The Stand of #5001 - Acts 4:5-22 NIV
#1 - Authority’s challenge: Who gave you _______________ ?
“Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’” Acts 4:6-7 NIV
High Priesthood was a family business. Annas was the old high priest. Caiaphas (his son) the current High Priest. John and Alexander became the High Priests. They protected their power and their authority.
Christianity - at its root - is radical. Upsets the status quo. Because it is not of this world. The restoration of righteousness in the world means that things will not stay as they are. Those in power will always try to protect their power.
This is a very intimidating scene. 70 people in the Sanhedrian. Semi-circle and then place Peter & John in the center. Authority facing down their collective, authoritative noses at the two small disciples. “By what power or what name did you do this?” is not a question wanting information. More of a “Who do you think you are?” “Who gave you permission?” “By whose authority?” We want to know because we are IN authority and we did NOT give you authority.
#2 - The true power of authority: ________________ .
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… ‘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.’” Acts 4:8-10 NIV
Why “filled with Holy Spirit?” Luke wants us to be clear that this is not Peter alone. Not Peter’s boldness. Not Peter’s cleverness. Remember Peter’s response on the night of Jesus’ trial? He couldn’t even stand up to the questions of a little girl. Now here he is standing in front of 70 very intimidating men - THE authority of his religious background. If ever there was a time and place for Peter to back down and run away - this is it.
But he doesn’t? What is different? “filled with Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit - 3rd person of the Godhead residing inside of each Christian IS the ultimate authority! The ultimate power. The ultimate backbone. What we could never do ourselves God can accomplish through us when we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and His authority in our life.
The Holy Spirit also gives us clarity of thinking in debate. Jesus in Luke 12:11&12 - “Don’t worry about what you will say or defend yourselves in front of the synagogues and rulers and authorities. The Holy Spirit will teach you what to say!” Here it comes true just as Jesus predicted and promised!
#3 - Jesus is the _________________ of the church.
“Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12 NIV
So how did Holy Spirit teach Peter? Well since YOU asked about authority, let me explain authority and YOU! The authority is Jesus. This same Jesus YOU crucified. But guess what? He’s not dead! More alive than ever. So alive and full of power that it is by Jesus’ that this lame man was healed!
Jesus is not just a power, an authority. He is THE power. THE authority. There is no other name (authority, reputation) by which anyone is saved. He is THE CORNERSTONE of the church! Of this new faith that is just getting started. This is such a BIG DEAL that we talk about all humankind! Everywhere (under heaven.) WE must be saved - WE means you too!
Talk about boldness. Not the same Peter!
#4 - The courage to speak to authority with authority comes from __________________
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NIV
We must not mythologize the coming of the Holy Spirit as if it something we are zapped with. It is important. But let’s also not forget that Peter and John had spent 3 intensive years with Jesus. They were unschooled, uneducated in the traditional sense and so they were “ordinary.”
Anyone who spends anytime at all with Jesus will ultimately be changed in a profound way - the change will be astonishing! You do not need to go to seminary to be astonishing men and women! You simply need to spend time with Jesus.
Let us bring this full circle - unlike Peter and John - we do not have the physical presence of Jesus with whom we may live our lives. That is physically limiting. Only 12 lucky disciples with Jesus. But us? No limits. Why? Because we have the SPIRIT of Jesus!
In other words, we may have the courage of authority because we have the Holy Spirit upon us AND we have spent time with the Spirit of Jesus. It’s BOTH God empowered and human motivated. We move towards each other!
This story (sermon) is usually about Peter. But there is another…
#5 -Never underestimate the power of even one person ___________________
“But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.” Acts 4:14, 22 NIV
You may think it is obvious that the healed man would be standing there. But nothing obvious about it. Remember the 10 lepers who were healed? Only one came back and he was a Samaritan.
We all would rather run away from our prior condition once we are healed. No one wants to admit our own congenital illness. Our need for Jesus’ power. But there is power in admitting our need for help. (continuous need!)
AND there is something powerful to others when we stand up in the presence of others and in so doing admit our need for the miracle and the fact of the miracle in our lives. Peter’s voice was powerful and logical. But it was the evidence of this man literally standing that the religious leaders could not refute. “There was nothing they could say!”
#6 - Is my line of authority _________________ ?
“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:18-20 NIV
How did the religious authorities handle Peter and John? Warn them. Threaten them. We give you a pass the first time but don’t let it happen again. Most people in Peter and John’s shoes would have been quiet at that point and considered themselves lucky to receive no further punishment.
But no! What do they do? “We will not be quiet!” And they explain that it is a matter of the greater right! Do what you say or do what God says? This hearkened right back to their own religious roots: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15. Peter and John are saying the same thing - to the people who are supposed to be defending the house serving the Lord! Surely the irony was not lost on them that day.
Here’s the question we must deal with ourselves today. Who is our authority? Do we understand that God has the highest priority in our lives? In our thinking? In our philosophy? In our obedience? In our planning? In our families? In our daily activities? Is it more than lip service? Do I stand up for God and His righteousness and His authority?