Acts 4:1-22 Kingdoms in Conflict: The Collision

Acts 4:1-22

Kingdoms in Conflict: The Collision


John 15:18-20

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

The “world” system that Scripture talks about is the system of values that lay at the heart of the lies of the enemy that were propagated in the garden to our parents.

This world system is the manifestation of the curse of the fall.

This world system lies in direct opposition to the Kingdom of God.

There are two kingdoms in conflict.

All persecution, no matter how mild or how severe, come from the same source…the world system that is empowered by Satan himself.

Internal conflict comes from the collision of the world’s values with the kingdom’s values. It’s not a matter of if, but when and if we’ll obey Jesus in handling.

1 John 5:19

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Wherever the Kingdom of God is advancing you can bet that difficulty will arise to oppose it from the world system.

When light is shed on darkness, darkness will fight back.

In Acts 4:1-22 we find ourselves in the same setting as last week. Peter and John have obeyed Jesus in healing and preaching the gospel.

Acts 4:1 “And as they were speaking to the people…”

Healing and preaching confront the curse of the fall at ever level of body and soul.

The kingdom of darkness does not even let Peter and John move on before a full on assault is launched.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Suffering…is the badge of the true Christian. The disciple is not above his master…Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the church as the community of those ‘who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake.’…Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.”

Peter and John get to taste it first.

Let’s look at this collision with culture.

What do we see/what does it mean? Observation/Interpretation 1

1. The World System Revealed Itself in the Established Religious System of the Day 4:1

1. Priests – Levites giving their annual service at the temple

2. Captain of the Temple – Temple police chief

3. Sadducees – The naturalist/religious elite / play the leading role in persecution in Acts / different from Pharisees who opposed Jesus for religious reasons / Sadducean opposition comes politically motivated / materialistic rationalists / deny the supernatural / deny the existence of angels and demons / deny resurrection

The Sadducees saw the Messiah as an ideal and the messianic age as a material process. They had gained a special place during the intertestamental period under the Maccabeans. During subsequent political regimes they created a priestly nobility. They were the educated, wealthy elite. They were also unprincipled collaborationists, political brown-noters who would sell their mother to stay in power.

4. The world system comes against the kingdom of God

“…came upon them.”

Literally and grammatically “burst upon them”. It carries the idea that they came up to them fiercely not inquisitively.

What do we do with this?

1. Recognize “world” systems by their being opposed to God’s way.

2. Understand that the “world” uses religious systems that are not in the truth of Jesus.

3. The kingdom of God will be assaulted by the kingdom of darkness and it usually is not peaceful.

What doe we see/what does it mean? Observation/Interpretation 2

2. The collision is multifaceted 

1. Collision is manifested by the world system being annoyed at the disciples. 4:2

2. Collision is manifested by the world system applying the law against the disciples. 4:3

3. Collision is manifested by the world system questioning the how / why of the disciples. 4:7

4. Collision is manifested by a clear recognition that somehow Jesus was at work. 4:13

This is distinct from verse 2 where they hear them proclaiming Jesus.

Whatever is going on, these rationalists are recognizing something very “Jesusy” beyond their words.

I’m convinced they recognized spiritual power and knew where it came from.

We will hear later from the demons “Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?”

Even the demons recognize spiritual power in their unbelief. I believe these guys did too and it brought on accusation.

5. Collision is manifested by false arrest / false accusation. 4:14-16

6. Collision is manifested by warning to stop doing the Jesus part of their work. 4:17-18, 22

Healing the guy is ok. He’s a grown man. We all know he was crippled. We can’t deny that part. But they were being told to stop the “Jesusy” stuff.

What do we do with this?

1. Recognize that the kingdom of God will annoy the heck out of “world” people.

Obedience to Jesus and living by his values will cause people to by annoyed at you.

2. Recognize that the kingdom of darkness will try to use the law written and unwritten rules to stop the kingdom of God.

3. Expect aggressive questioning.

You know what, I get more of #2 and #3 from people supposedly in the kingdom than I do from people still under the curse.

4. Expect spiritual warfare to manifest itself (related to #4 in observation/Interpretation).

5. Expect accusation and impunity of motive.

6. Expect people to want wellness but not wholeness.

“I want my life fixed, but don’t expect me to change my value system.”

What do we see/what does it mean? Observation 3

3. The results and response to collision is glorious.

1. Salvation came to many. 4:4

2. They were filled with the Holy Spirit to preach. 4:8-12

3. The disciples participate in a little civil disobedience. 4:19-20

What do we do with this?

1. Expect our domain engagement to result in people coming to faith in Christ.

2. Expect the supernatural empowerment of the Spirit to do the work.

3. Expect to have to obey God and disobey any authority that violates God’s truth.

I typically write out my prayers as I pray. It helps me to pray focused and it helps me record what I’m asking Father for.

Here is one from this week that I’d like to share with you and ask you to join me in praying this:

Father, make me sensitive to your truth. Make me pliable to your word. If your truth is breached give me a spine of steel. Make me as fierce as a lion. Make me shrewd as a serpent. Make me innocent as a dove.

We must know how to respond when God’s truth is violated inside the community of the kingdom and outside the community of the kingdom.

Conclusion: What good comes from the conflict of colliding with culture?

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

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