“We must obey God rather than men”

The commission Jesus gave his disciples to go out preaching tested their faith to the uttermost. They were to just begin in Jerusalem, and what a beginning that was. How exciting it is to read the Acts of the Apostles, for the disciples were now called apostles (meaning those ‘sent forth’). They now possessed the Holy Spirit, as we commented yesterday. Paul tells us, in Hebrews 6:4 that these are “the powers of the age to come”. They knew when believers told them lies and we read today how Ananias and Sapphira died for doing this (6:1-10). One of the final points made in the Bible, in Revelation 22:15, is that those excluded from the kingdom will include “everyone who loves and practices falsehood” – and how much is truth ‘bent’ today – that amounts to a lie! We will soon read in Acts how Paul said, “I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (24:16).

The Jewish authorities arrest the Apostles again and say, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (5:28) overlooking that they had been party to the people declaring before Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:20,25). Do we make statements we forget about?

Peter and the Apostles answer the council, “We must obey God rather than men” (verse 29) and this states a principle that all believers must remember and makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for them to be involved in human politics. In some countries it is exceedingly challenging to “obey God” and openly carry out Christ’s command to preach “to the end of the earth” (1:8). After the Jewish council had let them go “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name … they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (5:42). Genuine believers today must follow their example.