Pastor Mike will be speaking on The Increase of Intolerance Part 2. He will be reading out of Acts 4: 1-28.
Even in this great tragic moment where our Savior was suspended between heaven and earth and he hung on that cruel cross and even though all the sins of the world were placed upon him, that darkness swept across the land.
God was at work in the darkest moment of history. Hello, this is Pastor Mike Sanders from the Open Door Church. I welcome you to our Hope Worth Having broadcast. Thank you for tuning in today. We are excited about studying the Bible together in Acts chapter 4 and so today we’re learning about the increase of intolerance in part 2.
So we’re kind of just dissecting this chapter verse by verse looking at the examples of the Apostles and how they handled intolerance and we definitely live in some times where the culture is very intolerant of Jesus.
So how do we handle that? Well, let’s look into the Bible to get our answer. If you have your Bible this morning I want you to join me in Acts chapter 4. We’re at the final part of the passage of Scripture for the series that we’ve been doing about the increase of intolerance and what is to be our response as believers as we face more and more opposition in our culture and our country when it comes to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ or just living out our biblical values day to day.
Many of you may be aware of the great 18th-century preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon long before the megachurch had ever been introduced into America. There was a man in England in London, England who was having 10,000 people gather every Sunday as he preached the Word of God.
In one of his sermons, he brings up the story of a great Puritan. His name is John Bunyan. John Bunyan was the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. If you’ve not read The Pilgrim’s Progress, every Christian needs to read it.
You can actually go online, you can type it in, PDF it right into your computer or your phone, or whatever device you have, but you need to read this great book entitled The Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan was a preacher.
He was bold in his faith. Dr. Spurgeon says, What said John Bunyan after he had lain in prison many years, simply for preaching the gospel? The magistrates said, John, we will let you out, but you must promise to not preach again.
There are the regular clergymen of the country. What have you as a tinker to do with preaching? John Bunyan, Spurgeon went on to say, did not say, well, now I can see that this preaching is a bad thing.
It has gotten me into prison, and I have had hard work to sell enough laces to keep my wife and my poor blind child alive. I had better get out of this place and stick to the tinkering of the world. No, Spurgeon says, he did not talk like that, but he said to the magistrates, and I quote, if you let me out of prison today, I will preach again tomorrow by the grace of God.
And when they told him, they would not let him out unless he promised not to preach. He bravely answered, if I lie in jail till the moss grows on my eyelids, I will never conceal the truth which God has taught me.
You and I are living in troubled times, and we are living in times where everybody is trying to cancel someone. And if you say something that somebody doesn’t like, then all of a sudden they want to de-platform you, or they want to critique you, and they want to find fault with you, and they want to minimize your effectiveness in your communication.
And I want you to understand it is only the precipice of what is to come in America. I know that many of you are hoping and believing in a political solution that is going to somehow turn things around, but I assure you that there may be some reprieves along this journey, but we are on a journey to a one-world government that is going to be led by the Antichrist, and that the Antichrist certainly is not.
not going to let anyone speak on behalf of Jesus Christ.” And that is we are heading towards this particular mindset that is already grabbing hold of our American culture. You and I have this great dilemma before us.
How do we respond to intolerance to the gospel? How do we respond to intolerance to speaking about Jesus Christ? I just recently read and posted on social media that Finland has already banned the Bible.
In Canada, if you get up and preach the Bible, it is considered hate speech. That pastors are being drug into prison, literally police officers coming, dragging them out of the church. and taking them to jail, why?
Because the church opened its door to gather and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, which we are commanded to do. We’re not commanded to stay home. We’re not commanded to isolate ourselves and distance ourselves from the brothers and sisters in Christ.
When we come to Acts chapter four, we find that the apostles have been arrested. Peter and John specifically, have been persecuted, and placed in jail for preaching the gospel. When they were finally released after they were brought before the Sanhedrin court, they shared the gospel again and lifted up Christ, Him crucified and resurrected, and the religious and political leaders knew nothing to do that they could because the people were so enamored with this gospel message, and thousands were coming to Christ, the Bible says that the disciples, after being released, they went to their own people.
They learned to pray together as God’s people. They learned to work together. They learned to fellowship together. That was their response. You might be looking for something that is unique and different, and you say, well, what should we do in the midst of all this?
What I would say to the church is that we’ve gotta keep trucking forward. We gotta keep moving forward. We gotta keep telling people how to get to heaven, how to escape hell, and how to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, as we’re out there doing the work of the Lord, as we’re having spiritual conversations with friends and families and even foes, the Lord’s people will always encounter opposition. The devil’s not gonna sit on the sideline and just say, I give up and I quit because Pastor Mike and the Open Door Church won’t quit.
But just the opposite, he’s gonna ratchet it up. you to remember that when you go all out for Jesus when you’re all in for Christ, the world, the devil, and even the religious crowd are not gonna like it too much.
They’re gonna turn on you, they’re gonna push back and they’re gonna define you and mischaracterize you and label you as some kind of a weird freak because they do not want you sharing the wonderful message, the hope of the world, and that is Jesus Christ is the true answer, church.
There is no political figure that is the answer. There is no party that is the answer, but Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. And so we have been going through chapter four and we’ve been learning What do we do?
How do we respond to all this intolerance? We look at the life of the Apostles and we see a great example. We’ve already learned that we have to be submissive. We render under Caesar’s the things that are Caesar’s.
We’re not out there rebels. We’re not rioting. We recognize that we are called to live peaceably with all men if possible. We strive for this, but we learned also in verse 8 that we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
That we are to be a people who are filled with the Spirit of God. We’re to be persuasive with our message, the message of the gospel. We’re to be obedient, we learned last week, obedient to God, meaning that we would rather obey God than men.
And whenever the rules and the laws and the commands of men conflict with the commands of God, we choose God over men. Remember that. People say, well pastor, it’s the law of the land. Well, so is abortion.
That doesn’t make it right. You understand that there was a time in our country when slavery was the law of the land, but it didn’t make it right. And so there is a moral conscience that guides our hearts and it is rooted in the word of God that supersedes any law of man.
That supersedes any particular mandate or command from the government. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, not the government. And so we choose to be obedient to God. We choose to be committed to fellowship.
We learned in verse 23, as already stated in chapter 4, that they went to their own companions or their own company and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. They didn’t run from the church.
They weren’t isolated from the church. and they didn’t distance themselves from the church, but they reconnected with the church. If ever there was a time that the church needed to come together and be a united body of Christ, it is now.
And you say, well, I disagree about this and I disagree, okay, put those silly things aside and focus on that. We all believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We all believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He was sent from heaven, from the Father, to bring salvation to us.
We all believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins and that He rose again on the third day so that we could have a living hope in our hearts. We agree that the Bible’s the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation, even down to the breathing marks and the accent marks and the punctuation marks.
We believe that we have the literal Word of God in our hands. Everything else, church? You can have your thoughts and there can be some nuances and differences in how we see things, but we must all fly under the banner of Jesus Christ.
And that’s what happens in churches is that they’re worried about the little things and they forget about the major things. They minor on the little things. And as a result, they get splintered. They get divided and they get to fussing and they get to fighting.
And then all of a sudden the devil is having a heyday in the halls of hell as he is laughing because the church is impotent because it is divided. But when a church comes together and says, yeah, in the family of God, we got some people over here, they see this that way and we got some people over here, they see this thing that way and they see things other ways, that’s okay because we all fly under the banner of Christ that he is the true son of God.
And we lift him up and we exalt him and that’s what our church family is all about. So we learned about being committed to fellowship. We learned last week about being prayerful. Let me give you the last three things that we see as an example from the apostles.
The first is to be thankful. In verses 24 through 28, I want you to see what they did after they gathered at the church. The Bible says when they heard that, when they heard the reports from Peter and John when they heard what they had to say, the Bible says they raised their voice to God.
Now just stop there, church. You get a bad report, you get some kind of information that’s not good and you find out that the political leaders are making changes and all of a sudden we have meltdowns.
But what did the church do in the Book of Acts? They lifted up their hands to God and started praising him. They gave thanks. praise to God I wish that we when we face problems would not complain would not divide would not nitpick but I wish that the people of God would lift their hands to God and say Lord we give you praise we worship you we give thanks to you we don’t understand everything but we know you’re in control we know that you’re in charge and we worship you it’s very similar to what took place in Acts 5 verse 41 the Bible says that when the disciples departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name have you ever counted it a privilege to suffer for God have you ever counted it as something as being a blessing that God would allow you to suffer for his name’s sake maybe you lost your job Because you stood for Christ Maybe you’ve been isolated from your family because your faith is real and you’re following Christ hard You’re all in for him and the family wants nothing to do with you Maybe you missed out on a job promotion because they were afraid you talk about Jesus too much But friends, listen, anything that you have suffered for the cause of Christ ought to lead us to thankfulness, not complaining Now what is this thankfulness this thankful praise rooted in I want you to get this they praised God That he was in charge Their praise was rooted in God’s providence.
Look down to verse 28 of chapter 4. I want you to see this It says this is their prayer to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done You see God has a plan and he harnesses all things that unfold in our life for his purposes I’m not saying that God causes every tragedy and every trial and every problem, although he certainly can if he needs to But every Problem sometimes we create our own problems a man We make bad choices and we make bad decisions and we go down the wrong road The Bible tells us that the bridge is out and you better take a detour and you better go a different way But yet we’re too stubborn or we’re too prideful and we keep going down that path But God uses all things for his purposes He brings it all together.
You say well, I don’t like this and I don’t like what the government did about that Hey, listen, I’m telling you that God uses all things Not some things not just the things you like Not just the things that make you feel good but he uses all things for his providence, for his cause, and for his purposes.
Well, you see what the people of God did in the book of Acts is they took comfort in trusting in God’s sovereignty. God’s in control. I don’t know why it happened. I don’t know what God’s up to. But I tell you that God’s in control.
So the question upon each of us as believers is, why should we fear? Why should we fear? If we can see God’s hand is moving in all things if he is in charge of all things, then why should we be afraid?
I want you to back up in verse 24 and note again, because this sovereignty, this providence of God brought the people back to the cross as they were praying to God. So when they heard that, They raised their voice to God with one accord and said, Lord, you are God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David have said, why did the nations rage and the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ or the anointed one for truly against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done.
Now Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness we may speak your word. You see, what I want you to see here is they even knew the crucifixion of Christ was under the mighty hand of God, the sovereign will of God.
And they looked to the cross as their comfort that even in this great tragic moment where our savior, our Lord, our God was suspended between heaven and earth and he hung on that cruel cross and even though all the sins of the world were placed upon him and it was so horrible and so horrendous that the sun could not even shine its face and darkness swept across the land that God was at work in the darkest moment of history.
Reminding us what the apostle teaches us, referring to God, he worketh all things after the counsel of his will. You may be walking through some dark shadows in your life and dark valleys in your life, but I’m telling you that God is at work even in those deep, difficult times.
of your life and the reason that you can give praise to God and be thankful to God is because you have confidence trust and comfort in the sovereignty of God. The next thing I want you to see is that we’re to be bold.
Not only were God’s people thankful and praising God, but they were bold and we see this in verses 29 through 32, the Bible says, now Lord look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all what, you can do better church, with all what?
Boldness. Thank you. I mean, if you’re gonna say the word bold, you might as well say it boldly. Hey man, that we may speak your word by stretching out your hand to heal that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with what church? Boldness, boldness. Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul.
And neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Boldness was a characteristic of the early church. We see this over and over again. We already looked at it in chapter four, but I want you to go back up to verse 13, because again, we see that the disciples were bold, and this was the perception that the world had of them.
Verse 13, now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, I wonder what people think about you. Do they think you’re afraid? I mean, if fear characterizes your life, that even the world says, what’s up with them?
They’re scared of everything. Or do you have this testimony of being bold, and not ashamed, and not afraid for Jesus Christ, and that your life is in his hands, it is in his control, and that he works all things, and all means all, and that’s all that all means.
Can God’s people say amen? So I want you to know, whether it’s good or bad, triumphant or tragic, all things work together for good to them that love God. Jump back to chapter two and verse 29 of Acts.
Again, I just want you to see the characteristics of these folks in the early church. Chapter two, verse 29, the Bible says, “‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely, or boldly,’ is the idea of the word to you, of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried and his tomb is with us to this day.” And it goes on to teach the history.
of the Old Testament to the people so that they would know that truly Christ was part of the lineage of David. But over and over again, they prayed for boldness, they spoke with boldness, and they lived with boldness.
And this was the key to the effectiveness of their ministry. And this is important in our faith because here’s what we’re told. We’re told to, you know, you be quiet and you be silent and you do what you’re told to do.
We’re told that if we speak up somehow, there’s something wrong with us. But I’m telling you, church, it’s time to speak up for Jesus Christ. It’s time to say something for Jesus Christ. It’s time to step in, and it’s time to be bold for the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need an unshakable confidence, a faith that cannot retreat, a faith that cannot be moved. We need a God-given courage in our hearts that tells us. that we will not retreat, we will not give up, it is too soon to quit, and we will keep marching forward for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now you might ask the question, how do I receive boldness in my life? I’m glad you asked. I think that it begins with first being filled with the Spirit of God. Any boldness in our life is from heaven, it is from the power and the work of the Spirit in our life.
Again, we go back to chapter two, and we see in verse four that the Bible says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Do you know what this group was like before the Spirit came upon them?
Fearful, hiding, wondering what the future might hold, but the Bible tells us that the coming of the Spirit came upon them and now they were filled with the Spirit and they were speaking with boldness in their hearts.
Remember Peter, he denied the Lord three times. Remember that he was running, he didn’t wanna be identified. He was ashamed to be identified with Jesus Christ, but now he’s standing before thousands on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came down and filled them, and now he is preaching the word of God and he is standing before political leaders, religious leaders who are trying to shut him down, cancel him, and he is speaking up, and he says it doesn’t matter what you say because we’re gonna obey God rather than men.
And where’d that come from? It’s not like he went to a seminar or a workshop and learned it. It’s not like Peter went through some kind of a transformation relating to the education of men in his life, but rather it was the filling of the Spirit that changed him.
That’s the power of the Spirit. That’s why we’re commanded in Ephesians 5, 18. to be not drunk with wine, we’re in excess but be filled with the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit empowers Christians to speak the word with boldness and to live the word with boldness.
I want you to take your Bible, and I want you to go over to Ephesians chapter five if you will. I just wanna point out a few things that’ll help you because so many Christians are missing out on the fullness of the Spirit in their life.
I want you to know that the Spirit of God lives in every believer, and the question is not, do you have the Spirit? Because the Spirit does already live in you. We’re already taught that. The question is not, do I have the Spirit, but does the Spirit have you?
Are you accessing all that the Spirit is making available to you? If you wanna be a great husband if you wanna be a great wife if you wanna be a great parent If you want to be a great worker at your job you want to be a great leader you want to be a great servant, wherever and whatever your roles and responsibilities in life are, and whatever you want to do and excel for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must be filled with the Spirit of God.
In order to do that, you must recognize your weaknesses and pray that the Spirit will fill you. Now, what are the results? What are the results of a Spirit-filled life? Remember, I told you to receive boldness, you must be filled with the Spirit.
The results are right there in Ephesians 5, verse 19, speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing, and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Let me tell you that speaking God’s truth to one another, is a result.
Spiritual conversations just flow out of you. It’s just, you can’t contain yourself. You just can’t help it. You just keep talking about Jesus. Every conversation comes back to Christ. And if that annoys people, it’s just something you need to understand is the reflection of a Spirit that has filled your heart and you’re so overflowing with him, you can’t help, but lift up the name of Christ in your conversation.
Another result is singing. Did you know that singing is a result of a Spirit-filled life? If you come to church and you don’t sing, then you’re probably not filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled people sing out.
You say, well, I don’t like that song. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? We gotta go back to that. Is this how far we’ve gotten? That if they don’t sing the song that I liked and I’m not singing, hello.
[“Hello”] One thing that stands out about the apostles is that they were bold and they were courageous, they did not back down. They stood strong for the gospel, and that’s what we need today, a whole generation of Christians being strong and courageous, willing to give their very lives for the cause of Jesus Christ.
And I hope that as you learn about how the apostles handled intolerance, your faith is not only being rooted but emboldened and fortified as we learn to stand for Christ in this 21st century.
We want you to check out our website, Hopeworthhaving .com. You might have a prayer request, and you can just go up to the contact button there on the right at the top and hit prayer requests, we would love for you to send those to us.
We’ll take time to pray for you as we believe very much in the power of prayer. This is Pastor Mike Sanders reminding you that in Christ, there is hope worthy. Happy.