What Will It Take to Stop US from Preaching the Gospel Today?
March 27, 2022
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
A. Happy Mother’s Day!
1. Daughter: Mum, what’s it like to have the greatest daughter in the world?
2. Mum: I don’t know dear, you’d have to ask Grandma.
3. Definition of Jumper/Sweater – something you wear when your mother gets cold.
4. Nine Things Moms NEVER Say
a. “How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?”
b. “Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too.”
c. “Just leave all the lights on … it makes the house look more cheery.”
d. “Stop right there young man… Let me smell that shirt — Yeah, it’s good for another week.”
e. “That’s an ugly stray dog you found there honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day for you.”
f. “Well, if Rahul’s mamma says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”
g. “Your curfew is just a general time to try and be back by. Your father and I trust you!”
h. “I don’t have a tissue with me… just use your sleeve.”
i. “Don’t bother wearing a coat – the wind-chill is bound to improve.”
B. To all the Moms gathered with us today, we salute you! And we honour you! And we love you! And we have a gift for you! For every Mom in the audience!
II. Background (Acts 5:17,18)
A. The Religious teachers of the day were furious at Christians – at people who were following Jesus, instead of them
B. Christians were getting in trouble for speaking the words of the Bible
1. Not for murder, thievery, or physical abuse
2. But for teaching what the Bible says about life, about sin, heaven, hell, about what Jesus did and said
3. By the way, you will never get in trouble or get people upset by just being nice to people, and telling them about the love of God
4. But you WILL get in trouble for saying…
a. “Religion cannot save anybody”
b. And “that all of us have sinned before God and will never deserve a place in heaven”
c. And “that good people will go to hell”
d. And “that only Jesus saves”
e. And “He only saves those that repent and believe Him with ALL their heart”
5. So, These Christians were Upsetting things in the world
C. The religious leaders had tried intimidation and fear tactics against the Christians
D. They now were turning up the heat
1. They were attempting to STOP Christianity from affecting society and the culture around it
2. which is exactly what Christianity is supposed to do
E. The question is… What will it take to stop them?
F. And, What will it take to stop US?
A. This World’s Reaction to the Gospel (Acts 5:17,18)
1. Acts 5:17,18 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
2. Furious! The religious leaders were Furious – Not just differing in opinion… Not just rejecting the Gospel… but having a demonic and dark anger towards the name of Jesus!
3. So they imprisoned the leaders of the church in Jerusalem – the apostles
5. (Again) They wanted to stop the Gospel from being preached and believed
6. They wanted NO more people getting saved from the coming judgment on our sin
a. Started with 120 in Acts 1 – that was okay; only a small group – no significance
b. Then 3,000 got saved on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 – okay – still not so many
c. Then 5,000 in Acts 4 – that makes for over 8,000 born again Bible believing Christians moving around, and living in Jerusalem
d. And now multitudes – couldn’t number and keep track of how many now (Acts 5:14) And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.
7. They decided that it all HAD to stop! And they were going to make sure it did stop!
B. But God Had Other Plans (Acts 5:19-25)
1. A Miraculous Release (Acts 5:19)
a. Acts 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, …
b. By the angel of the Lord – one angel pushed open the locked and bolted prison doors
1) Men had pushed them into prison
2) An angel pushed them back into their ministry
c. They were Released/Freed for a purpose!
1) Go, Stand, and SPEAK about Christ
2) Keep doing what you were doing before the Pharisees arrested you
3) Souls need to HEAR the Gospel, about what Jesus said, and that Jesus is ALIVE
d. So, where did the apostles go?
2. Back into The Ministry (Acts 5:20,21)
a. Acts 5:20,21 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught…
b. Right back into the Jewish Temple – a very public place, a very dangerous place for Christians to gather – in the heart of Judaism – like going into St Peter’s Basilica
c. They started teaching the Gospel EARLY in the morning
d. What were they saying/teaching?
1) They passionately taught all those religious people that they need to be born again
2) That said, good people are still sinners, and need salvation
3) They preached about the perfect LIFE of Jesus!
3. This miracle ENCOURAGED these “ignorant and unlearned” Christians to keep going on
4. An Empty Jail Cell Says a Lot (Acts 5:21-25)
a. Acts 5:21-24 …But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
b. The Sanhedrin gathered early the next morning to pass judgment against these “traitors” – these religious nuts, fundamentalists
c. But no one could find the prisoners – the jail cell was empty!
d. Just like the empty tomb! Hallelujah!
e. Where is all this leading?
1) It was against the Religious powers and systems of the day
2) It was all about Jesus
3) And people were leaving RELIGION by the thousands, to follow Jesus
f. The Sanhedrin realised they HAD to get control of this, or all of Jerusalem was going to be swayed, turned completely away from Judaism TO JESUS
g. Then discovered the apostles had NOT run away (like everyone else would have)
h. But that they were right back out in the Temple teaching about Jesus
i. Acts 5:25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
C. A More Restrained Fury (Acts 5:26-28)
1. Acts 5:26-28 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
2. The court was humiliated
3. There was now a Bit of Respect for the Christians
a. Came to the apostles who were publicly teaching the Bible, and ASKED them to come to court – no forcing or violence
b. Not because they respected Christians, but because they feared the people
c. But at least it was a little more respectful
4. But the apostles were still in trouble
a. Standing before the Sanhedrin Court again
b. They still were Fierce, authoritarians – very intimidating
c. The Sanhedrin made criminal accusations against the apostles and Christians…
1) “We clearly commanded you to NOT speak or teach using Jesus’ words or name”
2) “You have filled this city (100,000 people) with your doctrine!”
3) “You intend to make US guilty of murdering the Messiah, as if he was innocent”
D. The Christian’s Reply – Resolve (Acts 5:29-32) These Are Words Worth Memorising!
1. “ALL TRUE” – we are guilty as charged!
2. We ought to Obey God, rather than men!
a. Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
b. We have made up our minds already - There is no debate
c. We are unified – it is a WE (all of us Christ-followers)
d. It is our life’s passion to OBEY God
e. Just like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (you should go and read Daniel 3)
3. The Doctrine/Belief we preach is simple…
4. The Jesus you killed… is LORD!
a. Acts 5:30,31 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
b. The resurrection of the man you murdered! God raised Jesus again from the dead
c. You murdered an innocent Man
d. God exalted Jesus and honoured Him as PRINCE (Messiah) and Saviour
e. God is offering everyone the opportunity to repent (including you)
f. And offering forgiveness – the greatest gift of all
g. All BECAUSE of what happened to Jesus on that cross
5. We Stand as God’s Witnesses that ALL we are saying is True
a. Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
b. And the Holy Ghost proves what we say is true
1) By the miracle of languages in Acts chapter 2
2) By the constant miracles of healing that were happening all through Jerusalem
3) By even our miraculous release last night from prison!
c. Just know this… the Holy Ghost is only given to people who obey Jesus Christ – He and all His gifts are the result of believing He is Lord!
d. Without the Holy Spirit, people only have a dead religion, with dead works!
E. The Effect on the Court (Acts 5:33-40)
1. Acts 5:33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
2. Their words CUT those lawyers deep into their hearts – their words hurt them
3. Caused them to only grow more angry
a. Normally, it is the court that has an effect on criminals
b. But these “criminals” had a massive effect on that Court!
c. The Pharisees now tried to find a way to KILL these preachers (personal vendetta)
4. The word of God always works
a. Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
b. It is up to the HEARER how it works
1) Gospel preaching will either cut and HURT you deeply…
2) Or it will cut to the heart, and then HEAL you deeply
3) It is up to you!
4) Most people just get upset, and miss the chance to be saved!
5. Gamaliel speaks up (Acts 5:34-40)
a. Acts 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
b. Gamaliel was:
1) A wise man – a very well-educated teacher of the Laws of God in the OT
2) This is the same guy that taught Saul of Tarsus the Law of God
3) He remembers what the court had done to Jesus just 2 months earlier
4) Now is a little more thoughtful about what was happening
c. Gamaliel reminds everyone on those judgment chairs… (Acts 5:35-39)
1) Acts 5:35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
2) Acts 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
3) Acts 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
4) Acts 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
5) Acts 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
6) There are always problem-makers, nutcases and fringe-guys who cause trouble…
a) “Be careful what we decide to do against these men”
b) “Remember Theudas?” “And Judas of Galilee?”
c) They stirred up people, and then faded into history
7) So, Let these Christians alone!
a) Let them speak – give them the right of freedom of speech!
b) And let others answer them – head to head
c) THAT is how truth gets exposed – not by censorship, but by it being able to stand up to disagreement
d) THAT used to be the normal way people learned things – not the Fakebook way!
d. In summary, Gamaliel believes God is in control, and that they could be fighting against God if they harm these men!
e. And to him they agreed – it made good sense (Acts 5:40) And to him they agreed:…
F. Final Warning (Acts 5:40)
1. Acts 5:40 … and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
2. The Religious leaders… BEAT the Apostles
a. Physically battered them with long wooden rods for 39 times across their backs - HURT
b. Why? Because they had violated the new law against preaching!
c. Then reminded them it was illegal to speak of Jesus and teach His doctrine
d. And then the Sanhedrin let those apostles go – whipped, bruised, bleeding
3. How did the apostles feel about all this? Were they going to give up, quit telling the greatest story ever told, and go back to fishing?
G. The Christian’s Reaction (Acts 5:41,42)
1. Rejoicing in Suffering (5:41)
a. Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
b. Get the picture…
1) They have been intimidated, threatened, humiliated - yelled at, falsely accused
2) Then beaten up – and then thrown out of the court onto the street
c. And yet, they were dancing, raising their hands, and smiling, and looking at each other like they just won the lottery!
2. Felt HONOURED to suffer for Jesus!
a. They realised they had been counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus
b. What an honour! What a privilege to be treated in the same way that Jesus had been
c. They must be doing something right, when everything is going wrong!
d. A Christian’s greatest honour is to be living like Jesus did
1) And that means sometimes being hated like He was
2) Mocked by culture
3) Beaten by authorities
4) And even killed
5) There are Christians right now being tortured, slaughtered right now in North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India!
e. For a Christian to live, means living NOT like the Pope, but like Christ… and to die is only GAIN!
3. And Never Ceasing to serve the Lord Jesus (5:42)
a. Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
b. They didn’t stop preaching and teaching, and meeting together, praying, and witnessing
c. They COULDN’T stop doing what Jesus said for us all to be doing!
1) Because the truth matters – about sin, the soul, about heaven, and hell - very few people care anymore about what is actually true – only about what is acceptable
2) Because Jesus happened – he came, and did so much good, and yet was rejected and tortured and crucified, and arose again, and lives through us now!
3) Souls are worth suffering for while we do right
4) And, the devil should NOT be allowed to govern the lives of Christians, especially Christian MEN
5) What governs YOUR life? Sports, money, your hobby, fear, friends, or Jesus?
4. Oh that this was always OUR response to obstacles, troubles, and persecution
A. Jesus said, GO into all the world – tell the good news / the Gospel about the coming wrath of God, about forgiveness of sins at Christ’s expense, about getting eternal LIFE that is abundant and free to anyone who repents and believes it!
B. Religions STILL try and stop anything that has to do with Jesus
1. Catholicism in the dark ages
2. Many protestants during the reformation
3. Atheists today
C. Nothing stopped those Christians from going and preaching this Book
1. Not intimidation, embarrassment, imprisonment, threatening’s of criminal prosecution, physical beatings, or even the loss of jobs and income
2. They just kept going on AS faithful followers of Jesus Christ – AMEN!
3. In the end, They ended up turning the world upside down!
4. Bringing about the greatest nations, greatest scientists, greatest statesmen, greatest laws
5. All because a few men wouldn’t be stopped
D. What does it take to stop US?
1. Not much these days
a. We are the Gospel’s worst enemies
1) Our lack of heart and burden for souls leaves souls lost and without hope
2) Our ignorance of the spiritual war going on, abandons people to Satan’s grip
3) Our laziness towards doing Gospel work, leaves so much undone
4) Our desire to be liked by everybody, leaves GOD the most unloved
b. THESE are balls and chains around our legs and hands
c. They are muzzles on our mouths – DUCK TAPE
d. And they are the reason why churches are closing, and wicked men and women have become so powerful and are destroying homes and minds and lives every day!
2. The truth is, We modern day Christians have cooled off – if we would be honest! We USED to be much more passionate about soul-winning, about preaching, about the second coming of Jesus, about the words in this Book…
a. We have lost our burden for the lost who haven’t heard the News about Jesus
b. We don’t take any risks anymore
c. We expect someone else will always take up our slack – well, they aren’t
d. We crumble under any kind of Pressure
1) From our family - our employer - our co-workers – from our school mates
2) But… Aren’t souls worth a bit of pressure? You were!
3. Dear Christian, the words are still true… We ought to Obey God, rather than men
a. Obey God and His laws Rather than only the laws of the land
b. Obey God Rather than our feelings
c. Obey God Rather than our friends
d. We ought to obey God folks!
E. How do we do that?
F. Keep our attention on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)
1. Not on ourselves, on each other, on failures, or on obstacles!
2. That was the life they were following!
3. JESUS is the reason why ANYONE becomes a Christian!
4. HE is the reason why anyone keeps going as a Christian!
5. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus [WATCHING] the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.