For The Sake Of The Gospel

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In Acts 5, conservative religious leaders of the day were determined to persecute those teaching something they disagreed with. They didn't like the public teaching of Christ's Apostles, and they arrested them. The Apostles were telling the good news about Christ, preaching preparation for His 2nd coming, and the afterlife, something the Sadducees didn't believe in. Many people were listening and believing which stirred up jealousy among the Sadducees.

During the night, an angel of the Lord released them from prison, and told them to go back to teaching "about this new life". (Acts 5:20)

The next day, the high priest and other members of the Jewish ruling party convened their council and sent to the prison for the Apostles, only to learn they were not there. Some well-meaning citizen reported that they were right back to preaching in the temple courts after being arrested for doing exactly that. So officers were dispatched to bring the Apostles before the rulers.

Space in this article will not permit all of the lessons we should learn from this account, but here are a couple. Peter's response to this governing body was "We must obey God rather than human beings!..." (Acts 5:29) Now Peter was on the side of righteousness, but his response would have been perceived by these rulers about the same as if a modern day criminal told a judge "I must rob banks instead of being a good citizen". They had repeatedly failed to follow the orders to stop preaching, and proudly announced their intentions to continue.

So the rulers told them again to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and had them flogged, which was a severe, painful whipping that would result in deep bruising, torn skin, tissue and muscle damage, bleeding and extreme pain. These men knew they faced this or worse punishment when they returned to the temple after being arrested, but they still went!

A second lesson for us to learn is this, vs-41 says, "The Apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." Does this mean they were happy to take a flogging for the cause of Christ? Maybe, but for sure they were happy about their relationship with Christ even after being flogged and apparently they were willing to risk additional punishment because the last verse says this, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."

What are we willing to endure? What amount of punishment, physical, verbal, financial or mental are we willing to stand against to advance the cause of Christ? If we haven't considered that question, we should. While we may be relatively free today to preach and teach, our world continues to move in a direction that unless altered will one day prohibit that, and similar persecutions may await the children of God.