Go, Stand and Tell the Message
Key vs 5:20
"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said,
"and tell the people the full message of this new life."
Last week was a very cold and hectic week. I know many of you had to struggle to settle the classes while going through the treacherous weather. I am glad you have made it to the worship service. I believe that God will bless you through this message, because this message is about hardship and persecutions.
Before the message, Iíd like to ask you what you learned from the last weekís message. How was the life of believers in the first century? They were full of love and joy. They were so unselfish that they shared everything they had. At the same time, they testified about Jesus with great power. Who was called the son of encouragement? He was Barnabas! This means that there must be discouraged people. But Barnabas always comforted them, encouraged them and restored the joy of life among believers. As we go through the semesters, many of us will face problems such as home works, jobs, and babies. We also need a lot of encouragement. Will you live as sons and daughters of encouragement? Let us pray.
1. Go and tell the message (17-20)
In the previous passage, we learned that the work of God advanced so powerfully that thousands of people believed. And the sick people were healed and those who were tormented by evil spirits were cured. The work of God was so powerful that some people brought the sick into the street and laid them on the mat, waiting for Peter to pass by, because they believed that Peterís shadow might heal them. It was exciting and powerful work of God. We must praise God for such wonderful work. Lets look at how the religious leaders felt about it? Read vs. 17-18†
17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
They should be filled with joy, but strangely they were filled with jealousy! When the thousands of people followed the ordinary, unschooled apostles with great respect, they felt jealous of them so they wanted to stop the work of God. They arrested the apostles and put them in public jail. Unless we guard our hearts, we too can be filled with jealousy and become hindrance to God when otherís work prosper.†††
How did God protect the apostles? Lets read vs. 19-20
19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."
The religious leaders worked hard to stop the apostles, but God opened the doors of the jail and brought them out easily. There was no problem with God to release the apostles, though the apostles were locked tightly in jail and guarded securely. We should trust God because God can solve the problem so easily. So what did God tell the apostles to do? Lets read vs. 20 again.
20"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."
Let think about what it means:
First, God told them to Ďgo, stand in the temple courtsí. Perhaps the apostles did not want to go anywhere. They might want to go hiding like fugitives. Especially they did not want to go back to the temple courts where they had been arrested. But God told them to go, stand in the temple courts where people gathered and listened to the message. God wants them to overcome the fear of men and take a stand in this temple courts.
When you are rejected by students over and over, you donít want to go to the campus again. One missionary said she was told by the school official not to invite the students, she was afraid to see the official again. But God said, go and stand in the temple courts. Probably the apostles wanted to go to Galilee where no religious leaders lived. Maybe thatís why God told them to go specifically to the temple courts. Why did God tell them to go and stand in the dangerous place? God wanted them to overcome the fear of men. God also wanted to display his power in the middle of the enemy camp. If they avoided there, God could not demonstrate that he is living God.
Campus is our temple courts where students stay and study. Sometimes it is hard to move our feet and go after a long dayís work. We easily excuse: Oh, I am so tired! Today is too cold and slippery. No student will be there! Last Tuesday was most treacherous. Every TV or radio station advised: stay home and relax. Donít go out. But I saw m. Sarah and Abraham going to campus to witness. That night I saw two new students coming to attend the group study. When we are obedient to God and go, God might have prepared a sheep for you. When we donít move our feet and go to campus, you might miss the one prepared for you. When we move our feet and go, God says: what beautiful feet of those who bring the good news.††
Second, God told them to go and tell the people the message of the new life. Unless we tell the message, people would not know the savior. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Unless we tell the message, no one would be saved. In the past, I went to the campus and could not open my mouth when I was discouraged. I felt like a grasshopper, afraid of the people. I went around the building and retuned home discouraged. Since we studied the Acts, I do believe that we have received the Holy Spirit based on Acts 2:38-39. Lets read together.
38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."†
When I repented and believed in Jesus, two things happened to me based on these verses: first, I was forgiven. I was accepted as his child by God. Second, I have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and every believer. When you believe in the Lord, you have received the forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. Since then, the Holy Spirit comforts you, teaches you and empowers you when you are obedient to him. Now you need to take a step of faith, then the Holy spirit will display his power.
When I go to campus in obedience to God, sometimes I feel dry or tired. But when I open my mouth and begin to tell about Jesus, the Spirit empowers me so I can boldly witness even to my surprise. I can feel it because the word comes out powerfully. So I return home recharged with great strength. Donít worry about how you feel. Simply go and tell in obedience to Godís command. God will bless your obedience and faith. Oftentimes God grants us sheep when we go and tell the good news, simply in obedience to God, though we may not feel that excited about going at first.
Third, God wants us to tell the full message of the new life. The message of new life is very simple. Until now, we learned about Peterís message 4 or 5 times. What did he say? Basically every time he preached the same message. Jesus whom you crucified, but God raised him from the dead and made him Lord and Savior. There is no better message nor other messages. When they believed in this Jesus, they were filled with joy and with power because they were forgiven and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the message of new life. Jesus is the central message of the whole Bible Ė the OT and NT. We need to tell this message of Jesus that brings new life.
One sister told me one day that it was very serious whether people accept our message or reject it, because it will determine their eternal destiny. It is absolutely true. Jesus said:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mk16: 15-16)
It is truly a serious matter. Therefore God told the apostles to go, stand and tell the message. There is a sense of urgency in Godís command. I pray that we all go and tell the message of Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. We must obey God rather than men (21-42)
Lets read vs 21. How did the apostles obey Godís command?
21At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
They went to the temple courts at daybreak and taught the people. They were so obedient to God. Look at vs 21b through 26. When they could not find the apostles in the jail, the religious leaders were totally puzzled. Then someone told them that the apostles were preaching in the temple courts. The captain went there and brought the apostles in again. They did not use force. The apostles did come in voluntarily. The apostles were not afraid at all. Lets read vs 27-28.
27Having brought the apostles; they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."
They threatened the apostles with their human authority, but the apostles were not scared. Because they preached with Godís authority. Rather they used every opportunity to testify about Jesus. They said: You filled Jerusalem with this teaching. Every time they were arrested, Jerusalem Post carried the headline: Apostles arrested. They claim that Jesus is Christ. God used their persecution to proclaim that Jesus is Christ. Lets read vs 29-31.
29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
Sometimes we think we donít have time to witness. But look at the apostles. They use every event to witness about Jesus. They said: we must obey God rather than men. Though the religious leaders tried to stop them, the apostles were determined to obey God and witness. If we are willing to witness, we will see opportunities are there always. Lets look at vs 32.
32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
When we witness about Jesus, the Holy Spirit also witness with us. This means we are coworkers with the Holy Sprit. When we tell about Jesus, the Holy Spirit will either convict the people or convert them, applying our message. How did the Holy Spirit convict the religious leaders? Lets read vs 33.
33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.
They were full of guilt. But how did God protect them? Look at vs. 34-40. This time God used a man Gamaliel to convince the religious leaders who want to kill the apostles. Lets read vs. 38-40.
38Therefore, in the present case I advise you:
Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of
human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be
able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against
40His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
The apostles were beaten harshly and released. Did they complain to God? Lets read vs. 41-42
41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
Are they totally out of mind? Are they sane? It says that they rejoiced because they were counted as worthy servants. While obeying God, if you suffer, your sufferings are the badge of honor. Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry was a Vietnam war veteran. People regarded him as a courageous man, worthy of trust. The scar, sufferings and hardships are the badge of honor for believers. Therefore when you suffer, rejoice because you are considered as worthy servants. Regardless of the threat, day after day, from house to house, the apostles never stopped teaching that Jesus is Christ. There are many religions on the campus, competing for the attention of students. We must never stop teaching and proclaiming that Jesus is Christ. Day after day, from building to building till the campus is filled with the message of Jesus. From campus to campus till the whole East-coast campuses are filled with the message that Jesus is Christ.
In conclusion, when the apostles faced the persecution and sufferings, they never retreated. Rather they obeyed God more than ever. We must be obedient to Godís command regardless of the situation: Go, stand and tell the message of Jesus. May God bless our obedience and faith to raise up 120 disciples this year.
One word: Go, stand and tell.