The Church of the Christ


Read Acts 4:1-22
What is it that makes the Sanhedrin so nervous that they are asking "By what authority did you do this?"

  1. Was it Peter and John, the two fishermen from the hill country up north? Surely the well-placed, privileged blue-bloods of the Sanhedrin wouldn’t be intimidated by these yokels who still stink of salt air and fish. Annas, Caiaphas, and the inner circle of have the air of education about them. The grooming of the finest schools, the robes and laurels of hard-earned study and scholarship. Peter and John don’t even have a change of clothes. Annas, Caiaphas and the religious blue-bloods speak proper Aramaic with a distinguished tone of confidence. Surely they are not threatened by the burly tongued talk of these rubes with the thick Galilean twang.
  2. And like Jesus, Peter and John are at the center of unauthorized teaching and healing activity. Peter and John didn’t study with the Sanhedrin to earn their Biblical degree. They never filled out a doctrinal questionnaire. They didn’t even offer the courtesy of a meeting with the local religious leaders before beginning their ministry. The only credentials they have to offer evident would be the well-known temple paraplegic who has never walked in all his 40 years - and now he’s not only walking – he’s bouncing up and down the marble steps of Solomon’s Porch! And what makes this so unnerving for the "keepers of the authorized truth" in Jerusalem is all this troublesome talk about Jesus being involved in this undeniable healing – yes, the same Jesus they had executed as a heretic and blasphemer.

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 man who was lame and are being 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.

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

In whose name?

  1. In whose name do we find salvation? In whose name do we offer salvation, healing, mercy, service and aid? Do we act and speak in the name of Jesus as plainly as Peter and John did? Do we speak the name of Jesus as if he is still able to speak and act for himself? Do we act on it with the diligence and responsibility of agents who pronounce the name of their superior officer? Do we cite the name of Jesus like students and disciples who mention the name of their teacher? Or do we get distracted by the reputation and influence of our name?

Enable Your Servants to Speak your Word with Great Boldness

  1. Peter and John aren’t on trial because they dropped money in the crippled beggar’s plate. They aren’t even on trial because they healed – they are on trial because they claimed that the power on display is from Jesus. They named names – and the name behind the power is Jesus. And that threatened the leaders because it meant the leaders were wrong about Jesus – and that invalidates their teaching and authority.
  2. Peter and John weren’t trying to discredit Annas, Caiaphas, Alexander and the other elites. They were just telling the story the way they remembered it. They were just telling the truth. Jesus is doing great things and Peter and John are there to talk about it – to name it!
  3. The name we sign to our efforts makes all the difference ...

12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved."
19 But Peter and John replied, "Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

By Whose Authority do we speak and Act?

This is why we acknowledge that our Guyana Medical Mission Team goes in Christ's name just as we are all under the authority of Christ ... Blessing the Guyana Team [... elder prays]

[Link to Guyana Medical Missions of West-Ark.]

Read Acts 4:23-31 – Praying for Courage to Trust in Jesus

Who do we listen to? Whoever gets the last word with us is the source of our authority and the limit of our power
Who do we listen to? Whoever gets the last word with us is the one whose judgment we fear

Can we as a church pray for such courage and boldness? How can we not?
Isn’t the alternative to pray for calmness rather than courage and to pray for timidity rather than temerity?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 30 May 2004

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