It was victory time for the early church. It had just launched with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The apostles began to preach; others began to witness. The devil’s crowd was upset, especially the religious dominators of the day. Jesus was found guilty of being who he is—the Son of God. The Pharisees and Sadducees thought they had succeeded with the death of Jesus but he arose the third day.
Acts 5: 17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, 23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. 25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. 40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
The apostles were arrested and ordered not to speak in Jesus’ name. What did they do when they got out of prison? They went right back to preaching again. Then they’d get arrested again. An angel even opened the prison doors at night for their release. We’re threatened today but aren’t you glad for the but?
The devil works through society to suppress us, the Bible, Jesus and the gospel. He wants to eradicate Christianity. No matter the questions put before us, God has given the answer. It’s not unlawful to be a Christian. It’s the law of God to believe in Jesus. One day the world may consider you unlawful for being a Christian, but we have to obey God.
The disciples were repeat offenders. As a child of God we may be taken with offense. Don’t worry. Be faithful to the gospel of Christ. The world needs salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only way they’ll know is if we’re faithful to share Jesus with them. When I was under conviction I’d turn from one Christian only to run into another one. You can’t outrun God. The disciples were faithful and were jailed for it. The Sanhedrin wanted to nip this in the bud so they put them behind bars. When they were not released God sent an angel. He’ll take care of us. Just keeping doing what he says. They weren’t being spiteful; they were minding God. Even some priests in the temple were being saved. If God can save someone like Peter, James, John and old Bob Surber, he can save anyone.
The religious rulers wanted them to be quiet Christians. They thought their religion was the way. There is a true buffet of religion offered today. People choose what to believe like choosing a chicken or steak. The apostles didn’t pick a religion. Jesus picked them while they were fishing and said “follow me.” Matthew left his tax table at the invitation to follow Jesus. The world asks why we’re letting a belief rule our life. The apostles let them know it wasn’t a belief; it was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He suffered death on the cross and by repentance and trust in him there is eternal life. Anyone can be forgiven.
Never speak of your experience with God as a religion. It’s truth. A belief in a religion doesn’t dominate us. God does. This Bible is not a manmade book. This is not a cult house. It’s a kingdom. When we call on Jesus’ name he hears and answers. How he responds is up to him. He’s King, the true King. Peter said we ought to obey God rather than man. They would take a licking and keep on ticking.
When the world questions you, don’t make a speech. Be a child of God and uphold the Word of Life. God will stop the mouths of men. The Word made me stop my sarcasm and skepticism. It made me accept Jesus as Savior. We have to sow the Word. We may not know results of our sowing now. In the face of doubt and loss of hope remember God will open the clouds and we can make it.
Before the disciples died churches were established all over the known world. They stood their ground. The devil may confine us to a cell but God has lock-picking angels. He’ll bring us out. When he does, come out preaching and teaching the Lord Jesus Christ. Be faithful unto death.