Ellen G. White Writings

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Unlikely Leaders, Page 26

to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So with repeated threats and warnings, the apostles were set free.

The Divine Gift of Holy Boldness

While Peter and John were prisoners, the other disciples prayed constantly for them, fearing that the leaders might repeat the cruelty they had shown to Christ. As soon as the two apostles were released, they reported the result of the hearing. The believers were overjoyed. “They raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, ... look at their threats, and grant to Your servants to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus’” (NRSV).

The disciples saw that they would meet the same determined opposition that Christ had encountered. While their united prayers were going up to heaven in faith, the answer came. They were given a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Filled with courage, they went out again to proclaim the word of God. “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” And God blessed their efforts.

The principle for which the disciples stood so fearlessly is the same that followers of the gospel clung to in the days of the Reformation. At the Diet of Spires, in 1529, the German princes heard the emperor’s decree restricting religious liberty and prohibiting further spread of the reformed doctrines. Would the princes accept the decree? Should the light of the gospel be shut out from so many still in darkness? Those who had accepted the reformed faith met together, and their unanimous decision was, “Let us reject this decree. In matters of conscience the majority has no power.”

The banner of religious liberty held high by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries since then has been committed to our hands in this last conflict. We are to recognize human government as divinely appointed, and we are to teach obedience to it as a sacred duty within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. A “Thus says the Lord” is not to be set aside for a “Thus says the church” or a “Thus says the state.”

We are not to defy authorities. We should carefully consider our words, so that we do not appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our opportunity to proclaim the truths committed to us. If the authorities forbid us to do this work, then we may say, as did the apostles, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

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