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The Scriptorium

"We cannot but speak..."

Of course they couldn't. Can we? Acts 4.18-22

No Other Name: Acts 4 (4)

Pray Psalm 52.8, 9.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

Sing Psalm 52.8, 9.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!

Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!

Read Acts 4.1-22; meditate on verses 18-22.

Preparation

1. What did the religious leaders tell Peter and John?

2. What did Peter and John say in reply?

Meditation
I suspect the religious leaders were feeling magnanimous here. After all, they didn’t crucify Peter and John. They just admonished them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Fat chance the apostles would obey that.

Peter’s response to the court’s warning was concise: “Not gonna do it.” They were respectful, concise, and firm. They made it clear that they must obey God, not men.

Since they had no intention of obeying that unjust ruling, Peter and John said so. We are not obliged to obey unjust laws, especially such as pose a threat against the progress of the Gospel. So how did the religious leaders respond to these words? They threatened them again (v. 21). It’s all they could do. They knew the people would not abide punishing Peter and John for having done a good work, and the religious leaders feared the people as much as they feared Rome.

Peter and John knew they could not possibly not talk and teach about Jesus. They’d been with Him, and now He was alive in them, by His Spirit. How could they help themselves? How can we?

Peter and John had crossed a spiritual Rubicon; they had made the Kingdom turn into a new world, a new reality, and a new power. There would be no going back, but only pushing forward in the ongoing work of Christ. Such is life in the Kingdom, in pursuit of the ongoing work of Jesus Christ. For there is no other Name than His that can bring salvation and healing to the world.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The power of the Holy Spirit was infusing the multitudes!

Where were these people when Jesus was on trial?

These were a lot of the same people who cried out for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified. (Lk. 23.14-23) But now they were filled with the courage of Jesus and their presence and peer pressure was being felt by the religious leaders. “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” (Acts 4.21). This is what happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (Acts 1.8). He changes us from the inside out. We are truly new creations, and the old has passed away (2 Cor. 5.17).

Since all of us will be persecuted in one way or another (Jn. 16.33), it is of the utmost importance that fellow-believers encourage one another and stand together as a united front against those who wish us ill. If it worked for Peter and John, it will be effective for us, too.

“Everyone helped his neighbor, and said to his brother, ‘Be of good courage!’” (Is. 41.6)
“…that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom. 1.12).
“…likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15.5, 6).

Let us strive to be an encouragement to others as “they speak the things which [they]have seen and heard”(Acts 4.20); and pray for others to come along side us as we go out into our Personal Mission Field to do the same. Who knows? Perhaps our solidarity and prayers will make peace abound for a brother or sister in Christ.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33).

For reflection
1. Do you think Christians and churches today expect large numbers of people to come to Jesus? Explain.

2. How can believers help one another to prepare for persecution?

3. Living from within the Kingdom made a huge difference in Peter and John. Why? How can we know that difference, too?

…when they said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” the disciples, although they were able to work countless miracles, neither said nor did anything harsh but answered with all gentleness, saying, “Whether it is right to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge.” John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew 33.3

Pray Psalm 52.1-7.

Pray for Christians in lands where persecution is not uncommon. Pray that God would stop the raging of persecutors and turn many of them from enemies to friends. Pray for boldness for yourself and all Christians, to persevere in your witness for the Lord despite opposition.

Sing Psalm 52.1-7.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.

Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words, both harsh and strong, with their devouring, deceitful tongue.

God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.

The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Kingdom Turn
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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