SUBJECT: Early Church Problems
PROPOSITION: In this lesson, we will study Acts 4. The apostles were arrested for preaching the resurrection. How did they handle this? We will note: 1) The Situation of the Arrest, 2) The Steadfastness of the Apostles, 3) The Sentence of the Sanhedrim, 4) The Supplication of the Saints.
OBJECTIVE: The hearer will be able to understand how the early church dealt with the problem of preaching the gospel in the face of opposition.
AIM: That we know how the early church handled problems so that we can imitate their faith.
1. About this series:
1) We are beginning a series of lessons on how the early church handled problems.
2) Problems come from outside and inside the church.
3) There are problems relative to doctrine and problems relative to opinion.
4) The early church faced all kinds.
5) Today we will look at an external problem related to doctrine.
2. Read: Acts 4:1-4
3. About the Text:
1) The apostles had just healed a lame man.
2) They then preached Jesus and the resurrection.
3) The Sadducees did not like this.
4) They were the aristocracy of the day and had control of the temple.
5) So, they had Peter and John arrested.
4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
DISCUSSION: Acts 4 involved . . .
I. The Situation of the Arrest
1. Peter and John were speaking to the people.
1) They were making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
2) They were eye-witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8).
3) They were proclaiming the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:3).
2. The Sadducees were greatly annoyed at them.
1) They denied the resurrection of the dead (Luke 20:27).
2) They were envious of Jesus and his works (Matthew 27:18).
3. They arrested Peter and John and put them into prison until the next day.
1) Jesus prophesied this: “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:12).
2) “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim.3:12).
4. Five thousand souls believed the word.
1) Some may disbelieve, but others will believe.
2) Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).
II. The Steadfastness of the Apostles
1. The Sanhedrim council inquired by what power or authority they did these things.
1) The rulers, elders, and scribes gathered together in the council.
2) The high priest and all his family were there.
3) They set the apostles in the middle of their court.
4) They asked, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
2. Peter responded that the lame man was healed by the name of Jesus Christ.
1) He points out that they had crucified Him.
2) He also preached that God raised him from the dead.
3. Peter preached about Jesus.
1) He is the stone that was rejected by the builders (Psalm 118:22).
2) He is the chief cornerstone.
3) There is no salvation in any other.
4) We must be saved in Jesus alone (Ephesians 5:23).
4. The apostles did not change their message because it was politically inconvenient.
1) Malachi 3:6 – The Lord does not change.
2) Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus does not change.
3) Truth is always truth (John 17:17).
III. The Sentence of the Sanhedrim
1. They recognized that they had been with Jesus.
1) The apostles were uneducated and common men.
2) They were bold nonetheless.
3) Courage is needed in the face of problems.
4) Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous.
2. They could not deny the miracle that had been done.
1) The man was more than forty years old (22).
2) They council did not seek to deny the miracle.
3) Mark 16:20 – Jesus said he would work signs to confirm the word.
3. They charged them not to speak in Jesus’ name.
1) They did not want this message to spread further.
2) They were not concerned about the truth, but about their control.
4. Peter said that they had to listen and do God’s will.
1) They said, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
2) Paul said, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor.9:16).
5. The people praised God for what had happened.
IV. The Supplication of the Saints
1. The apostles reported to their friends what had happened.
1) We are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
2) Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15).
2. The church prayed with them.
1) We must bring prayer to all our problems (Phil.4:6).
2) They brought scripture to bear on the situation (Psalm 2:1-2)
3) They prayed for God’s help to keep preaching the gospel.
3. God responded to their prayers.
1) He shook the place where they gathered.
2) They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke God’s word boldly.
1. Let’s remember how they handled this first problem.
1) The Situation of the Arrest – Persecution comes to the godly.
2) The Steadfastness of the Apostles – Truth does not change.
3) The Sentence of the Sanhedrim – God wins over men.
4) The Supplication of the Saints – Prayer is our ally.