January 23-25, 2016
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Acts 4:14-21
“HERE IS WHY WE WILL KEEP SPEAKING THE WORD OF GOD BOLDLY:
1. We know God’s Word.
2. We know God’s priorities.
3. We know God’s power.
Acts 4:23-31 (NIV1984) “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: " 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ' 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31After 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.”
OK, so you are at work. You are about to walk into the breakroom. You overhear the ongoing conversation. “I don’t know what the big deal is. If two people love each other why shouldn’t they be able to marry?” You turn around and walk away. It’s the family Christmas gathering. The big one with everyone there including him, the loudmouth who’s always looking to start a debate also known as an argument. When there is a lull in the conversation he starts in, “I don’t know why Christians have to be so judgmental about everyone else’s life…” You think, “Do I even go there?” The invitation comes in the mail from your co-worker. “Kathy and Mary are pleased to invite you to hear them make their marriage promises.” Now what do I do? If you haven’t already experienced one of these or something like it, you will. Times have changed from early American history when people flocked to hear a good fire and brimstone sermon where the preacher preached ‘em out of hell into the waiting arms of Jesus and when many civil ordinances reflected God’s morals, to our time, where there is no hell and civil ordinances reflect corrupted human reasoning. What should we Christians do? One solution is to be quiet and withdraw from society, maybe become our own community like the Amish have done. Or maybe we just stay quiet where we are at, our faith life will be our private life. There is a better way. Keep speaking the word of God boldly. Brothers and sisters our nation needs us. The people of our nation need us if they are going to be saved. Today in God’s Word we find all the reasons we need to keep speaking the Word of God boldly.
See opposition to God and His word is nothing new. The book of Acts shows us the life of the early Christian church. They actually had it worse than we do. “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.” Jesus had ascended to heaven. He commissioned Peter and John and the other Apostles to be His witnesses, to tell others Jesus is the Savior. They did. They proclaimed Jesus as Messiah in Jerusalem. Many believed. The chief priests and religious leaders who had opposed Jesus now opposed them. They arrested Peter and John and had them put in prison. Then they threatened to punish Peter and John if they kept speaking boldly about Jesus and let them go. Here is where we pick it up. Peter and John reported to their fellow believers what had happened and what was said. How would you have responded?
Here’s how they did. “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: " 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.” These people knew God’s Word. They recognized what was happening was something God had already told them about in Psalm 2. It was all under control.
Our lives are too. Do you really think the One enthroned in heaven is unaware of our circumstances? Of course He is. And we know His word. In all things He works for the good of those who love Him. We must have tribulations as we go through the kingdom of God. If they got mad at Jesus and they did, the unbelieving world will get mad at His followers. I will be with you always. Don’t worry about what to say, the Holy Spirit will be with you. We can maintain a faithful presence as Christians in our community and workplace and keep speaking God’s word boldly and appropriately because we know God’s Word. One question. Do you know it as well as you did when you were confirmed? If your answer is no it’s time to do something about it.
It’s time to do something about it so we can keep speaking God’s word boldly because we know God’s priorities. The early Christians certainly did. “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” Pilate and Herod were pawns. God’s pawns. When they conspired together to get rid of the problem of Jesus they were walking along the path God had decided beforehand they would walk. Why? Salvation of souls. That is God’s priority. He does not want people suffering the Hell they deserve. He does not want His dearly loved people stuck living in an imperfect sin marred world. He wants people with Him forever in the glory of heaven. For that to happen a perfect substitute would need to willingly pay the wages of sin and be worth enough to cover all. Jesus. His death no accident. The threats Peter and John received were not either. God always has a plan that advances His priority even when, maybe we should say especially when, it looks like things are going the wrong way.
We know God’s priority. He wants all to be saved through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. Sometimes it’s good for us to review it, especially if circumstances are pushing us to keep quiet about Jesus. God’s priority for His people in the United States of America, state of Wisconsin, community of Milwaukee was never that we win the battle against gay marriage. It was never that we make or keep our nation as the most God fearing nation on earth. It wasn’t even that we stop the legalized murder of babies commonly called abortion. Don’t misunderstand me. Same sex marriage is sinful as is all the opposite sex sinning our nation condones. Abortion is murder. As patriotic citizens we can and should use the channels open to us to try to change things. But that’s not God’s priority. It’s salvation. God has you where you are at to win the battle for the soul of an unbeliever. If we lose sight of that truth in our efforts to fix the evils of America we are playing into the enemy’s hands. We’re chasing our tails. God’s priority is the salvation of souls and He has you in your family, your neighborhood, your workplace to be a light shining for Jesus to draw others to Him, living your life with grace so others ask you for the hope that you have and you get to point them to Jesus. You know God’s priorities.
Do you know and trust God’s power? They did. “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31After 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.” What was the first response of God’s people when Peter and John told them about the threats, the intimidation to keep quiet about Jesus? They prayed. They prayed to the Sovereign LORD who made the heavens, the earth and the sea and everything in them. God has power! So of course the first thing to do is to pray to Him. No wringing of hands. No “Woe is me!” No quick development of an action plan. Prayer. To the God of power. What for? Help us be what we are: your followers who speak your words boldly!
Hey, that’s not so hard. We can pray. “Lord you know our circumstances. You know what we go through at work or deal with in our families. Enable us your servants to speak your word with great boldness so more can be saved.” Some of us will speak boldly to others. Some of you can speak boldly to God. Senior saints we need you. Can you pray to God for your pastors and teachers and leaders that we speak the word of God boldly and in love as we should? Can you pray for the young people so they can be salt and light when they are out of this safe place? God has you here for a reason. We need you. Speak boldly to God on our behalf. Then we can speak. There is a right time and place to speak God’s word to co-workers and family. You’ll have to decide what time is right. God will guide you. But shut and be quiet, about Jesus? No way! We know God’s Word. We know God’s priorities. We know God’s power. We will speak boldly. Amen!