We are called to share the gospel, to become “fishers of men.” But it can be quite intimating, sometimes even fearful, to share the message of salvation through Jesus. Many of our fears simply stem from timidity or lack of confidence. But there are situations when sharing Christ could have very real personal costs.
Christians could well face potential backlash for sharing Jesus. This might include jeopardizing family relationships, friendships, financial stability, or, in some cases, even freedom. To avoid succumbing to these fears, we must consider the potential consequence for those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. For, without Jesus, men face hell and eternal separation from God. People need Jesus!
SPEAKING IN THE NAME OF JESUS
It wasn’t long after Pentecost when Peter and John were stopped by a lame beggar who was lying near an entrance gate to the temple. Peter looked straight at this crippled man and 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). The man was instantly healed and began walking and jumping as he entered the temple. Everyone was “filled with wonder and amazement” (Acts 3:10).
This man had been born lame and was now an adult when he was miraculously healed in the power and name of Jesus Christ.
Shamefully, what should’ve been an occasion of celebration throughout Israel was met with opposition and antipathy by Jewish religious leaders. Instead of praising God for the miracle, these leaders “were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2).
In their jealousy, these religious aristocrats became infuriated. Why? These men were powerful figures in Israel. They were men of affluence and influence. And the healing of this crippled man seemed to them to be an affront to their esteemed prestige.
Regrettably, the notoriety associated with their religious statuses ultimately caused their hearts to become callous to the people they were supposed to minister too. They became entrapped by feelings of superiority. Thus, they cared more about the betterment of themselves than they did the betterment of the people.
For many of these religious leaders, they had a form of religion but their hearts were far from the things of God. Instead, they gave into the illusion of what the world offers as gratifying, and unwittingly forsook the Lord God.
The allure of what the world promises as satisfying is an enticing trap that appeals to everyone. Therefore, we each need to evaluate what things in our life haven’t been submitted to his lordship.
SUFFERING FOR THE NAME OF JESUS
These Jewish authorities were so threatened by Peter and John, that they had them seized and imprisoned for the night.
Could that have stifled Peter and John’s commitment for sharing the gospel?
They were mortal men, with the same types of pressures and fears you and I face. This attack against them was real, and it was intense. They were wrongfully thrown in prison. Actually, this was the first time Peter and John had been imprisoned, which must’ve intensified their fear.
To be imprisoned is a serious thing. And, to be imprisoned by their religious leaders was like having a target on their back. The Jewish council wanted Peter and John silenced. The actions of the council show they were willing to go to extremes to make certain of that outcome.
Peter and John faced the prospect of suffering or possibly even death if they continued to speak in the name of Jesus. They could’ve shied away quietly. That would’ve seemed to be an easier, safer, thing to do.
However, to remain silent would mean that Jesus’ message, which is the most important message the world has ever received, would be neglected.
They had to decide what’s most important – their safety or the salvation of men.
As Christians, we realize that the salvation of men is far more important. But that is a head knowledge. Do we take that to heart? Are we willing to jeopardize our comfort, or even our safety, to share Jesus?
There will be voices, both internal and external, that tell us to be selfish and protect ourselves. But sharing the gospel sometimes means we must become more concerned about the salvation of others than any personal consequence to ourselves.
Sharing the gospel always will always require sacrifices. It might be as simple as forfeiting personal time. Or, it could be as severe as forfeiting our freedom or very life.
It’s a serious commission that Jesus has given to us. But, He also empowers and protects us.
STANDING IN THE NAME OF JESUS
“The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John bought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this.”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:5-10)
In appearance Peter and John were on trial that day. Yet, through the power of the Holy spirit, the wheels turned and Peter and John’s words put the Jewish leaders on a trial of sorts. The Holy Spirit who empowered Peter to speak, also convicted the listeners of their need for salvation in Jesus.
Every member of the ruling council was under conviction. That conviction had far more serious implications than any conviction by a ruling court. For, “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
SALVATION, ONLY IN THE NAME OF JESUS
Speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter testified that the same power and name that healed the lame man, is also the One and Only Name through whom men can be saved. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
To reject the name of Jesus is to rejection God’s salvation.
Outwardly, the council was struggling with what to do about Peter and John (Acts 4:21), but the more important struggle was inwardly. Every man on that council had to decide what to do personally with Jesus Christ.
That’s what happens when men hear the gospel. Everyone who hears the gospel must choose what they will do with Jesus personally. They can’t ignore the written or spoken Word of God. “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
When we share the gospel, we can be confident that God will use His Word to work in the heart of the listener. God said, “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Therefore, speaking the gospel will never be in vain.
Further, we can have confidence that when we share the gospel, it is always empowered by the Holy Spirit for the glory of Jesus Christ.
“When [the Sanhedrin council] 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” (Acts 4:13).
The Holy Spirit doesn’t need someone who is “educated enough” to be used by Him. The Holy Spirit is looking for someone who is courageous enough.
Lord, we pray for boldness and courage that You will use us to share and show the love of Christ.
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