Bravery and the Faith That Enables It
Text: Acts 5:12-42
Proposition: The function of faith is that we would live by it to the point that courage is its natural outcome.
Introduction:
It was Aristotle that first defined courage as the ground between recklessness and fear. He said that cowards are weakened by excessive fear, especially of things that shouldn’t be feared. On the other hand reckless men take unnecessary risks with excessive confidence in the face of danger. The courageous person finds the middle ground between these two extremes. This morning I want to talk with you about what it means to be brave and how bravery is an outcome of faith. There are many types of bravery, like bravery as an act of duty for a soldier or bravery as a moral action like that of  Dr. Martin Luther King. Bravery can even be an ethical act, standing up for what is right, like a child who resists the bully on the playground.  There has even been a more recent classification of courage called psychological courage. Dan Putman in his paper on this spoke about three different kinds of courage. There was the courage of facing your own destructive habits; the courage needed to face irrational anxieties that control our lives and the courage needed to face those who are close to us and yet who keep us in a psychological bondage. To be courageous or brave is not something we talk about very much but it’s an action we take almost every week if not every day.
We’ve been working our way through the book of Acts and today being Pentecost Sunday this is a particularly appropriate place for us to be. Pentecost marked the beginning of the church in the first century. It was a time of great opportunities and  miracle. Lives changed forever because of Jesus Christ. But with all that came the opposition and persecution. Equipping the church through this time was a strong faith that evidenced itself it in actions that we could only call bravery. This was not from duty or moral issue or ethical or psychological concern. It was bravery that pointed to it’s source, faith in Christ.  It was a bravery that is so conspicuous  it would be like pure oxygen to a suffocating world. Turn to Acts 5:12-42.
I. Where Faith in Christ Is Present the Courageous Actions of Many Follow.
In the first part of Acts 5 we saw the way that purity and holiness were a template for the early church even to the extreme action of the deaths of Ananias and
Sapphira. As you keep reading in this chapter you see this explosive growth of the church. People began to bring their sick and dying families and friends so that the apostles could heal them. At one point the people had such reverence for this that they thought even the very shadow Peter could create healing. Such advances for the kingdom will not go unnoticed and will meet with resistance. In the previous chapter it was Peter and John who had been arrested and cautioned by the chief priests. In this chapter, as the church gains profile, all the apostles will be taken prisoner. Perhaps there is a starting point here for a us this morning. It’s simply that courage, though it begins with you, is really about others. The church is called the body of Christ and as one stands with courage and is brave in the face of whatever fear is present the whole body is made the stronger. Bravery requires an ideal, a cause, a purpose higher than just yourself. If that has been exemplified anywhere it is in what Christ has done in the courageousness of the cross. Do not think that He was above fear, His body could feel pain just like ours. His mind could feel alone just like us, His soul could despair even as ours yet it was with courage that Christ moved forward. It was in obedience to the Father, it was against the evil of sin and it was for the love of you that He was called to this bravery.  Are you struggling with the ability to find that courage you need to overcome a moral, ethical or psychological issue, then realize that you are not alone. Your faith in Christ ties you to the power of Christ and to the body of Christ. Your call to bravery will be an act of obedience to the Father, an action against sin and a response to the love you have for others and even for yourself in Christ. The point here is simple, we are never acting in isolation when we are called to times of bravery and courage. We act on behalf of the body we are a part of, on behalf of the Head of that body, Jesus Christ. As you move with courage know that there will be a transferring effect throughout the whole body. The courageous actions of one fuel the courage of others. That bravery comes from your faith, it is an outcome of faith, it’s standing upon what you believe and where faith is present the courageous actions of many follow.
II. Courage Overcomes Fear So That You Can Speak the Words of Life.
With bravery the Apostles preached the Gospel knowing they would face the indignation of the chief priests. This would likely lead to imprisonment and there was concern and even a degree of fear as any prudent person ought to feel. They are arrested and as they await the night God moves in an unexpected way. An angel comes and releases them from prison. That’s amazing, but what the angel tells them to do is even more amazing… “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” The little bit of courage that they needed to face the possibility of jail now created an even greater opportunity.
Courage begets courage because faith always invites you to greater faith. What would you do? Head for the hills, lay low and let things cool down? If they go back to the Temple they will be found out for sure and then what will happen? You could say that it often takes more courage to persevere than it does just to begin. But it is as you persevere that God has even more avenue in your life to present the words of life to others.  When Paul was writing to the Corinthians he urged them, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” I wonder if there isn’t an inspired order to those words. Sometimes we don’t feel very strong but strength arises as we move with bravery and bravery is an outcome of faith and faith comes from watching and hearing the word of God. The chief priests discover that the prison is empty and someone comes running in and announces that the apostles are back in the Temple teaching and preaching. So they carefully arrest all the apostles again and this time they bring them directly to the court. You’ll notice that there aren’t any questions about how they got out of jail… the apostles had a great response just waiting to be told on that one. They don’t even question the apostles as to why they didn’t escape making the job of arresting them more difficult. No, the only thing they have their minds fixed on is the preaching of Jesus name. They say that the apostles have filled Jerusalem with the doctrine of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was the teaching that declared Jesus to be the Son of God, born of a virgin and thus fully man and yet also fully God. It proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the One who had been predestined by God the Father to one day be the sacrifice for all the sin of mankind. It was a preaching that said you had to come under the marks of that sacrifice just like the Hebrews came under the marks of blood on their door posts during the night of the Passover. It said that by faith we seek refuge in the blood of Jesus Christ as source, the only source for the forgiveness of all our sin. In Him we gain that forgiveness but also we gain an eternal promise of life beyond death.  The chief priests know all of this and yet they don’t receive it as truth and command that the apostles stop speaking these words of life. So Peter leads the way, “But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.” Herein is the faith that leads to courage. Who will you obey? Will it be the fear that comes from within you or will it be the words of God.                                                                                                                                 You are the church, you will be challenged and some will be persecuted and some will be beaten, the apostles were that day. Strangely enough the very consequence that was originally feared… punishment, failure, ostracism…becomes the very thing that they celebrate as they move through it by faith in Christ’s name. Bravery, courage, it’s what we are enabled with through faith. As love gives rise to sacrifice and hope gives rise to perseverance… faith gives rise to bravery.
Bravery and the Faith That Enables ItText: Acts 5:12-42Proposition: The function of faith is that we would live by it to the point that courage is its natural outcome.Introduction: What comes to mind when you see these pictures?          
It was Aristotle that first defined courage as the ground between recklessness and fear. He said that cowards are weakened by excessive fear, especially of things that shouldn’t be feared. On the other hand reckless men take unnecessary risks with excessive confidence in the face of danger. The courageous person finds the middle ground between these two extremes. This morning I want to talk with you about what it means to be brave and how bravery is an outcome of faith. There are many types of bravery, like bravery as an act of duty for a soldier or bravery as a moral action like that of  Dr. Martin Luther King. Bravery can even be an ethical act, standing up for what is right, like a child who resists the bully on the playground.  There has even been a more recent classification of courage called psychological courage. Dan Putman in his paper on this spoke about three different kinds of courage. There was the courage of facing your own destructive habits; the courage needed to face irrational anxieties that control our lives and the courage needed to face those who are close to us and yet who keep us in a psychological bondage. To be courageous or brave is not something we talk about very much but it’s an action we take almost every week if not every day. We’ve been working our way through the book of Acts and today being Pentecost Sunday this is a particularly appropriate place for us to be. Pentecost marked the beginning of the church in the first century. It was a time of great opportunities and  miracle. Lives changed forever because of Jesus Christ. But with all that came the opposition and persecution. Equipping the church through this time was a strong faith that evidenced itself it in actions that we could only call bravery. This was not from duty or moral issue or ethical or psychological concern. It was bravery that pointed to it’s source, faith in Christ.  It was a bravery that is so conspicuous  it would be like pure oxygen to a suffocating world. Turn to Acts 5:12-42.
I. Where Faith in Christ Is Present the Courageous Actions of Many Follow.  In the first part of Acts 5 we saw the way that purity and holiness were a template for the early church even to the extreme action of the deaths of Ananias and 
Sapphira. As you keep reading in this chapter you see this explosive growth of the church. People began to bring their sick and dying families and friends so that the apostles could heal them. At one point the people had such reverence for this that they thought even the very shadow Peter could create healing. Such advances for the kingdom will not go unnoticed and will meet with resistance. In the previous chapter it was Peter and John who had been arrested and cautioned by the chief priests. In this chapter, as the church gains profile, all the apostles will be taken prisoner. Perhaps there is a starting point here for a us this morning. It’s simply that courage, though it begins with you, is really about others. The church is called the body of Christ and as one stands with courage and is brave in the face of whatever fear is present the whole body is made the stronger. Bravery requires an ideal, a cause, a purpose higher than just yourself. If that has been exemplified anywhere it is in what Christ has done in the courageousness of the cross. Do not think that He was above fear, His body could feel pain just like ours. His mind could feel alone just like us, His soul could despair even as ours yet it was with courage that Christ moved forward. It was in obedience to the Father, it was against the evil of sin and it was for the love of you that He was called to this bravery.  Are you struggling with the ability to find that courage you need to overcome a moral, ethical or psychological issue, then realize that you are not alone. Your faith in Christ ties you to the power of Christ and to the body of Christ. Your call to bravery will be an act of obedience to the Father, an action against sin and a response to the love you have for others and even for yourself in Christ. The point here is simple, we are never acting in isolation when we are called to times of bravery and courage. We act on behalf of the body we are a part of, on behalf of the Head of that body, Jesus Christ. As you move with courage know that there will be a transferring effect throughout the whole body. The courageous actions of one fuel the courage of others. That bravery comes from your faith, it is an outcome of faith, it’s standing upon what you believe and where faith is present the courageous actions of many follow. II. Courage Overcomes Fear So That You Can Speak the Words of Life.   With bravery the Apostles preached the Gospel knowing they would face the indignation of the chief priests. This would likely lead to imprisonment and there was concern and even a degree of fear as any prudent person ought to feel. They are arrested and as they await the night God moves in an unexpected way. An angel comes and releases them from prison. That’s amazing, but what the angel tells them to do is even more amazing… “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” The little bit of courage that they needed to face the possibility of jail now created an even greater opportunity.                                             

Courage begets courage because faith always invites you to greater faith. What would you do? Head for the hills, lay low and let things cool down? If they go back to the Temple they will be found out for sure and then what will happen? You could say that it often takes more courage to persevere than it does just to begin. But it is as you persevere that God has even more avenue in your life to present the words of life to others.  When Paul was writing to the Corinthians he urged them, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” I wonder if there isn’t an inspired order to those words. Sometimes we don’t feel very strong but strength arises as we move with bravery and bravery is an outcome of faith and faith comes from watching and hearing the word of God. The chief priests discover that the prison is empty and someone comes running in and announces that the apostles are back in the Temple teaching and preaching. So they carefully arrest all the apostles again and this time they bring them directly to the court. You’ll notice that there aren’t any questions about how they got out of jail… the apostles had a great response just waiting to be told on that one. They don’t even question the apostles as to why they didn’t escape making the job of arresting them more difficult. No, the only thing they have their minds fixed on is the preaching of Jesus name. They say that the apostles have filled Jerusalem with the doctrine of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was the teaching that declared Jesus to be the Son of God, born of a virgin and thus fully man and yet also fully God. It proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the One who had been predestined by God the Father to one day be the sacrifice for all the sin of mankind. It was a preaching that said you had to come under the marks of that sacrifice just like the Hebrews came under the marks of blood on their door posts during the night of the Passover. It said that by faith we seek refuge in the blood of Jesus Christ as source, the only source for the forgiveness of all our sin. In Him we gain that forgiveness but also we gain an eternal promise of life beyond death.  The chief priests know all of this and yet they don’t receive it as truth and command that the apostles stop speaking these words of life. So Peter leads the way, “But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.” Herein is the faith that leads to courage. Who will you obey? Will it be the fear that comes from within you or will it be the words of God.                                                                                                                                 You are the church, you will be challenged and some will be persecuted and some will be beaten, the apostles were that day. Strangely enough the very consequence that was originally feared… punishment, failure, ostracism…becomes the very thing that they celebrate as they move through it by faith in Christ’s name. Bravery, courage, it’s what we are enabled with through faith. As love gives rise to sacrifice and hope gives rise to perseverance… faith gives rise to bravery.

 

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