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The Scriptorium


Get on board, or get out of the way. Acts 5

Sin, Surge, Suffering, Rejoicing: Acts 5 (7)

Pray Psalm 52.8, 9.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

Sing Psalm 52.8, 9.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!

Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!

Read Acts 5.1-42; meditate on verses 38, 39.


1. What happened to cause the growth of the Gospel in this chapter?

2. How did God work through Peter and the others?

Gamaliel had it right. The Gospel is so powerful that nothing can prevent it from running its course and fulfilling God’s purposes. Not Satan (v. 3). Not treachery within the ranks of God’s people (vv. 1-11). Neither sickness nor unclean spirits (vv. 14-16). Not the opposition of sinful men (vv. 17-21). Not threats or physical harm (vv. 27, 28, 40-42). Once God gets hold of people and His Spirit is at work within them, willing and doing according to God’s good pleasure (Phil. 2.13), nothing can stop the progress of His Word and Kingdom. Like a growing stone, it will increase and advance until all the kingdoms and powers and machinations of men have been overcome by it (Dan. 2.44, 45).

If only we believed that like Peter and the others did! In our day, the Gospel seems powerless to accomplish the great works of healing, conversion, restoration, and community we see in the book of Acts. But it’s not the Gospel which lacks power; it is, rather, those who profess to believe the Gospel but do not live from within its purposes or power.

In Acts we see the Living Water of Jesus flowing to, filling, refreshing, renewing, and overflowing from those who believed in Him. In our day, too many believers treat the Living Water of the Gospel like a water bottle, to which we turn only when we feel thirsty, which is not all that often. We take as much of the Gospel as we like, and we avoid any aspects of it that would threaten our comfort or is not in line with our convenience. It’s no wonder we do not see the progress of the Kingdom in our day in the ways we read about in the book of Acts.

Like Achan in Joshua’s day, we have taken as much of the Gospel as we like and buried it in our tent, to draw on at our convenience or for our comfort.

But the work of God, as Gamaliel knew, and as Ananias and Sapphira learned the hard way, does not conform to the whims and wants of self-interested people. The Gospel will erupt again in our day, and sooner than later, I believe. And when it does, will we be found among those through whom it surges against a sinful and stubborn age, or will we try to keep it bottled up in the prison of our desires, to use as we see fit?

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The gospel according to Gamaliel is a gospel of warning and power: “…keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5.38, 39). And who in their right mind wants to do that?

He was a knowledgeable rabbi familiar with the power of God. Just not His grace. Gamaliel is the same rabbi who infused Saul of Tarsus with his Pharisaical and murderous spirit towards the Gospel of Jesus. But Gamaliel was certainly right about the power!

God declared to Moses the words that He wanted spoken to Pharaoh:
“But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Ex. 9.16).
David tells us: “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God” (Ps. 62.11).
Jesus told us to pray: “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Matt. 6.13).
Paul, once Saul of Tarsus, said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1.16).
And Paul longs for us to “know…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…” (Eph. 1.18-20).
The writer of the book of Hebrews said that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of God’s person, “upholding all things by the word of His power…” (Heb. 1.3).

Gamaliel’s gospel neglected grace. And repentance, forgiveness, love, and the Promised Helper.
God’s Gospel is complete. And extraordinarily equipping: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1.8).

Powerful. Holy. Unstoppable. God’s Gospel.

We can either get on board or get run over by it!

For reflection

1. How can you know more of the power of the Gospel at work in your life?

2. Looking at Acts 5, what kinds of things could keep you from knowing more of that power?

3. Do you pray daily for God to grant you more Holy Spirit power to be a witness for Jesus Christ?

What is “of God” is bound to stand, even if the whole world is against him. Therefore, faith, which is sustained by the eternal truth of God, ought to remain unshaken against any assaults whatever of Satan and people. Even if heaven falls, our salvation is secure, for God is its author and protector. Because God guards the kingdom of Christ, no force will ever be able to overthrow it.John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Acts 5.33-39

Pray Psalm 52.1-7.
Praise God that He loves goodness, truth, and righteousness. Ask Him to make these qualities more present in and visible through you today, despite whatever challenges or opposition you may face.

Sing Psalm 52.1-7.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.

Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words, both harsh and strong, with their devouring, deceitful tongue.

God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.

The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.

T. M. and Susie Moore

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

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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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