Caught in the Middle between “Have To” and “Dare Not” (Acts 4:23-31)

Peter and John had handled themselves extremely well before the authorities – all in the power of the Holy Spirit as they were surely given the words to speak. At the same time, it must have been a frightening experience. You’ll be glad to know that I’ve never spent the night in jail, but I would have to imagine it is a scary thing to do.

Being released from the hands of the religious leadership, the dynamic duo returned “to their own people.”  Featured among the conversation with this “insider” group of the early believers of the church was the rehearsal for them of the severe threats given if they continued to preach in the name of Christ.

The stark nature of the dilemma was this:  They had to obey God’s command as his witnesses of the truth of Jesus Christ and the resurrection, yet to do so would put them in the crosshairs of angry people with the power to even kill them. These chief priest and elders were the same bad boys who maneuvered to get Jesus onto the cross less than two months earlier.

So, in a situation like this, what does one do? They turned to their first impulse – to pray. Here are the essential points of their prayers:

–          God, you made everything, so you are the top authority…

–          God, you taught us through the prophets that the rulers of this world would hate the Messiah and work against him in every way…

–          God, we did indeed witness how the people in this very city did conspire against Christ…

–          God, we know that this was only done and allowed by your grand plan…

–          But God, you’ve heard what they have threatened and how it is pretty clear that they don’t like us one little bit…

–          So God, we need boldness that only you can give, in order to accomplish deeds that can only be done through you working through us in powerful ways.

And we see that God blessed that prayer, and affirmed them with the shaking of the house.

The preaching of the Gospel will always be a fearful situation in the context of a world that (in the natural condition of condemnation of sin and alienation from God) hates Jesus Christ and often the people of his name. We are a minority by holding on to a biblical worldview – an oft despised minority as well. We need power and boldness beyond ourselves, and we gain that through the first impulse of prayer.

The Believers Pray – Acts 4:23-31

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You 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? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’  27 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. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders 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.

This entry was posted in Impulse and tagged by Randy Buchman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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