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.