|Volume 18 Number 6 June 2016||
“If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners in shedding the blood of the prophets.” This is a line that Jesus quoted that the Pharisees and scribes had been saying as He concluded His “woes” against them (Matthew 23:30). This is what they said, but their actions spoke otherwise. They lived in the days of John and Jesus and their disciples, and they mistreated them all. They said they would not mistreat the prophets of old, but killed the prophets of their own day, including their Messiah! How blind they were!
It’s easy for us to do similar things; it’s an unfortunate part of our human nature. We all say one thing with our mouths, but our actions speak otherwise. When it comes to spiritual matters, where do you fall? Are you one who confesses Jesus with your mouth, but deny Him with your actions? Are you killing the prophets?
There is a character in the New Testament whose name is Gamaliel. There is not much said about him except that he was Paul’s rabbinical teacher (Acts 22:3) and that he was a well-respected member of the Council (Acts 5:34). Acts 5 further records the time when he gave advice concerning the apostles as to what should be done with them. He reminded the council of two who had come prior to the apostles and had drawn crowds after them. Both men were slain, and there followers disbanded after their deaths. Gamaliel advised to let the apostles alone. If they were acting of men, they would be overthrown, but if they were acting for God, then they could not be overthrown. If it were the latter, the Council should not want to fight against God (38-39).
I say all of that to make this simple remark: I wonder if Gamaliel ever got it? After hearing the preaching of the apostles and seeing by the time of his death the apostles had not yet been snubbed out, I can’t help but wonder if he ever came around. The Bible never records one way or another, so it is useless to speculate. What I want to point out is this. There are many who are just like Gamaliel. There are many who are very close to the kingdom of God, perhaps even right on the edge. We need to be sowing the seed everywhere, but we especially need to look for those who are so close, and help them the rest of the way.
Christ vs. Culture
We are in the midst of an unprecedented cultural revolution in the United States. We are discussing many things now that never would have been dreamed of even thirty years ago. One of the big issues in the revolution is egalitarianism for sexes. Women have more rights now than ever before. Our society has moved in the right direction in this case: at this point in history women have the right to vote, own property, hold top positions in companies, serve on the front lines in the military and a host of other privileges long denied them. Here is where things will get interesting in the next few years: What is the church to do about this? The Bible declares that there are roles that only men are to fill. Will the church remain faithful to the teaching of the Bible, or will we yield to the demands of culture? The answer is both. Those who understand that the Bible is not the opinions of men from 2,000+ years ago, but rather the directives of God (2 Peter 1:20-21), will stand firm on the truth. However unpopular it may be with the current culture, faithful Christians will stand firmly upon Bible teachings. On the other hand, those who believe that truth is relative will readily compromise and go with the flow of the culture around them. The time has come for us to make big decisions. The question is whom do you serve – Christ or culture?