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When Necessary

Part 2 - We Cannot Help Speaking

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(8/28) Welcome to Christís Community Church. Today we're continuing in part two of our series "When Necessary". Weíve been looking at the Book of Acts in chapter 4 and the disciples Peter and John as theyíre confronted by the Jewish leaders of their community. Now last week we looked at their courage as they spoke to these men about the resurrection of Jesus and today is no different. As a matter of fact, time and time again throughout the Book of Acts we find Christians who just couldnít keep quiet, because they believed deeply that Jesus wasnít dead. And so, no matter whether they were eyewitnesses or if they heard from a family member, friend, or neighbor, they believed Jesus was alive, and therefore they were very outspoken because theyíd been transformed by indwelling Spirit of the risen Christ.

Now, if you remember, last week we saw Peter and John as they came across a guy that had been lame. Everybody in the community knew this guy, because he hadnít been able to walk for over forty years. And so, this guy was begging at the temple gate just like he did every day, when he saw Peter and John about to enter. He asked them for money and Peter said,

"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth walk" (Acts 3:6).

To the amazement of the crowd, the man crippled from birth suddenly jumped to his feet. You could imagine the effect this miracle had on those people who had seen him day by day, 365 days a year, year after year for 40 years, and now in an instant he was walking, jumping, and praising God in the temple courts. Everybody in the community is talking about it, but the Jewish leaders are not nearly as excited, because theyíd hoped that Jesus would soon be forgotten. Now thereís this miraculous healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, everybodyís talking about it, and the religious leaders want nothing more than to put an end to this foolishness, because they donít believe in the resurrection, theyíre trying to deny it, and yet everybodyís talking about it. So, they seized Peter and John, put them on trial, and began to question them. This is where we pick up the story in verse 13,

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say" (Acts 4:13-14).

They were speechless!!! Their goal had been to quiet these guys down, to quench the name of Jesus, but now theyíre trapped because thereís this guy standing with them who just yesterday was lame. Monday, he couldnít walk, now Tuesday he can walk, everybody knows it and so there was nothing they could say. Continuing in verse 15, Luke shares with us the inner dialogue behind the scenes:

"So, they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle and we cannot deny it" (Acts 4:15-16).

Donít you just love it when God does something that is so big, so obvious, that the world canít deny it? Here the religious leaders said, "What are we going to do? We donít believe in Jesus, we donít believe in his resurrection, and we donít understand this healing, but we canít deny it!"

I wonder how many of you can relate? You know, there was something going on in your life, maybe you were in bondage to something, you were addicted or whatever, and the Spirit of God rose up inside of you and you were set free. Maybe it was your marriage and your spouse got radically saved; others were watching and theyíre like, "We donít understand it, weíre not sure we believe it, but we canít deny it!" Or maybe it was your teenager and they were heading down the wrong path, but one Friday they came to Unashamed Youth, they met Jesus, and friends, family, and neighbors are looking on saying, "I donít understand it, something just happened, and I canít deny it!" The Sanhedrin conferred together and they were like, "I donít understand it, but I canít deny it, because this guy couldnít walk for 40 years, and now heís jumping and leaping around the temple courts. We canít deny it!" So, in verse 17 they said,

"To stop this thingÖ (this thing that didnít even have a name yet, this faith movement that would become known as Christianity, to stop it, and to keep it) from spreading any further among the people, (they said) we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." (Acts 4:17).

They said, "We must warn these men. No more praying in Jesus name. You canít tell anyone about Jesus. No more talking about Jesus." And then in verse 18:

"They called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:18).

Now watch the response of the disciples, both "Peter and John replied" in verse 19,

"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).

In other words, "itís not possible" they said. You can threaten us and weíll just speak louder, you can beat us and Jesus will heal us, but "we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." You can sentence us to death, you can falsely accuse us and kill us, but the last words on our lips will be the name of Jesus. We cannot help speaking, because if youíd seen what weíve seen and if youíd heard what weíve heard, you'd just have to tell somebody. Peterís like, "If you knew who we were and the people that we are now. If you knew the sins Godís forgiven, you'd have to talk about it. If you saw the miracles that we've seen, you just canít help telling others about it.

We just can't help speaking, because there's some things you just can't keep to yourself. You know, itís like that movie you saw, that song playing on the radio, or that restaurant you went to and the food was so amazing! These guys are like, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. You see, when you realize that Jesus was dead and that he is alive again that changes everything. And so, theyíre like, you can threaten us all you want, but to get us to stop talking, that is impossible.

"We cannot help speaking," said Peter and John. And so, today weíre going to look at several different areas where I believe God would want you not just to live as a witness, but to be outspoken, because of what you believe. The first one is this: "We Cannot Help Speaking" a word of exhortation to ourselves.

1. A Word of Exhortation

The apostle Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, "I tell you this and insist on it in the LordÖ (Ephesians 4:17).

And he says to the Philippians, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press onÖ" (Philippians 3:12-14).

And then again in Hebrews chapter 13, the Bible says, "I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22).

We cannot help speaking a word of exhortation, to push ourselves, to urge, to press on, and to insist. The Bible tells us, this is what David did; he strengthened himself in the Lord. First Samuel, chapter 30 tells us that,

"David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6).

He was greatly distressed, but he pressed on, he encouraged himself, speaking to himself, maybe remembering the time when God gave him strength to kill that lion or that bear. Maybe remembering when God gave him the courage to stand against that giant Philistine. You know, that time when everybody else said, "Goliath was too big to beat." But David got a handful of rocks because he knew he was too big to miss.

David spoke to himself, he exhorted himself, encouraging himself in the Lord, and you can do the same thing. Just begin speaking to yourself, preaching Godís word, because it will renew your mind. Preach your way through every fear, every insecurity, and every battle you face. As a matter of fact, the next time youíre wading through diapers, and toys, and dishes, all those domestic responsibilities and youíre feeling overwhelmed; you just preach to yourself, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

Or some of you, maybe you find yourself overwhelmed at your job. Thereís just too much to do, the responsibilityís too great, and so you just encourage yourself in the Lord, speak to yourself, second Corinthians, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10). Or maybe Zechariah, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).

When youíre afraid, or youíre worried, you encourage yourself in the Lord saying,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7)

You cannot help speaking to yourself, because there are times when youíve got to encourage yourself in the Lord. And then secondly, you cannot help speaking a word of inspiration. Youíve just got to encourage others.

2. A Word of Inspiration

Truett Cathy (founder of Chic-fil-A) once said, "How do you identify someone who needs encouragement?" And he answered, "That person is breathing."

You know, honestly, as believers we should be the most encouraging people in the world. We have the good news, we have a living hope, and we have the Word of God which tells us in Hebrews chapter 3 to: "Encourage one another dailyÖ" (Hebrews 3:13).

You can be sure that every person you encounter today would benefit from a word of inspiration. Now you may not be able to solve all their problems, but you can certainly give them a little extra hope for their journey. Itís my belief that every single day, not only should you be inspired but you should be inspiring others with the Word of God. I used to do this with my kids every night because I felt it was so important, but when we got up to six kids it became too much for me. I would be too tired, it would get too late, and so I resigned myself to just talking with them and praying with them, but I believe in the power of inspiration.

As a matter fact, it wasn't too long ago, that I was struggling and I was discouraged. But I came home and I was like I donít know if I can keep doing this. You know, it was one of those days where I was feeling kind of like Elijah hiding in that cave after his big victory on Mount Carmel. Just feeling like I should just quit, I'm not strong enough, not good enough, maybe I misunderstood what God was calling me to do. But you know my wife, Dana, looked at me and she inspired me. She spoke God's Word to me saying, "John, you need to put on the armor of God. You need to stand firm. Donít grow weary in doing good, because at the proper time youíll reap a harvest if you donít give up!"

And I'm standing here today because someone inspired me and therefore I want to be an inspiration for you! Don't quit! Don't grow weary in doing good, youíll reap a harvest if you do not give up! So, donít give up on your marriage, your dream, the vision God gave you, the ministry thatís burning in your heart. And above all things, donít give up on God, because God will never give up on you!

Sometimes you canít help speaking to yourself, exhorting yourself, and other times you can be the inspiration for someone else, and then number three, sometimes you cannot help but speak a word of correction.

3. A Word of Correction

Itís never easy, but there are times when you know what God has said and yet someone you love is saying something wrong, doing something wrong, and so you cannot help but to lovingly correct them. The Bible tells us this,

"If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Galatians 6:1).

Notice it says gently, so that means that you donít go around beating people over the head with your Bible, cutting them down, and condemning them. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), is sharper than any double-edged sword, itís like a surgeonís scalpel, even "dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). And so, the word is gentle and precise, itís not like Peter in the garden the fateful night of Jesusí crucifixion as he attempted to save Jesus, swinging his sword as if to behead the high priestís servant Malchus and only cut off his ear (John 18:10). And in the same way, you guys donít go home beating your wife with your Bible, telling her to shut up and obey because sheís supposed to submit to you; thatís not biblical correction, thatís spiritual abuse.

When someone steps outside of the Word of God you lovingly and gently restore them, confronting them according to Matthew chapter 18, because you love them too much to let them continue in that way, hurting themselves, and hurting others. Maybe for some of you ladies, itís your friend whoís always bad mouthing her husband saying, "He is lazy, he wonít do this or that, heís not a spiritual leader, and on and on and on." And so, you lovingly confront your friend about demeaning her husband. You encourage her, to build up her husband instead of tearing him down; to speak purpose into him instead of talking him out of who God wants him to be. You just cannot help speaking life, love, and encouragement into that marriage.

And I am sure that all of us know someone who is addicted to something, whether to drugs, alcohol, pornography, work, or whatever, and yet itís like no one has the courage to say anything about it. But you cannot help but speaking, not as if youíre better than them, but because you love them and it hurts you to see them sinking lower and lower and lower. And so, you come alongside of them, you love them, and together youíre going to rise above that whatever thatís kept them in bondage. Youíre going to help, because you love them too much to let them hurt themselves and others over and over and over again. And so, you cannot help speaking a word of correction, not because youíre better, but because you care so deeply, and then number four, you cannot help speaking about the Salvation of Christ.

4. A Word of Salvation

Itís like how week after week I invite people to turn from their sins and follow Jesus. And I canít help but speak and call people to respond, because my wife and I grew up in church and we didnít understand the Gospel. We had a head knowledge of God but not a heart knowledge. We were preached to but never challenged to have a relationship with God, to walk by faith, and to live by the Spirit, and so it becomes very personal.

Peter and John said, "We canít help it. You can beat us, you can lock us up, you can even threaten to kill us, but verse 20:

"We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

In other words, Peter and John said, "When youíve seen what Iíve seen and heard what Iíve heard, you canít be quiet about it." And in the same way, if you knew who I was, how rebellious and sinful I was; if you knew what God had forgiven me of and how much heíd changed me; if youíd experienced what Iíd experienced, if youíd been transformed like Iíd been transformed from an angry, unfaithful, liar, but by the grace of God, and by his strength, into a man of God; if you knew that youíd understand why I cannot help speaking about the Jesus who saved me and made me brand-new. You know, you might as well ask the sun to stop shining, but I cannot help speaking.

And here's what you need to understand. There are some of you who know what Iím talking about, because youíve been there, youíve been saved, youíve been set free, and you cannot help speaking about it. But others of you, you donít see why Iím so excited, maybe you donít get it, maybe you just came to church hoping to feel good about yourself. But when youíve encountered the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when youíve been forgiven of so much, you are going to love much. So, youíre not always just going to let your life be a witness, but you are going to speak, youíve got to tell somebody who he is and what heís done, because you canít stop talking about what youíve seen and heard.

You see, weíve just got to speak, we cannot help speaking about what we believe so deeply.

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