How many people follow orders and instructions these days? I would suggest many do, but there are always opportunists who will try to avoid obeying, following orders and holding to instructions.
You have seen this throughout your lifetime, be it long or short. You were a firsthand witness of it at school, in your home and at work. Maybe there was a time you shirked, ducked and dived, seeking to get out of doing what you were told to do.
Once saved by grace, you start to become faithful to the One who is faithful and you do His bidding. It is far easier to obey Jesus than your parents or employer … though I must add these and others need to be obeyed.
You see, God gives His people His Spirit who enables obedience to commands and instructions. In fact, He even grants us joy to willingly follow His commands, because:
1Jn 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome
This is only possible because we have received power to be His witnesses.
Ac 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This was the attitude of the apostles. They were not just called to serve … they in this case were taken out of prison by an angel and sent to do Gospel Ministry … and they did! This is how we continue today:
Ac 5:21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
It is right to remind us that a miracle is always associated with the Gospel working in hearts to save souls.
1) The role of the angel. His task was to take the apostles out of a locked jail to preach the Gospel in the temple courts, where the Gospel ought to have been the greatest news people heard … but it was not. We are not angels but we can pray for and seek to identify people suitably gifted and talented, who are intentionally Christian, and encourage them to serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel. They might need to be taught, yet we ought never to forget that Jesus said:
Mt 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
2) The role of the apostles … is to teach the people. Always remember that a high-powered service with repetitive singing only encourages emotional responses where an inadequate explanation of the Gospel is presented. Jesus was very clear in the Great Commission:
Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
In these verses there are two extremely important verses that hold the commission together:
(1) Make, and
Disciples are people who have surrendered their hearts to King Jesus because they have been taught the Gospel Message and all of Scripture that supports and holds the Gospel together in its proper context.
Today it is so sad that many Gospel Presentations are wishy-washy and don’t contain the Full Ingredients of the Gospel as God has given it to us in the Bible. The result is that often “converts” follow for a season or they just don’t know anything about the Biblical Doctrine of the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Re-read Matthew 28:19-20 and note that Jesus is clear and precise in what He requires of us making disciples. They are to be His disciples, taught His way (everything I have commanded you) and not man’s way, teaching shaped to suit the people in the 2020’s. Always remember that Christianity is not religion … it is lifestyle modelled against the Lord Jesus Christ! Serve the Father, empowered by the Spirit with the real message of the Son.
3) The role of the enemy. Remember the high priest and his associates, although leaders in Judaism and the Religion of the Old Covenant, were not serving God. They acted on behalf of God’s chief enemy, the devil, by putting Jesus to death, hoping to end this “new” craze that changed the shape of religion in Jerusalem … all because the apostles were telling people the Jesus they executed had risen and God appointed Him as the Messiah. They preached that through faith and repentance people could have their sins pardoned once and for all and be assured of God’s favor and of His heaven one day.
Look at their next move … When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. They were so concerned about losing popularity, numbers and the confidence of the people … and their fragile approval of the Roman Empire, that they called a full meeting of the Sanhedrin with the intent of stopping the apostles preaching about Jesus once and for all. So they sent to the apostles not knowing they were no longer in the prison but were preaching in the temple’s courtyards.
4) The role of the angel. Read these words carefully:
Ac 5:22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
Did you see it? It was not that the apostles were missing! The miracle was that the prison was “securely locked” with the “guards standing at the doors.” Miraculously, God used the angel to remove the apostles without tampering with locks and disturbing the prison guards. This miracle’s intention was so that the apostles could preach the Gospel and see people saved. Again … that was the intention of miracles … to authenticate the Gospel as Truth. What are we doing to promote the spread of the Gospel throughout our city, nation and world?
Father, thank You for the Gospel. Help me to know it well and to be faithful in praying for harvesters for the Gospel fields. Amen.