All the great religious leaders of history have one thing in common: they are dead. Only one man has risen from a grave never again to taste death. Jesus Christ rose again! God validated His Kingship and accepted His payment for our sins with one incredible stroke: He raised Jesus from the dead!
Acts 4 reveals five things that are true right now because Jesus is alive…
His Persecution Continues
It is impossible to persecute a dead man — he’s beyond your reach! But Jesus continues to be persecuted. The Bible makes it clear. When Saul had been persecuting early believers, Jesus Himself said on the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”
In Acts 3, a miracle occurred right at the door of the Temple. The religious establishment was angry. Peter and John made sure everyone knew Jesus was responsible for it.
Peter…answered…why marvel ye at this…as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? (3:12)
Peter’s words cut like saber as he told them, “through faith in His name” (v. 16), Jesus, who they had put to death, had healed the lame man and “God has raised [Him] from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (v. 15). The reaction was persecution.
…the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:1-2
Because Jesus Christ is alive, He is still being persecuted. The apostles received the brunt of it, but in the truest sense, it was the Lord Jesus being persecuted. When you persecute the church, you’re persecuting Jesus.
If you’re not being persecuted, don’t boast about it, for the Bible says “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” If there’s no persecution, it’s not because the world has gotten more “churchy,” but the church has gotten more worldly.
His Preaching Convinces
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed…about five thousand. (4:4)
How were these unlettered fishermen able to preach and five thousand come to Christ? Because He lives. They were not dependent upon their power of oratory, winsomeness or logic. There was a living Christ inside them.
His Power Confronts
The religious hierarchy thought they were done with Jesus. At the Crucifixion they had said, “If you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross.” They should have gone to the tomb and said, “If you’re the Son of God, come out.” With this miracle they were confronted by the power of the living Christ.
The living Christ is still doing miracles. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (v. 12) — not in Abraham, Moses, Buddha or Mohammed. Jesus is not a good way to heaven. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
His Presence Compels
“And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (v. 13)
When you’re in the presence of Jesus Christ, something happens to you. His presence will compel you. Shortly before this, Peter cursed, swore, and denied the Lord Jesus. But now he had seen the risen Lord, and he was compelled.
In our churches today we need an epidemic of holy boldness — people unashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ — from spending time in His presence.
His People Confess
The leaders had said, “You can’t preach a risen Lord.” (“…Let us straitly threaten them…” v. 14.) Why? Because of the power of that message. You might as well have told the sun not to shine.
“But Peter and John answered…we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (v. 20). Why? Because they’d seen Him. A witness tells what he’s seen and heard. You could not shut them up.
“And daily…and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (5:42). Here’s the way the early church worked:
Leaders: “You can’t do it.”
Disciples: “We’re going to do it.”
Leaders: “We forbid you.”
Disciples: “We’re still going to do it.”
Think about what that early church did — with no printing presses, radio, television, or sound system. No church buildings, email, internet, or DVD’s of services. Yet they turned that early world upside down and inside out for Jesus Christ. They did so much with so little. We do so little with so much.
Because He is alive, His persecution continues. Wear that persecution like a badge of honor. Because He is alive, His preaching convinces, His power confronts, and His presence compels.New Testament Christianity is supernatural…it cannot be explained or denied…it should not be intimidated…it must not be ignored, for Jesus Christ is alive!
I believe we are living in the lengthening shadows of the last day. I believe Jesus Christ is coming soon, and one of the earmarks is persecution of the saints. We see it on TV, newscasts, and editorial pages. Ridicule any other group and you’ll be in trouble, but the wrath of our culture is reserved for the Christian. The Bible-believing Christian is the whipping boy.
People are continually discussing what’s happening in this country, the Middle East, and every corner of the globe. What many may not realize is that we are already at war—an invisible, unseen war between light and darkness, good and evil. And Satan is our adversary.
Someone reading this article—it may be you—has failed the Lord, and you think perhaps God is finished with you.
Suppose you’re running a 100-yard dash. You’re in the starting blocks. The gun fires and you start out running. You’re 10 yards ahead of everybody else. You’re three feet from the goal! But you quit.
Even the strongest Christian can battle depression—but God has made specific provision for us.