Adrian Rogers - The Expedience of Obedience
Be finding in God's word acts chapter five, and when you've found it, look up here and let me ask you a question: how many really happy, happy and victorious Christians do you know? Now we have sung, "Victory in Jesus," but in reality, how many happy and victorious Christians do you know? Second question: when you look into the mirror, do you see one of them? Are you really a happy and a victorious CHR, Christian? Now don't give me the answer that, would sound good, because I don't want you to answer out loud: I want you to answer internally but truthfully. Are you happy? Are you victorious? Well, it all depends. I love the song that says, "Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus," what? "But to trust and obey". And that's what I want to talk to you about today is obedience.
Now let me give you the background for the passage of scripture we're going to read in just a moment. We're going to read verse 29 in just a moment. But the apostles had been witnessing. God had been moving. Ah, Jesus ascended. He gave the great commission. Jesus went up. The Holy Spirit came down. The apostles went out. The lost came in. They turned that world upside down and inside out for the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Sadducees, the pharisees, the Herodians, and the whole shooting match were upset at what they were doing. And the high priest took these apostles and put them in jail for preaching the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But an angel came that night and, set them free. It's sort of a sanctified jailbreak. And, the apostles, had been commanded not to preach, not to teach in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And there they are the next morning, out there in the same place preaching and teaching Jesus. They'd been put in jail for that. Well, they come to the high priest and said, "I thought you put those, those guys in jail, and here they are out there on the street, preaching and teaching Jesus Christ". And so they called them back again one more time. And now, we get to our text. Let's start in verse 27, "And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, 'did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us'". Now this man they were referring to is the Lord Jesus Christ. "Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, 'we ought to obey God rather than men'".
Now if you don't mind, marking your Bible, I'd like for you to mark that sentence, "We ought to obey God rather than men". I've marked it in this Bible that I'm preaching from this morning. "We ought to obey God rather than men". And then, skip down to verse 32, and here's what else they said, "And we are his witnesses of these things: and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him". Now, twice in this paragraph he's mentioning obedience, and that's what I want to talk to you about today is obedience, the expedience of obedience. Here's the first thing I want to lay on your heart. We should review the reasons for obedience. Now, if you don't have a good reason for obeying, you probably will not obey. So I think it's altogether fitting that we look at this passage and review the reasons for obedience. Here's the first reason: obedience is a duty, a duty to be performed.
Now, notice what he says, "We ought to obey". We ought to obey. There is an ought, to it. Ah, there's no contest. "We ought to obey God rather than men". Now men said to do one thing, God said to do something else, and they said, "Well, that's a no-brainer. We're going to obey God. We're not going to obey, men," if what men say and do contradicts what God does. Does God have any right to command you? Of course he does. We ought to obey God. Why? Because God is a sovereign God and we ought to obey him. We get into trouble many times because we do not simply obey God. Secondly, it is a debt to be paid. It is a debt to be paid.
Now what do I mean by that? I mean, friend, Jesus has done so much for us. In this particular passage of scripture, notice what he says as he's giving his rationale for obeying. He says here, in verse 29, "We ought to obey God rather than men," and then he explains it, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted, with his right hand to be a prince and a Savior, and to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins". Think what Jesus Christ has done for me. Think what he has done for you. He suffered, bled, and died upon that cross. "Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be. But drops of grief can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away, 'tis all that I can do".
Look at Calvary, bloody Calvary, and then tell me if you have a right to disobey. No, it is a duty to be performed. It is a debt to be paid. And I'll tell you something else. It is a delight to be preferred, obedience is a delight to be preferred. Don't get the idea that the will of God is something you have to do. God's not going to force it on you. It is something you get to do. And when you learn to obey, then you're going to learn the joy that everybody's talking about in the Christian life. There's no such thing as a happy, disobedient Christian. It is a contradiction in terms.
Look in chapter five verse 41, "Then they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing, rejoicing, that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name". I am telling you that obedience and rejoicing come together. It is a lie out of hell that doing the will of God is painful a nd makes you miserable. The Bible says, "His commandments are not grievous". Now I want to say a fourth thing about obedience. Not only is it a delight, that, if you were, utterly selfish, you'd want to do the will of God. It is a delight to be preferred, but, friend, it is a decision to be practiced. Now you must, you must decide to obey. Now God will allow you to disobey. Have you ever heard anybody say, "Oh, well, God's will be done. God's will be done. Everything is God's will. Just praise God. If God wants it to happen, it'll happen. If God doesn't want it to happen, he won't let it happen".
That, my friend, there's a Greek word for that, and it's baloney. I want to tell you something. Listen to me: listen. God's will is not always done. Now there's some people who say that, that God's will is always done in everything. God's will is not always done. If God's will is always done, why did Jesus teach us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done"? No, there are a lot of things that are not the will of God, and God will allow you to disobey him. And that does not diminish God's sovereignty at all. God gives man the power to rebel against him without diminishing God's sovereignty. God has given man a choice. You can choose to obey or you can choose not to obey.
Now, you cannot obey him unless he enables you to obey him. We love him because he first loved us. And it is God that works in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Obedience to God is like breathing. Is breathing a gift of God? Well, you better believe it is, 'cause God gives you lungs and God gives you air. But you can smother if you want. Obedience is a gift of God in the sense that God gives you the will, God works in you, but there comes a decision, and God is not going to force you to obey him. And don't you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, if God wants it to happen, it'll happen". No! There is, dear friend, a decision to be practiced. You must say, "I will obey him". And these are the compelling reasons for obedience. Now, let's go to the second point. Not only should we, look at the reasons for obedience: we should recognize the requirements for obedience. Now, what are the requirements for obeying God? I want to mention some of them, if you would really obey God.
Number one, your obedience must be informed obedience. It must be informed obedience. How can you obey God if you don't know what it is that God wants you to do? Now these apostles had had a command from God. You're in acts chapter five begin looking in verse 17, "Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison". But now watch verse 19, "But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 'go, stand and speak in the temple to all the people all the words of this life'".
Can't be plainer. Ah, they were told what to do. Go do it. Now the reason they were doing it is because they'd been told to do it. All true obedience is informed obedience. You must hear from God in order to obey God. Now just don't go out doing things just 'cause you want to do them and think that you're living the Christian life. What God doesn't initiate God doesn't appreciate. God t, is going to tell you what to do. And God has never promised to bless any endeavor that he has not commanded.
There must be, number one, informed obedience. Number two, there must be intentional obedience. You see, doing right is not merely abstaining from doing wrong. Ah, it's very obvious that these apostles wanted to know the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. I try to present myself to the Lord every morning, and say, "Lord, I'm yours to command. I want to hear from you". Now, here's a third thing. It must be o, immediate obedience, immediate obedience. You see, they are telling these apostles, "Listen, we told you not to preach or teach in his name".
Now it's very interesting. Well let's just look at it again. Ah, look in verse 28, "Did we not straightly command you that ye should not teach in his name? And, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, 'we ought to obey God rather than man. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted'". They just said, "Don't do that," and he's doing it. I mean, the minute he says, "We told you not to preach," bang! He's preaching. I mean, immediately, immediately. Ah, he's not waiting. He's not, he's not thinking about it. He is doing it. It is immediate obedience.
Now, let me tell you something. Procrastination is a form of disobedience. Procrastination is a form of disobedient. "Be swift, my soul, to answer him. Be jubilant my feet". The best time to do the will of God is when you are aware that God wants it done. Friend, understanding can wait: obedience cannot. Understanding can wait: obedience cannot. Psalm 119 verse 60, "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments". Ours is not to reason why, ours is not to make reply, ours is but to do or die. And when God puts a period, don't you put a question mark. Immediate obedience.
Number four, it must be inflexible obedience. Well now what do I mean by inflexible obedience? I mean no matter what it costs. No matter what it costs. You cannot compromise with obedience. Now these apostles knew that to dis, to obey God could mean death. Look back in verse 33, chapter five verse 33. Ah, when, when these men had been preaching, the Bible says, "When the authorities heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them". I mean, they, the, this is not a, this is not a small thing when these men are preaching. They are preaching with a cloud of a death sentence over their head. Inflexible obedience, no matter what.
Next, it must be impassioned obedience, I mean, doing the will of God from our heart. It's a, it's obvious that, you might as well have told the noonday sun not to shine as to tell these men not to preach and not to share the Lord Jesus Christ, because they are full of passion, burning, blazing, emotional passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you have a zeal for God? God forgive our lukewarm, half-hearted, in, in, indifferent obedience. If you're going to serve him, serve him with joy. "Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you". Now, let me go to the third and final thing here, as we're talking. We've talked to you about the reasons for obedience, and we've talked to you about the requirements for obedience from this passage.
Let me talk to you a little bit about the rewards for obedience. Remember, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey". Let me tell you three things'll happen when you begin to obey. Number one, the spirit will be received. The spirit will be received. Look in verse 32. Here's what the apostles said, "And we are witnesses of these things: and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him". "We are witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them that obey him".
Do you want spiritual power in your life? Friend, God is not going to give spiritual power to rebels. Why should God release the anointing power of the Holy Spirit upon your life when you're not living in obedience? God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey him. The Holy Spirit is there to get his work done. And even if you're not a rebel, why should God fill you with the Holy Spirit? I mean, a man pushes an automobile into the Texaco station. The fenders are flopping, the tires are flat, the gas tank has a hole in it, the, there's, the, the, distributor has been taken out of the car, the headlights are broken. And the guy shoves it into the Texaco station. Man comes out. Of course, they don't come out anymore, and he says, "What can I do for you"? You say, "Well, fill her up". He says, "Heh! What for?"! "Oh, God, fill me with the Holy Spirit"! God says, "What for? What for? Why should I give the Holy Spirit to you"? God gives the Holy Spirit to those that obey him. If you don't have power in your life, I'm gonna tell you, it's because you're living in disobedience.
Now, what are the results? Number one, the spirit is received: number two, joy is achieved. Look in verse 41. The Bible says, "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name". Ah, you're going to be a joyful Christian when you obey the Lord. Disobedient Christians are not joyful Christians. And we need some more joyful Christians. Say amen. I see a lot of folks look like the picture on their driver's license. We need some joyful Christians. When we obey, the spirit is received. When we obey, joy is achieved. I'll tell you something else. When we obey, the gospel is believed. Look if you will now, in verse 42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ".
Why did they do that? Because they were obeying him. Has God given you a command to share Jesus Christ? Answer me. Yes! What is the alternative to obeying him? It is disobedience. What is the result of disobedience? Is no spiritual power and there's no joy in your life. God has given you a command to do it. Now if you do it, will God bless your obedience, will God give you the Holy Spirit and bless what you're doing? Well just go on to the next chapter, "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied". Why? Ah, listen, listen. When you obey him, the spirit is received, joy is achieved, and the gospel is believed. There are enough people in this very room right now turn this city inside out, upside down, and, and right side up for Jesus Christ, is that not true? If we became obedient Christians.
You think, "Well, you've done God a wild favor when you get here on Sunday morning". I mean, there are people who really call this, you say, "Well, this is the service " no, this is not the service: this is the service station. The service is out there. You're just coming, ahh, to get your tank filled a little bit. You're coming to get some instructions. You're coming to get some encouragement. Friend, God has called us to "Rescue the perishing and care for the dying, and snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. To weep or the erring one, to lift up the fallen one, and to tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save". And no matter what else you're doing, if you are not sharing the Lord Jesus Christ, you're not an obedient Christian. I don't care how faithfully you attend. I don't care how eloquently you teach. I don't care how beautifully you sing. I don't care how generously you give. I don't care how ah scrupulously you live. If you're not sharing Jesus Christ, you're living in disobedience and you are guilty of high treason against heaven's king. Say amen.
Now that's true. Now we can't all do it the same way. We cannot all be preachers, but we can all be reachers. Now, let me come to a conclusion, and I want to ask some questions. Again I want to ask, has God been speaking to you? Is God telling you to do something? Remember that procrastination is a sin. Is God telling you to give something? Then do it. Ah, "He put a, ah, a dollar in the plate and sung with might and main, 'when we asunder part, it gives us inward pain'". You just, you, "I'm goin' give it one day, I just hate to let go of it". No, do it, do it. I, is there somebody that you need to make restitution with? Somebody you need to go to and say, "I'm sorry"?
I spoke crossly to Joyce, I hate to tell you this, but I did. I started to say, "She deserved it". Huh, huh, that, that's, she really didn't. I went upstairs, trying to prepare a sermon, and God said, "Adrian, you know what you're supposed to". I had to leave, go all the way down the stairs, dada, dada, dada, into the bedroom, say, "Honey, I'm sorry. Forgive me". You know, you don't let things build up. You don't let them fester. You do exactly what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. Has God been laying something on your heart? Some restitution you need to make? Somebody that you need to ask forgiveness? Is there, is there, is there some deed of kindness that you know you're supposed to do? Why don't you do it? Is there some spiritual thing that you need to fulfill?
Some of you ought to be baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ. You know what the Bible teaches about believer's baptism. You know, you know exactly what you ought to do, but you've never been baptized, for whatever reason. Maybe you think it's inconvenient. Maybe you don't want to, ruin your hairdo. Maybe you don't want to go in front of all those people. Ah, whatever. Listen, friend, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is," what? "Sin". It is sin. Now I'm just saying, is there some point in your life where, where you are disobeying God? Remember that disobedience is as witchcraft. Disobedience is as iniquity. Disobedience is as idolatry. It is not failing to pick up the paper that is the problem: it is the rebellion against God that is the problem. Don't Stonewall God. "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey". And you just can't just blow past something.
You know, there's no statute of limitations when it comes to obeying God. There're certain things you don't just say, "Well, I'm gonna blow past". "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey". And for you, if you've never been saved, that obedience comes with believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "When he comes again, he's taking vengeance and flaming fire on those who know not, who know not God and who obey not the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Now, obey him by giving your heart to him, trusting him as your personal Lord and Savior, and you will find the joy of obedience is wonderful, incredible. Ah, it's the life that you would choose to live because he loves you so much, and he'll never ask you to do anything that would harm you or cause you to harm someone else. His commandments are not grievous.