Boldness, Togetherness, and other things I’ve observed while attempting to play Catch-Up
As said in Zak’s earlier post on chapter four, this passage in the Bible has two highlighting themes: boldness and oneness in the Spirit.
It’s said that Acts is nicknamed “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” and from what we’ve seen so far in this study, we know that the Spirit’s arrival literally shook up Jewish society. Upon receiving it, Jesus’ disciples spread out and declared His power through preaching and performing miracles. While reading, I find myself pausing to fathom how a group of people who were once lowly fishermen find the audacity to be politically incorrect (in the face of theocratic Pharisees) and hold an influence that allowed “thousands [of believers] to be added to their number daily.” Acts reminds me that the courage, wisdom, and insight to challenge traditions and change lives is not mustered up through ‘believing in yourself,’ but believing in the Spirit that we receive when we become Christians.
Acts 4:12 says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” This follows a passage where Peter and John respond to protests made against their healing of a crippled beggar, and Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, reminds the rulers that they rejected the very name that brought extraordinary healing. The “courage” that it takes to make such a remark will not stand unless it’s backed by something supernatural. The Holy Spirit’s empowerment of “unschooled, ordinary men” is evidence that
The passage also references different instances of unity among the believers, which shows us that the work of living for Christ and spreading the Good News is one that you need backup for. As someone with stubborn tendencies, I like the art of being and working on my own. However, this passage reminds me of the many times I’ve realized that a task or goal was impossible to complete solo, and a friend was always willing to support me. Having a partner or team, I think, also humbles us, because there’s someone to point out that we don’t always have the best strategy or the most valid answer. It especially reminds us that we are here to love and serve God, and not seek to fulfill selfish ambition.
The displays of boldness and unity in the works of Peter and John are blueprints of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. It’s freeing to know that we can accomplish a hefty task because we have supernatural backing, letting us know that God doesn’t just delegate, but provides.
4.1- The Sadduccees come up while Peter and John are speaking to the people, and it’s detailing here in the passage is a trend. Several times throughout the new testament, one will find that the Pharisees and elders are very keen on the opinions of the people and take note of the mob mentality before taking action against the followers of Christ. Because these elders are attached to their power and status, they can’t have valid authority without an audience.
4.12- Peter’s declaration of salvation being exclusive to life in Christ is bold. I like the fact that it’s a solid statement, because I’ve encountered strange theories of the existence of a “mother of Christ” and other weirdness. I like that this statement lays down Christianity very flatly, as in John 14 where Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to my father except through me.”
Another facet of Peter’s response is a strong takeaway; his readiness to answer. 1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” This tells me that there will always be someone to challenge you for what you believe, and we should be prepared to rise to the challenge.
4.19- Peter owns the elders again :”Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than obey God.” Essentially, Acts tells the story of the disciples’ obedience to Jesus’ command to “feed [His] sheep.” Peter brings up the virtue of obedience while respectfully suggesting that the elders check themselves, and leaves them speechless. I also like that Peter adds, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” There’s a way that this seems relatable. “What we have seen and heard.” Peter’s phrasing shows that the amazing feats they’ve accomplished are available to anyone who sees, hears and chooses to believe in Christ. Becoming a believer doesn’t require, say, all 5’s on your AP tests and a 2390 score on the SAT, just the act of faith.
4.23-“They raised their voices together in prayer or God.” Strength in numbers.
4.29- “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Another key to the kingdom! The believers unite to ask God for more boldness, recognizing what asset they need most to fight. I sometimes forget that God doesn’t just assign a project, but provides us with a direct line of access to Him. Prayer is more powerful than we realize.
4.30- “Through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Here, they make Jesus more accessible by referencing Him as a servant.
4.32- “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” This strikes me as the most extra-ordinary statement. One in heart and mind, and we’re talking thousands of people. For the body of Christ today to be one in heart and mind seems far-fetched. We’re torn apart by ideologies, judgment and shame from our struggles with sin, and this shows us that the early church learned how to put aside differences for the sake of a name infinitely larger than any of our own. With global access to each other, one would think that today’s believers could be more connected, yet we become Pharisees and critics to each other. The early church’s display of sacrificial unity is ultimately inspiring, and reminds me of Hillsong’s Hosanna.
“I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith…”
One can only hope :)