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The Scriptorium

"Take That!"

Obedience leads to more grace. Always. Acts 5.29-42

Sin, Surge, Suffering, Rejoicing: Acts 5 (6)

Pray Psalm 57.9-11.

I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Sing Psalm 57.9-11.
(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Praise and thanks among the nations I will sing with all my might!
For Your truth and love are stationed far above the highest height!
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

Read Acts 5.1-42; meditate on verses 29-42.

Preparation
1. How did Peter and the others justify their actions?

2. What did the religious leaders do?

Meditation
It is more important to obey God than to obey men (v. 29). Didn’t they hear them the first time they insisted on this (Acts 4.19)? And it’s also important to make the most of every opportunity for proclaiming the Good News (vv. 30-32; cf. Eph. 5.15-17), no matter who gets offended or what may be the accompanying cost.

The word “Prince” in verse 31, is in the Greek, ἀρχηγὸν (archegon), and means something more like “captain” or even “author”. It’s the same word used to describe Jesus in Hebrews 12.2. Jesus, the apostles explained, writes our rules and directs our actions. Not you.

The apostles and other disciples had made the Kingdom turn, and there was no turning back. They were caught up in the agenda of Christ and the power of His Spirit (v. 32), and they certainly could not deny what they had seen and heard and knew to be true.

Gamaliel’s little history lesson wins the day, but the disciples still get a beating out of the deal (v. 40: “Take that!”). Does Satan stand to applaud this little “victory”? He is knocked down again as the apostles leave “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (v. 41). Then it’s back to the ongoing work of King Jesus: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (v. 42). Take that!

The effect of this situation was to strengthen the Church, advance the Kingdom, weaken the devil’s grip on many unbelievers in Jerusalem, and prepare the hearts of many religious leaders for coming to Christ (see Acts 6.1-6).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
It is refreshing to see how Peter never forgets to remind them of what they have done.

So often, we mistakenly think that grace overlooks sin. It does not overlook it, because how can you offer grace for a crime that doesn’t exist?

How can we possibly appreciate the grace that God offers us, if we are not overcome with our own wretchedness and intense need of forgiveness?

Peter did not want to miss any opportunity to show the need for God’s grace to be bestowed.

When he and the other apostles answered their accusers, they stated that, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5.29).

And here are the reasons why:
1. God raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. By the way, it is the same Jesus Whom you murdered (Acts 5.30).
2. God has exalted this same Jesus to His right hand to be Prince and Savior (Acts 5.31).
3. God’s reason for doing this was to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5.31).
4. We, and the Holy Spirit in us, are witnesses to this murder, resurrection, and resolution of God (Acts 5.32).
5. Those who obey God have received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5.32).

And Gamaliel spoke reason Number 6:
6. If this work and these people speaking of it are from God, you cannot overthrow it (Acts 5.39).

They knew, they said; we know, we say: God’s grace is desperately needed by every person who has ever lived or will live. And the amazing thing about God is that He continues to give it!

Here is a short history of grace: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6.8).
“For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84.11).
“But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5.20, 21).
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8.9).
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us…” (Eph. 1.7, 8).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2.8).

We, like the religious rulers of old, should be grateful to “Take That!” from the Holy Spirit, because it always serves to remind us of our need of a Savior; and that we have a Savior, full of grace and forgiveness.

For reflection

1. Why is it important that we always obey God rather than men?

2. What is grace? How would you explain grace to an unbelieving friend?

3. How does our obeying God rather than men affect other believers? Affect the unbelievers in our life?

Let us then be imitators of his patience; and if we suffer for his name’s sake, let us glorify him. For he has set us this example in himself, and we have believed that such is the case. Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155), Letter to the Philippians 8

Pray Psalm 57.1-8.
Ask the Lord to make you bold for Jesus today, to love as He would love and bear witness to Him as He leads. Ask Him to deliver you from all fear of what others might think or do, and to make your heart steadfast in serving and bearing witness to Him.

Sing Psalm 57.1-8.
(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Lord, be gracious, gracious to me, for my soul retreats in You.
In Your shadow keep me safely till the storms of life are through.
I will cry to You, the Most High; You do all things well for me.
You will save me when I thus cry, routing all who threaten me.

Send Your truth and lovingkindness; raging lions seek my soul.
Threats and sland’rous words without rest they against me fiercely roll.
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

Nets and pits they set before me; overwhelmed, my soul bows down.
Let them all in their own works be thrown and scattered on the ground.
Let my heart no more be shaken, I will sing Your praises, Lord!
Harp and glory, now awaken to extol God’s faithful Word!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. For more about what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God, order a free copy of our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? (click here).

You can download any or all of the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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