Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rejoicing in Bad Circumstances

Acts 5

Authority from Jesus

Power from the Holy Spirit

Stewardship from fellowship

Holiness from fear

Continuing Power in the Church

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.

[Following the judgment of the deceivers, you see the continuing rear and reverence of the people. The apostles have their own area of the temple courtyard, on Solomon's porch, and no one else will go stand beside them because of fear. But the people hold them in high esteem because they see the effect of the Holy Spirit on their lives.]

14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

[Through the power of the Holy Spirit the conversions continue such that Luke quits trying to count them. He just refers to increasing multitudes, to give you an idea of the growth of the church. All the sick and demon possessed brought to the apostles are healed. The fame of their healing powers is so great that we even see some superstition creep in with people thinking that just Peter's shadow touching them, could make them whole.]

Imprisoned Apostles Freed

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

[As always the apostles use the fame of healing as an opportunity to preach Jesus. Again the Sadducees with the high priest resist the gospel of Jesus, this time the apostles are arrested and jailed.]


19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."

[God delivers them from prison, by and angel of the Lord. They are NOT delivered for their own comfort or convenience but for God's purpose "Go…and speak…the word of…life". I wonder if any of them asked "didn't we just get arrested doing that"?]

21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 saying, "Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!" 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. 25 So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"

[Does anyone else find this funny? The council is assembled to judge, but they have no accused. The prison was sealed and guarded but they found no prisoners. The people needed to hear the words of life, so God provided a preacher.]

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"

[The humor continues as the priests assume men who cannot be stopped by prison walls, would be stopped by their command. You see the fear of God growing in their hearts. Before they were more concerned with losing their position of privilege, now they are more worried about being judged guilty themselves.]

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

[Peter's words may sound harsh, but as Bro. Haley was teaching last week, no one gets saved unless they repent. Sometimes people have to confront their guilt before God. As the Holy Spirit convicts, people can repent, then new life begins with spiritual rebirth, this has to come from God. No repentance, no forgiveness. Baptism shows our rebirth, but also our death to the bondage of sin. Some people make professions of faith when they have no intention to do battle with the old temptations of our sin nature. These people are not born of the spirit.]

Gamaliel's Advice

33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. 34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God."
40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

[Again the irony of words and actions are incredible. Gamaliel says if these guys are from God, you don't want to oppose God. So all they do is beat them, threaten them, and then let them go. No I'm sure God won't take offense to his the priests beating his apostles.]

41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His[d] name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

[Who can rejoice after arrest, jail, release, arrest, trial, beating, threatening, and release again? This is a different attitude. When nothing matters so much as Jesus, you can rejoice in any circumstance, as long as God is glorified. Today the apostles were confirmed as ambassadors for Christ the King, opposed by the same men who opposed Jesus.]

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