Sunday, February 11, 2024
Locally: Opposition Rising
In our journey through Acts, we’ve seen Jesus restate the Great Commission to his disciples and ascend back to his Father in heaven. He promised that the Holy Spirit would come, and he did, on the Day of Pentecost as 3,000 people were saved and baptized. Those early followers of Jesus lived together in unity, taking care of one another, meeting needs and sharing Christ.
“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.’”John 15:20a
The Temple in Jerusalem played an important role in the early chapters of Acts. It was the largest, and most awe-inspiring sacred sight of the entire Roman Empire at the time. As the center of Jewish worship, it was originally constructed by Solomon around 1,000 BC. It was destroyed and rebuilt much smaller around 500 BC. Around 20 BC Herod the Great renovated and rebuilt it into what it was during the time of Christ. It was an ancient wonder of the world, the most prominent construction for hundreds of miles and was the center of Jewish worship, connection, and practice.
Main Idea: God’s Kingdom will Always be Opposed, but Never Fully Stopped
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, as said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name – by faith in his name – has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.’ 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.”Acts 3:1-4:4
I. God Does Something Amazing – Acts 3:1-10
• Upward: God affirmed the preaching of the Apostles.
“If you believe in God, you are acknowledging the possibility of miracles. You are either a committed, avowed atheist, or you allow the possibility of miracles. Those are the only two categories.”J.D. Greear
• Forward: Points to coming restoration.
“Miracles are not a suspension of the natural order, but a return to the natural order. Jesus’ healings are the only natural things in a world that is unnatural, demonized, and wounded.”Timothy Keller (Summarizing C.S. Lewis)
• Inward: Points to our soul’s sickness and need for salvation.
“But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’”Acts 3:6
• Downward: In relieving suffering, Peter & John suffered (4:1-4)
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12
II. Someone Shares the Gospel - Acts 4:11-26
“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.”Acts 3:14-15
“Ignorance does not remove the sinner’s guilt, but it does mitigate the circumstances.”Warren Wiersbe
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers… Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”Acts 3:17, 19-21
“Repentance is not just feeling sorry for your sins, it means feeling sorry enough to quit.”4th Grade Girl in Sunday School
III. There is A Very Typical Response – Acts 4:1-4
• Some Repent and Believe: Praise the Lord!
“But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”Acts 4:4
• Some Reject and Oppose: Praise the Lord!
“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.”Acts 4:1-3
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”Revelation 21:1-5a
Sources and Further Reading Opportunities:
CSB Study Bible – Trevin Wax, General Editor (2021)
The Bible Exposition Commentary – Warren Wiersbe (1996)
Word Pictures in the New Testament – A.T. Robertson (1933)
The New American Commentary: Acts – John B. Polhill (1992)
Acts: Bible Study Commentary – F.F. Bruce (2017)
Acts for Everyone – N.T. Wright (2008)
Acts: The Church Afire – Kent Hughes (1996)
Acts – K.O. Gangle (1998)
The Kingdom of God – Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1992)
Kingdom First – Jeff Christopherson (2015)
The Kingdom Agenda – Tony Evans (1999)
The Miracles & the Message – J.D. Greear (2013)
The First Miracle – Timothy Keller (2013)