The holistic ministry of His church – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

What were the leaders referring to, when they questioned Peter and John?

There were three items on the agenda.  One was the healing of the lame man, the second was the teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus, and the third, many people had come to faith in Jesus. 

These three matters are to be kept in mind as we fulfil our task as His church here on earth. 

One side of the ministry of His church is to meet the people’s physical, mental, social, and economic needs. Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (7) And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

The second side is to present Christ to people and for people to repent and submit to the lordship of Christ, by faith in Him. Acts 3:19-20 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, (20) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, / Acts 3:25-26 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ (26) To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

The third side of the ministry of His church is to work with those who receive Jesus as their Lord.  This is the discipleship function of His church.  Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

These three sides of the ministry of His church are inseparable.  This was how the Lord did His ministry. 

Jesus explained His ministry to John the Baptist. Matthew11:4-6 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: (5) The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (6) And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

This holistic ministry of our Lord is the Gospel of His kingdom.  Luke 4:40-44 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. (41) And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. (42) Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; (43) but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (44) And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. 

Sadly, we have confused ourselves by separating these three aspects of the ministry of His church and we have given emphasis on one side over the other. 

Do we not see oppression, corruption, injustice, lying and cheating? As the church will we only ask people to repent of their sins and surrender their lives to Christ?  As we do so, are we not also building and equipping the body of Christ to be conformed to Christ, who is our head?  Are we not bringing people and nations into the kingdom of Jesus, as Jesus had done?

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

It was for this holistic ministry that they had done that Peter and John were being questioned. 

We must ensure that our ministry is holistic.  When we are questioned, for the ministry that we do, we must consider their questioning as a beautiful opportunity for the growth of the Gospel.

Let us, with great joy, fulfil the ministry to which the Lord has called His church.  If we are questioned and persecuted for the work that we do, let us not be discouraged, for so they did to those who have gone ahead of us.

The elect will be saved – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

We will now, consider this matter of authority about which the leaders of this world are deeply anxious. 

In Acts chapter 4, we see that the leaders commanded the disciples not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. This was a total ban on taking the name of Jesus.  Acts 4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

In Acts chapter five, the command not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus was reiterated with greater intensity. Acts 5:28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

In between Acts chapters four and five, did the teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus, stop?  No, it did not.  The disciples decided to clearly and openly disobey the command placed on them.

After imprisoning and beating the Apostles they were once again threatened with further punishment and told not to speak in the name of Jesus.  Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

What began with the early church, has continued across cultures over centuries and has become even shriller and harsher by the day.  Has all the authorities of different nations and governments and all their commands and edicts, over time, been able to stop the teaching and preaching of the name of Jesus?

Authority is all about the power and position to rule over people.  John 11:47-48 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. (48) If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

This remark made by the leaders gives us an insight into the heart of man.  We want people to have a good opinion of us.  We, therefore, seek to gain the favour of people.  Man also wants position and the power that flows from the position over people.  This is deep inside every man. 

The Lord taught His disciples how to deal with this issue of authority.  Luke 22:25-26 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ (26) But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.

The Lord taught us not to be worried about winning the favour of people or seeking for position and power that comes with the position.  The method to counter this itch for authority is by becoming a servant.  The Lord served His disciples and demonstrated that we too must each serve our respective communities.   

Leaders desire to create an impression on their people.  Matthew 6:1-2 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (2) Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Whereas, the Lord taught us to do our good deeds in secret.  Matthew 6:3-4 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Jesus demonstrated this life of meekness, which is not weakness. He called us as His church to be meek and thereby inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Jesus was a serious threat to the leaders since He was deflating their ultimate goal in life.  Jesus, therefore, had to be eliminated.  The leaders were able to take Jesus to the cross, and have Him killed and buried.  This was in their power to execute.  They were even worried about His resurrection and so they did what they could to prevent even a notion of His resurrection to spread. 

Yet, the Lord rose from the dead. The disciples, who earlier were so full of fear, were now bold and were not afraid to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. 

As we face fierce opposition to the name of Jesus, let us be encouraged that we are part of history. Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Let us be assured that whatever the courts or governments may command, the name of Jesus will be taught and preached and the elect will be saved.

Our authority – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Authority is a big and fundamental issue.  A person who knows his authority will also know his identity, and his purpose and consequently will be secure. 

This was the same question that the leaders asked Jesus.  Matthew 21:23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

Since the leaders questioned the authority of Jesus, they did not believe in Him and since they did not believe in Him, they remained in death. John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

The Jews questioned the authority of Jesus in cleansing the temple, by asking Him for a sign.  John 2:18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

If Jesus were to have obliged them with a sign, then they could confine Jesus to being a miracle worker and would consider His cleansing of the temple as only an aberration.  Whereas, if He was the Messiah, then they would need to surrender and submit to Him. 

The world does not want to submit to the lordship of Christ.  Therefore, they question our authority to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. 

Whereas, the Lord has given us His authority to teach and preach Jesus, to the people of the world and bring them to faith in Jesus. Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Man was given authority to have dominion and rule over all of God’s creation in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

When we sinned against God, we came under the control of the devil to do his will.  II Timothy 2:25-26 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (26) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

The devil tempted Jesus, to acknowledge that he, the devil, had the authority over all the earth, by bowing to him. Jesus refused.  Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. (7) Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours*.” (8) And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ “

The devil was never given authority over God’s creation.  It is to man that authority was given, in creation, and to His church under the New Covenant.  Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

We were prisoners of the devil but Jesus delivered us. Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Not only has Jesus delivered us from the clutches of the devil, but He has also put the devil to open shame. Colossians 2:14-15 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (15) Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The Lord has raised His church to be the ones who have authority over the evil one and bring about the wisdom of God. Ephesians 3:9-11 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; (10) to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, (11) according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

When we are questioned by our leaders, we must know our authority.