- We are sent in power – Acts 2:1-13
- We are sent together – Acts 2:37-47
- We are sent to bless others – Acts 3:1-10
The healing of the lame beggar was the beginning of a whole new reality for the early church. It set things into motion that give unprecedented witness of the resurrected Christ. This healing took place at the Jewish temple – and it was done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This caused quite a stir among the Jewish leaders who had rejected that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. Acts 3:11-26 sets the stage for our text today. Peter shares the gospel to those that crucified Jesus.
Though the leaders were not pleased, many people believed their message. A healing like this was required to be investigated by Jewish law. Peter and John are arrested and kept overnight. No doubt the words of Jesus that they heard went through their minds during the night (Luke 12:8-12; 21:12-15). The next morning they are brought before the council.
The members of the Sanhedrin did not expect anything significant from Peter and John. They were expressed their surprise that they were ordinary laymen without schooling. This new powerful witness of Jesus was evident and still marks Christ followers today who understand that they are sent to be witnesses. Let’s look at the specifics of this powerful witness of the Gospel by Peter and John.
Fullness of the Holy Spirit
Verse 8 says, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” Filling literally means, “control by the Holy Spirit”. This was a special filling/controlling. The passive tense of the word used here indicates an act performed on Peter rather than a continuing state. Peter is obeying Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 and the Holy Spirit empowered him – some refer to this an anointing. It’s as though Peter sees a congregation rather than a court that holds his fate.
In every significant witness of the gospel, it is God who does the work! We are simply humbled and submitted servants. This kind of fullness and control of the Holy Spirit is available today. Genuine filling, control, and anointing are always focused on powerful and courageous witness for the gospel. In scripture they are never simply an experience for the believer to revel in, but rather for unbelievers to hear the gospel message.
When we read this speech of Peter, we must remember to whom it was spoken. When we do, it becomes one of the world’s greatest demonstrations of courage. It was spoken to an audience of the wealthiest, the most intellectual and the most powerful in the land. And yet, Peter, the fisherman, stands before them as their judge rather than their victim. Additionally, this was the court that condemned Jesus to death and Peter knew that his life was at stake.
Peter laid out some facts. The power of the name of Jesus healed the man. He laid the guilt for Jesus’ death at their feet and gave witness that God raised Him from the dead. He defended that his teaching did not lead people away from God but rather fulfilled something that God had predicted. Peter boldly declared that, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (verse 12). This affirms Jesus’ claim in John 14:6 and addresses pluralism that exists today.
In spite of the fact that this gospel message was offensive to the Jews, the early Christians persisted. We too must maintain an inner conviction to be persistent. Courage to testify and proclaim salvation through Jesus must mark us. We need to trust Jesus’ words, “for I will give you a mouth and wisdom” (Luke 21:15).
The early believers desired to use every opportunity to share the gospel. This became a hallmark of Christian witness in Acts and in the history of the church. The gospel is such urgent news that we must seek opportunities to get the message across.
Exhibiting a Similarity to Christ
Peter and John spoke with the boldness of Jesus, they performed miracles like Jesus, and they knew the scriptures like Jesus knew them – all without formal training. The Sanhedrin “recognized that they had been with Jesus”.
The rulers spoke of the men having been with Jesus as in past tense. This was not the entire truth. Jesus was in Peter and John and speaking through them. The similarity that they recognized was not merely lingering from past contact with their lost teacher – but rather the similarity was created by the presence of the living Christ through the Holy Spirit.
You and I are called to have this fullness, control, anointing, courage, and presence of Christ working powerfully through us as witnesses. Our time spent with Jesus in prayer, scripture reading, and submission to the Holy Spirit’s work should be coupled with a desire to be like Him (Philippians 3:10-14).
Confidence in the Gospel
The basic facts of the gospel message include at its core, the birth, life, teachings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Peter and John said, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (verse 20). We too must witness the facts of the gospel, the uniqueness of Christ, and the eternal consequence to the world that these facts create. We believe this gospel record and 2000 years later we affirm the power of this message and its effects on our life. Our testimony (experience) affirms the gospel and opens doors of opportunities; but is not the gospel. The healing of the beggar helped the testimony of Peter and John and opened doors. But testimony isn’t the gospel. We must tell our story of what Jesus has done for us in our personal experience, but we must also declare our confidence in the gospel by telling people what Jesus has done for the world in history.
“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses”
Sent to be witnesses!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section as an aid in discussions that may be planned or unplanned during your week. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
Read Acts 4:1-22
As you read this story, think about this moment in early church history and how the healing of the lame beggar in chapter 3 gave opportunity for the gospel to be preached.
In what ways has God worked in your life in the past which opened up for you to share the gospel?
What is He currently doing now to give you opportunity to share the gospel?
The early believers desired to use every opportunity to share the gospel. To accomplish this, they knew and were empowered to speak of Christ's life, death and resurrection.
In what ways are you working to gain knowledge to have ability to share the gospel in a clear and concise manner?
May we tell our story of what Jesus has done for us in our own personal experience, and may we also declare our confidence in the gospel by telling people what Jesus has done for the world in history.
Pray that God would work in your life to give you opportunity to share the gospel.