Acts: Signs, Wonder, and Opposition

Sermon & Small Group Resources

This is the seventh sermon in our series on the book of Acts on “Signs, Wonder, and Opposition”. Preacher: Michael Calder. Bible Reading: Acts 5:12-42

Download the Small Group Questions, Going Deeper, and Sermon Transcript (PDF).

Next Steps this Week

BIBLE READING: Acts 5:12-42

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles.

But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

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CONNECT: Are there areas in your life in which you are in danger of being led by the desires of the enemy instead of the desires of the Spirit? How can you stand firm in faith?

WARM-UP Questions

  1. How does hindsight make a difference in the way you live your life? Share some examples.

  2. Looking back, how has God been at work in your life? 

READ Acts 5:12-18

  1. Who was the one really behind the healings and miracles? Why is this so vital to remember?

  2. What was the role of the miracles in the early church? What importance did teaching have?

  3. Who were the Sadducees and why were they jealous? What does this say about the state of their heart or who they fear? What did they want to accomplish in arresting the Apostles?

READ Acts 5:19-26

  1. The Sadducees and High Priest thought they had the Apostles under their thumb and that they were in control. What does this section tell us about who is really in control? How does this impact the way you live your life?

  2. Why do you think the angel told them to continue to teach in the public place? What does this tell us about the role of teaching and proclaiming?

  3. Putting yourselves in the Apostles' shoes, how would you react? How did the Apostles react? 

READ Acts 5:27-33; 39-42

  1. What is behind the questioning of the High Priest? What is his motivation?

  2. Why would Peter’s opening sentence be so offensive to the council?

  3. What is the main point of Gamaliel’s speech? Why can this be dangerous in seeing whether a movement is from God or not? What is our point of reference for discerning God’s will?

  4. How did the Apostles react to the flogging and order not to teach? Why did they do these things?

  5. Looking at the passage overall, how was God at work? How should this give us confidence as we go out onto our front lines? 

  6. What are some ways that you can remind yourself of God’s authority this week?

APPLY This Week: How is God using you on your front lines to make disciples?

PRAYER

Sovereign Lord, thank you that you are in control. We thank you for the privilege it is to be a disciple and play a part in making disciples. Help us to rely on you and have the confidence that you are at work even when we don’t see it. Please help us to be fruitful in your mission. In Jesus’ name, Amen

GOING DEEPER

WITH CHILDREN