Sometimes I like to imagine the scenes I read about in the Bible hence the imaginary article above. The events of Acts 4 may seem foreign to most of us. We rarely hear of believers standing in public places, preaching about Jesus and testifying about miracles which occur in His name (We think that kind of behavior belongs on the mission field but not in our life!). It is also uncommon, but not unheard of, to hear of Christians being jailed for such activities. Some Christians have been maligned in courts for practicing Christian principles in the workplace or concerning their own homes, but SO FAR, these are rare events. The climate of our country, even most of the world, has been changing over the last decade so we may see the numbers of this type of (dare we say it?) persecution rise in the next 4 years as laws are put into place under the Socialist/Marxist ideologies of those currently occupying the presidential and judicial branches of our government. Therefore, paying close attention to our faithful predecessors in the Book of Acts can help us not only to prepare for what MIGHT lie ahead, but also to encourage us to be as bold as they were in testifying to what we know is true now.
Peter and John had been visiting the Temple on a daily basis- after all they were good Jewish boys! Like the Lord they served they were empowered by their Heavenly Father to preach the Good News and to heal the sick. In Acts 3 a man who had been lame for most of his life was healed by Peter and the city was all abuzz with wonder and curiosity as to how this could have happened (Acts 3:1-16). Peter took the opportunity to testify about the “Who” and “how” (Acts 3:17-26). The message caused concern among the powers that be- particularly the Sadducees, an aristocratic segment of the Sanhedrin whose pedigree and wealth was their ticket to power. Working alongside the Romans to keep their status in tact was actually their main reason for having Peter and John arrested although they thoroughly disagreed with their proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead too. This is emphasized by their inquiry into “whose name”, i. e. whose authority, this miracle and message were being spoken by (Acts 4:7). Peter’s eloquent and convicting answer surprised them because they assumed he was “uneducated”. This does not mean he and John were illiterate or stupid. It refers to the fact that neither Peter nor John had been trained in a synagogue or rabbinical school. While Peter remains respectful to those questioning them he finishes with a phrase that simply states, “I answer to a Higher Authority, so I decline to follow your rules” (vv. 19-20).
I take away 4 points from this account. 1) If I truly believe what Jesus has done for me and for countless others, I must not be afraid to speak up on His behalf. A testimony is just that- testifying to what I know is true for me (v. 20). 2) I do not have to know exactly what to say. I should know what I believe and why, but when the time comes to speak, the Lord will give me everything I need to know and the best way to say it (vv.8, 13). 3) I answer to a Higher Authority. IF the climate of freedom we as Christians have in this country should become restricted and outlawed in the future, I should be prepared to speak anyway. While I do not relish the thought that I might be called out for my faith, I would feel even worse to disappoint my Lord by not speaking up for Him (vv. 8-11, 19). 4) And lastly, humankind, and human power brokers, may attempt to thwart the Lord’s work, but it’s useless. Peter proclaimed the Gospel to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:12). When he and John were released their fellow believers recognized God was at work throughout the entire ordeal (Acts 4:23-31). He will be at work in whatever happens to me as well (Phil. 2:12-13).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre