Study 2 HOLY DETERMINATION TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN
STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 4 – 7)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 4:8-22
In these verses we read of Peter concluding his address to the Sanhedrin. The man lame from birth had been healed and the Jewish authorities had made a vigorous protest. However, verse 10 makes it quite clear that nothing could silence Peter and his colleagues. They were determined to make Christ known. Consider some of the important lessons brought before us in this passage.
1. Notice the metaphor by which Peter refers to the Lord
He speaks of Him in verse 11 as “the stone…”, a quotation from Psalm 118:22.
- The Jews had a legend that when the temple of Solomon was in the course of construction, all the stones sent out from the quarry below were practically the same size. Then one day a stone was found of a different size and shape from the rest. The workmen tipped it over the cliff. “This must be a mistake…” – and it fell down into the valley of Kedron. It took seven years to build Solomon’s temple, and at the end of the seven years they were ready for the chief corner stone to be put into position. Only then did they realise that they had tipped this over the cliff! So it was searched for and found, and placed in position.
Peter took up this legendary story, which had been passed on through the centuries, and he said, “That stone was a picture of Christ, whom you have rejected!” In Isaiah 28:16 Christ is the Foundation Stone on which the Church is built (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20). In Matthew 21:41-46 Christ is the Stumbling Stone over which the unbeliever falls (Matthew 21:44). In Daniel 2:31-45 Christ is the Kingdom Stone which will break in pieces all other kingdoms and will fill the whole earth.
2. Notice that the Lord Jesus is the only Saviour
The wording in verse 11 speaks of the stone, not a stone; and in verse 12 this truth that the Lord Jesus is the only Saviour is forcibly brought out. Notice:
- 1. Salvation is in a Person. It is in the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is not in a creed, the Church, a system, a denomination, or in works. It is only in the Person of Christ – look up and compare Luke 2:27-30; Luke 19:6 and 9. Salvation is in Christ; to have Him is to be saved!
- 2. The name of the Person signifies His authority and ability to save – look up Matthew 1:21.
- 3. This means that He is the only Saviour – compare Isaiah 45:22; John 10:9; John 14:6; Acts 4:12. There have been many great teachers and philosophers who have enriched mankind by their wisdom – but they are all dead. Jesus is the greatest and He is the eternal Son of God who is alive now on the Throne of the Universe. He is unique; none can compare with Him and He alone is able to save (Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24).
3. Notice the illustration of the outshining of the indwelling Christ
The healing of the lame man was a great miracle. The Jews admitted this (verse 16); but this was not the only miracle. Perhaps the greater one is recorded in verse 13, where we read of these two humble men who were new creations in Christ – look up 2 Corinthians 5:17 – and through whose lives the Lord Jesus manifested Himself. Here we see what a Christian is, and when Christ is seen He cannot be hidden (Mark 7:24). He must shine out of the life in which He lives. What was the secret of this radiant, outshining testimony? It was that “they had been with Jesus” – living in close communion with their Lord.
4. Notice the mighty power that there is in a changed life
We read in verse 14 that those who were opposing Peter and John had nothing to say, because in front of them stood the man who had been healed by the Lord. How can we prove to the Sadducee that there is a resurrection from the dead, that Jesus still performs miracles? How can we prove to the atheist, the agnostic, the sceptic and the cynic, the power of the living Christ? Can we do it by argument or simply by discussion? No! These have their place, but the thing which will overcome all obstacles and put down all prejudice is for those who do not know the Lord to see a real Christian. The presence of the healed man was an unanswerable proof of the truth of Peter’s message.
5. Notice the importance of first loyalties
We must keep the truth of verse 19 always before us – ‘Is this thing right in God’s sight?…Will what I propose doing please Him?…If I do this, will I be breaking one of His commandments?…’ Here is a test which will guide us – in business, at home, in our personal or church life. Is it right in God’s sight to sign this contract? To accept this offer of quick profit? To read this book? To encourage this friendship? To join this church? Will it please Him?
6. Notice the divine compulsion which rests on the true servant of God
Look at verse 20. These men had been forbidden to preach but all they could say was, ‘We can’t help it!’ It was just impossible to silence them! They felt as Jesus did (John 9:4); as Paul did (1 Corinthians 9:16). If our hearts are full of love for Christ and for the souls of men, we shall not find it hard to give our lives to His service and to speak out the gospel message – look up Matthew 12:34.
7. Notice verses 21 and 22
God’s servants were set free after all; but the great thing to observe is that God was glorified in all that was done.