Four B.C. pastors draw lessons from Acts
As the believers in Acts 4:29 prayed, so too Mennonite Brethren today are praying that God would “enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Leaders from four B.C. congregations drew insights from the story of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4), presented at the May 4–5 convention in Chilliwack, B.C.
It was the influential, wealthy, and powerful of the land who demanded that the disciples say who gave them authority to preach Christ. Peter made it clear his power hadn’t come from himself but from Jesus. If we try to keep things going in our own power, we will become blinded by what we are so desperately trying to guard against – the destructive, domineering, self-made side of power. God has no limitations: When we allow his power to flow, we become his instruments in this world.
Peter boldly proclaims there is no other name by which the lame man could have be healed – no salvation outside of Christ – in stark contrast to the culture of that day, and of this one. Our generation assumes all roads lead to heaven, but Christ alone is the ground of our righteousness. At Northview, we’re committed to the penal substitutionary claims of Christ. We use a Grudem systematic theology text as a conversation starter to train upcoming small group leaders. As we continue to proclaim the exclusivity of our Lord Jesus, we do so with joy and confidence.
The elders and teachers of the law marvelled that these uneducated men (the disciples) could speak with such knowledge, then remembered they had been with Jesus. There is an old Chinese saying, “Draw near to ink and you will become black.” The disciples had taken on the colour of Jesus and become like him because they had spent the time – walked, talked, and listened – and followed his example. My church is going through what some of you went through many years ago with German. Burnaby Pacific Grace was entirely Cantonese-speaking, but now the younger generations speak English. Although we have language and cultural differences, we all share the same status in Christ. Only by having been with Jesus can we live out this vision.
From the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, to Peter and John in this New Testament story, through to you and me, there’s an unstoppable message in us that we must speak. We are a distinctive people and must uncork the truth welling up inside us. We aren’t just called to be good citizens – to volunteer in local schools or raise money for cancer research – we’re called to bring the unparalleled good news of King Jesus. We must propose Christ-centred alternative solutions to the social challenges we face. In Williams Lake, a number of people are coming together to try to bridge the gap between the brokenness of the city and the message and spirit of Jesus, in a social climate where God doesn’t factor into the equation. Peter and John prayed to “live up to their bold words.” May we do the same!
—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent