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More Power

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More Power

Acts 4:1-31          June 11, 2000


Just how powerless are you anyway?

Do you feel powerless in life?

Do you feel like a victim of everybody else's agenda for you - the victim of many competing desires?

Do you get tired of pleasing everyone else all the time?

When you speak, do you feel that no one listens?

When you try to act, does it seem that it makes no difference?

Has it seemed like your past has spoken louder than your future?

You are saved, and you want to serve God, but you feel like you can't even get your own life together - let alone try to help someone else?

Christ's message had enough effect on you to get you saved, but that's about as far as you go, you think?

You acknowledge that he gave you, and all of us, a commission, but you think you can't speak well, you're not trained enough, and you don't have the time even if you had the confidence?

If this is you, then you must hear today's message.

I want to start this morning by asking one of us to come up and give a short testimony.

This is a person who has heard a message from God over the last several years as God has spoken the truth to her about her feelings of powerlessness.

Those of you who have known her can testify yourselves to the change that has taken place in her life as God has transformed her.

But let us hear from her ourselves --- (Patricia Jones).

Patricia is a living testimony to all of us that we are not as powerless as we think we are.

And even if this is not you now, I know that we can all identify with her because we were all there at one time or another, by some degree or other.

But you still need to hear this message because you are probably not as far as you think you are.

Or perhaps the direction you have gone in serving Christ has not been quite up to your expectations – or his.

This morning's passage in Acts 4:1-31 continues on after Peter and John miraculously healed the crippled beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful.

He got up and went with them into the temple courts praising God.

This sets up another opportunity for Peter to preach to the people.

God has staged another event to get the attention of the crowd, like at Pentecost.

This is Peter's second message, and it greatly adds to the success of the first.

The number of men increase to 5,000 from the 3,000 added at Pentecost (we must surely need to expand this figure to include women).

His message has profound effect.

It is so successful that it even gets overt opposition.

It is a marvelously courageous message of truth and conviction.

And to the amazement of all, it comes from a man who is obviously an unschooled, ordinary man (2:7, 4:13).

So what question will this passage answer for us?

Big Question:

What must we understand about the effect of Christ's message?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-7)

Before we get into today's passage, we must take a look at a few key points in the message that Peter was prompted by the power of the Spirit to speak to the people that day in the temple courts, who were amazed when they saw the crippled beggar walking and praising God.

Now, those who were amazed were not the only ones who took notice of the message.

We can look ahead in verse 4:4 and see that many (2,000) of those who were amazed that day were convicted at the preaching of Peter and believed in Jesus.

But there was another group that was not amazed.

They were the priests and Sadducees in the temple compound who were threatened by Peter's preaching.

They were so disturbed by it that they came up to Peter and John with the captain of the temple guard and arrested them even while they were still speaking.

But Peter had given enough of the message through the power, enablement, and provision of the Spirit for those 2,000 to believe in Jesus even after the fact - without an altar call, if you will.

Sometimes we forget that the message speaks for itself – we are just the vessel through which it is spoken.

Do you remember what one of the distinguishing characteristics is regarding the theology of the Sadducees?

In Luke 20:27-40, Jesus responds to the hypothetical question of the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection.

His answer silenced them then when he said, "But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

But now that the issue is proven because Jesus himself rose from the dead, the issue is far from dead for the Sadducees.

Truly, they are threatened.

They didn't want to believe then.

(They were like modern day people who believe once you are dead, you're dead.)

And they refuse to change their position now that the evidence is in.

If they can hold on to their position, they can continue denying the truth.

And to deny truth is to deny responsibility – for the death of Christ.

To protect themselves, they needed to shut Peter up before any more truth gets out.

They have a vested interest, and so Peter and John end up in jail until morning.

Now, you will recognize a couple of these names that Peter and John must answer to in the morning – kind of like Jesus had to do.

It is interesting that Jesus told his disciples, "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"  "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, (Mark 10:38-39 NIVUS)

Caiaphas and Annas were the high priest and his father-in-law who condemned Jesus and sent him to the Romans to crucify.

Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people (John 18:14).

Certainly, they too had a vested interest in trying to keep Jesus dead.

Strangely enough, they ask a question that seems to demand the truth.

But it is a truth they are afraid to hear.

Like a person who stands before a judge knowing they are guilty, they can’t sleep until they hear the verdict.

Indeed, they will get the answer to their question, "By what power or what name did you do this?" – that is, raise this crippled beggar to his feet.

B.      Implication

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly powerful because it either saves those humbled by it or disturbs those threatened by it.

C.      Illustration

D.      Application

There is power in this message that Peter brings.

Power can go one of two directions.

It can work for you, or it can work against you.

It can save you, or it can disturb you.

When you submit to it, it works for you.

When you fight it, it works against you.

The question to be decided is whose power will prevail?

I think we can all surmise that the high priest and his cohorts are on the wrong side of any real logic here.

The power they are up against is pretty awesome.

And I think they might be getting that same drift.

Indeed, Peter is about to confirm it for them.

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 8-22)

          Now we hear clearly about the source of Peter's power.

          He is filled with the Holy Spirit.

          Better yet, he is ignited by the Holy Spirit.

          He is on fire for the truth, and nothing could stop him from answering this question, "By what power or what name did you do this?"

          He has seen Jesus raised from the dead.

          This resurrected Jesus has restored his life from the despair of denial.

          Now he has been anointed by the Holy Spirit to proclaim what he knows without doubt.

          He has personal courage because he has met Jesus personally.

          "Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed."

          Peter minced no words with the crowd and he minces no words now with this pompous kangaroo court.

          He puts the stamp of prophecy from Ps. 118:22 on his words to prove the preeminence of the one they pierced.

          And he proclaims without apology that, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved."

          The courage of Peter and John comes through.

          It comes through because it is unexpected.

          These men are not blue-blooded royalty or Rhodes scholars or priestly pietists to talk with such courage and assurance.

          And then they remembered, "These men had been with Jesus."

          Perhaps that is the reason for their boldness and assurance.

          Chalk one more up for something to worry about – this power.

          And something else, the man they healed, the man everyone knew was a cripple, was standing right there – a proper testimony at a proper time.

          The truth was undeniable.

          They were speechless in front of that truth.

          And so they ordered them from the Sanhedrin's presence and conferred privately, "What are we going to do with these men and their undeniable miracle that everyone has seen? Indeed, even we cannot deny it."

          "How can we silence the truth?" they wonder.

          "We thought we had gotten rid of Jesus, but he lives on in his disciples," they seem to think to themselves.

          "Let's warn them not to speak any longer in this name."

          Yea, right! Like Peter and John are going to shut up now.

          But note the effect that Peter and John's confidence must have had on the Sanhedrin since they don't lay a hand on them, nor do they put them back in jail.

They don't do anything but let them go.

They have seen enough power that they don't want to mess with it.

Truly, they might suspect that they are in over their heads.

          I wonder if they really thought they could stop this kind of power that performed miracles like this.

And as might be suspected, Peter and John continue to preach, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God."

Now that must have been a low blow for the Sanhedrin to come face to face with such facts.

Peter and John continue, "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

In other words, they say, "We ain't going to shut up, you hear? Indeed, we can't, even if we wanted to. We are compelled and empowered. We have seen the King. We know what side we must be on, and it isn't yours."

The most the Sanhedrin can do is mutter a few more threats like the half-hearted growls of a dog who knows he's been beaten.

They really wanted to punish them but couldn't make up their minds since they knew it just wouldn't be the smart thing to do.

You have to give them at least that much.

All the people were on their side, praising God for what they had seen, and experienced, and believed.

After all, the man crippled from birth and now healed was over 40 – old enough to make this miracle all the more remarkable since he was crippled so long.

But the Sanhedrin was confused about what to do with this undeniable truth.

There are so many, it seems, that just don't know what to do with truth.

I submit to you (and Peter and John would agree) that it is to be believed.

But God confounds his enemies to his own purpose.

The confusion of the Sanhedrin worked good for the kingdom of God.

The first mistake they made was in arresting Peter and John, drawing attention to them as martyrs in this struggle between religious power and God's power.

Those who persecute us accomplish nothing more than admit their fear that they are powerless before the God we serve – and so they attack us.

The second mistake they made was in letting them go so quickly, proclaiming to all that they were, in fact, powerless before the truth.

B.      Implication

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly personal because it either gives courage to those who know him or confusion to those who reject him.

C.      Illustration

D.      Application

          God meets each of us personally.

          We are either compelled by him or confused by him.

          We either accept Christ as God or continue thinking we are gods.

          It all depends on our 'state-of-heart'.

          Those who don't have a heart for God don't know how to handle those of us who do.

          Peter and John had been with Jesus, and they brought the message of Jesus to the Sanhedrin through their faith.

          But the Sanhedrin was confused by the truth and what to do with it.

          The evidence was there but it was beyond their own personal level of acceptance.

          And those who didn't believe in the resurrection would some day find out just how personal Jesus can get.

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 23-31)

          Now if what happened to Peter and John happened to you or I, we would do the same thing they did.

          It was testimony time.

          We always want to share with other believers what we have seen or heard of God – and we should.

They had a "God sighting."

They did what would later be written in Hebrews 10:24-25 – encouraging one another with the effect of their faith.

And that is just what happened.

The people raise their voices together in a chorus of praise to God.

They address him triumphantly in prayer.

They recount his acts of power.

Namely, they recount his sovereign acts of creation.

They recount his sovereign acts of revelation.

And they rejoice over this present victory in how foolish it is to oppose God.

This same Holy Spirit who spoke through the mouth of David in Psalm 118:22 has spoken through the mouths of Peter and John.

Jesus has become the capstone, this same Jesus you rejected.

It is suicide to oppose the resurrection power of the Anointed One.

          The rulers of the people did indeed conspire against him, but even that was only according to the sovereign will of God.

          Therefore they appeal to the further sovereignty of God to give even more power than they have seen.

          They are encouraged and emboldened.

          Nothing can stop this fledgling church now.

          They are tasting the victory that Jesus promised them, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 NIVUS)

          "O God, stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus!"

          Now when you pray like that, things begin to shake, rattle, and roll – because only that which cannot be shaken will remain.

Psalms 125:1  A song of ascents. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

Hebrews 12:27  The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken-- that is, created things-- so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Hebrews 12:28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

          And that is not all that happens when you pray like that.

          When you glorify God with this kind of praise and faith you get a fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit – and this not long after they were filled the first time.

          And if they spoke boldly before, imagine what their testimony is like now.

          And note that it says all of them.

          There were none in that crowd who felt powerless or unsure of themselves.

          There was none who was least in the kingdom of God.

B.      Implication

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly praiseworthy because it increases in power the more it is proclaimed.

C.      Illustration

          I found myself wondering what this kind of community power would do for the Christians in southern Sudan. What would happen if Christians from all over the world became a non-militant task force to personally surround them – armed only with the truth of the Word of God and the power of victorious prayer.

When I think of power, I think of my father's "G" John Deere tractor that he rebuilt.

It had two cylinders as big as milk buckets.

When he was out plowing the back 40 that had been in bromegrass set-aside for several years in the soil bank, it took all the power that great tractor had.

It had amazing torque – more than any of the other multi-cylindered tractors of its class, but they ran smoother.

Those two cylinders popped off one at a time so slow you thought the next one would never come.

But that two bottom 16" plow just kept churning the sod.

The thing is, when those cylinders fired, everything shook.

Dad could hardly stay on the tractor.

It was like riding a bucking bronco.

But he proudly held on to that power, and he took back that ground.

D.      Application

          When we praise the power of God, we get more power.

          When we proclaim the truth of God, we get more power.

          When we pray the sovereignty of God, we get more power.

          God has so much power we can never exhaust it.

          We can get so much power going on around us by faith we are going to have to hold on to something just to stand up.

          And when you hold on to Jesus you will never fall down.

          But notice that this multiplication of power happens in Christian community.

          This is what happens when we encourage one another in the faith.

          We become such a force for the name of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that we are unstoppable.


Big Answer:

What must we understand about the effect of Christ's message?

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly powerful because it either saves those humbled by it or disturbs those threatened by it.

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly personal because it either gives courage to those who know him or confusion to those who reject him.

The effect of Christ's message is profoundly praiseworthy because it increases in power the more it is proclaimed.

Timeless Truth:

Proclaiming Christ's message has the effect of compounding his power, confounding his enemies, and compelling his disciples. Power for ministry resides in proclaiming the gospel message. It is self-authenticating, self-justifying, and self-empowering. True power is unstoppable. It is eternal. It is Christ!

And what must you do with this message?

If you have not believed it, you must, or you will die disturbed, confused, and powerless before God.

When you do believe it, you will find everything you need to live life with confidence and power.

If you have believed it, you must proclaim it, because you have the power of Christ within you to do as he commanded you.

Indeed, you are not the same as you were.

You have his power to achieve the potential he has given you.

And as you move toward the fulfillment of his will, you will find even more power.

And when you act upon the continual revelation of his power, you too are unstoppable.


Hillside Baptist Church, in their summer newsletter, reported a true account from Alaska Airlines Flight 261 that was passed on to them. This was the MD-83 jetliner that crashed on Jan. 31st of this year, killing all of the 88 people on board. The flight was on its way from Puerto Vallarta to Seattle, via San Franciso, 3 hours into its 4 hour flight, when the horizontal stabilizer on the tail jammed due to a faulty jackscrew. Later inspection of 1,100 of these planes revealed 18 faulty jackscrews. The plane used on Flight 261 had been inspected in 1997 and was written up for a scheduled replacement of the stabilizer mechanism. But this was never accomplished.

The plane was preparing for an emergency landing at Los Angeles but never made it. Five minutes before the fatal crash, the pilots reported that they had struggled to regain control of the plane at 10,000 feet, and then 3 minutes later it suddenly began to spiral downward for the 2 minutes it took to hit the ocean surface. It plunged upside down at 4:21 p.m. in 700 feet of water just 11 miles offshore and 20 miles NW of Los Angeles. Only 4 bodies were recovered. The rest remained covered by debris on the ocean floor until salvage operations might retrieve them.

But the cockpit voice recorder was recovered, and it revealed something quite amazing. Another Alaska Airlines pilot involved in the investigation listened to the tape from the downed plane and reported that for the last nine minutes of the flight, the wife of a pastor from Monroe, Washington, could be heard sharing the gospel with the passengers over the plane's intercom. Just before the plane's fatal dive into the Pacific, she could be heard leading the sinner's prayer for salvation for all onboard.

The pilot also reported that the flight data recorder from the plane indicates that there is no good explanation for how the plane was able to stay in the air for those final nine minutes. But it did stay in the air until the pastor's wife was finished. In the midst of tragedy, 88 people had an extraordinary opportunity to get right with their Creator just prior to meeting him.

More Power! Because this woman believed the power that God gave her, she was able to give power to that plane. And she was able to give the power of salvation to all those who would receive it. God multiplied his power through her because she was willing to use it. She was unafraid and unstoppable. And so are you.

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. (Acts 4:31 NIVUS)

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