The exciting events of Acts 3-4 end with these words: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (4:31). What had transpired in the life of the new Jerusalem Church that led Luke to make this declaration? Out of the events of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit led Peter and John to heal a man who had been lame from birth. The people were amazed when they saw the man “walking and jumping, and praising God.” Peter assured them that the man had been healed by faith in the name of Jesus.
Some Jewish religious authorities put Peter and John in jail for preaching about Jesus. The following morning, these authorities asked Peter and John, ““By what power or what name did you do this?” What a question to ask someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit! Their answer was sure: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”
Peter and John were, in the opinion of these leaders, “unschooled and ordinary,” and it could only be said: “These men had been with Jesus!” Since they could not deny that the man was healed (perhaps he was still jumping around, praising God), they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. To this, Peter and John replied, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When we spend time with Jesus, we too will have much to report on what we have seen and heard!
They released Peter and John, who immediately went to a prayer meeting with the other believers. Did they pray for protection from the threats of the Jewish leaders? No, they prayed, “Consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” What a contrast to the fear they had felt when they abandoned Jesus after His arrest. What was the difference? They were filled with the Holy Spirit!
In 2007, in Guadeloupe, I was praying with my fellow pastors for the members of our churches. While praying, I quoted in French, “that we would speak the word of God with boldness.” Suddenly a 7.3 earthquake hit us! The center was away from the island, but it gave us a good shaking. All of us in the prayer meeting ran outside. We were meeting in a house that was used for retreats, and there was a large swimming pool next to the room where we had been praying. Water was splashing out each side of the pool as the ground rolled. It seemed we had our own experience of Acts 4:31, “The place where we were meeting was shaken.”
May Acts 4:31 be a call to arms for 2023: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit,” and “Speak the word of God boldly!”