Acts 4:23-31 - Speaking the Word with Boldness

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When Peter and John (Acts 3:1-10) went up to the Temple to pray, they met a lame man at the gate called Beautiful. The man, who was about 40 years old, had been lame from his mother's womb. Peter commanded the lame man to walk in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. The lame man was healed.

A crowd gathered (Acts 3:11-26), and Peter preached. Many people believed in Christ when they heard his message. Whereupon, Peter and John (Acts 4:5-12) were arrested by the Temple guard and the Sadducees. The next day they the rulers and elders questioned Peter and John. They wanted to know by what power and in what name Peter and John had done this. Peter told them that the man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. Moreover, he proclaimed that salvation was through Christ alone.

The elders and rulers (Acts 4:13-22) met privately and decided to warn Peter and John to speak no more in the name of Jesus. When Peter and John were released, they (Acts 4:23) went "to their own companions" (NASU) or "to their own people" (NIV) to report what the chief priest and elders had said. Today, we will consider what this means for us.

1. The disciples prayed to God who is all-powerful. We have the same privilege in prayer.

When the people present heard what the rulers and elders said, they lifted up their voices to God with one accord to pray. They began by addressing God as Lord and by acknowledging that it was He who made the heaven, the earth, the sea and all that is in them. The Greek word used by the people for Lord is despota. It can be translated Lord Almighty or Sovereign Lord.

Today, we who believe in Christ, pray to the same Sovereign Lord. The rulers and elders opposed Christ, the Anointed One, but they would be defeated by the Sovereign Lord. The Lord is all-powerful, and all things are under His control and in His hands. When we are confronted with opposition, and events seem to be out of control we must turn to despota, the Sovereign Lord. He will walk with us through our trials.

2. Even the enemies of God were under His control. No matter what the circumstances, we can be sure that God is in charge.

Both the Jews and the Gentiles were implicated in the death of Jesus. Even though they were guilty, what they did was within the plan of God. The prayer of the disciples says that these enemies had gathered (Acts 4:27-28) "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur." (NASU) In this passage free will and predestination are brought together without any attempt to reconcile them. The Jews and Gentiles were guilty, but God achieved His purpose.

Very often we pray for people knowing that God allows them to make their own choices. So we wonder whether or not God is in control. We know that God sets the stage and sends His Spirit to persuade people to do His will. As a result, many people do yield to the will of God. Sometimes they do not. However, we know that, no matter what decision they make, God will weave all things together for good. All those who follow God will be blessed.

3. The disciples prayed to speak the Word with confidence. We can pray this prayer today.

Now, the disciples make their request. They knew that powerful forces were arrayed against them. They knew, as well, that Peter and John were determined to continue their witness. They prayed for strength to speak the Word of God with confidence. Then, their prayer includes their expression of faith that God would extend His hand to heal and works signs and wonders in the name of "Your holy servant Jesus." While they spoke, God would work His wonders!

When we pray, let us ask God to help us speak the Word of God with boldness. It is the Word that penetrates the hearts of people everywhere. The Word of God is imbued with the Spirit of God. When proclaimed, this Word brings changes in lives and transforms those who hear. We must pray that we deliver the Word in the power of the Spirit.

4. God filled the disciples with His Spirit. He will fill us with the Spirit to be bold in our witness.

Now, God answers the prayer of the disciples for confidence in speaking the Word. The place where they had gathered was shaken. Another result was that the disciples were filled with the Spirit and "began to speak the word of God with boldness." (NASU) The result was a direct answer to prayer.

When we pray, we can expect God to fill us with the Spirit and to enable us to speak the Word with boldness. Many times when I am waiting to speak, I ask the Lord to empower me to speak with boldness. He is faithful to help. His Spirit will enable our spirit to soar and to inspire all who hear. He stands in the pulpit with us to proclaim the Word of God.

Conclusion

When we pray, we can call upon God who is the Sovereign Lord. Because of this, we can pray in full confidence. Even the enemies of God are under His control. Many times they are persuaded to yield to God, but even when they are not, He is still Sovereign Lord. He will make all things work to benefit His kingdom and His servants. The disciples prayed to speak the word of God in confidence and power. God filled them with the Spirit in answer to their prayer, and they boldly proclaimed His Word.

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