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Speaking to Power and Authority By Ed McDowell

Will you speak with power and authority?

Peter and John find themselves speaking to the religious authorities about Jesus Christ.

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:12, NLT

The setting of this verse is that Peter and John have healed a crippled man. They have made it clear that the ability to heal this man came from Jesus Christ. They invite others to follow Jesus, the only one who can give us a resurrected life (new life now, life after death later) with God forever.


At this time, religious authorities had the power to jail people. Their authority was an interesting mix of religious practice, the keeping and making of law, and the enforcement of a social framework for living.

In our context today, this would be the intersection of religion, politics, law enforcement, and the legal process.

The religious leaders were very concerned about the teachings of Peter and John, as thousands of people responded favorably to their teachings about Jesus Christ:

“These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:2-3, NLT

This issue caused a council meeting. The council questioned Peter and John by whose power, name, or authority they taught and healed people. Listen to the response:

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:8-12, NLT


As followers of Jesus Christ, it is possible that the “powers that be” will question our faith. How will we respond when we are allowed to speak to power?

Let’s respond filled with the Holy Spirit. Avoid responding in our cleverness or wit.

When challenged with statements like “Who gave you the right?” or “Who do you think you are to speak to this?” Our response is simple: Jesus Christ allows us to invite people to love and follow Him. Through Jesus Christ, we speak words of truth filled with love, forgiveness, grace, and conviction.

We are to point people to Jesus.

While all of these other issues of culture, religion, politics, and law are raging, let’s be full of the Holy Spirit, lift Jesus, and invite people into a relationship with Him.


Dear Jesus,

May we be filled with the Holy Spirit when asked to speak to power? May we point people to You and invite them to follow You.

May we resist the pressure to conform to the ever-changing norms of religious, social, and political culture.

Holy Spirit, don’t let us get confused under pressure. Keep our hearts, minds, and words clear. Give us courage and encouragement.

Father God, may we do it with Your love and compassion anytime we speak to power.

Help us grow in holding conviction about what is true and compassion for people as they consider Jesus Christ.

In Your name, Jesus, we pray,



Ed McDowell is the CEO of Warm Beach Camp Ministries. He also coaches and consults in board leadership and development to bring fresh perspectives to perplexing situations. Ed authorizes a devotional series titled A Well-Planted Faith in an Uprooted Culture. His writing and speaking aim to challenge people to have God’s Word inform how they live. Ed and his wife, Bev, live on Camano Island, Washington, where they live out their mission statement: “To give our lives away for the cause of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible.”

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