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Acts Devotionals

False Doctrine

To the Jews during the period of the apostles, the name of Jesus was a swear word, an insult and offensive. Read our passage again today:

Ac 4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the capstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

As soon as the people of verse 1 found Peter and John proclaiming that in Jesus there is life after death … the resurrection of the soul, the Sadducees and high priest and those from his family (all of whom were Sadducees), who did not believe in the resurrection were “disturbed”. This means they were filled with pain and distress that according to their doctrine, not only did the one they put to death, Jesus … rise from the dead, but that all who follow Him will also be resurrected after they died. This was too much for them. They hated the thought of it. They hated that people were taught this. It was contradictory to what they taught and it needed to be stopped immediately.

1) They seized Peter and John. The word “seize” means to take forcefully as a prisoner. They were thrown into jail until the next morning. Sadly this is what happens when those opposed to Jesus in countries closed to the Gospel do. Instead of constructive dialogue, discussion and debate … remove the source of the “problem”. I need to point out here that when we present the Gospel we must never be forceful, condemning of another religion, vindictive or spiteful. All we must do is present the Gospel accurately and lovingly … and allow the Holy Spirit to be the after speaker, convicting and convincing. God wants us to be His witnesses. We are not saviors nor judges. We have our work and God has His work. Often we fail or we could get into trouble because we tend to usurp God’s authority. This is where we fail in our Gospel presentation.

2) Correctly presenting the Gospel in love yields great rewards.

Ac 4:4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

These were people who were inquisitive about the cripple’s healing. They came and they heard … and what they heard made sense and the Holy Spirit worked and another 2,000 were added to the Kingdom. Now the converted numbers stood at 5,000. This is what happens when things are done God’s way. However, there is another caution … we must never be fixated on numbers! If a pastor and a Church’s goal is to grow the numbers they will never grow the Kingdom. We need to grow the Kingdom and God will grow the Church!

3) Peter and John were taken from jail and brought before the high priest and his family, who were present when the rulers (Sanhedrin) elders and teachers (scribes and Pharisees) met the following day.

Ac 4:5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.

Amongst the questions presented to these two apostles was … “By what power or what name did you do this?” This was a key question but unwittingly, it played right into Peter’s hands! Something we need to do when talking to people and especially those we want to evangelize is … listen. Listen to what people say, especially their questions. This will make our Gospel explanation (presentation) so much easier! Just as an aside, the question acknowledges that the cripple was healed!

4) Nothing catches God off guard. Every contact is a Divine Appointment. At Pentecost Peter spoke to the Jews from around the world who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. That was a work of God. Now God gets right into the Jewish Sanhedrin. He gets to the highest ranking officials … to the custodians of “religion”.

Ac 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the capstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

(1) The importance of the Holy Spirit. Although in one sense very different to us, we too need the Holy Spirit to speak to and through us as we evangelize. After all the work is His work. We are only His agents.

(2) Peter is respectful as he addresses the leaders of Israel. We too need to be respectful and tactful as we speak for Jesus.

(3) Peter refuses to claim any credit for the cripple man’s healing.

(4) They asked by what power or what name they healed the cripple … and the answer they got was staggering! Peter does not just say “in Jesus’ Name” … he says that the Jesus they crucified … whom God raised from the dead … that is the power and that is the name! The high priest and his associates were the ones who incited the people to demand Pilate crucify Jesus. They were the killers … but God was the life giver. They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, yet Jesus was raised from the dead by God! It is not just in the Book of Acts and the Bible as a whole, but even today … false doctrine catches people out!

O Lord our God, help us to be true to Your Word. Help us never to distort or change any Biblical doctrine. Help us to be true and faithful to the Word. Amen.

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