Title: Faithful, No Matter the Cost
Text: Acts 5:17-32
FCF: We often struggle remaining faithful to the Lord amid persecution.
Prop: Because God has all control and authority over His church, we must remain faithful.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Acts chapter 5. In a moment I’ll start reading in verse 17 from the NET which you can follow on page 1235 in the pew bible or in your preferred version.
Today we will begin a new narrative describing the challenges of the early church. We have seen that they faced challenges from fake Christians. People who said they were believers but were discovered to have selfish and lying intentions in their hearts. As a result of the Lord’s ability to see through to the thoughts and intents of the heart – the church continued to grow, now purified of those with fake faith, and the preaching of the Apostles continued in the temple courts. The church grew in popularity among the people of Jerusalem. And many more were coming to believe in Jesus and were received into the church.
But there is a loose end from a previous narrative that will come calling in this text. These apostles were commanded to not preach in the name of Jesus. And they have been doing exactly that.
Now we’ll see opposition to the church from the Jewish leaders. But what we might expect to be a terrifying experience threatening to crush the church, ends up being quite a comical application of Psalm 2 where God mocks those who oppose Him.
Please stand with me both out of respect for and to focus on the reading of God’s Word.
[Slide 2] I have been parenting now for about 9 years. Waverly is coming up on 9 this February. And let me tell you something, every day is a test of patience. Some days I do really well. Other days not so well. Our primary battle at this point seems to be follow through. We give commands, commands we expect to be obeyed. After a generous amount of time, we find that those commands have not been obeyed. Sometimes not even begun. When we ask for an explanation as to why they have not done what they have been told, there seems to always be something that distracted or deterred them from obedience. Isn’t that odd! It is never that they allowed themselves to be distracted or that they did not consider our commands a priority over and above their own desires. No. For some unforeseen and extenuating circumstances, they were not able to obey. Judging by your feedback and knowing my own heart I realize that this is not a defect of my children or even all children. This is, in fact, a defect of fallen mankind. We all have a propensity to allow things we desire or things we fear to keep us from obeying commands of those in authority over us. Today, we will see 12 men graced by God to overcome their own desires and fears to obey the Lord. To be faithful to Him. In this the Lord will prove something they believe about Him to be true which will be a great comfort to them as they obey no matter the cost. Let’s look at verse 17.
I.) God exercises sovereign control over the protection of His church, so we must remain faithful. (17-20)
a. [Slide 3] 17 – Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy
i. Again, we are reminded that the religious leadership of the Jews is securely held by a religious party who did not believe in any existence beyond the grave. They had great difficulty believing in the spiritual realm at all or in miracles in general.
ii. Coming out of the previous text, we can see that all these people bringing their sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits and they were being healed – this would have caused a good deal of tension among the Sadducees.
iii. As much as the gospels tend to show Jesus and His disciples opposed to the Pharisees – The book of Acts tends to show the Apostles opposed to the Sadducees.
iv. Indeed, it is implied in the book of Acts that a good number of Pharisees became believers in Jesus.
v. They may have struggled to apply the gospel to Gentiles, but there was an entire faction within Christianity that were of the Pharisee party in Acts 15.
vi. The Pharisee party was by far the most popular party among the people. Largely because of Jewish history in the intertestamental period. This faction rose to purify certain aspects of Greek influence and dominion from Judaism.
vii. But the Sadducees tended to look fondly on Greek culture and understanding. In fact, many of their doctrinal conclusions are based on Greek philosophy and culture.
viii. This party, led by the high priest was filled with jealousy.
ix. This word for jealousy can be understood in two ways.
1. We can understand it in that the Sadducees were jealous of the influence and the honor that is being afforded to the apostles and the church.
2. This word for jealousy could also mean zeal or religious fervor. Meaning they might not simply be angry because of the influence of the apostles but even with a desire to keep Judaism pure. For a group who believe that God has distanced Himself from the world and is not using any means to correct anything – what the apostles are preaching would directly contradict their theology.
x. In reality, it may actually be both. We know the Sadducees were already not the most popular party among the Jews. Now we have another perceived “party” or “sect” in Judaism rising up – which agrees far more with theology of the Pharisees than with them. This means that their influence and honor among the people could dip even further.
xi. So, in retaliation, and perhaps even in desperation…
b. [Slide 4] 18 - They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.
i. If you are thinking in your heads that this is starting to sound very similar to the narrative recorded for us in chapter 4… then you would be right.
ii. In fact, many more critical commentators would say that this is a retelling of the same event.
iii. However, there are some significant differences between the accounts in chapter 4 and chapter 5. We’ll bring those up as we come to them.
iv. Like the events of chapter 4, it seems that the apostles were thrown in jail to await their trial before the religious leadership.
1. Like in chapter 4, this may be because it was too late. The next event we will see in this narrative is during the night.
2. But Luke doesn’t overtly tell us when they were arrested. They could have sat in jail for the entire day before the events that follow.
v. Unlike the previous account, they are thrown into a public jail. Luke specifically calls this out.
1. In chapter 4 they were probably put in a temple jail since they were arrested by the temple guards.
2. Archeological evidence suggests that the Sanhedrin did have temporary holding cells for those who awaited trial. These cells were right on the temple mount close to where the Sanhedrin met.
3. But it seems that here Luke is indicating that they were placed in a state jail and not a religious one. Probably not on temple grounds. Why would they do this?
a. First, in chapter 4, there was only Peter and John to worry about. Here, it is clear, that this is all 12 apostles. That is a lot of people to incarcerate, even if they were crammed into one cell.
b. Second, in chapter 4, they could find no crime to charge the apostles with… but they did issue them a legally binding command.
i. The governing body of the Jews commanded them not to teach any more in the name of Jesus.
ii. They had violated this. What does that mean?
iii. It means that the apostles were held in contempt of the court. This is a crime. And since they were criminals, they could be held, even in state jails.
c. [Slide 5] Lastly, they did this no doubt to parade the apostles through the temple courts.
i. Most likely the place of their incarceration was in the Antonia Fortress on the Northwest corner of the temple mount.
ii. The way to access that fortress would have been to walk up a set of stairs (yes up from the temple mount) to get to the fortress.
iii. In other words, these apostles were paraded through the temple courts and upstairs on display for everyone to see.
iv. This was designed to be a public humiliation to them.
c. [Slide 6] 19 – But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and led them out,
i. If this was indeed the Antonia Fortress there was no way that the apostles had any hope to successfully escape on their own.
ii. We are told that this is an angel of the Lord. It is possible that this is THE angel of the Lord, meaning that Christ Himself led them out of the jail. However, there is no indication that this is so. In fact, if it was the risen Christ, why would Luke not specify that, as he does with Saul’s conversion in chapter 9.
iii. It is also possible that angel here means simply messenger. Meaning a human agent was sent to deliver the apostles safely out. However, given the dramatic irony of a spiritual being delivering the prisoners out of the hands of those who do not believe in spiritual beings…
iv. It makes much more sense that this was an angel sent to rescue and command the Apostles.
d. [Slide 7] 20 - And said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple courts and proclaim to the people all the words of this life.”
i. The angel commands them with the authority of God to go and continue doing what they had been doing prior to their arrest.
ii. To go back to the temple courts and preach to the people.
iii. This effectively authenticates the position they took in chapter 4. They must obey God rather than men. God through His messenger authorizes their disobedience to their authorities’ command.
iv. They are told to preach “all the words of this life.”
v. This is an odd expression, but not one that is so perplexing that we cannot guess its meaning.
vi. They are to preach of the author of life in whom all must believe to have life eternal. They must preach and bear witness of the resurrected Christ who gives power to His people to be and do what He has called them to be and do.
vii. The life they are to teach, is the New Covenant life.
e. [Slide 8] Summary of the Point: We see here the summation of the teaching in Psalm 2. We see Proverbs 21:1 and Proverbs 16:9 on full display. God exercises His divine sovereignty over and above the will of the governing authorities of Jerusalem. God still holds all control and all authority. Nothing can happen to His church without it being His will for it to have happened. This is no less true today. God supernaturally and sovereignly protects His church and ensures that the gospel message will continue to go forth.
[Slide 9 (blank)] So, with the understanding that God is the one who can sovereignly step in and protect His church, what is the response from the apostles? How do they react to God’s command being issued to go back and do exactly what they were arrested for?
II.) God demands continued obedience from His church despite the cost, we must remain faithful. (21-26)
a. [Slide 10] 21a –When they heard this, they entered the temple courts at daybreak and began teaching.
i. The apostles wasted no time.
ii. [Slide 11] It is possible that the angel led them out of the Antonia Fortress right onto the temple mount, but given the fact that they would have to enter the temple courts, it is much more likely that they were released out the front door of the prison to the North of the temple mount.
iii. No doubt the timing of this was in the early morning, perhaps very close to dawn.
iv. If they were released before dawn, why would they wait to enter until dawn?
v. The gates to the temple mount were unlocked just prior to the sacrifices at dawn. Until then, no one would be permitted on the temple mount. Levitical guards would have made sure of this.
vi. So, the apostles, at the earliest possible time, obeyed the Word of the Lord given through an angel of the Lord.
vii. At dawn, they began to preach and teach in the name of Jesus. Presumably in Solomon’s Portico.
b. [Slide 12] 21b – Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin – that is, the whole high council of the Israelites – and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought before them.
i. Did you know that God has a sense of humor?
ii. Without trivializing or looking at God sacrilegiously, this entire narrative is absolutely hysterical.
iii. The Sanhedrin would have no doubt arrived to the temple mount before dawn so they could prepare themselves for the events of the day.
iv. [Slide 13] Imagine the scene. As they are walking into their chambers (the red line) and the rest come to meet for the trial, the apostles are being led out the front door of the fortress (the yellow line).
v. [Slide 14] Here it is again from another angle.
vi. We’ve seen the cartoons where Jerry is trying to find Tom or Sylvester is trying to get to Tweedie bird, or the coyote the road runner. And they are only seconds behind them, but never able to find them.
vii. That is what is happening here!
viii. They send for the apostles so they can proceed with their trial.
ix. [Slide 15] The guards exit the chamber of hewn stone traveling west(red line)… in the opposite direction of where the apostles are headed, and arrive at the north western side of the temple mount, heading up the stairs into the Antonia Fortress, probably around the same time that the apostles enter into Solomon’s portico!
c. [Slide 16] 22-23 – But the officers who came for them did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
i. Can you imagine their dismay?
ii. The temple guards walk up to the cell they were placed in. The prison guards are still there.
iii. A quick conversation about taking the prisoners for their trial.
iv. A guard flippantly remarks about how quiet they’ve been and how they must still be asleep.
v. A guard opens the door and they walk in.
vi. So… where are they?
vii. You had 12 guys in here! Where did they go?
viii. I don’t know! We’ve been here all night!
ix. [Slide 17] And then to have to go back down the stairs, unable to see the gathering of people under the Portico of Solomon. They approach the chamber of hewn stone where the Sanhedrin meet and never see the apostles who no doubt were preaching at the very moment they entered the temple courts!
d. [Slide 18] 24 – Now when the commander of the temple guard and the chief priest heard this report, they were greatly puzzled concerning it, wondering what this could be.
i. No kidding, right?
ii. How can you put 12 grown men under lock and key with armed guards in a state prison, leave them overnight, and come back the next day with not one of them still there?
iii. Such a story stretches the imagination of what is possible by natural means.
iv. Even if the prison had a flaw that could have been exploited to allow for them to escape, it is very unlikely that the apostles would have discovered it in the short time they were there.
v. And no matter what that flaw would be, you would still have to get 12 men to exploit it without anyone seeing them.
vi. One wonders that if such a flaw existed, how it could have gone unnoticed by the authorities.
vii. The most believable version is what Luke has recorded. A miracle from the Lord. Supernatural intervention.
e. [Slide 19] 25 – But someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts and teaching the people!”
i. We are not told how much time elapses.
ii. It could have been only a few minutes or several hours.
iii. Eventually, someone reports to the Sanhedrin that the very men they were looking for, were only a few feet away on the temple mount, preaching to the people in the name of Jesus.
iv. HOW EMBARASING!
1. First it isn’t even them that discovers this! Someone from outside of the Sanhedrin has to clue them in.
2. Second, they are right under their noses. A mere 1000 feet or less from where the Sanhedrin sat.
3. Thirdly, they were doing exactly what they got arrested for the day before! The exact thing they were supposed to be on trial for, right at this very moment.
4. And last, but not least, do you remember how it was that the apostles were arrested and put in jail the day before? Was it not a public humiliation to march them to the fortress on the corner of the temple mount. And now… here they are preaching again.
v. The Sanhedrin, and especially the Sadducees and the high priest, looked like absolute fools in this whole debacle.
f. [Slide 20] 26 – Then the commander of the temple guard went with the officers and brought the apostles without the use of force (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people).
i. So, the Sanhedrin send the temple guard out with his officers to bring the apostles into the Chamber of hewn stone.
ii. We are told that these guards did not use force to do this. They feared the reaction of the people – because as we were told last week, the general opinion of the people of Jerusalem was, that these men were sent from God.
iii. Since no violence was used to bring the apostles to the court – we can reasonably assume that they came willingly. They did not themselves resist the authorities. Even though they are attempting to punish them for disobeying an unjust law.
g. [Slide 21] Summary of the Point: God expects continued obedience to His commands despite difficulties and setbacks. Most prisoners who escape from prison do not immediately go back to the place they committed their crime and continue to do the exact same thing. Most escapees attempt to flee and set up a new life somewhere else. Rather than fleeing Jerusalem – the apostles obeyed the Word of the Lord and preached the gospel in the temple courts. And we see God’s supernatural hand guiding them to do this right under the noses of those who arrested them in the first place. No matter the difficulties, no matter the abuse, no matter the injustice, we are not permitted by God to set aside His laws. Even if there is heavy cost, we must continue to obey the Lord in what He has given us to do.
[Slide 22 (blank)] So, in spite of the risk posed to the apostles, we find God making a mockery of those who oppose His church, while they continue to obey Him – even facing heavy penalty for doing so. But how will this be resolved? What is God’s endgame here? He wants His people to obey, but to what end?
III.) God expects His church to preach the gospel to all men despite the cost, so we must remain faithful. (27-32)
a. [Slide 23] 27-28 – When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!”
i. Here is their trial.
ii. The high priest questions them. His line of questioning is simple.
iii. We told you to do something and you disobeyed.
iv. The results are just as we feared, your teaching is spreading in Jerusalem and you are rousing the crowd to treat us like we have murdered a blasphemer.
v. The high priest is trying to scare them straight. No one in Jerusalem, except the zealots, want rebellion. Any kind of infighting, revolt or uprising would be quickly put down by the Roman authorities. Even if it was Jews fighting Jews.
vi. However, in this line of questioning the high priest tips his hand. He appears to be concerned about religious purity but in reality, he admits what his real fears are.
vii. They are losing the respect of the people. The people are starting to believe the apostles that the man named Jesus was murdered by the Sanhedrin. And the high priest accuses them of doing this on purpose. Specifically, to undermine their authority as righteous men of God.
b. [Slide 24] 29 – But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.
i. Peter wishes to clarify their position and answer every accusation.
ii. Although much of what the high priest says is true, it is without necessary nuance.
iii. First, what was commanded of the apostles before was an unjust command that they could not possibly obey. And they told them that they couldn’t obey it. Why? Because God commanded them something directly contradictory.
iv. So much so that God actually commanded them again through an angelic messenger. Peter doesn’t bring that up because more than half the council doesn’t believe in angels.
v. But the first element of the Apostles’ response is that they disobeyed only because they had to. Not because they desired to be contentious or to lead a revolution or to make the Sanhedrin look bad.
vi. Make no mistake there are two trials here. The Sanhedrin is on trial too.
vii. Peter invalidates the first charge, pointing out that they lacked the authority to create their ungodly law.
c. [Slide 25] 30 – The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging Him on a tree.
i. And while it is true that the apostles are teaching that the Sanhedrin did seize and kill Jesus by hanging him on a tree and treating Him as if He was cursed…
ii. God raised Him up. The same God we all share! The God of all our forefathers.
iii. Your God – Mr. High Priest – raised this man up.
iv. That should tell you that even though you are guilty of killing him, we do not wish to teach this to turn the public against you… but because it is true.
v. Peter even taught before that they did this in ignorance.
vi. In other words, Peter is teaching that they murdered Jesus but not to destroy the reputation of the council… but rather that the council may be saved through Christ.
d. [Slide 26] 31 – God exalted Him to His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
i. Not only did God raise up the one you killed, but He exalted Him to His right hand – a place of honor.
ii. In that place God has given Him a new position. He is leader. He is Lord. He is the Authority and He is the Founder of the New Covenant.
iii. He is firstborn among many brothers. He is above every Jew and Gentile.
iv. But not only that… He is the Savior.
v. He has made it possible for repentance and forgiveness to be gifted, granted to Israel.
vi. It is true that we are filling Jerusalem with this teaching. But we are not filling Jerusalem with harmful teaching to start a revolt or to dishonor this council. Instead, we are preaching a message of hope, love, repentance and forgiveness!
vii. Even for you!
viii. You might be guilty of Jesus’ murder. You may have His blood on your hands. But He stands ready to forgive you, even for murdering Him. And if He is able to forgive you for that, then He is able to forgive all your sin.
e. [Slide 27] 32 – And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
i. We have seen all this with our own eyes. We risk all this because we must – not because we want to raise an army and not because we want to have you punished for killing your own Messiah.
ii. We must tell what is true.
iii. To do otherwise would be to deny or blaspheme the Spirit of God who also testifies to these things.
iv. After all, He is the one whom God has given to all those you see who are obeying God.
v. You see, Mr. High Priest, you accuse us of having earthly concerns. Of attempting to vie for power here.
vi. But sir, we disobey, we preach the name of Jesus, because He is our only hope. He is the next step in true Judaism.
vii. We are not sectarians with earthly concerns. We are true Jews with a Divinely approved message. A message of good news.
viii. And it is good news that is available for you too!
ix. We don’t want vengeance for what you’ve done. We want you to be in Christ with us!
f. [Slide 28] Summary of the Point: God expects His church to preach the gospel to all men, even to our enemies. The high priest and the rest of the Sanhedrin had grave concerns about their own reputations and the political upheaval that could come as a result of preaching such things. But Peter explains that they do not have such shallow goals. The bid for kings and kingdoms of this world is far too trivial a matter for the apostles to concern themselves with. For the Prince, the Lord, the Savior, is now seated at the right hand of God and is offering repentance and forgiveness to Israel. There is a kingdom coming that is not of this world. And that Kingdom ought to be the primary goal of every single member of God’s true church. They must be busy about the business of proclaiming that that Kingdom has come. Even to those who stand in opposition.
So, CBC, as we conclude today, we must boil down what we’ve learned into one doctrinal takeaway. What have we learned and how shall we live?
[Slide 29] Our three points combine to give us a full understanding of how the church is to respond when it experiences opposition. God still expects His church to faithfully obey His commands and preach the gospel in spite of the opposition we may face and the cost it may demand from us. This sounds cold and heartless of God, and it would be unless God truly is in absolute control over all things. If God is indeed sovereign over, even the wills of men, as His church we can trust that whatever befalls us is part of His will for us. He is able to deliver us unscathed if He so chooses. This gives us confidence to remain faithful to His expectations and trust Him no matter what it may cost us to do so.
1.) [Slide 30] Mind Transformation: “What truth must we believe from this text?” or “What might we not naturally believe that we must believe because of what this text has said?” We must believe that God is sovereignly able to deliver His church from peril.
a. Although we can pendulum swing too far here, we must believe and confess that God is sovereignly able to undo all the plans of the wicked and deliver His people safely from their hands. Is 54:17.
b. This does not mean that God always will. God did not ultimately deliver 11 out of the 12 apostles from martyrdom.
c. But believing that God is able but not always willing to deliver us is a far cry from what we might naturally believe, that our God is distant, aloof, indifferent, or powerless against the wills of evil men.
d. Nothing could be further from the truth. God has placed us here as His servants and His lights to shine so that others may see Him.
e. He has given us a message of good news to give to the nations.
f. There are numerous examples throughout the New Testament of God rescuing His people from certain doom.
g. God is still the same today.
h. As our culture becomes more and more opposed to a biblical worldview and more and more antagonistic to the gospel of Christ, we have already and will no doubt continue to experience growing opposition on par with this example in Acts 5.
i. As that day approaches my friends, we must believe that our God can prevent any evil raised against us if He so chooses.
j. To the extent that we need not allow fear to dictate what we do. For God has our death day appointed. He knows when He will call us home. And that may not be this day.
k. To not trust and believe that God is able to powerfully snatch us, even from men, is to doom ourselves to a fearful existence.
l. But my friends – the scriptures show us that this is exactly who our God is. He defends His people. And if He doesn’t… it is not because He couldn’t… it is because He planned it that way. Ultimately to bring glory to Himself.
m. With the confidence in knowing that whatever happens to us, it is God’s plan, we can then boldly do all He has commanded, without fearing anything that men can do to us.
2.) [Slide 31] Refutation: “What lies must we cast down” or “What do we naturally believe, or have been taught to believe, that this passage shows is false?” We must not believe that we can disobey God to save ourselves.
a. Many times, I think we can convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter how we go about securing a good outcome, just so long as we do it.
b. The apostles no doubt could have fled after being released from the prison.
c. They could have resisted being arrested again.
d. They could have lied to the Sanhedrin.
e. They could have obeyed the Sanhedrin the first time and not preached in the name of Christ.
f. And they could have justified it in so many ways. Doesn’t Jesus want His gospel spread to the uttermost parts of the earth? Wouldn’t us escaping Jerusalem and fleeing somewhere else accomplish that end?
g. Maybe we can preach all the gospel and not mention Jesus’ name. Perhaps we can just call Him Christ or the Son of God.
h. My friends we can be tempted to believe that we can disobey the Lord to secure good and godly ends, but this is a lie.
i. When we disobey the Lord in order to obey the Lord, we still disobey the Lord. When we disobey the Lord in order to secure a good end, it is not ultimately for our good but to our detriment.
j. We betray our faulty understanding of our first application. We are not truly trusting that the outcome is securely in the hands of the Lord and that He can do miraculous things to deliver us if He so chooses.
k. If we truly believed that, then we would not be looking to our ends at all. We would only be looking at what God has commanded of us.
l. Therefore, we must naturally come to this next application.
3.) [Slide 32] Exhortation: “What actions should we take?” or “What is this passage specifically commanding us to do that we don’t naturally do or aren’t currently doing?” We must remain faithful to the Lord despite what it may cost us.
a. No matter what the outcome may be… no matter what the ends are… we must obey the Lord.
b. We must remain faithful and trust Him to either deliver us or to uphold us through the consequences of our obedience.
c. The apostles went right back to that temple mount the next morning at dawn. They had no intention of disobeying the Lord to save their own skin.
d. We can’t engineer the outcomes… but we can be faithful to the Lord right now.
e. My friends, we will face days where we may have to sacrifice a great deal to continue to confess Christ.
f. There are stories in Foxes book of martyrs, horrible stories of dear saints tortured, forced to watch their spouses being raped and their children flayed alive.
g. And they could have stopped all the pain and all the suffering were they only to deny that Christ is King.
h. In that moment we may be tempted to forget the first two applications. We may start to believe that God is NOT in control of the outcome. We may start to forget that securing the safety of our children does NOT permit us to disobey our Lord.
i. My friends, we must be ready to obey the Lord… even when it costs us everything.
j. After almost 250 years of safely confessing Christ without much cost… I fear that we are not yet ready for this level of opposition.
k. But we must begin to steel our hearts in His grace.
l. We must remain faithful to the Lord… even when everything we hold dear is being ripped from us.
m. We must do this knowing that God could stop it if He desired to. But if He does not, He will give us grace to endure. He expects us, simply, to remain faithful and preach the good news… even to those who are taking what we love from us.
n. Could you preach the gospel of grace to those who took the lives of your family?
o. Oh Lord… we need your grace.
4.) [Slide 33] De-Exhortation: “What actions should we stop doing” or “What behaviors do we naturally practice that this passage tells us to stop doing?” We must stop allowing fear of what may happen to us prevent us from remaining faithful to God’s commands.
a. I don’t know if it is because we are western in our mindsets… I don’t know if it is an American thing, a personality thing, or just a human thing…
b. But often times we get caught playing the “what if” game.
c. We overwhelm ourselves with all the what ifs.
d. What if they break into my home? What if they try to take my kids? What if they trace my cell number?
e. We must be very careful to not allow our playing of the “what if” game to turn into our planning to disobey God’s commands in order to avoid the what ifs.
f. If I never talk about Jesus, if I never pursue knowing Christ, if I never pray, if no one knows that I am a Christian because I never share the gospel with anyone… then I can insulate myself from their aggression when it comes.
g. But my friends the church went to Solomon’s Portico. 1000 feet from where the Sanhedrin told them NOT to speak in the name of Jesus.
h. And what did they do?
i. They spoke in the name of Jesus.
j. And even after they were arrested for it… they were released miraculously and went RIGHT BACK TO IT! And even when they stood with those who had the power to punish them severely… those who killed their Savior… they offered THEM the gospel!
k. They did not allow fear to keep them from obeying the Lord.
l. And neither should we.
m. We must trust God with what will be… and simply obey Him.
5.) [Slide 34 (end)] Comfort: “What comfort can we find here?” or “What peace does the Lord promise us in light of this passage of scripture?” God is sovereignly able to deliver His church from peril.
a. To do all of this we must circle all the way back to remind ourselves of the comforting thing we must believe.
b. If God wants to save us – there is nothing that can stop Him.
c. If God doesn’t desire to save us – then we are exactly where He has put us, and He won’t forsake us. He will give us grace to face even heavy costs.
d. This is great comfort and peace.
e. He doesn’t promise to always rescue us… but He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.
f. This is all the comfort we need to obey Him until our dying breath.
g. Indeed, for me to live is Christ… and to die is gain.
Let me close with a puritan prayer. Let’s pray.
Father, you are the God of our end.
You have given us a fixed disposition to go forth and spend our lives for you;
If it be your will let us proceed in it; if not, then revoke our intentions.
All we want in life is such circumstances as may best enable us to serve you in the world;
To this end we leave all our concerns in your hand, but let us not be discouraged, for this hinders our spiritual fervency;
Enable us to undertake some task for you, for this refreshes and animates our souls, so that we could endure all hardships and labours, and willingly suffer for your name.
But, O what a death it is to strive and labour, to be always in a hurry and yet do nothing!
Alas, time flies and we are of little use.
O that we could be a flame of fire in your service, always burning out in one continual blaze.
Fit us for singular usefulness in this world.
Fit us to exult in distresses of every kind if they but promote the advancement of your kingdom.
Fit us to quit all hopes of the world’s friendship, and give us a deeper sense of our sinfulness.
Fit us to accept as just desert from you any trial that may befall us.
Fit us to be totally resigned to the denial of pleasures we desire, and to be content to spend our time with you.
Fit us to pray with a sense of the joy of divine communion, to find all times happy seasons to our souls, to see our own nothingness, and wonder that we are allowed to serve you.
Fit us to enter the blessed world where no unclean thing is, and to know you… with us… always.
In Jesus name… Amen.