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Evangelism and the Power of God - Acts 5:12-25

 

Evangelism and the Power of God            click here for audio

Acts 5:12-25

Our current study in the book of Acts helps to keep us focused on why we are here. If you remember the very first verse in the book the writer, Luke, says “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.”

Luke’s first book -  “the Gospel of Luke” is a record of all that Jesus began to do and teach.  Luke’s second book – “the book of Acts” is a continuation of what Jesus did and taught through the Apostles and the church through the Holy Spirit.

The opening chapters of Acts begins with the assembly of the disciples in the upper room, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost which gives the “birth of the church”.

Last time we saw the word “church” in Acts 5:11.   This is the first time we see the word “church” used in the book of Acts.  We are those who have been “called out” and “set apart” for God’s own purpose.   We can clearly see the purpose of the church in the book of Acts.   We see WORSHIP taking place.  That means we were planned for God’s pleasure.  We see FELLOWSHIP taking place. That means we were formed for God’s family.  We see DISCIPLESHIP taking place.  That means we were created to become like Christ.  We see MINISTRY taking place.  That means we were shaped to serve God. We see EVANGELISM taking place.  That means were made for a mission.

For the church to operate we don’t need the gadgets from the world’s tool kit. God has blessed the church with what we need.  The Lord has given adequate resources to supply all the God-designed purposes of the Church.

Think about the work of EVANGELISM.  God has given from His tool box all the tools needed for effective Evangelism.      In the passage before us we can see the definition of Evangelism.   SINCE the Lord Jesus has called His church “go into all the world and preach the gospel”  and He has said  “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”   WE MUST KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?     WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO EVANGELIZE THE LOST?

Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.[1]

 

Most  think of evangelism in terms of results.  Whenever people respond “positively” to the gospel and are “saved”, then we say “evangelism has taken place.”    However, our focus is not to be on the results.  Some will believe and some will not.  If you teach the gospel with the aim to persuade , you have done “evangelism”  whether they accept it or not.

Notice in Acts 5:13  “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem”   NONE of the REST dared join them--- those who don’t respond in Saving Faith.

 

Notice in Acts 5:14 THOSE WHO DO RESPOND in FAITH     and more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both men and women”       

Some believe and some did not.   In both cases “evangelism” was done.  TEACHING THE GOSPEL WITH THE AIM TO PERSUADE.

 

 

1.   Evangelism and the Power of God

1.   God’s Power displayed in His Sovereignty.   This is seen in the miracles through the Apostles

v.12  God’s power was displayed through miracle-working Apostles.   Take note -  Miracles were done by the hands of the apostles.  God sovereign chose who would be the channel to display His miraculous power. They were with Jesus for three years.  They were specifically chosen to be APOSTLES.

To the UNBELIEVING WORLD,  the Apostles were ignorant, uneducated, common men, but even the unbelieving world knew there was something different about these Apostles.  They took notice that they had been with Jesus.

v.12a   connects to  vv.15 and 16        v.12b-14 is a parenthesis

LOOK at God’s Miraculous Power -   v.15

Peter’s shadow- no miraculous power in Peter’s shadow….but there’s miraculous power coming through the hands of the Apostle.    There are ancient documents which  tell of the belief that  the shadow of a powerful person could influence another person. This is what people believed back in those days.  Parents, for example, would move their child away from getting into the shadow of some person they feared.   Or they would push their child into the shadow of a person of nobility, or great influence.

There’s no power in the shadow, but it shows how much the people believed in Peter.

v.16  the people gathered the sick…all were healed..

 

WHY was GOD’s power displayed with Miracles by the hands of the apostles ?                  

To show -  they were speaking God’s truth!    The Scriptures….the complete New Testament had not been written….  The miracles authenticated the Message spoken by the Apostles.

They proclaimed the Gospel  and God came in to place HIS STAMP OF APPROVAL….AND  He did that through signs and wonders.

As the Apostles  left the earth,  so did this explosion of signs and wonders and miracles.  This is not to say God does not perform miracles.  It’s the signs and wonders, the unique display of miracles associated with the Apostles is that which is gone.    In v.12  were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.    The signs and wonders are NOT regularly done…

We NOW have the inspired WORD of GOD….that’s how we know what is true.  The Scriptures were verified by Miracles.   What is said today from pulpits must be verified by the Scriptures.

 

Pick up the  PARENTHESIS --  vv.12b-14

They were all together in Solomon’s Portico  (porch)….  This was an area of the temple that had a roof with columns on the foundation of the previous temple called Solomon’s Temple.

 It was large enough area to accommodate the huge crowd of believers.

A L L    T O G E T H E R  (v.12b)

2.  God’s Power displayed in UNITY.

(We’ll be brief on this part since we spoke on the subject of unity in previous messages.)

Already seen this -  1:14 “all these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer”   2:1  “all together in one place”    4:32  full number of those who believed were on one heart and soul

Their unity was not a superficial unity.    It was unity in God’s Truth.  Unity in the Spirit.

This is a display of God’s Power.    Carnal men can get a big crowd together for carnal purposes,    but only the POWER of God can create true UNITY.   Unity that’s grounded in the truth of the Word of God.

Psalms 133:1  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

This is NOT the creation of man.   It’s the workings of God’s Spirit.  

 

John 17 -  the Lord Jesus prayed for our unity…

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;

 

3.  God’s Power displayed in Purity.   Vv.13-14

None of the rest dared join them……..   there’s a clear distinction between the believers and those who were on the outside of family of God.

But the people held them in high esteem -  even the unbelievers had enough respect not to hypocritically join the ranks of the believers.    They heard of the seriousness of church life. Don’t be a pretender without suffering the consequences.   They heard about Ananias and Sapphira, who I think were believers, but pretended to give a full amount from the sale of their property, but actually kept back part of the money.  God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit.

The Bible tells us  “great fear came upon all who heard it”  5:5     and  “great fear came upon the whole church”  5:11

P U R I T Y in the church is essential for EVANGELISM.      STOPPING the work of God; hindering the moving of God’s Spirit happens when sin is tolerated. 

(the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and march around Jericho …God’s power was upon them,  the walls of Jericho fell down… they continued to move with Great Success in taking the Promised Land…..but ONE of their OWN -  Achan took silver , gold,  and a beautiful garment….hid in his tent…… After Jericho…..went to  a place called Ai …defeated…Joshua the leader of the children of Israel went before the Lord….and God revealed to him that ONE of their OWN had sinned……God’s power was hindered from giving them victory. …….SAME today….      If we tolerate sin in our lives,  God will not bless us…

Psalms 66:18  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

John Macarthur:

You cannot accomplish the purposes of God in evangelism by downplaying sin and the purity of the church.  The purity of the church is critical to its evangelistic testimony.  Churches that are full of sinning people, believers and unbelievers, the church that is never dealing with sin will literally be flooded with hypocrites, flooded with people who have religious impulses, flooded with people who want to make social contact or business contact or be a part of activities or looking for life partners[2]

OUR PRAYER – ought to be that God would use us for His glory, for His service. It’s God’s will that sinners be converted, and whatever way  God WANTS TO USE ME in his evangelistic work….that’s where I want to be.  Knowing that God….has set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  1Cor 12:18    My desire is to be more godly,  more Christ-like.

 

Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “It is not great minds, it is not great plans, it is not great ideas God uses.  It is great likeness to Jesus Christ.  A holy instrument is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.”

 

Purity of the church comes when there are  TRUE CONVERSIONS.     V.14 added to the LORD

The church has no power to ADD people to the Lord;     The preacher, or evangelist has no power to ADD people to the number of the redeemed.

We can ADD people to the church roll.   Only God can ADD people to HIS ROLL.    WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER,   GOD IS NOT GOING TO READING OFF THE LOCAL CHURCH’S  CHURCH ROLL.     (I WAS OUT VISITING ONE DAY…CAME UPON A PERSON I NEVER SEEN, NEVER MET…HE ASKED ME IF HIS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP AT SWAN CREEK WAS STILL GOOD…..I THINK I TOLD HIM I WOULD HAVE TO CHECK…BUT WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID, BUT ONLY THOUGHT OF IT LATER….HE HAD BETTER BE CONCERNED ABOUT IF HIS NAME IS WRITTEN DOWN IN THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE.

Being ADDED to the LORD is the main thing! 

 

God’s Power for Evangelism is seen in His Sovereignty as He works miracles through the Apostles, seen  in the Unity of the Church,  in the Purity of the Church

4.  God’s Power to Win the Lost is seen even when there’s HOSTILITY FROM THE WORLD.

VV.17-18

Sadducees -  the high priest – the Sadducees controlled the operations of the temple. They only believed in the inspiration of the first 5 books of the Bible.  Gen. Exod. Lev. Numbers, Deut.  (called the Pentateuch).   They base their beliefs on what’s in the first 5 books.

Sadducees – were separated from the common man…. They were work more closely with the Roman authorities,  the political powers.    Sadducees—were the majority in the 70 member Supreme court of Israel called the Sanhedrin.

Sadducees -   denied miracles,  denied the existence of angels and demons,  they denied the afterlife,  denied the resurrection,  denied anything supernatural…as someone has said about the Sadducees --- that’s why they are  sad you see”.

 

Their HOSTILITY – motivated by jealousy.    V.17

Jealous because their beliefs were called into question.   God’s sovereign work in performing miracles showed them up!   It put them on the spot!

Jealousy comes when  you desire to have something other people have….

For the Sadducees --  the Apostles had POWER…. and the Sadducees did not have the Power of God.

Also, the Sadducees – jealousy because people were believing something  they DID NOT Believe in. SEE Acts 4:1-2….Jesus the resurrection from the dead..

v.18  They arrested the apostles…public prison…..      we’ll show you…  we have power to lock you up.  We have authority over you.   we will control you.    we will stop what you’re doing.

NOW in v.19   GOD’s Power is displayed….

READ  vv.19-21

God’s Power was displayed -  God sent an angel of the Lord -   opened the prison doors…

And said  “Go and stand in the temple…words of this Life.

 Even in this moment of hostility….this moment of persecution…  GOD CAME  GAVE DELIVERING POWER…..

He delivered them from the prison….       For a purpose -   see v.20    Go and stand …

….words of this LIFE…

God does NOT always  open the prison doors…… 

Acts 7:58  Stephen – stoned

Acts 12:1 – James the apostle killed by Herod

God did not prevent….  Paul  from receiving stoning, beatings,  shipwrecked….ultimately his execution…beheaded

I like what one Bible teacher has said…..  sometimes God’s delivering power is

Granted to GIVE LIFE,  or  it’s granted to  LIVE LIFE.

When God gives deliverance (as He did with the Apostles Peter and John in our text),  it’s for the purpose to GIVE LIFE….  Angel of the Lord said,  v.20  “Go and…… words of this LIFE”

Give the gospel….give the message of salvation… give LIFE…  give to others the WORDS that give ETERNAL LIFE…

 

But if we are NOT delivered from whatever is hindering us to   GO And Stand before others…we are left in our suffering……our purpose is to LIVE LIFE….

If we are delivered….  then we continue to speak….giving our testimonty, sharing the gospel giving the WORDS OF LIFE….words of forgiveness,  words of salvation to the lost…. We are giving LIFE…

 

If we are not delivered…. IF THE ANGEL OF THE LORD does NOT come…..our days of giving may be over….we just live life…God does not grant  delivering Power….he gives dying power…and we will live LIFE…on into eternity forever with Christ.

 

For Stephen – acts 7 -   God did not send an angel to give deliverance….  Stephen was being stoned… as he was dying…he looked up and saw the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father…He saw the glory of God…  GOD  GAVE HIM DYING POWER…HE LIVED LIFE…UNTIL HE PASSED ON INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN HEAVEN.

Luke 21

12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.   (Listen -  not an hair of your head will perish)

The reason… you will ENTER into LIFE.        When the time comes when you can no longer speak to the people all the words of this LIFE,   then God gives dying power,  dying grace to ENTER into LIFE…. 

You will be raised with a glorified body;  a resurrected body….      NO Sadducee can stop that… 

In Christ we are more than conquerors…

Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Evangelism continues…. God gives power   even in times of hostility….  God will give either

Delivering Power, or  Dying Power[3]

 

 

Read   VV.21-25

5.  God’s Power in Evangelism is displayed in the CERTAINTY OF BIBLICAL TEACHING.

 

When the apostles were released…..what did they do?      V.21   entered the temple at daybreak and began to TEACH….

They were having church.       They did not go back and tell everyone…..  “we need to rethink this thing over….  We might get killed over all this…  are you sure we are doing the right thing?”

NO--  they preached with certainty….       They preached with clarity….   Their  teaching was not dampen one bit.       They did NOT change their Story.    They stayed with the pure Gospel.

It amazes me….how uncertain  some so called Bible teachers are becoming….  They say there may be other ways to God.   there are some people who have never heard of Jesus….and God may have another way for them to be saved……  Who am I to say differently?         Well, you know God did destroy Sodom and Gomorrah,  but  it may not be for the reason we’ve been told.   Some say it was for the reason of  sexual perversion,  but I’m not going to say,   and I can’t say that lifestyle is wrong….who am I to say?     And this thing about a place called hell, it probably is not that bad…the fire is probably fiqurative……

 

Read v.21b   “Now when the high priest came………  go get those apostles….

v.22 when the officers came to get them…could not find them…. They looked inside that prison cell….they looked under blankets,   under the cot…..   ESCAPE….  They have escaped!

 

v.23   they went back to the high priest….     You’re not going to believe this…  the prison doors are just as secured the day we locked them up….  The guards outside the doors are STANDING….not laying down asleep….they are standing on duty……

we opened….  Looked everywhere……they are not there..   no one was inside….

v.24    when the captain of the temple….chief priest….heard these words…  GREATLY PERPLEXED….  

They were the very opposite of the Apostles…..    the Apostles were at that time…TEACHING WITH CERTAINTY……  AND  the  temple police,  chief priest were scratching their heads with GREAT PERPLEXITY….

Wondering   WHAT this would come to………..

 

v.25   Suddenly…someone  said….LOOK!       you know those men you locked up….   The reason they are not in their cells….. they are STANDING in the temple and teaching the people.

n  They were not HIDING in the temple.

n  They were STANDING  in the temple.

n  They were TEACHING  not privately,  but publically

n  They were teaching  unashamedly, unapologetically,   boldly, without fear 

n  They were teaching with Clarity and with Great Certainty….

 

God’s power in evangelism- is given when we stay with WHAT GOD BLESSES AND  GOD HONORS…HIS WORD….  ANYTHING ELSE WILL BE CONFUSING,  UNCLEAR, AND UNCERTAIN.

Paul said:

1Cor 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

We must be faithful to give the CLEAR  CERTAIN SOUND that comes from God’s Word.

That’s what the Apostles did…and God answered their prayer for help in doing that.

God answered  their prayer -     go back to 4:29-31

 

May we be so determined to pray for God to work in us….and through us with Holy Spirit boldness,  witnessing to others,   and doing so with the AIM to PERSUADE….. even with the occasions of hostility, we might  be clear in our understanding and presentation of the Gospel message.   Pray for our local church to have unity in God’s truth,  and purity in our lives reflecting the likeness of Christ in our community and wherever we travel throughout a given week.

If you don’t know Christ as Your Lord and Savior, I urge you to take to heart the Words of this LIFE…the words of Christ that give ETERNAL life;   that give forgiveness of your sins;  the words of the Cross…Jesus paid your debt for sin,  offers you eternal life.  I pray you will repent and trust the Lord Jesus.  We’ll be glad to help you with that  when we dismiss, feel free to call out to us….the main thing…CALL out to the Lord Jesus..  He’s will in no wise turn away all who come to Him.

 

--------------notes and outline for the church bulletin-----------------------------

Evangelism and the Power of God

Acts 5:12-25   ESV

 

Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.

1.    1God’s Power displayed in His Sovereignty.  (vv.12a, 15-16)

2.    2.   God’s Power displayed in the Church’s Unity.  (v.12b)

 

Acts 1:14; 2:1; 4:32   Ps.133:1    John 17:21-23

 

3.    3.  God’s Power displayed in the Church’s Purity.  (vv.13-14)

 

Psalms 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart….”

1Cor. 12:18

 

4.    4.   God’s Power displayed in the face of Hostility. (vv.17-20)

 

(a)  Delivering Power -  God sent an angel –

(b)  Dying Power -   Acts 7:58 Stephen;  12:1 James

Luke 21:12,16-18

Romans 8:35-39

 

5.    5.   God’s Power displayed in the Certainty of Biblical Teaching.

(vv.21-25)

There was no uncertainty among the Apostles as to the content of the message.  They preached with clarity and certainty.

Contrast to that was the “perplexity” of the religious rulers. (v.24)

1Cor. 14:8 

May God work in us through the Holy Spirit to be bold witnesses with the aim to persuade. Pray for our local church to have purity and unity in God’s truth reflecting the likeness of Christ in our community and wherever we travel throughout a given week.

Pray we will preach Christ crucified for sinners!

 

Pray we will declare Christ Risen from the dead, and Coming Back soon for His Bride. 



[1] https://www.9marks.org/article/how-should-we-define-evangelism/

[2] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/44-21/five-essentials-of-evangelism-part-1

[3] Some information from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-price-and-the-preciousness-of-spiritual-power


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