Summary: Looks at how the Apostles so lived that when they were accused of being Christians and preaching Christ, there was enough evidence to convict them
“I Wanna Be Guilty!”
: Acts 8:1-6, 4:19-20. 5:27-29
David P. Nolte
It’s a human tendency to defend our innocence when we are accused even if we are guilty. We may even attempt defending the actions we cannot deny. We may rationalize, minimize, justify or even lie about our actions. We may try to shift the blame.
There is, however, an area of life where, when accused by the world, we should boldly and confidently prove our guilt.
The question has been asked, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” That’s one accusation to which we should be happy to reply, “Guilty as charged!” But even then, it should be a life, not lip confession; it should be walk not talk evidence; it should be genuine not gilded proof.
The song by The Newsboys, and sung by the Boyer Bunch, said,
“If serving you’s against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I’ll stand right before the jury.”
Consider the boldness of the early followers of Jesus Christ. We read that when Stephen was stoned for preaching Jesus, “on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.” Acts 8:1-6 (NASB). Being scattered furthered the cause as scattering seed increases the harvest.
And when they were warned not to talk about Jesus, “Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:19-20 (NASB). So they kept preaching, and the high priest said, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:27-29 (NASB).
To be found guilty when accused of being for Jesus we need to present the evidence Just as the disciples and apostles did. What enabled them to live lives that convicted them? THEY PUT GOD FIRST AND THEY HAD
I. AWARENESS OF ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY:
A. When ordered to shut up, “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
1. Now, ordinarily we are commanded to obey the laws of the land:
a. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. .... Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:1-2 and 5 (NASB).
b. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:13-15 (NASB). That’s true, like it or not!
2. But is equally clear that when man’s laws contradict God’s Law then the former must yield to the latter.
3. There are levels of law, and higher laws always override lesser laws. For example, the law of gravity holds a plane to the ground until the higher law of aerodynamics lifts it 10 miles into the sky.
4. The apostles knew God is King; God rules; God is in charge; GOD IS BOSS!
B. The people of the world try to ignore the authority of God and want to be a law unto themselves:
1. As in the days of the Judges, “everyone does what is right in their own eyes.” But, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25 (NASB).
2. Some say, “I’ll choose my own path,” but Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB).