Acts 4:18-31, Birds of a Feather

18]  So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

19] But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  21] So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.  22] For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

23] And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  24] So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25] who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26] The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the LORD and against His Christ.’

27] “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28] to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.  29] Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30] by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

31] After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  (NKJV)

Peter and John have stood before the Council, given their testimony as to the healing of the impotent man, that it was not they who healed him, but the Lord Jesus, and have been forbidden even to mention that Name.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the rulers admitted that the man had been healed.  They couldn’t deny it!  He was standing with Peter and John and a whole crowd could testify of his healing, v. 15.  And for the most part, they couldn’t argue with the substance of what Peter said.  They couldn’t refute anything said or done, but neither would they receive it!  They would only reject and try to suppress it, vs. 16-22, as early man had done before them, cf. Roman 1:18b.

Peter’s response was that he and John were more concerned with what God thought than with what they thought.  They could only speak what they had seen and heard.  I think we’ve forgotten that to a large extent.  “Social justice,” which is largely a denial of God’s word, or some program or personality or political agenda, has come to the forefront, and we follow man rather than God.  There are some who are still faithful to the Word, but I fear their number is dwindling.  Our concern must ever be, “What does the Scripture say?” Romans 4:3.

This should have something to say to those who are concerned about presenting “the evidence” to unbelievers.  Yes, there is “evidence.”  In spite of what some claim, Christianity does not exist or function on a fictitious basis or in a vacuum, but this incident ought to put to rest forever the idea that “evidence” is enough.  Besides, who had more “evidence” than those who demanded the Lord Jesus be put to death?

Being freed, the disciples went back to their own people, v. 23.  As I wrote in an earlier post, “The feathers with whom you flock show what kind of a bird you are.”  Hence the title of this post.  The rulers wanted nothing to do with the disciples, and the disciples wanted only to be with “their own people.”  The people we want to be around say a great deal about who we are.

Though rejoicing in the freedom of Peter and John, these early believers recognized that their problems were not over.  They prayed.

Notice in this prayer how they addressed God:

“Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them…,” v. 24.

“You made the heavens….”

As I read Scripture, I’m impressed by how often this refrain is repeated – at least 17 times – all through the Scripture.  “That’s not very many,” you say.  Maybe, but when was the last time you heard someone in church pray like this?  God is viewed in Scripture as Creator of all; it didn’t just about through some “fortuitous concurrence of circumstances”!

We tend to forget that there are no “big” problems for God.  After all, He made the heavens and the earth.

Notice, too, that the believers did not pray for their problems to go away!  They had been forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus; they prayed for great boldness to speak  that name.  They also recognized that they were not sufficient for this, so they prayed for God “to stretch out your hand,” v. 30.  They know that God would have to intervene.

V. 31 says, after they prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

What about them praying that “signs and wonders may be done…”?  There are groups which say that we also pray for these things and expect them to be done.  We’ve dealt with this before.  In the very early days of the church, since there was yet no written word, these things were necessary as evidence of the truth of the message it preached.  However, as the NT canon closed with the writings of John, such things became unnecessary.  They are not necessary today.  We have the written word of God.  We don’t need and aren’t to expect further revelation.  The early church prayed for these things; they aren’t ours to pray for.  Further –

They had prayed for boldness.  God gave them boldness.

What are we praying for?


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