Follow this link to comment on the sermon, or to read what others have said.  View a printer-friendly copy of this outline in Adobe Reader.

Here is a link to the sermon audio in the mp3 file format.  Here is a link to the sermon audio in the wma file format.  Here is a link to the sermon audio at our iTunes podcast.

Bold In The Face Of Rejection

Introduction:  

      Throughout this year, we have examined the Jerusalem church, to learn the keys to success and effectiveness. We have learned that the Jerusalem church 1) was devoted to worship, 2) was unified in heart and soul, 3) aggressively dealt with problems, 4) lost no one in the crowd and 5) knew nobody can do everything. A sixth key we noticed in Jerusalem was that they were bold in the face of rejection. Despite the attacks they faced from the world, they continued doing what God asked. In Acts 4, we see a specific example of rejection and the disciplesí boldness. Despite what many think about rejection, we see that the church grew because of the disciplesí boldness (Acts 4:4). We too, if we will grow must be bold in the face of rejection. But how? Examine with me what happened in Acts 4 to learn how to be bold even in the face of rejection.

Discussion:

I.         Expect rejection from many.

A.      Acts 4:25 is an interesting passage. In the disciplesí prayer, they quote from Psalm 2. The disciples knew rejection was coming. They knew people in the world wouldnít like what God had to say. They knew people would devise plans against them. When Peter and John were arrested they were not surprised. They had been told this would happen.

B.     Jesus had forewarned his disciples in John 15:18-21. This warning is for us as well. John 3:19-21 demonstrates why. Godís message is one of light, when men love darkness they will hate the messenger of light. We should expect this. In fact, we should really be troubled if men do not reject our message (Luke 6:22-23, 26).

C.     Rejection will cripple us only when we fear that it might happen. When we are fully aware that it will happen it has no power over us. We will not be surprised or discouraged when it happens. We will not be hindered by it. We will simply know to keep plugging away.

II.       Pray to God for boldness.

A.      When the disciples prayed to God about the rejection they were facing, the specifically asked God to strengthen them (Acts 4:29). God does not expect us to face our enemies alone. He is with us and will strengthen us.

B.     Do you remember Moses in Exodus 3? He had many fears about obeying Godís commission for him. Godís overall response is revealed in Exodus 3:12, ďCertainly, I will be with you.Ē Philippians 4:13 points out, ďI can do all things through Him who strengthens me.Ē Do you believe those statements? When we really believe them, we can confidently pray for boldness.

C.     Pray for boldness at two different times. First, in your planned prayers. When you are praying in the assembly, with your family and in your closet, pray for boldness for yourself and all of us. But also pray when you see that you are entering a situation in which rejection might rear its ugly head. Pray spontaneously to God to give you strength. If you realize you may have an opportunity to invite someone or recommend the church to someone, pray that God give you boldness. If you are asked a Bible question, if you are having a study, if someone is getting angry with you about the Gospel, pray that God give you boldness.

III.      Realize peopleís souls are at stake. (4:12)

A.      In many ways, the religious world seems to think ďchurch growthĒ is a game. Whichever church has the most pieces wins some kind of prize. In that kind of mindset, there is really not much incentive to be bold. But this is not a game. Peopleís souls are at stake. What gave the discipleís confidence even though many would reject? They knew salvation was in Jesus and only in Jesus (Acts 4:12). They would not allow the mainstream religious world to deter them from bringing salvation to people.

B.     There are numerous churches and religions in the world. Only Christ offers salvation and He only offers it to His church. If you believe people can find salvation in churches that do not teach Christís Gospel, you will never be prompted to be bold. Boldness comes when you realize Godís message saves and nothing else does. Keep your eyes on the souls of those with whom you come in contact and you will be prompted to be bold.

IV.    Realize that your soul is at stake.

A.      According to Acts 4:19-20, the disciples realized that the real question issue was not about pleasing men, but God. They knew their souls were at stake. Their salvation depended on passing the good news along to others. They would rather lose their lives than lose their souls.

B.     The disciples understood God was their master, not the councils of men. I am humbled that these disciples would not allow a governing body to master their lives. Yet, I often allow someone who has absolutely no authority to turn me away from serving God, simply because I fear they may not like me and may reject me. It was also Peter who said in Acts 5:12, ďWe must obey God rather than men.Ē

C.     If we are to be bold, we must understand it is not an option. It is a command and our soulís are at stake. Remember Revelation 12:11. We overcome Satan by the word of our testimony. Without that, we have not overcome.

V.      Stop being selfish.

A.      Typically, our fears about rejection are based on selfishness. I donít want people to dislike me, make fun of me, reject me, think I am crazy, not let me be involved in something or hurt me. All of that has to do with me. When I am focused on me, I will not be bold.

B.     Acts 4:19-20 demonstrates that the disciples understood being bold was about putting God first. They couldnít help but teach what they had seen and heard. Their lives were no longer about them; they were about serving God. They were living Jesusí teaching in Luke 9:23-27. They had taken up their crosses and denied themselves. To them it did not matter if people did not like them, thought they were crazy or called them names. What mattered was letting others know about salvation in Christ.

VI.    Focus on those who accept.

A.      I find it interesting that Luke did not wait until the end of this whole story to give us the information found in Acts 4:4. Right after he told us about Peter and John being arrested, he informs us that despite the rejection of the officials, many who had heard believed. Luke, when writing, chose to focus on who accepted the teaching, not who rejected it. The rest of the story is told to give us information. But Luke wants us to know from the beginning that the objective was accomplished. People were saved.

B.     It is almost as if Luke wants to make sure we donít lose sight of what is most important throughout this series of events. Many rejected the truth, but some accepted. Have many rejected the truth. Have many slandered this congregation because it refuses to teach any message other than Godís message. No doubt all of this has happened. But look around you. People have accepted the truth. Godís kingdom has grown because someone was bold. We must remember the successes and keep following Godís pattern of boldness.

VII.   Lean on your brethren.

A.      Acts 4:23 provides great insight into Godís plan. When Peter and John were released, they didnít go to their homes to be by themselves. They went to be with their companions. They had friends to turn to and gain strength from. They had friends to pray with.

B.     One problem many Christians face today is the friends they lean on are the ones they are afraid will reject the Gospel. They are in the church, but their best friends are not in the church. They are afraid if they teach the truth, their friends will abandon them. If you want to be bold as the early Christians were, then make sure your best friends are the ones who will give you encouragement to be bold, help pick you up when your old friends in the world have kicked you down and pray with you to have strength.

C.     Then use these relationships for spiritual strengthening. Make sure you are leaning on one another and provoking one another to be bold.

VIII. Remember that God wins.

A.      Our final point, comes not from the passage we have been reading, but from the passage those early Christians had read: Psalm 2. It was a passage that obviously strengthened them to be bold and we can easily see why. It claims that Godís enemies will attack and will always devise plans against Him. But their plans are vain. God is laughing at those plans. He knows who wins.

B.     Many act as though they are hanging out to see who is really going to win in the end. It almost seems as though we sometimes think the world might actually win and so we do not want to offend them too much, lest they take it out on us when they win. But remember, God always wins. His wrath will come upon those who do not submit and do homage to His Son.

C.     Whose side are you on? We cannot straddle the fence, we are either for Christ or we are against Him (Matthew 12:30). Have you ever noticed Jesusí second statement in that verse. ďÖ he who does not gather with me scatters.Ē Are you boldly gathering others to come into Christís fold? If not, then you are scattering. If you would be bold, remember that God is going to win and you want to be on His side.

Conclusion:

      Far too many Christians become discouraged when they find that folks in the world do not like what God says. They begin to feel we are doing something wrong when we obey Him and teach His unadulterated word. They see people turn away and assume we are doing something wrong and so instead of being bold, they want to back off. They want sermons watered down. They want personal work classes to steer clear of doctrinal differences. They often want us to get people in the church and then perhaps sneak some of the doctrines up on them. It doesnít work. The Jerusalem church was bold and they grew (Acts 4:4). The fact is, we may take another approach. That approach may increase the number of people in the seats. But it will not bring growth to Christís kingdom. The only thing that will bring growth is to teach Christís gospel without apology and without exception and then let people decide whether they want salvation through Christ or damnation in hell. But if we will have real growth, we must be bold in the face of rejection.

 


Glory to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Franklin Church of Christ