It is appropriate that we compare times and events because the nature of things remains the same. Those rooted to sin and to themselves are always threatened and grieved by those who are rooted to grace. Those rooted to sin believe it is inappropriate for others to benefit and be blessed if that blessing comes from outside their confirmation or control. Thus, in the time of Acts 4, those who saw a miracle take place through Peter and John were outraged and alarmed because this miracle only encouraged and advanced the public teaching and preaching made by the apostles that “through Jesus the resurrection of the dead” is given.
You would think if you discovered there was a power and authority through which people could be healed and raised to life, you would be all for it. But, this is not reality. Especially, if you run the system that is usurped or made unnecessary by this new power, you have every incentive (other than the truth) to oppose it. This way of working is still evident today but that discussion can wait.
What I want you to see today is the way the disciples responded to these threats and the particular thing they asked God to do. “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants with great boldness to speak your word, stretch out your hand to heal, and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4: 29 -30)
I want you to notice two things that make this a marvelous prayer and request. The first thing is how they wanted God to speak through them. The disciples prayed, “Look upon their threats to silence us, Lord, and give us a double portion of boldness to respond. They want to silence us. Give us a double silence in return.”
What is a double silence? Asking for a double silence, the disciples were asking first for a silence of themselves. They didn’t want people to turn to them but to Jesus. Peter and John declared that both to the Council and in the moments following the healing miracle. “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus… By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3: 12 – 13, 16)
The double silence they were asking for also involved having a God-given, Holy Spirit anointed intervention into every word they spoke. At best, this double silence produced a conviction of sin and brought forth a converting faith that would lead to salvation in the listener. At worst, this double silence would produce a fury and frenzy that proved ears were covered and hearts were hardened against the gospel. (Acts 7: 54 – 60) Either way, the listener couldn’t stand up to what they were hearing and either had to surrender or stone the messenger.
The second thing to notice that makes their prayer such a marvelous request is the Trinitarian character of what they were asking. They wanted God to give them an anointing and a witness to speak the word, and to heal the sick, and to become a miraculous event wherever they found themselves. By word, deed, and sign, they asked God to shake the world through them and sure enough, the shaking began! (Acts 4: 31)