Fire In The Bones ~ Acts 4: 13-22
The Apostles stand before the chief council of all Judaism and make clear not only that their authority comes from outside/above the Sanhedrin, but also that the leadership is guilty for what they did to Jesus, the son of God.
Peter and John spoke with such eloquence and confidence despite being "uneducated and common men" (they had back county accents, clothes, grammar) that it left the people "astonished."
It was immediately perceived that these men "had been with Jesus." Why is this? Because they had heard these words before. They had seen this power. Jesus was speaking – through the apostles.
As promised in Mark 13:11, "Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit."
What a reminder for us today. When we speak – do people know we have been with Jesus? Is it evident that a greater force and Spirit is working in and through us? Are our words seasoned with salt? Are they life-giving? Are they in the NAME? Even though Peter and John were "uneducated" and "untrained men" - they had the one essential qualification for ministry - they had been with Jesus. It doesn't matter if you have 50 years of experience or 20 Ph. Ds – you are nothing in the kingdom of God unless you spend time/learn with/from Jesus.
Again, we see that Jesus in us - will be a stench to some – but it is a beautiful aroma of life to others. Beloved, spend time with Jesus. You become who you hang around. You are what you eat. Stay close to Jesus, and the world will notice Him in you. There are five gospels in this world: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and your life. Most people never read the first four. What do they see in your gospel testimony? What do they hear?
Even in the face of "obvious" evidence of the power of God (which could not be denied) – the Sanhedrin command Peter and John to stop preaching "in the name of Jesus."
This is the truth of it, church. Sin, rejection, and unbelief are willful. In the face of the facts. "They could not deny it – they didn't have an answer – they had no good reason or evidence against the Apostle's claim." The Sanhedrin deliberately reject the power of God through Christ. Therefore, proving that rejection of Christ, to this day, is unreasonable!
THEY KNOW this healing and sermon came from Jesus Christ – why else would they command for the apostles to stop using "THE NAME." If it had nothing to do with Jesus – they wouldn't have asked for His name to be censored.
Again, this shows that no amount of evidence, logic, or eloquence can convince/will a person to believe. Salvation is of God! We NEED His Holy Spirit to melt our hearts of stone. Thank God He has! The unregenerate person is in total willful, coherent, blatant rebellion against the things of God.
The command from the Sanhedrin to stop preaching in the name of Jesus was even greater than if the chief of police and the KCMO mayor told me to stop preaching. This was the authority – they had the power to jail, censor, and kill (we saw what they did to Jesus). This was not a suggestion.
What do we do when faced with a command from authorities? Romans 13 tells us to be submissive and peaceful – but – Paul notes that this command is in as so far as we can be peaceful. Why? Because we have a higher authority than the authorities of man.
The disciples just heard from Jesus, Matthew 28:18-19, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore Go…make disciples…baptizing in the NAME and teaching all I have COMANNDED you."
When the authority of Jesus goes against man's authority, we MUST obey God. The highest authority rests in the words of Jesus Christ. Peter and John not only KNEW this, but they believed it. The truth of God and the good, wonderful, life-giving, news of Christ's sacrifice was not something they could keep quiet about.
How can we keep quiet about the Gospel? Tell me… how can anyone sitting in this chapel - who claims to be a Christ-follower- honestly – keep silent about Christ?
Beloved, have you "seen and heard anything"? Have you been saved from sin and death? Have you found rest in God? Have you not put to death addiction, pride, greed, guilt, shame, betrayal? Look at what lavish love God has poured out on us? How sweet is His presence – His love is better than life! How can we not speak His name – the very name that has set us free? You go ahead – be quiet if you want – but as for us – "We cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard!"
God had lit a fire in the hearts of Peter and John. It is like trying to keep a beachball underwater. The love of God can't help but rush to the surface – and let me tell you – there are times in my life when I don't like what God has lit in my soul. There were probably times that Peter and John were sacred for their lives and the lives of their families – but they couldn't stop!
Jeremiah, the prophet to Judah – was called by God to speak judgment, woe, and destruction against Jerusalem. This was a hard word, and not one that Jeremiah was willing to take up – yet God placed His words on His heart. The preaching of Jeremiah brought him persecution.
He was beaten, imprisoned, and even thrown in an abandoned well shaft. At one point in Jeremiah 20, he levels a charge against God. Jeremiah has had enough of the abuse – He is tired of preaching this message of repentance. He feels ripped off, dupped, and abused.
Jeremiah 20: 7-9, "You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out, proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."
Even though God's word has brought Jeremiah pain and suffering from men – even though it has gone against all the rules and commands of human authority – Jeremiah cannot stop speaking God's word – because it is true – it is bound to him – in the very bone.
The same goes for Peter and John. Their conscience is bound by God. Even to the point of death- to stop speaking the name would be like saying up is down and down is up. It goes against the fabric of their being.
Martin Luther, the great reformer of the church, was brought before the Diet of Worms on April 18th, 1521 (500 years ago). This was a deliberative assembly of the Holy Roman Empire with the power to have him burned at the stake. He was commanded to renounce his writings and teachings against the Roman Catholic church's selling of indulgences, and abuses of papal authority (will you recant – yes or no – no debate). This is how he responded.
"Since then, Your Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen."
Beloved, this is the powerful principle that drove the western world. The word of God is supreme to popes, councils, human authorities, or even our own feelings/experiences. In the Holy Spirit, our conscience becomes bound to God's word. It is written on our hearts! It is alive within us (Jeremiah 31: 33, Ezekiel 11:19).
Do you have this "fire in your bones"? It is this fire that has driven and advanced the kingdom throughout history. When you see the attacks of the enemy, does a fire burn in your bones? When you hear the word of God perverted, does a fire burn in your bones? When you are asked to compromise, fear, stand down, or go against God's Holy word, does a fire burn in your bones? When you are tempted to sin or fall into temptation – does the word of God burn in your bones? When you see the homeless and needy… the widow and orphan…the injustice…the addiction, abuse, and utter lostness of humanity…does a fire burn in your bones?
A fire so hot and raging that you cannot help but speak the name of Jesus in every circumstance, against every evil, scheme of the devil, sickness, lie, and deception? A fire that rejoices in the truth, well-being of others, reconciliation, freedom, and love of God?
If not, may we pray, Lord God, light this fire in my bones! Captivate and bind me to your word! Give me courage, and may You be seen through me! May I cherish you over all things – even in the face of great trial.
William Tyndale (1494-1536) was sent to the stake to be strangled and burned because he dared translate the Bible into English. He was driven by a desire to get the word of God into the hands of all people in a language they could read and understand. These were some of his final words to the people.
“Christ is the cause why I love thee, why I am ready to do the uttermost of my power for thee, and why I pray for thee. And as long as the cause remains, so long lasts the effect; even as it is always day so long as the sun shines. Do therefore the worst you can do can to me, take away my goods, take away my good name; yet as long as Christ remains in my heart, I love thee not a whit the less, and so long are you as dear unto me as mine own soul, and so long am I ready to do thee good and I pray for thee with all my heart: for Christ desires it of me, and has demanded it of me. Thine unkindness compared unto his kindness is nothing at all; yea, it is swallowed up as a little smoke of a mighty wind, and is no more seen or thought upon.”