God’s Unstoppable Gospel (Acts 5:17-42)

Time and again, Bible-believing Christians are told that we are on the wrong side of history. The message is, ‘Society is changing. You need to keep up.’ And if we don’t, we deserve to be swept out of the way.

But the bigger issue for Christians is not whether we are on the wrong side of history, but whether we are on the wrong side of eternity. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement,” Hebrews 9:27. Our first question mustn’t be, “What will future generations think of us?” but “When that day of judgement comes, what will God think of us?”

Standing against opposition is hard. Doing what is right costs. If you are a follower of Jesus, be sure of this: You will be opposed. The world will hate you (John 15:18-19; 17:14; 1 John 3:13). But often opposition comes from where we least expect it: from the inside.

A newly elected young Tory MP, eagerly taking up a place on the benches and pointing to the benches opposite, said to Churchill, “So that’s the enemy”. Churchill supposedly replied, “No son, that’s the opposition”, and then pointed to the benches behind and said, “That is the enemy”. Sound familiar?

Here in Acts 5, the opposition comes from the religious people. R.C. Sproul reminds us of this lesson from church history teaches: the greatest opponents of the Gospel are the clergy. Secularists could care less! “That is why we cannot assume that just because someone is an ordained minister or elder his is committed to the truth of the gospel. Here in Acts we see a record of the conflict between the genuine and the counterfeit.”

The message spreading from Jerusalem into Judea, as Jesus promised (v16; cf. Acts 1:8). And the opposition comes, not from the Romans, but from the religious leaders.

The simple fact is, as Kevin De Young comments, “The Gospel hurt the leaders’ privilege, power, and pride.” So they retaliated.

So, the first thing we need to recognise is that opposition comes in many forms, but it often comes from inside. Paul warned the elders at Ephesus:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:28-32).

So, what must we do when we are opposed because of the message of repentance and forgiveness in Jesus?

  1. Follow if God Intervenes (v17-24)
  2. Receive God’s Help (v25-32)
  3. Suffer for Jesus’ Name (v33-42)

Sunday 26th August 2018

Review questions:

  • What does opposition often come from (Acts 20:30)?
  • Why did the High Priest oppose the Apostles (v17)?
  • Does God always save? Yes/No
  • Why were the Captain and the officers afraid (v26)?
  • What had the leaders done to stop the message (v28)?
  • Did it work (v28)? Yes/No
  • When can Christians disobey rulers (v29)?
  • What does Jesus give (v31-32)?
  • What will always succeed (v39)?
  • Why rejoice (v41)?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • How I should live:
  • Something to pray about:
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