The Irrationality of Unbelief
A Sermon on Acts 5:17-32
The Apostles Arrested and Freed
But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (ESV)
Unbelief and rejection of the Gospel flows from a heart that is fallen and corrupted. This central problem of all humanity is explained by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. For when men say that the Gospel is foolish, or that it is for primitive men, they are not doing so as free thinkers, but as sinners who reject God and His way of life. This is seen when the apostles John and Peter are put in prison by the Jewish leaders. These unbelieving Jews reject the message of the crucified and resurrected Messiah, so they persecute those that do. This is unbelief manifest in irrationality. They do not put forth arguments, but they simply reject the message and the messengers. So, when those who hear the Gospel of Christ reject it with anger and hatred, we should not be surprised, for the Bible predicts and explains this rejection. For God’s word says that all men are sinners by nature and are wholly opposed to God. As it was in the days of the apostles, so it is also true in modern times. All around us men scoff and ridicule the message of a crucified savior, but this nor reason, but unbelief. And this unbelief can only be remedied by the grace of God.