Thursday, September 2, 2010

God's Work or Man's Work?

One of the more dramatic chapters in Acts of the Apostles is chapter 5. Check it out and see what you think. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira for their hypocrisy and lies is of course very sad. Even though God's Spirit is powerfully moving in this young church, people are still flawed.

The chapter turns next to the arrest of Peter and John by the Sadducees. These religious leaders were filled with jealousy and no small measure of anger that the apostles preached with great success the resurrection of Jesus. Everywhere they turned people were talking about Jesus and the preaching of the apostles. These men had filled Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 5: 28), so they were arrested and plans were made to kill them.

But these lowly apostles were not intimidated by the opposition's anger and threats. They firmly said: We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5: 29). Maybe they remembered Jesus's words, "Do fear those who can destroy your body; rather, fear those who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Maybe they were so filled with the Spirit that nothing on earth could shake their confidence and resolve in God. Whatever the reason, these men could not be moved.

They would have killed them on the spot, but a leading rabbi among them, Gamaliel stood up and cautioned their murderous desires. "Keep away from these men and let them alone," he said, "for if this plan or 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."

These are very encouraging words for those among us who walk with the Lord. Here are a few observations:
  • Those who fear the Lord must never be concerned about what people say or think about them.
  • In the end, man's work does not last
  • Never allow external pressure to undermine obedience to God
  • Obedience to God always costs something
  • In the end the glory of God is more precious and desireable than the empty praise of man