This Week's Gospel Sermons
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June 2, 2013
But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God." (Acts 5:29-39)
In our text from the book of Acts, we see that the Jewish leaders were terribly upset with Peter and John because they had not been able to shut the apostles mouths. So, they decided to kill them (Acts 5:33). However, this effort had been halted by the sage reasoning of one of the leaders named Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-40). His argument was reasonable—they just might be fighting against God in their actions. This scene shows that everyone understood that it was possible to fight against God (Acts 5:39). Even this Jewish leader, who must have been privy to the decision that was made to kill Jesus, understood that such action would be fatal. Notice, no others present objected to his reasoning. It was well understood that fighting against God was possible and ill-advised.
Let all understand that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God:"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:26-31). God is fair and just. Therefore, He will punish His adversaries. Even knowing this, there are those, a majority, who still choose to fight Him. There are a number of ways that they still choose fight against Him.
People, just as we see from our text inActs, can fight against God by persecuting and killing those who speak for God (Acts 5:33-40). Most will say, "Oh, I would never do that. I think it is wrong to harm others. I want to show my tolerance and patience with others."
Tolerance of Sin
Folks try to justify themselves by being "tolerant," but then fight against God by joining the wrong side. They will not only tolerate adversaries, but "give aid and comfort to the enemy." They will walk, stand, and sit with those who they ought not (Psalm 1:1-6). In dealing with false ideas about the resurrection, Paul said, "Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals. Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." (1Corinthians 15:33-34)
Some will claim to be staying away from sin by being a part a God’s family. These very same people will fight against God by causing trouble in the ranks—in the church. Peter said that the truth would be maligned when people were willing to listen to destructive heresies (2Peter 2:1,2). Remember how things were going with the Christians in Corinth? (1Corinthians 1:11-13).
I have heard some say, "I just don’t want to cause trouble." On the surface, that seems like a noble sentiment. Yet, they seem to equate causing no trouble with doing nothing. There is no growth, no bearing fruit. There is no taking a stand. There is no encouragement or assistance of others (Hebrews 12:4,12-13). Some are just of no account, like the Christians of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-15). This fighting against God.
Some will fight against God by outright desertion. This was a problem with some Christians of Galatia (Galatians 4:9,10). The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to not forsake our responsibilities (Hebrews 10:25). To fight, one does not have to try to kill the leader. All he has to do is just desert him. (2Peter 2:15; 2Timothy 4:10).
Almost without fail, people who end up deserting, fight the Lord and his people by being carnal. Think once again of problems with some Christians at Corinth: "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" (1Corinthians 3:1-3).
Those who are willing to maintain a closeness with the world are willing to fight against God by opposing his instructions—defying Him (Luke 10:16; Matthew 12:30; Revelation 2:20).
People can fight against God by undermining his cause (2Timothy 3:1-8; Jude 4; Galatians 2:4). There will always be those who are willing to be subverted and would seem to always look for those who are willing to do the subverting: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (2Timothy 4:3-4).
Remember! It is a serious thing to attempt to fight against God. "if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them." Are you fighting against God or fighting for Him?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.