Why is the proclamation of the Gospel or mentioning the name of Jesus such an offense to so many people. Not just here in Canada but around the world? What is that makes people so angry or worse yet the bitterness to cause harm to those who follow the name Jesus Christ? As we look at what the Bible calls the first incident of persecution..... I think it all boils down to this one Biblical truth that Jesus said to His disciples “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”John 14:6. Do we realize the impact that statement has made over the past few centuries and what that statement means to the future in our pluralistic world! Do we realize the severity of that bold statement......that statement is telling the world that if you are: Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Scientologist, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, Evolutionist, Muslim and all other Religions by tradition, you are forever separated from God! Why? Because you have created a God in your image..........which ultimately leads to a Gospel created by man! Which in the end leaves a person such as this separated from the very One who said "I am the way, the truth, and the life” What does it mean be a radical Christian in our postmodern world? It means that you and I need to change! We cannot stay the same! We cannot be silent when so many people are one foot closer to Hell. We cannot be silent in a world that wants us to go away!The Bible says.....Jesus and His message is to be our greatest passion above everything else in this world! Above family...comfort and riches! David Platt said in his book “Radical” Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I was the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus? This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. “Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…” And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. We cannot be silent as so many people have to the philosophy that we all get to Heaven on our own terms... in our own way! Shouldn’t we be radical at a time when every minute is precious to us? Isn’t that what it means to be a radical Christian!! YOU ARE PROBABLY THINKING TO YOURSELF! Mike your beginning to sound like one of those activists! Yes to some degree.......but don’t we have a reason to be concerned with our present society! Shouldn’t a radical Christian life be important to us? Shouldn’t we have zeal and passion for the proclamation of the Gospel? How can a person be silent.... when Jesus went to the Cross to face the Judge on our behalf! SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT THAT THIS! Was David a radical Christian when he faced the Philistine Giant? Was Elijah a radical Christian when he faced the wicked women ever to walk the earth (Jezebel?) What about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they wouldn’t worship anyone else other than the Lord. Was Daniel a radical Christian when he was willing to die in the lion’s den? Was Isaiah.....Jeremiah....Ezekiel....and the rest of the prophets radical Christians when they stood in front of kings.....rulers.....the rich and poor claiming “thus saith the Lord." WAS JESUS A RADICAL CHRISTIAN? Here is our Lord standing before the religious....the power and rulers of that day (the Roman’s) and declares to them! “......."Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:58-59. Radical Christians are the ones who have a passion for the Gospel and for people who are dying to be saved!! Which brings me to the passion of 2 men.......two men who had a passion for the Gospel that saves to the uttermost. Something people would declare or label in their day.......even in ours as “JESUS FREAKS” SOME BACKGROUND AS WE LOOK AT THIS WONDERFUL DISPLAY OF RADICAL CHRISTIANITY. Peter and John healed a man who was lame since birth as they went to the temple to pray. A man who was crippled for 40 years was outside the temple gates. A man who was considered a hindrance to society because he was a beggar looking for money (v2) in chapter 3 talks about many people would come to the temple to impress God with their religious good works....include offerings at the temple treasury. This poor, lame beggar of a man was completely healed.....all his muscle structure, all his mechanics to balance and the capability to walk was perfect!! This was a display of God’s healing grace though His apostles......Why I say that in (v8) of chapter 3....says “leaping and praising God” The people were amazed as the religious leaders.......but what’s more amazing is that John and Peter never once took the credit for this wonderful miracle (v12-v13) of chapter 3. Which brings me to Peter nd John...... radical Christians! (Look at Acts 4:1-3). Peter said something that struck a chord with all the religious types found in the temple area!! “they were greatly disturbed” There was a certain name that made them feel very uncomfortable.......a name that they never wanted to hear again.....especially men like Annas and Caiaphas. The bible says they laid hands forcibly on them and arrested them for speaking in the name of Jesus Christ! Do you realize that is happening today.....in our love all and to be tolerant of all religions........What I find more amazing is....... this doesn’t stop radical Peter to talk full advantage of proclaiming Christ to a large group of men who should have known better! (v8-v12). I wonder if Peter was reminding himself of what Jesus said as he walked with our Lord. "But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Mark 13:9-13. Peter faced the firing squad with humility and bravery which only can come from the Spirit that lives in us. Peter chose to stand strong against the strongest opposition known to any believer; he was staring right up the barrel of the very men who said to Pilate “But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" John 19:15......They even went on to say “His blood be on us and on our children." Matt 27:25.This didn’t stop radical Peter to forsake everything for the sake of the cause!! Jesus Christ....PETER AND JOHN WEREN’T THINKING ABOUT: Comfort and rest, how this was going to affect future relationships, what his family might think him, what that present culture thought about the topic of Jesus, how to be more open to other religious views, the possibility of death or a major beating. They only cared about one thing! That Jesus gets the pre-immense in and out of our lives because of what He has done on our behalf. What are we doing to be a radical Christian like Peter and John? Is it wearing a Jesus – shirt!.....Is it by putting a Jesus fish on the trunk of our car.....Is it wearing a cross around our neck.....Is it coming to church on Sunday. Because none of these make you a radical Christian!! DO YOU REALIZE THAT! THE NAME OF JESUS NEEDS TO BE PROCLAIMED MORE TODAY! IN A GENERATION THAT NO’s NOTHING ABOUT JESUS! WHY?
• The government has done a good job removing His name
• The schools has done a good job removing His name
• The Christmas season and marketing experts has done a good job removing His name
• The North American home has done a good job removing His name
• Even local churches have done a good job removing His name to be more tolerant/acceptable
When are we going to stand against this present world for the One (Jesus Christ) who loved us and gave Himself for us without questioning what it was going to cost Him!!! When are we going to stand as Peter and John and say what they said in (v19-v20) We can learn some important steps to live a radical Christian life by what we see here in the fourth chapter of Acts
1. IT BEGINS WITH A YIELDING TO THE SPIRIT OF GOD (V8)
Peter was yielding to the Spirit’s control........Paul spoke of this kind of control! “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” Eph 5:18. John MacArthur says “the filling of the Spirit occurs when the believer walks in obedience to the word and Spirit. Yielding to His control releases His power in the believer’s life. This principle is foundational to all the rest; yieldedness to the Holy Spirit is the key to successful handling of persecution and proclamation of the Gospel.”.......And he also goes on to say that “lack of being filled with the Spirit is the reason the church today has difficulty facing opposition” Radical Christianity begins with a yielding to the Spirit of God!! The more you are filled the stronger you will be in proclaiming the name of Jesus!
2. IT BEGINS WITH COURAGE IN SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES (V8-V13)
Instead of compromise or being frightened Peter displayed great courage. Look at what peter says in (v12). That statement alone takes great courage in a society of religious pluralism...who say there are more than one way to Heaven. They were uneducated men (V13)....... not bible school students.....big dumb fishermen! I like what Vernon McGee said “unlearned and ignorant...that is, these men hadn’t been to theological seminary. But the Sanhedrin noted that they had been with Jesus. How wonderful to have a life that somehow or other calls attention to Jesus.” A reflection of Christ seen in and through our lives.....Remember what Jesus said.....there are only 2 religious paths! The Broadway that leads to Hell and the narrow way that leads to Christ. Jesus warns us when John wrote "........Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, John 10:7-8. There is only one way to attain salvation. There is only one way you will ever be saved.......Jesus Christ. Peter and John were very radical in making such a statement to a powerful group of men who though much differently than they did.....
3. IT BEGINS WITH OBEDIENCE TO GOD AT ALL COSTS (V14-V22)
How can I do such a thing when I KNOW my Redeemer lives? We need to ask ourselves which court is higher............Man or God’s. Peter and John are not saying that we don’t listen to those who rule over us according to Romans 13! We as Christian’s must listen and obey our authorities.....but when government decrees are clearly contrary to God’s word......................God’s word must be obeyed FIRST..........What did Daniel do? He went to his room and prayed despite the ruling from the king...found in Daniel chapter 6:4-10. What did Peter and John do? (v19-v20) All though they didn’t obey the Sanhedrin they nevertheless treated them all with respect! I remember one time at work I had to make a huge decision........... When we were having a leaders meeting and one of my partners said “we should keep religion out of our shop.” I was stunned to say the least.....I drove home that night and my wife is my witness crying about what I was going to do. Through prayer and reading and my wife the next day after reflecting on what transpired, I confronted the group in the morning and said “If this is going to be our policy then I have no chose but to quit” I knew in my heart that what they said was wrong and I knew I wouldn’t be able to silent about the very one that saved this wretched soul. “......................"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19-20. But it’s no different than for Peter and John as it is today for you and me! God must come first in our lives no matter what people say or might do to us!
Peter and John weren’t frightened or discouraged...they were thankful. Why I say this! After this episode with the religious they went and found comfort and support by fellow brother and sisters which is also vital for each and every one of us (v23). When we have fellowship like that we are so thankful that we serve an amazing God! And what better way to show our gratitude to our God...then through praise (v24-v31)
This is what a radical Christian looks like! Filled with the Spirit to speak His truth. Courageous and bold to proclaim the love of Christ to a Christ- less world and bedient to God! Why? Because He commands it.We serve an amazing God who has and will never give up on you! Why? He has conquered all things for His glory! He doesn’t call us to save people ....He calls us to go out and proclaim to them that Jesus is the way the truth and the life.......As Vernon MeGee once said “We are called to fish in the fish pond, not to clean up the fish pond....Jesus said He would make us fisher of men, and the world is the place to fish. We are not called upon to clean up the fish pond. We need to catch the fish and get the fish cleaned up” We can’t change the world, but God through us we can impact a fallen world by being radical Christians. A Christians who is willing to stand at any cost for Jesus Christ. I want to be like that! I want to be radical! THE QUESTION IS........Do you? We can walk........ as Peter....John and the rest of God`s children as people who are radically in love with Jesus Christ........Why? Because there is something about that name that gives me a desire every day to be radical!! His name is Jesus Christ! .......................And don’t forget it!