When They Heard This

Many signs and wonders were regularly being done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. 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.

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.”

I always love reading this Scripture passage! It does my heart good!! For if God opens a door, no man (or woman) can close it, and if he closes a door, no man (or woman) can open it. For our God is still fully sovereign over all that he created. He is still the one in control. No devil nor demons nor any human nor any creature on this earth can thwart God’s will and purposes and plans for us. And if we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, well that is within his sovereign will, too.

But the other thing I love about this is that the apostles showed no fear. Even though they had been arrested and put in prison, when the angel of God spoke to them and told them to go stand in the temple and speak to the people the words of life, they did exactly what the angel told them to do, knowing full well that they might be arrested again or beaten or killed.

But when the religious rulers gathered together and they sent to the prison for the apostles, the officers did not find them in the prison, and this was reported to the council, which then had the council members perplexed. And then they were told that the apostles were standing in the temple teaching the people. Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Acts 5:27-32 ESV

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’”

And, of course, I love this, too! For the apostles were not threatened at all by their opponents’ threats. For they knew that God was in control of the situation. So, even though they were reminded that they had been instructed to not teach in the name of Jesus, they did it anyway. And so the apostles answered them, “We must obey God rather than men.” Amen! And then they went on to proclaim the gospel message.

The apostles told them that the man Jesus, who they had killed by hanging him on a tree, God had raised from the dead, and he exalted him as Lord and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. But they didn’t stop there, but they went on to tell of the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to all those who obey him. Amen! There you have it! Repentance and obedience are critical to both the true message of the gospel and to our salvation from sin and eternal life with God.

So, two things here. First, when God has called you, and he leads you to speak his words to the people, his instructions trump any orders from human beings. But let me say this here. It is best to do this in submission to the authorities if at all possible. And where that is not possible, sometimes the Lord leads us to just leave and to go someplace else where we can share the truth of the gospel. But in times of severe persecution, where we are not given permission anywhere to share the gospel, then the Lord may direct us to go against the authorities in order to get the truth out to the people, even if it means our arrests or persecution or even death.

Secondly, when sharing the gospel message, make certain that you are sharing the whole counsel of God and not a diluted feel-good message that promises people salvation from sin, all sins forgiven, and heaven as their eternal destiny without repentance and without obedience required. For if repentance and ongoing obedience to our Lord are not required, then it is not the true gospel of our salvation, but an attempt by humans to dilute the gospel to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh.

For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow him in obedience. For if we hold on to (save) our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our old lives for the sake of Jesus, i.e. if we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, then we have eternal life with God and the hope of heaven when we die, providing we continue in those walks of faith steadfast to the very end.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

I Pray for Them

An Original Work / June 4, 2013
Based off John 17

“Glorify Your Son, that Your Son
May glorify our God in heav’n.
Father, You granted Him all power
And all authority over men,
That He might give eternal life
To all those whom now
You have given Him.”

“This now then is eternal life:
That they may know You,
Father, and Your Son;
That they may know the only true God,
And Jesus Christ whom the Father sent.
I have brought You the glory by
Finishing the work that You’ve given Me.”

“I have shown You to those whom
You gave to Me out of the world;
They were Yours. You gave them to Me
And they have obeyed Your words
And they accepted them. They knew
That I came from You, and they believed
With certainty, I was sent.”

“Holy Father, I pray for them by the
Power of Your name: Protect them,
So that they may be one as we are,
For they are still living in this world.
I have given them Your word;
Because of Your word, the world
Has hated them.”

“I pray they may have the full measure of
My joy now living within them.
Father, I pray You sanctify them
By Your word; truly Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world,
I send them to tell the world to repent.”

2 thoughts on “When They Heard This

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