Millet Bible study leaders Acts 4 Dec 26, 2004
Here is a summary of the events in versus 23-32
What believers need is not deliverance from persecution, but victory and triumph over it. Believers need a conviction of mission, a conviction so strong that they become immovable.
1. Peter and John were released (v.23-24).
2. A conviction of God’s power (v.24).
3. A conviction of man’s futility and God’s plan or providence (v.25-28).
4. A conviction of mission and of God’s concern (v.29-30).
5. The results (v.31).
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
Note several striking facts.
a. Peter and John were not depressed, discouraged, or downcast. Neither were they stricken with fear and trembling. They were not suggesting the church withdraw into a hole and keep its message to itself. They had been imprisoned and tried by the Supreme Court itself, threatened and warned, but they were not defeated and silenced.
b. Peter and John were not puffed up. They had suffered undue strain and pressure in serving Christ, and God had marvelously used them as witnesses to the highest rulers of the land. Yet there is no mention, no suggestion, not even a tinge...
| of boasting of being God’s special servants of being more used by God|| of self-glorying of conceit of being exalted above fellow believers|
c. The concern of Peter and John was to encourage and edify (build up) the church and to warn them of the coming persecution that lay over the horizon. A decision whether or not to continue preaching was not even considered. The decision to carry the gospel to the whole world was made by Christ. It is not up for debate. Believers are commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
2. The church could do but one thing: it triumphantly lifted its voice to God in prayer. But note: the prayer was triumphant and united “with one accord.” The triumph of the church is seen in the points of its convictions throughout the prayer. The “one accord” means they prayed with one mind and one spirit. They focused and concentrated upon what was being prayed. Their minds were not wandering about. They were not half-heartedly praying, some praying and others thinking about their own affairs. They were “all of one accord,” zeroing in on God and His wonderful care and provision. It is such group prayers that God hears and answers.
there was a conviction of God’s power. God is the One who created the universe in all its massiveness. God alone is the One who has such omnipotent power to create. Therefore, there is no one—no person, no being, no ruling body, no nation—not even a world that can stand and stop His will and power. This was the church’s great conviction of God’s power.
 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?
 The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord
and against his Anointed One.'
 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.  They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
God, Will of— Predestination— Determinate Counsel: there was a conviction of man’s futility and God’s plan or providence. The thought is
a.The heathen, that is, the lost of the world, “rage” like a fierce horse; to act untamed, haughty, unruly.
b.The people, that is, the worldly, “imagine vain things”: to be anxious over empty things; to focus one’s life, time and energy upon meaningless possessions and material things, the empty, unsatisfying things of the world.
c.The kings and rulers stand up and gather together against God and His Christ, the Messiah. They stand against; stand in an opposite direction; stand in opposition and hostility to God and Christ.
2.God planned and overruled man’s opposition. God’s counsel determined what was to be done.
a.The prophecy was primarily fulfilled in the death of Christ. Men stood against God’s “holy child Jesus”; they gathered together against Him and killed Him. But God overruled and raised Him from the dead. God took the events—all the evil of men—and worked it all out for good. His will to save the world is still marching on. God’s counsel—His deliberation, His knowing all things and His possessing all power—worked everything out for good.
b.The prophecy is still being fulfilled in the lives of believers and the church. The world...
still imagines empty things,
still stands and gathers together against God, His
Messiah and His church,
...but to no avail. God’s will and purpose still marches on. He overrules all the meanness and persecution of evil men. He sees to it that the glorious message of salvation is not stopped, the Word of God is not bound. He causes it to be spread and to save all who hear and will believe.
 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
Witnessing: there was a conviction of God’s mission and of God’s concern.
1.Their mission was to “speak God’s Word.” Note what they needed and what they
prayed. They did not pray, did not need...
for evil men to be destroyed.
for the persecution to stop.
for God to allow them to stop witnessing until things quieted down.
They prayed for boldness, for more courage to bear testimony, no matter the abuse
and opposition. They asked to be fearless, for God to remove their fear. Note they asked
for “all boldness.”
a.The word “now” is stressed; there is heavy emphasis upon it. The church
desperately needed its fear removed, and it wanted a strong courage to get
about its business of witnessing.
b.The word “behold” means to look upon. The church was
asking God to concentrate and focus upon the persecution; to deal with it and to
overrule the enemy; to give whatever was necessary to endure through it all.
To consider the persecution and remove what He would of it; to
remove whatever fury was not to be used for His glory.
To consider the persecution and to give the faith and endurance to bear
testimony through it; to use the persecution to praise His name.
c.The word “servants” is the word for bond-slaves. The
church was saying that they were the slaves of the Lord, to do His will, to share
and speak God’s Word despite persecution.
2.Their need was also for power to heal and for signs and wonders, for a
demonstration of God’s power to prove their claim, the claim that...
God’s Son did come to earth.
God’s Son did die.
God’s Son did arise.
God’s Son was exalted to the right hand of God.
God’s Son was still active and working in men’s lives today.
Only one thing could prove such a message: the power of the living Lord proving
itself in signs and wonders. Note two significant points.
a.The power lies “in the name” of Jesus (see Deeper Study #2—Acts 3:6. Cp.
Acts 4:7, 10, 12, 17, 18.)
b.The power is for the glory of Jesus alone.
 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.
Boldness— Witnessing: the results of the church’s prayer were threefold.
1. The place was shaken. The shaking was a miracle, a sign showing that God controlled the physical universe, just as they had prayed (Acts 4:24).
2. They were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Deeper Study #1—Acts 2:1-4). They needed a very special manifestation, a fresh experience with the Spirit.
3. They received the boldness for which they had asked. They bore strong testimony, speaking the Word of God with boldness and courage.
The Believers’ Prayer - Acts 4:23-31
* 1. After going through a stressful experience, what do you do to unwind?
2. When have you felt most supported and encouraged by your church family?
3. When you pray, what are some favorite expressions that you like to use?
* 4. Where did Peter and John go after they were released by the Sanhedrin? (4:23)
* 5. How did the believers respond to the apostles’ report? (4:24)
6. In the prayer, how did the believers express their view of the persecution they faced? (4:24-26)
7. How did the believers use the Psalms in their prayer? (4:25-26)
8. How was God’s hand in all that was plotted and done against Jesus? (4:27-28)
9. How would God orchestrate the destruction and defeat of Jesus’ enemies? (4:28-30)
* 10. What did the Christians ask God to do? (4:29-30)
11. How would the believers be enabled to carry out God’s work? (4:30)
12. What was the effect of the believers’ prayer? (4:31)
13. What did the Christians experience and do after they finished praying? (4:31)
* 14. Where do you go for help in times of trouble?
15. How could your church benefit from handling crises the way the early church did?
16. When we pray, why is it helpful to recall the way God has acted in the past?
17. How does it build our faith to quote Scripture in our prayers?
18. How does it build our faith to remember past works of God on behalf of His people?
19. When was the last time you were amazed by the power of prayer?
* 20. How can your faith in God be expressed through the prayers you pray?
21. If your church were more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, what changes might take place?
* 22. What changes can you make in your personal prayer life today?
23. When can you pray for the leaders and ministries of your church?
24. How might you participate in times of prayer with other Christians over the next month?