1. How would you define bravery? (Some synonyms are—courage, daring, dauntlessness, fearlessness, fortitude, gallantry, grit, guts, hardiness, heroism, indomitability, intrepidity, mettle, spirit, spunk, valor.)
2. Not including people in the Bible, who is the bravest person you know? (For me it is Dr. Robert Jeffress. He is one of the bravest, most outspoken religious leaders of our day. Dr. Fannin also falls into this category.)
3. What motivates a person to demonstrate bravery? (Love, sense of duty, conviction, concern, selfishness, character—it is just who they are.)
For a Christian it is being willing to take a stand for what is right regardless of what others say, think or do.
4. When was the last time someone challenged your beliefs or your lifestyle?
5. How did you respond?
Living for Christ is contrary to the world in many ways. We can expect to be challenged by others who do not accept Jesus as Lord and His teachings.
Taking a stand for Christ requires courage. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to provide the courage we need and the words to say when we are challenged.
We know that Jesus demonstrated unparalleled bravery as He faced His accusers and willingly surrendered His life on the cross. Scripture and history records numerous accounts of brave men and women in both the Old and New Testaments. Today we will examine one example of bravery that involved the early church leaders, Peter and John.
(Consider having some of your members do a Dramatic Reading of Acts 3:1-4:22 from a modern translation to give a full background for the focal passage.)
The Challenge! Read Acts 4:1-7
1. What is your typical response to confrontation?
2. Notice the word “provoked” in verse 2; why were the skeptics provoked, and what exactly does that mean?
3. What modern-day comparisons could be made to what Peter and John faced?
4. What role do you think intimidation played in this inquiry?
5. What might happen in our world today if believers’ words and actions were considered a threat?
There are believers in all parts of the world who are facing persecution at some level for their faith.
Peter and John were taken before the Jewish ruling body—the Sanhedrin. This body consisted of 71 men headed by the High Priest—the same body that condemned Jesus to death. They were officially responsible for interpreting the Scriptures—which is what Peter and John were doing!
The time between the healing of the lame man and Peter and John’s arrest must have been several hours—long enough for thousands to respond to the gospel message.
Notice the question in verse 7. It is posed in an attempt to trap Peter and John, not to invite honest dialogue. As we will see, Peter and John welcomed the question—“well let me tell you by what power this lame man was healed.”
6. When have you faced intimidation for following Jesus?
7. What examples in the news have you heard recently that are an obvious attempt to put Christians “in the hot seat” for their beliefs?
Paul says in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” Regardless of the audience or their attitude, when the Gospel is proclaimed the power of God is unleashed and there is opportunity for someone to come to know Jesus as Savior.
8. What power is most influential in your life?
The Answer! Read Acts 4:8-12
1. Consider Peter’s words, his surroundings and the religious leader’s attitude toward him and John. What are some words you might use to describe Peter’s actions here? (Astounding, courageous, bold, undeterred, articulate, convincing, uncompromising, or fearless.)
Peter’s boldness and eloquence in speaking the truth left little room for argument or accusation. He simply told the truth!
Remember, Peter was simply a fisherman and unaccustomed to public speaking. Peter didn’t speak in his own power.
2. What words or phrases in these verses indicate that Peter and John were not intimidated by the Sanhedrin?
3. What was the substance of Peter’s message? (Peter connected with his audience by identifying with the Old Testament, referring to Psalm 118:22 in verse 11. When speaking to others about Christ, we should begin with where people are.)
4. Which phrases in Peter’s defense do you think carried the most weight?
5. Do you believe that same phrase is as persuasive today as it was in the first century?
The Recognition! Read Acts 4:13
1. What did the religious leaders conclude after hearing Peter and John’s response? (The religious leaders recognized that even though His disciples had no rabbinical training, Peter and John’s response was indicative of having spent time with Jesus, the Master Teacher. In three and a half years the Disciples had received their college education and graduated with honors!)
2. If the religious leaders realized all of this, why did they still not believe? (Their little kingdom of power they had built would crumble. They saw in Peter and John the same threat that they had seen in Jesus. They had killed Jesus, but they had not killed the power of His message. It lives on through believers who proclaim the truth.)
3. Peter and John’s response evidenced that they had been with Jesus. If we were challenged for our faith, what would our response reveal about those with whom we’ve been? (Being with others influences us in a positive or negative way. We should choose our companions wisely and be a positive influence to others. When people say they can tell someone has been spending time with you is it a positive thing or a negative thing?)
The Sanhedrin ultimately let Peter and John go in order to avoid an uprising and because they had no concrete charges to bring against them.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Of the words we came up with to describe Peter’s actions before the Sanhedrin, how many of those same words could describe our witness and willingness to share Christ with others?
Peter and John were not responsible for the healing of the crippled man, and they did not take credit for it or become prideful in their actions. Christians can certainly count on the Holy Spirit to equip them to speak with boldness and power, but all honor and glory for anything that is accomplished goes to Jesus Christ.
Let’s examine our lives in light of this week’s study.
2. Do we willingly share Jesus Christ when given an opportunity?
3. Are we depending on the Holy Spirit to equip us with the courage we need to witness?
4. How can we develop a greater boldness in sharing the Gospel?
As we close in prayer let’s ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural courage to proclaim the name of Jesus, for total dependence on Him to accomplish His work, and for opportunities to share Jesus Christ with others.