By Mackey W. Harden
These are the words the angel of the Lord spoke to the apostles in Acts 5:20. The apostles had just been arrested for the second time because of their preaching the gospel. The Sadducees were very upset because the apostles could not be persuaded to quit preaching about Jesus. Upon their first arrest (Acts 4:1-3), Peter and John had been threatened, “. . . and commanded not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:17-18). This however did not stand in their way at all, for they continued without any hesitation to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. This is what led to their second arrest, as recorded in Acts 5:17-18.
After they were imprisoned, the angel of the Lord came by night and set them free. They were instructed to “Go, stand and speak in the temple all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20). Let it be observed that they were not set free just to go somewhere and hide from these rulers that were threatening them. They were set free in order to fulfill a divine mission. They had a job to do for the Lord and in order to achieve that goal they had to “Go, stand and speak . . . all the words of this life.”
Those of us who are Christians today have the responsibility to spread the cause of Christ to those who live in this generation. We need to be as zealous of this as the apostles and first century disciples were. Let us notice what the Bible teaches as to how we can “Go, stand and speak .
Jesus our Lord said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest (Jn. 4:35). As a boy of six or seven years old growing up in southern Alabama, it was very easy to visualize what Jesus is saying. As one looked out over those cotton fields all you could see for acres and acres were those little “cotton balls.” Then the workers would go out into the fields and begin to pick and harvest the cotton. Likewise, it staggers the imagination to look out into the world and see the many people who need the saving power of the gospel. Truly the harvest is ready if we will but “go.” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” was the command of our Savior (Matt. 28:19). We have to be willing to obey the command of “go” if we are to spread the seed of the kingdom.
In writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul said. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thess. 2:15) To “stand fast” means to remain firm in our beliefs of the gospel that has been delivered unto us. People who are willing to live for the Lord have to take a “stand” against things foreign to the word of God. We need to remain firm and “stand” for the truth. The apostles knew very well what it meant to remain firm for the Lord. In so doing, they gave their lives for the cause of Christ: How firmly entrenched are we?
To spread the word we have to “speak.” We have to share our knowledge about the gospel with others if we expect to convert them. Paul was an ambassador in bonds for the sake of the gospel. He prayed that he might boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, “. . . that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:18-20). Notice that Paul says, “as I ought to speak.” He had the attitude that it was a necessity for him to “speak boldly” the gospel. I fear that many today do not have this wonderful attitude that Paul here displays. Most Christians probably do not talk to people enough about the gospel. If we do not tell them the wonderful story of Jesus, how can they be saved? Let us strive harder every day of our lives to, “Go, stand and speak . . .” to a lost and dying world.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 6, pp. 106-107
February 8, 1979