When the early church began, you can rest assured that Satan took notice. While these people had identified with Jesus, the question was quickly raised as to who would stand up for Jesus. The crowd was told that He was “Lord and Christ” (2:36). At that point, they were willing to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (vv. 38-39).
When Acts 2 ends, the church is in such good shape, for they were “praising God and having favor with all the people” (v. 47). The next chapter reveals Peter and John healing a lame man in the temple, for which they were seized by the Jewish authorities (4:1-3). The council deliberated when saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name” (Acts 4:16-17).
In this case Satan was a roaring lion, seeking to devour those who wouldn’t stand up for Jesus (cp. 1 Peter 5:8). Confessing Christ means stating your allegiance to Him. Christ said that this was necessary to being confessed before God (Matthew 10:32). Most of us only think of confession when we’re baptized, but confession of Jesus never ends.
The enemies of the cross are always around, trying to overthrow the faith of Christians who already waver at standing up for Jesus. We’ve had it pretty easy in the US. There’s not been many times in recent memory where Christians were put on the spot for what they believe. The spirit of ecumenicalism has taken over, lulling people into complacency, believing they can follow Jesus without having to do much denying of themselves.
However, the story is different in other parts of the world. Many Christians in other countries have risked everything to stand for the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders had undeniable evidence that Peter and John were from God when they healed the lame man, but they still attempted to silence them. Faithful men and women present the truth of God against Catholicism, denominationalism, institutionalism, etc., and they pay a tremendous price. Paul wanted Titus to “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority …” (2:15). The only sure way to gain heaven is by listening to God alone and not man (cp. 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Peter 4:11).
These strong willed saints remind me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who courageously told Nebuchadnezzar that they would not worship the image even when given a second chance by the foreign king (Daniel 3:16-18). Revelation 21:8 declares that “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” I sure don’t want to be among the “cowardly.”
The church needs believers who will stand up for Jesus; then others will have no power to intimidate those who have sworn allegiance to (Matthew 16:16) and are truly crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).