Facing Opposition – Acts 4:1-31 – Pastor Scott – 9/26/21
What do you do when you’re faced with opposition?
Sometimes life is good. Bills are all paid. Everyone around you is nice. Everyone is healthy. Nothing is wrong. But sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes opposition comes and it may not even make sense why it is coming. Perhaps you’ve been attacked before, opposition comes from a co-worker or classmate or maybe from social media. Maybe you battle with your own thoughts or your past. Maybe you feel like it’s you against everyone else. No matter where your opposition comes from, know that there are things you can do to not only face them, but to triumph over them!
The take home thought this morning is: When you face opposition, remember Jesus is on your side! As we dive into Acts 4, the question we want to answer is, “What should you do when you are faced with opposition?” Peter and John were about to face their own opposition. Opposition that came because they were doing good!
1) Trust that Jesus is in control. (vv.1-4) We need to remember that we are talking about God here. Not only is He all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, He loves us and cares for us. There will not be a time when He will ever lose His power or His care for us. So, no matter how bad or dire things get, we can trust that He is in control.
Notice the people’s reactions to what Peter and John were doing in verses 1-4. It says they were “annoyed.” The NAS and NIV say they were “disturbed,” specifically about Jesus’ resurrection. Why? Let’s look at who they were.
Priests included chief priests who had a lot influence. Annas is mentioned later that he was a high priest. Caiaphas was Annas’ son-in-law who would eventually take Annas’ place. Both had a role in sentencing Jesus to death and they were not happy that the man they thought they sacrificed for the good of the nation had followers claiming Jesus came back to life.
The captain was the leader of the guards who were in charge of keeping order. The Sadducces were a small but powerful religious sect that did not believe in the resurrection. So, when Peter and John were teaching the people about the resurrection, they were annoyed because it threatened their authority as religious leaders.
It annoyed and disturbed them so much that they had Peter and John thrown into jail. You do a nice thing like heal a man and things are looking good and the next thing you know, you are in jail. Opposition can come at any time and oftentimes for bad or no reason at all. Despite this (v.4), many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand! Peter and John were in jail - that's about as low and depressing and hopeless as life can get. And still God was at work! Because you can’t lock God up! He won’t stop working. He will never lose control.
When I look back on my life, I see He has never let me down and there is no reason to believe He will start now. Life is not going to be perfect but I can see God’s hand in everything!
You may feel lost in your own worry and are filled with doubts, anxiety and pain. Things may seem hopeless. It may even seem like God is not around to help. But know this - you may not see all the details. You don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. But God is working. God showed me that He is in control! Even if my opposition was myself and the bad decisions I would have made if I had the choice. God is always in control.
2) You use the opportunity to declare Jesus is Lord. (vv.5-22) Peter and John were meeting with some very high and important people. (vv.5-7) This council was the same one that condemned Jesus to death. It consisted of 70 members plus the high priest. The Sadducees held a majority in this group. This council was made up of the wealthiest, most intellectual and powerful men of Jerusalem. They were not pleased that the followers of the man they had sentenced to death were now causing more problems and claiming that Jesus came back to life.
After spending a night in jail, Peter and John are asked a simple question: “By what power or by what name did you do this?” But look what it says in verses 8-12: 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. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter and John were clear in their message. They didn’t waver. They didn't back down. They didn’t let any worldly element take their eyes off a godly goal. They pointed to the very One who was responsible for everything!
It says Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and by speaking boldly they went from defending themselves to being on the offensive and got to share the Gospel with religious and civic leaders. When you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, you rely on more than words. You rely on more than being prepared what to say. You rely on the Holy Spirit who empowers you!
Peter and John make sure to let everyone know who Jesus is and what He means to them! He is the One! He was rejected by these leaders but Jesus is the cornerstone! In architecture, a cornerstone is traditionally the first stone laid down for the structure and all other stones are laid in reference to that One. Jesus and His resurrection are the cornerstone of our faith and yet He was rejected by the leaders of that day.
Jesus does not only save us from the pains of this world but He can save us and give us eternal life in heaven. Verse 12 says: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Salvation is in no one else! There’s no other way you can be saved! They are clear in their message and we too, should be clear in the things we say and the way we live! Don’t be afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to share about Jesus! When you face opposition, don’t magnify your problems! Magnify your God!
Declare that Jesus is the Lord of your life. With your mouth but also with your actions. That's what Peter and John did. They were ordinary men but they followed an extraordinary God. It says Peter and John were uneducated and common men. But the proof was not in their own powers or in who they were. It was in what Jesus did through them! It says: And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Spend time with Jesus and you will be changed for the better!
The council had nothing to say that could deny the truth of what they saw. The change in that man was all the evidence that was needed. He had been crippled since birth and for the first time in 40 years, he was walking and praising God!
Let people see the change in your own life. Let them see that Jesus made a difference in the way you talk, in the way you work, in the way you play, in the way you spend your money, in the way you live your life. Actions speak louder than words and actions do not lie. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with this quote: Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words. Let others know Jesus is a part OF your life. Not apart FROM your life. In all you say and in all you do, recognize, acknowledge and declare that Jesus is Lord!
3) When you are faced with opposition, ask Jesus for help. (vv.23-31) It sounds so simple, right? And yet many times we forget that we have the greatest and most powerful ally on our side! How often are we faced with a situation and our first reaction is to try to fix it ourselves? How much better it is to go to Jesus and ask for His help!
Verse 29 is a great example of the whole passage. Even faced with threats, they knew Jesus would help them. So, they asked Him to help them impact their world for Him. And how did God answer? (v.31) And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
These men were faced with loads of opposition. The leaders in that area were threatening them. They could have been thrown back in jail. They were trying to tell people the crazy story of a man who was God who died and rose again. Can you imagine the fear and doubts they had? And yet they prayed and asked God for help. And God delivered. Not the earthquake – the Holy Spirit! What is the best way to face opposition? With the help of God! With the Holy Spirit working in you!
God can help you no matter what your opposition may be. My opposition was my own fears. My worries for the future. My doubts of who I was. My past reminding me how flawed I really am. But Jesus made it clear that it’s not about who I am…it’s about who He is! And if you come to Him, He can live and work through you! No opposition is too big for Him!
Have you really given your all to Him? Not just attending church, but giving Him your full attention? Your all and all. You are going to face opponents, obstacles and oppositions all throughout your life. You can’t prevent those from coming. You can try to face those things on your own. Or you can face them with the power of Jesus. Allow Him to help you! Trust that Jesus is in control. Declare that Jesus is Lord. Ask Jesus for help. He will never let you down!
Battle Belongs, Way Maker, Jesus At The Center, Doxology