Summary: The church is called to stand for the truth.
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 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. (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.”
The fear that came upon the people as a result of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (v.11) did not reduce the evangelistic effectiveness of the church. The apostles continued to minister in miraculous ways (v. 12) and reap an evangelistic harvest of souls. The fear that resulted from the death of Ananias and Sapphira caused the unbelievers to be unwilling to pass themselves off as believers. The church did not lower it standards in order to win the lost and the church’s growth did not slow down.
John McArthur states well the church current situation, “That stands in sharp contrast to the masses of uncommitted, even unsaved, people that feel comfortable in the church today. The failure of churches to preach holy living, and to discipline those who don’t live that way, allows sinners and hypocrites to remain in the church, convoluting its direction, sapping its power, robbing it of purity and marring its testimony.” (John McArthur. The McArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12 ( Moody Press: Chicago, 1994).p. 162.
The message of Jesus Christ is spreading rapidly in Jerusalem as spirit-empowered witnesses shared the good news with the lost. No one could deny the power that they saw at work through the church. But not everyone was happy with the success of the church. The age-old conflict of living truth versus dead tradition brought a fresh confrontation with the religious establishment.
The blessings of verses 12-14 are accompanied by a fresh wave of persecution. We are now introduced to a third attempt to stifle the preaching of the gospel. Satan’s previous attempt to work within the church failed, so now he stirred up the Sanhedrin again.
I. THE DANGER OF THE TRUTH 5:17-28
A. THE TRUTH IS SEEN AS A DANGER BY
THOSE WHO STAND AGAINST IT.
“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.
The Sanhedrin was in fact a coalition composed of those who are Sadducees and those who were Pharisees. The Sadducees were the theological liberals who did not believe in the supernatural – things like the resurrection from the dead and the existence of angels. The Pharisees were the theological conservatives, the orthodox who believed in resurrection, angels and the supernatural in general. The chief priest were all of the Sadducee party.
Once again the high priest and his associates are upset. In fact they were very upset. The word translated “indignation” is the Greek word zeloo and can mean “zeal or eagerness” in a good sense or it can mean the worse kind of jealousy as it is here. Today’s text will show that the high priest and his associates were enraged with the apostles for several reasons. First, the apostle’s denied their doctrine. Their preaching on the resurrection of Jesus was in direct conflict with the Sadducees teaching that denied everything supernatural. Secondly, the apostle defied their authority. They had given the apostle strict instruction to cease all preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. That the apostle continued to do so was a slap in the face to their authority. Third, the apostles denounced their spirituality. By holding them responsible for the death of Jesus they found them guilty of sin and in need of repentance. Finally, the apostles were a danger to their domination of the people. The high priest and his associates, the Sadducees were filled with jealousy as they observed the growing popularity and success of the apostles. As they watched the crowds coming to hear the apostles preach and see them working miracles grew larger. They witnessed how the people held the apostles in high honor, and at the same time felt their own influence shrinking. Something had to be done!!!
B. THE TRUTH CANNOT BE STOPPED
Satan’s opposition backfired, rather than stopping the truth it provided an opportunity for God to display his power.