Intro. The purity of the early church has been protected by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. It was dramatic, and decisive. Two people are dead. But a pure environment for the Holy Spirit to work has been maintained. As a result, there is a great revival going on in Jerusalem. People are coming from all over the countryside to be healed. God is at work in a powerful way. Whenever God is at work, you can expect Satan to fight it. What usually surprises us is the ones that he uses to fight it. Who is trying to stop the work of the Holy Spirit? The religious leaders, the ones who should be the most excited about spiritual revival.
I. "THEN THE HIGH PRIEST ROSE UP, AND THOSE THAT WERE WITH HIM."
A. These are the men who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation.
1. They, we are told, were of the sect of the Sadducees.
2. The Sadducees were the spiritual liberals of the day.
a. They did not believe in the resurrection.
b. They did not believe in spirits.
c. They did not believe in angels.
d. They were materialists.
e. They had become a political machine.
3. I read that the National Council of Churches is broke, and running in the red.
a. That is very significant, for they had espoused almost all of the red communists' causes.
b. They have been controlled by liberals, and are a political action group who lobby and support liberal causes in the name of the church, claiming to represent the church's viewpoint.
c. Any relationship between them and true biblical Christianity is purely coincidental.
B. We are told that the reason for their opposition was jealousy.
1. How we have to guard against this evil monster known as jealousy.
2. How we need to have the broader picture of the whole body of Christ.
3. If God is blessing another church in the community, who are truly preaching Jesus Christ, we should be rejoicing rather than finding fault with their methods.
4. Jealousy over the work of God in another person's life or ministry is an exceeding wicked thing.
5. I think of the report the disciples gave to Jesus:
And John said to Him, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he would not follow us: so we forbade him, because he would not follow us.
But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man who does miracles in my name, who can speak evil of me.
For he that is not against us is on our part.
II. "AND LAID HANDS ON THE APOSTLES AND PUT THEM IN THE COMMON PRISON."
A. There are three instances recorded in the scriptures where the Lord delivered His apostles from prisons.
1. This is the first of the three. We are told that the angel of the Lord at night opened the doors and brought them forth and told them go speak in the temple to the people all of the word of this life.
2. Acts 12
tells us of how Herod had Peter arrested:
And when he had apprehended him, he put [him] in prison, and delivered [him] to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon [him], and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from [his] hands.
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
3. Then there was Paul and Silas at Philippi.
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates tore off their clothes, and commanded them to be beaten.
And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast [them] into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
4. A few notations.
a. In each case the deliverance was a little different. God works in different ways. You cannot pattern God.
b. There were other times when they were not delivered. Paul later spent many years in prison. Sometimes God has reasons to keep us imprisoned.
B. The angel had commanded them to return to the temple and speak to the people the words of this life.
1. Early in the morning they were back in the Temple teaching the people.
C. Meanwhile the high priest had called for a meeting of the religious council in Jerusalem. Early in the morning they convened.
1. Then they sent the guards to the prison to bring the apostles to stand before them.
2. When the guards returned empty handed, they reported that found that the prison was secure, and the guards were standing at the doors, but when they came into the cells, the apostles were missing.
D. Now they are faced with a new problem. If word of this leaks out to the public, no telling how far it will go.
1. While they are wrestling with how to put the official spin on this story, so as to keep the public deceived and in the dark someone came in and reported that the men they had imprisoned were standing in the temple teaching.
2. Again they are faced with the dilemma of how to stop their witness. Obviously their threats did not work.
3. Today we wrestle with the question of how to get the witness out to the world. They were trying to figure out how to keep the message from getting out to the world.
E. The captain of the temple guard with his officers went to the temple and brought them without violence because they feared the people and were personally afraid of being stoned by the people.
F. They again are standing before the supreme religious council of the Jews. The same council that had condemned Jesus to death.
H. The High priest takes over the questioning. "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? Behold you have filled Jerusalem with this man's doctrine, and intend to bring His blood upon us. I notice a couple of interesting things here.
1. By the admission of their enemies, they have been very effective in their witness. "They have filled Jerusalem with this man's doctrine."
a. Jesus had promised that when they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would be witnesses unto Him both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. The first mission has been accomplished.
2. The second accusation is: "You intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
a. It is true that when Peter preached he implicated this religious council in the death of Jesus.
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go.
But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did [it], as [did] also your rulers.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
b. How soon they forgot their words to Pilate, His blood be upon us and on our children.
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
And when they had bound him, they led [him] away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that].
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the Potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
And gave them for the Potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
Now at [that] feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it].
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified.