Many signs and wonders were being done by the apostles. More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. And many people were being healed of their sicknesses and their afflictions.
Acts 5:17-18 ESV
“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.”
When we follow the Lord Jesus with our lives, and we are doing what he has called us to do, and we are no longer living according to the flesh, but we are now walking (living, conducting our lives) in agreement with the Spirit, there will be people who be jealous or resentful of us, or who will be offended or annoyed by us, even among professing Christians.
Most of them will not have the authority to arrest us and to put us in jail, but some of them will. But for now, it is not against the law in America to follow Jesus Christ with our lives or to be involved in healing ministries or to share the gospel of our salvation from sin, but it is coming.
But what is already here, and has been for some time, is persecution against us at the hands of church leaders (pastors, elders, and small group leaders). And much of this is being taught to them in their training sessions for how to market their “churches” to the world, and in how to target certain people groups they desire, and in how to discard others they don’t want.
But some of it comes from pride, envy, jealousy, competitive spirits, wrong attitudes about certain people groups, too strong of an influence from culture and the world, and from pastors and elders who are living in sin and thus they don’t want anyone talking about sin or repentance, etc.
Many of these church leaders are more concerned with looking good to the world than they are with the salvation of human souls. They are more concerned with attracting the world to their gatherings than they are with nurturing and discipling their own people to maturity in Christ.
Some church leaders are more concerned with image than they are with the truth. They are more concerned with numbers than they care that they are hurting the body of Christ. They will step on certain people to get where they want to go and they will dilute the gospel, too, to attract the world to their “churches.”
So, in a sense, they imprison those who don’t fit in with their marketing schemes and with the image they want to present to the world. They bind them and they keep them from ministry opportunities, or they cast them aside or ask them to leave, or they trump up false charges against them.
Acts 5:19-21 ESV
“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.’ And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.”
God is not intimidated by those who shut doors in people’s faces nor is he limited by their ideas of what church should look like. Where men close doors in our faces God is quite able to open other doors for us. Where they imprison us with their wrong thinking, the Lord sets us free to do his will for our lives.
I’ve had many pastors over my lifetime who denied me ministry opportunities based upon their false ideas about things, who slammed doors in my face, or who invited me to leave and to go someplace else where I would be a better fit. And I was not out of line, but I was in full submission. I would not submit to sin, though. I would not lie when they told me to.
At one church they complained that I came across as though I had it all together. Then we moved, and at the next church they complained that I came across as though I didn’t have it all together. And at the next they didn’t want to hear from me because they said I was “not one of them.”
At another they accused me of being autocratic because I kindly and gently tried to help a friend who asked for my help. At that time, I was drowning myself and in need of being rescued, and all they did was just push me down further until I felt without hope. They would not listen, and they just shut me out. They had no idea the damage they were doing to me.
But God lifted me up out of that despair and he put me on solid footing again, praise his holy name!
I’ve been told I had to tell a lie as a prerequisite to a required meeting with the elders, and when I refused to lie they put me on church discipline. At another I gave some wise and biblical counsel to women in my Bible study group and I was banned from the church premises.
And there is much more I could say but I won’t. Suffice it to say the Lord allowed me to go through all those situations and many more to prepare me for the ministry he had for me. I learned much through those situations, and they made me stronger in my faith and in my witness for Jesus Christ.
So, door after door kept slamming in my face as they tried to tie me down and lock me up or throw me away and discard me as though I was worthless, as though I was a nothing or a bother which they were all too happy to get rid of.
But God had a plan for my life. So, he released me from that prison, and he sent me to the internet, instead, and he told me essentially the same thing he told his apostles. He told me to speak to the people all the words of this life, i.e. the whole counsel of God.
He spoke to me through Habakkuk 2:2-3, and he basically told me to write down what he teaches me each day from his word, and to make it plain on my computer, and to give it to the internet to run with it wherever the Lord wanted it to go. And so, I have been doing that full time for fourteen years.
Thus, the message here is that we should not let other humans keep us from obeying the Lord. We need to submit to those in authority over us, but not to the point of sinning against God. And, then we need to entrust our lives to the Lord and trust him to work all things out according to his plan.
I waited patiently for the Lord, and he brought this about. I did not pursue this ministry. I would not have ever even thought of it. This is what he had planned for me from even before the creation of the world. He is the one who opened those prison doors and released me and sent me to the internet so that I could share the whole counsel of God with all who will listen.
All glory, honor, and praise belong to God! Great things He has done!
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
*Caution: This link may contain ads