Acts 4:1-22 Exclusive Gospel

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they enquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 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 whatwe 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. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

Exclusive Gospel

Peter in front of the Sanhedrin could have made a case for religious pluralism.  He could have said that there are many ways to the one true God.  However, he was more confrontational than that.  He drew dividing lines and expressed the differences between traditional Jewish belief and the beliefs of the apostles.  The Holy Spirit led them to speak in such a way.  It wasn’t nice.  It wasn’t conciliatory.  It wasn’t about to make any friends.  However, it was true.  There is no other name on heaven or earth by which we may be saved.

This is becoming an increasingly offensive message to a world that wants us all to agree.  However, if we all agree we have to empty ourselves of anything that is distinctive.  In many cases this is a harmless agreement on the trivial.  However, to insist that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are all just saying the same thing at their core –  you gotta have faith – is to empty the religions of what their founders have believed.  In fact, to believe that all the faiths are equal is to create a new faith.  Ironically such a new faith is then established as being superior to all the old faiths.  A seemingly fair dismissal of all faiths asserts that an atheistic position is superior to all others.

Christians have historically insisted upon the superiority of their position and have recently been lambasted for their privilege and arrogance.  However, those who have torn down Christianity have set up a faith of their own and they insist that others adhere to it.

I am afraid to be counted among Jesus’ followers because I do not know what my family will need to sacrifice in years to come.  However, I still believe that Jesus is the historical man written about in the gospel.  I believe he is still working through his church.  I believe that Jesus is the only name through which a person will be saved.  Maybe the haters will hate us, and we will love the world through uncompromising truth.

Prayer

Father, you know that we need your Spirit.  Our clever schemes and our megachurches have watered down the truth and created a sick version of the faith.  Those living in the darkness do not see your light.  May we know what you want to do and may we stand firm.

Questions

  1. How did Peter and John use the opportunity of their testimony to share the gospel?
  2. Why were the Sanhedrin angry?
  3. Why did Peter and John choose civil disobedience?
  4. How does your testimony allow you to share the gospel?
  5. How do you stand for Jesus in the face of people who want to water down the faith or dismiss it as just another man-made religion?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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