I was reading through the fifth chapter of Acts this morning and came across something that really stood out to me toward the end of the chapter. Remember that Acts is basically the story of the early church and the “acts” of the apostles after the death of Christ. The Sanhedrin (the group of political officials who voted to kill Jesus) are fighting the Apostles because they are basically telling everyone that the Sanhedrin killed the Son of God, which was true, but who wants that on their conscience?… The Sanhedrin has jailed them multiple times and they keep getting out, most recently by an angel who opened the door for them!
So, in verses 35-39, a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood before the group as they were plotting on how to get rid of the Apostles. He said the following:
“Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36For 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. 37After 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. 38So 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; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
Good call buddy! How’d that one work out for you? The thing that amazes me is that it is the truth! If the Apostles were following someone that was not of God, they would have dwindled and definitely would not have been willing to be killed for Him. Peter was crucified upside down…I mean who would be willing to die that painfully for something that wasn’t true?
So, nearly 2000 years ago, good ole Gamaliel challenged the officials around him to just wait out the Apostles and to see if it would just pass. I wonder how people are still waiting and wondering if this Jesus guy is legit…
I was reading through the second chapter of Acts this morning and hit a couple of things that really stood out to me. The book of Acts is written by Luke and is actually considered to be a continuation of his first book (the Gospel) kind of like a sequel, sometimes called Luke-Acts. Acts documents the beginning of what we now know as the Christian church.
- Acts 2:1-13 – In verses 1 through 12, we see that the Holy Spirit has filled the people with His power. It says that the people were speaking in languages different from their own. This is not to be confused with the prayer language of tongues that we read about in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, as each persons’ speech was understood by the people around them. However, the crowd thought they were all drunk because they did not understand this power of the Spirit. How often do we dismiss someone because they may act in a way we don’t understand?…even in church?
- Acts 2:22-41 – Verses 22 through 36 put Jesus in a context that the Jews would have understood. Jews knew the facts about David and had no question that David was a servant of God. When Luke puts Jesus in the context of David and shows the Jews that Jesus is much greater than David and was the Lord that spoke to his Lord (verse 34), it’s like a light bulb goes off! Verse 37 tells us, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.” 3,000 people then gave their lives to Christ and joined the church, AT ONE TIME! I don’t know about you, but I would love to see 3,000 folks join my church!
- Acts 2:42-47 – After joining the church, verses 42 through 47 tell us about how they acted toward each other. They were “devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, breaking bread, and prayer.” They were filled with awe and many miracles were performed. Verse 44 is the kicker for me…”All the believers were together and had everything in common.” They sold everything they had and continued meeting together every day, breaking bread in their homes, praising God, and “enjoying the favor of all the people.”
So…that is the basic story of how the church began, and I can see some pretty massive gaps in where we are now… I believe that we try so hard to make our lives into something that we desire that we manage to make the most simple things difficult. These early Christians were full of joy from the Lord and didn’t analyze every single thing. They just enjoyed the Lord and enjoyed it with each other. So, let’s make an honest effort to quit making everything so difficult, and just enjoy the Lord!