Spiritual Opposition (Acts 4:1-4)

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.” (Acts 4:1–3, AV)

Years ago, I worked in a voluntary capacity with a ministry in Savannah Georgia called Coastal Empire Ministries, CEM. The focus of CEM was to take the gospel to people in the area through evangelistic events. At the time, I was also the Director of Single Adult Ministries at our home church. We had assembled a praise band and I used them to do evangelistic work on the pavilion at the beach. The group would play contemporary praise and worship on the pier. As they played, people would come up from the beach. Then, one of our group would share their testimony and I would sit with those who sat on the pier and explain the gospel to them.

All was going well with the ministry at the pier. We went several times and then the city began making this difficult. First, they added that we needed to have a police officer at the pier for the event. This we immediately organized. However, after the next event, the pier manager met with us and told us that we could no longer talk about the Bible, share testimonies, or evangelize on the city pier. Basically, the city officials were opposing the work of the gospel.

This opposition is not a new thing. In this section of the book of Acts, we see an organizational opposition to the preaching of Jesus. Members of the Jewish religious rulers see that Peter is teaching the people about Jesus and become incensed. They have him and John apprehended and then taken before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a religious body of Pharisees and Sadducees who were permitted by the Roman government to govern over the civil affairs of Judea. The Sanhedrin subsequently order Peter and John not to preach in the name of Jesus.

The point of this record is that when we preach Jesus, we will more often than not experience some form of opposition. This opposition may be very overt. That is, we may be ordered not to speak of Jesus. We may be ridiculed for what we are doing. We may often experience bewilderment that such opposition would come. Yet, we should not be surprised. Our adversary, the devil, is in opposition to the proclamation of the gospel. He will use people, in their ignorance, to thwart our effort to help people come to saving faith. We must realize that this opposition is not of flesh and blood, but from spiritual forces arrayed against God (Eph 6:12).

However, with all this spiritual opposition, we must not be dismayed. Our God is greater. The message we preach is true and will never pass away (Matt 24:35). Pray for those who oppose the word and pray for opportunities to speak boldly. God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power (2 Tim 1:7). Continue to preach the word in spite of the opposition for we will reap a harvest if we do not quit (Gal 6:9). Look at what happened when Peter preached this message even though he and John were apprehended. “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4, AV). The Lord used the message and the number of believers grew to about five-thousand.

After the city officials prohibited us from using the pier at Tybee Island, we just moved our venue under the pier and continued to preach the gospel. Do not give up when opposition comes.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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