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Life Group discussion for week following 09.10.23
Kyle Childress
Acts 4        
SCRIPTURAL APPLICATION:  Read Acts 4 & watch/listen to Sept 10 sermon.

Life Group Discussion:

Boldness in Persecution: vs. 1-22
            The crime committed.
            The gospel continued.
            The name of Jesus exalted.
            The truth preached.
Boldness in Prayer: vs. 23-31
            Committed to God’s plan.
            Committed to preaching in boldness.
            Committed to the name of Jesus.
Boldness in Power: vs. 32-37
            Great power, great grace.
            Served, gave, met needs.
  • What did the message teach me about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?
  • What did the message teach me about the human condition?
  • Is there anything I need to confess, repent, or be grateful for, because of this passage?
  • How do I need help in believing and applying this scripture to my life?
  • How can I encourage others with this passage?
Universalism (v. 12)
From the time of Origen—a prominent figure in the early church about a.d. 185 to 253—some Christians have believed that God will eventually restore everything and everyone to its created order. Indeed, some have preached this doctrine of universal salvation from the text of Acts 3:21. Others have argued from 1 Corinthians 15:27–28 that God will devise some way to save everyone, even if it means a second chance or some different way to heaven.
Acts 4:12 chops that tree at its very base. God does not plan several ways up the mountain of conversion or multiple tracks on the railway to heaven. Agreement that God exists is not enough to eventually meet him face-to-face. These pious Jews needed repentance, for they had rejected the only way to heaven: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (4:12).[1]
Civil Disobedience (vv. 19–20)
Under normal conditions, Peter and John would not hesitate to obey the word of the Sanhedrin. Adherence to civil authority, taught by Jesus, became a major theme in the New Testament in the writing of both Peter (1 Pet. 2:13–17) and Paul (Rom. 13:1–7). Civil disobedience and anarchy defy established law, and the passages cited above clearly require subservience to government.
Yet there are exceptions! Two of them occur in back-to-back chapters in Acts 4 and 5. When a duly appointed civil authority requires a Christian to do something explicitly forbidden in God’s word, civil disobedience is not only permissible, but the appropriate choice. In chapter 5 the Sanhedrin reminds the apostles of the earlier warning and hears from them once again; We must obey God rather than men! (Acts 5:29).
Let’s be careful here. God does not give us the right to judge whether laws are “good or bad.” Our own interpretation of how we should respond to civil government does not enter into the issue. Biblical responses of civil disobedience must be supportable by appeal to God’s revelation—the Bible.[2]
Life Application:
Termite Teachings
How the sovereign power of God rings through the verses of this chapter! From the second the eyes of Peter and John met those of the beggar to the selfless behavior of Barnabas, we are captivated by how God controls his word and his people. These early Christians understood that although we may have a creed, Christianity stands for more than that. Christianity centers on the person of Jesus Christ around whom everything else gathers like metal fragments to a magnet. As believers draw closer to their Lord, they become a powerful force, proclaiming his message with boldness.
We don’t dote on insects in our society and certainly not on termites. They probably top the most hated list, but a community of termites is a rather remarkable group. One or two operating alone can do virtually nothing. When they reach a critical mass, they organize platoons and create a cathedral in which the colony will live out its entire life. That termite cathedral, constructed of small pellets of wood, is air-conditioned, humidity controlled, and quite comfortable. Remarkably, the builders are stone blind. They simply follow a chemical blueprint the divine Creator coded in their genes.
A direct comparison of Christians with termites would be counterproductive, but certainly the group cooperation metaphor helps us to think about coming together as believers—just like these early Christians with courage.
Issues for Discussion:
      1.   Why did the Sadducees oppose Jesus and the church?
      2.   What part did the resurrection have in the apostles’ preaching? Why?
      3.   How did the apostles have courage to face the powerful enemies of the gospel?[3]
  •  Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel where you work, play, or live.
  •  Pray for the great power and great grace that was given to the early church to be given to the church of today.
  • Pray for Boldness in sharing the name of Jesus!

[1] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 64-68
[3] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 69.

10 September 2023