13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.(Acts 4:11-22)
It is likely that as Luke was recording this incident he was thinking of a quote by Jesus he had recorded in the gospel by his name: “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”(Luke 21:12–15).
The apostles had freedom, boldness and an irrefutable miracle to back their words up; the healed man standing there completely whole. The irony here is amazing. The accused are speaking with boldness and the accusers sit in silence. I believe that once again, we are seeing one of the reasons God performs signs and wonders at the hands of believers; so that the Gospel can be proclaimed with irrefutable evidence. Once again, we see an example which will be repeated in the book of Acts of signs and wonders and the gifts of the Spirit being used in the marketplace to confirm the gospel.
In the sixties, an organization sprang up called the “Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association.” The idea behind the organization was for normal, everyday businessmen to invite fellow workers to a breakfast and hear testimonies of miracles and healings that had been performed by God at the hands of lay people. Men who hadn’t been schooled in seminary, yet were out in the marketplace seeing signs and wonders performed, much like Peter and John in our story. Full gospel was not just a catchy phrase, but an accurate one for the organization was simply testifying that signs and wonders and sharing the gospel gives the full picture of what Jesus came to do.
Unfortunately the pattern in recent years has been of believers following signs and wonders rather than signs and wonders following believers. As a result, in many cases, the church has become a place where believers run to in order to get their miracle or to get their prophetic word for the day. Peter and John and the church in Acts were operating under no such delusion. The church went out and bore witness to the resurrection and signs and wonders and the accompanying preaching of the gospel followed.
What would happen if we followed the New Testament pattern? Just what might God do to show the world His power and grace at the hands of ordinary men and women? The apostles weren’t about to acquiesce to a demand of ceasing to speak or teach in the name of Jesus and neither should we. Let’s go out and speak and act in his name. It’s an unstoppable force.