Monday, March 21, 2022

2022.03.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:23–31

Read Acts 4:23–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What happened to Peter and John at the beginning of Acts 4:23? To whom do they go? What do they report? To Whom does the church respond (Acts 4:24)? What do they call God? What do they say He has done? Whom do they quote in Acts 4:25? By whose mouth did He say it? What had the nations done? And what had the people done? What did the kings of the earth and the rulers do (Acts 4:26)? Against Whom? Whom do they identify as the Christ in Acts 4:27? And what kings? And what peoples? What does Acts 4:28 say that these all did? In what two ways does verse 28 describe God’s purposing it? What do they call Him in Acts 4:29? What do they ask Him to see? What do they ask Him to give them? In order to do what? By what did they hope to get this boldness and the neutralization of the threats (Acts 4:30)? What did God immediately do (Acts 4:31)? With what (Whom!) were they filled? And what immediate answer to prayer did they receive?

God much encourages His people by displaying the genuineness and reliability of His Word.

So, when the rulers of the Israelites continued doing (Acts 4:23) exactly as Psalm 2:1–2 had prophesied (Acts 4:25-26), they praised God for what He had done. Yes, the rulers of the two kingdoms (Herod and Pilate, Acts 4:27b) and the peoples of the two kingdoms (the Gentiles and the people of Israel, verse 27c) had conspired to murder the Christ, the anointed (verse 27a). But the fact that God had so plainly prophesied (promised, even!) this in Psalm 2 encouraged them to know that this was “whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). 

God’s hand had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His power. He would rule and overrule to do good by what the wicked would wickedly do.

God’s purpose had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His plan. He would wisely work for good even through what they wickedly intended for evil. 

Now came the question: whose will would prevail. The rulers had made threats (Acts 4:29a)—promises of a sort, an evil sort. But the Lord had given them the task of speaking His Word, and His purposes in their task must be accomplished.

For that, they needed boldness (Acts 4:29b)—more of what the Lord had already given them (cf. Acts 4:13). He had already encouraged them by displaying the genuineness of His Word through the fulfillment of prophecy. They ask Him to do the same by giving the signs of a true apostolic testimony (Acts 4:30, cf. Acts 2:43, Acts 5:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4). 

The Lord still gives both sorts of encouragement. Everything with Christ occurred exactly according to God’s Word. What He tells us about ourselves is true. What He tells us to expect about Christian experience of grace is true. What He tells us about the world’s response to us is true. 

And He keeps producing in His people fruit that could only come not from our flesh but from a genuine work of His Spirit (cf. Galatians 5, 1 Thessalonians 1)—Christians themselves, the only current parts of the New Creation, are the ongoing and great sign (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2–3)… not just signs like those that Jesus did in His earthly ministry, but greater signs now in His heavenly ministry! 

For boldness, what they needed most of all, however, was not the external signs of fulfilled prophecy or miracles and wonders. For boldness, they needed the blessing of the Spirit upon the means of grace. Yes, the place was shaken. But even more than that, “when they had prayed… they were all filled with the holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness”! (Acts 4:31).

With whom do you need more boldness with the Word? What are some ways that God encourages your boldness? How will you look to Him for boldness, and how will you make use of the means by which He gives that boldness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for doing all things exactly according to what Your hand and Your purpose have predetermined. Forgive us for the weakness of our courage, and fill us with Your Spirit, so that we may be bold with Your Word, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

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