Stand Up for Jesus!
Stand Up for Jesus!
Acts 5 25-42
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Aug. 25, 2013
*Where would we be tonight if these Christians in Acts 5 and countless other Christians had not said and done the right thing? Where would we be if they had refused to stand up for Jesus Christ?
*Church: We are headed to Heaven tonight because of these people. Now God wants us to stand up for Jesus, and this Scripture can help us take that stand.
1. Notice first that we can have the same courage.
*What courage we see in vs. 29-32:
29. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.
30. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.
31. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
32. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.''
 Christians: By God's grace, we can be like the Apostles. We can have the same courage, because we have the same gospel.
*From vs. 30, we can tell them that Jesus died on the cross, but Jesus didn't die just because the Jewish rulers rejected Him. No. Jesus died so He could take the punishment for our sins. From vs. 30, we can also tell people that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead!
*From vs. 31, we can tell them that Jesus returned to Heaven to be exalted by the Heavenly Father, and that He is the Prince and the Savior for all who will receive Him. From vs. 31, we can also tell them about God's amazing grace that touches hearts and turns them to God. We can tell them about the fullness of forgiveness that they can find in Jesus Christ.
 We can have the same courage as the Apostles, because we have the same good news. -- And because we have the same God by our side.
*In vs. 32 the Apostles said: "We are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.'' Church: We have the same Holy Spirit who witnesses about Jesus to the lost, and encourages us to witness too.
2. We can stand up for Jesus with the Apostles' courage. -- And we need their courage, because we are in the same conflict.
*We see strong opposition to the gospel in vs. 26-28:
26. Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.
27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,
28. saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!''
*Then after the Apostles took a bold stand for the Lord, vs. 33 says: "When they heard this (i.e. when the Christ-haters on the court heard this) they were furious and took counsel to kill them."
*We must know that there are people in the world taking counsel to kill us right now. And they are doing it for the same exact reason: Because we are followers of Jesus. We are in the same conflict that has been going on for 2,000 years.
3. And we must stand up for Jesus, because we are in the same conflict. Also stand up for Jesus because the gospel must not compromised.
*We can never be neutral about Jesus Christ! Don't try to sit on the fence. In vs. 34-40, we see someone who did try to sit on the fence:
34. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.
35. And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.
36. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
37. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.
38. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;
39. but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it lest you even be found to fight against God.''
40. And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
*John Hamby explained: "At this point the disciples found an unexpected ally in Gamaliel. He was the teacher under whom the apostle Paul studied. He was a great rabbi. He basically argued that the Sanhedrin should stop and think before they act. That was very wise advice.
*Yet, although we can praise Gamaliel as a wise and gracious man, it was really only good, worldly advice. It sounds on the surface like sound reasoning, but it is not. This line of argument has some real fallacies.
*First of all, he classified Jesus as just another rabble-rouser. Secondly, he assumed that history always repeats itself, just as the previous rebels had been subdued and their followers scattered so would the followers of Jesus. Thirdly, he had the mistaken idea that if something was not of God it always fails. Experience tells us that is not always so. Look at the success of the cults and of the pagan religions of our day. Fourth, he assumed that it is possible to be neutral about Jesus and his message. And it is not!" In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."
*John Hamby added that "tragically, as far as we know, Gamaliel did not make a commitment to follow Christ. Instead, he died waiting to see whether the Christian movement was really of God. The call of the gospel is to respond to God's invitation today." (1)
*We must not try to sit on the fence! This week, OneNewsNow told about someone who is taking a bold stand for the Lord. This article was titled: "A Miracle in the Making in the Muslim World." It was about a former Capitol Hill staffer who has planted a new church in the United Arab Emirates.
*Josh Manley is the former senior aide for Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran. He is also a graduate of our Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. And in 2012, Josh and his wife Jenny planted this church on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
*By the grace of God, the ruler of that sheikhdom granted land for a church building in the middle of a Muslim region. Josh said, "We're so grateful that the Lord has opened the door for this ministry. And we're grateful for the way the Lord has gone before us already just by providing the land from the government. The government has been true to their word and continues to give us access. And we're thankful for the way that the doors are being opened for the gospel amongst people who live there. . . Just last year the chief religious leader in Saudi Arabia said that there should be no Christian churches on the peninsula – and yet the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah courageously granted us land for this ministry." (2)
*This is surprising good news from that part of the world. They are standing up for Jesus, and we must do the same.
4. We must not compromise the gospel. But also notice the comfort we can have.
*We can have the same comfort the Apostles had in vs. 40-41:
40. And they agreed with him, (i.e. Gamaliel) and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
*How could the Apostles rejoice after a beating like that? -- They had a Heavenly view of their hardship. They remembered what the Lord had told them about people hating His followers. They also remembered what the Lord had said in the Sermon on the Mount.
*In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus said:
10. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
*The apostles had a Heavenly view of their hardship, including the truth that the Lord was with them in every hurt and heartache.
*Paul Powell was speaking about the great missionary to Africa, David Livingstone. He said this missionary's favorite Scripture was Jesus' promise in Matthew 28:20, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
*And Paul Powell said this about David Livingstone: "For 32 years he planted his life in that dark continent. At times, he was surrounded by hostile and infuriated natives. At times, his life was in imminent peril. At times, his body was so racked with pain he could hardly keep going. At times, he was the victim of merciless and scandalous gossip.
*Disease and death, disappointment and discouragement, were his constant companions. But again and again, Livingstone came back to the Lord's words on which he staked his life: 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' A thousand times or more David Livingstone would put his finger on that verse and say, 'It is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor, so there's an end of it!' He anchored his life to the promise of Jesus and so must we."
*Paul Powell added this: "We may have to sleep in the lion's den. We may have to go through the fire. We may have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We may even have to die on a cross. But if we do, He will be with us and strengthen us. And, I believe that if He is with me, He and I can handle anything life brings. I can count on his promise in Hebrews 13:5, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' That is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor. So that's the end of it." (3)
*Church: This is the kind of faith that gives us the joy we see in vs. 41: "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
5. We can have the same comfort the Apostles had. And we need the same commitment.
*We need the same kind of commitment we see in vs. 42. There God's Word says: "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."
*They did not cease. They never gave up. And we should never quit serving the Lord; never quit praying for the lost; never quit telling people what Jesus has done for us; never quit standing up for Jesus!
*Kent Hughes tells the story of a Russian girl who never gave up. Her name was Aida Skripnikova. Aida was born in Leningrad in 1941, and she grew up in the darkest days of the Soviet Union.
*In the fall of 1961, when Aida was 19 years old, she came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. And with Aida's faith came the desire to share it with others. She purchased some postcards with a beautiful picture of a harbor at sunrise. Then Aida wrote a poem on the back. That poem expressed her view of life and the need to find God.
*Aida took her postcards, and stood on the Nevski Prospect. It was one of the busiest streets in the city of Leningrad. There she started handing out her cards to the people passing by. Aida was, of course, arrested. In April 1962, she was tried by a Communist court. She was exiled from Leningrad and lost her job as a lab assistant.
*Aida was arrested again in 1965, and sent to a labor camp for a year. In 1968, she was arrested again, and was sent to a labor camp for three more years. But Aida never gave up.
*Here is the translation of the poem she wrote in 1962:
"Our years fly past
One after another, unnoticed.
Grief and sadness disappear,
They are carried away by life.
This world, the earth, is so transient
Everything in it comes to an end.
Life is important.
Don't be happy-go-lucky!
What answer will you give your creator?
What awaits you, my friend, beyond the grave?
Answer this question while light remains.
Perhaps tomorrow, before God,
You will appear to give an answer for everything.
Think deeply about this,
For you are not on this earth forever.
Perhaps tomorrow, you will break forever your links with this world!
SEEK GOD WHILE HE IS TO BE FOUND." (4)
*We must stand up for Jesus Christ. This is a matter of life and death for all eternity. God help us to stand up for Jesus!
*Would you please bow for prayer?
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Attacked Again" by John Hamby - Acts 5:12-42
(2) "Missions - A miracle in the making in the Muslim world" by Russ Jones - OneNewsNow.com - Thursday, August 22, 2013
(3) Adapted from Paul Powell "Jumpstarting Dead Churches" - Copyright 1995 - Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention pp. 155-156
(4) R. Kent Hughes, "Acts: The Church Afire" - Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1996 - pp. 86-87 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Attacked Again" by John Hamby - Acts 5:12-42