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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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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