The Church Meets Trouble

Thank you, and once again good morning to students and teachers of the

word of God. Our lesson this week is called "The Church Meets

Trouble." And, whereas last week, we talked about the internal trouble

the church had and the fellowship with Ananias and Sapphira, this week

we deal with opposition from the outside. Our references in addition

to the lesson are found in Psalm 37, verses 30-40, and in the lesson

for today we learn about the source of the trouble, the Helper in time

of trouble, the reason for the trouble, the response of the troubled

church, and the treatment of the troubled church.

Our lesson deals mainly with Acts chapter 5, verses 17-42. We trust

you will take a little time out to sit down for just a moment and go

through some of these things with us. Beginning in Acts chapter 5,

verse 17, please follow along if you can in the text, and we'll try to

give you what the Bible says about the lesson, not merely what it is

presumed to teach.

Last week, when we talked about Ananias and Sapphira's trouble, we

observed that the early apostolic church had several unique things

about it that are no longer characteristic of any local church

anywhere in the world. Number one, they had the Apostles, which the

modern church does not have. Number two, these Apostles had proved

their apostleship by having the Jewish signs, given to the Jews who

seek for a sign. We also learned the Apostles' ministry to these

people in the days of the early church was accompanied by a communal

sharing of property in economic destribution on a communistic basis.

This is why Karl Marx used Acts chapter 4 as a proof text for his


We also learned from our study of Ananias and Sapphira, however, that

the Bible entirely justifies the capitalistic system on the terms of

the following grounds: In Matthew chapter 20 there is a dispute

between a man who is hired and the man who hired him. And the man who

hired him put up a contract. And when the man who signed that contract

agreed to that contract, he made that agreement with the employer, and

he was held to the terms of that contract, and it was none of his

business how else the boss conducted his private affairs. That is, the

contract was between the employer and the employeeÄit had nothing to

do with what the employee thought about how the business should be


Then we learned from our study of Acts chapter 5 that private property

belongs to a man, that it is his, that it belongs to him both before

it's sold and after it's sold, and at no time is he compelled by force

to do anything with it other than what he wants to do with it. So the

Bible in the New Testament clearly advocates the ownership of private

property on a voluntary distribution, on a voluntary basisÄnever a

compulsory basis. There's a great difference between the early Jewish

apostolic church and the system of Karl Marx. It lies in the fact that

the dialectical materialist system is based upon the eternity of

matter and atheism, and professes to solve all the problems of mankind

just by getting the money straightened out.

The Bible never makes that mistake. The Bible system of sharing of

property in the early Jewish church is based upon the immediate

expectation of the Lord's return, which, of course, is an unsettled

matter up to Acts chapter 7. And, too, is the fact that all those who

share do so on a voluntary basis on the grounds that they believe in

God and believe what God said, and believe that a just, economic

system among themselves is not the solution to all problems, but will

help them in their own Christian life.

So there's a vast difference between the dialectical materialism of

Mao Tse-Tung and Ingolls and Karl Marx, and the communal sharing of

property and goods by the New Testament Christians in the early part

of the Book of Acts.

Now we have the source of trouble from the outside in chapter 5 at

verses 17 and 18. The Helper in time of troubleÄof course this is

obviousÄwas in 19-25. The reason for the trouble, which is given in

verse 28; the response of those troubled (verses 29-32); and then we

learn how the troubled church was treated by its enemies in verses 40-

42. We'll start here today in Acts chapter 5 verse 17. This deals with

the source of the trouble.

"Then the high priest"Äthat's where the trouble came from. Just as

soon as there is any sign of revival or working of the Holy Spirit, up

shows the priest. Did you ever notice that? You know, that's something

worth noticing. Now, they haven't got that word out of the new bibles

yet, but they're working on it. Every time the Holy Spirit gets moving

in the Book of Acts, you watch his opposition begin to show up. And

every time it shows up, it shows up from the same crowd.

Did you notice in Acts chapters 2 and 3, after that mighty revival,

and that fellow got healed there, and five thousand people got saved?

Do you know what happened in the next verse? Look at it. Acts 4:1:

"And as they spake unto the people, the priests...came upon them."

Verse 6: "the high priest." All right, you check Acts chapter 5, and

right after Ananias and Sapphira are sacked, and "great fear" comes

upon the church (verse 11), and the Apostles carry out the apostolic

signs to Israel in verse 12, and many people get saved (verse 14), and

many people get healed (verse 15), what happens? Verse 17: "Then the

high priest...rose up." Did you ever notice that? Did you ever notice

in the Book of Acts that every single time in that Jerusalem area

where there was a real movement of the Holy Spirit, the same gang

moves in there to stop it? Have you ever noticed that? I wonder why

some of you haven't?

I wonder how that could have escaped the notice of Bible teachers for

so long, people who teach others the Book of Acts. That's a strange

thing, isn't it?

All right, here the thing is going on, and the apostolic signs are

being carried by the Apostles. These signs follow anybody who believes

under their ministry, according to Mark chapter 16. Here they are

getting healed right and left, verses 15 and 16, with no failures, no

duds, nobody releasing their faith, nobody sending in an offering to

the program to get their faith released, nobody sending in for Gift

Offer Number 75 or anything elseÄand all of them getting healed

whether they have faith or not, and no organs playing, and nobody

praying the prayer of faith. As a matter of fact, in some cases here,

it's the shadow of Simon Peter passing over them. These are the

apostolic signs given to the Jewish Apostles; and they're effective.

And once they become effective and people begin to get saved, and the

church begins to growÄ"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."

Isn't that something? I've often kind of laughed to myself when I read

this passage here, where the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost

(chapter 4, verse 31), and all the Sadducees could get filled with was

indignation! Self-righteous! It's a different filling, isn't it?

"And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common


Now here comes the helper of those in troubleÄ"But the angel of the

Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and

said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of

this life." What life? The life that's in Christ! The words of that


Verse 21: "And when they heard that, they entered into the temple

early in the morning, and taught." Notice in the early church that

there's no church building, and no local church assembly place. As a

building, they're meeting in the Temple. The group is a group of

people who are meeting in the Temple. So, they're meeting in the

Temple and then going from house to house (chapter 2, verse 46). They

have no local building set up yet as a church building. And they go

and preach in the temple.

"The high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the

council together." Underline that word council, please. If you're a

Bible teacher, you should underline the word council, and take a

concordance and run the word council through the New Testament, and

teach your student the meaning of that word. After all, our job is to

teach men what the Scriptures say about the Scriptures, not what they

are presumed to teach. You may think that a council might indicate

anything, from reading various things about councils. But, if you

study what the Scriptures said about councils, some of you might not

take the viewpoint you now take. After all, the best commentary on the

Scriptures are the Scriptures themselves. Take the word council in

the New Testament and run it through and study it, and see how many

times it occurs, where the movement is designed to stop the preaching

of the word of God.

"And they gathered together, and all the senate of the children of

Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the

officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and

told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the

keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we

found no man within. 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."

They said, "What's going to happen with this? How's this thing gonna

go?" They had the fellows locked up, and now they're gone.

Verse 25: "Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom

ye put in prison are standing in the temples, and teaching the


Horrors of horrors! Just what they don't want!

Verse 26: "Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them

without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have

been stoned."

Verse 27: "And when they had brought them, they set them before the

council: and the high priest asked them, Saying,..."

And here it comes; here is the reason for the trouble. Here is the

reason for the opposition in Jerusalem to the revival. It's the High

Priest over the council, who is the chief prosecutor. The chief

inquisitor is a priest over a council. Did you notice that? That's

worth noticing!

Verse 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"...did you get that? Now, do you see how it's done? When

those in charge of shutting up the truth of the word of God and oppose

revival want to put on a religious show, they will insist that the

truth that's being preached is a man's private, personal doctrine.

That is, that it's a sect or a cult that's not recognized or

qualified. See how it's done? Now, you do see how it's done, I trust.

I trust, if you're an enlightened, 20th-century American, you have a

Bible, and by opening your Bible, you can read and get light on the

things you don't understand, and not have any alibi to remain in

ignorance and darkness about these matters, which are of the utmost

importance to any civilization, from that time to the time I'm now

talking. That is, when we talk about efforts to get rid of the

preaching of the truth in America, don't you think for a minute that

the Bible won't give you the format for how that thing is done. If

"heaven and earth shall pass away," but God's word shall not, then

don't you think for a minute that God's word is not appropriate for

Southern California in 1990. That would be a bad error on your part.

If the God Almighty who gave you life and gave you breath, the God of

history, the God of creation, and the God of the universe, has

communicated Himself to men in words, and these words are in a Book,

then don't you worry; that Book will tell you where to look for the


And you won't have any alibi for not knowing where the trouble's

coming from, because it'll tell you before it comes. And when this

bunch get up and attack the preaching of the truth, they call it "your

doctrine." Do you know what Jesus Christ said of these people when He

was alive on this earth? When these people kept coming around, saying,

"That's just your opinion," "That's just your idea," "You speak of

yourself," "Your witness is not true," and this and that and so

forth--do you know what He said to those people? He said to them, "If

any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be

of God, or whether I speak of myself. My doctrine is not mine, but his

that sent me" (John 7:16,17). The doctrine that's being preached is

the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ that God Almighty gave to Him,

and He is now giving to the Apostles. It's not called the Apostles'

creed; it's called the Apostles' doctrine. And the doctrines He's

giving them He's giving them by the Holy Spirit, the indwelling

Comforter, about whom He said, when the Holy Spirit came, He would

guide and lead them into all truth and show them things to come (John

16:13). "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide

you"Ätalking about the twelve Apostles--"into all truth: for he shall

not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he

speak: and he will show you"--talking to the eleven; Judas has left--

"he will show you things to come."

So when the Apostles are preaching here in Jerusalem and bringing

about this mighty revival, they're not preaching their doctrine. Now

notice how the private interpreter, who is the head of the religious-

political shenanigans of its day--that bunch of people, when they get

up--in this case it's the Sanhedrin--when that bunch of people get up

and call the council, they call in the Bible believer--the street

preacher--to put him on the spot, they accuse him of preaching

something that he believes himself, that he is taught to believe,

that is not necessarily true--"your" doctrine. Did you notice that?

You know what they were preaching? They were preaching the living word

of the living God--the God-breathed words of divine authority. You

know what they were preaching? They were preaching a message about

which Paul said, "We thank God without ceasing, when you heard the

word of God, which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of

men, but as it is in truth, the word of God that effectually worketh

also in you that believe." Why, we've got a modern bunch of Christians

who don't even know the word of God when they hear it.

We've got a bunch of Christians in Ventura--and I'm not being partial;

I say Ventura because I believe in direct, personal preaching; I

always have. I have never believed in indirect, abstract preaching.

I've always felt that if a man was called to preach, he was called to

deal directly and face-to-face, name, define, locate, and apply. But

Ventura is no different than New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or

Kansas City or San Francisco or Seattle or any place in the U.S.A.

when it comes to these matters. You've got scores of Christians in

America today who have been brainwashed by Christian education to

believe that there are as many as 15 ultimate authorities, and where

they disagree, you can make up your own mind and use your own

judgment. And they can hear a man preach on the radio and say, "The

Bible says, the Bible says," and what that man says after he says,

"The Bible says," may not even be in the Bible! I've heard people on

the radio many times, radio programs and television programs, say,

"Well, it's like the Scriptures say," and then they quote something

that's not even the Bible. Those aren't the Scriptures.

Now, when you get to talking like this, you upset people who think

that they are their own final authority. Don't you see what happens

when you talk like this? When you begin to talk like this, every man

who sits in judgment on the word of God begins to get their bristles

up; their feathers begin to get ruffled. You know why? He thinks he's

God! I'm talking about Christian men; I'm not talking about unsaved


You've got Christian men in this town and in every town in this

country who think that their understand of education and scholarship

equips them to sit in judgment on the word of God, and they themselves

are the final authority, and they can say, "The Bible says," and then

quote any cotton-picking thing they want to quote. You'd better

believe it, sonny. This town is filled with them!

Now, they say, "It's your doctrine." Well, it wasn't their doctrine;

it was the Lord's doctrine.

And then this priest says in verse 28, "You intend to bring this man's

blood upon us." There's what they're worried about. They're worried

about the fact that the rascals who were guilty of the devilment

undercover are going to get exposed and brought out in broad daylight.

That's their problem.

Now, there's no doubt about Simon Peter's intent. When that priest in

the Sanhedrin says, "You intend to bring this man's blood upon us,"

there's nothing wrong with that charge, because, after all, Simon

Peter, when he was caught by the council and put up before the council

and accused of them, he said, "You yourselves have taken this man, and

you crucified him." 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..." There was no doubt about the charge. What they

intended to do is, they intended to put the guilt in the right place.

There's no doubt about that matter at all; there can't be any doubt

about that.

In Acts chapter 3, when Simon Peter preaches, he says in verse 14,

"But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be

granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life." So the high priest

is within his rights in being upset about Simon Peter intending to

bring the blood of Christ upon the Sanhedrin--because that's where it


Notice Stephen doesn't handle these matters any differently. When

Stephen gets to preaching in Acts chapter 7, he says in verse 52,

"Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have

slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom

YE have been now the betrayers and murderers." There's no doubt their

message; their message is a vicious, vilifying, castigating attack on

the religious leaders of their day. There isn't any doubt about the

message at all. The message is just as clear as polished, cut glass.

And there's never any alibi given for it!

When Simon Peter is accused of standing up here and telling these

people that "You killed the Prince of Life," he doesn't backtrack and

say, "Oh, I didn't mean to say that." He said, "You did it! Repent!

Get right!"

When he's called up before that Sanhedrin in Acts chapter 4, look at

it. Acts 4:10, when he said, "You crucified him," and that bunch gets

on him, do you think he backtracks and cops out? Do you think he said,

"Oh, I didn't mean to say that. I'm sorry I said that." Not him! He

said, "You're the ones who did it!" He's putting the blame where the

blame was due. There's no doubt about it.

You take in Acts chapter 7, when Stephen is accosted with the message

and responsibility of declaring the truth, do you think he backed out

of it? He stands up there and he says, "You are betrayers and

murderers, you bunch of rascals. You're a bunch of killers is what you

are!" And they knew it.

Why, when Christ told that parable about the vineyard, where the

vineyard-dressers said, "This is the son; let's kill him, so the

inheritance will be ours," when He spoke that parable, those old

priests and Pharisees and scribes perceived that He spoke this parable

"against them." They knew they were the killers in the parable. Did

you notice that thing? Look at that thing in Matthew 21:45: "And when

the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived

that he spake of them." What did He call them? Look at it; Matthew

21:39: "They caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew

him." Verse 41: "He will miserably destroy those wicked men." They

knew they were murderers. And when those fellows heard Jesus Christ

preach, they had murder in their heart.

And when they heard Peter and James and John preach, down in their

heart they said, "They ought to be killed! They ought to be burned at

the stake! They ought to be excommunicated! They ought to be

inderdicted!" You see?

I'll tell you, friend, that Bible--when I say that Bible, I mean the

one I have in my hand--is an eye-opener. And, when Simon Peter accuses

them of these matters here, he's not beating around the bush. He

doesn't try to get out of it. When that priest gets up there in the

Sanhedrin and says, "Your trouble is you intend to bring this man's

blood upon us," do you know how Peter answers him? What a way to


Now, if Peter had been a nice, Christian gentleman like some of you

fine, sweet, nice Christians I'm talking to, do you know what he would

have said? He would have said this: "Oh, no sir, no sir. We don't

intend that at all. I'm so sorry. Oh, you're very mistaken about that.

Oh, God forbid that we should do anything to hurt the wonderful

testimony of our beautiful Lord!" That's what he would have said.

You know what Simon Peter would have said when that fellow got up and

said, "You intend to bring this man's blood upon us"--do you know what

Simon Peter would have said, if he had been a modern Christian? He

would have said, "Oh, oh, my, no. Goodness, no, I didn't mean that. We

were just trying to share God's love with you, and share our spiritual

experience, that we might have a total commitment in community

involvement, to each work together to a higher plane of spiritual


Do you know what Simon Peter said to that fellow? I'm going to read it

to you in a minute. I mean, God forbid that I should tell you

anything. The Lord's going to have to tell it to you. Do you know what

Simon Peter told that man who got up there at that council, that

"leading, religious light," the high priest? He said this (verse 29):

"We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised

up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." He said, "You killed

him! You killed him! You dirty murderer, you killed him!"

Verse 33: "And when they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and

took counsel to slay them." You see, there's no remedy for the

unregenerate heart. There's no remedy for that Bible-rejecting,

Christ-hating, truth-denying heart, the depraved nature of the old

man. And that old nature is still in the saved man. The saved man

still has two natures. And if the saved man is not careful, that old

nature will get the upper hand and start that stuff when the truth is

being breached.

Now, the truth of the matter was that this bunch was guilty of the

murder of Jesus Christ from the human standpoint. We know there's a

certain amount of foreordination of the counsel of God in these

matters, but from the practical standpoint--that is, "Woe be to the

world because of offences; it must be that offences come. But woe be

to the man by whom they come." We know from a practical standpoint

that this bunch was guilty of what Simon Peter said they were guilty

of. Now, if there is any doubt in your mind, would you turn to Mark 15

and notice this? That is, the church is troubling Jerusalem with the

truth; that's what's upsetting the town--the truth. That's why they're

being torn up. Mark 15:1: "And straightway in the morning the chief

priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole

council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to

Pilate." You see that in chapter 15, verse 1?

Now, look at that. Chapter 15, verse 1. The bunch that Simon Peter is

talking to and accusing of murder are murderers. They're the same

bunch! In Mark 15, where Christ has been delivered to Pilate, look at

what the account says, in Mark 15:3: "And the chief priests accused

him of many things." Verse 10: "For he knew that the ehif priests had

delivered him for envy." Verse 11: "But the chief priests moved the

people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them." Then it was

the priests who were behind the multitude crying, "Let Barabbas go and

crucify Christ."

So, Simon Peter says in Acts 5:30, "You killed Him!" Chapter 4:10,

"You killed Him!" Acts chapter 7, verse 52: "You killed Him!"

Now, you put that on an unsaved man and see how many friends you get.

You tell an unsaved man that his sins crucified Jesus Christ and he is

guilty of the death of God's Son. You tell an unsaved man that his

dirty, rotten, wicked life if responsible for the crucifixion, and you

watch him bristle, boy! You watch him come apart at the seams--and

take council to kill you (Acts 5:33).

Well, you know what happens in the passage. The response of those who

were troubled is found in verses 29-32; they stand right up and say,

"We are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost,

whom God hath given to them that obey him." And, for that, they want

to have them killed, and they don't get them killed. A doctor of law

there named Gamaliel stands up in verse 34, and gives them counsel and

advises them not to kill them, and he tells them to leave them alone--

which they partially agree to, but not completely, because in verse 40

we read, "When they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they

commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let

them go." So they didn't take all of the doctor's advice. The doctor

said, "Refrain from these men and let them alone." Well, they didn't

kill them, but they didn't leave them alone. They didn't refrain from

them; they commanded them to shut their mouth and not do any more

street preaching.

And you know what happened. Verse 41, "And they departed from the

presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to

suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every

house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." You can't

improve upon that; "daily in the temple, and in every house." House to

house. As an early writer said, "The sin of the early apostles was

they brought Jesus Christ out of the temple and scattered Him all over

the community." And, instead of getting despaired and discouraged and

getting down in the dumps, and getting a persecution complex and

quitting, they departed from the presence from the council--REJOICING

that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

After all, He was the One who said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall

revile you, and persecute you, and cast out your name as evil for my

sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in

heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

They take the Lord Jesus Christ at His word, and they leap for joy,

and shout for joy and thank God for the opportunity to suffer for the

right thing.

God knows we often suffer for the wrong things, often enough. God

knows we suffer often enough for our own foolishness and our own

carelessness and stupidity. What a blessing and privilege it is to be

able to suffer shame for the sake of the public proclamation of the

work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ!

May the Lord bless you, and good day.

Index of Preacher's Help and Notes      

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