And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
So when they had heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is with in them.......................Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:17-31
Peter and John were in trouble because they had said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk," and it worked! The lame man was healed and because of it more people were drawn to the Lord. Acts 4:4 tells us that as news spread about 5000 were added to the kingdom. Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, and scribes to give an accounting. They boldly declared ..." Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole...Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:10-12
In the passage above they were 'severely threatened, that from now on they speak to no man in this name. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus' They were forbidden by the leaders to speak in the name of Jesus any longer. Now we know the story. They didn't listen and instead they responded with, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." What a response that as believers we all applaud!. It is a response that puts God first! God's opinion is the one that matters.
The leaders threatened them some more and then released them. Why? 'Because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. ' They themselves had said in verse 16 .."For indeed that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it." They let them go and didn't actually take any action except to threaten because they were afraid of the people.
As I read this account today it caused me to think about a story that I heard about a couple of weeks ago on the news about a high school girl who was kicked out of class and given an in school detention for saying, "Bless you," to another student who sneezed. It was reported that the teacher had said that she would not have any Godly talk in her classroom. I remember thinking, "Bless you? How ridiculous. What is our world coming to that a kid gets in trouble for saying something that most of the world considers polite or basic good manners." Christians and non Christians alike say, "God bless you." at a sneeze.
I don't know about you but I tend to live in my own little bubble serving Him the best I know how day to day. I don't always know or hear about the things that are happening in the earth. I very rarely catch the news. However I did recently hear another report that was challenging the world to care about the Christians that are being slaughtered in the earth today in Africa, Iraq, and all over the world. We tend to think of being martyred for the Lord as a Roman Colosseum type event and that it isn't happening in the earth today but it is. After I heard this report I typed in, "Christians being slaughtered" as a search on YouTube and video after video came up. I was shocked because to be honest, I didn't realize. (Forgive me, Lord!)
Just as the disciples stood up to the leaders of their day with a response that declared they would not be silent I come before you and all the world to add my voice to theirs. They declared that they would continue to declare the name of Jesus because it is the right thing to do. It is right to heed the voice of God more than the voice of man! So I feel like I need to declare not only to you but to the world at large, " I will speak the name of Jesus because there is no other name in all the earth that men might be saved." There is a reason that they declared, "In the name of Jesus rise up and walk." It works. There is a reason that the enemy wants to prevent those that believe from speaking it in the earth today. It still works! It still has the power to save and set men free!
The account above said that Peter and John came back and told their brethren all that had happened and they came together and raised their voice to God with one accord! It said that they prayed...."Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. They prayed with one accord for boldness to speak His word, to do His will and to do it all through Jesus.
Today, my prayer is that you would join me and with one voice we too would cry out to God. Not only on behalf of those being persecuted but for those that are being threatened with the choice of who to serve, God or man? Pray that we too would receive power from the Holy Spirit to stand with all boldness on His behalf and that we would boldly declare the name of Jesus or even 'God Bless you,' wherever we go!