Summary: When we obey God by doing things such as loving an enemy, people will be amazed because it is not the logical thing to do. Obeying God is the Christian thing to do. When we obey God, we don't know what the result will be, but God will bless our obedience
Acts 5:27-42 is a story about obeying God regardless of the consequences imposed by mankind. Like Peter, we as Christians are to obey the Lord rather than man in situations where the two are in conflict. For example, when obeying our political leaders would cause us to do something that goes against God's Word, we are to obey God's Word instead of our political leaders. At all other times we are to obey our political leaders as commanded by the apostle Paul.
In this reading, Peter and the disciples have been arrested and brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin, or high court, on charges of preaching the Gospel in spite of being ordered not to. In their defence, Peter preaches the second of his two famous sermons as recorded in the Book of Acts, the first one being preached on the Day of Pentecost. It is in this second sermon that Peter teaches that we as Christians are to obey God instead of man in cases where the two are in conflict.
Was Peter's speech inspired by the Holy Spirit? We don't know for sure, but I believe that it was. Was Gamaliel's speech inspired by the Holy Spirit? Again, we don't know for sure, but I believe that God used Gamaliel to save the lives of the disciples. If they had been put to death, Christianity would also have died. Instead, Gamaliel fulfilled his part in God's plan by encouraging the members of the Sanhedrin to leave the disciples alone.
God first delivered the disciples from jail through supernatural means by sending an angel from heaven. Then God delivered them through natural means by causing an enemy of Christianity to argue for their release. This is passage is proof of the work of God's sovereign hand in history. He can even use the thoughts of those who oppose the gospel to preserve and protect His servants.
Gamaliel's advice was wise, both for us and the Sanhedrin. There are times when certain people and causes are obviously a contradiction to the Word of God that we know they are not of Him. There are times when they may be great truths wrapped up in new methods with which we are not familiar. Wait. If they are of God we can't stop them. If not, they will not succeed.
The disciples also obeyed God by continuing to teach and preach in spite of the warning from the Sanhedrin. The disciples knew that God wanted to fill the minds of the people with truth. That was the only way they could oppose the lies that Satan wanted to fill the people's minds with. We as Christians today also need to be filled with spiritual truth in order to counteract the lies that Satan and our sin-filled world want to fill our minds with. We get spiritual truth by attending weekly worship services, studying the Bible either by ourselves or as part of a small group, and by listening to sermons preached by people such as me or other preachers.
Here in Canada we are fortunate in that we can share our faith with others. In many other countries it is against the law to share our Christian faith. We as Christians have an allegiance to a higher authority-God. In the words of Dr. Charles Stanley, who is the President of In Touch Ministries and the man who compiled the study Bible that I use when I prepare sermons, when God tells us to do something such as sharing our faith with others, we have to "obey God and leave all the consequences to Him". We must expect persecution for doing God's work, but we must remember that if we are persecuted for obeying God, God might not stop the consequences from happening. He might not ease the consequences. The persecution we face might be part of God's plan for our lives.
Would we, like the disciples and the apostle Paul, rejoice if we suffered for the Lord? If we feel battered and bruised, we must remember that God sometimes delivers us through the battering and the bruising, not from through the battering and the bruising. We, like the disciples, must remain committed to obeying God, regardless of the cost.
When we obey God by doing things such as loving an enemy, people will be amazed because it is not the logical thing to do. Obeying God is the Christian thing to do. In contrast, obeying man is the worldly thing to do. When we obey God, we don't know what the result will be, but God will bless our obedience in some way.