Here’s my sermon outline for Acts 4:1-31 “We Cannot but Speak!” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. Audio here.
‘We Cannot but Speak!’ (Acts 4:1-31)
INTRO: Experience in Crossfit; members reputation for always speaking about it; we speak about what we value.
-As Christians we know there is nothing more important than Jesus. We know ought to proclaim Jesus!
-Good and right to speak the gospel: Jesus calls us to do this (Great Commission); Kingdom expands through it!
-MANY PROBLEMS: fear of man; devil; busyness; misplaced priority; idolatries and love of the world.
–SOLUTION: Jesus. Beholding him and coming to him, we are renewed in our love & empowered to speak
-TODAY’S Passage Instructs, Challenges, Reorients, and Helps us in this.
-KEY IDEA found in attitude of apostles: ‘We cannot but speak of Jesus!’ (4:20).
**KEY TAKEAWAY: Beholding the reality of who Christ is leads to joyful commitment to proclaim him!
-Last week: Paralyzed man miraculously healed—sign from God—and a sermon explaining sign: Proclaiming Jesus.
-TODAY: Aftermath of Peter’s sermon: Conversion & Persecution, followed by prayer & more proclamation.
-We see a dogged, determined commitment to keep speaking about Jesus, even with persecution.
-This idea ties this whole section together and shows us an attitude for us to embrace.
-May God use this to lead us to more boldly and joyfully proclaim Jesus!
STRUCTURE: Persecution; Prayer; Power.
PERSECUTION (1-22) ‘We cannot but speak of Jesus, even if religious leaders try to silence us!’
-The apostles are arrested (4:1-3)
-Reason: Religious leaders “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
–NOTE: Sadducees rejected Jesus as Messiah and resurrection from the dead.
-Apostles “were arrested” (4:3): First instance of persecution in book of Acts (but not the last!)
-More people become Christians! (4:4)
-“Believed the Word”
-Size of church increased: number of men came to about 5k
-Here see how the church continues to grow: preaching of the word is key! (Not optional)
-Peter and John are Interrogated (4:5-7)
–“By what power or by what name did you do this?”
-They recognized a miraculous sign took place and wanted to know how it happened.-Peter Boldly Responds (4:8-12)
-Filled with the Holy Spirit (8a) 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,
-Gospel ministry then and today is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit!
-Jesus is the one who healed the paralyzed man (8b-10) “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”
-Personal Guilt and Culpability (10b): “whom you crucified”
-Jesus was raised from the dead (10c): “whom God raised from the dead”
-A CENTRAL and vital fact to Christianity.
-v11 Jesus is the “cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22)
-Rejected by the Jewish religious leaders
-But absolutely essential to God’s plan of salvation.
-NO OTHER NAME (12)
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.”
-Truth Spoke in 2 ways: “salvation in no one else”; 2 “no other name under heaven…by which we must be saved”
-EXCLUSIVITY of Jesus
-Religious pluralism: there are many ways to God. This is wrong (John 14:6)
-This truth leads to conviction: ‘we cannot but speak of Jesus!’
*Beholding the reality of who Christ is leads to a joyful commitment to proclaim him!
-Jewish Leaders are Astonished and Unable to Refute the Words of Peter & Order Them to Stop (13-18)
-v 13 Astonished (God the Holy Spirit gave them the words to say)
-You don’t need a Bible degree to proclaim Jesus, you just need to know the gospel & be filled with H.S.
-v14-16 They had proof they could not refute: the paralyzed man.
-“notable sign”=the healing of the paralyzed man was a sign of God (showing truth of gospel!)
-v 17-18: Charged and Ordered them to “speak no more to anyone in the name of Jesus”
-It was an attempt to silence the Christians: happens today too in our culture & around the world!
-To not preach Christ is to go against Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8
-Satan wants Christians to be silent about him today as well.
-Peter and John Refuse to Comply (19-20)
-KEY WORDS:“We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”
-Refusal to be silent about Jesus and an insistence to proclaim him, even with persecution.
*APPLICATION: Here we see the right attitude about preaching the gospel ‘we cannot but speak!’
-Is that our attitude? How do we need to repent of being afraid of sharing the gospel?
OUR MANY PROBLEMS: fear of man; devil; busyness; misplaced priority; idolatries and love of the world.
-HOW DO WE CHANGE? We behold again the truth of Jesus.
-We behold his love for us
-We behold the glory of salvation (no other way)
-We behold how in the gospel, our idolatry and fear of man and selfishness are dealt with.
-Through the Holy Spirit we step out and open our mouths again.
-Additional Threats and then a Release (21-22)
-FURTER THREATS but unable to punish them [due to fear of people…man was over 40!] (21)
-Released “let them go”
SUMMARY:We cannot but speak of Jesus, even if religious leaders try to silence us!
Beholding the reality of who Christ is leads to a joyful commitment to proclaim him!
PRAYER (23-30) ‘We cannot but speak of Jesus, and PRAY that God would help us to continue speaking!’
As the apostles leave and join other believers, we see a JOYFUL commitment to keep on proclaiming Jesus.
-Peter and John rejoined the Church (23)
-They related they threats and orders from the religious leaders “had said to them”
-We see the sweetness of being a member of local church: we don’t suffer alone but have support from others
-Praise and Prayer (24-30) -Praise (24-28): “lifted up their voices together to God” (24)
-Recognize God as Creator (24b)
-Recognize God who spoke through David by the Holy Spirit (25a)
-Psalm 2 (25b-26)
-Psalm 2 was fulfilled in Jesus! (27)
-God was sovereign even of death of Jesus (28)
-He is sovereign over your suffering too!
-v29 “grant your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness”
-Not prayer for ease or comfort, but for God to help them to keep on preaching Jesus.
*APP: Is that your prayer? Will you make it your prayer this week?
-How different would our lives & church look if we all prayed this more!
-v30 Prayer for God to continue to heal and work “signs and wonders” in the name of Jesus
-Signs and wonders were unique to the apostolic era.
-NOTE: The signs and wonders SERVED the proclaiming of Jesus!
-SIGN: Showed the truth & Strengthened Faith of Believers *Beholding the reality of who Christ is leads to a joyful commitment to proclaim him!
POWER (31) ‘We cannot but speak of Jesus, as God the Holy Spirit fills and empowers us!’
Here we see the immediate aftermath of the prayer (‘when they had prayed’ v 31)
-POWERFUL SIGN (v31b): the place in which they were gathered together was shaken,
-Earthquake like effect.
-Answer to prayer: ‘grant signs and wonders!’
-FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (31c): “were all filled with the Holy Spirit”
-We need this too, a fresh filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus
-CONTINUED TO SPEAK (31d): continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
-God answered their prayer!
Beholding the reality of who Christ is leads to joyful commitment to proclaim him!
CLOSING APPLICATION: Jesus really is God the Messiah who died for us so that we might be reconciled to God. There is NO other way and he has called his people to be his witnesses. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit afresh and empower us to proclaim him again today!