THEY COULD SAY NOTHING
T. PIERCE BROWN
There is a powerfully suggestive thought in Acts4:14, “And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” The whole story of the man healed and the subsequent events as recorded in the 3rd and 4th chapters of Acts are very instructive. The phraseology of the rulers who had them arrested is revealing. Instead of charging them with some crime they ask, “By what power, or in what name, have ye done this?” They were apparently ashamed to identify “this” for they had put the Apostles in jail for doing “this.” Peter does it so beautifully. “If we this day are examined concerning a good deed done to an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole.” Notice that in a very calm and quiet way he not only answered the question that was asked, he defines this “thing” for which they were arrested as “a good deed done to an impotent man” and then when he identifies by what power it was done, he presents the core of the gospel and puts the guilt where it belongs, all in about 5 seconds. I know of no literature in the entire world quite like this. Can anyone imagine how one could more aptly show the hypocrisy and perfidy of those who arrested men and put them in prison for doing a good deed, demonstrate that it was by the power of Jesus, show the guilt of those who crucified Him, emphasize that He was raised from the dead, all of this was by the power and authority of God, and that not only was this good deed done, but salvation is found in Him and only in Him? That all of this could be done in less than 15 seconds, when those of us who preach or write need at least half an hour to properly present any one of those points is absolutely amazing.
Beyond that, two things that are especially impressive are found in verses 13 and 14. First, they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Two or three sermons could be developed from that. Can anyone tell by what you say or do that you have been with Jesus? Do the good deeds you do or the words you speak do anything to show your connection with Jesus or to glorify God?
Second, when they saw the man that was healed standing there, they could say nothing against it. Would it be well for us to ask some questions about what the outside world sees when we get through preaching? They hear us preaching that “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature” (2 Cor.5:17). They see the man standing there who presumably was baptized into Christ, but he still lies, curses, drinks, or lives with the woman with whom he had no right to be married. Do they see the man healed? Or is the man still unable to walk?
They hear us preach that Jesus said, “Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew4:19). They see the man whom we claim has come after Christ. But they never see him fishing for men. If they saw the man healed, they could say nothing. They do not see the man healed. What do you think they now say?
They hear us preach that following Jesus makes a man love his enemies, practice sacrificial giving, assemble regularly to worship and do various other things. They see the man standing there who not only spews out hate for his enemies, he can scarcely get along with his friends. He evidently has sacrificed nothing for Christ’s sake, for his houses, cars, boats, television sets and bank accounts always come before he gives anything at all, much less any sacrifice. He seldom, if ever comes to Bible study on Sunday or Wednesday, and is not too concerned if he misses the regular worship. If the man was standing there healed, they could say nothing. They see the man standing there, but he does not seem to be healed. What do you think they now say?
Apparently a large number of those whom we baptize have not been healed of anything. The denominational world and the avowed enemies of Christ see the man standing there claiming to be healed. He still can not walk right. Is there any wonder that the church today is not growing as it was then? Our preaching has lost much of its power, and the impact of our lives has lost much of its power, for when people hear us and see us, they seldom see Jesus in the proper light, and those who claim to follow Him the closest give little evidence of having been cured.