Mission Or Comfort? - Acts 5:33-42 NIV
Apostles knew their specific mission - Angel: “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people all about this new life.” Acts 5:20
They knew where their primary loyalty lay - Peter: “We must obey God rather than human beings.” Acts 5:29
End of story, they never stopped! “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42
The "in-between" details is where we focus today. Hard truths.
#1 - Fulfilling God’s mission will result in negative ________________ .
When we do the things God asks us to do, we may also suppose that everything would just be peachy because we're obedient. Just opposite.
“When [the Sanhedrin] heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.” Acts 5:33 NIV
We must remind ourselves that this is not Heaven, where God's will is always done perfectly. This is Earth. There is opposition. In Ephesians we read that we are to "put on the full armor of God." Why? "Because our struggles are against this dark world." (Eph. 6). This is why Jesus said:
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:27,33 NIV
What does it mean to carry their cross? That there are consequences to following Jesus. There are some who preach the way of Jesus, but never the cross of Jesus. We must not tell or even think in terms of half the story. The whole truth is that following Jesus is very rewarding (more about that in a moment.) But is also costs us. What is the cost? According to Jesus, we "give up everything." Nothing can come above His Lordship, which means nothing can have a higher priority than following the mission He gives us to accomplish.
To follow the example of the apostles in Acts 5, what was the cost? As far as they knew it was their very lives. They knew that they could be killed right then and there. Those who had the authority to make that happen could order it. And they wanted to. v. 33 - "Wanted to put them to death." Original is diaprio, literally means to be sawn in half. Used only twice in Scripture, here and in Acts 7 when Stephen is martyred.
Even the end of the story had costs:
“They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go.” Acts 5:40 NIV
Flogging was not a little thing. It was a horrible thing. These men would have been left stripped and bloodied, 39 lashes? - must not be more than forty under any circumstances (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). It was a horrible form of persecution. Wasn't right. Wasn't just. This was the direct consequence of their obedience. Not exactly what we want to hear!
#2- God uses the foolish “wisdom” of men to accomplish His __________________
When we act obediently to follow the mission God gives us, He matches our obedience with His power to accomplish His purpose.
Gamaliel: “Leave this men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fight against God.” Acts 5:38-39 NIV
Sometimes the way God works His power is unexpected and some might even think illogical. Stop and consider the logic of Gamaliel. He is a Pharisee, a minority in the Sanhedrin. He fills the role of what we call the "Minority Whip" in our Congress. He is an elder statesmen and when he speaks people listen - from both sides of the aisle.
Yet consider his argument. v. 36 Theudas rallied 400 in revolt. He was killed. Followers dispersed. v. 37 Judas the Galilean led a band in revolt. He too was killed. Followers scattered. Now v. 38 "Therefore." Don't read the rest. What SHOULD follow is kill apostles and nothing will come of this. But he says just the opposite and everyone agrees. Like an Obi One Kenobi moment. Just like God to make it happen!
“The foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Cor. 1:25 NLT
The next time you think you have the end of your own situation all figured out because of the logic of what should happen, remember this story!
Finally, we do have to tell the rest of the story. Not all bad!
#3 - Choosing to follow God’s mission for my life IS _______________
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Acts 5:41 NIV
The apostles didn't quit. Just the opposite. They rejoiced! How could that be possible? Because they withstood the test! They didn't scatter like when Jesus was executed. They stood their ground. And they expected death and instead were given life! There are rewards for obeying Jesus!
“Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land you will possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33 NIV
This is the original instruction given to God's people 1400 years before. Walk in obedience. And the result? Prosper! Prolong your days. Possess the land. God does not give us hard things to do because He wants to harm us. Just the opposite. But He will use us to accomplish His purpose and when He does, no matter what happens, we are rewarded for it!
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV
Some people feel like it's somehow wrong to talk about the prize that God has for us. But not Paul. In fact he says this is the whole reason God calls us "heavenward." Ask yourself if your current direction is heavenward? Are you obedient now, facing consequences now for eternal reward that God promises?
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 NIV
Notice there is no waffling here. Those who persevere under trial WILL RECEIVE the crown of life! The Lord promises and His promises never fail! Do you love Him today? Are you persevering today? Tomorrow's coming and with it the prize God has for you! Press on!