Acts 4:13, “…they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.”
What is the relationship between knowledge and discipleship? Put another way, must you have a certain foundation of theological knowledge before you can understand the truths of scripture?
While fear of rejection or causing offense seems to be the major deterrent to sharing one’s faith vocally with the lost, a close second would be the fear that a believer simply does not know enough to persuade individuals of the truths of scripture. Many believers are mortified by the prospect of being asked a question about God or the Bible in which they do not know the answer. They simply feel that they do not know enough to share the gospel.
The issue with this distinction is that it is asking the wrong question. Christianity is not a pursuit that requires an entrance exam or a degree in which to be an effective witness. While seminary education is important to train up pastors, academics, and ministers to properly interpret Scripture and form a sound, orthodox theological foundation, such an education is not a prerequisite for a vibrant Christian discipleship.
What are the prerequisites for an effective Christian life and ministry? The story of Peter and John’s arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 gives us a great example of what is required. Peter and John heal a lame beggar in Acts 3. When the beggar is healed, Peter launches into his second great sermon on the gospel of Christ. At the conclusion of this sermon, five thousand additional individuals came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Yet, this great commotion winds up getting Peter and John arrested.
Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit, confidently defend their faith in Jesus Christ and His resurrection before the preeminent religious authorities, rulers, and elders in Judea. Acts 4:13 is an amazing declaration of the effectiveness of Peter’s confession. The rulers and elders were AMAZED at Peter and John. Why? Because they knew Peter and John were uneducated fishermen from Galilee, yet they spoke with great boldness and confidence. They knew that Peter and John had not attended the great synagogue schools for the scribes and Pharisees who served the will of the Sanhedrin. Yet, it is Peter who is quoting Psalm 118:22 in the presence of the authorities.
What caused these great men of religious learning to have “nothing to say in reply?” (Acts 4:14) Verse 13 shows us that they were struck by the apostles’ boldness and that they knew they had BEEN WITH JESUS.
What makes a testimony effective? What makes a ministry grow the kingdom of God? What separates you from ordinary human life? It matters not the degrees you can earn in a college or seminary. No one really cares how many letters come after your full name on a business card. When it comes to spreading the gospel and making disciples of all nations, there are only two things that are required. Boldness and being with Jesus (and Jesus being with you).
Remember what Jesus said concerning this. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will had you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Matt. 10:16-20) That sounds very familiar to the event in Acts 4, does it not?
Be bold and follow Jesus. That is all you need to worry about. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Knowledge about the Bible will help you win Bible trivia game nights. However, if you are not filled with the Holy Spirit through Christ’s abiding power, the illuminating efficacy of God’s Word will not be open to you. Read not God’s Word to gain information. Rather, read God’s Word to gain LIFE. Let the Word of God to seep into your vary soul. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you. HE will give you the knowledge you need and the confidence you need to be His witness.
In order for Jesus’ disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the Earth, they first had to receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them! (Acts 1:8) If you really think about it, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people in your sphere of influence that need Jesus. Meditate on that! God desires you to be a witness! You don’t need to go study up – just be bold and let the Holy Spirit be your guide! AS you are going about your daily life; AS you are reading God’s Word and applying it to your life; AS you are following Jesus – make disciples! (Matt. 28:19) Don’t wait, do it now! All you need is boldness, and people will be amazed and begin to realize that you have been with Jesus.