You Can Fight, But You Cannot Win
The person that said that, “You can’t find city hall.” Must have known from experience that it is often fruitless to take on any entity of government. Maybe a better phrase would have been to say, “You can fight city hall, but you cannot win.” Most of us have a little fight in us. When we see an injustice or an abuse of power, something inside us causes us to want to see justice served. I want to use that thought for the premise of our message this morning-- You Can Fight, But You Cannot Win. We have been watching the amazing growth of the young church at Jerusalem, which has grown from a little over 100 to thousands of converts in a very short period of time. As you read through the beginning of chapter 5, you will find that the fame of Apostles has spread throughout the area, and people are coming in droves to see and experience miracles, and to hear and receive the Gospel. Even the negative experience of Annanias and Saphira did not quell the tide of evangelism that got started on the Day of Pentecost. I have already said something about city hall, I just want to add, you can’t stop a moving freight train either. Mark this down. Anytime a movement gets popular, whether it be good or bad, it is going to face opposition. That is exactly what we are going to see in the rest of this chapter. A sect of the Jews known as the Sadducees are going to flex their muscles to see what can be done about all of this converting and proselytizing. The Sadducees were an interesting group because they did not believe in angels, or the resurrection. I want you to see this morning when it comes to the things of the Lord, “You Can Fight, But You Cannot Win.”
1. They tried to fight with imprisonment. The Sadducees had decided that this had gone far enough and threw the preachers into prison, until they could come up with a plan to shut their mouths. There are numerous accounts of people who have been put in jail for their Christian stand. One of my favorites is the story of John Bunyan. Bunyan was arrested for preaching without a license. He was originally sentenced to serve three months, but his refusal to quit preaching while in the jail extended his term to twelve years. It was during that time that one of the most famous pieces of Christian literature; The Pilgrim’s Progress, was written. Prison bars and jail cells cannot hold back the power of the Gospel.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. In the night, the Lord sends an angel to release the Apostles. They could have run and hid; but instead they went down to the Temple and began to teach about Jesus again. Persecution is not supposed to drive Christians into hiding, after all it is a mark that you are doing things correctly.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Morning comes and the guards cannot find the preachers anywhere. The leadership is convinced that they will never be found, until one of the guards tells them that they are down at the Temple. They bring the Apostles back before the Council. They were accused of filling Jerusalem wit the Good News of the Gospel! What a wonderful indictment to be charged with. Peter’s response is one of the favorites used by believers today. We ought to obey God rather than men. It is important to note that the context of his words were in the preaching of the Gospel. Did you notice how the Lord used to symbolic figures in this account. First He used an angel to release the Apostles, but there is no evidence that anyone else saw him. Secondly, He used a picture of the resurrection. The Apostles were gone, but the doors were still locked, and the walls remained intact. Remember the stone wasn’t rolled away from the tomb to let Jesus out, it was rolled away to let those on the outside in. All of this was more than the Sadducees could stand, and they were so convicted from the preaching that they were going to kill all the preachers. Enter Gamaliel.
2. Indifference. Gamaliel was a highly respected Jewish teacher. He had taught the Apostle Paul, and was one of only seven men in the history of Judaism to be called, “Rabban—our master.” The Jewish oral tradition said of his death, “When Rabban Gamaliel the Elder dies, the glory of the Law ceased and purity and abstinence died.” His advice was very well respected in the Council and he literally spoke for the Pharisees. He said, think about what you are saying. Do you really want to kill theses men and have death on your hands? Let’s just give them enough rope to hang themselves and see what happens. He then refers to a couple of instances where a cult movement was started but soon fizzled out. His advice was to ignore or remain indifferent to the message they were preaching and it will go away. He said if it’s not of God, it will fade away, and if it is of God, there is nothing we can do to stop it. You cannot reamin indifferent to the Gospel because it is based in God’s Word, which is a very powerful tool.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Isaiah 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
You can fight, but you cannot win. You may be here this morning, and you have applied on of these two strategies to resist the Gospel or some other Biblical teaching. You might be using the method of imprisonment, locking the truth from you mind. Or maybe you are just going to keep on ignoring the urging of the Holy Spirit. You can think all that you want to that you are winning the fight, and you might take it all the way to your death. But when you close your eyes in sleep, you will see that you have won nothing at all. Those that go through life rejecting the Gospel, will find themselves cast headlong into a place called Hell. The Bible describes it as a place of outer darkness, where the fire is not quenched, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal torment. For the believer who continually rejects the teaching of the Word. You will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when you could have received a reward.