Branson Bible Church
Sunday Service 11.20.2022
  • Majesty
      • 1 Peter 5:6–11ESV

  • Praise To The Lord The Almighty
  • Great Are You Lord
  • PRAY
    INTRO: Recall that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and caused all of them to praise God in the native tongues of various Jews from their dispersed birth places, and Peter preached the first Christian sermon to the people gathered. It resulted in God adding 3000 believing souls to the 120 original disciples. Now, following another healing miracle by the Holy Spirit through Peter and John to heal a man lame from birth, another crowd had gathered to them, and Peter proclaimed Jesus as Lord yet again from Solomon’s portico at the temple. But there comes at this point an interruption to this proclamation and invitation.
    Acts 4:1–4 ESV
    And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
    And just so, the opposition which targeted Jesus is now transferred to his Apostles. But rising opposition isn’t the only result. Vv. 1-4 reveal…

    The Two Results From Proclaiming Christ (vv. 1-4)

    Some respond with hostility. Others respond with humility. Some oppose the gospel because they remain willfully blind, hardhearted, and arrogant. Others receive Jesus with glad hearts because God graciously humbles them, granting them repentance and faith.
    Who are the opponents?
    The priests would have been those from the line of Aaron of the tribe of Levi, whom God had set apart to serve him in leading the worship and sacrifices, as intermediaries between God and the people. (These are undoubtedly the ones on duty at the time.) The commotion caused by the miracle and the preaching is likely the reason the priests involve the captain (or chief) of the temple. He was second in command only to the high priest, was charged with keeping order and peace at the temple and in its proceedings, and would have had temple guards at his disposal. The third group named by Luke are representatives from the Sadducees, who were one of the three main schools involved in Jewish religious practice and politics. At this time it appears that the Sadducees were well-connected to the Jewish aristocracy and therefore many of those in power in social and civil ranks. They were also the ones who opposed teaching the resurrection of the dead (Ac 23:8), which makes perfect sense in this context. (which leads to another question to answer here…)
    What do they oppose?
    What is it that causes them to be “greatly annoyed”? (irked, greatly irritated)
    The first thing they seem to have a problem with is that the Apostles are teaching many people, and they don’t have any training or sanctioning from the religious or temple authorities to be doing so. (The temple leaders are coming to realize the previous hullabaloo wasn’t a one-off. These guys are at it again and undoubtedly gathering a following.)
    Secondly, they’re not just teaching the same thing the Pharisees would have taught, that their is a future resurrection of the dead in the eschaton, the last days. They are proclaiming that the resurrection to life is only made possible by the very real resurrection that Jesus already experienced. ‘Oh boy, we thought we were done with this Jesus when we made sure the Romans put him on a cross, and we know he was confirmed as dead and placed in a tomb. But then that tomb turned up empty, and we’ve been crossing our fingers, knowing we might have a problem.’
    How do they handle those whom they oppose?
    This is the M.O. (modus operandi) of all who cling to their power and authority: First, use your position to intimidate and threaten. (As they do in this section of Acts with the believers, first see if you can shut them up by throwing your weight around. ‘You’re a smart car. We’re a semi-truck. Get out of our way.’) Next, spread lies about them. If that doesn’t work, try to manipulate the situation as to have something legitimate-sounding to bring your opponent down. And finally, if all else fails, make sure they stop breathing.
    But these people are literally eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. A bit of threatening, lying, and manipulation won’t work. Even killing some of us won’t work. We know where we’re going, and we know whose side we’re on. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is gonna keep building his church. If death could not hold him, no opposition can hold him down.
    So as a bit of application inserted here, we as believers must take a biblical view of such opposition to the gospel.
    Opposition is confirming. Opposition creates opportunity. Opposition is in God’s control.
    -My mind often goes quickly to 2 Tim. 3:12 (“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”), as a reminder that opposition is inevitable. But it is not only inevitable, it is in fact confirming. Consider these passages also:
    Matthew 5:10–12 ESV
    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    Opposition for the sake of Christ is a confirmation that you are in fact on God’s side! Here’s another:
    John 15:20 ESV
    Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
    Again, here is confirmation that you belong to your Master, Jesus. Secondly, here is confirmation that persecutors are opposing God ultimately, not us. And finally, there is confirmation that God is drawing his own to himself through the message that we proclaim, in spite of opposition.
    -So too, here are some quick examples that opposition creates opportunity for gospel advance: In the very next verses Peter gets to preach the gospel to the whole Sanhedrin, the highest level of religious leadership in all of Israel. Soon in Acts we’ll observe that it is persecution that brings about the gospel’s spread beyond Jerusalem, as Jesus promised. Toward the end of Acts, we’ll see the fulfilment of Paul’s desire to preach Christ in Rome, but that such opportunity finally arises when he is carried there under duress, awaiting trial before Caesar.
    -My third thought here about opposition is one of comfort, because we know that God is in control. He is sovereign. God is providentially controlling both the opposition we face as well as continuing to make disciples of Jesus. Opposition confirms our standing in Christ, opposition creates opportunities for gospel advance (and spiritual growth), and we can have comfort when opposition arises because we trust God’s control of all things.
    What we see in v. 4 of our text is that very thing:
    While opposition commences against the Apostles, what is God doing?
    God is bringing people to saving faith in Jesus. - How has God chosen to accomplish this? He does so through the message of Jesus declared by his followers in the power of the Holy Spirit. What is “the word” that they hear? Jesus is Lord and Christ, through whom God offers forgiveness to those who repent and believe, but also through whom God will judge those who reject grace and insist on self-righteousness.
    And by God’s grace, some do believe. In this case, many (a large number) believe; the total count of Jesus’ disciples rises to 5000 men (making the actual total, including women and children, probably over 10,000).
    Here’s one more thing that really intrigues me in this summary statement from Luke in v. 4: Do you notice that it is precisely while Peter and John are being hauled off to be intimidated that many more people are responding in belief? I’m just picturing this in my mind, and I love it. The two most prominent Apostles are arrested and put in custody (eg., jailed overnight), but the rest of the Apostles and disciples are still there. No doubt they are answering questions, clarifying, teaching, and explaining to the new believers what the next steps are for being involved and connected to the new community in Christ.
    Meanwhile, what’s going on with Peter and John?
    Acts 4:5–12 ESV
    On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
    Wow, that reply is truly astonishing, and compelling. How does it come about that Peter is able to give such…

    A Bold Answer Under Pressure (vv. 5-12)

    Boldness is important not just in this section of Acts, but conceptually critical in all of Acts. Before we get to where this boldness comes from and what that empowering emboldens us to answer, we need to first look at vv. 5&6 to see who the group is who does the interrogating and what their primary question is which creates the opportunity for Peter’s answer.
    Who gathers for this high-pressure interrogation?
    The “rulers and elders and scribes” is almost certainly a reference to the Sanhedrin, the 71-member ruling body that served as the highest Jewish court in the land. (This same “council” is referenced in verse 15, another indication that this is the Sanhedrin. All or most of its members would likely have been present.) - Imagine being questioned before the supreme court.
    Those mentioned in verse 6 are those of the high priestly household (“all who were of the high priestly family”). Although Caiaphas was the official high priest at this time, his father-in-law Annas was the former high priest who was still highly influential and apparently retained the title after leaving office. (much like our presidents of the United States… but more than that, he seems to be the controlling personality) The other two figures are completely unknown to us, John and Alexander, unless this John is the same as Jonathan who becomes the next high priest in AD 37.
    What else is there to say about this band of leaders? These are the very same ones who only months earlier had arrested Jesus, tried him before the Sanhedrin, and then delivered him up to Pilate and demanded that he be executed. Are Peter and John aware of this? You know they are. The situation is intimidating, and potentially life-threatening.
    What is the line of questioning?
    “By what power or by what name did you do this?” The “this” clearly refers to healing a man who had never walked a day in his life, who apparently now stands in their midst (“this man,” v. 9). We, the readers of Acts, know that Peter had already declared that the power for these things came through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had given them (Ac 2:33, Ac 3:12,16). This is the very same power by which Jesus had performed his miracles and taught with such authority. It is the power and authority of God. Peter and John have no power and authority, but Jesus does.
    See, I think these religious leaders already know the answer to the second part of the question too: “by what name.” They are likely confirming what they already suspect and are hearing is going on. It’s no wonder they are “greatly annoyed.” They tried killing Jesus, and their Jesus problem is only getting bigger. That’s true precisely because Jesus didn’t stay dead!
    Now, to these questions, Peter gives an astonishingly direct and powerful answer, without being disrespectful (“rulers of the people and elders”. But…
    Where does Peter’s boldness come from?
    I know, it’s hard for us to relate to this because Peter has always proven to be a model of spiritual bravery. It’s not like these chosen Apostles all fled when Jesus was arrested, and that Peter denied that he knew Jesus even to a servant girl. … Wait, that’s exactly what happened.
    In the flesh, Peter isn’t courageous. If we think we’re courageous in the flesh, there’s actually a better word—foolish. David killed the giant not because he was confident Goliath was actually a big teddy bear. Sure, David’s practice made him confident in his skill with a sling, but more importantly, David was ferociously zealous for the glory of his God, in whom he had complete confidence.
    I fear that I too have not been a model of courage. (yes, the irony there is intentional) God is using this text in my life as we speak. So where did Peter get the courage to speak so boldly? Where will I get the courage to not fear man but to be bold about truth in one on one scenarios, in smaller groups, and not only in the pulpit?
    By the filling of the Spirit, being controlled by the Spirit. Remember these promises from Jesus?
    Acts 1:8 ESV
    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    That’s the thesis statement for the book we’re studying. Earlier Jesus has also comforted and promised them the following:
    Luke 12:11–12 ESV
    And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
    With the Spirit-inspired courage and confidence to speak, to act in spite of the danger…
    How does Peter answer?
    The implications of the situation and question lead Peter to naturally focus on Jesus. “By what name did you do this” is to Peter what a fast-ball right down the middle is for Aaron Judge. Why yes, thank you.
    Who is the source of this man’s healing? Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
    vv. 9-10a … and “by him this man is standing before you well.” (10c)
    Who is the foundational One whom you rejected? The risen Jesus.
    … whom you crucified, [but] whom God raised from the dead… then v. 11. Peter is quoting…
    Psalm 118:22 ESV
    The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
    This is literally the perfect indictment of the religious leaders. The promised Messiah came, and you rejected and killed him. However, this Lord lives, and he is the cornerstone of his people, the new covenant church.
    Whose name is the only one that can save? The Lord Jesus.
    Peter’s argument goes like this: Jesus is the reason this man is miraculously healed. Not only that, but Jesus has fulfilled messianic prophecy, and so has your rejection fulfilled prophecy. But no matter how much you oppose him, you cannot win because God has exalted him and will continue to exalt him, for… v. 12.
    The verse emphasizes the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way of salvation (deliverance from judgment). But also implicit in the statement is an open invitation to the hearers to themselves repent of their prior rejection and be saved through Jesus.
    John 3:18 ESV
    Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
    This invitation, and exclusivity of Jesus as the only way, leads nicely into some…

    Concluding Applications:

    We know that we must be people marked by both truth and love. And it isn’t as if the two things are incompatible—love and truth.
    Isn’t it true that boldly proclaiming Christ is loving, precisely because it is true and eternally consequential?
    Boldly proclaiming Christ is loving, because it is true and of eternal consequence. In fact, a person’s acceptance or rejection of Jesus is the single most important decision of our brief lives, because one’s relationship to God is the single most consequential element of our existence.
    Here’s another question that arises from our study today:
    Is your loving behavior and truthful speech a “great annoyance” to the sin and self-righteousness of our day?
    Our sincere love for one another, and our compassion for the hurting and marginalized, should be convicting as well as compelling. Our bold proclamation of the gospel will be a great irritation to those who want to continue in their sin and self-righteousness. But just like Christ has loved us, we must be willing to sacrifice physical comfort for the ultimate good of others.
    Isn’t it axiomatic that courage necessarily means there exists a challenge that might cause us to cower?
    We all crave comfort and rest, but we might be looking for it in the wrong places.
    And is your courage for the gospel a source of encouragement, a morale booster, a confidence enhancer for fellow Christians?
    Paul penned these words to the Philippians while under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial before Caesar:
    Philippians 1:12–14 ESV
    I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
    Our testimony is not only convicting to the world, but by it God also encourages our fellow workers to strengthen their hands (cf. Neh. 6:9).
    Finally then, where will you turn for courage? In whom will you trust to give you confidence to boldly speak truth?
    If you will pray and obey, will God give you boldness?
    You can’t forever go on praying for courage to cross the raging sea but never step into the boat. You can’t indefinitely pray for God to strengthen your hands and never take up the oars. We experience the proof of God’s promises when we obey. And as we obey, we pray so that we will abide in the only one who is sufficient to see us through.
    LET’S PRAY.
    ---
      • Acts 4:1–4ESV

      • Matthew 5:10–12ESV

      • John 15:20ESV

      • Acts 4:5–12ESV

      • Acts 1:8ESV

      • Luke 12:11–12ESV

      • Psalm 118:22ESV

      • John 3:18ESV

      • Philippians 1:12–14ESV

    • Holy Holy Holy (Jesus Reigns)

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