“If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God.” Acts 5:38,39
You know, sometimes even a Pharisee gets it right.
Throughout the Gospels the ruling class of leaders and teachers of the law are always getting slammed. Every time you turn around the Pharisees are taking it in the teeth. Jesus would often single them out for their internal contamination, and the Apostle Paul, having been in their camp at one time, would call them on the carpet. It seems like they couldn’t get a break…until now…
Gamaliel is a teacher of the law that was held in great esteem by the people of that time. He spoke some profound things in Acts 5 that the Body of Christ ought to consider. In response to the activities of Peter and the apostles, and their subsequent arrest, Gamaliel issued a caution: if God is at work then watch out, and if he is not then it will crumble.
In the years that I have been a part of The Church, and more specifically as a pastor of a local church, I have seen a number of “movements” surface and gain momentum. Some have been loopy, some downright heretical and others just different from what I am used to. Admittedly, I have occasionally been far too quick to decry them and label them as “not of God.” Maybe I poked fun, belittled or brought them under suspicion. Other times I outright called them out, or declared my hope for their demise. Honestly, I didn’t feel very Godly during any of this. I felt fleshly.
While reading Acts 5, I was reminded of something a great man of God, Ron Mehl, once said to myself and a group of pastoral leaders. He was talking about his many years in ministry and all the waves of teaching, styles and flavors of church that had come and gone in the Body of Christ. During those times folks would question why he and his church didn’t “rides the waves.” He humbly told us that many of the “movements” that arose over his years in ministry were no longer viable. They had died. The bubble burst. The wave crashed.
In the end, what is still standing?
I think that Gamaliel nailed it. If God is in it then you won’t be able to stop it. If he’s not, then it won’t last.
That’s not to say that the “waves” that did not last were not of God, but rather, it is to say that I have become increasingly careful to not be too quick to pronounce judgment.
The last thing I want to be said of my life is that I opposed God.