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The Heroic Heart that Propelled the Movement

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 23, 2024 9:00 am

The Heroic Heart that Propelled the Movement

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 23, 2024 9:00 am

When bad things happen, many of us focus so much on the problem that we lose sight of the solution.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You see, listen, faith during the problem is more important than fixing the problem. And I'm not saying you don't get around to fixing it. I'm just saying that maybe you stopped in whatever situation and you just said, God, I know that you're sovereign. Sovereign Lord, all these things happen because you were directing them and I'm going to be still and I'm going to know that you're God, that you're going to be exalted among the nations. Welcome to Summit Life, the gospel-centered Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Okay. Have you ever noticed that when bad things happen, we can spend so much time focusing on the problem that sometimes we actually lose sight of the solution, even if it's right in front of us. But today, Pastor J.D. explains that our focus shouldn't be on our difficulties and failures. It should be on our faith and the one who can redeem them. We're continuing our study in the Book of Acts, so if you've missed any of the previous messages in this series, you can find them online at

Pastor J.D. titled today's message, The Heroic Heart That Propelled the Movement. We are studying the Book of Acts and we are seeing that Christianity did not start out as an institution. It didn't start out as a building program.

It started out as a movement around a message. It was a very unlikely movement because those that started it had no money. They had no power. They had no armies. They didn't even have people in strategic positions of influence by which they could sway the society. They weren't writing for the New York Times.

They weren't serving in Congress. Every movement has heroes. Heroes are people who act in certain ways that inspire the rest of us. What you're going to see today is you're going to see inside of the heart of the first Christian heroes who, though they had very little to work with, they were truly heroic. You're going to see what made them heroes and you're going to see how, as a result of their heroism, the gospel swept the world without money, without armies, without power. You and I are sitting here today because of that.

My hope in this is that you're going to see that this kind of heart can be yours. You see, these first Christian heroes didn't start out that way. Don't just think about Peter. He's timid.

He's fearful. He's unfaithful, fled from Jesus at the first sign of danger and denied even knowing him. But he became a hero through his experience with the gospel. I want you to see that you can become just like him because if you believe what he believed and you experience what he experienced, then you can become what he became. That's what I hope that you'll see.

My hope is that you're going to become a type of hero for those that are around you the way that these first Christians were for us. You see, even though the gospel movement has swept the world, for many of us it has not yet swept through our local communities. And when I say local communities, I mean very local. I mean like it hasn't yet swept through your family. It hasn't yet swept through your school, your high school, your college campus, your generation of college students, your workplace, your neighborhood. And that's what this is all about, right?

I mean we're really grateful that the gospel has swept the world and that Jesus has built his church, but has it swept through our community? I can't be responsible for everybody. I can't be responsible for every generation, but I can be responsible for my generation. And I want to be a kind of, if I could use this language, hero for my generation. In this passage, you're going to see what real heroes look like.

Let me give you a warning, they're not flashy. In fact, what you're going to see is quiet and behind the scenes. We'd have no way of knowing about it if the Holy Spirit hadn't recorded it for us, but you're going to see how they responded to threat, you're going to see how they responded to danger, and you're going to see what made them heroes, all right? Acts chapter 4. Acts 4, 23, what happened is the apostles had been preaching, there was a miracle, and so they were put in prison, but the rulers had to release them because the people, it was just too popular what was happening. And so the rulers threatened them and said, you can't do this anymore, we're going to do something much worse to you next time. We'll put you back in prison, we will kill you, whatever, all right? So what do you think they did after receiving that threat? Well, let's just ask this, what would we have done? I mean, typically our response is going to be, Peter and John can never be together again, right?

Because we can't have them both taken out at the same time, so they've got to be separate. We've got to take out a big insurance policy so that we've got to be able to hire somebody else to come in and do it. We've got to put a fleet of Escalades around them and armor bearers so that they cannot be touched. Or maybe we've got to rethink the message a little bit because this whole like, you crucified Jesus and he's going to hold you accountable kind of thing isn't playing well.

So maybe a prodigal son, let's lead with the prodigal son, that really seems to connect with people. And that's probably what we would have typically done. But look at what they did, verse 23. When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priest and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God. Notice that in the first sign of danger, their instinctive reflex is what? Is prayer. You see, when you are aware of how much the Spirit is actually doing it through you, then prayer becomes the natural response, not because you're commanded to and not because the leaders call a prayer meeting. It's just because it's like breathing to you.

Right? I mean, that's the analogy I've used with you before. I've told you that the least disciplined person listening to me right now, whoever it is, whichever one of you can't study, you procrastinate, right? You never get your stuff done on time. You never work out.

You never eat alfalfa sprouts. Whichever one of you is in the most least disciplined category does not be reminded to breathe every day because your body craves air. And you don't need to be commanded to breathe because it just rises up internally and you naturally breathe. When you understand how desperate you are on the Spirit of God to do anything, then prayer will become as natural to you as breathing. And see, a lot of you have a problem maintaining a prayer life, and what you're looking for is some new trick and a new habit that you can correct. But see, you're trying to correct an internal problem with an external fix, and that'll never work because what needs to happen is you need to grow in your awareness of how desperate you are in the Spirit of God. You need to actually start walking with the Spirit of God because if you started walking with the Spirit of God, then prayer will become natural.

Prayerlessness is a sign that you're disconnected from the Spirit. One of the things I do every single morning when I get up is I remind myself of the words of Jesus in John 15 five that apart from me, I can do nothing. That means I can't be a good dad. I can't be a good husband. I can't do my job right.

I can't treat other people right. I can't do anything without the Spirit of God. Now, I'm not saying to you I'm a perfect model of what a man of prayer ought to be, but I can tell you that that starts me out on a day where I begin to pray much more reflexively and instinctively because I begin to crave the Spirit of God's power in everything that I'm doing.

Prayerlessness is a sign, not that you're not disciplined enough, it's a sign that you're disconnected from the Spirit of God, all right? They were not, so they went right to prayer. So what did they say? What did they say?

Let's look at it. Sovereign Lord, sovereign means in control of everything, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David your servant said by the Holy Spirit, why did the Gentiles rage? Why do the people's plot against us in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his anointing. They saw what was happening as a fulfillment of a prophecy. For truly in this city, they were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, in other words, everybody, to do whatever your hand and your plan had, what's the next word, church?

Predestined to take place. So now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servant, stop, stop, look up here, look up here, don't look at the next word. What do you think they asked for? What do you think, what would we have asked for?

Traveling mercies, right? Grant them protection. Please change out all the rulers and get us some guys in there who will, you know, be more sympathetic to our movement. You think that's what they prayed for?

Look back down. Grant that we could continue to speak your word with all, what's that word? Boldness. Boldness? They asked for more boldness?

I mean, you know what got them into this mess, is boldness? What do you pray for in persecution? What do you pray for in pain? Typically, we pray for protection or we pray for deliverance from the pain, and I'm sure they wanted those things. And by the way, I'm sure they eventually got around to asking for them because there's nothing wrong with asking for those things. But before they prayed for those things, they prayed for God to make them bold within the circumstances.

In fact, if you're taking notes, write this down. Before they asked for a positive outcome around them, they prayed for a faithful spirit within them. Before they prayed for a positive outcome around them, they prayed for a faithful spirit within them. They prayed for faith to be able to respond in a faithful way to whatever the situation would be. They prayed, that's what they asked for. Give us boldness, and verse 30, while you stretch out your hand to heal and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken. They're all filled with the Holy Spirit and they continue to speak the Word of God with even more boldness. Heroes, heroes, because they prayed this way, because they responded this way, the gospel would continue to spread around the world, and eventually it would come all the way to us. Their heroism led to our salvation. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If you'd like to know more about this ministry, visit us online at You know what? We appreciate you. Yes, you, our listeners. We love being a source of encouragement for you each day because we know that there's no greater joy than having a relationship with Jesus. Did you know that these Summit Life broadcasts are only one of the ways that you can keep up with Pastor J.D. 's ministry? There are emails, blog posts, our entire sermon library, and so much more available on our website free of charge. But did you know that you can follow Pastor J.D. on social media?

Why not get some biblical wisdom and encouragement as you scroll? Just search for Pastor J.D. Greer on Facebook, at Pastor J.D. Greer on Instagram, and at J.D.

Greer on X. And don't forget to look for us on YouTube. We've got lots of great video resources that we're adding to each day. Follow along on all your favorite social media platforms and stay up to date with this ministry while also filling up your timeline with encouragement from God's Word. Now put your phone away for just a few more minutes and let's get back to today's teaching from Pastor J.D.

Greer right here on Summit Life. Where does boldness and courage like that, where does that come from? Because I dare say, just in my knowledge of you and people like us, we want more courage. We love to be bold.

People tell me that all the time. I just wish, and they think it's a personality thing. Man, I wish I was like you. I wish I was bold like you. I wish I was an extrovert. I wish I always knew what to say. Where does courage come from?

Where does boldness come from? You just kind of will it up inside you and just, you know, I'm just going to do it. I'm just going to get myself. Is that what you do? Or how about this? I heard this strategy before. Visualize a positive outcome, and then that will help you be bold. You ever heard this strategy?

I actually got this off a website. Listen to this. When you feel fear about something, first take a deep breath and relax. After you relax, visualize doing the behavior that you fear successfully. See yourself doing the thing that you've been afraid of. Imagine yourself in that situation without all the unpleasant consequences that might happen.

Enjoy the feeling of mastery that comes with having dealt successfully with a situation that has up until now made you fearful, and then you will feel more confident. Is that it? No, let me be honest. There's an element of that strategy that works. It's called positive thinking.

I know people who use that frequently to kind of work for it, but there's a problem. And the problem is, is even if you visualize good things happening, bad things can still happen. So no matter how much you visualize positive things happening, bad things are still happening, which means if you don't even allow the possibility that bad things could happen, you're delusional. So in order to become courageous, you've got to become delusional. And I just don't really feel like that's a good strategy is to say, I'm going to be courageous by being delusional. There's got to be a better way, right?

Well, there is. And you'll see five elements in their prayer that made them bold that can be true of you. Number one, they believed in God's sovereignty in their trial. They believed in God's sovereignty in their trial. See verse 24, sovereign Lord told you the word sovereign means in control of everything. Truly in this city, we're gathered together against your Holy servant, Jesus, all these people to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. The apostles are not looking at the situation going about, man, Judas totally messed everything up.

That came out of nowhere. We had this good thing going, all of a sudden Judas betrays us. Well, what's going on with Caiaphas, the high priest, if he had stuck up for us, no, they saw all these things as perfectly controlled by a sovereign God who was working all things according to the plan that he had laid out to glorify Jesus and get the gospel around the world. What if you believed that kind of sovereignty was over your pain? What if your first response in whatever painful situation you find yourself in was this, what is God's purpose in this pain? My friend, listen, I'm not trying to tell you that God is delighting in your pain.

I'm not even saying he's the one that is causing it. But what I'm saying is what if you recognize that all the events of your life, God had a sovereign purpose, and that purpose was to glorify Jesus. And before you ask God to resolve that pain, you at least first stop and ask God what it was he wanted to do through that pain because he was a sovereign God that allowed it to happen. Can I say one of my favorite verses on this? Psalm 46 then. It's a verse you probably know when I start it. Be still and know that I, that I what? That I'm God. Okay, about three quarters of you know that. Do you know the next verse? So a few of you do, okay?

Don't want it for everybody. Be still and know that I'm God. I will be exalted among the nations. Can I tell you this is one of the things that I'm genuinely ticked off at what the Christian subculture has done to this verse? Because we always use the first phrase of that verse and we put it on a coffee cup, right?

So it's got a little picture of a, you know, like a Bible and a rainbow and a naked baby angel playing a harp, right? And we drink it with our coffee in the morning and we look at it and we have this serene feeling. Be still and know that I'm God.

And we never look at the next phrase. It's not just had this serene moment with your cup of Folgers in the morning. The point is in whatever painful situation you're in, God is exalting himself in the nations. So I can know that in whatever circumstances I find myself, God's got a greater purpose. I know that if I lost my job, God has a purpose for that in the Great Commission. I know that if I go through some kind of disability or disease, I know that it's painful, but I know I can be still and know that he is God, that he will be exalted among the nations, and that he turns my tragedy into his triumphs, that he has dominion over my difficulties. And so I know that in whatever situation I'm at, he's going to do what he promised to do.

And I can be still sometimes and just know that he is God. I love that little phrase, be still, because I'm a fixer like a lot of you men. And I just like to fix the problem. And there's nothing wrong.

God made you that way. But what if before you got to fixing the problem, you asked God what his purpose was in that problem? You see, listen, faith during the problem is more important than fixing the problem.

And I'm not saying you don't get around to fixing it. I'm just saying that maybe you stopped in whatever situation, and you just said, God, I know that you're sovereign. Sovereign Lord, all these things happen because you were directing them, and I'm going to be still, and I'm going to know that you're God, that you're going to be exalted among the nations. You see, on the flip side, you'll start doing that with your blessings.

You'll start saying, God, you gave me this blessing. You gave me this new job. You gave me this raise. You gave me this thing. What was your purpose in giving me that?

What if your first question was not, well, how can this new situation benefit me? What if you saw yourself as a part of God's mission, and you said whatever blessings or whatever cursing has come into my life, not cursings, but whatever bad things come into my life, they're all there, part of God's purpose, to exalt himself among the nations. So the first thing I want to ask in this raise that I just got, if this is you, you're going to say, what is God's purpose in that? Why did God give me this blessing? Why did he give it to me?

Maybe it was for his purposes and not mine. See, that's what I want you to start thinking about as you get into these things. I want you to be still and know that he is God. Number two, they knew the Scriptures. They knew the Scriptures. One, they believed in God's sovereign purpose and his mission. Number two, they knew the Scriptures. Did you see how the first thing out of their mouths in prayer was an Old Testament psalm where they claimed the promises of God? You know what that shows you? It shows you they knew them. They knew what to pray in the various situations because they were so bathed in the Word of God that when life shook them, it just came out. See? They didn't have time to run consult their Bibles and get out their concordance and look something up.

They just knew it. I've told you this before, the book that you hold in your hands, that Bible is a book of promises. In fact, sometimes I wish we just write that on the cover. The book of promises, over 3,000 promises given to the people of God. Can I tell you something? I want to know every single one of them because I want to make sure that in whatever situation I'm in, I am asking God for the promise that he has given.

I love what Eugene Peterson says about this. True prayer is not just talking to God. True prayer is answering God. God's already spoken in his Word.

Prayer is just a response to what he has said. Peyton Manning, I read an article a couple weeks ago on him. They said that he spends, get this, more time in the film room than any other quarterback, not just currently, but any other quarterback that has ever lived. Any spare moment that man gets, he is down, they say, in the basement watching these films of these other teams. They say the result is, in the middle of a play, when things go differently than planned, he knows exactly what the defense is doing and he knows exactly where things are going to end up.

If you've ever watched him play, you've seen this happen. He knows more than the coach. He knows more than the guy that is up there in the little box that's watching and radioing him stuff or radioing the coach stuff. He knows more than all of them because he has studied these plays so many times that he knows when that person goes over there, that means this guy is going to come here and that means that guy over there is going to be open. I read that and I thought, that's how I want to be with the Word of God because I don't have time in the midst of a bad situation.

I don't have time to just go run and figure it out. I just want to know that whatever happens to me when the play changes, the promises of God spring out of my heart, out of my lips. See, when life cuts me, I want to bleed God's Word because I, listen, I want and I want you to see the world through the lens of gospel promises because when the Word of God is in your heart and the Word of God is on your lips, then the Spirit of God will be working through you to bring the power of God into your situation. See, number three, they were in all the greatest hero.

Number three, they were in all the greatest hero. You're going to see in the next chapter that God answers their prayer for more boldness and so they get in more trouble. And this time when Peter is defending themselves to the rulers, he says this, chapter 5 verse 30, the God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging on a tree. Have you noticed by the way that Peter seems to like that phrase? Every time he gets a chance to talk to somebody, he's like, hey, by the way, you killed him, right?

So whatever. Verse 31, God exalted him in his right hand as leader. That's a great word. I'll come back to that. In fact, if you underline something in your Bible, underline it.

If you don't, then just hold your finger on the iPad and let it miss a highlight. A leader and savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. The word for leader there is the word in Greek, archagos. It may sound like a weird word to you, but you actually would recognize it. Arch means highest.

Ego means me or person. Highest person or the way we would say that is ubermensch or superman. He used a word there, it's a very unusual word in Greek because it meant superhero. It's the word they use for Hercules. Hercules was the archago because he was so strong. He was their superhero. Now Peter takes that word and he applies the superhero status to Jesus.

Now you know what's significant about that? Jesus is totally different than Hercules. He's very different than every other super hero we've ever come up with.

You want to know why? Superheroes become superheroes through their massive strength, but Peter just said that Jesus was a superhero because he died in weakness. In fact, he leveraged his power not to crush his enemies, he leveraged his power to die in weakness for his enemies so that he could reconcile his enemies back to himself. And see, that fundamentally changed how the apostles saw themselves. See, they weren't people that were supposed to dominate the world in power. They were people that were to offer their lives as a sacrifice in weakness because that's how God brings salvation to the world. You see, they believed that if their superhero Jesus had not only risked his life but actually gave his life for other's salvation, then it made sense to them that that's what they should do too.

They ought to give their lives as a sacrifice for the world. They believed that if God had raised Jesus from the dead, they'd believe that whatever the world threw at them, they'd overcome it. Because they're like, hey, you killed Jesus and God resurrected him. So if you kill us, what's going to happen to us?

You throw us in prison, how's that going to stop things? God loves it when you do this kind of stuff because it just gives him the power, gives him the ability to show off his power even more. They believe that in the Holy Spirit, they've been given the greatest possession. They believe that they've been given the God who had saved them and the God who brought Jesus out of the grave, now lived inside of them.

And so they start saying things like, hey, if God's for us, who can be against us? An important but often overlooked part of being a Christian is seeking to be continually filled by the Holy Spirit. So now that we know the five things that give us boldness, what do we do? Join us tomorrow for the conclusion and application of this passage of Scripture on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We're in a series called Scent and we're discussing the birth of the early church and God's mission for our lives today. You know, not every believer is supposed to become a pastor or move overseas as a paid missionary, but we are all called to be on mission. Around Summit Life, we say it this way, you're either a missionary or you're the mission field. So for some listeners, maybe you'll decide to move overseas.

For others, maybe you'll move across town to support a new church plant, or maybe you'll stay where you are, but be much more intentional about meeting your neighbors and spending time with your coworkers. This month, we've got a premium resource designed to help you live as missionaries wherever you are. It's Pastor J.D. 's latest book, Twelve Truths and a Lie, and an accompanying discussion guide that goes with it. This book is written to help skeptics, new believers, and anyone who has questions about their faith find the answers to life's biggest questions by pointing them back to the truth we find in scripture, as well as dispel one of the biggest lies in Christianity.

This discussion guide was created to help foster deep, meaningful conversations about the fundamentals of our faith, whether that's in a small group, a family discussion with your children, or a one-on-one with a friend or neighbor. We'll send you Twelve Truths and a Lie and its accompanying discussion guide with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give, call us now at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or visit us online at

That's I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to join us tomorrow as Pastor J.D.

describes what a true hero looks like, and the answer just might surprise you. That's Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-23 10:06:32 / 2024-04-23 10:17:58 / 11

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