But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him, 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." Acts 5:17-20
I like words. I like to play around with them and study them. Better still, I like when I live out what they mean in my life.
One of my favorite words is unstoppable. Something is coming and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Unstoppable, like a tornado or a tsunami or a stampede.
Unstoppable is the word that comes to mind when you look at the early days of the church. Conflict and controversy threatened to take the young group down, but instead of killing it, the challenges fueled the fire that spread across the first-century landscape.
Think through the early obstacles the church faced. Acts 4:18 says that the religious leaders tried to muzzle the message that Peter and John boldly proclaimed. Several times they "charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." So when Peter and John wouldn't keep quiet, the leaders locked them up.
But then God sent a messenger to restart what they had stopped. (I love this scene.) "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' " (Acts 5:19-20).
After miraculously freeing them, the angel charged the apostles to go back to the temple and pick up where they left off: Don't lower the flag. Don't soften the message. Don't get strategic or subtle or clever. Just get back to work, boys. "And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach" (v.21). Peter and John went right back to doing what God had called them to do. In spite of the religious leaders' attempts to douse the passion of the early church, Acts 6:7 tells us that, "The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem."
You just can't stop what God is doing. No matter what move man makes, God trumps it, and His purposes move forward. His hands are never tied. His message is never muted. No matter what opposition is thrown in its path, when the church of Jesus Christ is what it's intended it to be, it is flat-out an unstoppable force for God.