Welcome to Christ’s Community Church. Today we're continuing in part two of our series “When Necessary”. We’ve been looking at the Book of Acts in chapter 4 and the disciples Peter and John as they’re confronted by the Jewish leaders of their community. Now last week we looked at their courage as they spoke to these men about the resurrection of Jesus and today is no different. As a matter of fact, time and time again throughout the Book of Acts we find Christians who just couldn’t keep quiet, because they believed deeply that Jesus wasn’t dead. And so, no matter whether they were eyewitnesses or if they heard from a family member, friend, or neighbor, they believed Jesus was alive, and therefore they were very outspoken because they’d been transformed by indwelling Spirit of the risen Christ.
Now, if you remember, last week we saw Peter and John as they came across a guy that had been lame. Everybody in the community knew this guy, because he hadn’t been able to walk for over forty years. And so, this guy was begging at the temple gate just like he did every day, when he saw Peter and John about to enter. He asked them for money and Peter said,
"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth walk” (Acts 3:6).
To the amazement of the crowd, the man crippled from birth suddenly jumped to his feet. You could imagine the effect this miracle had on those people who had seen him day by day, 365 days a year, year after year for 40 years, and now in an instant he was walking, jumping, and praising God in the temple courts. Everybody in the community is talking about it, but the Jewish leaders are not nearly as excited, because they’d hoped that Jesus would soon be forgotten. Now there’s this miraculous healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, everybody’s talking about it, and the religious leaders want nothing more than to put an end to this foolishness, because they don’t believe in the resurrection, they’re trying to deny it, and yet everybody’s talking about it. So, they seized Peter and John, put them on trial, and began to question them. This is where we pick up the story in verse 13,
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say” (Acts 4:13-14).
They were speechless!!! Their goal had been to quiet these guys down, to quench the name of Jesus, but now they’re trapped because there’s this guy standing with them who just yesterday was lame. Monday, he couldn’t walk, now Tuesday he can walk, everybody knows it and so there was nothing they could say. Continuing in verse 15, Luke shares with us the inner dialogue behind the scenes:
“So, they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:15-16).
Don’t you just love it when God does something that is so big, so obvious, that the world can’t deny it? Here the religious leaders said, “What are we going to do? We don’t believe in Jesus, we don’t believe in his resurrection, and we don’t understand this healing, but we can’t deny it!”
I wonder how many of you can relate? You know, there was something going on in your life, maybe you were in bondage to something, you were addicted or whatever, and the Spirit of God rose up inside of you and you were set free. Maybe it was your marriage and your spouse got radically saved; others were watching and they’re like, “We don’t understand it, we’re not sure we believe it, but we can’t deny it!” Or maybe it was your teenager and they were heading down the wrong path, but one Friday they came to Unashamed Youth, they met Jesus, and friends, family, and neighbors are looking on saying, “I don’t understand it, something just happened, and I can’t deny it!” The Sanhedrin conferred together and they were like, “I don’t understand it, but I can’t deny it, because this guy couldn’t walk for 40 years, and now he’s jumping and leaping around the temple courts. We can’t deny it!” So, in verse 17 they said,
“To stop this thing… (this thing that didn’t even have a name yet, this faith movement that would become known as Christianity, to stop it, and to keep it) from spreading any further among the people, (they said) we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." (Acts 4:17).
They said, “We must warn these men. No more praying in Jesus name. You can’t tell anyone about Jesus. No more talking about Jesus.” And then in verse 18:
“They called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).
Now watch the response of the disciples, both “Peter and John replied” in verse 19,
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).
In other words, “it’s not possible” they said. You can threaten us and we’ll just speak louder, you can beat us and Jesus will heal us, but “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” You can sentence us to death, you can falsely accuse us and kill us, but the last words on our lips will be the name of Jesus. We cannot help speaking, because if you’d seen what we’ve seen and if you’d heard what we’ve heard, you'd just have to tell somebody. Peter’s like, “If you knew who we were and the people that we are now. If you knew the sins God’s forgiven, you'd have to talk about it. If you saw the miracles that we've seen, you just can’t help telling others about it.
We just can't help speaking, because there's some things you just can't keep to yourself. You know, it’s like that movie you saw, that song playing on the radio, or that restaurant you went to and the food was so amazing! These guys are like, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. You see, when you realize that Jesus was dead and that he is alive again that changes everything. And so, they’re like, you can threaten us all you want, but to get us to stop talking, that is impossible.
“We cannot help speaking,” said Peter and John. And so, today we’re going to look at several different areas where I believe God would want you not just to live as a witness, but to be outspoken, because of what you believe. The first one is this: “We Cannot Help Speaking” a word of exhortation to ourselves.
The apostle Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord… (Ephesians 4:17).
And he says to the Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on…” (Philippians 3:12-14).
And then again in Hebrews chapter 13, the Bible says, “I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22).
We cannot help speaking a word of exhortation, to push ourselves, to urge, to press on, and to insist. The Bible tells us, this is what David did; he strengthened himself in the Lord. First Samuel, chapter 30 tells us that,
“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
He was greatly distressed, but he pressed on, he encouraged himself, speaking to himself, maybe remembering the time when God gave him strength to kill that lion or that bear. Maybe remembering when God gave him the courage to stand against that giant Philistine. You know, that time when everybody else said, “Goliath was too big to beat.” But David got a handful of rocks because he knew he was too big to miss.
David spoke to himself, he exhorted himself, encouraging himself in the Lord, and you can do the same thing. Just begin speaking to yourself, preaching God’s word, because it will renew your mind. Preach your way through every fear, every insecurity, and every battle you face. As a matter of fact, the next time you’re wading through diapers, and toys, and dishes, all those domestic responsibilities and you’re feeling overwhelmed; you just preach to yourself, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Or some of you, maybe you find yourself overwhelmed at your job. There’s just too much to do, the responsibility’s too great, and so you just encourage yourself in the Lord, speak to yourself, second Corinthians, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10). Or maybe Zechariah, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
When you’re afraid, or you’re worried, you encourage yourself in the Lord saying,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)
You cannot help speaking to yourself, because there are times when you’ve got to encourage yourself in the Lord. And then secondly, you cannot help speaking a word of inspiration. You’ve just got to encourage others.
Truett Cathy (founder of Chic-fil-A) once said, "How do you identify someone who needs encouragement?” And he answered, “That person is breathing."
You know, honestly, as believers we should be the most encouraging people in the world. We have the good news, we have a living hope, and we have the Word of God which tells us in Hebrews chapter 3 to: “Encourage one another daily…” (Hebrews 3:13).
You can be sure that every person you encounter today would benefit from a word of inspiration. Now you may not be able to solve all their problems, but you can certainly give them a little extra hope for their journey. It’s my belief that every single day, not only should you be inspired but you should be inspiring others with the Word of God. I used to do this with my kids every night because I felt it was so important, but when we got up to six kids it became too much for me. I would be too tired, it would get too late, and so I resigned myself to just talking with them and praying with them, but I believe in the power of inspiration.
As a matter fact, it wasn't too long ago, that I was struggling and I was discouraged. But I came home and I was like I don’t know if I can keep doing this. You know, it was one of those days where I was feeling kind of like Elijah hiding in that cave after his big victory on Mount Carmel. Just feeling like I should just quit, I'm not strong enough, not good enough, maybe I misunderstood what God was calling me to do. But you know my wife, Dana, looked at me and she inspired me. She spoke God's Word to me saying, “John, you need to put on the armor of God. You need to stand firm. Don’t grow weary in doing good, because at the proper time you’ll reap a harvest if you don’t give up!”
And I'm standing here today because someone inspired me and therefore I want to be an inspiration for you! Don't quit! Don't grow weary in doing good, you’ll reap a harvest if you do not give up! So, don’t give up on your marriage, your dream, the vision God gave you, the ministry that’s burning in your heart. And above all things, don’t give up on God, because God will never give up on you!
Sometimes you can’t help speaking to yourself, exhorting yourself, and other times you can be the inspiration for someone else, and then number three, sometimes you cannot help but speak a word of correction.
It’s never easy, but there are times when you know what God has said and yet someone you love is saying something wrong, doing something wrong, and so you cannot help but to lovingly correct them. The Bible tells us this,
“If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1).
Notice it says gently, so that means that you don’t go around beating people over the head with your Bible, cutting them down, and condemning them. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), is sharper than any double-edged sword, it’s like a surgeon’s scalpel, even “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). And so, the word is gentle and precise, it’s not like Peter in the garden the fateful night of Jesus’ crucifixion as he attempted to save Jesus, swinging his sword as if to behead the high priest’s servant Malchus and only cut off his ear (John 18:10). And in the same way, you guys don’t go home beating your wife with your Bible, telling her to shut up and obey because she’s supposed to submit to you; that’s not biblical correction, that’s spiritual abuse.
When someone steps outside of the Word of God you lovingly and gently restore them, confronting them according to Matthew chapter 18, because you love them too much to let them continue in that way, hurting themselves, and hurting others. Maybe for some of you ladies, it’s your friend who’s always bad mouthing her husband saying, “He is lazy, he won’t do this or that, he’s not a spiritual leader, and on and on and on.” And so, you lovingly confront your friend about demeaning her husband. You encourage her, to build up her husband instead of tearing him down; to speak purpose into him instead of talking him out of who God wants him to be. You just cannot help speaking life, love, and encouragement into that marriage.
And I am sure that all of us know someone who is addicted to something, whether to drugs, alcohol, pornography, work, or whatever, and yet it’s like no one has the courage to say anything about it. But you cannot help but speaking, not as if you’re better than them, but because you love them and it hurts you to see them sinking lower and lower and lower. And so, you come alongside of them, you love them, and together you’re going to rise above that whatever that’s kept them in bondage. You’re going to help, because you love them too much to let them hurt themselves and others over and over and over again. And so, you cannot help speaking a word of correction, not because you’re better, but because you care so deeply, and then number four, you cannot help speaking about the Salvation of Christ.
It’s like how week after week I invite people to turn from their sins and follow Jesus. And I can’t help but speak and call people to respond, because my wife and I grew up in church and we didn’t understand the Gospel. We had a head knowledge of God but not a heart knowledge. We were preached to but never challenged to have a relationship with God, to walk by faith, and to live by the Spirit, and so it becomes very personal.
Peter and John said, “We can’t help it. You can beat us, you can lock us up, you can even threaten to kill us, but verse 20:
“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
In other words, Peter and John said, “When you’ve seen what I’ve seen and heard what I’ve heard, you can’t be quiet about it.” And in the same way, if you knew who I was, how rebellious and sinful I was; if you knew what God had forgiven me of and how much he’d changed me; if you’d experienced what I’d experienced, if you’d been transformed like I’d been transformed from an angry, unfaithful, liar, but by the grace of God, and by his strength, into a man of God; if you knew that you’d understand why I cannot help speaking about the Jesus who saved me and made me brand-new. You know, you might as well ask the sun to stop shining, but I cannot help speaking.
And here's what you need to understand. There are some of you who know what I’m talking about, because you’ve been there, you’ve been saved, you’ve been set free, and you cannot help speaking about it. But others of you, you don’t see why I’m so excited, maybe you don’t get it, maybe you just came to church hoping to feel good about yourself. But when you’ve encountered the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when you’ve been forgiven of so much, you are going to love much. So, you’re not always just going to let your life be a witness, but you are going to speak, you’ve got to tell somebody who he is and what he’s done, because you can’t stop talking about what you’ve seen and heard.
You see, we’ve just got to speak, we cannot help speaking about what we believe so deeply.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
August 06, 2017
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, Preaching Library, and PC Study Bible.
Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.