Spirit Empowered Obedience

Key Verse: “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
—Acts 5:29

Selected Scripture:
Acts 5:27-36, 38-42

THE PREVIOUS LESSONS of this series in Acts dealt with the establishment of the Early Church. The disciples had been privileged to witness our Lord’s ascension into the heavens forty days after his resurrection. Later, they were given power of the Holy Spirit as evidence that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, on behalf of their sins and of the world’s, had been accepted by the Heavenly Father. The apostles were thus commissioned to go forth as special representatives of God with the message of Truth to those who had an ear to hear. This lesson focuses on the importance of obedience to God as a requirement for carrying out that work.

Remarkable manifestations of God’s power had been demonstrated by the apostles, such as healing many of the sick and afflicted. This brought the indignation of the religious leaders of Israel who had them thrown into prison as a result of preaching the doctrines of Jesus. Their plight was short-lived when God’s angel released them during the night. But they were again commissioned to preach the word of Truth, and early the next morning they went to the Temple to teach the people. When the high priest, and others, learned what had happened, the apostles were brought before the religious council.

The high priest directed his inquiry to the men of God 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.” (Acts 5:28) It was then, with much courage and conviction, that Peter and some of the other apostles responded by saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”—vs. 29

Peter, and the others with him, reminded the members of the council that they were responsible for our Lord’s death, and that it was God who had raised him from the grave. Furthermore, they explained that Jesus had been highly exalted by God because of his sacrificial ministry, and that through him was repentance and forgiveness of sin possible for the children of Israel. The apostles, and the power of God’s Spirit working through them, was evidence that these things were true. However, the council’s response was met with further anger, even to the point of wanting to kill those who dared speak of Jesus, or claim to be his followers.

At this point Gamaliel, a Pharisee of good reputation, reminded the other members of the council not to involve themselves in further slander in this matter. When he rose to speak he said, “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: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38,39) Gamaliel’s admonition serves to teach a valuable lesson. Sometimes those who think they are serving God may be serving the cause of Satan instead, and pride in any form leads away from the Lord and the Truth.

The apostles continued to preach the message of Jesus daily in the Temple. They did not fear man, but were ready to obey God at any cost in carrying on the blessed work that had been given to them to do.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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