Acts 4:15-31

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 24, 1997


Peter and John had come to the temple at prayer time, when they ran into a man who had been lame from birth.

Jesus worked through Peter and John, healing the man.

When Peter started explaining to the gathering crowd what had happened, the temple leaders had them arrested.

But Peter explained to the leaders as well that it was the power of Jesus Christ that had healed the man.

(Acts 4:13-14 KJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. {14} And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

:15-22 The Release

:20 For we cannot but speak the things

There's a sense in which Peter and John can't keep their mouths shut about Jesus.

This is quite a different Peter than the man who was afraid to speak up for fear of little servant girl asking if he was a follower of Jesus.

The difference is the Holy Spirit.

Lesson #1:

You have to speak.

Jeremiah had a time in his life when he tried very hard not to speak for God. Every time he spoke out for God, he got into trouble.

Jer 20:9 But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (NIV)

Paul wrote,

1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!


I think of Eugene, the missionary in Guatemala we've been praying for who was falsely arrested and has been in jail for the last four months.

The Prosecuting Attorney had sent men inside the prison to catch him doing anything wrong. Instead, they were transformed by this man "who thought of himself last on every occasion". They were kind enough to keep record of the conversions for us--260.

Eugene is being set free.

Lesson #2:

When it's right to make a stand.

There's a right time to make a stand for God, and there's a wrong time.

Peter and John are making the right kind of stand for God, and aren't going to let the Sanhedrin from keeping them preaching openly to the people.

But I get concerned about people when they have such a "zeal" for God, that they are not a good witness.

When they feel like they have to be witnessing all the time, even at work, instead of work. Then they feel persecuted at work when the boss asks them to work instead of talk.

God wants you to be the best employee you can, so when the time comes to speak, people will listen.

:23-31 The Prayer Meeting

:24 they lifted up their voice to God

Keep in mind that Peter and John were originally going to a prayer meeting!


Don't stop praying!

That's part of the fire that keeps the engine going!

:24 with one accord

one accord - homothumadon - with one mind, with one accord, with one passion; almost a kind of harmony.

We have seen this word several times in the book of Acts such as:

Ac 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (also Acts 1:14; 2:46)


Great things come from unity

Great things have come so far in the church when they've been together in "one accord". Is this a coincidence? I don't think so.

We need to learn to accept one another, even when someone hurts your feelings.

One of the greatest tactics that Satan uses to make us ineffective as a church is to get us upset with each other for the silliest reasons.


There once was an oyster whose story I tell,

Who found that sand had got under his shell,

Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain,

For oysters have feelings although they're so plain.

Now, did he berate the working of Fate,

Which had led him to such a deplorable state?

Did he curse out the government, call for an election?

No; as he lay on the shelf he said to himself

"If I cannot remove it, I'll try to improve it."

So the years rolled by as the years always do,

And he came to his ultimate destiny--stew.

And this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,

Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow.

Now this tale has a moral--for isn't it grand

What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand;

What couldn't we do if we'd only begin

With all of the things that get under our skin.

Paul wrote,

(Col 3:12-14 NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. {13} You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. {14} And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Just watch what God will do because these people are in "one accord".

:24 Lord, thou art God,

Lord - despotes (our word "despot", found 10x in NT) - this isn't the typical word for "lord" used in the NT (kurios, 748x in NT). The focus here is on God being your absolute master, and you being His complete slave.


Is He your absolute Master?

Jesus said,

Lu 6:46-49 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

There really isn't a place for picking and choosing what you like and don't like about what Jesus asks of us.

Some people seem to approach being a Christian like going through some great cosmic salad bar.

They just load up their plates with the things they want, and ignore the rest.

And then they get frustrated when it "doesn't work".

If you want it to "work", then you need to go all or nothing!

Either He's Lord of All, or He isn't Lord at all.

It's not that we'll never stumble, sin, or make mistakes.

But if He's our Lord, then we'll get back up again, ask Him to wash us off, and keep moving on.

:24 which hast made heaven, and earth …


Great Prayer begins with a Great God.

If we look at some of the great prayers in the Bible, we notice that quite a few have this in common, starting out by focusing on God's greatness.

When Hezekiah, King of Judah, was surrounded by the armies of the mighty Assyrians, he responded by praying:

(2 Ki 19:15b-16 KJV) O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. {16} LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.

God responded to Hezekiah's prayer by having a single angel kill 185,000 Assyrians in a single night.

Sometimes we can lose sight of just who it is that we're praying to.

If we're not careful, we can start to think that just because something seems difficult to us, that it must be equally difficult to God as well.

Just how big is your God?

Keep in mind, God's actual size isn't dependent upon how big you think He is.

But your ability to trust Him, and to receive God's peace is dependent upon just how big you think He is.

:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said

The church is going to include part of Psalm 2 in their prayer, and it will actually affect what they are praying for.


Pray Scripture.

We've talked about how the apostles were men of God's Word, always quoting the Old Testament when they preached.

Here we see that these people were so immersed in God's Word, that it even leaks out in their prayers!

The key to prayer is learning to pray for God's will -

(1 John 5:14-15 KJV) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

The secret to learning to pray according to God's will is learning to pray according to the Scriptures, that's where you'll discover His will.

:25 Why did the heathen rage

rage - phruasso - to neigh, stamp the ground, prance, snort (like a horse)

:27 For of a truth

The church has been quoting Psalm 2:1-2, which we've also been told is a Psalm of David.

This Psalm also has two other important verses, which kind of help tie other parts of the prayer together:

(Psa 2:7 KJV) I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

{12} Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

:27 against thy holy child Jesus

The church is identifying that ultimately, Jesus is the "Son" that is mentioned in Psalm 2:7,12!

:27 both Herod, and Pontius Pilate …

They partly fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 2, of the kings and rulers gathering together against God's anointed, while the complete fulfillment will come when Jesus comes back again, and the nations are gathered together against Him at Armageddon.

:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

The rulers of Israel thought they were exercising control when they had Jesus put to death, yet they were simply fulfilling what God had already planned for them to do.


Jesus planned to die for you.

It was always God's plan for Jesus to die on a cross.

That's because God saw what a terrible mess we were in, with our sins having caused such a great separation between mankind and God.

God saw that the only way to fix the problem, was to have someone pay the price for all mankind, by dying in their place.

Jesus died for our sins. He paid the price for our sins, so we wouldn't have to.

God now offers you a free gift of complete forgiveness for all your sins, because they've been paid for.

All you have to do is to receive the gift.

:29 and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

The first thing they ask for is boldness.


Prayer affected by Scripture.

In seeing that the actions of the rulers were only carrying out God's plan in the Scripture, they saw God as being in control.

They didn't pray for God to get rid of the rulers, they prayed instead that they would be more bold!

Phillip Brooks wrote - "Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks."

:30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal

Keep in mind, it was the lame man being healed that has brought about this whole episode… the church wants more.

:30 that signs and wonders may be done

The actual request of the church is that God would give them three things: Boldness, healing, signs and wonders.

If you think about all three of these requests, they're things that the early church already had!


Don't be satisfied.

I think there's a sense in which we as Christians ought to never be satisfied with where we're at in our walk with God.

The Christian walk is an uphill climb on an icy slope - you're either going further up, or slipping back. If you stop, you just slide backwards.

:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken

The language indicates it's one of those rolling earthquakes!

I think there's a sense in the realm of the spirit that the world shakes when we pray too. That's why the enemy tries so hard to keep you from doing it.

:31 they were all filled with the Holy Ghost

This is what God gave them in response to their prayer!

It's kind of interesting, since this isn't what they asked for!


A Sovereign God doesn't stick to formulas.

Sometimes we get to thinking that we have to ask for certain things, in a certain manner, in order to get our prayers answered.

When we talk about asking according to God's will, it's not like God wants us to use the exact wording to get it done.

I think that God is sitting up in heaven, listening to the church ask for boldness, healing, and signs, and He says, "Close enough! Fill them with the Holy Spirit!"

:31 and they spake the word of God with boldness.

God answered their prayer.


Commitment time

We took the kids to a birthday party the other day at the Camelot Waterslide.

After you get your swimsuit on, take a shower, and get an inner tube to slide on, you have to make your way up a 2,000 story tall set of stairs.

But you've never really done anything until you get into the inner tube and go down the slide.

Some of you have really done an amazing thing in coming to church today.

You feel like you've paid for your ticket just by getting yourself out of bed on a Sunday, and you've been standing in line by listening to this boring preacher.

But we're not here just to stand in line.

We're here to go down the slide.

That's commitment. Public commitment.

The good thing is you don't have to go alone. They have "double" inner tubes! Jesus will go with you.