Early Church Success - by Bro. Lawrence Richardson (Sun. 4-11-2010 pm)

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[Note: Verses and commentary extracted using http://www.wordsearchbible.com/]
Acts 4:5-13 (KJV)
5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
13 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.
Acts 4:20 (KJV)
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:29 (KJV)
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
Notes for 4:5,6
The rulers, elders, and teachers of the law made up the Jewish council — the same council that had condemned Jesus to death (Luke 22:66). It had 70 members plus the current high priest, who presided over the group. The Sadducees held a majority in this ruling group. These were the wealthy, intellectual, and powerful men of Jerusalem. Jesus' followers stood before this council just as he had.

Notes for 4:6
Annas had been deposed as high priest by the Romans, who then appointed Caiaphas, Annas's son-in-law, in his place. But because the Jews considered the office of high priest a lifetime position, they still called Annas by that title and gave him respect and authority within the council. Annas and Caiaphas had played significant roles in Jesus' trial (John 18:24,28). It did not please them that the man they thought they had sacrificed for the good of the nation (John 11:49-51) had followers who were just as persistent and who promised to be just as troublesome as he was.

Notes for 4:7
The council asked Peter and John by what power they had healed the man (Acts 3:6,7) and by what authority they preached (Acts 3:12-26). The actions and words of Peter and John threatened these religious leaders who, for the most part, were more interested in their reputations and positions than in God. Through the help of the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11), Peter spoke boldly before the council, actually putting the council on trial by showing them that the One they had crucified had risen again. Instead of being defensive, the apostles went on the offensive, boldly speaking out for God and presenting the gospel to these leaders.

Notes for 4:11
The capstone unites the two sides of an arch and holds it together. Peter said that the Jews rejected Jesus, but now Christ has become the capstone of the church (Psalm 118:22; Mark 12:10; 1Peter 2:7). Without him there would be no church, because it wouldn't be able to stand.

Notes for 4:12
Many people react negatively to the fact that there is no other name than that of Jesus to call on for salvation. Yet this is not something the church decided; it is the specific teaching of Jesus himself (John 14:6). If God designated Jesus to be the Savior of the world, no one else can be his equal. Christians are to be open-minded on many issues, but not on how we are saved from sin. No other religious teacher could die for our sins; no other religious teacher came to earth as God's only Son; no other religious teacher rose from the dead. Our focus should be on Jesus, whom God offered as the way to have an eternal relationship with himself. There is no other name or way!

Notes for 4:13
Knowing that Peter and John were unschooled, the council was amazed at what being with Jesus had done for them. A changed life convinces people of Christ's power. One of your greatest testimonies is the difference others see in your life and attitudes since you have believed in Christ.
Life Application Study Bible.
The servants in the footsteps of their Lord.
I. Compare the CIRCUMSTANCES of this testimony with those in which Jesus stood. Some of the same were present. Actuated by similar feelings against the truth. But notice:
1. Called together on the ground of one specific fact — the miracle done (ver. 7) undeniably real.
2. Without any accusation as in the Lord's case. No false witnesses called.
3. In appearance, at least, orderly and candid; inquiring, “By what power, or in what Name, have ye done this?” certainly evincing, as does the sequel, considerable reaction from the fury of the Crucifixion. Conscience was at work. A sign that the gospel was already beginning to lay hold of Jerusalem.
II. Consider the TESTIMONY borne by the apostle.
1. The substance of it. It pointed to the signs of Divine power present; connected those signs with the Name and authority of Jesus Christ; clearly announced the fulfillment of Scripture, and invited all to rejoice in the blessings of the gospel.
2. The inspiration of it; seen in its simplicity, boldness, wisdom, and yet supreme gentleness and love. A perfect respect for the old, and yet an entire acceptance of the new with all its consequences. It was not the address of a criminal excusing himself, or of a suspected man putting by the misconstructions of enemies; it was the appeal of a herald and inspired ambassador, fulfilling his Divine office to be a witness to Jesus. There was in it a sublime indifference to human opposition, and yet a confidence in the sufficiency of the gospel which could not have been of merely human origin. Peter spoke as one “filled with the Holy Ghost,” the Spirit of truth, life, and love; as a true Israelite, without one word of disparagement of what was represented in that Sanhedrim; and yet as a true apostle of Christ; as the priest of that restored temple, of which Jesus was henceforth the Corner-stone; and as a true prophet, able to connect the present with the past and the future, and say, “Thus saith the Lord.” — R.
Verse 12. —
The unfolded banner of salvation.
Neither is there salvation in any other,” etc. The contrast between the position of Christ's heralds thee and now. They pointed to one miracle just wrought; we point to the whole succession of wonders along the line of Christian history. Already the Name of Jesus is “above every name.”
(1) A proclamation;
(2) a warning;
(3) an invitation.
I. A PROCLAMATION. “None other name.”
1. The proclamation of witnesses. They knew the person, they saw the power, they were subjects of the grace. The Name was a history, testified by those who published it. Others could take knowledge that they had been with Jesus. So Christians still can speak of the Name as in their own hearts and lives “above every name.”
2. The proclamation of inspired teachers. The name misunderstood among Jews, because salvation itself nothing to them, not spiritually regarded. The Name of the “Messiah” represented the promise of atonement, spiritual deliverance. The apostles themselves taught of God, otherwise would never have known the secrets of the Name. They proclaimed salvation necessary to all, denouncing the self-righteousness of the Jews.
3. The proclamation of sincere philanthropists. “Under heaven given among men.” The standard set up at Jerusalem, but it meant conquest of the whole world. No name will bear this test but Christ’s. Other names, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, have but a limited range, of sympathy — divide the world, not unite it. The history of man is a progressive preparation of the race to acknowledge a Name which shall be adapted for universal recognition and homage. A missionary spirit the test of a true Church.
II. A WARNING. There are other names among men. Recall the chief dangers of our present time. The builders at the temple of human progress are setting at naught the corner-stone. An emasculated Christianity, robbed of its deepest adaptation to the wants of men; a mere bundle of moral principles and examples. The pride of the human intellect set on the throne; in rationalistic criticism; the dry bones of the Bible offered instead of the living reality; in socialistic theories put in place, of spiritual change, which alone can produce the fruits of righteousness; in sophistical arguments against the leading doctrines of the gospel; and pretended philanthropy, which means nothing but trifling with the awful realities of sin, and undue exaltation of the material above the spiritual interests of men. Other names in the Church. The priest hiding the Savior; the ritual shutting out the truth; sectarianism dishonoring Christ; names of leaders and teachers made into temptations to spiritual pride, and mere hero-worship substituted for simple-minded obedience to Christ's commandments. Yet the Name above every name in fact, and must be seen to be so. The Name of the coming Judge, who, though he find not faith on the earth, will still destroy all that exalteth itself against him, “that God may be all in all.”
1. To acceptance of a free gift. Given amongst men.” Contrast between Christ's method of helping men and that of the world's teachers.
2. To separation from a lost cause. The names of the world represent the old things which are passing away. Come out and be separate. Name the Name of Christ in order to realize salvation. Half-hearted religion no joy.
3. To anticipation of a final victory. As the Name we honor represents a life which went up from the lowliest places on earth to the highest in heaven, so those who are called after the Name rise to the throne to reign with Christ. Will you sell such a birthright for vain delight? Will you forfeit such a prospect for lack of faith? — R.
Verses 13-22. —
The impotence of unbelief.
I. In the presence of FACTS. The historical evidence of the gospel must be pressed home on men's consciences. Make them acknowledge, “We cannot deny it.” The facts of Christian life and character before their eyes. Hence the power of great movements like those of the evangelical revivals.
II. In contrast with the MORAL STRENGTH OF DEEP CONVICTION AND STRAIGHTFORWARD ALLEGIANCE TO TRUTH. The shifting of ground, the sophistry, the blasphemy, the dishonesty, the malice, and yet the cowardice of modern unbelief. “What shall we do to these men?” The question was not “What shall we do with the facts?” but “How shall we escape dealing fairly with them?” Personality is the resort of weak and dishonest minds. If they will not believe, they persecute.
III. IN SENSELESS THREATENINGS AND PRESUMPTION in the presence of the mysteries and glories of advancing faith. “That it spread no further among the people.” Folly of such a policy. The people see through the devices of a false Church — are not long deceived by the vain boastings of infidelity. A bold and aggressive method must be the hope of the Christian Church in the climax of opposition now reached. We must plant ourselves firmly on the rock of undeniable facts, and hearken unto God rather than unto men. “All men then will glorify God for what is done.” — R.
Verse 13. —
Witnessing for Christ.
They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Fulfillment of the promise, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Reward for obedience to the precept, depend on the Spirit. No mere human resources applied to; the men simply spiritual men, bearing witness to Divine facts.
I. A GREAT CHANGE MADE MANIFEST. Fishermen, Jews, once filled with fear, now bold, eloquent, full of the Holy Ghost, proclaiming a doctrine once hateful to them, uplifted to a lofty conception of the kingdom of God. The whole explanation in the fact they had been with Jesus, as disciples, as chosen out by him for their mission, as qualified for it by his gifts of the Spirit.
1. By the clear and decided expression of Christian faith. The world is much more impressed by beholding a wonderful contrast to itself, than by seeing Christians compromising principles for the sake of enlarging the Church.
2. By fearless condemnation of evil and proclamation of the kingdom of Christ. We should remember that all wickedness is weakness. We must speak like Peter and John. We must keep the Head of the corner in view.
3. By the wonderfulness of spiritual work and life. Unlearned and ignorant men can render an incalculable service to the cause of Christ by making others marvel, when they speak out boldly their humble testimony. But let all who hear it say, “They have been with Jesus.”
1. To the apostles themselves. The power of faith; the protecting presence of God; the safety of boldness; persecution making opportunity; the suffering servant honoring the Master.
2. To the council. To judge righteous judgments; to learn the method of grace; to see the errors of the past. But we should be warned; for such lessons were in vain, although enforced with such power.
3. To ourselves. The whole incident teaches the strength of the spiritual life; the method or the Christian work; the glory of the believer's prospects. Those that have been with Jesus shall share his victories. — R.
Pulpit Commentary, The - The Pulpit Commentary – Volume 18: Acts and Romans.