Don’t you just love a good home makeover show? The desire to make our homes attractive and comfortable isn’t new, but the huge industry it’s become is kind of crazy! HGTV, DIY Network, etc. have built an empire on our fascination with watching the transformation of physical spaces. To be honest, it’s probably spawned a whole new level of dissatisfaction with our current circumstances, as a steady diet of home improvement television feeds our lack of contentment. Regardless, it’s fun to watch talented and creative people make something beautiful and functional out of what was ugly, outdated, or abandoned.
As I read through the book of Acts, the word “transformation” comes to mind. When Jesus left His disciples to return to the Father, He gave them instructions to carry out. He also empowered them to accomplish those instructions by sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to indwell all who would put their faith in Christ. A group of ordinary, working men turned the world upside down as they went out and proclaimed the gospel boldly in the face of strong opposition and criticism.
Acts 4 describes an encounter Peter and John had with the religious leaders. Just as Jesus had warned, His followers would receive the same treatment He did by those who opposed the message of repentance and faith. Peter and John had healed a lame man who had laid at the temple gates begging; they did this openly in the name of Jess Christ. As the people observed these things happening, they were taking notice, and many were believing and joining the growing church. So, the priests and Sadducees had them arrested and thrown in jail. The charges against them were vague and spurious, as Peter and John were well aware. This opposition, instead of making them hide away in fear, seemed to embolden them.
The religious leaders threatened them, commanding them to stop speaking or teaching at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John did not back down; they acknowledged they could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard…they would continue to tell the truth about Jesus in spite of the physical, political, and cultural dangers. As they return to their companions to report what had happened, Peter prays a prayer of thanksgiving and worship to God.
Acts 4:24-31 – And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
In his prayer, I see some foundational beliefs that fueled Peter’s transformation from one who denied Jesus in fear, to a skilled communicator speaking boldly about His Savior. If we’re going to have that same kind of boldness and effect in a hostile world, we must believe these five things as well.
#1 – God creates.
Peter and John knew who held the highest authority over their lives. They weren’t wasting time philosophizing and discussing theories about how the world began. They knew and believed without a doubt that God was Creator, and the world operates under His governing authority and is accountable to Him as a result. They were speaking on behalf of the ruler of the world, and no earthy authority could overturn His will.
#2 – God speaks.
Peter and John had full confidence in the Scriptures as the infallible, unchanging, inerrant Word of God. They had witnessed countless fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Jesus and knew they were, themselves, living out what the prophets foretold. This gave them unshakeable confidence in their message.
#3 – God plans.
Peter and John knew that God was sovereign; they were fully aware that the death and resurrection of Jesus, while carried out by evil men, was done at the predetermined, foreordained plan of the Father. God had initiated and carried out the means of man’s salvation, and as He had planned it all down to the last detail, He was also carrying out His sovereign plans for their lives. This eliminated fear or uncertainty about their future and gave them the confidence to be bold and unashamed, regardless of the outcome.
#4 – God sees.
Peter asked God to take note of their threats (4:29). God was not a distant ruler, leaving them to suffer without concern. Peter and John knew that God was watching over them and would hold their accusers accountable for their actions. No evil goes unnoticed, and God will bring justice and retribution for His people in the end.
#5 – God empowers.
Peter and John knew that the only power they possessed was in the name of Jesus Christ, fueled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. They had confidence that whatever danger, resistance, rejection, or even ultimately, physical death they faced, God would give them the power and ability to remain faithful until their work was done. They had experienced it already in dramatic and miraculous ways and had no reason to doubt that God would leave them to their own abilities at any point in the journey He had laid out for them to walk.
Are you wavering in your faithful proclamation of the gospel in the face of a hostile world? Perhaps you need to revisit one or more of these foundational beliefs.
Let these truths sink deeply into your heart, mind, and soul, and you, too, will be a bold proclaimer of Jesus Christ from a transformed life.