In the Gospel accounts, Christ is found operating in great power to accomplish the will of the Father, and in the book of Acts the people of God are found working in great power to accomplish the will of the Father.
The encouragement to take away from this understanding is that the same power that was at work through Christ and the early church is the same power that is at work through Christians today in the modern church.
In the latter part of chapter five, we find a great example of this indwelling power as the disciples are given a boldness to work that can only be credited to the Holy Spirit’s power within them.
The Apostles had all been arrested and thrown into prison by the high priest and his entourage. Overnight, God sends an angel to release them from prison — not to run and hide, but commanding them to return to the place where they had been arrested and to stand and preach once more.
No doubt, this would not have been an easy thing to do. They've just been let out of prison, after all. Would you want to go back and do something that you knew was going to again lead to you being arrested again, or worse?
This is an example of the boldness that is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Apostles.
Many would have likely advised them, “You're free now. Run! Get away while you can.”
But the Apostles understood there is more to their life than their own safety and that now, as Christians, their life is not their own. They are now submitting to a higher power and that even at the risk of their own life, the Gospel needs go forward.
This reminds me of the story of the Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, two young men who felt the call of God to go to the Auca Indians in South America. Upon making contact with the tribe, they, along with some fellow missionaries, were killed by the tribesmen.
Soon after, Nate’s sister, Rachel Saint, went back to the jungle and made contact with the tribe. Over time, she and another of the missionaries’ wives were able to preach the Gospel to them and see many of them saved.
How could the families of these men killed in the jungle be willing to go back and face the very men who had killed their husbands? How could they desire to witness to them? How could they desire to then stay with them?
How could the Apostles not be frightened for the lives, after seeing knowing the power these religious leaders possess? How could they not run in fear?
The answer is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in boldness.
Kris Estep is the pastor of Barberville Baptist Church.