The Sovereign Lord; Acts 4:23-31

Main Point: Depend on the Sovereign Lord.

Our goal is fairly simple and wonderful: we want to rest in the sovereignty of God. We want to rest in the sovereignty of God such that we pray to him and he strengthens us. Church, we are summoned each day to depend on the Sovereign Lord.

Last week, from Acts 4:13-22, we learned from the example of Peter and John. We are to be men and women of boldness, sharing the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, for the healing of our neighbors. Opposition and orders must not stop us. Like Peter and John, we must continue seeking to do good so that the people around us praise God.

Today, from Acts 4:23-31, we learn from the example of the church. Just as Peter and John followed the pattern of Jesus, so also the church followed the pattern of Jesus. Their focus was on the Sovereign God who strengthens his people. Our focus must be on the Sovereign God who strengthens his people.

Let’s dig into the Word, Acts 4:23-31

Here we see the church at prayer. John and Peter are released, and they go to their own; to their own people or friends. Here again, is the growing distinction between the people of God being those who depend on Jesus and the unbelieving Jews being outsiders. Jesus defines the people of God, not Judaism. It’s important to note, before we get into their prayer, that prayer is the normal thing Christians do. They gathered up to pray. Remember Acts 2:42 and the marks of the early church, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Praying together is a normal part of the bold and fruitful Christian life. Let’s look at their prayer and follow their example.

Verse 24, check out how they started their prayer, “they lifted up their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.’”

Together, they knew that

I. God is the boss

This word translated as Lord or Sovereign Lord is not a common word for addressing God in prayer. Often, God is addressed as Father or as Lord using the Greek word kurios. Here we have the Greek word despotes. In English, we’ve made the word despot negative, but this was not the case in 1st century Greek writing. The word refers positively to the absolute ruler of a home. A helpful example is found in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house ready for every good work.”

The master of the house is the lord of the house, the absolute ruler and owner of the house. The best English translation is sovereign. So, we affirm that

  • God is sovereign

Now we need to ask what God is sovereign over; what are the limits of God’s great house? Thankfully, Acts 4:24 defines the limits of God’s sovereignty, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” God is the absolute ruler of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. God’s great house, over which he rules, is all of creation and all creatures. God rules the angels, the demons, the people, the animals, the plants, the weather, the land, the sea, and the sky. God is sovereign over everything and everyone.

Here’s more good news. The sovereign God is not silent; the sovereign God speaks. The prayer of verse 25 is the prayer of a people thankful for God’s word that makes sense of our lives. God, “who spoke through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit.” These people know the word of God and are now applying the patterns of Scripture to their lives. What God said about David applies to Jesus and therefore applies to Jesus’ people. What happened to David foreshadows what will happen to Jesus and since we follow Jesus’ example, we should expect the same to happen to us.

Before we move into the content of this prophecy, take note of the Trinity. It is God, the Sovereign Lord, who is speaking. This refers to God the Father. It is God, the Holy Spirit, who is inspiring David to write these words. It is God, the Son, who is the subject of this prophecy. Verse 26 points to the Lord’s Christ, the Lord’s anointed. God the Father speaks through God the Spirit about God the Son.

The content of David’s prophecy is the Gentiles rage against God. This, verse 27, is a reference to Jesus, Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews. We’ll take the details in moment. For now, let’s keep with the thread of sovereignty. What did all these people do? Read verse 28, “whatever God’s hand and God’s plan had predestined to take place.” The King James gives a helpful translation, “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Here is a reference to God’s mind; he planned beforehand for Jesus, Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews to do these things. Here is a reference to God’s strength, it is God’s strong hand that ensures his plan is fulfilled. Plans without power are pointless.

Take note how the sovereignty of God has been Peter’s theme. Acts 2:23, “Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” In Acts 3:18, Peter affirms that God predicted the suffering of Christ and actively guided the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Here is the significance of the sovereignty of God for the early Church: God has a plan and God is working the plan. God’s plan is to redeem his people and his creation through the suffering of his Son. God’s plan will be opposed by every sort of people, but God will strengthen his own to fulfill the mission. Knowing God’s plan to strengthen his suffering people, the early church gathers together to pray for God’s help to fulfill the mission. They pray for God to give them boldness and miracles so that they can continue to tell people about the resurrection of Jesus. Affirming the sovereignty of God led them to pray for the strength of God.

There is a theological affirmation here: God is the boss. There is also a warning here:

II. Don’t fight against God

The church prays Psalm 2 because they know the pattern of history. The Gentiles rage against the Lord and against his Anointed. The people make their plans to oppose God’s plan. The kings stand up against God’s plan. The rulers make alliances to try and thwart God’s plan. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are gladly and willingly opposing God’s sovereign plan.

The idea that if God is sovereign this means people are puppets is an argument based on philosophy not based on the Bible. In the Bible we don’t see puppets mindlessly doing the will of God against their own will. In the Bible we see men and women willingly and ferociously doing the will of God. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are doing exactly what they want to do when they oppose the Lord and his anointed. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are doing exactly what God’s hand and plan had predestined to take place when they oppose the Lord and his anointed.

Now remember, this prayer is a prayer according to the pattern of history. So, the warning is for us

  • We rage against God’s plans

Let’s think for a moment about why Ephesians 2:3 says we are by nature children of wrath. Every human is born with a heart that rages against God. We are born wanting to be sovereign. Why does the toddler refuse to eat when hungry and sleep when tired? Because that toddler would rather battle you for her sovereignty than go your way. Why does the child disobey your instructions that are for his good? He wants to be sovereign and who cares if his running away runs him into the street? Why do we reject God’s good plan for our families and finances? We are all desperate to fulfill the desire inside of us to be in control.

Herod wants to be in control. Pilate wants to be in control. The Romans wants to be in control. The Jewish leaders want to be in control. I want to be in control. You want to be in control. We all want to be God. We rage against God and every expression of God’s authority in our lives. But,

  • God is sovereign

It is common and quite natural to hate the idea of God’s sovereignty because we all love the idea of our own independent self-rule. I don’t want to be ruled; I want to rule! Satan fell into sin because Satan was enamored with the idea of being God. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was in love with the idea that he was in control. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was in love with the idea that he was in control. I wake up every morning in love with the idea that I control the day and will shape it according to my hand and my definite plan.

Back to Ephesians 2, verse 10 this time, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. God’s plan is to sanctify me and bring redemption to those around me. The way God has determined to bring redemption is through Jesus Christ turning rebels into humble servants. The cost of this transfer from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son is the very life of Christ. Jesus transforms his enemies by dying for his enemies. Were it not for the sovereignty of God, this plan would be such a foolish risk. But we know, listening to God’s word and looking at history, that God is sovereignly working his plan of redemption. God is working in and through our rebellion. God is working in and through the rebellion of our children and coworkers and neighbors. This gives us strong encouragement to

III. Depend on the sovereign Lord

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Acts 4:24-30 is a communal prayer. The church has gathered together to hear from Peter and John. Their natural response was to pray because prayer is dependence upon the sovereign Lord. Here are three reasons to pray. First,

  • We pray because we are rebels

These Christians in Acts 4 knew they needed help to fulfill God’s will. There is no idea here that God is going to do whatever God wants to do so my choices don’t matter. God’s sovereignty in no way removes our responsibility. God is in control and we willingly choose. Knowing their tendency to run from difficulty in order to protect their own comfort, these Christians pray for God’s help to keep preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God you must stretch out your hand to heal. God you must grant that signs and wonders be done in Jesus’ name. The Gentiles are raging against the church like they raged against Jesus like they raged against David. Give us strength and give us boldness.

We pray because we are a rebellious people and we dwell among a rebellious people. God’s will is for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. God’s will is for wives to submit to the benevolent leadership of their husbands. God’s will is for children to obey their parents, citizens to obey their leaders, and for each of us to love our neighbors. But, we don’t want to.

The reason I don’t pray is because I have bought into the lie that I am sovereign. Think about it. Why does Satan live a life of prayerlessness? Satan does not pray because he is convinced of the idea that going his own way is infinitely better than going God’s way. May God grant us the ability to see the deep-rooted rebellion that lurks in ourselves. May God grant us the strength and boldness and ability to give ourselves for the redemption of the rebels all around us.

We pray because we are rebels and

  • We pray because we are dependent

The praying Christian is the dependent Christian. I can’t change myself. I can’t change my coworker. I can’t change my spouse. I can’t change my child. Sovereign God, stretch out your hand to heal because my hand has no strength. Sovereign God, grant signs and wonders that will point the rebellious to Jesus. Sovereign God, teach me your Word so that I can teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you (Ps 51:13).

I want to run and hide from suffering and sacrifice. I want my own ease and comfort. I do not want my neighbor’s redemption. I want my child to leave me alone I do not want to point her to Jesus. Feeling our rebellious tendencies and feeling our weaknesses causes us to pray. We are dependent upon God. We pray because we are insufficient and

  • We pray because God is sovereign

Angela and I went to Trader Joe’s last week and bought a pumpkin. Imagine that I decided to pray to that pumpkin to accomplish that pumpkin’s will in my life. I might feel spiritual and empowered by praying to the pumpkin, but that prayer would be pointless because that pumpkin is powerless. The reason we pray to God is because he is the boss of heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them. We pray to God because, Philippians 2:13, God works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. We pray to God because, Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

We pray to God because he can actually do something about our situations. God is infinitely greater than my pumpkin. We pray to God because he has not created a world of robots who mindlessly obey his will. We pray to God because we have chosen a world where we are rebels. We pray to God because he has chosen a world where rebels are transformed through the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. You will not find strength by forming an idol who has neither the power nor the desire to rescue rebels. We find strength in the sovereign God who has a plan and is working his plan regardless of our plans. May the Sovereign Lord grant us repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that we may come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Tim 2:25-26).

God is working his plan in you. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. God is working his plan in your family. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. God is working his plan in your work. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. Let us pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we speak the word of God with boldness. Let’s rest in the sovereignty of God.

Discuss Acts 4:23-31

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. How do you define the sovereignty of God? How sovereign is God?
  3. Acts 4:24 defines God as the master of the house (the Sovereign Lord). According to Acts 4:24, what are the boundaries or limits of God’s house?
  4. Why is it necessary for the Sovereign Lord to speak to us?
  5. There is a pattern here of rebels fighting against God (Acts 4:25-27). Describe how this looked in David’s life, Jesus’ life, and now in your life.
  6. What does Acts 4:28 say the people did?
  7. What was primary in the crucifixion of Jesus, the will of the people or the will of God?
  8. How did the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage the church to pray in Acts 4?
  9. How should the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage you to pray?
  10. Did the people resign themselves to the idea that God is going to do whatever God wants to do so their prayers don’t matter? Why should we pray?
  11. Think of one person you know who is living as a rebel against God. Pray and ask God to give you the boldness to talk to him/her about Jesus.

Prayer and Bold Evangelism

If we would deliver the testimony of the risen Christ, characterized by the boldness of clarity and courage, we need right convictions concerning God, concerning His Son, and the constant reception of power by the inflow of the Holy Spirit. The last is the issue of the former. It is God, who is the sovereign Lord, All-wise, actually governing, to whom we must ever turn. It is Christ, who is sinless, the anointed and appointed Messiah, who accomplished through death the purpose of God, to whom we must go. In proportion as we are submitted to Christ, and wait in prayer upon God, there will ever come to us that inflow of the Spirit which will make us bold to proclaim the evangel; and great results may and must follow where the Church is thus convinced and Spirit-filled.

G. Campbell Morgan on Acts 4:23-31

Discuss Acts 4:13-22

  • In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  • If a person defined what it meant to be a disciple by watching your life this past week, what would be the definition?
  • A disciple is a learner, follower, or reflection of Jesus. How can you take one step toward becoming more like Christ?
  • Consider if unhealthy comparisons to others are holding you back from doing the good things God has called you to do. What is greater in your life, the awareness of your weaknesses or boasting in Jesus’ strength?
  • Who are you seeking to imitate (1 Corinthians 11:1)? Who is imitating you?
  • Where do you see evidence of being sealed by the Holy Spirit? Recount a time when you were filled by the Holy Spirit to accomplish some task or ministry.
  • If you love like Jesus you will be persecuted. How do you prepare for this? If you are experiencing opposition, how do you endure with love and joy?
  • When is is right to obey the governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7) and when is it right to disobey the governing authorities (Acts 4:19-20)?
  • Worship fuels witness. Describe your work as an ambassador and witness of Christ. Are you disobedient, fearful, or worshipping?
  • What can you do so that others praise God?

The Resurrection; Acts 4:1-12

Main Point: The resurrected Jesus is working to build his church.

 

We are a people who hold to the absolute necessity of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, we can do nothing! But why is that? How did the exclusivity of Christ come to be? Should it be? Isn’t it demeaning and barbaric to tell another person that he must believe in Jesus in order to truly know God or enjoy the next life? Can’t we just settle down and let people honestly hold their own beliefs? Come on, why is the Christian faith any better than other faiths? I mean, if you were born in another country, wouldn’t you just adopt that country’s religion?

And while we are turning down the heat on belief, shouldn’t we turn down the heat on public religion in general? I mean, it’s okay to believe whatever you want, as long as that belief stays in the privacy of your own home. Don’t bring your religion to school or work or the public square.

Thankfully, faith in Jesus and the consequences of faith in Jesus are the focus of Acts 4:1-12. Jesus, through Peter and John, healed the man born paralyzed. This man’s subsequent walking, leaping, and praising God drew a crowd. Peter and John then preached Jesus in all his glory calling the people to repent and believe in Jesus.

But remember, Peter and John are preaching Christ in the temple. The temple is the place for truth to be taught and defended. As we see in Acts 4:1-12, the guys who crucified Jesus are not very open to the disciples telling everyone that Jesus has been raised and is working powerfully to fulfill all of God’s promises.

The theme of resurrection has been coursing through Acts 1, 2, and 3. Now, as we begin chapter 4, the resurrection is again central. Let’s read Acts 4:1-12 and seek, by the Spirit’s help to understand and believe these truths.

Read Acts 4:1-12

Church, this truth is for us.

I. We are witnesses to the resurrection (1-4)

God’s call on each of our lives is that we will know Christ and make him known. This is what Peter and John are doing.

  • Peter and John were teaching the people

Verse 1 sets the scene, Peter and John are teaching in the temple. Peter and John are teaching, and a group of heavyweights comes upon them all kinds of mad at them. Look at Acts 4:2, they are “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”

We see the basic content of their teaching in Acts 3. Jesus is the suffering Savior, a better Moses, a better David, and the source of Abraham’s blessing. A key to understanding Acts 4 is understanding who the Sadducees were in that day. Basically, the Sadducees were the ruling party of the Jews. The high priest and his family were of the Sadducees. The Sadducees controlled the religious practice of the day. They controlled the temple, the sacrifices, and the teaching. The High Priest was a Sadducee and the captain of the temple was a Sadducee. To put it simply, the priests and the police were Sadducees.

Theologically, the Sadducees were materialists. They believed in only the material. There are no angels or demons and no Holy Spirit. They held to only the first five books of the Old Testament. They believed that at death the soul and body died so there is no afterlife or resurrection. There also are no miracles. It appears the Sadducees also believed that the messiah was only an idea that found its fulfillment during the days of the Maccabees (F. F. Bruce).

The Sadducees were greatly annoyed that Peter and John are claiming a miracle happened because Jesus the Messiah died, rose again, and is pouring out his Holy Spirit on God’s believing people. And besides the theological disagreement, the Sadducees are dependent upon the Romans who are ruling the land at this time. The Sadducees are in control politically also; they are the priests, police, and politicians.

Everything Peter and John are doing and saying is challenging everything the Sadducees are doing and saying. The central issue is the resurrection

  • Peter and John were preaching in Jesus the resurrection

Acts 4:2, “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.”

Now, alongside the Sadducees is another religious group called the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a much smaller and less influential group but still powerful in their own right. The Pharisees did believe in miracles and in the resurrection. But the Pharisees held to a general resurrection at the end of time. The Pharisees had no concept of the resurrection of one, much less the resurrection of the Messiah (Bock, 187). This means no one was expecting a crucified and resurrected Messiah. The Sadducees who controlled the temple and the teaching denied the resurrection. The Pharisees, disciples of John, and disciples of Jesus all had no concept of a suffering and raised Messiah.

So, when Jesus rises from the dead and pours out his Holy Spirit to empower his people, this is a new thing. The resurrection isn’t just a hope; the resurrection has begun!

It is John, now teaching and preaching in Acts 4, who records Jesus’ words, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:25-29).

Peter and John are teaching the people that the promised Messiah, the better Moses, the better David, and the blessing of Abraham have come in the crucified and resurrected Jesus. Know this,

  • Teaching and preaching bring results

One result of faithful teaching and preaching is opposition. Peter and John were arrested because they were preaching and teaching. Peter and John are ultimately commanded to stop preaching and teaching. In chapter 5, the apostles are arrested and beaten for preaching and teaching. In chapter 7, Stephen is killed for teaching the people and preaching the resurrection. The truth is always opposed. But John Stott puts it well, “The Sadducees could arrest the apostles, but not the gospel” (96). One result of faithful preaching and teaching is opposition. The other result is salvation.

Look at Acts 4:4, “But many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Three thousand believe at Pentecost and the number of believers grows steadily to five thousand. The Sadducees have to do something to stop what they perceive as an attack on truth and their way of life. Peter and John are arrested and forced to give a defense. Here is

II. How to give a defense (5-12)

The first thing you need to do is

  • Expect the gatekeepers to call you to give a defense

In this situation, the gatekeepers are, verse 5, the rulers and elders and scribes with the high priest and the high-priest’s family. Now we are adding the equivalent of our lawyers and our supreme court. These are the first century gatekeepers: priests, police, politicians, lawyers, and supreme court. Since trade is controlled by the Romans and the Romans are in control of the priests, there is no area of life outside the realm of these gatekeepers.

Today the gatekeepers are similar. We have priests, police, and politicians. We have lawyers and courts. Add to this human resource departments and the power of large corporations. These gatekeepers tell us what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Facebook will shut you down. Twitter will cut you off. The central issue is no longer the resurrection, but power is still being wielded against the truth. If you want to work, you have to think this way about gender and sexuality. If you want to win the contract, then you must pass these laws and reject those laws. If you want our business in your state, then you have to deny your religious beliefs and do what we say.

The gatekeepers are still here and still enforcing their standards. One way or the other, if you teach the truth and preach the resurrection of Jesus, then expect opposition. When opposition comes

  • Depend on the Holy Spirit

Jesus told Peter and John, “everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God…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” (Luke 12:8-12).

This is just my imagination, but I imagine Peter and John in chains. Peter says to John, “What are we going to do? What are we going to say?” John replies, “Remember what our Lord said, ‘the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. The Spirit poured out on us, the Spirit healing through us, He will tell us what to say. Depend on the Holy Spirit.”

Listen to Romans 8:14, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Do not worry about what you will say tomorrow. Instead, focus yourself on following the Spirit today. The Christian following the Holy Spirit according to the word in his home and in his work will be the Christian who follows the Holy Spirit in days of opposition and persecution. Don’t worry about what you will say tomorrow. Instead, concern yourself with following the Holy Spirit today

Back to Acts 4 verse 7, the gatekeepers demand that Peter and John explain, “By what power or by what name did they heal the paralyzed man.” Expect opposition, depend on the Spirit, and

  • Preach Christ

Read verses 8-10

Max Anders makes an insightful comment when he says, “Peter and John could have said, ‘God did it’ and been dismissed. Bringing the truth of Christ brought opposition” (Anders, 60). Most cultures are okay with vague religion that does good to the poor but makes no demands on the hearts of men. It’s okay to open hospitals, teach people to read, and feed the hungry, but the minute you start talking about personal guilt, practical holiness, and eternal consequences then you’ll have problems.

Peter and John are relentless concerning the fact that these men crucified Jesus of Nazareth. In Acts 4:10, Acts 3:15, Acts 2:36, and Acts 2:23 the same message is proclaimed, “You killed Jesus, but God raised him from the grave.”

This is amazing because it was only a few weeks ago that Peter and John were at Caiaphas’s house and Peter was terrified by the questions of a young girl (John 18:15-18). The girl could do little to Peter, but Peter is afraid and denied Christ. Now, the same men who killed Jesus are questioning Peter and Peter preaches Christ. This is the power of the Holy Spirit working to transform a man. Expect opposition, depend on the Holy Spirit, and preach Christ. Let’s get specific on that point

III. How to preach the true Christ

Peter and John preach Christ with power and clarity. If Peter and John were cooking a meal it would be the thickest richest steak. The gatekeepers want us to go no further than a paper-thin slice of turkey, but life is found in the riches of Christ. Let’s chew on the truth found in this defense.

  • Jesus is the second person of the Trinity

There is no room here for the idea that Jews, Muslims, and Christians worship the same God. The true God is Trinitarian. In verse 10 we have a reference to Jesus of Nazareth; that is our fully human reference. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was born of a virgin and lived a fully human life. That’s the Jesus we’re talking about. The only begotten son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, was crucified by the Jerusalem Jews and raised by God (v10). Remember our Bible study principle that anytime you see a reference to Jesus and to God we’re looking at God the Son and God the Father. God the Son was raised by God the Father and then poured out God the Holy Spirit to empower his church to be his witnesses. True Christianity is unashamedly Trinitarian.

John and Peter are pressing the religious leaders to embrace the reality of the Trinitarian God. God is three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father while the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. The Father sent the Son, the Son died, the Father raised the Son, and the Father and the Son sent the Spirit. There is a deep well in the glories of the Trinitarian God. There is safety, security, relationship, and love in the Trinitarian God. When we preach Christ, we must settle for nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, fully God and fully man for our salvation.

Jesus is the second person of the Trinity and

  • Jesus is the resurrected Healer

The Jerusalem Jews did not deny the existence of Jesus, just as most people today will not deny that a man named Jesus existed in 1st century Israel. What the Jerusalem Jews denied, and most people today deny, is that Jesus is fully God, was crucified then raised, is currently bringing refreshing through his church, and will soon return to restore all things. Look at how Peter and John put it in verse 10, “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.” Who healed this man? The Jesus whom you crucified has been raised and he healed this man. Darrell Bock levels the charge, “If Jesus is healing, then he is alive, vindicated by God, and they are culpable for his death” (Acts, 192).

Peter and John have no money and they have no power. Peter and John have nothing to offer in and of themselves. But Jesus is the resurrected healer. Jesus is working by his Spirit in his church to bring refreshing. We pray to God and ask for healing because Jesus is the resurrected healer.

Preach Jesus the second person of the Trinity. Preach Jesus the resurrected healer. And preach

  • Jesus is the Cornerstone

Listen to Acts 4:11, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Peter is quoting Psalm 118:22. Originally, Psalm 118:22 was a reference to David who was despised and rejected by the leaders but made a mighty king by God. Psalm 118:22 can also be applied to Israel that was a despised and rejected nation that became the people of God. Either way, those are foreshadows of the true and better stone who is Christ the Lord. The builders are obviously the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the priests, the police, and the politicians. They think they are building the people of God, but they are using the wrong stones and building the wrong building. They are 100% convinced they are doing God’s work, but they are 100% opposing God’s work because they have rejected God’s Son and Messiah.

The picture is a builder walking through a quarry, finding what could be the cornerstone of the building, but then rejecting it because of its faults. Maybe you reject Jesus the cornerstone because you don’t like his radical demand for your total allegiance, maybe you don’t like Jesus’ rules for sexuality and marriage, maybe you don’t like Jesus’ love for his enemies, maybe you don’t like Jesus’ rules for money and lending, praying or fasting. For hundreds of reasons people try to pick and choose only what they like about Jesus. But in the end this false and impotent Jesus has no stability for life. You may feel like you can control your Jesus or maybe your Jesus is more agreeable to your sensibilities, but the true Jesus is the Cornerstone. I can create an idol with my hands, with my mind, or with my theology. I can even call that idol Jesus but calling my idol “Jesus” doesn’t make my idol able to save. Only the true Jesus can uphold your life by his power, and he set the lines of your life with his life.

The fact that Jesus is fully God, resurrected healer, and cornerstone leads to the climax

  • Jesus is the only Savior

Look at Acts 4:12, “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.” There is no other God. There is one God who exists in three persons. The Father has sent his Son as savior of the world (1 John 4:14). There is no other source of healing than the resurrected Healer. There is no other foundation for the temple of God than Christ Jesus the cornerstone. God has not provided many routes up the mountain or many ways to heaven. The true God has provided one way to be restored to him and it is through the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is the only creator, sustainer, redeemer, and restorer.

The glorious Trinitarian God who created all things as a display of his glory is the glorious Trinitarian God who directs all things for the purpose of restoring all things through Jesus. The Triune God is our creator, our sustainer and our goal. We cannot get to God except by him. It is so dangerous that we can get to the “not-God” of our imaginations in a million ways but we can only get to the true God through his only Son. The Father has planned from eternity passed to glorify his Son by making his Son the only means of salvation. The Father planned to display the worth of his Son by making Jesus the only way a person can be reconciled with God. To save someone apart from faith in Jesus Christ would be to demean Christ himself. To save someone part form faith in Jesus Christ would be to deny the very purpose for which the Father sent this Son. The Father sent the Son to be the savior of the world. There is salvation in no one else. There is abundant salvation in Christ.

There is salvation and refreshing and forgiveness for you. I have preached Christ to you, now I plead with you to believe. Repent of your sins, believe in Christ crucified and raised, and you will be saved. This Christ is for you; receive him today. Pray to the Father admitting your sin, asking for forgiveness because of the Son, and asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that you can live a new life. God is God, he will care for you.

Discuss Acts 4:1-12

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. How dependent are you on Jesus for your daily conversations with family, neighbors, and coworkers?
  3. How can you grow in your dependence on Christ? See John 15:5.
  4. What results do you often see when you talk to others about Jesus? Why do you get those results?
  5. Where in our day do we see gate keepers stopping the preaching and teaching of Christians? How should we respond?
  6. Read Luke 12:8-12. Is it wrong to think about how to defend the faith? Is it wrong to study your Bible? What is Jesus prohibiting in these verses?
  7. What is the significance of God being Trinity? Why does this matter for life and salvation?
  8. Jesus is alive, well, and healing. What should you do in response?
  9. Where is the evidence in your life that Jesus is the cornerstone? Where is the evidence in the church that Jesus is our cornerstone?
  10. Why is Jesus the only way a person can be saved?

Discuss Acts 3:17-26

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. In what ways have you found repentance to be refreshing?
  3. What is God’s plan and how is God working that plan? See Acts 3:26.
  4. Why did God plan and send a suffering servant?
  5. Are your expectations of God accurate; do you expect too little from God or do you expect heaven on earth now? How do your expectations shape the way you think about God?
  6. Why do you wait for and long for the return of Jesus?
  7. Life and death are determined by listening to God’s word. How can you grow in your obedience to Jesus?
  8. What is the significance of Samuel’s prophecy of a forever king from the line of David?
  9. What blessing is Jesus bringing now? What blessing will Jesus bring when he returns?