I found in the fourth chapter of Acts a witness to several powerful statements about the Kingdom of God. This is the aftermath of the healing that took place – begging the question of “By what authority?” these things were happening. The religious institutional leaders were beside themselves because of the connection the disciples were making between the miracles and the Risen Jesus Christ, demanding that all recognize that He was God’s Messiah.  
 1. Only Jesus. 
      The first big statement comes from Peter in verse 12:
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” 
Big implication…”Must be saved” – What does that mean to you? That will depend a lot on your background. In this context it meant healing – generally, delivered from sickness, bondage, judgment, etc. but there is no other “name” or authority that will do it for us. The holistic understanding of salvation comes in here – Jesus is the Messiah, for the people of God…and beyond! No one comes to the Father but through Him, so the Father draws all who seek Him to His Son! Remember the voice of God in the New Testament had basically one thing to say: “Behold My Son!” (Luke 3:22, 9:35)
2. Witness is not Optional. 
       The second statement is in verses 19-20:  
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge, for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

The silence we practice around religious beliefs is not an option for disciples. Peter and the others perceived their mission to be exactly what they were being commanded not to do by the authorities. But they saw no compromise possible…they didn’t negotiate a “reasonable time and place”, they didn’t consult the zoning ordinances – Witnessing to the risen Messiah was life itself.
   I honestly see two reasons we often don’t experience the Kingdom moving in power today. 
       a). We don’t recognize God’s deliverance in our lives. Both inside and outside of the church, we have explained away so many of the things that evidence the grace of God in our lives…most often attributing them to “right living” or some such hog-wash. If we could just see the reality that true “justice” in our lives would leave us all dead, I think we would be grateful for every breath – Life is a deliverance!! What’s more, God delvers us from bondage and sickness more than we realize – if we only had a glimpse of what goes on in “heavenly places”…
      b.) We allow the world’s shame to silence us about Jesus. So many places it is said right out loud: You can talk about God (maybe) or religious customs, but start talking about Jesus and all of hell will object! You will see the ripple effect in the reaction of those unaware of how the spiritual world is influencing their reactions. It’s time we stand against the “gag orders from hell”! Jesus Christ saved my life! The Holy Spirit is a witness of His power, and so am I! 
    i have a good friend who tells how “Jesus rocks” every time I see him. He is telling the truth – every time! Isn’t this what verse 13 is saying??

    “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”
How did they recognize that they had been with Jesus? BOLDNESS! Looking ahead to verse 31, 
      “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
This all points back to the reason Jesus Himself gave that He sent the Holy Spirit…“You will receive power…you shall be My witnesses…” This is the unbroken theme of the testimony of Acts – Not gifts, signs or wonders, but witnesses to the risen Jesus Christ – not only by those who were there for His earthly life, but witnesses of His power to save our lives today.

   This is our treasure and our “common passion” as the Church in the world today – that we are witnesses to His power to save us – Not that this is happening in secret, but our blind eyes have to be opened to see it – and our mouths need to be open to tell it! 

1 Comment

  1. Jerome on March 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I’ve been really eecitxd to see PV’s mentality change just in the past year from bringing people INTO the church, to encouraging the church to go OUT. This year for Christmas, rather than doing the same Christmas program its done for over a decade, we’ve themed this Christmas Christmas to GO (picture a chinese to-go box as the image . Everyone in the Northland who has ever wnted to see The Singing Christmas Tree has come to PV to see it EXCEPT those who are homeless or in prison. So where are we taking the message of Christ? To the homeless and to prisons. I’m pretty eecitxd about this I think this is one small way we see the Kingdom of God expanding in a real, and practical way.