In Acts 4:5-12, the Apostle Paul’s friend and physician, Luke, says this:
“And it came to pass on the [next day], that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the [family] of the high priest. And when they had set them in the [center], they inquired, ‘By what power, or in what name, have ye done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, ‘Ye rulers of the people, and elders, if we this day are [on trial] concerning a good deed done to [a sick] man, by what means this man is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in [this name] doth this man stand here before you whole. He is the stone which was [rejected by] you the builders, which was made the head of the corner. And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, [by which] we must be saved.'”
In this passage, Luke records part of the trial that was held for the Apostles Peter and John, as a result of being arrested for teaching the people of Jerusalem about the gospel, particularly for teaching that Jesus has risen bodily from the dead. It may be divided into 4 main sections, each relating to the Apostles:
- The Preachers’ Persecutors
- The Preachers’ Persecution
- The Preacher’s Power
- The Preacher’s Proclamation.
The preacher’s proclamation, which is the main section of this passage, may be divided into 3 main sections:
- The Preacher’s Authority
- The Preacher’s Admonition
- The Preacher’s Appeal.
In verses 5-6, Luke describes the preachers’ persecutors. He begins by saying that, on the day after Peter and John were arrested by the Jerusalem temple priests, the captain of the temple police force, and the Sadducees, the rulers, elders, and experts in Old Testament law, or scribes, of the people of Israel gathered together in Jerusalem. Then, he says that Annas, the high priest was present, as well as Caiaphas, the previous high priest, John, who was likely one of Annas’s sons, and all who belonged to the high priest’s family.
In verse 7, Luke describes the preachers’ persecution. First, he implies that the rulers, elders, scribes, and the society of the high priest placed Peter and John in the center of them. Then, he says that they began to ask them by what power, or by what authority, they healed the beggar who was crippled from the womb, and taught the people of Jerusalem at the temple.
In the first part of verse 8, Luke describes the preacher’s power. He says that Peter began to reply to the council’s question because he was filled with, or controlled by, the Holy Spirit. In other words, the reason he said what he said was because the Holy Spirit was empowering him to do so.
From the second part of verse 8 to verse 12, Luke records the preacher’s proclamation. Peter begins this proclamation in verses 8-10 by describing his authority. He begins by addressing his audience as rulers and elders of the people of Israel, and commands them to know, since he and John are on trial for a benefit done to a sick man, that by the authority of Jesus the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King of Nazareth, whom they crucified, and God raised from the dead, the formerly crippled beggar stands before them in good health.
In verse 11, Peter gives the admonition, or warning, of his sermon. He does so by telling the rulers, elders, scribes, and high priestly family that Jesus is the Old Testament stone that was rejected by them, the builders of the temple of Judaism, but which became the chief cornerstone of the temple of Christianity, which is the church. In this verse, he quotes the Old Testament to show that their rejection of Jesus was a fulfillment of prophecy, and that Jesus not only was rejected, but became the foundation stone of the true temple of God, the church.
In verse 12, Peter ends his sermon with his appeal to the ruling council of Israel. He begins by implying that there is salvation from sin and God’s wrath in no one but the crucified and risen Jesus the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King. Why? Because, he says, there is no other trustworthy reputation that has been given among men by which we must be saved, implying that the trustworthy reputation he is referring to is that which belongs to Jesus. What is this trustworthy reputation? That Jesus is the God-man who died to be punished for our sins by God the Father, came back to life, and commands all people everywhere His gospel is learned of to change the way they think about themselves and God, and to depend only upon the God-man, His death for their sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead as the only grounds for His forgiveness of their sins. And this trustworthy reputation is the only reputation that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
So, are you persecuted for teaching the gospel?
Are you being controlled by the Holy Spirit by letting His Word dwell richly within you?
Do you serve people by the authority of Jesus the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King of Nazareth, who was crucified and God raised from the dead?
Have you been made spiritually well, and are in good spiritual health, by His authority?
Have you rejected the chief cornerstone of God’s temple, or have you depended upon Him as the foundation stone of your communion and partnership with God?
Are you depending only upon Jesus for your salvation, and not upon anyone else, nor anything but His death for your sins and bodily resurrection from the dead?
Have you been saved from your sins and God’s wrath by Jesus, His death for your sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead?
Do you understand why you need to be saved? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousnessof men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13