The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
How many of us can relate to that squirmy in the seat feeling when a Sunday Sermon about God’s love for us turns into an exhortation that we must share the Gospel with our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers?
I know that made me very uncomfortable for many years as a self-professed Christian. As a young man I was never “into” church, I went usually under peer pressure and although I listened to the message I rarely heard it.
I was a life-long prodigal who wanted God to be real but with a scientific mind that just couldn’t wrap my head around the seemingly unrealistic stories of earthly and medical miracles, Jesus was always just a person at best.
Mind you I did still consider myself a Christian because I tried to be a good person and even prior to conversion at the age of 45 I still went to church and even cried over the messages sometimes. The “thought” of being forgiven and having “new life” was incredibly appealing and something I longed for but the bible and Jesus were concepts beyond what my stony heart were truly going to buy into.
Some of you know my story of conversion but briefly it was the morning of January 3, 2011. I had been on a 3-day New Years camping/drinking binge when I awoke one morning completely broken and done with my old life. I had begged a thousand times prior to that morning for God to take my drinking away but this morning was different.
I wandered into the woods with my bible and dropped to my knees and although I didn’t realize it at the time I was very specific in this cry out to God. I professed my belief in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and specifically asked Him into my life and heart and claimed His mercy and forgiveness and professed to “follow Him” from that day forward.
And that is what I did. From that exact moment in time over 5 years ago I have not had another drink or drug and I truly have been “all in” to the best of my ability.
The reason I share that this morning is prior to that VERY personal encounter with the risen Christ, I felt uncomfortable even mentioning Jesus’ name, even with other church members. And I surely couldn’t mention Him or the Gospel or talk much about God outside of church.
But after that moment, as the whole Book of Acts describes and especially 4:13 this morning, I am now recognized as “being with Jesus”. My story is no longer about what I’ve done but what He is doing.
Trust me when I tell you, I’m still just a broken man plucked from the ashes by a gracious Savior… and nothing more. My life is ordinary, my history is shameful, my path even since coming to Christ is crooked and tattered; but I still gladly shout the Gospel from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.
And I know you don’t need a Saul to Paul “road to Damascus” experience like I had. I have spoken with many many authentic sold out for Christ Christians over the last several years and all can recount a time when Jesus became personal to them.
Whether they can still remember as a very young child making the decision for Christ and they have been in a steady pursuit, or as a pastor friend shared in his teens he had heard John 3:16 for the thousandth time yet on that morning it took on a whole new and personal meaning and tears began streaming down his face.
You must ask yourself, do I KNOW CHRIST… is He personal to me? Have I encountered the risen King and I know Him to be real.
I don’t think it is possible to boldly preach a Gospel that isn’t written on our own heart. I don’t know that we can give away something we haven’t encountered personally. The “Good News” must truly be Good News for us to able to boldly and enthusiastically want people to know what happened to us, what He means to us, and what He can do for them.
Are you just an ordinary man or woman?
Have you met the risen Christ?
Then you are fully qualified to preach boldly the Good News; that sins are forgiven and life is made new in the arms of a Loving Savior. People around you need to hear that message. Just express who He is to you and people will listen.
And if you don’t have a story of who Jesus Christ is to you personally…. well, that might be a place to start.
John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Father God, I thank You for not rejecting me when I had so clearly rejected myself. As I still to this day wrestle with feeling unworthy, unuseful, unqualified and uneducated in the Gospel, you remind me through Your Word and the Holy Spirit that as a simple sinner saved by Grace I am fully qualified to tell others about You. There is nothing to hide, my brokeness and struggle in the journey of sanctification is actually a beatiful tapestry that You are writing with my life and the fact that I have nothing to add to Your equation is actually a beautiful thing. I have nothing to prove and nothing to earn for You alone have paid the price and we are all qualified and called through Your atonement to spread the Gospel. Thank you for my life Lord and the opportunity to serve and preach.