No Other Name: Acts 4 (6)
Pray Psalm 56.3, 4.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
Sing Psalm 56.3, 4.
(Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart)
When I’m afraid I’ll put my trust in You, You, Lord, Whose everlasting Word I praise.
I will not fear what foes to me might do, but will in faith to You my crying raise.
Read Acts 4.1-37; meditate on verses 29-37.
1. How did God respond to the prayer of the disciples?
2. How did this affect the ongoing work of Christ?
It is important to note that the disciples prayed not that God would remove this obstacle, but that He would enable them to be faithful (v. 29). Here is no trembling and whining about the “threat to their religious liberty.” They could have cared less. They were engaged in the ongoing work of Jesus Christ, and no threats or restrictions imposed by mere men were going to stop them.
God’s response to their faithfulness was to grant them a renewed filling of the Spirit, the operative power of the Kingdom of God (v. 31). The ongoing work of Christ is the work of the Spirit. He brings the power, according to the promises of God, so that we can practice the Kingship of Jesus the way we should (cf. Acts 17.1-9).
The boldness (v. 31), selflessness, and generosity of this new community (vv. 32-35) stood out in stark contrast to what was typical in that culture. Here is the reality of the Kingdom: The Good News is boldly proclaimed. A new society has come into being. The poor are cared for and those with means gladly relinquish them – not all at once, but as needs arose. The shepherds of the community exercise oversight in care and instruction and prayer, and the power of the Spirit is flowing in every direction for life and fruitfulness.
This is what God intends for His people, and it is the Church’s privilege to present a model of such a just and loving society for the rest of the world. The Church is God’s sign that His Kingdom has come, and that it is coming on earth as it is in heaven.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
These early disciples, being so steeped in the Scriptures, knew and believed God’s promises. They absolutely trusted that His Words were true, and they could take it to the bank. Literally.
“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receiveit’” (Mal. 3.10).
God’s desire for His people is that we won’t have to worry about food, clothes, shelter, and such. He wants us to be free to “lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also.” “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt.6.20, 21, 32,33).
It is interesting to note, that amongst the outstanding courage displayed, the attitude of boldness, the Holy Spirit’s filling, and the house shaking, God also is dealing with the nuts and bolts of life in the Kingdom.
God is a God of beauty and detail. He cares about every aspect of our lives, and the lives of all who are a part of His glorious kingdom. All of it is important to Him and should be important to us.
God has a particular way of doing everything, and we would do well to follow His plan. The end game of the plan is this: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4.33). Sharing Christ and His grace with believers and non-believers alike is His plan; and the less extra-curricular stuff the people have to worry about, the better.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6.9, 10). Sharing and living Christ is the priority. Worrying about how to sustain our lives shouldn’t be.
Imagine what the world would be like if the Church hadn’t dropped the ball on this Kingdom Sign.
1. Why does the ongoing work of Jesus entail the creation of this new community as a sign of His Kingdom?
2. What should a church look like that is fulfilling its calling as a sign of the Kingdom?
3. Jesus promised that the Spirit would give us power (Acts 1.8). How are we supposed to use that power? How can we access it?
After those threatening conditions, they gained increased boldness. Since it was the beginning of their ministry and they had prayed for a sensible sign for their persuasion (this never happens again afterwards), great was the encouragement they received.John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 11
Pray Psalm 56.8-13.
Thank the Lord that He watches over you constantly, hears when you come to Him in prayer, and guards your steps throughout the day. Renew trust in Him, and commit the day ahead to His service and glory.
Sing Psalm 56.8-13.
(Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart)
Lord, see my wand’rings, see my anxious tears! Help me to trust and praise Your holy Word.
Gladly I know that when I call You hear; I will not fear but trust in You, O Lord.
I will not fear what foes might do to me. I give You thanks, my vows will I renew.
You have redeemed me, set my spirit free, and ever in Your light I’ll walk with You.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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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.