“…if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5v34-39
These were some of the words of advice of Gamaliel, a Pharisee and a highly-respected member of the Sanhedrin Jewish religious council during the early days of the Church. The context was the trial of the earliest Christian evangelists, the apostles, who had refused to obey the council’s order to stop proclaiming the facts and explanation surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
The council were enraged and keen to permanently silence the apostles… when Gamaliel stands up to offer fresh perspective on the situation. He recounts various analogous popular movements which had exploded onto the scene only to peter out in time. And thus Gamaliel wisely encourages the council to avoid making martyrs which might serve to bolster the popular support, but rather let this new ‘Church’ fad burn itself out in similar fashion. History teaches us that his wisdom was largely ignored!
Unwittingly though, Gamaliel had hit the nail on the head. His theo-logic was irresistible. And the implications of this analysis, spoken two millennia in the past are all the more staggering today. Empires, great men and women, whole philosophies have come and gone during that period of time… but the global Church of Jesus Christ goes from strength to strength. It may wax and wane in this country or that region… within this or that denomination… but it is undeniable that throughout the world, the Church is an unstoppable movement. And those who try, indeed find themselves fighting not against Christians or Churches but against a Power and Person they neither know nor understand….