Following the Spirit
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me” (Daniel Iverson, 1890–1977).
Read ACTS 5:33–42
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect“God told me to.” Has anyone used this justification with you? How can you tell if an activity comes from God?
Gamaliel was a devout Jewish rabbi who commanded respect among the Jewish people. As a member of the Jewish council, he may have been perplexed by the apostles’ determination to proclaim Jesus. The apostles were uneducated men without any form of recognized religious status. They had neither the wealth nor the power to sustain a religious movement through their own efforts. Who or what is sustaining their activity?
Gamaliel’s pronouncement gives two options: the work of the apostles originates with humans or with God. Gamaliel has no idea how ironic his statement looks in the midst of the story of Acts. Anyone who has been reading Acts up to this point already knows that the activity of the apostles originates with the Holy Spirit. A quick look through the next few pages of Acts shows us that the growth of the church is unstoppable, despite repeated persecution, due to the guidance and power of the Spirit.
We can tell that the Spirit is at work when our efforts build up the church through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corin. 12:4–7), bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) and lead us to desire the things of Christ (Rom. 8:1–14).
How does the Holy Spirit work through your life? How have you seen the Spirit changing you?
Lord, may my life be an example to all around me that my message is from You.