Growth through a Surprising Confidence

Dr. Rob Green January 20, 2019 Acts 4:5-37
Outline

 We will be in the best position possible to grow what God has given when we are properly mission focused and when we give the Lord credit for all that he does.

3 truths from this text that can help us find our confidence and courage in Jesus.

I. Confidence Comes from a Saving Relationship with Jesus

This question is not a question looking for new information. It is a question designed to create an accusation … grounds for condemnation.

A. Evidence #1: the work of the Holy Spirit

Luke 12:11-12 - When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.

1 Peter 3:15 - …but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…

B. Evidence #2: assurance that Jesus is the only path to salvation

Acts 4:12 - And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

II. Courage Comes from Knowing the Works and Words of Jesus

A. The more we are with Jesus the more He is our example

Acts 4:13 - Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

B. The more we concentrate on Jesus’ works the more we want to share them

Acts 4:20 - …for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

III. Confidence to Respond Properly to the Challenges of Life and Community Comes through a proper relationship with Jesus and His words

A. It results in the ability to think about situations theologically

Psalm 146:6-7 - Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.

Psalm 146:8-10 - The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous; the LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 2:1-3 - Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”

Psalm 2:4-6 - He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

Psalm 2:7-9 - “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Psalm 2:10-11 - Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

B. It results in the ability to pray correctly

C. It results in meeting needs generously

This year our annual theme is Growing What God Has Given. This annual theme acknowledges that the Lord has given us a lot.

  • As we look around our ministry not only has the Lord given us 5 ministry locations (East, West, North, HH, and Bethany Farms), but the East location and Bethany Farms have a lot of land for ministry expansion.
  • If the Lord is going to entrust us with all this, then we need to grow what he has given.
  • I want to summarize what he said in a sentence … If we are going to Grow what God has given, then we have to be focused on the mission he has given (evangelizing, baptizing, and teaching).
    • That will require us to shed things from our lives that are not part of those primary tasks.
  • Then last week the focus was on giving the Lord credit for his work rather than attempting to take his glory.
  • In Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John went to the temple to preach. They met a beggar who had been crippled from birth and they healed him by the power and in the name of Jesus.
  • In Acts 3:11-26 Peter then delivered a sermon challenging the people to repent of their sin and trust Christ because Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises for a like-Moses prophet (v. 22) and the blessing of Abraham (v. 25).
  • We concluded last week in Acts 4:1-4. Peter and John have been arrested, but not before 5,000 had been saved.
  • Please look at Acts 3:22. Peter refers to Deuteronomy 18:15 that there would be a coming prophet who would be like Moses. Peter says … Jesus is him.
  • Please look at Acts 3:25. Peter refers to the promises of Gen 12, 18, and 22 that through the seed of Abraham all nations would be blessed and that too was fulfilled in Jesus.
  • Rulers, elders, and scribes show up for the meeting. Then we specifically told that Annas, Caiaphas, and John and Alexander and those of high priestly decent were also present.
  • Imagine a semi-circle with all the big dogs … who was there again? The big dogs are in a semi-circle and you are placed right in the center of them.
  • Oh… and this group executed your leader just a few weeks ago.
  • Peter has already made the connection between the healing of the lame man and the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Peter, in his sermon, has already made his theological understandings of the prophecies concern a Moses-like prophet and the blessing of Abraham being fulfilled in Jesus as well as what all the prophets spoke starting with Samuel (v. 24).
  • This sick man was made well in the name of Jesus (vv. 8-10).
  • What is surprising is the boldness with which he speaks.
  • Much different than the conversation he had with the servants just a few months before at Jesus’ trial.
    • There he denied Christ. But now he boldly represents him through the Spirit.
  • He explains that you (sitting in this room examining me) rejected Christ but he is the cornerstone of this movement that now includes 5,000 souls (4:4)
  • They wanted to know by what name he healed a man and Peter takes it another step further and says not only is Jesus the name by which this man was healed Jesus is the ONLY name through which a person can be saved.
  • Your confidence is not in you. It is in your saving relationship with Jesus. Have confidence that Jesus is your savior and Lord and he gave you his Spirit as a guarantee of your redemption.
    • The more that you are resting in your eternal destiny the less power and control others have over you and the freer you will be to speak courageously about the Lord Jesus.
  • You have longed for pleasure, ease, and relief from various challenges more than you have looked to Jesus.
  • More than you have rested in salvation. More than you have sanctified (made holy) Christ in your hearts.
  • If you are not doing well in your faith not only will you fail to Grow what God has given, but you may contribute to its destruction.
  • Repent, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and have a renewed energy to read his Word, to serve alongside his people, and to pray for your relationship to strengthen.
  • Now, several months later after the church is born 5,000 are a part of it and people are boldly proclaiming Christ and healing the lame they still reject.
  • I look at this passage as a grand opportunity for a re-do. It is a beautiful second chance.
  • Realize that you are not nor will you ever be good enough for God. You will always fall short and that is why you need to place your belief and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your salvation. 
  • There is no other way. While God is very patient and provides these beautiful second chances, there is a day that the chances run out.
  • The environment is very intimidating. People are looking for you to say the wrong thing.
  • However, Peter provides no such opportunity. His straightforward and clear argument is very reminiscent of Jesus.
  • These men had spent the last few years at the feet of the master. He had trained them.
  • Just in case you are wondering how in the world Luke would have gotten this information remember Paul was a religious leader and he does not meet Jesus until Acts 9.
  • Isn’t God’s Word totally amazing!
  • Some commentators actually wonder whether the two verbs to speak and teach has to do with a public and private proclamation of Christ.
  • Are you kidding me? That has to be one of the lamest council decisions in the history of mankind.
    • Repent and join the team … that would work
    • Repent and start a ministry to the religious elite … that would work
    • Not repent but still value people being healed … Not ideal but at least you are relatively kind
    • Not repent and tell them not to do this anymore … cold blooded!
  • You mean I cannot teach my small group about Jesus?
  • You mean I cannot publicly preach Jesus?
  • You people are insane
  • If your Bible reading plan is already off track this year, then consider this an invitation to get it going again. If you are going to have confidence to live for Christ in your job and in your neighborhood and actually use your voice to speak about Jesus, then you have to have something to say.
  • If the person responsible for the message dropped dead on the way to the pulpit, you could sub.
  • The works of Christ are all around us. They represent growth and change in our own life. You find them in the changes made in the lives of those around you.
  • Who know the words of Jesus so that we can follow in his steps. The end result is that people should say that you have been with Jesus.
  • Who know the works of Jesus so we can testify about them. The man standing there was an authenticating factor in the story. No one could deny it. Isn’t that the way it is?
  • Sometimes the testimony is just that simple.
  • In all seriousness, the age of the person demonstrates that this was a lifelong struggle that medical advances were unable to cure.
    • Had he been 12 he “might have grown out of it,” had he been 17 he “might not have found the right doctor,” but at 40 “okay, this is a lifelong condition.”
  • That courage is possible because a saving relationship with Jesus is possible. That courage is possible when we spend our lives focusing on the words and works of Jesus. Finally, we see
  • I would have loved a video of that one.
  • Rather than put their focus on the irritating religious leaders who just do not get it, they put the entire episode in the context of what God is doing through salvation history
  • That same information is available to us today.
  • When your spouse does something you don’t like … it is time to think theologically. When you children fail … it is time to think theologically … when your boss takes credit for your work … it is time to think theologically.
  • Years ago R. C. Sproul (died last year) was asked how he has so many illustrations. His response … I think about everything theologically.
  • “I put a serious smack down on those religious leaders. As I was wiping the floor with those guys the man I healed was there and I was like … check this guy out.”
  • There is no bravado, there is no pride. This group just wants to be faithful bondservants of Christ.
  • This point is important for this purpose … biblical Christianity has always been about everyone and not a select few. Yes, there are functions we are to play in the body of Christ. But being a bold witness for Christ is everyone’s job.
  • I don’t think we should see this as people becoming homeless. Instead, it is believers ensuring that the needs of others were properly met.
  • It was their job (which will come up later in Acts 6) to properly balance caring for the poor and “if you do not work then you will not eat.”
  • But once a need was identified, the people generously met it.
  • Our willingness to share will be dependent on the time we spend on the works and words of Jesus.
  • I know there are many at Faith who believe this. You are very generous to the ministry in general, to large capital projects, and to special giving projects.
  • It is possible that some are not so generous. Some fly under the radar of those who are generous. I would encourage you to consider the Lord’s word and work.

The first Sunday of the year Pastor Viars started a series in the book of Acts in order to see The Exciting Growth of Christ’s Church at the very beginning. As the church was starting, how did God’s people participate in the growth of the early church?

We will be in the best position possible to grow what God has given when we are properly mission focused and when we give the Lord credit for all that he does.

Today we need to add a third item to our list: Find your confidence and courage in Jesus. [Repeat that]

With that in mind I invite you to turn to Acts 4:5-37. That is on page 94 of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

As you are turning there it is important to remember that we are jumping in the middle of a story that started last Sunday. (Show the division between 2:47 and 3:1)

But did any of you leave last Sunday feeling sorry of Peter and John. We left them in jail! This same story continues and let’s pick it up in Acts 4:5. This is the Word of the Lord.

The title of the message this morning is Growth Through a Surprising Confidence. I would like us to consider 3 truths from this text that can help us find our confidence and courage in Jesus.

I. Confidence Comes from a saving relationship with Jesus (vv. 5-12)

Last week Peter and John were arrested and tossed in jail because (1) Peter gave a sermon proclaiming Jesus as the fulfillment of OT promises and (2) Peter healed a man who was previously unable to walk on his own.

It is in this context that v. 5 picks up the scene. All the big dogs arrived.

This is fascinating. Isn’t this the same group that tried Jesus, managed to get Pilate on their side, and had Jesus executed?

If that was not enough did you notice the environment? They were placed in the center (v. 7).

I cannot imagine that level of pressure and tension. Then, the big dogs ask the question “by what power and in what name, have you done this?” Hello! They already know the answer.

This question is not a question looking for new information. It is a question designed to create an accusation … grounds for condemnation.

This scene is incredibly intense. But they are confident in their saving relationship with Jesus. They do not cower before this group. They are not intimidated by this group. Their relationship with Jesus gives them confidence and there are two clear evidences of that relationship that can be true of everyone in this room.

A.     Evidence #1: The work of the Holy Spirit (v. 8)

It is possible that this could refer to a special endowment of the Spirit in that moment. There was a special moving of the Spirit later in the text. But at this stage it may simply be that he was already filled at Pentecost and he is speaking through an understanding of God’s Word.

What he says in vv. 8-10 clearly fulfills what Jesus had promised his disciples in Luke 12:11-12:

Luke 12:11 “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Let’s notice Peter’s defense.

He reiterates what he said in the sermon where a number of people trusted Christ.

Friends, the content is not particularly surprising.

Even if the moment of Acts 4 was a special endowment of the Spirit reserved for that special moment, the Scriptures clearly indicate that making a ready defense is a possibility for every believer in Christ. In fact, it was Peter himself who wrote…

1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence

Peter’s encouragement to sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts is what he had already done. That is the second element we see.

B.      Evidence #2: Assurance that Jesus is the only path to salvation (v. 11-12)

His defense in vv. 11-12 is first to quote a very specific passage for the situation at hand and then to summarize his position based on his full understanding of the person of Christ.

He quotes Psalm 118:22. In a text speaking about a coming deliverer Peter does exactly what Jesus did in Luke 20:17-18 in front of the chief priests and the experts in the law (i.e., scribes). The Spirit brings to mind the teachings of Jesus and Peter follows that example perfectly.

If that was not enough what he does is summarize his understanding of salvation history. In Acts 3-4 we have seen him cover from Genesis to Deuteronomy to the Psalms, through the prophets, and now he summarizes with this …

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

He does not say that Jesus is one way. He does not say that Jesus is the most common way. He says that Jesus is the ONLY way.

Friends, what we are talking about here is not just a story written in an old book. We are thinking about how this story must impact our life. I want to apply what we have so far to three different situations.

You are a believer in Christ walking with him faithfully

I know many of you are here. You are doing well.

You are a believer in Christ, but you are not doing well in your faith

If you are not doing well in your faith, then part of the problem is that your salvation in Christ has not been as meaningful to you as it should be.

I want to encourage you as a brother, as a fellow member of our church and the body of Christ, that you need to repent. Your focus needs to change.

You are in need of Jesus as your savior

There might be some of you who fit a very different category this morning. One of the sad realities of this passage is that this group stood and condemned Jesus. They witnessed and approved of his crucifixion.

Today might be one of those beautiful second chances for you. I want to exhort you like Peter.

I encourage you to repent of your sin or talk to one of the service pastors this morning. There is no more important issue than your salvation.

We are thinking about Growing what God has given. We know we have to be mission focused. We know that we have to give the Lord all the credit. We have to find our confidence and courage in Jesus.

In Acts 4:5-12 we have seen that our confidence and courage for life comes from a saving relationship with Jesus. This text also helps us to see that …

II. Courage comes from knowing the Works and Words of Jesus (vv. 13-22)

Luke, as the writer of Acts, serves as our narrator. In vv. 13-14 he explains what is happening to this group of religious leaders and how the tables have been turned.

A.     The more we are with Jesus the more he is our example (vv. 13-18)

The concept of Christ being our example or the person to imitate is found all over the NT. I would need the next two hours to unpack all the passages associated with Christ being our example.

According to v. 13 it was clear that Peter and John had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

They responded like Jesus, they used the exact same passage (Psalm 118) that Jesus used with the same group. In other words, they argued like Jesus did.

No, they did not have Ph.D. in the OT. No, they had not received their education at the institutions of higher learning.

According to v. 14 the man was also there. I find that fascinating. Was he an invited guest to this hearing? Did he hear about it? Did Peter send him a text?

At this point in the story everyone is dismissed for the council to have their private meeting. The council has a big problem. They arrested them and are looking for accusations. Peter and John simply tell the story. There are no grounds for accusation.

The council reaches a verdict (vv. 17-18). The council warns the men not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus because they have nothing else.

On the one hand vv. 17-18 are really sad. The evidence is in front of them. The healed man is a testimony of Christ. Peter’s sermon and subsequence defense have focused on Christ being the fulfillment of OT expectations. Yet, the only thing they do is warn them not to teach in the name of Christ.

Peter and John will have none of that foolishness.

B.      The more we concentrate on the works of Jesus the more convinced we have to share them (vv. 19-22)

Acts 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Now, you and I do not have access to Christ in the exact same way that Peter and John had access to the works and words of Christ. However, we have our own sets of access.

We have the Scripture that includes the words of Christ as well as the works of Christ. It is very important that all of us spend appropriate time with our savior.

Here is another idea. When I do devotional reading, I do not go into the same amount of detail as I have done in this passage. I spent Monday night going to bed thinking about Acts 4 and then I spent the vast majority of all-day Tuesday concentrating, writing, and revising this message to be faithful to the Word. There were insights like the argument of Psalm 118 that I did not pick up in my devotional reading.

I want to suggest that you do something like this once or twice this year. Study the passage from your ABF or the Sunday sermon from the perspective that you would be ready to teach it.

It is for this purpose. To know the words of Jesus more closely.

Peter and John were going to testify about the most exciting things in their life. In their case, that was the work and words of Jesus. If you and I are going to follow in that example, we must be people

Back when Jesus healed the man born blind there was an investigation launched. The healed man was like, “look I was blind and now I see.”

I have to admit that v. 22 hurts a little. Part of the authentication is that the person healed was 40! I have a birthday this month and let’s just say 40 was several years ago.

Friends, we not only have to believe in the mission to grow what God has given, but we must also possess the courage to carry it out.

III. Confidence to respond properly to the challenges of life and community comes through a proper relationship with Jesus and his words (vv. 23-37)

These verses are mind blowing. Peter and John spent the night in jail and then were questioned by the all religious big dogs in the pressure cooker. The Lord wins the day. So they go back their buddies and tell them the whole story.

This confidence that they had that they had a saving relationship with Jesus and the amount of energy they put toward the works and words of Jesus resulted in several wonderful consequences.

A.     It results in the ability to think about situations theologically (vv. 23-28)

After they told the story the group spoke together the words of Psalm 146:6. Listen to the words of Psalm 146:6-10

Psa. 146:6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; 7 Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.

Psa. 146:8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; 9 The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked. 10 The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

They immediately give thanks because the Lord has freed them, delivered, them, executed justice for the oppressed. His reign is forever.

If that was not enough theology, they then move to Psalm 2. They speak together the words of vv. 1-2. But we have to see that Psalm 2 is loaded with application to their experience.

Psa. 2:1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!”

Psa. 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

Psa. 2:7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9  ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Psa. 2:10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 11 Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

They get out Psalm 2: (1) the fact that the opposition was expected. This was not a surprise at all; (2) that the Lord is the victor despite the raging of the nations; and (3) that everyone whether they want to or not must reckon Jesus, the Son of God, and Messiah. Everyone … including every member of the council.

My response to vv. 23-26 is “mind blown.” They may not have been educated at the respected places of learning, but these believers totally understand their Bible. They can put all their circumstances into the right context because they have spent their time investing in the works and words of Jesus.

Here is our reality … sometimes there are situations in our life and we do a lousy job of thinking about it theologically.

That is what a saving relationship with Jesus and spending lots of energy on the works and words of Jesus does for you. It gives you confidence because you think about everything theologically!

B.      It results in the ability to pray correctly (vv. 28-31)

As this group met together and thought carefully and biblically about what just happened. Their conclusion is that God predicted all of it and they ask that they would be able to speak his word boldly and confidently while the Lord continues to do miracles to authenticate the message.

I think it would be so tempting to think about this situation differently. Peter and John could have entered the place and said you should have seen it.

They know that they need the Lord’s help and grace because the threats from this group are real. They did not win today. But in the years to come, many followers of Christ will face the pain of death.

They ask for God to give them the courage necessary to continue the work.

Verse 31 should come as no surprise. There are times in the Bible when the proper prayers are answered in dramatic fashion. That is the case here. The result is that all of them go out and speak boldly.

C.      It results in meeting needs generously (vv. 32-37)

How the church went about meeting needs was varied – even in the book of Acts. In this instance, there were some who owned more than others.

There was administration to this (it being laid at the apostles’ feet) so that needs could be evaluated.

In those days, property equaled wealth. There are many other types of wealth in our society.

Summary

In our study of Acts, we have seen that to Grow what God has given we have to be mission focused, we have to give the Lord credit for all he does, and we need courage and confidence in Jesus.

In Acts 4 they got that courage and confidence by having a saving relationship with the Lord; by knowing the works and words of Jesus; and by allowing those words and works to inform you theologically, to pray correctly, and to share generously.

Dr. Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry, Chair of the MABC program, and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.