June 2, 2013
INTRODUCTION – Review of Last week – the early church in Jerusalem walked in a very full measure of purity, signs, wonders, unity, healings to the point where multitudes of men and women were constantly being added to the church and people from surrounding cities were bringing the sick and demonized to be healed and delivered. Even those who were unwilling to bow the knee to Jesus and join this fast growing powerful church respected them from afar.
Transition: Whenever a church begins to walk and minister in the power of God, the enemy rises up in fear and jealousy, and interestingly enough – opposition and persecution often comes through religious not secular leaders.
As we finish chapter five today – we are going to read about two back to back arrests of the apostles by the religious authorities. I believe the Holy Spirit led Luke to record these accounts so we could learn some things about how God defends His church, and how His church must respond when opposition and persecution breaks out.
I. First Arrest & Angelic Rescue and Instructions – vs. 17-20
A. The Arrest – vs. 17,18 God could easily prevent these arrests, but He gets more glory from rescuing us out of them. When He steps in and intervenes, the church grows in boldness and courage. and God shows our enemies how feeble their efforts are
B. Sadduccees – sad you see because they did not believe in the resurrection – either Christ’s or theirs.
C. The motive of the High Priest and Sadducees = jealousy (consumed with) because their influence and control was quickly dissipating
D. Angelic Rescue – vs. 19 Angels routinely do what is impossible with humans
E. Angelic Instructions – vs. 20 The angel’s command was very clear and unequivocal: Implicit – ignore the threats of the officials. Explicit – get back to the temple and continue to proclaim and teach the whole message (not the seeker friendly parts only) of this kingdom life in Christ.
F. A word about angels: few truths of scripture are as skewed as this one in contemporary western culture. Oh we believe in angels. But we’ve given them an identity and job description, that the Bible knows nothing about. Listen to a few quick examples:
“I know I got angels watchin me from the other side.” Kanye West – recording artist, record producer, fashion designer
“I’m trying to shut up and let my angels speak to me and tell me what I’m supposed to do” the late Patrick Swayze “my angels”…??
“I like all the angels around because they protect me and my daughter. I mean, her dad’s an angel!” Courtney Love singer, songwriter, actress
The truth: 1. It was an angel of the Lord – not Peter’s angel or the angel of the apostles.
2. It’s purpose was to keep the apostles focused on their God given purpose and mission probably because we are so apt to lose sight of our mission. Last Sunday in our worship in song time, several of our long time, mature, respected people sensed unusual angelic presence and activity in our midst. I don’t doubt that a bit. But I want to make sure we all know their primary objective in dealing with us is to keep us on task and focused on our mission. The more we commit to fulfilling our mission, the more we will experience their ministry to us.
G. Response of the apostles – vs. 21a Sounds like they probably got to go home for a little bit of rest, but were back at the temple for duty in the early morning – obeying the instructions of the angel of the Lord. Why? Because it was an angel of the Lord – – which means it was as if the Lord Himself gave the command, which in reality He did – through His angel.
II. Second arrest of the apostles – vs. 21b-26
A. Prisoners sent for by H.P, San., & Council – vs. 21b
B. Discovery of officers – vs. 22
C. Discovery explained to council – vs. 23
Very interesting to note that when the angels took the apostles out of the prison – – all of its doors were securely locked and all of its guards were fully on call and alert – – but no one saw either the angels or the apostles leave. Vs. 19 tells us that the angel took them out the gates. So somehow they left through normal means, which would have obviously caused commotion and noise, but no one saw it or detected it. And there was no sign of any kind that they had left through normal physical means. Angels have the supernatural ability to defy the laws of physics, and to enable us to do the same when necessary.
D. Confusion/turmoil in the Council – vs. 24
E. Word re: the apostles whereabouts– vs. 25
F. The 2nd arrest – vs. 26
III. The High priest’s rebuke & their response – vs. 27-32
A. Brought back before the council – vs. 27
B. Rebuke of Apostles by High Priest – vs. 28
1. When they arrested the apostles the first time, which is recorded in Acts Chapter 4:17, they were very explicit or clear and stern re: their forbiddance of any more talk about Jesus to anyone.
2. To the contrary, in their own estimation – the apostles had literally filled every corner of Jerusalem life and society with their message of the crucified and risen Christ. In no way did this church keep things to itself.
3. And the worst thing about all of this is it was making them look bad because they are the ones who pushed Jesus’s execution.
C. Initial Response of Apostles & Peter – vs. 29 Who ya going to obey?
D. Message concerning Christ – vs. 30-31 8 signs or pieces of evidence that they indeed determined to obey the risen Christ and not these earthly authorities & that they were heeding the angel’s command to preach the whole message of this life”
– 1st sign – “The God of our fathers” (clear reference to abe, issac and Jacob)
– 2nd sign – “raised up Jesus” ! = in light of sadducees disbelief….
– 3rd sign that they obeyed God via angel – “Whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.” The Romans executed the plan; but the Jews devised and forced the plan to be executed.
– 4th sign – His deity and equality with God evidenced by being exalted to His right hand
– 5th sign – proclaiming Him first as a “Prince” = “a pioneer, one who leads the way, an originator” a Leader – – one who has a plan and an agenda – not just a way out of the mess we make of our lives – – one who therefore trumps any earthly leader
– 6th sign – Proclaiming Him as a Savior – which implies they are sinners in need of a Savior
– 7th sign – Part of His purpose is to help Israel repent, which implies they are on the wrong course and have made wrong decisions
– 8th sign – “and forgiveness of sins” – supporting the need for a Savior
E. Statement re: witnesses of the Christ – vs. 32 Significance of the word “witness” martyr? We saw these things; we were there;
“whom God has given to those who obey Him” in your face….
IV. Gamaliel’s Advice for the Council – vs. 33-39
A. Initial Vengeful Response of Council – vs. 33
B. Gamaliel’s stand – vs. 34
C. Gamaliel’s Advice – vs. 35-39 If it is of man – it will die. If it is of God – ain’t nothing man can do to it or about it.
V. Punishment and Response/Preaching – vs. 40-42
A. Flogging and Warning of the apostles – vs. 40
B. Departure and Response of the apostles – vs. 41 No one enjoys beatings; but there is a joy and an experience of the pleasure of Christ on us that nothing like persecution brings – – Jesus promised, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11,12
C. Apostles continue their proclamation of Jesus as the Christ, the anointed One – the long promised and prophesied Messiah – vs. 42