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By What Power or Name?

Acting Out: Life Lessons from the Early Church (Msg 4)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The fourth installment in our series on Acts. In this message we look at the authority believers have by right of having the Holy Spirit indwelling them

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Power Struggles

Re-explain the title of the series
Often when people are “acting out” (that is, acting contrary than an accepted norm), a “power struggle” ensues
Sibling Rivalry
And yes, even church life
At the heart of a power struggle is a question of who, or what, holds authority
This morning we encounter one of the many instances where the disciples have a run-in with the religious “authorities”
They are “acting out” and the leaders have a tough time reining them (in general)

Life Lesson #7: Don’t Assume God is on Your Side

The ‘assumed’ authority of the temple guard and Sadducees
The religious ‘elite’
The ‘correct’ interpreters of the Law (cf. the Reformation?)
Something has happened under their watch that challenges their authority: a miraculous healing
In addition to this miraculous healing, they have a real power struggle on their hands
Peter and John were teaching the people (!!) (v. 2)
These are “unschooled, ordinary men” (v.13)
They don’t have their MDivs!! How dare they teach the people!
Peter and John were proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in Jesus (v. 2)
Not only do they not have the human right to teach, they are teaching ‘heresy’
Hence they command them not to teach in Jesus’ name (v. 17-18)
The primary tactic is intimidation (a common tactic used in all power struggles)
The primary tactic is intimidation (a common tactic used in all power struggles)
They send the 2nd in command to the High Priest
They arrest them
They have them stand in the presence of the Sanhedrin (incl. 3 generations of High Priest)
They threaten them, but are forced to let them go
The burning question: “By what power or name did you do this?” (because clearly you are not authorized to do this)

Life Lesson #8: We Have Jesus’ Authority Through his Holy Spirit in Us

Peter is “filled” with the Holy Spirit
Does NOT mean the Spirit was not in him to begin with
Rather it means to “fill completely” to “fill up” (not dissimilar from a gas tank - you never let it run dry)
The Holy Spirit not enables Peter to speak but tells him what to say
Luke 12:11–12 NIV
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
His speech borders on the ‘brash’ and ‘cheeky’ (cf. courage/boldness in v. 13)
Not unlike someone with a sixth grade education challenging the Supreme Court of Canada today
Peter’s Response: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”
To do something in another’s name means you have their authorization (authority to do so)
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Hence why the leaders ‘took note’ that these men had been with Jesus (v.13)
There is more to this name than simply healing
Acts 4:12 NIV
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
This is clearly offensive to the leaders
YOU killed him
but GOD raised him from the dead
And JESUS is the only one through whom we can be saved
And Jesus is the one who healed this man
If Jesus is in heaven, how did he heal this man?
Peter’s response is that it is in the name of Jesus
Jesus performs this miracle through the disciples, by the power of the Holy Spirit

How Can We Tell the Difference?

If we believe (as we say) that we have the same Holy Spirit dwelling in us, then do we not have the same authority?
Notice Peter’s words in healing the man:
Acts 3:6–7 NIV
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.
Acts 3:6
It is command and not request
Now that’s bold - that’s an understanding of his authority in the Spirit
Who should we be listening to?
God? Or the religious establishment?
The answer is clear:
Acts 4:20 NIV
As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

How Can We Tell the Difference?

How Can We Tell the Difference?

Who or what is appealed to as the ultimate authority?
We need to learn to discern and distinguish between our own desires (ideas) and God’s as revealed in Jesus
Not only “WWJD?” but What Does Jesus Want? What is he most concerned about?
Read the Gospels and Acts and you’ll get a pretty good idea (“they took note that [they] had been with Jesus” cf. the Comforter who reminds us of Jesus’ teaching)
How do I know I have this authority?
Is Jesus both your savior and lord?
Do you pray in Jesus’ name?
The text is clear: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus () and his name alone () will be saved
In other words, there is no higher authority to which we can, and do, appeal
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