I’m fired up to be studying the book of Acts. Although some of the financial advisors and interns I coach joke with me that I use the term “fired up” a lot, I chose those words strategically here. We moved to Bloomington-Normal, IL in 2011 and began attending Eastview Christian Church during a yearlong study of the book of Acts. Although I’ve attended church most Sundays my entire life (except for a hiatus away in college which I pray our children don’t do), I didn’t know much about Acts except for the story of Saul, who was later called Paul and wrote a good portion of the New Testament, going blind for a brief time. Reading and learning about the disciples’ dangerous witness and the new church’s ridiculous love caused me to catch “fire” for the Lord like never before, and I’m praying I recapture that contagious excitement again and that you do as well.
I believe one the biggest pieces of proof that Jesus was who he said he was, the one true Messiah who was resurrected from the grave, lies in the fact Peter denied Jesus three times and most of the disciples were not to be found during and right after Jesus’ crucifixion. They were scared for their lives. Yet here in Acts 4, Peter and John speak boldly (that’s putting it lightly) to the same Jewish Council who just scourged and killed Jesus when questioned about a lame man they just healed in Jesus’ name in Acts 3. Can you imagine being captured and questioned for speaking in the name of the same person they just tortured and martyred not long ago? Still, Peter says in Acts 4:8-12…
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”
I can just see Peter sending a text message to a friend a few days later telling him of what he said followed by Bitmoji of himself dropping the mic with #Boom after! Would Peter, who just denied knowing Jesus three times not too long ago, really have spoken at all, let alone with the boldness he does here, to the those who just killed Jesus if he had not seen Jesus alive with holes in his hands and side? To me, there is almost no greater proof in the Bible of the Resurrection and everlasting life than this!
Have you ever made a statement or done something under pressure in the heat of the moment that worked out really well and then thought after, “That was really dumb! What was I thinking? I’m glad that worked out ok, but I would never do that again!”? Well, Peter and John do the exact opposite here. After releasing them, the Council brings them back a second time to question them and tell them to not speak of Jesus and to go on with their lives threatening punishment. Still, they say in Acts 4:20, “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Wow.
It may seem strange, but I’ve often thought about what I would do if someone put a gun to my head threatening my life and asked me if I believe in Jesus. I’ve always believed I would speak with courage if I faced this situation. Instead of asking myself this question about the scenario which is (I hope) is highly unlikely to ever happen, I should be asking myself if I will tell my neighbor, co-worker, friend, or even a family member about the love and saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection on Easter. We will talk with them about the game last night (as I have the NCAA Men’s basketball championship on right now and will probably be discussing it tomorrow), a TV show, a movie we just saw, or even a controversial political or social issue, but not about our knowledge, faith, and relationship with Jesus. Gang..this is serious stuff! We are talking about where they will spend eternity…as in “for-ev-er!” I had to lighten a serious topic up a little bit with The Sandlot reference there for movie fans. We must trust the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say as the Bible states here in Acts 4:8 and Acts 4:31. Let us not stop speaking boldly to others about what we have seen and heard today and every day. It may be the difference in where they spend eternity. I know that sounds like a lot of responsibility, but it’s NOT ON YOU once you decide to speak, it’s on the Holy Spirit, and most importantly, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU either!