Saturating A City with the Gospel (Acts 5:26-29)
Acts 5:26-29, Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us, 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
The apostles were retrieved from the Temple and brought before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish Supreme Court consisting of a total of 70 members and the High Priest who was in charge. In the time of Christ, this court was very corrupt. The Sanhedrin had total jurisdiction over all the theological and religious matters in Israel. The high priest despised the name of Jesus so much that they would not even mention His name. They were charged with defiance to the commands of the council. They were charged with insubordination (they defied the command to not teach in the name of Jesus). They were charged with indoctrination (they filled Jerusalem with the doctrine of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ). They were charged with incrimination (they intended to bring the guilt of the death upon the people). We also find the apostles' victory in speaking the truth. They told the Jews and their religious leaders the truth of what they did to Jesus. They killed the Messiah. The high priest conveniently forgot that he and his associates had said to Pilate, "His blood be upon us and on our children!" (Matthew 27:25). They were only getting what they had asked Pilate to give to them.
The council had commanded the apostles not to teach in the name of Jesus and yet they defied the council. God called and Spirit filled preachers will magnify and exalt the name of Jesus. John G. Butler said, “Governments often try to clamp down on the Bible message and prohibit preachers from preaching the truth... And congregations frequently think they are the authority, too, and hesitate not to tell the preacher what he should preach. But few things are so presumptuous as someone trying to tell God’s man what to preach... A true man of God gets his message from God. He is to preach the Word as the Holy Spirit leads him.” The apostles were rebuked and they reminded them, "We commanded you to not teach in Jesus name!" Then they had to admit the victory of the apostles in filling the city of Jerusalem with the doctrine of Christ and His Gospel. Despite the external persecution and internal problems, the apostles kept on teaching and preaching. To saturate a city is not easy to do at all, but these men of God did it through the power of God and hard work. Jesus was the talk of the town. Can you imagine what America would be like if Jesus was the talk of every town and people were excited about Him?
The power of the witness of Christians cannot be underestimated. In the last century, two independent studies were conducted 50 years apart to determine the kindest city in the United States. In both surveys, 1940 and 1990, the city that was ranked first was Rochester, New York. What was attributed to their friendliness? The answer is the greatest revival in the history of the United States that took place in 1831, under the preaching of evangelist Charles Finney. 1,200 people were saved and united with churches during this revival that swept lawyers, doctors, and prominent businessmen into the kingdom of Heaven. Forty of the converts entered the ministry. The entire town was changed as many taverns and red-light districts closed down. The ripple effect of this revival spread to 1500 towns and villages in the surrounding areas. The testimony of those that were saved, their influence for the Lord, is still having an impact for Christ upon their descendants that live in Rochester and across the globe.
The apostles did not hold back. They were not intimidated into silence. They looked them in the eyes and boldly told them the facts without fear or hesitation. The eternal destiny of these people was at stake. They needed to be saved and the only way to reach them was to reveal to them their sin and their solution...Jesus Christ. Christians today struggle to share the Gospel with unsaved friends and family because of fear and intimidation. If you can overcome that fear, you have won a great victory. If you can saturate a city with the Gospel, you have won a great victory. Not all people will be saved, but if you can at least give people the opportunity to hear or read the Gospel, you have achieved, with God's help, a victory.
Points to Ponder:
We will face these same problems throughout our ministry, yet we too should keep on keeping on.
Help us to fear and hate sin because we fear and love God, who is holy!
We must obey God by proclaiming and teaching that Jesus Christ is the risen Saviour and Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to remain steadfast to preach Your Word and minister to others.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.