In our current teaching series Back To Basics, we are exploring the fundamentals of three crucial pieces of the Christian life-Community, Discipleship, and Mission. In last week's sermon we were reminded of how the church responded to chaos and uncertainty in Acts 4:23-31.
In Acts 3, Peter preaches the gospel to many who have gathered in awe because God had healed a lame man, resulting in a multitude of people finding their salvation in Christ. Peter and John are subsequently arrested and held overnight to face their accusers in the morning. When the chief priests and elders gather the next day, Peter boldly preaches the gospel to them in the face of an uncertain outcome. Finding no other way to punish them, the officials release Peter and John with an order to stop preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is where we see the immediate action of the community of Jesus found in Acts 4.
Upon their release, Peter and John return to the community of Christ-followers and give report of all that had happened to them. This news surely cast a bit of fear and uncertainty among this new church as to what other persecution and harm may come their way. Here is what they did upon hearing the news.
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:24-30, ESV)
What an incredible response! Instead of cowering in fear, the community moves to action in the following ways:
- They gather together, displaying their understanding of the power of Christian community. They didn't hide or take the day off for some "me time."
- They pray, displaying an understanding and trust in God's sovereignty.
- They reflect on and respond to the Word of God, displaying a love and trust for the scriptures.
- They ask for boldness to continue to preach the Gospel, displaying a love for their neighbors and fellow men.
D.A. Carson writes,
"Oddly, however, they didn’t pray for the defeat of the evil forces, or for their own safety, but rather for boldness and for the hand of God to heal and perform signs and wonders. Their answer came with the awesome shaking of their meeting place and the granting of their request to speak boldly1."
We are praying that we would face chaos and uncertainty in the same manner. Are you cowering, seeking your own rights, complaining and hiding in the difficult, chaotic, and uncertain moments of life? Or, are you praying for God's will, trusting in the promises of His Word, and asking God to give you boldness to share the good news of Jesus with those in your situation? It's a big step for many, and a course of change for sure. May God grant the ground your standing on to shake and give you boldness that you've never realized.
1. Carson, D. A., France, R. T., Motyer, J. A., & Wenham, G. J. (Eds.). (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., pp. 1074–1075). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.