Jay Sanders, pastor
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson
Of course Jesus knew this day was coming. He had told his disciples much earlier not to worry about what they would say when their devotion to the gospel got them in trouble. He would give them the words to say (Matthew 10:19).
The wrong people get offended. That was both bad and good news for the early church. It was bad because, well, no one likes being punished for doing good. But it was good because the persecution fortified their faith and gave them yet another opportunity to experience the faithfulness of God.
He really would be with them. And He really would give them the words to say. That’s something that we would do well to remember today.
Gospel annoyance – Acts 4:1-3
Not everyone was happy and leaping and praising God about the Christ proclaimed by Peter and his friends. The religious elites were provoked or annoyed by this gospel. The gospel is annoying. It’s annoying to people who are content in their own sins and satisfied with their false gods.
No matter how much effort we put into being nice and being liked, we must remember that we preach an annoying message. It’s annoying in the same sense that a surgeon’s scalpel annoys a cancerous tumor. It is an annoyance that brings life to those who repent and believe.
This does not give us the freedom to be jerks as we seek to represent Christ. We must do so in a kind and persuasive manner. But we must not be surprised when we are not met with a similar response.
Gospel boldness – Acts 4:8-12
There are a lot of people who can stand up in front of a crowd. There are even plenty of people who don’t mind standing in front of a crowd and making that crowd angry. What sets Christians apart here is the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
When we stand under our own authority, our names are glorified. But when we stand under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, the name of Christ is glorified. That’s what happened through the apostles.
Our culture is saturated with loud and angry voices. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us that sets Christians apart from the rest of the noise. Without him, we’re just clanging cymbals.
Gospel devotion – Acts 4:19-20
It would have been easy for the early church to back down. They made their point. They’ve gone far enough. Back to the upper room. That’s what the elites wanted. But it’s not what the apostles did.
Remember, they were under a command from Christ to cover the world with his message. That command did not come with a promise that nothing bad would happen. It did not come with a promise that the Church would always be liked.
But it did come with the promise of the Holy Spirit. And that is enough.