|Posted by Jesus Is Supreme Global Outreach on March 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM|
The Characteristics of the Believers
Text: Acts 4:23-31
By: Ronnie Tejada
Reference: “The Acts of the Apostles” by William Barclay
- Peter heals a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10). One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon- when a man who was lame from birth (a beggar) asked them for money. Then, peter replied the famous statement the he said, this was during the first miracle that God used him to revealed His power through the apostles. Peter said to the man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). He was healed, walked, jumped and praised God.
- Peter speaks to the people who witnessed the miracle (Acts 3:11-26). They were amazed to the miracle they were just seen. Peter explained to them, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see” (Acts 3:16). He told them to repent and “turn from their wicked ways” (Acts 3:26), and so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand (Acts 4:4).
- Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-22). Because of their boldness preaching about Jesus in the temple, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came and seized them. The next day, during the investigation, it was ended by Peter and John‘s statement saying, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). They were bold and fearless because they knew the truth. The truth that shall make us free!
Tonight, we will study the characteristics of the believers, according to the book of Acts Chapter 4, verses 23-31.
Acts 4:23-31 (NIV)
The Believers Pray
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. In this passage we have the reaction of the true Christian believers in the hour of danger. It might have been thought that when Peter and John returned with their story a deep depression would have fallen on the Church, as they looked ahead to the troubles which were now bound to descend upon them. The one thing that never even struck them was to obey the Sanhedrin’s command to speak no more about Jesus. Into their minds at that moment came certain great convictions and into their lives came a tide of strength.
(i) They had the assurance of God’s deliverance (verse 23). The first word in verse 23 said, “On their release”. The Sanhedrin released them for they cannot find any fault to punish them. In previous verse, it was said, “After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old” (Acts 4:21-22). As the Holy Spirit empowered them after the day of the Pentecost, Peter preached so boldly that 3,000 souls were saved that day. They are not afraid that the high priest and all their associates will persecute them like what they did to the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew that God is with them. They recognized that Jesus is supreme over all things, enough reason for all of us not be afraid. Colossians 1:16-18 said, "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy".
(ii) They had the conviction of God’s power (verse 24). With them was He who was creator and sustainer of all things. They were in one accord in prayer recognizing the “Sovereign Lord”, “the One who made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them”. Once the papal envoy threatened Martin Luther with what would follow if he persisted in his course and warned him that in the end he would be deserted by all his supporters. “Where will you be then?” demanded the envoy. “Then as now,” Luther answered, “in the hands of God.” For the Christian, they that are for us are always more than they that are against us. Let me share to you a true to life testimony told by Richard Wurmbrand. This is about one of the underground Churches in Europe during the mid-19th century. This happened during the Russian occupation in Romania and the story goes like this: Two armed Russian soldiers entered a church with their guns in their hands. They said, "We don’t believe in your faith. Those who do not abandon it immediately will be shot at once! Those who abandon your faith, move to the right!" Some moved to the right, and were then ordered to leave the church and go home. They fled for their lives. When the Russians were alone with the remaining Christians, they embraced them and confessed, "We, too, are Christians, but we wished to have fellowship only with those who consider the truth worth dying for." Those who stayed, they had the conviction of God’s power. They knew in their heart that God will never leave them nor forsake them. We must realize that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
(iii) They had the conviction of the futility of man’s rebellion (verse 25-26). They understand that man have tendency to rebel against God, a rebellion that pointless or useless because nobody can win against God. We have tendency to seek for what we want and not what God’s want. Man with his sinful nature, has tendency to resist or to quench the leading of the Holy Spirit, but who will pay in the end for not obeying God? In verse 26, the word translated “rage” (or “did rage” from the original text of the bible, φρυάσσω or phruassó means to act with rage or literally like "an uncontrolled horse").They may trample and toss their heads; in the end they will have to accept the discipline of the leashes or the rider. Men may make their defiant gestures against God; in the end God must prevail.
(iv) They set before themselves the remembrance of Jesus (verse 27-28). They remembered how He suffered and how He triumphed; and in that memory they found their confidence, for it is enough for the disciple that He be as their Lord. They recognized Jesus as the “anointed One”, “the Messiah”, the “Son of the living God”. Jesus suffered and died on the cross, but rose again after 3 days. He conquered the grave. He came out of the spiritual battle victorious, He defeated the enemy, and so for those who believe in Him will also live victorious, in life, and in the ministry.
(v) They prayed for courage (verse 29-30). They did not pretend that they could face this in their own strength; they turned to a power that was not their own. They recognized that they couldn’t do anything without God. They understand that they are nothing without God. They remember in their heart what Jesus told them in the past: The Lord said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. In Matthew 7:7-8, He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened". John 14:12-14, He said, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it".
(vi) The result was the gift of the Holy Spirit (verse 31). The promise was fulfilled; they were not left comfortless. So they found the courage and the strength they needed to witness when their witness might well mean their death.
The bible said in Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly”.
We cannot speak the Word of God boldly unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we just speak intellectually, and sad to say “worldly”, and we don’t want to do that.
The bible warn us in 1 Corinthians 8:9, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights (that’s include our actions and words that coming from our mouth) does not become a stumbling block to the weak”. We all know that these have consequences according to His Word.
Being said that, we need the help of the Holy Spirit for these characteristics to manifest in our lives:
We must have the assurance of God’s deliverance.
We must have the conviction of God’s power.
We must have the conviction of the futility of man’s rebellion.
We must set before ourselves the remembrance of Jesus.
We must pray for courage.
And the result of all these, is the gift of the Holy Spirit to be fulfilled in our lives.