Today, I want to begin and end with something for us to think deeply about:
When your mettle is tested — when you are tried by fire — how will you respond?
What we encounter in our passage today is real persecution. Just before this, the disciples continued to see miraculous works being done in their midst; news of their incredible, anointed ministry was quickly spreading. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and high priest were angry about the following that this movement had garnered, and the disciples were arrested and put on a brief trial.
Let’s be honest — this passage might mess with our theology a little bit. You may think (or were taught) that if you do the right thing and serve God in the right way, life will be safe and easy. You may have even thought that if you do the right things for Jesus, you might receive praise from people, have the perfect family, or even gain material blessings. This passage is clear revelation that the prosperity gospel fed to us by improper teaching is a lie.
People wanted to kill the disciples. In fact, all of them were eventually killed because of their faith in Jesus. They suffered torture time and time again. Life wasn’t easy for them — it was the opposite of easy. Maybe this is why Jesus told them, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
The life of a disciple isn’t supposed to be easy. So how should we respond when it’s not? Follow the example of the disciples in Acts 5:
1) Listen to the voice of the Lord (19-21)
2) Keep your priorities straight (29)
3) Cling to the truth of the gospel (30-32)
4) Endure the real, painful persecution for the sake of the gospel (40)
5) Never, ever, ever stop preaching that Jesus is the Messiah (42)
I know that many of you have endured various kinds of persecution and trials. Let me remind you today that it is for a reason. Paul helps us make sense of it in Romans 5:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
While we may face tough tribulations, our hope is in Jesus. He is with us through them all. He uses them to refine and mature us. He comforts us through the pain. He also promises us that one day, all of this earthly pain will end:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)
So, when your mettle is tested — when you are tried by fire — how will you respond?
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor