Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Read Acts 5:17-29)
There are going to be times throughout our lives where our allegiance to God must override our compliance to the law’s mandates. In this case the apostles were given a mandate to which they should not share the gospel with others. God had already commissioned Peter and the other apostles to preach Jesus in every part of the earth. This is an example when a command of God contradicted a government mandate. While God has instituted civil government, we need to be very aware of when our obedience to God will take precedence over the demands of government.
We need to first understand the purpose of this governmental mandate. Peter and the other apostles were preaching Jesus and thousands of lives were being changed. The problem it caused among the governmental officials and religious leaders was that it caused them to lose control, and ultimately following Jesus would have put them out of a job. These people who were following Jesus were not going to cause a revolt or overthrow their government. We must realize the government rule was mingled with religious greed. These religious leaders had gotten very wealthy while governing these people. Allegiance to Jesus was not threatening the governmental institution authorized by God, but it was threatening an ability to get rich. Therefore, in order to prevent losing control they made a mandate against the preaching of Jesus. The problem was this mandate backfired on them. The apostles ignored the mandate and preached Jesus anyway. Even though persecution began to swell, these apostles continued to preached Jesus. Rather than obeying man they obeyed God and the results were changed lives for the glory of God.
This is a case where failure to comply did not hinder the gospel but it actually spread the gospel. You must realize that this one statement opened the door for necessary persecution that scattered the gospel to every part of the known world. Christians want to maintain a godly testimony. They do not want to hinder the gospel. Please, Please, Please, understand that our obedience to God will never hurt the testimony of the Gospel. It may make people mad or offended but it did not threaten the Gospel. We have to realize that our obedience to God is not going to influence everyone to jump on board the gospel wagon. Sometimes our obedience to God is going to infuriate people and at times offend people. Keep in mind it is not that Christians wake up and say, “Who can I upset with the gospel today?” We simply want to be obedient to our Lord, and that obedience can cause people to hate us. After all, Jesus even said that would happen.
I want to make sure we all understand the principle: “obedience to God is not about the prevention of making people angry, it is about the preaching of the gospel.”. I want to make sure we realize the gospel was priority number one in Acts 5, and it must remain priority number one today. Make no bones about it, there are sketchy things happening with our country right now. There are governmental leaders and there are politicians. One is instituted by God to fulfill his purpose. The other is there because they have been bought by an agenda. We are commanded by God to respect both. However, when they ask us to do things that seem more about control, it should cause eyebrows to raise. We as Christians are not called to debate political agendas, we are called to preach the gospel. Do not lose focus. Our focus needs to be the gospel.
Personally, I am watching things slowly hinder the church’s ability to share the gospel. Creativity has allowed the church to expand its ability to reach people. We need to stay alert and stay focused. The gospel must be preached. The Bible must be taught. God’s people must stay united. Do not allow the mandates of civil law to keep us from being the salt and light in a lost world.