Book of Acts Chapter Five (Part Three)
Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that believers should be witnesses for Jesus everywhere we go. Today, we hope to finish our discussion of "purging from without."
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Read Acts 5:22-32
2. Purging from without (continued. 5:12-42). For a little while, in this part of the book of Acts, the authorities did not know where the Apostles were. They discovered that they were in the Temple teaching the people.
Carefully, the Apostles were brought to the authorities to explain why they ignored the instructions to keep quiet. Peter and the others talked about how they had to obey God rather than men. They talked about how God used the wickedness of the Jewish leaders as a part of His plan.
- Following the will of God. Notice in vs. 29 of this book of Acts that believers are to obey God rather than men. If we did not understand the context, we would walk away from this verse thinking that we are to ignore human authorities and simply follow after what we believe to be God's will for our lives.
We should be reminded that God has placed human authorities over us (see Rom. 13:1-5), and we are to obey them (see Heb. 13:17). Pastors, husbands, parents, political leaders, and others are often used by God to lead and care for His people.
However, there are times when human agents contradict the will of God. In which case, they are no longer agents of God, but they are agents of the devil. When they are contradicting the will of God, our task is to follow after the will of God, as we understand it, and be willing to bear the consequences of such actions.
To be clear, if a human authority is instructing you to do what you believe to be God's will then you should obey because God's word teaches us to obey those who have rule over us.
If a human authority is instructing you to do what is not contrary to God's will but it is different from what you are used to and different from what you prefer to do then you ought to obey them because God's word teaches us to obey those who have rule over us.
But when human authorities instruct us to do that which we believe to be contrary to God's will then we should seek and obey God's will, instead of following a human agent into sin. Let's seek the spiritual wisdom and courage to follow the will of God.
- Turning evil into good. Notice in vss. 30-32 that the evilness of the Jewish leaders was used as a part of God's plan of redemption. What was meant for evil by people was used for good by God. A great reason that we don't have to despair when people seem to be plotting and carrying out plots against us is that God is working all things out for the good of His people (see Rom. 8:28).
Let's encourage one another to trust God, no matter how bad things look to us. Personal prayerful study and obedience accompanied by supportive Christian fellowship and relationships will help us in this area.
- Having the Holy Spirit. Notice in vs. 32 of this book of Acts that the Apostles talk about having the Holy Spirit. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living in him or her (see I Cor. 6:9). The Holy Spirit is made most evident by our obeying the word of God.
Chief commandments of God include loving Him and loving others, as we love ourselves. If after shouting and speaking in tongues we don't love God enough to give and be a witness and don't love people enough to demonstrate kindness then our claim to have the Holy Spirit is very suspect. Let's live obedient lives like those who have the Holy Spirit.
Read Acts 5:33-42
2. Purging from without (continued. 5:12-42). The authorities were furious about the message and boldness of the Apostles and wanted to kill them. Gamaliel talked them into letting the men go, because if God is not with them then nothing will come of them.
But if God is with them then the Sanhedrin would be fighting against God. The Sanhedrin agreed, flogged the Apostles, told them to stop talking about Jesus, and let them go. The Apostles left rejoicing about being counted worthy to suffer for Christ. They kept on teaching about Jesus.
- Strengthening one another. Notice in vss. 33-34 of this book of Acts that there is a great benefit in having a calm spirited person around you. This is especially true, if you know that you are a "hot head" or impulsive.
A wise person tries to surround himself or herself with people who are strong in his or her area of weakness. However, having calm spirited people around us will not help us, if we don't listen to them. Let's work on helping one another with our strengths and being helped by the strengths of others.
This application will be very difficult to live by, if we are not in relationship with others. We must stop the devil from dividing us and keeping us out of fellowship with one another. We can do so much better together.
- Trusting God with grey and fuzzy matters. Notice in vss. 35-39 of this book of Acts the principle of "if God is not in it then it will fall, but if God is in it then one fights against God." It is so dangerous to mess with those who claim to be on assignment from God. On one hand, some of them are fakes and strive to take advantage of people.
But on the other hand, there are those through whom God does a new thing. And if we are not careful, we will fight against God's working through them without even knowing how the devil is using us. When we cannot show a contradiction of scripture, the best thing to do is to pray for God's will to be done and keep on obeying what God told you to do.
Sometimes our egos and strong affections for keeping things comfortably the way they are have us fighting against God. No one should have to tell you that fighting against God is a losing situation. Let's seek the spiritual maturity to trust God with the grey and fuzzy matters of life.
- Faith for floggings. Notice in vss. 40-41 of this book of Acts that the Apostles were rejoicing about being flogged for their association with Jesus. When I see how we complain about being overlooked, lied on, or in some other way mistreated, I am not certain that we are even in the neighborhood of the level of maturity that we see in this text.
As we mature, however, we will discover that the more we suffer for Christ then the more we will be blessed by Him. If we can make it through our "Good Fridays" with Him then we can experience some "Easter Sundays" with Him. Let's work on developing the faith to see the goodness of suffering for Christ and then enduring our suffering with such faith.
- Spreading the good news of Jesus. Notice in vs. 42 of this book of Acts that Jesus being the Christ is good news. Jesus' being the Christ or the "boss man of the world" is good news because He can be trusted to use His power for the benefit of those who submit to His lordship. We can trust Him to keep His word.
We can trust Him to work things out. These things cannot always be said of the leaders of this world. Some get power and misuse it. Some cannot be trusted to keep pre-election promises. And some don’t have the compassion or the power to turn our troubles into triumphs.
But thank God, Jesus can and does do all of this and so much more. This is good news. Let's make sure we are spreading the good news about Jesus.
Conclusion: Based on our studies in the book of Acts, let's work on being witnesses for Jesus everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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