Summary: It is sometimes difficult to obey God, but it is wise to do so and essential.
Obey God Rather Than Men Acts 5:29
INTRO.: Indonesian Christians Threatened by Muslim Extremists. (Attached news release)
What would we do if given the choice of being silent about our faith or going to prison? I fear many of us would be tempted to cave in to the pressure. We need to obey God rather than men.
I. It is difficult to obey God, but not impossible:
A. How difficult was it for these early Christians?
1. They lived and worshiped in a hostile society.
2. They had already been arrested and jailed overnight for preaching Christ. They had been warned not to do so any longer.
3. Now they are brought before the Sanhedrine and flogged even though they are only doing God’s will.
B. Thousands of martyrs have died rather than obey men who opposed God.
1. In chapter seven we see the story of the first of them.
2. James, the brother of John was killed. Acts 12:1, 2
3. In Rome, they were thrown to lions, killed in the arena, crucified. It is recorded Nero lighted his garden with the burning bodies of crucified Christians.
C. We are very fortunate here in the U. S.: we don’t endure persecution.
1. Furthermore, no one else does either. We bend over backwards to accommodate those of other beliefs. We forgo prayers, take down monuments, etc.
2. No nation on earth treats Christians as well as we treat Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.
3. This is as it ought to be. It is the Christian way.
4. But, we need to pray for Christians all over the world who are being mercilessly persecuted.
II. It’s wise to obey God. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Prov. 9:10
A. The example of Daniel and his three friends: Dan. 1:
1. Confronted with a hard choice, they chose to obey God rather than the king. V. 8
2. The choice was hard for two reasons: it opposed the rulers and the food and wine were probably fine.
3. They were vindicated in the short term and blessed richly in the long term. Their witness in Babylon was powerful.
B. God alone can give us what we really need:
1. God gives life, men can only take it away.
2. Only God has the wisdom to know what is best for us and those we love.
3. Only God can provide security in the times of trouble. II Tim. 1:12
4. When we come to a choice to obey God or men, the wise choice is to obey God.
III. It is essential to obey God rather than men: "We must obey God rather than men!"
A. What was behind this statement?
1. The apostles had been arrested and thrown in jail for the second time.
2. An angel freed them and told them to go to the temple and teach about Jesus and the resurrection. Acts 5:20
3. Now they are arrested again and the Jewish rulers are telling them not to do what God has ordered them to do.
4. They could have gone away quietly, but chose to take a stand for Christ that turned out to be very painful.
B. The result of it:
1. Rulers wanted to put them to death, but cooler heads prevailed and their lives were spared.
2. They were flogged. No easy ordeal. Deut. 25:1-3 Paul received this five times. II Cor. 11:24.
3. The apostles were not deterred in their preaching. 41, 42
C. The story of Joshua’s call to choose between God and others:
1. Joshua had led the children of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. Now he is ready to die.
2. He calls the Israelites together and issues a challenge to serve God. Josh. 24:14, 15
3. The people all agreed they would serve the Lord.
4. This challenge comes down to us today. "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,"
CONC.: READ Psalm 1. These blessings await those who obey God rather than men.
Indonesia: Local Christians Threatened by Muslim Extremists Christian Aid Mission
June 6. Religious News Service Tension between Muslims and Christians in parts of Indonesia has led to church closures, service cancellations and threats, according to reports received from native missionaries there. In one Muslim community, a local witch doctor and his apprentice (many Muslims in Indonesia blend traditional Islam with pre-Islamic animist beliefs) came to Christ one year ago. Since then, their local Christian church has received many threats from Muslim leaders in the area. In another area, a church has been getting bomb threats from a local Muslim group. The church had to change its meeting time from Sunday evening to Sunday morning after government officials, in response to growing unrest in the region, prohibited any church services after 8:00 PM. In light of these recent incidents, a native mission leader told Christian Aid that animosity against Christians is growing in what used to be a tolerant land. It was not until the 1990s that clashes began to break out between members of Indonesia’s Islamic majority and Christian minority. Throughout last year, a series of attacks on churches and their congregations increased the tension. Perhaps most devastating was a July attack on a church that resulted in the death of the pastor. Indonesian missionaries continue their work, even among some of the country’s most difficult Muslim groups.