- Sermon Notes
Walk in an Effective Spiritual Life
Acts 5:12 – 42
October 30, 2022
As we study through the book of Acts, we see that the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit and wonderful things were happening. Peter taught two sermons and more than 10,000 people were added to the church. At the temple, a lame man was healed and because of this Peter and John were jailed, called before the high priest and Council, threatened, and told not to proclaim the name of Jesus anymore.
Yet they continued and chose to be obedient to God instead of being obedient to men defying God. Their obedience to God’s will was critical to the spread of the gospel, and because of their obedience, they saw mighty things happening.
There is much that we can apply to our lives out of this section of Scripture. As we walk in obedience to God’s calling on our lives it will have a profound effect. God can use us mightily to grow his church and to impact the world around us.
This is the ultimate goal; for your life to have meaning and purpose and make a lasting difference on this earth.
I. God Moves Through Obedience
Verse 12 – After the healing of the lame man, and the event with Ananias and Sapphira, the people were in great awe. Many discerned that the power of God was moving through the apostles. This would not have happened if they were not obedient to God. As we saw in Acts 4, the Council told them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus anymore, but they chose to be obedient to God rather than the Council. The result was that God was honoring their obedience by using them mightily.
They were not grudgingly obedient as if God ‘forced’ them to do it. They were obedient out of choice driven by their love for God and the zeal of the Holy Spirit directing them.
A. God moves on hearts
- Verse 14 – All the more believers, multitudes of men and women were constantly added to their number.
- The apostles were being obedient and as they taught the good news of Jesus, the Spirit of God was moving on the hearts of people, and many were converting to the gospel of truth.
- We need to remember that it was not their eloquent speech that changed the hearts of the people. It was the Spirit of God moving on their hearts.
1 Corinthians 2:1-4, And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
- Paul here shows us the apostles’ mindset and dependence on the Spirit. They were the agents proclaiming the good news which the Spirit confirmed with power.
- Ultimately, it is the power of the Spirit that brings change. Our function is to bring the good news.
Romans 10:14 -15, How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
- We should remember that it is not our job to save people. We cannot save anyone. Many times, I have heard Christians being exasperated, saying that they have tried everything to get a person to come to faith in Christ. They start to feel condemnation, feeling that they have not done enough and should be doing more to ‘get the person saved’.
- It sounds like a noble gesture, yet the root of it is pride and it sets you up for failure. If the person comes to Christ, out of pride, you can say, ‘it was my great work that resulted in him being saved.’ If the person does not come to Christ, you feel like a failure. This is a clever ploy of the enemy to pull us back into works while doing the ‘right thing.’
- It is freeing to know that our part in salvation is to spread the good news by speaking life into circumstances around us and then teaching those accepting the gospel.
Illus. – There are many discussions that open up as people start to speak about their lives. Hardships they go through, problems they are struggling with, or questions they are stumped with…
- It is the Holy Spirit that prepares the heart, keeps pursuing and convicting the person, and ultimately draws him or her into a relationship with Jesus.
- In fact, the whole Trinity is involved in the process.
John 6: 44, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him [giving him the desire to come to Me]; and I will raise him up on the last day.
- It is the love of the Father for the one He’s drawing that result in salvation; if the person surrenders their will and receives the gift of a relationship with God.
Acts 2:47, And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- God is still the one building his church.
B. Expect people to be set free
- Verse 12 – The move of God’s hand did not stop with the healing of one lame man. God honored their obedience and confirmed their message with many signs and wonders.
- To such an extent that the people would put the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits outside in the streets so that the shadow of Peter could fall on them as he passed by. What a powerful move of God!
- Many people came from other cities around Jerusalem with their sick and afflicted as well.
- When we teach the word of God and the good news of the gospel goes out, we should expect God to move. As previously said, the Spirit of God moves on the soul as the word goes out and we should expect people to be set free from bondage and the lies of the enemy.
C. Pray in line with God’s will
- This move of God, though, was a direct outflow of their prayers.
Acts 4:29-31, And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
- It is God’s will that all will be saved and set free. So, when they were praying in Acts 4, it was the Spirit of God moving on their hearts to pray for this so that their hearts would be aligned and expectant for it to happen.
- They were not pleading it from God, and then God reluctantly agreed to do signs and wonders. No, they prayed in line with God’s will.
- We should be praying for and expecting God to move and change people’s lives. God’s hand starts to move as we start to speak life into the spiritual realm.
Matthew 18:18-20, Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
- What a wonderful promise. Jesus has delegated the authority to us as his ambassadors on earth to use our weapons of warfare in the spiritual realm. As we declare the name of Jesus as the supreme power over every enemy, the enemy must bow his knee to the King of kings when we pray in agreement with God’s will.
II. Speak the Message of Life
- Verse 17 – Once again, great opposition arose against the apostles as the high priest and his associates were filled with jealousy. They were losing their grip of authority over the people because they were trying to keep them trapped in fear and religion, whereas the message of Jesus brought life and hope.
- It is interesting to note that the high priest and his associates were all part of the sect of the Sadducees, those who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
- How ironic that there would be a religious system that proclaimed that there is no life or hope after death! And these were the ones that were trying to squash the message of life and hope.
- Many times, the message we hear from the world is a message of hopelessness. If one were to only look at the natural world, it does look like there is no hope.
Illus. – The earth revolves around a sun that will eventually stop producing heat. That would be the end of all life. The natural resources of the earth, like coal and oil, are also running out. If humanity keeps on devastating the forests which are the lungs of the earth, there would not be enough oxygen in the future. Even if one little ‘insignificant’ insect, the bee, becomes extinct through poisoning, deforestation, and urbanization, all humanity would die of hunger.
- I don’t know about you, but if I did not have the good news of Jesus, these and other dilemmas would keep me awake at night.
- But we know that this life is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, Jesus said that this world will not last forever. However, this is not something to be anxious about, because we have a greater hope and promise, knowing that we will live with Him forever and he promised a new heaven and a new earth where He will reign as King.
- As a side note, I believe it is important to take care of our planet as we were made stewards of this planet by God. Yet even in this, people can get so sidetracked with saving the planet. They will put in more energy to save the little green-striped yellowback gnat in the southern amazon, while millions of people are on their way to hell. The enemy is a mastermind at distracting us from the main thing.
A. God opens doors
- Verse 18 – Just like the message from the Sadducees, people are bombarded by the message of ‘no hope’. The worldly systems are trying to ‘jail’ the message of hope in Jesus Christ because then they can maintain their power over the people with fear and uncertainty.
- Those who are kept in fear are easy to direct and manipulate.
- Verse 19 – the message of Jesus Christ cannot be jailed and contained. God sent his angel to do a jailbreak and told them to continue to teach in the temple the message of life.
- It is easy, even as Christians, to get trapped in the worries and anxieties of this world and your personal life. I’m sure that many of us have experienced this before. It is easy to become inwardly focused when going through troubled times. This is also a way that the enemy can take you out of the game.
- We should remember that whatever circumstance we go through, it does not affect our position and who we are in Christ. The angel appeared to them in jail telling them to continue teaching the message of life.
- You might feel that you are in a place or season of adversity, yet the truth is that we are seated with him in heavenly places.
Illus. long ago I heard this great advice that stuck with me. The person said that whatever situation you’re going through, start to pray for others who are going through the same thing instead of just focusing on yourself. In other words, whatever valley or dark time you are going through, you can pray with compassion for others who are going through the same thing. If you are sick, pray for others who are sick. If you’re going through financial difficulty, pray for others were going through the same difficulty. This applies to all areas of life. The moment that you do this, you start to focus on the promises of God and speak life into the spiritual realm for the people around you. God can then turn this around and use it for good.
Illus. I remember when my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, we could not understand why it was happening, but we knew that God was God in our lives and if He allowed it, it was for a reason. So, every time my wife had to go to the hospital for treatment, she had a choice. She could be negative and angry at God asking why He was allowing this, or she could trust that He had a plan and could use this for His glory. She would go into the hospital and start to speak to the people around her getting treatment. And God used this to reach people who did not know Him and to give hope to those who have no hope. Other than that, it gave us empathy for those who were going through the same thing, and we started focusing our prayers on them and their situations. It became like a prayer ‘spotlight’ shining on the darkness of the problem, and I believe that God was actively involved and using these prayers as we proclaimed truth into the spiritual realm.
- We need to keep speaking the message of life and hope in the midst of every circumstance and against all adversity. It is in times of trouble and resistance that our faith shines through.
- It shows if we are just busy with the dead religion and saying the right things to impress people, or if it is the foundational truth and hope of our lives.
- Sometimes God allows difficult things to reveal our own hearts to us and to show us what the depth of our faith is.
- God can then open doors that we think are impossible to open and use it for His glory. This spreads the good news of hope and life in people’s lives.
B. Stand with confidence in truth
- Verse 25 – After being released, the apostles went right back to the temple and started to teach. They were in effect teaching in the lion’s den, in the stronghold of those who were looking to persecute them! What audacity!
- They were able to do this because they knew that they were standing under the authority of God and that greater was He that was in them than he that was in the world.
- Once again, they were brought before the Council which tried to dissuade them from teaching the message of Jesus.
- However, they were not deterred but stood in truth.
- They kept confirming the good news of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but they did not shy back from exposing the works of the enemy.
- Verse 30 – …whom you have put to death by hanging Him on the cross.
- They were definitely not trying to be politically correct. They kept on proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to which they were witnesses.
- Verse 32 – …so is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the witness testifying in our hearts that Jesus is the risen Lord. So, even though we weren’t there and haven’t seen the resurrection with our own eyes, we know from the testimony of those who were there and the agreement of the Holy Spirit that this is the absolute truth that drives our conviction and hope.
- In these dark days that we are living, there are many ‘councils’ that want to pressure us so we would not speak the truth. As I said last week, we are not called to change the world by being militant aggravators. We are called to display the character of our Father. God is love and truth.
- We are called to love but also to keep on standing in truth. In fact, standing in truth and proclaiming the truth shows that we really love. Keeping quiet is just being indifferent.
2 Corinthians 5:14, For Christ’s love compels us.
- It is our steadfastness to stand in the truth that people can be set free that will in the end win the day and save many who are lost and bound.
- Verse 34 – the outflow of Gamaliel’s counsel is a great confirmation of what we believe. History confirms that this faith that we are part of was not the result of human minds, but driven by the Holy Spirit.
- Verse 41 – even after they were flogged, they went out rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. This was one of the greatest proofs that the resurrection of Jesus was the truth.
- No one would be willing to be persecuted, flogged, or even killed for a lie, especially not those who mere weeks before fled and went into hiding when Jesus was crucified. What changed in their lives that they were now willing to go through intense hardship? The only explanation is that Jesus was resurrected.
- When this truth becomes evident in your life and you give your life to Jesus, no one can steal this truth away from you. When the Holy Spirit resides in your heart, He is the one that confirms that you are a child of God and that nothing can separate you from his love. This is our eternal hope that the world cannot take away.
- We are called to live an effective spiritual life focused on the truth of the gospel, speaking life into situations in people’s lives, expecting people to be free. Praying that God would align our hearts with His love, His purpose, and His boldness. Be available to be used by God.
Acts 5:12 – 42 NASB
12 [a]At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the [b]people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick [c]or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and [d]speak to the people in the temple [e]the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the [f]Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what [g]would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
27 When they had brought them, they stood them [h]before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and [i]yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, [j]whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a [k]cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted [l]to His right hand as a [m]Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses [n]of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
33 But when they heard this, they were cut [o]to the quick and intended to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. [p]But he was killed, and all who [q]followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who [r]followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or [s]action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They [t]took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to [u]speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the [v]Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and [w]from house to house, they [x]kept right on teaching and [y]preaching Jesus as the [z]Christ.