Here’s an account of some incredible words of wisdom from Gamaliel…
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
“When they heard this” is the account of the apostles being arrested (see verses 17-32), jailed, and the Holy Spirit releasing them from jail to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (v. 20).
They bring the apostles to stand before the council to be questioned. But Peter wasn’t intimidated at all; why would he be? If the Holy Spirit can break you out of jail, what more can He do with the Council and High Priest?!
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Before we go any further, what are some examples in your life when the Holy Spirit has given you boldness? If they’re limited, you probably need to put yourself more in the flow of God’s work where boldness is needed.
- Boldness is needed when you’re actively living out the mission.
- Boldness is needed when you’re believing God for big answers.
- Boldness is needed when you’re advancing in His mission.
- Boldness is needed when you’re encountering opposition.
And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.”
How should we judge these men?
Are they known by love?
Are they known by the fruits of the Spirit?
Are they known by fruit, more fruit, and much fruit?
- Trees are known by their fruit.
- Fruit is determined by its roots.
- People don’t change the depth and structure of their roots overnight. Roots are formed over time, not overnight.
Are they known by the work of God through the gifts of the Spirit?
What is Gamaliel saying here?
- He sees something different in Peter and the apostles.
- Gamaliel is discerning whether these men are truly of God. If they are, then their fruit will be sustained and the work will be unstoppable.
Gamaliel gives two examples, Theudas and Judas, whose fruit didn’t last.
“For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.”
Who are the pretenders here?
And who’s the real deal?
What does Gamaliel recommend regarding Peter and the apostles?
“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for 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!” So they took his advice…
The work of God in all of our lives is irrefutable and irrevocable.
- God’s work always passes the test of time.
- God’s work always passes the test of adversity.
The work of God in me, Karin, Mark, and Annika will persevere and press on.
The work of God in our 3, 12, 72, and 120 will persevere and press on.
The work of God in you will persevere and press on.
God’s Word and work will not return void.
After all, remember the following verses from Philippians:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
What happened next?
… and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
How effective was the beating? It had zero effectiveness.
- Once the One who is love has loved you unconditionally, there’s no compromise.
- Once the One who is resurrected has appeared to you, there’s no turning back.
- Once the One who ascended into Heaven gives you the Holy Spirit, there’s no fear.
What’s the most common byproduct of the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Acts?
- It’s boldness.
Notice how they felt about this charge; look at Acts 5:41…
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
They were rejoicing.
- How far is the feeling of fear from the feeling of rejoicing?
- This is what happens when you experience the miracles, boldness, and deliverance of the Holy Spirit.
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
Now it’s time to get back to teaching and preaching that the Christ (The Messiah) is Jesus!
I close by saying that I believe Gamaliel’s advice applies to all of God’s people: What’s from God in us and through us will be unstoppable.
- It’s time for us (you and me) to be an unstoppable force in our circles.
- It’s time for us (the local church) to be an unstoppable force in our cities.
- It’s time for us (the universal Church) to be an unstoppable force in our countries.