1. What are some words or phrases you would use to define or illustrate the word “faithful”? (Constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, pious, staunch, steadfast, steady, true, dependable, reliable, responsible, solid, tried, trustworthy.
“Firm to one’s allegiance to someone or something!” “Following an original exactly.”)
2. What motivates people to stand for a cause they believe in or will be faithful to? (People who take a stand are motivated by passion for their cause. It also takes courage to take a stand, particularly when standing up for our faith.)
3. What are some ways a person willing to take a stand might respond to opposition? (Challenges to our faith are inevitable, as illustrated by today’s Scripture passage. The challenges sometimes involve persecution and physical pain.)
4. What does faithfulness to Christ and His church look like?
The leaders in the early church in Jerusalem were bold in the proclamation of the gospel, even in the face of persecution, as we saw last week. But the persecution would only get worse as the Apostles’ boldness in sharing the gospel grew.
Luke records in Acts 5:12-16 that the church was growing by leaps and bounds. People were bringing the sick out into the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them. People were bringing the sick from surrounding towns and they were being healed.
The Jewish religious leaders were filled with jealousy so they arrested the Apostles and had them put in the city jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the jail doors and told the Apostles to go proclaim the Word of God in the temple complex and they obeyed.
Read Acts 5:21-24.
At this point you would think the Jewish leaders would simply repent and accept the truth of the gospel, but that didn’t happen.
Returning to the Scene! Read Acts 5:25-28
1. Why do you think the Sanhedrin didn’t address the miraculous escape from jail?
2. What motivated the religious leaders to silence the apostles?
3. How is that motive seen in today’s world?
4. What do these verses reveal about the apostles’ determination to share the gospel amid opposition?
5. How does the apostles’ opposition compare with what most believers experience today?
6. How faithful will we be in sharing the gospel when opposition comes?
Standing Their Ground! Read Acts 5:29-32
Peter did not deny that they had deliberately disobeyed the orders of the Sanhedrin; he did, however, indicate that they were following instructions from God.
1. What is civil disobedience? (Refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.)
2. When is it appropriate for believers to submit to earthly authorities?
3. How can we know when it is appropriate to disobey our civil laws? (We should obey laws in general, but sometimes it’s necessary to disobey laws that are contrary to God’s directives. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right direction.)
Key Doctrine: God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word.
4. What message did Peter choose to share before the Sanhedrin—again?
5. Why was this message more powerful than other things he could have said? (The gospel is the power of God unto salvation!)
Waiting During Deliberations! Read Acts 5:33-39
1. Why might their rage have caused them to consider killing these men? (The Jewish leaders almost lost control of their emotions by acting impulsively.)
2. What do we know about Gamaliel from this passage and others? (Gamaliel took a bold stand by addressing the Sanhedrin. He was most likely one of the older members of the council. He was a highly respected Jewish teacher and a Pharisee. Paul learned at the feet of Gamaliel. He was a voice of reason.)
3. What wisdom do you see in Gamaliel’s proposal to the council?
4. How might his words help believers today who face opposition to the gospel?
5. Have you ever been guilty of fighting against God?
6. What was the result?
Gamaliel stated that the test of time would prove the apostles’ message as true or false, and it has!
Rejoicing for the Opportunity! Read Acts 5:40-42
1. What would you say to give a recap of what happened in these verses? (The apostles were punished that day; they received a severe beating and were ordered once again to STOP teaching and preaching in the name of this man Jesus.)
2. How did the apostles respond to their treatment by the council?
3. How can opposition to the gospel produce encouragement and courage in believers? (Jesus was also opposed by those in power, so we are in good company when we are opposed for proclaiming the truth of Scripture.)
4. How does opposition and persecution provide a platform for the gospel to be shared and lived? (Even today when Christians are told by the authorities to either do something that is against the teachings of the Bible or stop doing something that the Bible clearly teaches us to do WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MAN! Nothing has changed in the last 2000 years, we must be faithful to God, no matter what others say or do.)
5. How can we turn opposition for our faith into an opportunity to speak up for Christ? (Remember that the truth of the gospel is trustworthy and can be shared with confidence. We, as believers, can rejoice when persecuted, realizing that the gospel was proclaimed in the process.)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. When has my faith been challenged or opposed by others?
2. When have I boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel in the face of persecution?
3. Consider times in your life when someone challenged your faith. How did you respond?
4. What can you learn from the response of the apostles to help you respond when facing opposition in the future?
We don’t actually know how many of the apostles were involved in this incident, but we do know it was more than one. We know from personal experience that it is much easier to stand for what is right when we are not standing alone! We need to stand together for the truth of God’s Word, but if the situation should come when we must stand alone know that the Holy Spirit is right there with you and will give you strength to do what is right in the face of opposition.
Rely on God’s strength to be faithful to Him in all circumstances.
Close with a prayer of commitment.