NTB-5-ACTS-2 - The Gospel in Jerusalem (part 2)
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“Acts: Lesson 2”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to
obey God rather than man,” Acts 5:29.
We welcome you to our study of the book of Acts.
What is it that Peter said this about when he said “We must obey God
rather than man.”
We hope you'll get your Bible as we study Acts chapter 5 through 8
In Acts chapter 5 we start off with a very eventful scene where
Ananias and Sapphira try to lie to God. A very powerful lesson is taught
here. They have a certain amount of land. They sell that land, and they
decide together that they're going to keep part back and lie to God. Peter
will even say to them “While it was yours you could have done what you
want with it.” But one of them goes in, “Did you sell it for such amount?”
“Yes, I sold for this amount,” drops dead on the spot. Ananias and Sapphira
both do the same thing, and they die right there- before lying to God or
while lying to God. For what lesson do we learn from that principle?
I can't lie to God. I can't fool Him. I can't say ‘Well I'm the only one
who knows this, and we're the only one to know this. God doesn't know.’
God knows and sees all things.
Now that's a two edge sword. That's wonderful if we were living right
and doing right and trying hard. We were facing struggles and difficulties.
Hey it's wonderful to know God knows and sees, and God cares for each
one of us. 1 Peter 5:7 He can help us. He encourages us. We pray. We find
encouragement through His word. If I'm living and doing right, it's a
wonderful thing to know that God knows and cares. If I'm not, that's a pretty
scary thing. If I'm trying to live an immoral life, if I'm trying to hide things, if
I'm trying to sweep it under the rug, if I'm trying to act like it doesn't exist.
You know I know people who sometimes, they'll be doing something, and
they think ‘I've got everybody fooled. I can look at this image. I can look at
these photos. I can do these things and nobody will know. Nobody's
watching. Nobody is going to see.’
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the good and the
evil,” Proverbs 15:3. “All things are open and naked before the eyes of Him
with whom we must give an account,” Hebrews chapter 4:13. “The secret
things will be made light on the day of judgment,” Ecclesiastes 12:14. And
so we want to learn a very practical lesson from Ananias and Sapphira, and
it's this: Don't even think that we can fool God. God knows all, and God
sees all. That can encourage us again if we're living as we ought to live.
Now the verse that we opened with Acts chapter 5, what's the context
of Peter saying ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’? It takes us back
to the 3 chapter in the book of Acts, where a man is lying lame and Peter
and John don't have any money to give him. They raise this man up to walk
and to leap by the power of God. The Jews want to know: ‘By what power
or by what authority have you done these things?’ They respond by saying
“Jesus nor is there any other salvation any other name. He's the only way
the truth and the life.” This message of Christ and these miracles is
growing. They now say to Peter and John ‘No more preaching about Jesus.
We're going to put you in prison where you're going to face dire
consequences. If we hear another word come out of your mouth about
Jesus, you're in big trouble’ in essence.
What did Peter and John say? ‘That may be the case, but we must
obey God rather than man.’
Are there times where the government may do things that are
contrary to the Scripture? Sure there are! Think about the things that are
happening even now. Think about things like abortion. God hates the
hands that shed innocent blood. Our government says abortion is legal.
What does God say? It's murder. Who am I to obey? Got the government
says it's okay, and God who says, it's not okay.
We've got to obey God rather than man. What about things will and
moral things like a gambling or alcohol or drugs- even in some places
marijuana is being legalized legalize? You got you got gambling, you got
alcohol, you got drugs- government may say at times and it's okay. God
says it's not. Who are we going to obey? God! When it comes to things that
are really pressing on us today things like homosexuality, the Supreme
Court has now said that homosexual marriages are legal in all states in the
United States. Our government says it's okay. God says it's not okay.
Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-29- What are we going to
do? Government says okay. God says it's not okay.
Listen to Peter's words again. “We ought to obey God rather than
Friend does the Christian want to try to live his life in harmony with
the civil law? You bet he does! Romans 13 teaches as long as you know
we can we're going to follow the law. Live by the law. Be good, honest,
upright, trustworthy citizens. But the moment that law violates or is in
conflict with the word of God, God's law always takes precedence.
As we think about Acts chapter 5 Peter says and clearly says to these
leaders, ‘You do what you got to do. We're going to preach the gospel,’ in
essence. There were consequences to that. They kept preaching the
gospel. Acts chapter 5 teaches they were willing to take those
consequences. Listen to the words. The example here of the apostles of
evangelism in the face of persecution, ought to greatly inspire every
follower of Christ to evangelize. Listen to Acts 5:40. The Scripture says
these words “And they agreed with him,” that's Gamaliel “and when they
had called for the apostles and beaten them they commanded that they
should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go.”
Now what did they do? “So they departed from the presence of the
Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His
name and daily in the temple and in every house they did not cease
teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
What a powerful and inspiring message! They beat them. Stripes
were laid on their back. They said ‘No more preaching about Jesus.’ They
left that assembly went straight to the temple and started preaching Jesus.
Why? Because ultimately, God's the final judge. Don't fear what men can
do to us. We want to fear God. He's the one we ought to fear. God and the
gospel are more powerful than what any government may dictate contrary
to His word. Another reason they did that is this-listen carefully-people were
dying every day then, just as they are now without the gospel. A few stripes
on their back now wouldn't amount to much to them if they could save
souls from eternal death. If they could save a soul from eternal torment
that'd be worth it. It emphasizes the power and the need of the gospel and
our desire to preach to the lost so that we can be saved.
Let's do everything possible to spread the gospel as far and as wide
as we possibly can. “Go into all the world,” Mark 16:15. “Every nation,”
Matthew 28:18. “Every man,” Colossians 1:24. “And we're going to
proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His
marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9. What a powerful, powerful lesson this is about
the apostles and their evangelism.
We then turn to Acts chapter 6, and we have kind a debate that goes
on between Steven and some in the synagogue of the freemen. Some who
are there, who believe in the Old Testament, who are trying to stick to
those ways and as Stephen preaches the power of the gospel, we find one
of the great statements. You know the book of Acts is a book of
conversions. Acts 6:7 is a bunch of powerful conversions. Listen to this.
The Bible says “Then the word of God spread and the number of the
disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.” Now watch this, “And a great
many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
Now I want you to think about that here. Are these priests, who've
been serving under the Old Testament, who were familiar with the law, who
have daily been making those bloody animal sacrifices, and knowing the
law, being familiar with sacrifice, maybe even looking for the Messiah they
hear the gospel preached a great number of disciples are added. A great
many of the priests were obedient to the faith. Friend these priests were
recognized and knew by the people. They obeyed the gospel. Why did they
do that? Because it's the power of God's word; because it's the truth they
were looking for and ready to leave that old system.
As you think about these priests obeying the gospel under the Old
Testament, we've got to realize this principle: They had to come to the
conclusion just as the Old Testament Scriptures taught that that system
couldn't save. The Bible clearly teaches that “The blood of bulls and goats
cannot save,” Hebrews 10:3-4. They cannot save us. The Bible teaches
that the Old Testament system was vanishing way, was growing obsolete
Hebrews 8:12-13. Jesus nailed that old law to the cross, Ephesians 2:14
and Colossians 2:14-15. These priests saw the light. They saw the truth.
They knew Jesus and the gospel were the way, and they were willing to
leave that Old Testament system which pointed us toward Christ, Matthew
5:16-18 and Galatians 3:24.
As Acts chapter 6 continues, we learn about Stephen. We're going to
learn about what Stephen does and how he begins to preach the gospel.
Stephen, as we think about it, is one of the first people to give up his life for
the Lord and His church. Listen to Acts 6:8. We need a whole lot more
people like Stephen. The Bible says “And Stephen full of faith and power
did great wonders and signs among the people.” You know he was a man
of great faith. He's a man who put his trust in power the word of God it. God
worked through him, and there was no denying what he did, he even had
that realization himself that he was a servant of God. As we said, we need
people in the church like Stephen: men of faith, men who trust in the power
of God, men who are willing to proclaim it even in the face of adversity. The
gospel, it has to be preached. We need that faith in it, Romans 10:17 that it
is the word of God. We need to stand up and say what God has said on
Now as Acts chapter 6 and 7 continue, Stephen speaks with the men
here. He proclaims Jesus and that message is now going to continue in
Acts chapter 7. Really Stephen's sermon is basically a history of the Old
Testament plan scheme of redemption that led right up to Jesus. There are
four main characters in his sermon. He preaches about Abraham- how
Abraham received the promised blessing, and that through his seed all
nations will be blessed. He talks about Joseph- and how God was with
Joseph, how He took care of him, how He brought Joseph and his family,
and they were taken care of in Egypt, and how the seed continued through
Joseph and his family. He then brings up the great man, deliverer Moses-
and how Moses took God's people out of Egyptian bondage, how they
headed toward the promised land, how God worked with Moses, and brings
it all the way through these patriarchs right up to Jesus. Jesus, He's the
fulfillment of all these plans and prophets, all the promises to Abraham ‘In
your seed all nations be blessed,’ the promises made up to Joseph, the
promises that were delivered to the people during the time of Moses- all of
those culminate in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Every promise, every
prophecy pointing us toward salvation leads us right to Jesus. He is the
fulfillment of those things, and God wants us to follow His teaching and
ultimately follow His way.
Now how did the people respond to that sermon, showing them the
error of their way, pointing out Jesus as the Son of God? We realize that
they had it all wrong. They thought God was going to dwell in these
physical temples. This physical temple they had made and that that that
was somehow going to be restored and brought back. Stephen clearly
teaches God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Look in Acts
7:48-50. Notice what the Scripture says here. The Bible says “However the
most high does not dwell in temples made with hands. As the prophet says
‘Heaven is my throne. Earth is my footstool.’ “What house will you build for
me? Says the Lord, or “What is the place of my rest has my hand not made
all these things?” They think that God's in the temple and the temple is that
sanctuary that's the place where God's going to dwell. Stephen clearly says
‘it's not something made with hands- that's not where God dwells.’ They'd
put so much trust in that physical temple that it was their downfall.
Jeremiah 7:4 as they are facing great adversity, as the people are about to
go in the Babylonian captivity, what do they say is a hope? The temple of
the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord! ‘Save us oh our
temple’- that's where they put their trust and hope instead of in God.
Let's not make that same mistake as well. You know a practical
application is to realize this: they thought God dwelt in the temple. They
thought, you know, going to the temple was where we'd go to meet God.
They had this whole idea wrong, and I think sometimes if we're not careful
we can confuse the building that we made it meet in with a holy place
where God is.
Now don't get me wrong, when Christians assemble wherever it is
God's in the mist and in the presence. The building is not holy. The
building- is not something where God dwells today. In fact do we realize
that the church is not the building?
In 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 Paul says to Christians ‘You are the body
of Christ and members individually one of another.’ You know I think
sometimes if we're not careful we can say to ourselves, ‘I went to church on
Sunday morning, I got my ticket punched. I'm okay till the next Sunday.’
That's not- we've got to live every day for Christ. Luke 9:23 Jesus said “We
got to deny ourself, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.” Like the Jews,
let's not confuse where God dwells and the power of God and that that and
that God can work through His people if we're willing to follow Him.
Stephen, as a gospel preacher, stands out. Here's one of the reasons
why: He was a man who was not afraid to speak plainly, to speak bluntly,
and to cut right to the heart of the matter. Notice these words in verses 51
through 53 the Bible says, Stephen speaking, “You stiff-necked and
uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit as your
fathers did so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not
persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the just one of
whom you have now become the betrayers and the murderers who've
received the law by direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Now you talk about strong preaching! You talk about preaching that
would make you sit up and listen! Peter said ‘You're stiff-necked. You're
hardhearted. You're un that word uncircumcised,’ had to get their attention
that was something they really despised. ‘You're uncircumcised in heart
and ears.’ ‘You won't listen. You're rebellious, and here's what you and
your people have done.’ He wasn't doing that to be unkind. He did do it,
because it was true. His preaching was blunt. It was to the point. It was
forceful. It was meant to shake them to their core, to help them see their
rebellious way, and to turn to Jesus.
Now friend as we think about practical lessons, let's realize that
sometimes preaching that their preaching sometimes has to take a different
tone. It is depending on the need and the audience. Jesus did that. Mark
12:24 Jesus said to the Sadducees ‘You do therefore greatly err not
knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.’ Other times, we preach it in
love. You have got to be careful want to be careful.
Realize we need not get mad at the messenger if the message hits
us the wrong way or if the message causes us to be pricked in our hearts.
Paul would say it this way in Galatians 4:16 “Have I become your enemy
because I tell you the truth?”
Let's now turn our attention to one of the marvelous; there are two
marvelous accounts of recursion of conversion that are going to occur in
Acts chapter 8.
The first is that of Simon the sorcerer. In Acts chapter 8 Peter goes to
that area where Simon is, and he begins to preach the gospel. He
preaches Jesus. He preaches the plan of salvation and the scheme of
redemption. Simon, who has been a sorcerer/a trickster in his former life,
he hears that message. He responds to it. He obeys the gospel, and Simon
is baptized. Simon's conversion and his sin that follows that is a great
example recorded New Testament to prove that a Christian can sin and be
lost- but doesn't have to.
We often refer to this as God's second law of pardon. By that we
mean in Acts chapter 2 when one initially obeys the gospel, sins are
forgiven. What happens then after I become a Christian and I sin? Simon
shows us what happens. Look in Acts chapter 8. I want you notice these
words. Let's look beginning in verse number 18. “And when Simon saw that
through the laying on of the apostles hands the Holy Spirit was given, he
offered them money saying ‘give me this power also that anyone on whom I
lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’” Peter said to him listen to this
don't miss this now, “Your money perish with you, because you thought the
gift of God could be purchased with money. You have neither part nor
portion in this matter. Your hearts not right in the sight of God. Repent
therefore of this your wickedness, and pray to God if perhaps the E or
perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you
are poisoned by bitterness, bound by iniquity.” Simon answered and said
“Pray to the Lord for me that none of the things which you spoken may
come will come upon me.”
Now what do we learn from this example? Two powerful things.
Number one: A Christian can so sin as to be lost. There is a false doctrine
that says: once you're saved, you're always saved. Often known as the
perseverance of the saints the idea that you can never be lost. I want you
to listen carefully, Simon obeyed the gospel. He was baptized by an
inspired apostle. He became a Christian, and he sinned.
Now let's ask the question: Did that sin, after he became a Christian,
jeopardize his soul? Listen to Peter's words again. “Your money perish,”
don't miss this, “with you.” Simon at that point, spiritually, would have
perished. That means he would've been lost. “Your money perish with you.”
Friend there isn't a clear clearer example in the Bible than this. If I were
going to show that ‘once saved always saved’ are not true here's what I
need to do, I need to find a Christian who sinned and who the Bible said
was in a lost state. That's Simon. He's a Christian. He sinned, and the Bible
says “Your money perish with you.” The idea of ‘once saved always saved’
although some see comfort out of it- some think it bring security- really is
not true according to the Scripture.
Now a second powerful lesson is taught is this: I can so sin as to be
lost, but I don't have to. I I've sinned, and you've sinned. We've all made
mistakes and done things that are not right after becoming a Christian. I
don't have to be lost. How wonderful is that?
Peter looks at Simon and says Simon says that you know here's what
Peter says to him. “You're lost; your money perish with you. Repent and
pray that the evil thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” Simon says,
“Pray for me.”
What can a Christian do if he does sin? Repent and pray. He
changes his heart, changes his way of thinking, changes his way of acting,
and he prays to God and God will forgive him. How encouraging is that!
Now we want to mention the last example of conversion in Acts
chapter 8, and it is the Ethiopian eunuch.
Here Philip is teaching the Ethiopian eunuch. He's up in the chariot
with him. They're riding down the road, begins to teach in Isaiah 53 about
Jesus from that point he preaches Christ. The man hears the message. He
gets that message, and in Acts chapter 8 we learn that man is ready to
obey the gospel. For the Scripture says in Acts 8:26 following. You know he
sees water. ‘Hey here's water. What hinders me?’ Philip says ‘If’ here's the
condition, ‘if you believe with all your heart, you may.’ ‘I believe Jesus is the
Christ the Son of God.’ They stop the chariot. They both get down out of
the chariot. They both go down into the water. He baptizes him. They come
up out of the water, and he went on his way rejoicing.
What did the Ethiopian eunuch do to be saved? He heard about
Jesus. He believed in Jesus. No doubt he's willing to change his ways. He
confesses and acknowledges Jesus as Savior, and he's baptized. He goes
on his way rejoicing.
Friend in every account, within driving this point home, in every
account the plan of salvation is clear. You've got to hear the message.
We want to ask you today that that compelling, that most important
question ever: Have you obeyed the gospel like they did in the New
Testament? Have you heard the message about Christ? Do you believe
that message with all your heart? If you believe with all your heart Philip
said, “You may.” Have you repented of things in your life that are not right?
We're not saying we're going to be perfect, but are you going to make up
your mind to change and follow that out in your life? Are you willing to
confess Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life, Acts 8:37? Would you do
what they did on Pentecost? Would you do what Saul of Tarsus did? Would
you do what Philip the Ethiopian eunuch did? Would you be baptized for
the remission of your sins? Here's how Peter said it “Baptism doth now also
save us,” 1 Peter 3:21.
Jesus said it so plainly in Mark 16:16 “He that believes and is
baptized will be saved.”
Friend we're begging you today if you've not obeyed the gospel plan
of salvation like they obeyed in the New Testament, if you've not become a
New Testament Christian, submitted your will to the will of God, we're
urging you today: please obey the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ. Become a Christian- nothing more, nothing less is our plea to you
Study Questions for: “Acts: Lesson 2”
1. According to Acts 5:29, who should we obey?
2. What does Proverbs 15:3 tell us about the eyes of the Lord?
3. What does it say about “all things” in Hebrews 4:13?
4. What will be made light on the Day of Judgement according to
5. In Acts 5:40, what did they do when they were beaten and told not to
preach the name of Jesus?
6. In Acts 6:7, a great many of who were obedient to the faith?
7. According to Hebrews 10:3-4, can the Old Testament system save us?
8. According to Ephesians 2:14 and Colossians 2:14-15, when was the old
law nailed to the cross?
9. What does Acts 7:48-50 say about temples made with hands?
10. According to 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, who is the church and body of