|The Holy Spirit and the Early Church - Artist unknown|
TO CHEW ON: "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31
The early church had just suffered its first setback. After healing the lame man at the temple gate, Peter had preached Jesus to the receptive crowd and many had believed in Him. This greatly bothered the Jewish rulers, who thought that with the crucifixion, they would be done with this Jesus troublemaker.
The Sadducees, priests and temple captain arrested Peter and John, kept them in jail overnight and the next day brought them before the Sanhedrin. There the rulers, elders, and scribes, along with the High Priest, grilled Peter and John, commanded them to stop teaching in Jesus' name or else, and let them go.
They returned to their friends and reported what happened. However, the reaction of the early church is probably not what we would expect. Let's listen to their voices raised in prayer to learn how a Spirit-filled church prays in the face of opposition:
1. They begin with praise—focusing on God's greatness - Acts 4:24.
2. They remind themselves, and God, of His word and promises by quoting scripture - Acts 4:25,26.
3. They speak their agreement with God's will and His sovereign purposes: "… to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done" - Acts 4:27-28.
4. They request, not that the persecution will stop or that the persecutors will be silenced (like I would) but that they will face these threats with boldness.
5. They pray for more healings, signs, and wonders to prove Jesus' power and reality.
The result of their prayer: "… the place where they were assembled was shaken (literally, I wonder, in an earthquake-type event?) and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness."
[Boldness - parrhesia "Outspokenness, unusual utterance, freedom of speech, with frankness, candour, cheerful courage, and the opposite of cowardice, timidity or fear. Here it denotes a divine enablement that comes to ordinary and unprofessional people exhibiting spiritual power and authority … Parrhesia is not a human quality but a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1497.]
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I need this boldness not only when I face opposition, but for everyday life. Please fill me with Your Spirit in this way. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.