You won’t usually experience Satanic reistance directly. You’ll experience it as human resistance. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Act 4:16-31)
Let the Persecution Begin
Today’s Bible reading marks the start of persecuted church. From this point forward through the Book of Acts, believers will be persecuted for the simple act of telling others about their Savior.
Suffering for Doing Right
These Christians were not criminals. They we’re thieves or murderers. They weren’t trying to overthrow the government. They were arrested and threatened because God used them to perform a miracle. When they used the miracle as an opportunity to tell people about Jesus, the Jewish officials locked them up.
If you’re going to tell others about Christ, you have to accept the fact that you may suffer for it. You’ll have to embrace the idea of being treated wrong for doing right. For some Christians, that is one of the hardest parts of sharing the gospel. They are afraid of persecution. They don’t want to suffer for right. But as Peter said:
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1Pe 2:19-21)
We Ought to Obey God
Notice the apostles’ reaction to the threats of the Jewish leaders. They asked, “Do you think we should obey you, or God?” They said that they planned to keep on telling others about what they had seen and heard. They were determined to obey God, even if it meant disobeying their local government. If you’re going to share the gospel consistently, you’ll need the same determination.
Lord, Give Us Boldness
The apostled didn’t seem to think that their determination alone was enough to keep them sharing the good news. When they returned to the rest of the church, they had a prayer meeting. They didn’t go back and whine about how unfair it was for them to be treated this way. The focus of their prayer was not for God to keep them out of trouble. What they wanted more than anything else was for God to give them the courage to keep on being His witnesses in the world. They needed His power to do that. They had all promised to die with Jesus if necessary (Mar. 14:30-31), but found that their human determination whithered in the face of danger. No, if they were going to be faithful witnesses, they would need divine courage. You need it, too.
What About You?
- Are you willing to suffer for doing right?
- Are you deterined to be a faithful witness in the face of opposition?
- Do you pray regularly for boldness to proclaim the good news?