1. ALL ON THE ALTAR
a. How did the judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira affect the believers? Acts 5:11. What should each of us consider regarding property today?
“Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs, and at that time their possessions cannot be disposed of to advance the cause of present truth. I was shown that it is the will of God that the saints should cut loose from every encumbrance before the time of trouble comes, and make a covenant with God through sacrifice. If they have their property on the altar and earnestly inquire of God for duty, He will teach them when to dispose of these things. Then they will be free in the time of trouble and have no clogs to weigh them down.
“I saw that if any held on to their property and did not inquire of the Lord as to their duty, He would not make duty known, and they would be permitted to keep their property, and in the time of trouble it would come up before them like a mountain to crush them, and they would try to dispose of it, but would not be able. I heard some mourn like this: ‘The cause was languishing, God’s people were starving for the truth, and we made no effort to supply the lack; now our property is useless. Oh, that we had let it go, and laid up treasure in heaven!’ ”—Early Writings, pp. 56, 57.
2. PURSUING THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE
a. Why can we be inspired by seeing how the Holy Spirit worked in Jerusalem in the days of the early church? Acts 5:12–16.
“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.
“We should ever remember that the object of the medical missionary work is to point sin-sick men and women to the Man of Calvary, who taketh away the sin of the world. By beholding Him, they will be changed into His likeness. We are to encourage the sick and suffering to look to Jesus and live.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 143, 144.
b. Whom did the enemy of souls stir to fear and jealousy for personal interests to stop the work—and how does this occur today? Acts 5:17, 18.
“Multitudes of all classes come out to listen to the preaching of the apostles, and are healed of their diseases through the name of Jesus, that name so hated among the Jews. The priests and rulers are frantic in their opposition as they see that the sick are healed and Jesus is exalted as the Prince of life. They fear that soon the whole world will believe on Him, and then accuse them of murdering the Mighty Healer.”—The Sanctified Life, p. 62.
“The enemy of all righteousness has been and still is working by every device he can invent to hinder the work that ought to be done in enlightening and educating the people; his forces are increasing. Delays have been giving Satan advantage of the situation, and these delays have caused the loss of many souls. The Lord is not pleased with the retarding of the work.”—Evangelism, p. 227.
3. DIVINE INTERVENTION AND ACTION
a. When the apostles were imprisoned for doing God’s work, how did the Lord intervene—and what can we learn from this? Acts 5:19, 20.
“The God of heaven, the mighty Ruler of the universe, took this matter into His own hands; for men were warring against His work. He showed them plainly that there is a ruler above man, whose authority must be respected. The Lord sent His angel by night to open the prison doors, and he brought forth these men whom God had commissioned to do His work. The rulers said, Speak not ‘at all nor teach in the name of Jesus;’ but the heavenly messenger sent by God said, ‘Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life’ (Acts 4:18; 5:20).
“Those who seek to compel men to observe an institution of the papacy, and trample upon God’s authority, are doing a work similar to that of the Jewish leaders in the days of the apostles. When the laws of earthly rulers are brought into opposition to the laws of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, then those who are God’s loyal subjects will be true to Him.
“We as a people have not accomplished the work which God has committed to us. We are not ready for the issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. It is our duty, as we see the signs of approaching peril, to arouse to action. Let none sit in calm expectation of the evil, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter His people. We are not doing the will of God if we sit in quietude, doing nothing to preserve liberty of conscience. Fervent, effectual prayer should be ascending to heaven that this calamity may be deferred until we can accomplish the work which has been so long neglected. Let there be most earnest prayer, and then let us work in harmony with our prayers.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 713, 714.
b. How did the apostles respond to God’s commission? Acts 5:21 (first part). What was the result? Verses 21–26.
“If the priests and rulers had dared act out their own feelings toward the apostles, there would have been a different record; for the angel of God was a watcher on that occasion, to magnify His name if any violence had been offered to His servants.”—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 71, 72.
4. RENDERING SUPREME OBEDIENCE
a. What are we to learn from Peter in the face of opposition? Acts 5:27–29.
“As [Peter and John] stood for the second time before the men who seemed bent on their destruction, no fear or hesitation could be discerned in their words or attitude.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 81.
“It is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. ‘I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people’ [Hebrews 8:10]. He who has God’s law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 361.
“The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws. Those who love God’s commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?”—Ibid., pp. 361, 362.
b. What did the apostle further explain about the gospel—and reveal a vital secret of how to receive the Holy Spirit? Acts 5:30–32.
“Those who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God, purifying their thoughts by obedience to the law of God, will continually receive a new endowment of physical and mental power. There will be heart yearnings after God, and earnest prayer for clear perception to discern the office and work of the Holy Spirit. It is not for us to use it, but for the Holy Spirit to use us, molding, fashioning every power.”—Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 40.
“There is a great work before us to be carried on in every church. Believers are to be thoroughly consecrated to God, rendering obedience to every jot and tittle of His holy law. Thus they will become laborers together with Him, filled with all the fulness of God. The self-important, selfish spirit, which leads men to strive for the mastery, is to be cast out of the soul. All unholy ambition is to be put aside.”—Manuscript 162, 1905.
5. DIVINE LEADING
a. How did the Lord use the wisdom of a mature Pharisee to reason with the council in their fury against the Christians? Acts 5:33–39. Why can we be truly inspired by the result? Verses 40–42.
“The disciples were but humble men, without wealth, and with no weapon but the word of God; yet in Christ’s strength they went forth to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross, and to triumph over all opposition. Without earthly honor or recognition, they were heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence that shook the world.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 77.
“What was the strength of those who in the past have suffered persecutions for Christ’s sake? It was union with God, union with the Holy Spirit, union with Christ. Reproach and persecution have separated many from earthly friends, but never from the love of Christ. Never is the tempest-tried soul more dearly loved by His Saviour than when he is suffering reproach for the truth’s sake. ‘I will love him,’ Christ said, ‘and will manifest Myself to him’ (John 14:21). When for the truth’s sake the believer stands at the bar of earthly tribunals, Christ stands by his side. When he is confined within prison walls, Christ manifests Himself to him and cheers his heart with His love. When he suffers death for Christ’s sake, the Saviour says to him, They may kill the body, but they cannot hurt the soul. ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ [John 6:33].”—Ibid., pp. 85, 86.
“We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We can discern the character of God, and accept Christ by faith, only as we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this, the Holy Spirit is given without measure.”—Maranatha, p. 117.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What do we all need to realize about our earthly possessions?
2. Aside from preaching, describe our work as Christian missionaries.
3. Why did the Lord deliver the apostles out of the prison?
4. Explain our duty to earthly authorities—and to our Creator.
5. In the face of growing persecution, what must we always keep in mind?