Bible Bite – Acts 4:14-21

Bible Bites TeethLast night my wife and I were reading Acts 4 when I noticed something I hadn’t seen before (or saw and forgot…who knows when you have a newborn…).  Acts 4 follows Acts 3, where Peter and John heal a lame man who’s more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22).  He’s lame, asks for money, they command him to rise up and walk, and he does (Acts 3:1-9) in full view of thousands of onlookers (Acts 4:4).  Everyone knows the guy because he’s been lying on his mat for decades (Acts 3:10) and then Peter preaches the good news of the resurrection of Christ in the temple (Acts 3:11-26).  Then, in Acts 4 Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin the next day and read them the riot act (Acts 4:4-13)  Then, comes this passage:

14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

Now that’s an amazing apologetics text with some amazing implications to apologetics and evangelism.

– The facts were irrefutable.

– The guy who was healed was standing in plain sight.

– The Sanhedrin recognized that it was a sign, meaning a divine sign (an act of God).

– They knew that it was “evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem”, meaning that the whole city knew the guy and would eventually hear about it.

– They admitted that they could not deny the reality of the healing.

– The facts of the healing weren’t in question.  The facts were plain and irrefutable.  So did the Sanhedrin recognize he facts that were glaring them in the face and submit to the obvious and irrefutably proven conclusion that Peter and John were speaking on behalf of the God that they claimed to worship?

Not for a second.

– Instead, they attempted to suppress the apostolic interpretation of the facts.  They didn’t tell them to shut up completely, just to shut up about Jesus.

– When that didn’t work out well, the Sanhedrin threatened them.  The Sanhedrin knew that Peter and John were speaking on behalf of God and they hated it.  The people knew that Peter and John were speaking on behalf of God and the Sanhedrin hated it.

Unregenerate people can see the facts of reality (including the facts of science, history, etc.) and the facts are never the problem.  The interpretation of the facts; the unregenerate person’s hatred of the God to whom the facts point is the problem.  The carnal mind is unable to see the facts of reality rightly; not rightly in relation to other facts (i.e. that’s why they can balance their checkbook, do successful research, etc.) but rather rightly in relation to God’s interpretation of all facts (namely, scripture).

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “just the facts ain’t enough” Unger

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7 thoughts on “Bible Bite – Acts 4:14-21

  1. Thanks for your thoughts. Given that we have a pastor who’s been taught that he’s not to feed the sheep but rather encourage them to find pasture, your posts have been a great source of learning and things on which to meditate. Sleep deprivation doesn’t seem to have negatively affected your writing.

    • Ed, I’m glad that I can be a source of encouragement/spiritual growth for you. I definitely love to be some part of people coming to know the Lord and his word better.

      But I’m sorry…WHAT? Your pastor has been taught that he’s NOT to feed the sheep but rather send them out to find other pastures?

      Just so I understand, what specifically does that mean? Does he preach shallow sermons on purpose and tell everyone to go listen to a Podcast of some popular preacher? Does he refuse to teach doctrine? Does he not answer biblical questions or simply just use that as an excuse to not study his own Bible?

      Honestly, that absolutely confounds and infuriates me (I’m not mad at you, Ed). I’ve heard of such a thing, but only in rank and raging liberal churches (you know, where the pastor is a lesbian, she serves communion dressed like a clown, and preaches sermons on how Luke 2:41-51 is a story of Jesus actually being disobedient to his parents…I’ve heard that sermon at least 3 times!).

      Did your pastor tell you that specifically; that he’s not supposed to feed the sheep?

      If so, he essentially told you that he’s been taught (by an absolute moron) that ministry involves disobeying 1 Peter 5:1-5 (among other equally weighty and clear texts). That means your pastor has been taught that ministry involves conscious and intentional dereliction of duty…ministry involves sin.

      If so, your pastor has told you, fairly clearly, that he doesn’t want to be a pastor (or do the work of a pastor). It would seem that he’s declared from his own mouth that he’s not qualified for the ministry.

      *facepalm*

      That’s frightening. That’s epically frightening.

      I fear for the soul of the fool who taught him to abandon his duty (and wear his disobedience as a badge of honor), and I fear for your pastor’s soul. There are a few select parables of Christ that would suggest that those who claim to be servants in the household of God but aren’t doing his work will get a RUDE awakening when their time comes and they’re called to account (i.e. Luke 12:35-46).

      I sure pray that I’m REALLY misunderstanding you. I hope I am.

  2. Actually, you’re aware of this particular situation, but I didn’t want to use names. No, he’s not telling us to look for teaching ‘elsewhere’ per se. Rather, the idea is to “whet your appetites so that you’ll do the studying for yourself”. In other words, hitting a few high points in the text to stir our curiosity to study it in depth for ourselves. I suspect this logic follows the “Give a man a fish…” line of thinking, or that we’re being equipped by learning to study on our own rather than being “spoon fed”. The short comings of this approach are, of course, many as well as obvious. I do study on my own and have been for years, but many in the congregation don’t, don’t see the importance of it, or don’t know how. The result of being seeker sensitive for years has left us in the position (in my opinion ) of having a relatively shallow knowledge base, never getting into some of the more difficult areas because the church has so many seekers and baby believers that just aren’t ready. This approach was reaffirmed to him at the last preaching class he took about four months ago at a seminary/bible college, the name of which I don’t recall. He honestly believes he’s on track. So while he’s not just being lazy or uncaring, I do think he’s in error.

    Since he’s been here, we’ve been going through books in the Bible. He believes his preaching is expository, and maybe it is, but when you can cover an entire book like James in six Sundays, there’s no way (again, in my opinion) that you’re going anywhere near deep enough. Many in the congregation are very happy with the preaching – “We’re getting solid bible and nothing else”. Maybe it’s all they can handle, or want.

    • Okay…so I misunderstood you. He’s been taught to simply try to “wet the whistle” of people in the congregation, but most people simply don’t care and don’t look for more.

      That’s actually still amazing. The common layman in the pew doesn’t know where to start looking for “in depth” stuff beyond listening to some other popular preacher preach the same text, and if they hit the internet, they’ll be 10x more confused than when they started.

      I’m not surprised that he was told such patently stupid things in a Canadian Seminary. I don’t know of any seminaries in Western Canada that I would send anyone to for things like learning to preach. The general quality of preaching in Western Canada often makes me weep for the malnourished churches all over the place.

      6 weeks through James? There’s at least ten solid sections in James…that’s simply absurd. I’m guessing he doesn’t have the exegetical skills to tear a book like that apart into it’s pericopes. I’m guessing he doesn’t know what the word “pericope” means.

      As for the people loving it, I’m told that people in Chinese prisons don’t usually complain about the food either. When you’re used to moldy bread and you get some stale bread, you think that’s pretty great stuff. Imagine if they EVER discovered where they could get steak and all the trimmings?

      Honestly Ed, you need to look up the sermons of Dr. Jack Hughes that are in the archives of Calvary Bible Church in Burbank California (he’s no longer the pastor there but his sermons are still on the website), or look up the podcast archives of H.B. Charles Jr. from Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Those are two preachers who set the steak standard to which everyone else I’ve ever heard falls short. My two favorite preachers living today.

  3. I’ve been reading some of Dan Phillips from Copperfield Texas (from the Pyro blog), James White of Alpha and Omega, and Gary Gilley from Southernview Chapel in Illinois. Will definitely check these two out. Thanks for your help. God bless.

  4. I want to mention I found this interchange very telling and accurate. I had tried (a few years ago) to attend “Mass” again and even though I had been reading on my own and also had taken a very long-term Bible Course, I wasn’t prepared for the shock of only the New Testament being the focus on and the Sermons consisting of a basic re-telling of what had just been thrown in—nothing had changed. Only I hadn’t known this before and still had differences in opinion, if it had not been for the Bible Study there I would have sat, in a dozing daze, thinking I was at a Church. It sounds like that is what is happening to a lot of the attendees of this Church. !!!

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