“Give us aid against the enemy for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Ps. 60:11-12, NIV)
In Acts 5 we see the apostles obeying the commission of their risen Lord to make disciples and to be his witnesses—they perform many signs and wonders and “the people held them in high esteem.” But the high priest and the Sadducees become filled with jealousy and arrest the apostles. I wonder whether the apostles, as they sat in the public jail, may have prayed Psalm 60:11-12.
During the night the Lord sends an angel to open the doors of the jail, bring the apostles out, and give them their charge: “Go, stand in the temple courts… and tell the people all about this new life.” (Acts 5:20, NIV)
Can there be any confusion? Is this charge not crystal clear? GO, STAND, and TELL. “Tell the people the full message of this new life” is the mandate of the Church and the people of God.
“The preaching [and teaching] of the Word of Life is the best [only] antidote to the doctrine of death,” said C. H. Spurgeon, and “the agents employed for spreading the Gospel are men, and not angels. . . . This is our one great business here below.” (Spurgeon, “The Charge of the Angel”)
In obedience to the angel’s charge the apostles begin again to teach the people. The Sanhedrin, puzzled by the apostles’ escape and incensed that they had disobeyed orders not to teach in Jesus’ name, bring in Peter and the apostles for questioning. Peter’s words as he stands before the Sanhedrin and the high priest are for us an outline, if you will, of the message of this new life:
We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:29-32, NIV)
Jesus Christ, by his death, resurrection, and ascension, has redeemed us with his blood and gives freely to men the gift of eternal life. “These are historical facts which contain vital doctrines,” says Spurgeon (photo at right). “We must,” he continues, “keep on hammering away at this—Jesus died, rose again, and rose to heaven to make intercession for us. Because of all this, there is life for the sons of men. There is no teaching ‘all the words of this life’ unless these three great facts flame out like the stars of heaven and are made to be essential to our eternal life.”
Flogged and ordered again not to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles are let go. “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.” (Acts 5:42, NIV)
According to Martin Luther, “If you are a sincere believer, you have all of God’s treasures and you are God’s child. The rest of your life on earth is merely a pilgrimage. God allows you to live in this body and walk on this earth so that you can help other people and bring them to heaven.”
O God, give us aid to stand with courage in the “temple courts,” our spheres of influence, occupations, relationships, and tell with boldness and in the power of the Holy Spirit those whom we encounter “the full message of this new life.”