Departing From the Council
Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
These are amazing verses when you consider the fury of the Sadducees as shown in verse thirty three of this chapter! Acts 5:33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. For you do realize that theirs were the same wicked hands (Acts 2:23), that crucified the Lord of glory? This is a very dangerous bunch of religionists with the power of the office of the high priest behind them! Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, But they were so deceived by only having a form of godliness that they could actually justify themselves in the act of murder! John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
And as we have previously noticed, the Lord has forced upon them the three things in which they did not believe. Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. The Holy Spirit (and the Sadducees didn’t believe in spirits), kept granting bold messages on Christ’s resurrection and sent an angel (first time mentioned in the Book of Acts – 5:19) to get the apostles out of prison to go preach their message in the temple! And that was like stirring up a nest of hornets!
Let us also notice in verse thirty three, listed above, that it states, they were cut to the heart! This is the same Greek word listed as, they were sawn asunder in Hebrews 11:37. What we realize is that the Lord, using the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph. 6:17), reveals their true character to themselves! Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. For that sword is pictured as being in the very mouth of the Lord Christ! Rev. 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
And this is the sword which our Lord referred to as stated in Luke 22:36, Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. That is, we should divest ourselves of the natural matters of life and invest in the gospel and it’s furtherance! For our sword is not carnal, and being spiritual it is “mighty through God.” 2 Corin. 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
For irregardless of that which Hallmark shall print on their cards in December, there shall never be “peace on earth” naturally, except there be peace in the souls of men by the sword-cutting power of the gospel! Matt. 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For this is that which true, effectual preaching of the gospel is designed to do. 1Cor. 14:24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. But these resist the benefit of this true revelation of their hearts, refusing in their pride to admit this to be their condition. And as the Lord Jesus well said of these, ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:24).
Their murderous spirit is the same of that which took the life of holy Stephen as his preaching also caused his listeners to be cut to the heart! Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
For Satan and his ministries and his ministers (2 Cor. 11:15), always seek to hinder the true preaching of the gospel! But a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a theory! – Paul addresses this same trend to the Gentile churches as well! 1 Thessalonians 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
But this is not how it always turns out for everyone hearing the gospel, thank the Lord! For there were those at the Pentecost sermon that reacted quite differently! Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Their sins were as much revealed to them through spiritual preaching! But they responded in a far different way. Instead of violence against the speaker, their fever arose against their sin! For the Lord had granted them repentance unto life! That sword which the Lord said he sent on earth had performed the operation of God, cutting them away from their sinful nature.
Let us now consider that God used two witnesses to hinder the Sadducees from exacting their murderous intents! First there was the angel sent to get them out of prison and return them to the prescribed agenda of the Holy Spirit.
But just why is this angel’s work of releasing the apostle from prison such a powerful witness? It is a mighty witness in reminding these of the same experience just a few weeks earlier! For these high-minded religionists, who did not believe in angels, had a previous similar supernatural event brought to mind!
Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
O my goodness!! God was seeing to it that they were having to relive the resurrection of his Son, the Lord Jesus! He would not have his Son to be ignored! Eventually every knee will bow to him and every tongue will confess him to be Lord over all, to the glory of the Father! (Phil. 2:9-11). And, of course, it worked! Acts 5:24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
Dear Reader, one may think themselves to be able to dismiss Christ and his gospel as some fantasy of ignorant, religious people, but one day they shall cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them in order to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. (Rev. 6:16). And then they shall have to give account of every word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
And if you will read Acts 12:1-11 and Acts 16:25-28 you will find that the Lord used this method of release again so that his Apostles could get back to the work for which he had assigned them.
But there is something more personal in this method for you that are believers! One fine day – the very last of days – the Sovereign Christ shall cause this method of final release for you! Matthew 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
For this is the hope of the entire church! Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
1 Thess. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
But what of that second witness? It was from a spokesperson among their number. He was a Pharisee, not a Sadducee, but was numbered among the council. He and his refrains are found in Acts 5:34-40. He was none other than Paul’s former teacher, Gamaliel! (Acts 22:3). We can have no conclusions from his words that he was a believer. And there is no record of his ever coming to bow to Christ as did his most famous student, known to him as Saul of Tarsus.
The first implication we see in his speech was that Jesus of Nazareth was no more than an insurrectionist. For he throws the leader of Christianity into the same lot as one Theudas, whom he states, “boasted himself to be some body!” And then he mentions a “Judas of Galilee” who evidently revolted against paying taxes. And he also throws all the disciples of Christ into the same lot with the followers of these two insurrectionist leaders, concluding that the believers of the Lord Jesus would also be dispersed and brought to nought.
He could not have been a Christian, for the effectual word had been widely preached, strongly declaring the Person of Christ and his work to have been approved of God! Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
And if somehow it were possible that he had missed this effectual public preaching, he most assuredly had heard the testimony of their own officers they had sent to arrest the Lord. John 7:45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
And how could he possibly have missed the report of one of the greatest and rarest miracles that put his council into a fury? – the giving of sight of one born blind! John 9:32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
But one of the most conclusive evidences of his having no personal relationship with redemption is his unbelievable disregard of his soul’s own personal safety as seen in his statement recorded in Acts 5:39. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Notice the usage of the word “ye” twice! – Not “we!”
If I had thought for a split second that this was a fight against God, and I were him, I would have said, “we,” not “ye!” The warning was in his mind and mouth, but never for a second in his heart!
And the saddest thing? – And to him they agreed: (Acts 5:40). How twisted and corrupting religion is! It can resist the Holy Spirit’s word through His lowly servants, but then esteem the ambitious logic of one lost among them as worthy of agreement, at the cost of losing their own souls! God have mercy!
Pastor Gene Breed. September 22, 2012