Today, we wrap up our week-long look at the showdown in Acts 4 and 5, and draw some lessons from it.
The truth will shine
Because the way Luke’s told this story, he’s trying to say something to his reader, Theophilus. Probably a wealthy, educated man. Someone who knows his history of Greek philosophy. Someone who knows the story of Socrates – how he was accused of leading the people astray; how he was opposed by jealous rulers more worried about their own power than the truth; how he, famously, refused to give in to intimidation – he must obey the gods rather than humans; and how ultimately, history vindicated him. The truth prevailed. A generation later, Socrates’ rational style of teaching had become the foundation of Greek philosophy.
And so, Theophilus, says Luke, it’s the same with the gospel. It might be opposed by jealous rulers who see their power slipping away. But they’ll be on the wrong side of history. Even the honourable ones among them could see the risk of that – people like Gamaliel.
Because God is behind his gospel. He will vindicate it. He demonstrated that supremely in Jesus’ resurrection, and he continued to do so in the signs and wonders performed wherever the apostles went: foreign tongues; miraculous healings; mysterious prison breaks.
If God’s behind it, the truth will shine. So be bold, Theophilus, just like Peter and the rest of the apostles. Be confident in God’s power!
And it’s the same message for us, isn’t it? We mightn’t have threatened, Jewish leaders warning us not to proclaim the gospel. But there are others in our world who are just as threatened:
- Threatened by Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God – “no other name” as Peter said in chapter 4.
- Threatened by Jesus’ claim to tell them how to live.
- Threatened by the thought of giving over control of their lives.
But ultimately, the truth will shine. God will vindicate his gospel. So be bold. Be confident in sharing it.
Now, I could have easily given you – I don’t know, seven’s a good number – seven principles for boldly sharing the gospel, all drawn from the apostles’ example in this passage. Things like:
- God’s in control.
- The resurrection is the source of our confidence.
- If you ever get arrested, use your one phone call to contact an angel.
That sort of thing. (Some of them would have been filler.)
But if God wanted us to have seven points for boldly sharing the gospel, I think he would have given us seven points. Instead, he gave us this inspiring story. And that’s why I’ve spent so much time telling the story this week. Because I think it’s the story itself that will inspire us to be bold. It’s the story itself that will remind us in the days and weeks and years ahead that God’s in control. It’s his power that’s at work. The truth will shine.
When I first preached on this particular chapter, I was distracted by an email. Which led me to this blog. It’s written by a woman here in Sydney – a journalist – who started blogging her experiences upon finding out her mother had cancer. In the middle of 2012, her mother lost her battle, and the blog chronicles the soul-searching she did as she tried to come to terms with it. And how the various worldviews and spiritualities she’d tried on for size didn’t really cut it.
Then, through a series of promptings and “co-incidences”, she decided to get back in touch with her Church of England roots – and rang the local Anglican minister, whose confident but off-beat style really connected with her. She refers to him in the blog as SAP – “Smart-alec pastor.” And in real-time, over the course of about a month, we get to read her journey as she started attending church. And had her perceptions of Christians and Christianity dismantled. How once she met the real Jesus, and heard the real gospel, she realised it was what she’d been looking for all along. (If you want to have a read, I’d suggest you begin with this post and work forward chronologically.)
She’d looked at all of the different paintings in the art gallery. But kept being drawn to the masterpiece of Jesus. The truth did shine.
When you get the opportunity to share even a glimpse of the gospel at your workplace, at Uni, with your family, remember this. Be bold. Be confident. It’s God’s power at work. And his truth will shine.