Opposition Begins, Acts 3-4


By Pastor Roger Eng, January 30, 2022

Winston Churchill, War Memoirs, “Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.”

TITLE: Opposition Begins (Acts 3-4)

  1. An Undeniable Miracle (Acts 3:1-11)
  2. An Uncompromising Message (3:12-26)
  3. An Unsuccessful Threat (4:1-22)
  4. An Unstoppable Church (4:23-31)

This is one long story of what happened in the early church when it first faced opposition. This story covers two chapters, over two days, about two months after Jesus died/rose.

  1. An Undeniable Miracle Acts 3:1- Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

3:7 - Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. 9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

• The man lame from birth was carried to this gate each day (2) • His feet/ankles were instantly healed/strengthened. (7) • He jumped, walked, leaped, stood. (8, 11, 4:14) • All the people recognized him and were astounded. (9-10) • The biggest skeptics (Council) could not deny the miracle. (4:16) • Everyone knew and praised God for the miracle. (4:16, 21) • Luke adds the man was lame for 40 years. (4:22)

This is NOT a fake miracle; this is beyond human, or magic, or demonic agency. This true wonder from God validates Peter’s true word from God.

  1. An Uncompromising Message 3:12- Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of all our ancestors – who has brought glory to His servant Jesus by doing this. V13 - This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this Holy, Righteous One and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

• There is no true salvation until we comprehend our offence against God. That’s the BAD NEWS. • Peter goes on to the GOOD NEWS…

3:16 - Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes. 17 Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah – that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Here’s the solution: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God.” (Acts 3:19). Three blessings of salvation:

  1. So your sins may be wiped away. (19)

  2. So refreshment comes from the presence of the Lord. (19) Repent and rest!

  3. So He will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. (20) You missed Jesus the first time, repent so you do not miss Him the second time!

  4. An Unsuccessful Threat 4:1 - They were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and ... Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000. 5 The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. 7 They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?”

• SEE how this threat is backfiring. Arrest doesn’t stop 5,000 from believing in Jesus! • This is the same cabal that put Jesus on trial just two months earlier. • The Sadducees were the political aristocracy, The religious left. Educated. Wealthy. Secular priests. • They did not believe in heaven/hell, angels/demons, the resurrection. • Never do we hear of any Sadducee saved. Their God was government. Their goal was power. • They threatened the apostles, because they were threatened by their power.

4:8 - Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, 9 are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? 10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” 13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…

• Peter quotes from the Psalm that says Jesus is the cornerstone, and the capstone of the whole Jewish story. Jesus is the founder and finisher of their salvation. Jesus is the only way of salvation!

4:18 - So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” 21 The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God 22 for this miraculous sign.

Why did they let them go?

• Because Peter and John were not threatened! They won’t stop talking about Jesus! You can’t cancel us! • Because v14, says the lame man was standing there healed in front of them – an undeniable miracle. • Because they couldn’t punish them without starting a riot. 10,000 Jews are now believers! The number of believers now might outnumber them.

Here is a lesson for us: Corrupt leaders, like these, Sadducees, do not pay attention to evidence or sound arguments. They pay attention to their own narrative and power to control others. They don't stop until they are outnumbered.

  1. An Unstoppable Church 4:23 - As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – 25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, “Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? 26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.”

4:27- “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:31b, “Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”

CONCLUSION: In spite of opposition the early church was unstoppable.

• What Churchill said about truth, the early church found true about Jesus. • Jesus is incontrovertible. Panic may resent Him. Ignorance may deride Him. Malice may distort Him. But there He is. • AND there the church is!

What will the church today do in opposition?

• Will we say, Jesus is the only way of salvation? • Will we call our corrupt leaders to repent? • Will we be recognized as those who have been with Jesus? • Will we be filled with boldness by the Spirit?