Occasions when Peter “stood” for God.
We now turn to the New Testament to learn lessons of men who stood. Although they lived many centuries ago, they encountered similar situations and problems to those that we face today. Hence it is not time wasted when we consider the decisions they made and the stand they took.
A faithful band of followers, Simon Peter among them, were on the mountain with their Lord and Master when they received the mandate, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me” in the world where He was rejected and slain.
No doubt Peters mind went back to a short time previously when around a fire with the enemies of Jesus, he denied with oaths and curses that he ever knew Him. He had not been a faithful witness then. Poor Peter never thought he would deny his Lord. Others may but not him. Let us always remember that our God is a forgiving God and when Peter confessed, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I fondly love Thee,” he realized the warm restoring hand of the Great Shepherd and was commissioned to feed and care for His sheep.
We too can remember times when we acted in a manner that we never thought possible. But like Peter, “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us”(1 John 1:9). Communion with God can be enjoyed again.
Luke tells us of at least three times in the Book of Acts when God was pleased to use Peter for the furtherance of His work. Difficult situations arose and it was then that Peter, having learned his own limitations and weakness, stood forth to carry out the Word of God.
Peter standing in the Upper Room declaring that Scripture must be fulfilled. (Acts 1:15)
About one hundred and twenty disciples were gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the Lord had commanded them. They were now left alone in a hostile world. Their Master had been taken away from them and as they reflected on the recent happenings, anticipating the future, they surely needed to be endued with power from on high. It was during this crucial time that Peter turned to the Word of God.
He stood up in the midst of the gathered company, read the Scripture, and reminded them of their responsibility to carry it out. Judas had betrayed the Lord and another must be chosen to take his place (Psalm 109:8). This was no small task but one that required much prayer to ascertain the mind and will of God on the matter. God did make His mind known to them and Matthias was appointed to take part of the ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell.
Down through the centuries, problems have arisen in assemblies that are not easily solved. Like Peter, responsible leaders must get to the Word of God to see what is written regarding the issue. The Word of God is the highest court of appeal. How devastating it would have been had Peter chosen the one whom he thought most suitable, rather than being directed by God. At times it is difficult to know what to do but we are exhorted to wait upon the Lord and, “if any lack wisdom let him ask of God.” God will always reveal His mind and will to a sincere heart.
Peter standing to preach the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:14)
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon those gathered in the upper room and they received power to declare the wonderful works of God in the language or dialect of the people who gathered in Jerusalem at that time. Since those who proclaimed the message were from Galilee the people who heard were amazed how every man could hear the words in his own language.
In answer to this Peter stood up with the other eleven Apostles, being filled with the Spirit, and preached the greatest message heard in Jerusalem since the death of Christ. Throughout his message, he charged the nation with the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and the solemn consequences of their sin if they refused to repent and receive the offer of salvation. As a result, about three thousand souls were saved and baptized. They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and in prayer, forming the first New Testament assembly.
We can take direction from Peter as he declared the gospel. When we preach we must always give a balanced message with love and compassion for the perishing. Peter first reminded them of their sin and guilt when by wicked hands they crucified the Lord of Life and Glory, showing them their ruined condition in the sight of a Holy God. Then he declared the remedy for sin in the death, burial, and resurrection of this same Jesus; and finally their responsibility to repent of their sin and believe the message.
As we hasten to the end of this great dispensation may we remind our hearts of the urgent need to spread the gospel. The Lords mandate given on the mountain in Galilee is still valid. The One who has all power, sent His disciples to all nations, to teach them all things. His promise to all who go is, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the consummation of the age” (Matt 28:20).
Peter standing to declare obedience to God rather than men. (Acts 5:20)
As the preaching of the gospel spread, opposition arose from the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They sought to stamp out this new religion, throwing the apostles into prison and forbidding them to preach in His name. But the work was a Divine work and although human hands put them in prison, the Almighty Hand opened the door and led them forth. The angel that led them forth commanded them to stand again in the temple and speak forth the same words of life. This resulted in them being apprehended the second time and brought before the counsel. When questioned as to why they disobeyed and were again found in the temple preaching the same message, Peter stood up with holy boldness and declared that they must obey God rather than men. They were then beaten and let go, yet they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
What encouragement we derive from this noble stand by Peter and his fellow apostles. How like Daniels three friends who were enabled, against tremendous odds, to obey God rather than the commandment of the king (Dan 3). God delivered His own when they were prepared to leave their cause in His almighty hand. The God whom we serve today is the same God and He changes not. Thus we can with confidence, seek to obey His Word and walk in His precepts claiming the promise: “Them that honor Me I will honor.”
Peter standing for God on these three occasions should inspire us to take our stand, realizing that whatever we do for the Lord in this life will have lasting results in the one that is to come.