Todd continues his series on the Book of Acts. Read Acts 4:7-23. It is a pivotal chapter in which the Church first experiences persecution, and it gives us a formula for faithfulness even in the midst of persecution.
Stephen…a Faithful Mailman Who Saw Jesus
How to Destroy a Shadow: Stephen’s Masterful Defense of Jesus Finished Work
Hellenistic Lives Matter (And So Does the Ministry of the Word)
The Gospel is NOT a Fad
Beauty and the But
Where Does That Come From?
Living Bolder as We Grow Older
What Makes a Man Fit for Judgment, Ministry and a Ready Response - Acts 4:7-23
The Beginning of Persecution and the Proper Reason for It. - Acts 4:1-12
The First and Enduring Attributes of Christ’s Church
The First Savior Exalting Sermon of the Church
The Gift of Tongues Part 2
Baptism of the Spirit, Tongues of Fire and the Beginning of the Church
From Judas to Matthias: How to Choose Leaders and Find Hope in Failed Ones
The King’s Orders for the King’s New Men
The Story Before the Beginning of the Story: Genesis - Acts 1
We're in Acts 4. We're in the middle of the story that we've been talking about it for a couple of weeks now, where Peter and John are involved in a miraculous event that brings no small amount of attention to this growing organization, organism, body of people called the church. What we're going to look at today is Acts 4:12-23.
What we're seeing here in the midst of this… It's a critical part in the development of the mission that God wants the church to be a part of. We are introducing the idea of persecution. Because you embrace Christ doesn't mean you are going to always prosper. It doesn't mean you're going to be more popular. In fact, you should expect some persecution when you threaten the status quo and the powers that be.
When they see you are causing people to question the world that those who are currently leading it are suggesting is the best of all possible worlds, and you're showing a better way still, it's going to threaten them. You are going to find this thing called persecution being introduced. This section tells us why we should be persecuted. It tells us how we should respond to persecution. And it tell us how we can be fit for ministry.
You're going to get a couple of things today. You're going to get…What makes men fit for judgment? then…What makes men fit for ministry? and…What is a fitting response to criticism of our mission? We'll give you that and maybe a little more. Let me pray.
Father, thank you for a chance for all of us, wherever we are on the faith continuum, to learn from you this morning. Would you open the eyes of our hearts? Give us ears to hear. Would you have this truth be transformational in our lives so that we can become what it is you desire us to be, a source of glory to you, live lives that are joyful and meaningful to ourselves, and that we could be love and kindness and goodness and, in partnership with you, salvation to others? Help us, Lord, to be this people and to know you as our God. In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, let's take a look at Acts. Acts 4 is where we are. As I said, what we have going on here is the leaders pulling Peter and John apart. We looked at verses 7-11 last week. I just want to touch base with it again. It says, "When the leaders had pulled Peter and John to the center, they asked him the dream question that all of us want to be asked. 'Can you explain to me how you're doing what you're doing?'"
What they're doing here is not causing an insurrection. What they're doing here is good to men. They are, as you'll see a little bit later, in the middle of this person whose life has been broken and has been impoverished and has been separated from God. All of a sudden, he is now walking and dancing and rejoicing and is no longer a slave to a broken, sinful world. He is now free to walk as God intends men to walk.
It is causing no small amount of stir. Thousands of folks responded to the message Peter gave in light of that. Now, here comes the Sanhedrin. Here come the leaders. What they're doing is saying, "Hey, something you guys just did threatens and erodes our authority, our traditions, our power. You are, if you will, wooing people away from the course we have called them on, and that doesn't make us happy."
You will find that when you stand and represent God, and it calls people away from the course of this world, that which their flesh desires, it won't make you popular. That's okay, because what you're calling them to is life indeed. Let me just insert right here… If you're reading in The Journey with us, which is Watermark's daily Bible reading program… It's free, jointhejourney.com, right to your email every single morning.
You read with me in Luke 6 last week. In Luke 6, Jesus says, "Blessed are you who are poor…" In other words, you know that you can't have life the way it was intended to be lived. "…for yours is the kingdom of God." You call out to Christ and say, "Help me." He's going to help you. "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall one day laugh."
Watch this. "Blessed are you when men hate you, ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, not because you are evil but for the sake of the Son of Man, because you're standing for something that is contradictory to the world and man's way. When you suffer for that reason, you have reason then to rejoice. Be glad in that day and leap for joy. Behold, your reward is great in heaven."
Note that it is great in heaven. You can't judge the wisdom of obedience by the immediate outcome every single time. While it might do good to your soul, it might mean that there is somebody who doesn't like it. Don't sit and expect, "Every time I do what God wants me to do, it's going to go well with me."
Luke in Acts and the Scripture says, "Health, wealth, and prosperity are not always yours now. Health of the soul, wealth of confidence, and prosperity in joy, absolutely, but you cannot assume that you're always going to be healthy and wealthy and wise in the world's eyes because you do what God wants you to do."
These men are facing persecution right here. They are ready to go. They have this question. "By what authority or what power or what name have you done this?" Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said, "I'm glad you asked. I think the reason now that you're asking us is because we have done good to this man." It's right there in verse 9.
I made this application last week. It's worth repeating. Make sure you're persecuted for the good you have done in Jesus' name and not the foolishness you are capable of when you don't walk with him. Sometimes, the church has been criticized because we have lived foolishly, living apart from Christ, and when that happens, we should rejoice. We should bear up under it well, we should repent, we should seek forgiveness, we should make amends, and we should get back to being with Jesus.
When we are just calling people to live God's way, and when we are participating with God to bring people out of darkness into his light, bringing them out of a lifestyle that the world celebrates, if we get persecuted for that, if we get prosecuted and persecuted because we say what Jesus said, which is that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through him, so be it.
These guys were being attacked because of the good that they had done. They said, "We're going to tell you how we've done this. It's not our power. It's not Watermark. It's not Todd. It is Jesus working in us. We are earthen vessels," Paul said, "cracked pottery that the light of God shines through. We carry the light. We are not the light. The light is Christ. We are his servants, and you should follow him."
He runs to the Scripture, and he quotes from Psalm 118. I'll show you in a little bit how he knew to do that. He said, "If you want to know what we're doing is we are following Jesus, who is the visible image of the invisible God, the cornerstone that God is building his kingdom with. He is very God of very God. He is the only means through which men can be saved. You rejected him, and that's not wise."
Then, the call to question. This is what we always do. Christian education, teaching, is not to increase people's information. It's to produce transformation. I'll say it to you another way. What we're trying to do is help people be converted to truth. The only way they can be converted to truth is to be convicted by it. They only way they can be convicted by it is if you call to question. Peter does that, and you should do the same thing.
When you share the truth of Christ and encourage other folks, you have to say, "What are you going to do with what I just shared with you? Not get smarter but hopefully respond to it and get saved." You have to move it from some intellectual proposition to a personal relationship. This is so important, because so many people are okay with a God and a Jesus idea. They can tell the story, but they have never executed a faith transaction.
You have to personally respond to what Jesus has done for you. That's where we get this week. This is what they say. This is a key verse, and it's a verse that, when you read it, is going to raise a question that I'm going to try and answer for you quickly this morning. The verse says, "And there is salvation in no one else…" This is a narrow truth. "…for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
That means you don't have to do anything to be lost. You're already lost, but there is provision that you can come back into relationship with God. Guess what? It's not a performance that you're going to do. It is something God has provided. He has provided it through one name under heaven, and that name is Jesus.
"Jesus is the one who we, by faith in him, did this thing that is good. We have caused this lame man to walk again. It's his work. This is the fulfillment of what he said would happen. You rejected him, and that's why you are not able to do the good we are, because you are out of step with God." When you say that, it's not going to make people happy, but these men were willing to say it.
When you read this verse, "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," it should beg the question, "What about those who have never heard about that name? What do we say about them? How are those people saved who do not know who Jesus is?"
I'm going to answer that. Look, you can go find this. I've done this in five to six minutes on Real Truth. Real Quick. I'm going to try and do it maybe a little bit longer this morning but with the same kind of quick answer. I'm going to answer this question. "What about those who have never heard?" In fact, this week, we had a group of folks over in Ethiopia who were sharing their faith.
By the way, when we send folks over to Ethiopia, we don't send them over there to be on mission that week. They're already on mission. They are people who are faithfully doing what we should do all the time right here in Dallas. We say at Watermark that life is a long-term mission trip, and every week is a short-term mission opportunity.
We don't go to Ethiopia or Haiti to be on mission. We are on mission right where we are. Let me just encourage you with this. Some people have asked, "Why do you go to Ethiopia? Don't they have their own religion over there?" I would just say, "They might, and they probably do, but if it's not the faith, once and for all delivered to the saints, there is no way that they can be saved."
Men cannot be saved by any other name under heaven. There is no one else except Jesus who can save men. You might say, "Todd, what about those who have never heard? What about those people in the dark recesses of Africa who have never heard?" I want to just encourage you with this, and it should encourage you. It should motivate you or encourage you in the truest sense, which is to spur you on.
Just for this purpose, this week, in good old Dallas, Texas, the buckle of the Bible Belt, I went and engaged some different people who were just kind of available, standing there. I didn't interrupt people who were in the middle of the course of some business affair, but when I saw them in a moment when they were standing and waiting or thinking.
I just walked up and asked them a simple question right here in Dallas. I said, "Hey, do you mind if I ask you a quick question?" They kind of look at me at first, size me up like, what, do I need gas money? Who knows what. It looks like I'm decently fed, so they probably didn't think I was asking for money. I go, "Look, this won't take long. I'm just trying to educate myself on the basic understanding of this community. I want to ask you if you know the answer to this question. 'Who is Jesus? Why is he relevant and necessary to my life?'"
That's all I asked them. I got all kinds of varied responses. They would look at me and go, "I don't know, man. That question makes me uncomfortable." I go, "Okay. It makes you uncomfortable, but I just want to know. Do you know who Jesus is and what his essential role in history is?" That's the question I asked.
Some people wanted to have a conversation because they had no idea. Other people would go, "Man, I don't care about that stuff." I said, "Okay. It's okay that you don't care about it. Has anybody ever told you?" "No, man, I don't care." That's right here in Dallas. There are all kinds of people who, when you ask them that simple question… "Tell me about the necessity, the uniqueness, and the preeminence of Jesus Christ in history." They don't know siccum.
It is our privilege to be in this city to tell them because there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which mean must be saved. Let's go, church. I'm going to show you some stories at the end of this message today that ought to motivate you, who the next people are who are going to lead this church and be a part of this continuation of the book of Acts as the Word of God continues to go forth.
There are people who are still far from God who God wants to use. You crack pots with a light shining forth to bring them to faith. "Todd, what about those who have never heard, who don't have some guy who walks up to them in Dallas and asks them about Jesus? Better yet, folks I'm running with all the time who I engage with in conversation about Jesus. I don't want to worship a God who sends people to hell just because they've never heard the gospel."
Let me encourage you. God isn't going to send people to hell because they've never heard the gospel. Sometimes, people hear this question, and they're starting the line of thought this way. Sometimes, people will say, "Listen. How can God send people to hell just because they didn't grow up around Christians? That's not just."
I want to encourage you with this. God is just. Whatever you want to make of my answer to this question, you need to be convinced that God is just. The Scriptures scream that from beginning to end. Deuteronomy 32:4 says just that. "The Rock [meaning God]… His ways are perfect. All his ways are just. He's a God of faithfulness, and he's without injustice."
Job, who suffered on this earth more than any other man, says in chapter 34, "Listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do any wickedness and from the Almighty to do wrong. Whatever you think is happening to me or whatever you think happens to the unevangelized heathen, God doesn't do wrong." Verse 12: "Surely, God does not act wickedly, and the Almighty never perverts justice."
It would be unjust, wouldn't it, if God sent people to hell because they grew up around Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus or atheistic, communistic regimes that force God and discussion of him out of society? Here's the information I want to give you today. That's not why men to go hell. The Bible never says that men go to hell and are under judgment because they reject the Jesus of whom they have never heard.
1._ What makes a man fit for judgment?_ The Bible says that men are under judgment because they suppress the truth they have in unrighteousness. In two primary ways do all men have truth: creation and conscience. Creation shows up in Romans 1:18. It says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident with them; for God made it evident to them.
For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools"
Let me review. What God is saying right here in Romans 1 is that there is enough evidence in creation for men to realize we are not here as a result of time plus nothing and chance. Something has made beauty. Something has made order. It's the teleological argument, and there are many for the existence of God.
When you come across something that has design and beauty and order, it commends to you an intelligent designer, that there is some other reason that it is there. We know from the second law of thermodynamics that things move from order to disorder and not from disorder to order. We know just from observational science that you don't get an explosion in a metal factory and get a 747 out of it.
You don't have a box of alphabet cereal and dump it out and get Hamlet. It just doesn't happen. Somebody put those letters together in a way to form words to create this incredible thing of beauty. God says creation is like that. When you see that there is something greater than you, it should make you humble and desire to know it and honor it.
Secondly, in chapter 2 of Romans, it says conscience is a reason. In other words… I'll read to you Romans 2:1. It says, "Therefore you have no excuse [whether you have the law or not] , everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."
In other words, when you in your heart look at somebody else… No one has ever told you the Ten Commandments or anything else, but in every society, it's called the universal moral law that God has stamped on every human heart. Every society in the world…
I've been in the most impoverished countries in the world, and people are starving, and there are chickens walking around, and folks don't go, "I'm going to take that chicken and kill it and eat it because I think it would be good for me tonight," without seeking permission or having some exchange of value or labor, because they know that stealing is wrong. Even cannibals. The may eat other tribes, but they don't eat one another, because they know that is not good.
God says that on your heart, there is this law. When you say, "That shouldn't be done," and you do it, you are bringing judgment on yourself. Your conscience tells you that you're a sinner. When you go, "I'm not going to deal with my sin, and I'm not going to deal with the designer of my life and beauty," then he says you're under judgment for that.
God is just. No one goes to hell for rejecting a Jesus of whom they've never heard. It is still true. "There is no other name under heaven by which man must be saved." You might be asking yourself, "What about those who seek God who have never heard the gospel?" First of all, you need to know that this unevangelized heathen who desires a relationship with God doesn't exist.
Psalm 15, Psalm 53, quoted in Romans 3, says just that. It says, "There is none who seek God. There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks for God. All together have turned aside and become useless. There is none who does good. There is not even one."
In other words, men are dead in their trespasses and sins, and there is nothing in them that will ever cause them to seek God apart from God doing some divine work in their life, some spark of grace that would cause men to seek him. Sometimes, he uses pain. Sometimes, he uses the truth revealed. Sometimes, he uses creation.
There are, by the way, stories I have heard of folks who grew up in Muslim nations. We had a member of our body who used to be a Buddhist monk in Cambodia during Pol Pot's genocidal regime. In the midst of that, he was running for his life, and he said, "A man in white kept appearing to me, telling me to follow him. I thought it was one of the forefathers, one of my ancients in meditation. I found out later it was Jesus who was showing himself to me and revealing himself to me."
There are Jesus dreams happening throughout the Muslim world, the Islamic world, right now left and right. People are having visions of 'Isa. He is telling them, "Follow me. Seek me." God will get his Word to those who he, in his kindness, moves toward him, but this is what you need to know. I tell people this. Whatever is true of those who live somewhere who have never heard of the gospel… Because you're hearing me say this, it's not true of you.
W.C. Fields, who was a comedian that most of you don't know because you're younger than me, a bulbous-nosed drunk kind of comedian with a great wit, used to read his Bible. Some folks who looked at his life and didn't see it as congruent with God's Word said, "W.C., why are you always reading your Bible?" He would say in his famous way (I can't do a great W.C. Fields impersonation), "Looking for loopholes, my chickadee, looking for loopholes."
Sometimes, people ask this question about what to do about this unevangelized heathen because they hope if there is a way of escape for that person, there is a way of escape for them. What I would tell is that whatever is true of this seeker of God who has never heard the gospel is not true of you.
By the way, the most illogical thing you can do if you're concerned about that person who lives somewhere apart from God is to suppress the gospel which will save them in your own life and become a faithful follower of Jesus who will then become compelled to tell others about him wherever you are.
If you really care about that person, the right thing to do is to respond to the message and get after it. I'm telling you that you don't have to get on the plane to Ethiopia or Haiti to find people who need to understand the uniqueness of Jesus. They are right here. Let's get busy, church, and let's tell folks. Ask the question. "Has anybody ever told you?" That's all you have to do. "Has anybody ever told you the central message of the Scripture?"
"I don't believe the Bible is the Word of God." I would say to them, "I didn't ask you if you believed the Bible was the Word of God. I asked you if you understood the central message of the Bible. You must say that you believe in the power and wisdom of the intellect, or you wouldn't say that you don't believe the Bible is the Word of God.
Obviously, you're a thinker, but the Bible is, without a doubt, the most read and published and talked about book in all of human history. To reject the message of it without understanding what it is wouldn't be very intellectual, would it? Let me ask you again. Has anybody ever told you what the central message of the Bible is?"
Most folks will tell you, "God is good, and man is bad. You'd better get it right, or he's going to smack you silly, and you'll go to hell." Go, "Okay, that's not correct. The Bible is not a rulebook telling you how to live. The Bible is a revelation, explaining God's love for you and how he can rescue you from sin and death and how he did that through one man. His name is Jesus. That's why you were born in…"
"…1963. We mark our days based on this one man because he matters, because he went to a cross for you, and God loves you. He's not mad at you. He wants to rescue you from your sin. He did it through Jesus. Do you know him?" What makes you fit for judgment? Being alive. Having a conscience. Being able to see all that is around you.
I think I shared this one other time before. My family and I were up in Canada. Our waitress was a sweet little gal from Australia. We engaged her and started talking. We asked her if she had a faith. She goes, "No, no. I believe in science," to which I said, "Good. We believe in science too. We're fans of science. We like science."
By the way, don't be intimidated by science. Science is just a systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. That's all it is. I told her, "We base our lives on something more than science. Science is just the observation of finite and failed men who sometimes make mistakes. We've thought things scientifically before that aren't the same. That's why we don't follow a science book."
I turned to my 14-year-old son at the time and said, "Tell her why we don't put our trust in science." He looked at her and said, "Because science changes every one or two years." I go, "What we put our faith in is something that never will pass away, that will be completely fulfilled, every jot and tittle of it. While we're grateful for science, we don't revere it as we do the revelation of God. Men make mistakes. God never makes a mistake. Let me ask you a question. What can science tell you about things you can't otherwise know?"
We started talking to her about where we came from and where we're going and how we can be certain of it. It was a great conversation. We did for her what you can only do if you're like the disciples were in Acts 4:13. Let's read it. It says, "Now, as the Sanhedrin observed these men who were telling them who they were, telling them how they did what they did, and using the Scripture to call them to a place of response and conviction…"
It says, "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed…" All they could say was, "These guys, who didn't come up through our schools and who aren't lettered…" That's literally what the word uneducated means there, agrammatos, which means they don't have proper training. They are unschooled. "They're not lettered men. They don't have a PhD within our little rabbinical traditions."
"They are untrained." That word there… I love that word. It's idiōtēs, literally. We pull the word idiōtēs out of untrained, and it literally means on your own. If you're an idiot, you're stuck in your own mind, in your own understanding. Nobody informs you. You're an idiot. It's a word used for somebody who owns their own business. They own their own business. Somebody who doesn't want to ever be enlightened. They literally own their own worldview. It's not informed by anything.
In this sense, the Sanhedrin was saying, "You haven't learned from us, yet you're teaching us the Scripture. While you're not lettered in traditional, worldly, academic ways, and while you are in our mind, therefore, stuck in your own opinion, there is something about you that isn't isolated." Peter and John weren't idiots in the sense that they didn't care what anybody else thought. They learned to care only about what Jesus thought.
That was a heck of a choice because he is very God of very God. He is the author and perfector of faith. He is the Creator of all things that were made by him and through him and for him. These men who should have been uneducated and untrained were in fact the most enlightened. I love the statement that no man is uneducated who knows the Bible, and no man is wise who is ignorant of his teachings.
What these guys, Peter and John, are about to show these rabbis is they are ignorant of his teachings. The reason they can do that is because they were with the Rabbi, the good Rabbi, the one who wrote the book. Watch this. This is good stuff right here. I'm going to show you how Peter and John could pull off what they did. I'm going to show you how they were successful in ministry. You're going to learn how you can be successful. We've already seen what makes a man fit for judgment, just being alive, having a conscience, living in the midst of creation.
2._ What makes a man fit for ministry?_ Answer: it's not a PhD. It's not a seminary degree. It's that you spend time with Jesus. If seminary is helpful, it's only because while you were at seminary, you learned to spend time with Jesus. You don't need to go to seminary to spend time with Jesus. The word seminary means seminal. You're going to go to essential truths. That's what you do. You study essential truths.
In a sense, that's what you should do in every Community Group. "We're going to counsel biblically. We're going to pay attention to the public reading of Scripture, the seminal truth of God. Anything else you waste your time on. You might be educated and trained in the world's ways, but you will not be wise. We are people of the book. We spend time with Jesus."
What you're going to see is the disciples, in Acts 2, 3, and 4, who were starting to turn the world on its ear, all they were doing is what they learned from Jesus. First of all… This is kind of fun. In John 7, Jesus is running around, and he gets confronted by the leadership of the day in verse 15, and they are amazed, it says, about Jesus, because he is an uneducated guy.
It says in John 7:15, "The Jews then were astonished, saying, 'How has this man become learned, having never been educated [in our rabbinical schools] ?'" Answer: he wrote the book. This is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus tells them that. Watch this. This is John 10, when Jesus is engaging with them and wants them to know a little bit about how he rolls.
This is what he said to them. "The Jews then gathered around him, and were saying to him, 'How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.' Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in my Father's name, these testify of me.'" In effect, what they're saying is, "By what authority are you doing what you're doing?" He's saying, "You don't believe because you're not mine."
Watch this. Verse 30: "I and the Father are one.""To see me is to see the Father. To know me is to know the Father. I am the Father in visible human form. I'm the Messiah, eternal Father, mighty God, Prince of Peace, wonderful Counselor." They're saying straight up, "Are you the Messiah?" People sometimes go, "Jesus never claimed to be God." This is one spot you can take them. You can't say it any more plainly than this.
Christ is just the Aramaic way of saying the Hebrew Messiah. "Are you the guy?" "Oh, yeah." Now, watch this. "The Jews picked up stones again to stone him." Do you remember what happened back there in Acts 4? The Sanhedrin is not happy with Peter and John because they're upsetting the powers that be and the systems of man.
Peter and John say, "Hey, are you mad at us because we just did this really good thing?" Where did they get the idea to do that? Here we are in John 10. "Jesus answered them, 'I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning me?'" There are a lot of people who were dead in their trespasses and sins here at Watermark, who were adulterers, homosexuals, heterosexually immoral people. They were materialistic, self-willed child abusers, drug dealers.
God saved those people, and they're no longer a scourge to society but are now here, clothed in their right mind, seated at the feet of Jesus, making disciples. For which one of those are you mad at us? That's what ought to be said. Those kids we're discipling in West Dallas, those kids without fathers who we're mentoring in their homes, the hungry we're feeding, the medical clinic we opened… Which one of these things are you mad at us for that we're doing in Jesus' name?
"The Jews answered him, 'For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy…'" This is something they shouldn't say of us. We're not claiming to be God. We're claiming to be people of God, called by his name, who God is working in and through. To Jesus, they said, "…you, being a man, make yourself out to be God."
What does Jesus do? He takes them to God's Word. He says, "Hey, in Psalm 82, there the phrase is used, 'You are gods.'" Jesus takes them and explains to them why it's not inappropriate that he would say he could be on earth doing the work of God and be called that in a way that is very different than other people are called gods. He said, "I'm calling myself exactly what Scripture calls people sometimes. Why do you have a problem with that?"
He does good works. He takes them to the good Word. He calls them to make a response. That's what you're going to see the disciples do again and again. They learned it from him. Watch this. The Sanhedrin had to be pulling their hair out. At the very end of Jesus' life, in Matthew 22, there is a little confrontation with Jesus in verse 23. It says, "On that day some Sadducees…" These are the exact same guys, now about seven to ten weeks later.
They're hanging out with Peter and John. They came to Jesus, and they questioned him. They gave him some scenario about a guy who married a woman, and the guy died. Another guy married a woman, and that guy died. Another guy married a woman, and that guy died. Another guy married a woman, and that guy died. They go, "At the end of the age, who is going to be that gal's husband?"
Jesus said to them what only God can do. "I'm going to tell you what the other side is like." He says, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." Note that he didn't say men become angels. When your children die or parents die, you don't have an angel in heaven.
You become a glorified man, and you will rule over the angels, but like angels in heaven, we will not be given in marriage. Jesus says, "You just don't even know your Bible." Then he goes on to say, "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read…" Take them to the Word. "…what was spoken to you by God…"
This is what you have to do. You're going to find that the disciples do this again and again. When people ask them questions, they say, "Have you not read? Don't you know that God's Word says?" What Jesus does is he quotes from Exodus 3 here. He says, "I'm the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob."
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead at that point, but he said, "I'm still their God." Why? Because he's not the God of the dead but of the living. What he's saying is, "You don't understand the way of God because you don't know who God is." Look what Jesus did. He lived wisely, he took them to Scripture, and he called them to respond.
If you keep reading in this passage, the Pharisees are fired up because the Sadducees, their enemies, look silly. They come and ask him a question. Jesus answers their question by telling them that the greatest command is to love the Lord with all your heart and to love others as themselves.
It says at the end of that particular conversation that some of them responded to him and had a question, and then he would take them to Psalm 110. What is so interesting about that is in Acts 2, when Peter and John are giving their very first message on the day of Pentecost, guess what psalm they pull from. Psalm 110, to make the case that Jesus is the descendent of David, who was Lord of David. They had been with Jesus.
I'll give you one more. I could do this all day. You read Paul. All Paul does is take the acorn of truth that Jesus planted and grows it into the oak tree of revelation. The book of James is just a straight rip-off from the Sermon on the Mount. It's just men who have been with Jesus. This is one of my favorites. Right here in Matthew 21, Jesus is hanging out. He says, "Let me tell you a story. It's a story of a landowner."
Jesus quotes from the Scripture, Isaiah 5, about a guy who had a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a winepress in it. He built a tower, and he rented it out. He went on a journey. It says he eventually went to collect what was his. He sent his slaves to the vine-growers, and they beat that first one. They killed another and then a third. He sent a larger group of slaves. They did them wrong.
Finally, he said, "I'll send my son. Surely, they'll respect my son." They said, "No, we'll kill the son, and then we can have this and be the heir ourselves." Jesus then says, "Let me ask you a question. What do you think that vineyard owner is going to do to those tenants when he shows up?" They respond, "He's going to tear those wretched wretches to a wretched end."
Guess what Jesus does. He says, "Boys, that's what you're doing to me." He quotes Psalm 118:22, which says, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." Why do I read that to you? Because Peter and John are being prosecuted, and they're being told, "You can't say those things," and they go, "We have to say those things. We're talking about Jesus, and Jesus is the one who does all that is good. He is the chief Cornerstone. These guys are just rip-offs."
Winston Churchill said, "It is good for ignorant men to read books of quotes." It's a fact. You sound smart when you quote them. These guys are uneducated and untrained except for one thing. They have been with Jesus. They know the story, they have seen what he has done, and they can't stop talking about it.
Let me say this to you again. When a guy named Charles Spurgeon, who was like Peter and John, a guy who just quoted Scripture left and right, was asked about the unevangelized heathen, he said, "I have a better question for you. Can those of us who have heard the gospel and don't tell other people about it really be saved?"
In other words, if we know the truth and don't care to share that with other people, what kind of folks are we? Do we have the heart of God in us? Can you imagine if somebody had the cure to ALS? It would have kept an entire nation from dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads for the last two years. Can you imagine if they had just sat on it?
Can you imagine if somebody had the cure to cancer? I'm about to bury a very close friend of mine at this church because of cancer. Somebody is just sitting on it because they don't want to upset the status quo of the medical industry? Look. All that is happening… My friend is going to die in a very temporal way, but it won't be the end of her life.
It will be the eternal beginning of it. Letting people suffer through two or three decades of living is one thing, but when you keep silent about that which is the antidote to judgment eternally, it makes me wonder if you really know it or have even an ounce of compassion in you. My friend, if you know God, you are full of compassion, because it was the compassion of God that moved him to send his Son to go to a cross for you and me.
If you have a relationship with that Son, you cannot be quiet. That's exactly what these men say. When they're done with these guys, they don't know what to do with them. "Weren't we just with Jesus? Didn't he cause us the same problems?" They kind of go, "Time out. Huddle up." Imagine this. Peter and John are sitting over there. The Sanhedrin get together. They huddle up, and they say, "First of all, we can't deny who they are because we see (verse 14) the man who had been healed standing." They are silenced.
In other words, when the world sees us, they ought to be going, "You know, I don't much like what they say, but we can't argue with what kind of people they are." I'm telling you, church. Let other men see your good works so they will glorify your Father in heaven. People are sitting there watching this thing go down, and they go, "We kind of like what Peter and John are doing with all the lame people in our town. We like the way that they are not forced by government to sell all their goods and redistribute it.
They just share with one another as anyone might have need, and they do it because they love each other, and they do it because they saw their Father who, though he was rich, for their sake became poor. They are just following the servant example of their benevolent King. We like their King. Their King uses power to save us. You guys are using your power to make us do a bunch of things that keep you in power. We think we like them. What are you going to say about them?" In verse 15, it says,
"But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, 'What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.'"
"Yeah, that's what we'll do. We'll go warn them, 'Don't do it again, or we'll get mad at you.'" "And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." Some of you guys act like you're already under that order, and you're not. "But Peter and John answered and said to them, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge…'"
"We just told you we're doing this and saying this because God told us to say this. I thought you were godly men. You want us to do what you want us to do rather than what God wants us to do?" Verse 20: "…we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." Folks, I'm asking this question. Can you stop?
Do you see what is happening here? I'm not talking about the size. I'm not talking about the fact that we're using resources to invest in and extend the kingdom. I'm talking about the life change that is happening here. This week, on Sunday night… I spoke here Sunday morning. Then I jumped in a plane and flew up to Colorado. There were about 180 kids at Summit Ministries. If you have high school kids or early college kids, I highly encourage you to send them. It's a two-week worldview training academy.
I went and spent some time with them last Sunday night. I was talking to these kids. Right before I got to speaking, we were doing one of those silly crowd icebreakers. They said, "Why don't you turn to each other and tell everybody, if you could have any superpower, what it would be." It's kind of corny. They all went and started doing it.
About halfway through my message, I was talking to them about who they were and the privilege God had given them. I just said, "Gang, let me ask you a question. What if I gave you this superpower? What if I gave you the ability to speak words that the Spirit of God would use to convict men of sin, tell them of what true righteousness looks like, and deliver them from judgment?
What if I gave you the superpower of being able to reconcile sinful humanity to a holy God? What if I gave you the ability to be a part of people being raised from the dead in the name of Jesus? What else do you want to do?" Then I told them story after story of what I saw God doing right here where I live in your midst, through you and in you.
You could see those kids sit there and go, "What else do I want to do with my life?" In fact, I looked at them. I went, "Do you know what this is? This is Sky High." If you ever watched that movie, I love that movie. It's a movie about a bunch of superhero kids who are in their superhero high school trying to figure out what their superpower is and how to use it.
I said, "You guys, this is Sky High, and some of you guys are about to discover your superpower. God wants to use you to raise men from the dead, let lame men walk and blind men see… Folks who are deaf to the truth of God are going to hear about who God truly is through you. What else do you want to do?"
Folks, let me just tell you why we have to be about this. All through our city is the next generation of faithful church men and women who God wants to use, and he's going to use you to do it if you are filled with the Spirit, have been with Jesus, take them to the Word, and proclaim the necessity of Jesus Christ.
When you do that, people are going to be called out of darkness into his marvelous light, and generations of faithful people are going to walk up. Let me prove it to you. Here are just some of the stories that have happened here. Watch this.
Male: You don't know me yet…
Male: …but in the future, I'll be a key leader in your church.
Female: I'm going to start attending your church simply because I got lost and stumbled into your parking lot.
Male: You'll challenge me to put my gifts to work…
Male: …serving as an elder…
Male: …mentoring young couples…
Male: …leading in children's ministry.
Female: This will be a surprise for both you and me because…
Female: …I am a gay rights activist…
Male: …serving myself and using others.
Male: I'm selling drugs. I'm using drugs, and I have a deep hate for God.
Female: Jesus is a foreign concept to me. I do not know anything about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
Female: It's only because you reached out to me and discipled me…
Male: …encouraged me…
Male: …introduced me to Jesus.
Female: One day, you'll walk into my life, and you'll challenge me to evaluate my faith and my sexuality. You'll lead me into biblical truth and walk beside me and help me work that out.
Male: You'll invite me into your life, ask me questions that I've never been asked before.
Male: One day, somebody will come up to me and say, "Listen, why don't we try to do a church like you guys used to do your ministry with high school and college students? What if we made it really real? What if we took all of the pretenses away and started living transparently in front of people? What if we started telling them about hope and that Christ is real seven days a week?
Male: When you invest in me and my future wife, it's going to change everything about my life.
Female: My life has been leading up to this.
Male: I'm waiting for that day. I know it's going to happen. When they sit down with me and say, "It's time to get back in the game, to use the gifts you used so joyfully for so many years. You've been sitting around and not using them as effectively as you can." That day is coming.
Female: I'm in your town.
Male: I'm in your community.
Female: I'm in your church.
Male: Hi. My name is Neil, and you haven't met me yet.
[End of video]
See, gang. I'm telling you. Those aren't just actors and stories we hoped would happen. Those are stories right here. I can't stop talking about it. It's what Jesus has done and what Jesus is doing, and you are the hope of the world, and there is no other name under heaven by which mean can be saved where God can do those things.
It is your superpower, and you shall be as witnesses when the power of God comes on you. You should proclaim it right here in your little Ethiopia today. Folks are waiting for you to tell them that death was arrested.