“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (v. 12).
– Acts 4:1-22
Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer. They encountered a lame beggar who asked for alms. Peter commanded him in the name of Jesus to walk, and the man was healed. As a result a large crowd gathered.
Peter’s sermon is a good example of confrontative preaching. He began by saying that Jesus Christ had healed the lame man. He followed this up by charging, “You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate.… You disowned the Holy and Righteous One.… You killed the Author of life” (Acts 3:13–15). This is forceful language. Peter modifies it, however, by pointing out that they had acted in ignorance (being misled by Satan). Now, however, they must repent and turn to God. They must remember that “anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from among His people” (Acts 3:17–23).
Peter’s sermon had basically three points. First, the people had sinned horribly. Second, God had mercifully given them an opportunity to turn from their “wicked ways” (Acts 3:26). Third, if they did not turn, they would burn. Repent or perish.
How often do we hear this kind of preaching? Not very often. This is not the message that is appropriate for every Sunday’s sermon when we are to teach and comfort God’s people; but from time to time ministers of the Gospel need to remind their congregations of the basic facts of salvation and the consequences of unbelief.
The Sadducees, governors of the temple, disliked Peter’s message, so they arrested him (Acts 4:1–4). The next day, they asked him to give an account of his sermon. Peter immediately went on the offensive. He pointed out that he had been arrested for doing a kind deed. He went on to tell them point-blank that it was Jesus who had healed the man, the same Jesus they had crucified but whom God had raised. Peter positioned them as enemies of God. Finally, Peter said that there is no possibility of salvation apart from this Jesus, whom God had established as King of the universe (Acts 4:8–12). The Sadducees in reply ordered Peter to stop preaching this message, but Peter said that he would not obey them (Acts 4:18–20).
Arrogance is a false confidence based on your own ability. True confidence comes from faith in our omnipotent God. Peter was doubtless courteous but also consummately bold before the highest court among the Jews. These men had put Jesus to death; they could have easily put him to death. Ask God for Peter’s boldness.
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 5:14
(Source: Devotional by Ligonier Ministries — the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul)