When Your Government Is Ungodly - Part 3
When Your Government Is Ungodly - Part 3
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 28, 2013
*Tonight we finish our study of the great miracle that took place in Acts 3. Peter and John were on their way to the Temple to pray, and they met a beggar who had been lame for all of his life. The man asked for money, and in Acts 3:6-9:
6. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.''
7. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them walking, leaping, and praising God.
9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
*The great crowd of people in the Temple was filled with wonder over this miracle. And Peter gave all the glory to God, as he began to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter talked about the cross and the wonderful good news of Christ's resurrection.
*Acts 4:4 tells us that 5,000 men were saved that day, when believed in the Lord! But these things caused such a commotion that the rulers of the Temple had Peter and John arrested. The next day, they put these two Apostles on trial. And in Acts 4:8-12 we see:
8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
9. If we this day are judged for a good deed done to the helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
10. let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
11. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
12. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.''
*In vs. 13-16, the hard-hearted, Christ-rejecting rulers wanted to keep Peter and John in prison, or even kill them. But they realized that they couldn't get away with it, because the great miracle was evident to everyone in Jerusalem.
*Nevertheless, they were determined to stop the spread of the gospel. And in vs. 17-22, we see their strategy, as well as the Apostles' response:
17. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.''
18. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.''
21. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
22. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
*With this background in mind, let's see what happened next as we read Acts 4:23-31.
*It may be hard for us to comprehend, but millions of people in this world hate the church of Jesus Christ. This past Thursday, Bruce Thornton of the Hoover Institution explained: "Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history. Worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero.
*Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every 5 minutes, and most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top 50 countries persecuting Christians, 42 have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.
*In Afghanistan, for example, where American blood and treasure liberated Afghans from murderous fanatics, a court order in March of 2010 led to the destruction of the last Christian church in that country.
*In Iraq, also free (in 2013) because of America's sacrifice, half of the Christians have fled. In 2010, a Catholic church in Baghdad was bombed with 58 killed and hundreds wounded." (1)
*Many, many people hate the cross of Jesus Christ and all of His followers. As Christians, what are we to do about that? And what are we to do when people who oppose Biblical teachings have the controls of government in their hands?
1. Today's Scripture teaches us first that we should stick together with God's people.
*This is exactly what the early church did in vs. 23-24:
23. And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord. . ."
*One of the great things we see here is that when Peter and John ran into trouble, they didn't run away. No. They ran straight to their brothers and sisters in Christ. They ran to the church, and that is what they should have done. Also notice in vs. 24, they were all still together in "one accord," and that's the way the Lord wants us to be.
2. What should we do when our government is ungodly? -- Stick together with God's people. -- But also seek God's help.
*In vs. 24, we see the early church seeking God's help: "So when they heard that (i.e. when they heard about the trouble.), they raised their voice to God with one accord. After they heard about the trouble, the first thing they did was pray. The early Christians believed in prayer.
 And they began their prayer by giving God's resume.
*Again in vs. 24, "They raised their voice to God with one accord and said: 'Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them."
*These early Christians began their prayer by telling God some of the wonderful things they knew about Him. And this may seem unusual or unnecessary to us, but this is a very common pattern for public prayer in the Bible.
*In effect, they were saying, "Father God, here are some of the reasons why we trust in You." So they declared who He is: "Lord, You are God. . ." Then they mentioned one of the great things our God has done: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. . ."
*Next in vs. 25-26, they noted something God had said:
25. who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?
26. the kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.'
*And in vs. 27-28, they pointed to what God had planned:
27. For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
28. to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
*In short, "Father, we trust in you!
-Because of who you are.
-Because of what you have done.
-Because of what you have said.
-And because of what you have planned.
*These early Christians began their prayer by giving God's resume. And because God is God, there are infinite ways we can put His resume together. We can put this Bible story in His resume, or any of a hundred more. We can also put our faith story in God's resume, because of the things He has done in our lives.
*Barbara Johnson gave the testimony of an elderly Christian woman who turned to God's Word when she found herself in stressful situations. One of her favorite memory verses was Psalm 91:4, where the Psalmist said this about the LORD: "He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler."
*Whenever this lady felt under great stress, she would repeat to herself, "I am covered with His feathers. I am covered with His feathers."
*One night she was walking down a dark city street, and realized that she was being followed by two men. Naturally, she was afraid, and began to say out loud, "I am covered with His feathers! I am covered with His feathers!"
*Then she heard one of the would-be muggers shout, "Hey man, this lady is crazy. Let's get out of here!" -- And they did. (2)
*Well, we may not have a story like that. But if we know the Lord Jesus Christ, we have a story of how God has worked in our life. And that too is part of His resume.
 The early Christians began their prayer by giving God's resume. -- Then they made their request.
*In vs. 29-30:
29. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30. by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.''
*These Christians could have asked for the bad guys to be taken away, but they didn't do that. They made the spreading of God's Word their top priority. And that's what we should do.
*As in vs. 29, we should ask God to give us the boldness we need. Again, they prayed: "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word." They asked for one of the main things we need today: Boldness. God please give us the boldness we need to speak your Word.
Then in vs. 30, they asked God to confirm His Word "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.'' Church: It is always proper for us to ask God to confirm His Word according to His perfect will.
 They started their prayer with God's resume. Then they made their request, and they saw a great result:
*The first part of vs. 31 tells us that "when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." These threatened Christians did exactly the right thing. They sought the Lord's help, and He responded in an amazing way.
*Church: We may not see the building shaking today, but our God is still a miracle working God! And one of the places where He is doing remarkable things today is in areas where His Church is being persecuted.
*One missionary shared this testimony about how God is using heaven-sent dreams to win Muslim people to the Lord. He started with this question: "Had any dreams lately? For most of us dreams are something to entertain us during the night, and maybe the next day as we recount those dreams to family and friends. But in the world of South Asia, dreams are much more than entertainment. They are a major method of communication between the spiritual world and the physical, – between God and man.
*South Asians pay attention to their dreams and obey what they are told in them. Several months ago, an old Muslim man walked up, a man we had never seen before. He told us that his house was filled with evil spirits. He had a dream the night before in which he was told to come ask us to pray for him and his family and against the evil spirits in his house.
*He awoke early and set out on the two-hour walk that would bring him to us. We did pray for him and his family and against the evil spirits. Even where Christian believers are not working -- God is."
*Another missionary said: "One person who had never had an opportunity to respond to the Good News stopped me recently in a bakery and asked me to share with him about Jesus. We discussed my own testimony, Jesus' teachings in John 3, and how a person can pray to receive Christ. This man later saw the Lord in a dream, and has since made a personal decision to follow Jesus! He is growing daily in his faith, but he is also being heavily persecuted by his family and friends who do not believe."
*Those are amazing stories! But let me remind you that it is a miracle anytime someone gets saved! And our God is still a miracle working God! So we must pray, expecting a great response from our God.
3. What should we do when our government is ungodly? -- Stick together, seek God's help, and speak the truth about Jesus.
*That's what the disciples did in the last part of vs. 31: "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." We need to speak the Word of God with boldness, because people desperately need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ.
*Every once in a while, I will still see Steve McQueen on TV. He was a tremendously popular actor when I was a kid: "Wanted Dead or Alive" on TV, plus movies like "The Great Escape" and "Bullitt."
*Success filled Steve McQueen's life until alcohol and a failed marriage left him empty. In despair, he attended a crusade led by someone on Billy Graham's team. Steve made a profession of faith that night, and asked for an opportunity to speak with Billy Graham. A connecting flight in Los Angeles allowed Billy Graham to spend a couple of hours with Steve in the actor's limousine.
*Steve struggled with the thought of God giving eternal life to a man with his past. Billy Graham shared many Scriptures with Steve, but Steve found the hope he needed in Titus 1:2. This verse says Christians are "in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began." Steve asked for something to write down the verse, but Billy Graham gave McQueen his Bible instead.
*Sometime later, Steve McQueen died in Mexico while seeking experimental treatment for his terminal cancer. He went to Heaven with his Bible opened to Titus 1 and his finger resting on verse 2: "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began."
*Yes, many people hate Jesus. But there are also many people who will turn to the Lord and trust in Him, -- when we speak the truth about Jesus.
*We live in a day when our government is turning farther and farther away from God. But we are not helpless. There is much we can do.
*And here God shows us what to do:
-Stick together with God's people.
-Seek God's help.
-And speak the truth about Jesus.
*Let's go to God in prayer.
(1) "Defining Ideas" A Hoover Institution Journal - July 25, 2013 - Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World" by Bruce Thornton - Research Fellow and W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo - Campbell National Fellow, 2009–10, 2010–11 - http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/152651
(2) Barbara Johnson, "Boomerang Joy" - Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998
(3) Ike Reighard, 1993 SBC Pastor's Conference - Source: "McHenry's Quips, Quotes, and Other Notes" by Raymond McHenry - Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. - Copyright 1998 - # 255 - Topic: Eternal Life