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Acts #06 Challenging Accepted Wisdom

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Acts Series #6

Back to the Beginning: when Church was Church

Challenging Accepted Wisdom - Proclaiming Eternal Truth

Acts 4:1-22

1. Accepted Wisdom

What is Accepted or Conventional Wisdom?

Well …

Wisdom means - accumulated philosophic or scientific learning

Accepted means - generally approved or used

Conventional means - formed by agreement or pact; lacking originality

So conventional or accepted wisdom is not necessarily absolute fact, but it is generally approved philosophical information that has been formed and agreed upon, that lacks originality because it's just what everyone has decided to believe

Conventional wisdom affects every area of life from what is believed about the value of human life, what the separation of church from state means, how this world came into being, how to find peace in life, how a person gets to heaven, who Jesus is, and what a Christian is.

There's a lot of information out there, just do an information search on the internet

I asked my computer a few questions about conventional wisdom

"how can I have peace with God"? 28,500,000 web links

"how can I get to heaven"? 10,500,000 web links

"what is the way to heaven"? 8,647,000 web links

"Is Jesus the Only way to Heaven"? 1,620,000 links

Conventional wisdom says - "It doesn't matter which road you take we will all end up in the same place, right"

Well Conventional wisdom was a problem in Jesus' day as well as for the apostles and the early church as well

After healing this Lame man in Acts 3, Peter and John were dragged before the Sadducees and the High Priest.  The same ones who had crucified Jesus now held Peter and John.

  A. Conventional Wisdom of the Sadducees

    1. They were Rationalists - meaning that they relied on reason as the basis for establishing religious truth - says that reason and experience rather than nonrational things are fundamental to the solving of problems

  2. They were Materialists - meaning that physical matter is the ONLY or most fundamental reality and that everything can be explained by manifestations or results of physical matter

    3. This earthly life was and is all that mattered

    4. There was NO spirit world, no angels, no immortality of the soul

    5. no heaven, no hell, no retribution for sin or rewards for good or evil

    6. no resurrection of the dead

    7. God was not Sovereign, nor was his hand actively involved in human or earthly affairs

    8. Believed that everything was mortal and up to US.  God had nothing to do with it.  If you will, he "cranked up this world like a clock and let it go and left it alone.

    9.  They believed IN a GOD, but didn't believe God was involved in the world so they were PRACTICAL ATHEISTS

What good is believing in God if you don't think he is involved in the world in which you live or involved in YOUR life

  B. Just because wisdom is accepted or conventional doesn't mean it is the TRUTH

    1. The World is Flat - conventional wisdom

    2. The Sun, moon, and stars revolve around the earth - conventional wisdom

    3. Flies are spontaneously generated from cow manure - accepted wisdom

    4. a fertilized egg in the womb is NOT a baby - conventional wisdom

    5. This world and everything in it are just a series of fortunate accidents over millions of years - accepted wisdom

    6. There is no God, heaven or hell - conventional wisdom

    7. We are NOT accountable to God for our actions and lives - accepted wisdom

Just because it is accepted wisdom doesn't mean that it is TRUTH

  C. The Sadducees hated Jesus - He was OFFENSIVE to them, their ways, and their beliefs

    1. Why?  Because Jesus was absolutely diametrically opposed to everything that the Sadducees were about

    2. Jesus objected to their abuse of the Temple.  Jesus rejected their understanding of God and challenged people to reject their accepted wisdom

    3. What was offensive to the Sadducees?  JESUS CHRIST

    4. We LIVE in the SAME world TODAY, YOU are NOT offensive, JESUS IN you is offensive

    5. What is offensive to the Evolutionist?  The belief in a CREATOR?  No but that his name is JESUS CHRIST

    6. We can feed the hungry … but do it in the name of Jesus …

    7. We can clothe the naked, but do it in the name of Jesus …

    8. You can offer counseling to the hurting, troubled, and lifeless, but offer Jesus as the answer …

Conventional Wisdom has ALWAYS hated Jesus and him crucified, risen, and Lord

1 Peter 2:7-8 now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe, … a stone that cause men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.  They stumble because they disobey the message

Peter there and in verse 11 is quoting Psalm 118:22,23

Peter was saying that while there will always be conventional wisdom, conventional wisdom will NOT always be the same, but there IS Eternal TRUTH

TRUTH is a PERSON - Jesus Christ

2. Eternal Truth vv 9-12

in these verses Peter countered ever aspect of their conventional wisdom with Eternal Truth

  1. Jesus has authority and power

  2. God is active in the world to save and to heal

  3. Jesus is Alive and with the Father

  4. There is salvation which means Eternal Life available because of and through Jesus

  5. We ARE responsible for our actions because we MUST be saved or face the retribution

    6. There is Heaven and hell

    7. The Soul is immortal

    8. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life to be our Sacrifice

    9. He was Crucified as our atonement

    10. he was risen that we might be justified

    11. he ascended that we might be glorified

THAT is the truth

The Eternal Truth is that … There is no other name by which we must be saved but Jesus

MUST - is an offensive word because it means that we don't have any options

So these two uneducated, untrained, working class fisherman, one younger one older, stood before the most educated, respected, wealthy, and powerful men in Israel.

These men who had run in the garden.

This man, Peter, who couldn't tell a few people in the courtyard that he was a follower of Jesus was preaching boldly, and now proclaiming to men with the power of influence, life and death, the Eternal Truth of Jesus Christ

So, how about you and I?

3. Challenging Accepted Wisdom Proclaiming Eternal Truth

  A. Get Close to Jesus

    1. These men knew education, they knew training, they knew polish, but their was something different that set these men apart

    2. James 1:4 if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him

    3. What changed?  They had been AROUND Jesus for 3 and ½ years but they didn't have the power, boldness, and wisdom that the had now.

    4. The difference was 2 things:

      a. a single event - the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to indwell them forever

      b. a daily, moment by moment event of being FILLED with the Holy Spirit v8 - it didn't happen right then, it says he was "filled"

    5. How were the individual members of the church filled with the Spirit?  By communing together, praying, worshipping, devotion to the teaching of the Spirit, surrender to the moving of the Spirit, communing with God.

How about you and I?

   - Fellowship with the Family of God

   - Reading the Word, being taught the Word

   - Praying together, praying individually

   - Surrendering your will to the will of the Father

When you have been with Jesus you will never

Speak the same

Live the same

Walk the same

Fight the same

Love the same

Not just getting close to Jesus but

  B. Stay Close to Jesus

    1. you will need to because proclaiming Christ will get you in some trouble

    2. why should you expect different treatment than the disciples?  They were cast in prison, accused falsely, all but one suffered cruel deaths - 1 John 3:13 do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you

- John 15:18,19 if the world ahtes you, keep in mind that it hated me first If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  … you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.


  C. Minister the Gospel And Love

    1. even under attack the disciples proclaimed boldly the gospel

    2. you do not answer to your critics you answer to God

    3. Speak about what you have seen and heard.  The FACTS about the life change wrought by the gospel of Jesus Christ is enough.

    4. you don't have to spend all of your time in philosophical discussions Just tell them what you have seen heard and experienced

    5. Peter and John realized they had to respond to God and not to please man.

•     Polycarp—On February 23, c. 155, a Roman military officer publicly demanded that Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John and the aged pastor of Smyrna, renounce Christ. The old pastor’s famous reply has echoed through history: “Eighty and six years have I served him and he has done me no wrong. Can I revile my King that saved me?”

“I’ll throw you to the beasts!” shouted the Roman. Polycarp told him to bring them on. “Then I’ll have you burned,” the man warned. Polycarp replied, “You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and you forget the fire of hell that never goes out.” An hour later his body was ashes, his soul with Christ.[1]

•     David Hackston, Scottish Covenanter, preached the Gospel openly, though warned against it by the Scottish authorities who eventually dragged him to the scaffold. There they hacked off his hands with an axe, pulled him into the air by a rope around his neck, dropped him gasping back onto the platform. Then, while he was still living, they sliced open his chest with a knife and cut out his heart. The executioner picked up the heart on the point of his knife and held it up to show the people. Witnesses claimed that it was still fluttering on the point of the knife.[2]

•     Obadiah Holmes—Visitors to America’s Boston Commons with its graceful swan boats might be surprised to learn what once happened there to Obadiah Holmes. In 1651, Holmes was arrested for preaching Baptist doctrine in nearby Lynn, Massachusetts. He was taken to Boston Commons, stripped to the waist, and tied to a whipping post. He later wrote: As the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, Though my flesh should fail, yet God would not fail. So it pleased the Lord to come in and fill my heart and tongue, and with an audible voice I broke forth praying unto the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge. The suffering wasn’t wasted. The whipping of Obadiah Holmes deeply impacted Henry Dunster, president of Harvard, and led to the organization of Boston’s first Baptist church.[3]

•     Cassie Bernall, seventeen, was in the library at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, studying the Bible as she did every day at lunch, when she heard shooting erupt. As the gunman entered the room, Cassie reportedly knelt and prayed which angered the attacker. He approached her, asked her sarcastically if she believed in God. She paused, then said one word: “Yes.” The gunman asked her “Why?” but Cassie had no time to answer before she was shot to death. Cassie, who had been a Christian for two years, was known for carrying her Bible to school every day and wearing a “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet. Three days before the shooting, she had skipped her prom to help with a Denver Area Youth For Christ banquet.

“She is a martyr, the best martyr,” Pastor George Kristen told two thousand mourners at the memorial service. “Cassie died a martyr’s death. She went to the martyr’s hall of fame.” And at that service over seventy-five kids made first-time commitments to Christ.[4]

  D. Let the Results Speak for themselves

    1. the man had been healed after 40 years a cripple. 

     2. everyone knew what God had done

    3. the number of men grew from 3000 at Pentecost to 5000 here

    4. Speak Truth, and Truth sets people free, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom

Don't live by Conventional Wisdom, live according to the Truth

Don't be controlled by the thought process of Conventional Wisdom but take captive every thought and make it obedient

2 Cor 10:3-5

?3? For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. ?4? The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. ?5? We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Forty Wrestlers For Christ

In the days of the Roman Emperor Nero, there lived and served him a band of soldiers known as the “Emperor’s Wrestlers.” Fine, stalwart men they were, picked from the best and the bravest of the land, recruited from the great athletes of the Roman amphitheater.

In the great amphitheater they upheld the arms of the emperor against all challengers. Before each contest they stood before the emperor’s throne. Then through the courts of Rome rang the cry: “We, the wrestlers, wrestling for thee, O Emperor, to win for thee the victory and from thee, the victor’s crown.”

When the great Roman army was sent to fight in far-away Gaul, no soldiers were braver or more loyal than this band of wrestlers led by their centurion Vespasian. But news reached Nero that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith. Therefore, this decree was dispatched to the centurion Vespasian: “If there be any among your soldiers who cling to the faith of the Christian, they must die!”

The decree was received in the dead of winter. The soldiers were camped on the shore of a frozen inland lake. It was with sinking heart that Vespasian, the centurion, read the emperor’s message.

Vespasian called the soldiers together and asked the question: “Are there any among you who cling to the faith of the Christian? If so, let him step forward!” Forty wrestlers instantly stepped forward two paces, respectfully saluted, and stood at attention. Vespasian paused. He had not expected so many, nor such select ones. “Until sundown I shall await your answer,” said Vespasian. Sundown came. Again the question was asked. Again the forty wrestlers stepped forward.

Vespasian pleaded with them long and earnestly without prevailing upon a single man to deny his Lord. Finally he said, “The decree of the emperor must be obeyed, but I am not willing that your comrades should shed your blood. I am going to order that you march out upon the lake of ice, and I shall leave you there to the mercy of the elements.”

The forty wrestlers were stripped and then, falling into columns of four, marched toward the center of the lake of ice. As they marched they broke into the chant of the arena: “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!” Through the long hours of the night Vespasian stood by his campfire and watched. As he waited through the long night, there came to him fainter and fainter the wrestlers’ song.

As morning drew near one figure, overcome by exposure, crept quietly toward the fire; in the extremity of his suffering he had renounced his Lord. Faintly but clearly from the darkness came the song: “Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!”

Vespasian looked at the figure drawing close to the fire. Perhaps he saw eternal light shining there toward the center of the lake. Who can say? But off came his helmet and clothing, and he sprang upon the ice, crying, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory” and from Thee, the victor’s crown!



[1]Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (763). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2]Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (763). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3]Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (763). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4]Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (764). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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