A Timely Prayer
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A Timely Prayer

Acts 4:23-31  (ID: 3435)

Amidst political agitation and social disintegration, what is the church called to do? This is not a time to sound retreat, but reveille, teaches Alistair Begg as he examines the early church’s response to persecution. Rather than seek protection or deliverance, the disciples prayed for Spirit-filled, Christ-centered boldness to continue to speak God’s word. As cultures and empires rise and fall, God still emboldens His people to proclaim the Gospel to a lost, destabilized world.


Sermon Transcript:

Well, let me invite you to turn to the Acts of the Apostles and to chapter 4, and I’m going to read from the twenty-third verse to the thirty-first verse. Acts chapter 4, and reading from verse 23:

“When they”—that is, the apostles Peter and John—“when they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed”—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

Amen.

As we turn now to the Bible, that is the story of our hearts: that we need you, Lord Jesus Christ, to come and make yourself known to us so that it may be your voice that we hear by the Holy Spirit, and it might be to your endearing call that we respond, and it may be before your throne we bow. And so we need you and thank you for the promise of your help. And we pray in your name. Amen.

Well, I want to take, actually, just part of a verse as our text for today, and it is part of Acts 4:29, which we read part of a moment or two ago. And in Acts 4:29, the people who have assembled there and have gathered in prayer say, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats”—they were being imposed upon by the authorities—“look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” And that, really, is our text for this morning. We have deviated from course in terms of 1 Samuel, and we have done so purposefully. The NIV translates it, “Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” And I referred to this—in fact, I called our study this morning, “A Timely Prayer.” “A Timely Prayer,” inasmuch as that it is as fitting and as necessary to pray this prayer today as it was when it was first uttered. The Bible makes it clear that the whole church is to take the whole gospel to the whole world. And the world in which we live today is, of course, a challenging and a daunting place.

I was reading this week a book by Bavinck, the Dutch theologian. I had dipped into it before, but I settled upon it this week for some reason, and it’s fairly brief, and I just read it through. He entitled the book The Riddle of Life. And in the course of that, as he addresses various perspectives, he describes the various views that people have of the story and the unfolding of history. And when he comes to comment on the view of the world which is peculiarly optimistic—a view of humanity which sees humanity as being on the road of constant improvement, sort of along the lines of “We’ve got to admit it’s getting better,”[1] and the idea that if we just have a little more time, then we can get this correct, that the development and the progress of our world will eventually reach its fruition, its final point, its pinnacle—and commenting on this, Bavinck says, “When that will come? Nobody knows.” Obviously, he doesn’t subscribe to this view. But then he says, “It looks more and more likely that our culture, based as it is on self-satisfaction, will at a certain moment collapse and then we as humanity will face a worldwide calamity that will occur without warning. It may yet take a while, but there’s no doubt it will come.”[2]

Bavinck wrote that book in 1939, on the threshold of the Second World War. He died himself in 1965. And what he observes there, almost prophetically, is easy to tie in with any kind of survey of history, because it is obvious that cultures and empires rise and they fall. And I found myself sitting and wondering, if Bavinck were able to return—if he could come back right now to the United States—would he find, in some measure, the extreme circumstances of today as something of a fulfillment of that prophetic word concerning a calamity which will actually be worldwide?

Because here we find ourselves in a period of political agitation and social disintegration. And the question that is before us and that I want to study with you this morning is a straightforward one, and that is, “What is the church to do?” What is the church to do? What are we called to do? What does the Bible say we must do? Not “What do we want to do?” “What do we feel like doing?” “What will make us comfortable?” and so on. No. And in tackling that question, I want us to look not simply at this text that we have taken but to consider what gives rise to this particular prayer. Why is it that at this point in time, this small group of Christians pray expressly, “Enable your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness”?

The Context

Now, we can’t start back too far and work our way all the way up to this, but we do need to set it in context.

First of all, you will remember that the apostles were commissioned by the Lord Jesus. Jesus said to them before his departure to heaven, “All authority in heaven … on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all [the] nations.”[3] Then we find that he then says to them, “Wait.” So, at the end of Matthew, it’s “Go.” At the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, it’s recorded that he said, “Wait.” Wait for what? Well, “Wait for the promise of the Father.”[4] “The Holy Spirit will be poured out upon you, and then you will be enabled to do that which I have asked you to do.”[5]

And, of course, we discover then that the apostles immediately, on the receipt of the coming of the Holy Spirit, begin to do just what Jesus has said. And they do it in a quite remarkable fashion. In a multilingual Jerusalem crowd, the preaching of Peter is accompanied by what you would refer to as almost a waft of the supernatural. And it is in relationship to that that in chapter 3 we’re told that when “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour,” a man, a lame man from birth, was being carried and laid again “at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate” so that he could “ask alms of those entering the temple.”[6] This was clearly—he would have been a fixture at this particular Beautiful Gate. People would have seen him on a daily basis. They would have known that he is poor, that he was hopeless, that he was a blind man, and he was a beggar man. He was lame, and he was a beggar. I don’t know why I introduced him as being blind; that is an accretion. It’s not told that that was the case, is it? “And a man lame from birth was being carried.” No.

And what happens, of course, you can read in the beginning of the chapter, 1–10: this amazing transformation whereby, although Peter and John don’t give him any money, they give him what they’re able to give, and suddenly he’s up and dancing around the community, “and all the people saw him walking and praising God.”[7] And they said, “Oh, isn’t that the fellow that is usually there in the morning when we come to work, asking for alms?” And the answer was yes, “and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”[8]

Now, what then follows is that the responsibility falls to Peter to give an explanation for this. And it is quite wonderful when you look down at your text, if you will, and you see that as he addresses the people in verse 12, he begins by saying, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this?” “Why do you wonder at this?” Don’t you think you would wonder if a man who had been in this predicament for so long suddenly was dancing around the bazaars and so on? And then he says, “But the reason that you shouldn’t wonder is because, think about it: think about God, think about the history of your people, think about all that God has promised,” and so on. And he provides a quite exceptional history lesson through the balance of the chapter, concluding, “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”[9]

The whole church is to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

“From your wickedness.” Well, of course, that stings, doesn’t it? And therefore, it’s no surprise when you come to the beginning of chapter 4 and we have the record of the beginning of persecution, certainly of opposition. And the opposition is coming from the Sadducees, an elite company of religious people, and they were at the head of a group that combined both Jew and gentile. They decide the best thing they can do is arrest these characters, in verse 3; they “put them in[to] custody until the next day, [because] it was already evening”; and then, gloriously, in verse 4: “But many of those who … heard the word believed, and the number of … men came to about five thousand.” So, they said, “What we’ll do is we’ll just shut them up, and presumably that will take care of the whole business.” And while they give them a night in the jail, during the night, as it were, the whole number is increased from three thousand to five thousand. God does this. This is what God does.

Now, the way in which they are given the opportunity on the following day to set out their case is seized by Peter with great clarity and with great conviction: “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,” verse 8,

said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.”

And he ties it in to their knowledge of the Old Testament.

Well, what can they do about this? They were struggling, weren’t they? Because the conviction and the obvious impact in the community was unavoidable. They recognized that although Peter and John were not particularly educated—certainly not like the Sadducees. They were not from a peculiarly strong background; they were common men. And that only added to their astonishment. And furthermore, the man who had been healed was “standing beside them.”[10]

And so they said, “Well, why don’t we have a little private council meeting?” I wish I had been present for that. I really do. Verse 15: “When they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another.” And as soon as they’re on their own, they say, “What in the world are we going to do? What will we do with these men? Because, after all, a notable sign has been performed through them; it’s evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.”[11]

Let me just say parenthetically that when God breaks in at any point in history by the power of the Holy Spirit, through his servant Jesus, it will be unmistakable. Unmistakable. Because the man’s condition was an impossible condition; he couldn’t fix himself. His healing was undeniable; he was standing there in front of them.

And as we discover in verse 19 of the chapter, the preaching of the apostles was proving to be unstoppable. “So they [had] called them and [they] charged them”:[12] “Okay, I don’t want you to teach at all anymore in the name of Jesus.” And you remember that great answer of Peter and John: “Well, you’ve gotta decide for yourselves: Is it right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God? You must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”[13] And so, when they had threatened them a little more, they let them go.

The Prayer

Now, all of that is by way of the background, which leads up to where our Scripture reading began in verse 23: “[And] when they were released, they went to their friends,” and they “reported” it. And on receiving the report, the people there “lifted their voices together to God,” and then acknowledged that all that had taken place was under the sovereign hand of God.

You see, my dear friends, unless we understand that God is a sovereign God, then it is almost inevitable that we will be buffeted and bowled over by the events which are clearly evidences of opposition and incipient persecution in relationship to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not misunderstand all that is unfolding in these days as being explicable simply in terms of race or color or gender or any other thing. Man as man is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and particularly when evidence of that gospel is undeniable. When men go back into their community declaring, “Jesus Christ has changed me,” when moms in gathering with toddlers during the week are able to testify to the changing power of Jesus, the opposition is absolutely clear.

So it’s no wonder that they lifted their voices to God. And they prayed. And they prayed knowledgeably. Or, if you like, they prayed biblically. They prayed big. They recognized this amazing juxtaposition between God, who is sovereignly in control of things, and yet the responsibility that was there in the person of Herod in collusion with Pontius Pilate. And seeing things in light of the Scriptures, they take Psalm 2, and they say, “Isn’t this just exactly what the psalmist was on about: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?’ and ‘The kings of the earth set themselves…’?” And they said, “That’s exactly what was happening here.” And I suggest to you, that is exactly what is happening here: that the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers set themselves, against the Lord and against his Anointed. I say to you again that the sovereignty of God—a God who is unfolding his purpose from all of eternity—is at the very heart of biblical Christianity.

Notice what they say: “Lord, you made heaven and earth. You are the maker.” Then they say, in verse 25, “Not only are you the one who made, but you are the God who speaks.” “You made,” “you speak,” and in verse 28, “and you decide.” “You decide.” “What has happened here has happened as a result of the hateful animosity in light of Psalm 2, expressed in Herod and Pontius Pilate, who along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel were amassing their forces against Christ. But that was only doing what your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord…”

Surely the great need of the hour in the church of Jesus Christ is simply this: for Spirit-filled, Christ-centered boldness.

“And now, Lord…” I wonder how we would have finished that? “And now, Lord, we want to come to you again and ask for you.” We might have finished it, perhaps, “And now, Lord, please remove the threats.” When they say, “Look upon the threats,” they simply mean, “Take them into consideration.” Or we might have said, “Please stifle the opposition.” Or we might have asked, “And now, Lord, please keep us from persecution.” But no: “And now, Lord, … grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”

This is why I suggest to you this morning that it is a timely prayer. For surely the great need of the hour in the church of Jesus Christ is simply this: for Spirit-filled, Christ-centered boldness. Spirit-filled, Christ-centered boldness. “To speak your word with all boldness.” Jesus, you remember, quoting the Scriptures, says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that [proceeds] from the mouth of God.”[14] The prophets make it clear that the grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord will endure forever.[15] So this is it! This is what he was promising before he left them. Jesus says, “And I will send the Holy Spirit, another one, who will come and who will lead you into all truth.”[16]

What an amazing transformation! Read again Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. Consider his ability to answer here, and compare that with what he was like only a matter of weeks before, when he stumbles before a lady who accuses him, suggests to him that he’s a follower of Jesus: “No, I don’t know Jesus.”[17] And now such boldness!—by the power of the Holy Spirit, aware of the fact that what is happening here is that the promise of Jesus has come to fulfillment in the giving of the Spirit, and the giving of the Spirit is revealed in Peter’s ability to do this with the accompanying signs that sit as foundations in this time.

Not Retreat, but Reveille

Now, with that in mind, this is what I am suggesting to us: that this, then, is not a time to sound retreat but rather reveille—to remind ourselves of what it is we’re doing as a church, small c and big C, particularly in the Western world; to remind ourselves who the enemy is. Who the enemy is.

We saw this when we studied in Ephesians, didn’t we? The battle is not waged “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.”[18] I wonder, do you believe that, that there are “cosmic powers” that are over “this present darkness”? It is always dark, but there are periods of declension. There are dark days that are difficult times, about which Timothy was warned in the first century: “Grievous times will come, times of great trial, times when it appears as though the whole world is so destabilized.”[19] “Against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”[20] That is why, saying that in Ephesians and writing then in Corinthians, he says, “[Listen,] the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”[21]

It’s no surprise, then, that when Paul makes these statements for the encouragement of those to whom he writes, he then calls for his readers to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”[22]—in other words, to pray big—and to pray, he says, “for me also.”[23] Why? “So that I may no longer be persecuted”? “So that I will not have to spend all these times getting a beating, spending in jail”? No: “Pray for me also, that words may be given me to open my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”[24] To proclaim the mystery of the gospel!

Do you realize what a great temptation it is to the church at this point in our country to deviate from course, chasing down all kinds of notions and ideas? Just reading, as I do, of the country of my birth, you see how much time is given by striking figures of the established church to tackle questions that have to do with the removal of statues or the presence of financial insecurities and so on. Preach the gospel, the mystery of the gospel! “Pray for me,” he says.

That’s what they’re praying: “Grant to your servants to continue…” “To continue to speak.” This is not a new program. This is not a new program. No! And the proclamation of the apostles was not reactionary. No, it was proactive. It was declaration. They were men on a mission. They were men with a message. They were serving their Master.

Now, you say, “Well, what would it mean for them—what did it mean for them—to continue to speak the word of God with all boldness?” Well, we could spend a very long time considering that, but we won’t. I want us just actually to consider two short phrases to help us with this, as being representative of, if you like, the more comprehensive preaching that they’re doing.

And incidentally, in talking about preaching: the reason I began as I began is so that we don’t say to ourselves as we’re listening, “Well, I suppose this is a terrific word. You should have used it for Basics, if there had been a Basics. It seems to be all about preaching.” No. The whole gospel has been given to the whole church to reach the whole world. So whether you’re a musician or an engineer or a farmer or a pharmacist, it doesn’t matter; the charge of God is to speak his word, the mystery of the gospel, with boldness.

“Delivered Up”

And so, when you go to the second chapter, again, of Acts, and Peter has stood up and made his declaration, and then in verse 22 he says, “Men of Israel, hear these words”—“hear these words”—there’s a colon in the ESV, and then the very next words on his lips: “Jesus of Nazareth…” “Hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth.” Not “Hear these words: I’ve got a political agenda,” “Hear these words: I’ve got a financial idea,” “Hear these words: I’m going to fix justice in the world.” No! “Hear these words,” one, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

The good news that Jesus offered himself to death for the sake of our sins means absolutely nothing to us until we are brought face-to-face with our need of a Savior.

And who is this Jesus of Nazareth, “attested … by God with mighty works and wonders and signs”[25] and so on? “This Jesus, delivered up…”[26] That’s the first phrase: “This Jesus, delivered up.” Delivered up by whom? Delivered up by the Father. “For God so loved the world, … he gave his only Son.”[27] This is the Father’s plan. Jesus, in speaking, says, “Nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down. I lay it down of my own accord.”[28]

You see, at the very heart of the Christian gospel is the cross of Jesus Christ. In fact, any attempt to proclaim Christianity that diverts from the cross of Christ is to no longer be in keeping with apostolic preaching and the apostolic priorities that are given to those who follow. So in other words, people ought to be saying, “Well, what was happening at the cross?” Now, if we were going to be able to be doing this—speaking the word with boldness—we’re going to tell them that on the cross, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him the chastisement that brought us peace was borne, and with his wounds we are healed.[29]

Now, in other words, and in short order, the good news that Jesus offered himself to death for the sake of our sins means absolutely nothing to us—nothing to us—until we are brought face-to-face with our need of a Savior. With our need of a Savior. So you see, if we are going to speak to men and women with boldness concerning the Word, concerning the mystery of the gospel, we’re going to have to be brave enough, as our friend Rico tells us, to press through the pain barrier[30] which comes from those who say, “Well, wait a minute…”

You see, I don’t think I have a friend or a neighbor or a colleague who is unprepared to acknowledge that their life is filled with defects or errors or misunderstandings or faults or shortcomings. And you can get people to say, “Well, yes, I’m sure I’m not a perfect person; I haven’t done everything right, I try my best,” and so on. But that’s not the same as speaking about sin. About sin. We’re very good at admitting that we’re less than we might be, and then very quickly explaining as to why it is we are the way we are. And if you listen carefully, our immediate response is to blame someone else, or to blame something else, or to blame my background, or to blame this or the next thing, in a way that pushes it from me.

But you see, to face up to my sin involves being prepared to own up to my defects—to admit that I have been living my life for myself without regard to the law of God, like a child sneaking out under cover of darkness from his parents’ home in order to do things which he or she knows displeases his parents. The Bible says that’s us: sneaking away from God—sneaking away from God, and finding ourselves wandering in the darkness, wandering in a fog of unknowing. And here is the wonder of the gospel: that into that darkness and into that fog, the searchlight of the love of God shines, and shines in the person of Jesus.

Again, take your Bible and read it. Read the stories of those who had encounters with Jesus, like the woman at the well.[31] If we could have her with us and give her testimony this morning, and if we said to her, “What do you want to say about this in relationship to Acts chapter 3 and 4?”—she says, “You know that passage where Peter talks about your sins being ‘blotted out’?[32] It’s blotted out!” She said, “My life was such a wreck. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I had multiple relationships. I was notorious in the town. I came for water in the middle of the day because nobody, neither male or female, could be bothered with me at all. But when I met Jesus—oh, that living water! Oh, that Delete key! Oh, that redo! Oh, that fresh start!”

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yea, all I need, in you I find,
Lord Jesus Christ, I come![33]

See, the man at the gate couldn’t have fixed himself. His condition was hopeless. It’s a picture of our condition outside of Christ. He needed a power outside of himself; we are completely incapable of changing ourselves. We need Jesus to change us.

You know what the issue is? Surrender. Surrender. To accept God’s offer of free forgiveness involves surrender—a surrender most of us by nature are unprepared to make. All of us, actually.

“God Raised Him Up”

Jesus is presented, then, in this kind of preaching as the one who is delivered up—as the one who is delivered up for our sins and raised for our justification. But he doesn’t just remind his listeners that this Jesus was “delivered up”—and I just deal with this very briefly—but he then goes on to say, “God raised him up.”[34] “God raised him up.” The same God who delivered him up to death for our sins is the one who has raised him up. He has triumphed over that.

It’s a reminder that when we pray, as we must, that the servants of God might be enabled to proclaim the word of God with boldness, we remind ourselves Christianity is not a philosophy. It’s not a package of religious ideas. No, these fellows were propelled onto the streets of Jerusalem in light of the fact that they knew that Jesus was alive. If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, why would Peter be out here preaching like this? It makes no sense. And furthermore, we would probably never have heard of Jesus of Nazareth were it not for the fact of the resurrection. Christianity is grounded in facts. It’s grounded in history. If he had been buried and left dead in that Palestinian tomb, then the whole thing would have been over.

If you’re wondering about these things in these days, if you’re prepared to think it out, you have to ask yourself: What was it that changed the disconsolate disciples, who on their journey to Emmaus, on that Easter Sunday morning, had everything in the past tense—“We had hoped… We thought that… Perhaps it was going to be…”? What was their problem? They had been looking for the solution in the wrong place. They were looking for a Messiah who was going to do something vastly different from this. But what changed them? Jesus changed them. Do you remember what they said, upon reflection? “Did not our hearts burn within us [when] he talked to us on the road”—notice—and “opened to us the Scriptures?”[35] “Opened to us the Scriptures.” The same thing brought about the change in a self-satisfied religious man called Saul of Tarsus. And he is the one who, when he writes his great theological treatise in Romans, says of Jesus that Jesus—“I had no interest in Jesus. I thought that the people who followed Jesus were nuts. But he was delivered up for our sins and he was raised for our justification.”[36]

Christ is the only Savior because no one else possesses the qualifications. This is not arrogance. It’s actually a logical deduction from the facts that are there before us in the person and work of Jesus.

And it is on that basis, you see, that Peter makes this striking declaration in 4:12, when he says, “There’s no salvation in anybody else, for there’s no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[37] He is the only Savior because no one else possesses the qualifications. This is not arrogance. It’s actually a logical deduction from the facts that are there before us in the person and work of Jesus.

Well, let us try and settle this in our mind. The need of the hour is this: Spirit-filled, bold proclamation of Jesus. Jesus.

And that is why the prayer is a timely prayer. Because we’re living now in a culture of an incoherent mix of opinions and tensions. And the charge is to be able to go out and say, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first for the Jew, and then for the gentile.”[38]

But it finishes in verse 31 in the section that we read. We find out what had happened after they prayed: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” I think of all the things I’m missing at the moment, I’m missing our prayer times on the third Sunday night of the month. We look forward to getting back to that soon. And when we come back for our first time, in the midst of our prayers, we’re going to pray that what happened there might happen to us—that we might say to God, corporately as we gather, “O Lord, shake us. O Lord, fill us. O Lord, embolden us. Enable us, your servants, to speak your Word with great boldness.”

Father, in a multitude of words, we pray that the voice of the risen Christ may be heard. Save us, Lord, from lethargy, from a wrongful sense of fearfulness. Grant that we might fear you and fear no one else. Grant that boldness may not be a personality type, a braggadocio—no, a childlike trust, taking you at your word, being prepared to say, “This is Jesus. I commend him to you. He was delivered up, bearing our punishment in order that we might be forgiven, having kept the law in all of its righteous demands. And he has been raised up; he’s alive! So not only will our sins be blotted out, but the power of the Holy Spirit will be granted to us, in order that we might live for Christ.”

O Lord, help us in these days. Shake us. Fill us. Embolden us. For Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.


[1] Paul McCartney and John Lennon, “Getting Better” (1967). Lyrics lightly altered.

[2] J. H. Bavinck, The Riddle of Life, trans. Bert Heilema (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 85.

[3] Matthew 28:18–19 (ESV).

[4] Acts 1:4 (ESV).

[5] See Acts 1:8.

[6] Acts 3:1–2 (ESV).

[7] Acts 3:9 (ESV).

[8] Acts 3:10 (ESV).

[9] Acts 3:26 (ESV).

[10] Acts 4:14 (ESV).

[11] Acts 4:16 (paraphrased).

[12] Acts 4:18 (ESV).

[13] Acts 4:19–20 (paraphrased).

[14] Matthew 4:4 (ESV).

[15] See Isaiah 40:8.

[16] John 16:13 (paraphrased).

[17] See Matthew 26:69–72; Mark 14:66–70; Luke 22:56–57; John 18:17.

[18] Ephesians 6:12 (ESV).

[19] 2 Timothy 3:1 (paraphrased).

[20] Ephesians 6:12 (ESV).

[21] 2 Corinthians 10:4 (ESV).

[22] Ephesians 6:18 (ESV).

[23] Ephesians 6:19 (paraphrased).

[24] Ephesians 6:19 (paraphrased).

[25] Acts 2:22 (ESV).

[26] Acts 2:23 (ESV).

[27] John 3:16 (ESV).

[28] John 10:18 (paraphrased).

[29] See Isaiah 53:5.

[30] Rico Tice, Honest Evangelism: How to Talk about Jesus Even When It’s Tough (n.p.: The Good Book Company, 2015), 15.

[31] See John 4:1–26.

[32] Acts 3:19 (ESV).

[33] Charlotte Elliot, “Just as I Am” (1835). Lyrics lightly altered.

[34] Acts 2:24 (ESV).

[35] Luke 24:32 (ESV).

[36] Romans 4:25 (paraphrased).

[37] Acts 4:12 (paraphrased).

[38] Romans 1:16 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2020, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.