Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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WORLDLY WISDOM AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD
ACTS 5: 33-47

Acts 5:33 "When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. v34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. v 35 "And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. v36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. v 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. v38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;"    v 39 ""but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest you even be found to fight against God. v 40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.    v 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. v 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

INTRODUCTION:
A man pulled his car over to the curb. His worst thoughts became reality as he examined the flat tire. He had a good spare and proceeded to change tires. He did not notice that he was right in front of the state mental hospital. He also failed to notice he stopped near a storm sewer. He placed the lug bolts in the hub cap and proceeded to put the good tire on the car. When he reached back for the lug bolts he slipped and knocked them into the storm sewer.

He stood their wondering what to do. Then he was surprised by a man inside the fenced in grounds of the mental hospital. This man said why don't you take one lug bolt off each of you other wheels and slowly drive two blocks to the filling station? In amazement the man said that is an excellent idea. Why did you think of it and not me? there you are confined to a mental hospital and I'm out here. But I didn't think of it and you did. The man replied I'm in here because of a mental problem but not because I'm stupid.

Wisdom is our friend wherever we find it. In the text a man who never claimed to be a Christian demonstrated great wisdom. These Jewish leaders needed some fresh word. They needed help because:
 

I.  WORLDLY WISDOM; THE WORDS OF GAMALIEL .

II. WORLDLY WISDOM; THE ACTIONS OF THE COUNCIL.

III. OBEDIENCE TO GOD; THE ACTIONS OF SIMON AND JOHN.®)1
 
 

I.    WORLDLY WISDOM;
and THE WORDS OF GAMALIEL .    v 33-39


33 "When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. v34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. v 35 "And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. v36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. v 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. v38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;"    v 39 ""but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest you even be found to fight against God.

EXPLANATION:

A. A Pharisee v34a

B. A teacher held in high respect. v 34 b

C. Commanded the others. v 34c

D. He gave examples to his reasoning.
       1.Theudas v 36
        2. Judas v 37

E. His words of wisdom v 38-39
        1. If it is of men. v 38
        2. If it is of God. v 39

ILLUSTRATION:
1 Cor 1:17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." v 18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. v 19 "For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. v 20 "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? v 21 "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. v 22 "For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; v 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, v 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

APPLICATION:

We do not have to fear truth.

Truth brings peace; not concern or worry.
        a. One element left out
            1) Suppose it is of the devil.
 
 

II.    WORLDLY WISDOM;
and THE ACTIONS OF THE COUNCIL.  v 40


40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

EXPLANATION:

A. The council agrees v 40a

B. They act against them anyway.
        1.    Beat them v 40b
        2.    Commanded them not to speak. v 40b

ILLUSTRATION:
James 3:13 "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."    v14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. v15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. v16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there."
 

APPLICATION:

Worldly councils usually do not act in a godly manner.
 

III.    OBEDIENCE TO GOD;
and THE ACTIONS OF SIMON AND JOHN.     v 41-42


 v 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. v 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."
 

EXPLANATION:

A. The action of rejoicing.v 41

        1. Rejoiced they were counted worthy to suffer. v 41b

B.    THANKS FOR THE DIGNITY OF THE INDIGNITY"

        1.    Beaten
        2.    Shamed

B. The action of sharing. v 42

    1. Procedure of their sharing v 42
            a. Daily. v 42a
            b. Publicly. v 42b
                1)    In the temple.
            c. Privately. v 42c
                1)    In the houses; or house to house.
    2. Persuasion of their sharing. v 42
            a. Ceased not to share. v 42d
                1). Teaching "Instruction and council for one to learn. The imparting of knowledge.
                2.) Preaching "Proclaim or tell forth a message exhorting one to change.
Acts 18:26 "So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately."

            b. Ceased not to share Jesus as the Christ.
                " WHO HE IS " ,   " WHAT HE DID "" WHAT HE CAN DO ",    " WHAT HE
                HAS DONE IN YOUR LIFE ",   " WHAT HE WILL DO IN ANYONE'S LIFE "
               " WHAT IS HE DOING RIGHT NOW "

ILLUSTRATION:
Easter Sunday, 1973. Uganda under absolute dictator Idi Amin. Kefa Sempangi was a pastor in that tortured land. Under the growing shadow of Amin, Uganda was becoming a land of terror.

Still fresh in Sempangi's memory was a face burned beyond recognition, the sight of soldiers cruelly beating a man, and the horrible sound of boots crushing bones. Sempangi was exhausted
and wondered what difference his sermon that morning could make.  He prayed for wisdom and strength and then delivered his sermon to seven thousand people.

Afterward he made his way to the vestry, tired but joyful.   Five men followed him into the small building and closed the door behind them. Sempangi turned around to find five rifles pointed at his face. He had never seen any of them before, but immediately recognized them as the secret police of the State Research Bureau--Idi Amin's assassins. Their faces were full of pure hate and rage.
"We are going to kill you," said the leader. "If you have something to say, say it before you die."

Sempangi stood there feeling himself lose control. He thought of his wife and child and began to shake. Somehow he managed to speak.   "I do not need to plead my own cause," he said. "I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden in Christ. It is your lives that are in danger, you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from
eternal destruction."

The leader looked at him with curiosity. Then he lowered his gun and ordered the others to do the same. Will you pray for us now?" the leader of the assassins asked. Though fearing it was a trick, Sempangi asked them all to bow their heads and close their eyes.

"Father in heaven," he prayed, "you who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them unto yourself."    Sempangi lifted his head, waiting for the men to pull the triggers. But then he noticed their faces. Gone was the hate and rage, and when the leader spoke again, it was without contempt.

"You have helped us," he said, "and we will help you. We will speak to the rest of our company and they will leave you alone. Do not fear for your life. It is in our hands and you will be protected."    Relief and joy flooded through Sempangi's heart. God's love had given him the strength to say a simple prayer--one that changed the lives of those five men forever. (4)

4. WEAVINGS, Vol. III, No. 3, (May/June 1988), pp. 33-36.
 
 

APPLICATION:

SOME TIMES WORLDLY WISDOM IS IN CONTRAST TO THE WORD OF GOD.

WE HAVE LOOKED AT THIS PASSAGE WITH REGARD TO:
 

I.  WORLDLY WISDOM; THE WORDS OF GAMALIEL .

II. WORLDLY WISDOM; THE ACTIONS OF THE COUNCIL.

III. OBEDIENCE TO GOD; THE ACTIONS OF SIMON AND JOHN.