Thursday, 20 August 2015

Daily Reading: Acts 4v5-22

Now the growing church faces the first of 3 threats to its existence in Acts 4-6.  Here the threat is of opposition and persecution.  We know we are to expect opposition and persecution but how are we to react to it? Do we fight fire with fire? Do we retreat? Do we listen to the authorities and obey? Do we privatise our faith?

As we think about those questions, very real ones that we face, if not in official ways certainly in subtle ways, we see the convictions and the result of those convictions that we need to share with Peter and John and the early Church. Convictions that if we don’t share we won’t stand in the face of opposition and the good news about Jesus won’t be shared with a world in need. In fact as a church we will retreat, becoming an irrelevance to the community we serve and an embarrassment to the name of Christ.

You can imagine the tension for Peter, these are the same leaders who tried and condemned Jesus.  The questions are similar to those Jesus faced about his authority and power.  Peter filled with the Spirit speaks boldly preaching Jesus, confronting the Sanhedrin with the truth that "Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved."  In response, v13, the Sanhedrin are amazed at the learning and understanding of the Apostles.  Why Because they are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit empowers and emboldens and equips.  Spirit filled boldness in the face of opposition is not naive fearlessness it is a trust in Jesus promise of the Spirits help.

The second conviction is that Jesus alone saves.  Peter boldly preaches Jesus because there is no other name by which people can be saved.  Even the Sanhedrin need to trust in Jesus.  Unless the church preaches Jesus the world is lost.  Opposition and persecution doesn't change the worlds need.

The final conviction is that God is sovereign over all, even opposition and persecution.  When the Sanhedrin try to silence them v17, Peter and John boldly declare that they have to listen to God v19-20.  God is sovereign and they must listen to him, "we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."  They won't keep their faith private, they won't stop telling people about Jesus.

We need those same convictions as we live as God's people following Jesus holding out the gospel empowered by the Spirit.  The Spirit is with us, Jesus alone saves and God is sovereign.

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