Persecution, Prayer and Purpose Equals Unity

Bible Book: Acts  4 : 23-33
Subject: Church; Church Life; Dedication; Commitment; Unity, Church

Acts 4:23-33:

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: " 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ' 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

I. The People

A. Who were their people?

Who did Peter and John go to upon their release? Who rallied around them in their time of need?

B. Who are your people?

Who would YOU go to and depend on if or when persecution breaks out? Who would rally around you?Who would YOU go to and depend on if or when persecution breaks out? Who would rally around you?

II. The Problem

Peter and John were arrested, intimidated, and threatened - how did the Church respond?

A. Unity

The church didn’t have the time or luxury to be divided over stupid stuff!

B. Prayer

The church didn’t turn to budgets, programs, gurus, consultants, or politicians.

III. The Prayer

What was the result of their prayer?

A. Heaven

Heaven moved and the earth shook. When was the last time your prayers were so visibly and powerfully answered?

B. Boldness

They were filled with the Spirit and with power and boldly proclaimed the Gospel.

C. Unity

They had unity for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers but not for the sake of unity. It was for the sake of the Gospel.

D. Caretaking

They took care of one another!

E. Power

The Spirit of God was evident among and worked through them.

F. Grace

They were aware of the grace they had been shown and they showed that same grace to one another.

G. Generosity

They gave and they gave sacrificially.

IV. The Prospects

We are about to enter a time and indeed stand at the door of persecution and personal cost to remain faithful to the Gospel. We are going to need each other. We are going to need the Church to be the “people” of believers.

For too long we’ve had a John Wayne complex. For too long the Church has been in Détente (a French word meaning release from tension) with the world - because we enjoyed the calm we stopped advancing the Gospel. The opposite of Détente is conflict or even open hostility. Being Christ in our culture ends the Détente. If we do what Christ has commanded us to do, the world will become hostile, and we will need a place to retreat to - people to confide in and rely on.

Sometimes you are going to be the one who needs to retreat and be ministered to. At other times you are going to be called upon to be the one ministering to another. We have got to change our mindset of what the Church is and isn’t. For too long we’ve had it too easy, and so we lost sight of our mission and focused on minutiae and things that in the end will perish. The coming persecution will refocus our priorities and make the things of this earth grow strangely dim.


You and I have a choice. Today, we can refocus and redouble and maybe God will use us to call our nation to repentance but even if they will not - we’ll be ready for what will inevitably come. Alternatively, we can stay in our stupor, do nothing to stem the tide of godlessness that will soon engulf us, and perish with the rest. What about you? Will you join me in repentance and commitment and singularity in following Jesus? Can we make our church a place that battle-weary saints will retreat to and be refreshed?