Power for Boldness
The Lame Beggar Healed
 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.  Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.  And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”  And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”  And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.  And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God,  and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico
 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s.  And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?  The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.  But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,  and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.  And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.  But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.  Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,  that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,  whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.  Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.  And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’  And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.  You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’  God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (ESV)
Peter and John Before the Council
 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,  greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.  But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem,  with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.  And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,  if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,  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.  This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  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.”
 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.  But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.  But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another,  saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.  But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”  So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,  for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.  For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
The Believers Pray for Boldness
 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,  who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.  And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,  while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  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.
They Had Everything in Common
 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.  And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold  and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.  Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus,  sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (ESV)
Main Point: The Holy Spirit emboldens our faith in Christ, our proclamation of the gospel, and our courage in times of persecution
1. Boldness in Faith
- Peter and John were going to the temple at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
- This was one of the busiest times at the temple and one in which this lame man may have had the highest expectancy for activity.
- Peter and John respond to his call for alms or a small offering to help him.
- What he received was so much more than he ever asked.
- What do Peter and John do? Looking intently at him they declare that they didn’t have money to give him, but what they did have they could freely give because they had freely received it as well.
- They could give him Jesus; that’s what this man needed. Desiring to bless this man, Peter and John stepped out in faith, believing God had the power to heal.
- The name of Jesus brings power. God’s power is still at work today.
- Peter’s faith has been emboldened by the Spirit to step out and pray for God’s great healing.
- Notice the transformation that’s taken place…what Jesus once did was now being carried out by his disciples.
- Think back to the gospels with me for a moment – it was the disciples who were typically moving on past the lame and the beggars, and it was Jesus who was slowing them down, to minister to those who so often were bypassed and overlooked.
- The ministry of Jesus continues on even though He is physically gone – now, as they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ was upon them, and they were moved, God was causing their own hearts to have the compassion of Christ!
- Their hearts were looking for ways to bless others through the power of God! Their was a willingness to trust God and step out in faith.
“I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! (verse 6)” Equipped with the gift of the Spirit, they walked in newfound faith – a Spirit empowered faith!
- Under the influence of the Spirit, they put their faith into action – Peter reached out his hand in Jesus name and acted on the faith that had been emboldened in his heart.
“The power was Christ’s; the hand was Peter’s” – Thomas Walker
- There’s power in the name of Jesus!
- Peter’s extended hand was an act of faith – trusting in the Lord to do the work that no one could do.
- Its in the doing, its in the stepping out that God meets us as we exercise our faith.
- We walk by faith in the Son of God.
- We believe that God still grants the gift of healing. There is still power in the name of Jesus! We don’t control the healing; we simply step out in faith and do the asking.
- Let us pray with expectation. Let us pray with faith. God is not reluctant to bless. Let us pray with expectant faith.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:13-16).”
2. Boldness in Proclamation
- Not only was Peter and John’s impulse to step out in faith, but it was also to point to faith in Christ through their gospel proclamation.
- They were not seeking to draw attention to themselves but to make much of Christ and bring attention to the glory of Christ.
Acts 3:11- 4:22
- Do you see the transformation?
- The Spirit’s transforming work in Peter was significant
- Just 60 days earlier he was crumbling at the questions of a servant girl in the courtyard, where he denied Jesus 3 times
- Now he’s standing before the ruling elite of all Israel and boldly proclaiming Christ
- How do we explain that, except for the work of the Holy Spirit in him?
- Acts 4:8 says “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” and he went on to proclaim the gospel to them, the gospel of repentance.
- Peter boldly proclaimed the full counsel of God’s Word to them and he didn’t hold back.
- Three times he was boldly truthful and clear
- You delivered over to death Jesus Christ (verse 13)
- You denied the holy and righteous one (verse 14)
- You killed the author of life (verse 15)
- He gave them the gospel. The holy Son of God died and was resurrected to life, defeating sin and death.
- By faith in the name of Jesus and by repenting of our sins, we are granted full forgiveness.
- Those who reject Jesus will perish, so the messsage is ‘turn to Him in repentance and faith.’
“That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (verse 20)”
- When our sins are forgiven, we are granted a deep and abiding peace with God.
- The Lord, by His Spirit, brings refreshment to our souls
“That He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago (verses 20-21)”
- Jesus Christ will one day return to the earth, in a glorious, bodily display, in the same manner in which He ascended to heaven.
- And until His return, He is drawing His people to Himself, one person at a time.
- At which point He will make a new heaven and a new earth.
- And every time a sinner repents it prepares the way for Christ’s eventual return.
- These promises of the gospel’s effect were not only proclaimed by New Testament authors, but also proclaimed by the servants of God in the Old Testament.
- So, Peter reminds his hearers that these promises are not rooted in his own understanding of God’s redemptive purposes, but in what Scripture has actually said and promised.
- Peter preaches a gospel sermon based on what the scriptures have revealed about Christ, and how God has acted through His Son to offer to the joy of repentance, restoration, refreshment!
“Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy – deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy – in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness!” — Octavius Winslow
- As we soak ourselves in the joy of the gospel, we reflect all the more the joy of it.
- And the sharing of that joyful-but-challenging-to-share message, God’s Spirit is given to all believers to help us.
- Boldness in speech is something that I believe we all want.
- We can think it’s about personality, or based on how outgoing we are or not.
- Boldness is not about that, however. A Spirit-born boldness is not dependent on personality. Rather, it is an underlying belief that God, by His Spirit, is always working in every situation and that He desires to use you to speak words of truth in a world that doesn’t want truth.
- Your bold sharing won’t sound exactly the same as others, but God’s not asked you to be someone else. Where we lack boldness, lets pray for it. The early church did!
- We need to allow God to do what He wants to do in us so that we can be used for Him, today and everyday.
3. Boldness in Times of Persecution
- When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, the enemy of God hates it. And so the hearts of the Sanhedrin, the supposed spiritual caretakers of Israel, are stirred in great opposition to the message of the gospel.
- They come and arrest Peter and John and throw them in prison.
- And though they threaten them, they couldn’t find a way to charge them, so they released them.
- When they heard about the persecution, the threats of the governing authorities, what did they do?
- They humbled themselves and prayed!
- “Look upon their threats and grants to your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness (verse 29)”
- This is another Spirit-transformation. When Jesus and His disciples faced rejection from a certain village, James and John asked Him, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them (Luke 9:54)?”
- Now, they were not calling down fire, but praying for a greater boldness to continue to share with anyone who would listen the greatest hope of the world.
- They were comforted by biblical doctrine — in particular, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them”
What is God?
God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite and unchangeable in His power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice and truth. Nothing happens except through Him and by His will. — New City Catechism
What do you understand by the providence of God?
God’s providence is His almighty and ever-present power, whereby, as with His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by His fatherly hand. — Heidelberg Catechism
- So what does this mean for us? How do we seek to live in the power of the Holy Spirit? We ask to be filled, daily, with the Holy Spirit.
“Do not be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18
”Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh , for these are opposed to each other” — Galatians 5:16-17
- As we hear these commands of scripture to be filled with the Spirit, we have an opportunity to posture ourselves to receive the Spirit, we can pray.
- We can ask God, who is not hesitant to give the Holy Spirit, to fill us.
- We can keep our minds in scripture, which are the words that the Holy Spirit Himself inspired, so that we can know Him.
- When we pray, we ask for God to do what He alone can do. We ask Him to heal. We ask Him to restore, rebuild that which has been lost.
- Don’t despise the day of small beginnings, but let us be empowered in our prayers, be bold in our prayers, and in our speech, anticipating the blessing of God as we wait on Him.
Questions for Discussion/Application
- Take a few minutes to summarize the text, Acts 3:1-4:31. What about the experience of the Apostles and the early church in this passage stands out to you and gets your attention?
- In the story of the lame beggar who was healed, how do you see the Spirit of God at work in Peter and John and through them as well?
- Following the healing of the lame beggar, Peter preached a sermon on what the scriptures have revealed about Christ, and how God has acted through His Son to offer to the joy of repentance, restoration, and refreshment (Acts 3:20)! Jeremy then shared this quote with us:
- “Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy – deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy – in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness!” — Octavius Winslow
- How does the gospel bring refreshment and joy?
- How much is reflecting on the gospel part of your life? How can you grow in making it more part of your life?
- Peter was very bold to proclaim Christ, knowing full well that to do so could cost him greatly. What can we learn from his example of boldness?
- Read the Conclusion from the Sermon Recap above. How can we grow in seeking to be more filled with the Spirit?
- Consider taking time to pray, asking God to fill us together increasingly with His Holy Spirit. Also pray that God would make us bold in our proclamation of Him.