The apostles had been imprisoned for the sake of the word of God and their testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the lord sent His angel to release them and tell them to continue to teach and proclaim God’s message. When the leaders sought to examine them they did not find them in the prison, but in the temple teaching and preaching and so they were brought before the leaders of the Jews.
It is then in these scriptures we see the examination of the apostles and disciples as the court came into session. And we see the boldness of Peter and the rest as they withstood the might of the Jewish leaders.
We also get a great lesson in this about who should you listen to. As Christians we know the answer is Jesus, but the rest of the world today does not know that, and neither did they back then. So let us look at the proceedings of this court case and see how it unfolds.
The Jewish leaders accused the disciples having warned them previously not to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. They said to them again in vs. 28;
“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
Here is the first accusation. They accused the disciples of not heeding the previous warning. They accused them of disobedience to the leaders and of spreading this message throughout the region around Jerusalem.
But the second accusation is more telling for it reveals the real concerns of the leaders of the Jews. They accused the disciples of intending to bring the blood of Jesus upon their heads and they showed in their words both their fears and lies as they attempted to disassociate themselves from the death of Jesus.
The response from Peter put them back in their place for he made no bones about what they were doing and what they intended to continue to do. Peter gave his defense to the first accusation in vs. 29 saying;
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
He told them quite plainly who it is they intended to listen to, and it was not going to be the Jewish religious leaders of the day. And in his statement he was showing the leaders what they ought to be doing also.
ALL mankind should be listening to God and not to men. It is God who saves and gives life to men through Jesus Christ. It is God who created all things and who provides for His people. So it was clear who you should be listening to as far as the disciples were concerned.
Then Peter responded to the second accusation by saying in vs. 30;
The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
He pointed the blame for the death of Jesus squarely on the shoulders of those leaders accusing them. They were in the wrong over this matter and any amount of denying it or pretending that it wasn’t them but was Pilate or the Romans was not going to wash. It was the jealousy, envy and treachery of the leaders of the Jews in those days who were fully responsible for the death of Jesus. And Peter made sure that they knew that he and the disciples knew it too.
In verses 31-32 Peter explains his reasons for the stand that both he and the rest of the disciples were taking. He said,
31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
He showed the leaders that Jesus was the savior that the Jews had been waiting for since the days of Moses. He told them that it was through Jesus that salvation would be found and that they were witnesses to all of these things having been with Jesus from the beginning.
Given that, how could they do anything but what The Lord commanded? How could they even consider heeding the warnings of the leaders of the Jews in opposition to the word of God?
They couldn’t. They knew firsthand the value of the gospel of salvation and they were called to preach it to the world which they were going to continue to do regardless of what the Jews wanted them to do. They were quite certain who they intended to listen to and whose words they intended to follow…and it wasn’t the leaders of the Jews!
Who Should You Listen To?
Which brings us to today and the same question. Who should you listen to? Well, Jesus obviously. But how will you know today whether the words you are listening to are the words of Jesus?
There are many teachers, teachings, sects and forms of religion in the world today. How will you know what is from The Lord and what is not? We are now living in the time that Paul warned Timothy of in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
There are all manners of teachings, especially in the church. But not all of them build people up or will lead to salvation. People want to hear what suits them rather than what suits God and thus they turn away from the truth to listen to platitudes and teachings about prosperity and having the things of this life rather than the things of God.
There is also a flood of false teaching that the devil poured out on the earth to try to confuse the people of the world and especially those who follow Christ Jesus in an attempt to sway them from the path of the truth. We see this written in Revelation 12:15-17 which says,
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.
16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.
17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
And the words of the dragon, who is Satan, will not be obvious lies as we must remember that he is the father of lies and the master of deception. You only need to look at the breadth of teachings, many in conflict with others, that are taught in the name of Christ but which cannot be words of truth.
We must listen to Jesus and to do that we start by seeking Him in prayer. Seek The Lord for understanding. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you for it is the role of the Holy Spirit to teach, guide and counsel.
When you listen to any man and their teachings, weigh them up in the light of the gospel. Is what they are saying in line with the words of the bible? Watch the person making the statements to see how they live their life also, for The Lord told us that we would know false teachers by the fruits of their life. He called them wolves in sheep’s clothing and that we will know them by their fruits. A wolf can hide for a while, but their true colors will show through and their deception will become plain in time.
Finally, the truth of the new covenant is freedom. As Paul said in Galatians 5:1;
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
The wolves of this world and the messengers of Satan who supposedly preach the gospel but are liars will preach slavery. Their message is aimed to keep you in your sins, even though Jesus has set you free. Their purpose is to control you and put you into bondage. Their teachings are aimed at enslaving you to them or to their teachings for their benefit and glory rather than to the glory of The Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.
You should be cautious and even more careful about anyone who tries to bind you in any way. They are trying to spy out your freedom and take it away as Paul said of certain false brethren in Galatians 2:4.
Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery.
Look to yourselves and to Jesus Christ and not to men. When we start with Jesus, then He will bring along the teachers that we need to show us the way. And most importantly, when we follow in His way and are led by the Holy Spirit, he will guide, counsel and protect us from false teachings and give us the insight to see the error from the truth.
Who should you listen to? Jesus!
(Image sourced from stock.xchng supplied by StillSearc)
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