I. "WHEN THEY HAD HEARD THAT THEY WERE CUT TO THE HEART, AND TOOK COUNSEL TO SLAY THEM."
A. It is interesting that on the day of Pentecost when Peter had preached to the people, they were cut to the heart and they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do seeing we have crucified the Lord of glory."
1. It is interesting how different people respond to conviction.
a. Some repent.
b. Some want to kill those who spoke the words that brought conviction.
2. When Peter repented, he went out and wept bitterly. When Judas repented he went out and hung himself.
3. In chapter 7, when Stephen preaches to this same council we read that:
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]:
4. In chapter 9, when Paul had been converted and began to preach in Damascus we read:
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that Jesus was the true Messiah.
And after many days had gone by, the Jews took counsel to kill him:
5. When Paul was preaching to the Jews from the porch of the fortress of Antonio, the people began to riot and we read,
And they gave him audience unto this word, and [then] lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a [fellow] from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
B. The natural man hates conviction.
1. The purpose of the liberals is to remove all taboo's so that a person can commit almost any kind of action without feeling guilty.
a. This is why they want to promote what they term sexual liberation. Anything goes as long as they are consenting adults.
b. They are trying to remove the guilt feelings of committing fornication, adultery, homosexuality. They hate the Bible, they hate the Ten Commandments. They can't stand to have them placed on the wall of the school classroom and then they wonder how these young people can commit such heinous, shocking crimes and show no remorse.
C. The disciples should not have been surprised that their witness brought that kind of reaction.
1. Jesus had said to them:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.
And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
II. "THEN STOOD UP ONE IN THE COUNCIL A PHARISEE NAMED GAMALIEL."
A. At that time Gamaliel was one of the most respected of all of the rabbis in Israel. Paul boasted that he sat at the feet of Gamaliel. Paul was a student of Gamaliel.
1. Luke tells us that he was a doctor of the law, and he was held in great reputation by the people.
2. He requested that they send the disciples out of the room in order that they might discuss the issues.
B. His argument basically was to just let them alone. If what they were doing was not of God it would come to nothing. If it was of God then they would find themselves in that unenviable place of fighting against God.
1. He cited some historical events of others who had risen and claimed to be the Messiah, who when they died, the movement that had built up about them collapsed.
2. Therefore his premise was to just let them go. His logic was sound. If it is a work of God, you cannot overthrow it.
a. God's work will go on.
b. Man cannot thwart the work of God.
c. The advise of Mordicai to Esther,
For if you hold your peace at this time, [then] shall deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
III. "TO HIM THEY AGREED." WHAT HE SAID MADE SENSE TO THEM.
A. However they did not agree completely for we read that when they called them back into the room they:
1. Beat them.
2. They again commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus.
3. The advise of Gamaliel was sound and good, however they are still seething under the conviction of the Spirit because of the words of the disciples, and they just cannot just let them go without venting their great anger in some manner, so they beat them before letting them go.
B. "And they departed from the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
1. Jesus had told the disciples that:
Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
2. God had spoken through the prophet Isaiah saying:
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
3. James wrote:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
4. Peter wrote:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
IV. THAT IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY FOR WE READ: AND DAILY IN THE TEMPLE, AND IN EVERY HOUSE, THEY CEASED NOT TO TEACH AND PREACH JESUS CHRIST.
A. Gamaliel was right, they could not overthrow it.
B. The church seems to grow in the fires of persecution.
C. Note they were teaching and preaching. There is a difference between the two.
1. Preaching is for the unconverted; it is proclaiming the good news to the condemned and lost that they can be saved.
2. Teaching is for the converted. It is to help them to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.