648. The Gamaliel Project

“Are you familiar with the term, ‘Unreached people groups’,” Stan asked me one morning.

“Kind of,” I replied.  “People on the other side of the world who haven’t been reached for the gospel.  Is that right?”

“Well,” Stan said, “it certainly applies to people on the other side of the world, but it also includes people we run into every day right in our neighborhoods, city, and wherever.  Maybe even in our own families.  People who have not been reached.”

“In any event,” he continued, “I was reminded of this subject this morning when I was reading in the Book of Acts about the early church.”

“What were you reminded about?” I asked.

“Back where we used to live,” Stan replied, “we were part of a good church.  It was very active in reaching out to the community with the truth of the Gospel.”

“Reaching the unreached?” I said.

“That’s it,” Stan responded.  “And one day there was a man in the church who had an idea for reaching out to a group of people in the community who others in the church said were unreachable.  Some thought that they were just too far away from the truth to even try.”

“Not even try?” I replied.  “That doesn’t seem to be what God would have the church do, or not do.”

“That’s exactly how it ended up,” Stan said.  “That’s what I was reminded about, how the leaders of our church knew there was disagreement about whether or not this idea should be pursued.”

“After praying about it,” Stan continued, “the leaders decided that the idea should be pursued.  There was the sense that if God was behind the idea it would become apparent that He was in it and it should be followed.  If God wasn’t behind it, that would also be made clear.”

“Sounds like a good approach,” I replied.

“The leaders took their cue from what I was looking at in the Book of Acts,” Stan said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“When the Jewish leaders were upset with what was going on with the early Christian church,” Stan replied, “some of them wanted to kill the apostles.  That’s when a very wise person by the name of Gamaliel stepped forward and warned the others that they might be fighting against God.”

“Fighting against God?” I responded.  “What’s that?”

“In essence,” Stan added, “what Gamaliel told the others was that if God wasn’t in or behind what the apostles were doing, the whole thing would die out on its own.  But if it was God’s, it wouldn’t die out and they couldn’t overthrow it.”

“Kind of like what you were talking about with your church and the fellow’s idea for reaching out.” I replied.  “How did that turn out?”

“It became known as ‘The Gamaliel Project’,” Stan replied.  “Many people who were thought by some to be unreachable were reached so that a bunch of people who had been ignored had their lives and eternal destinations changed!”

“So,” I said, “I guess that God was behind the man’s idea.”

“More than a guess,” Stan replied.  “I put it in the category of being certain!” 

_________________________________

“And so in the present case, I (Gamaliel) say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”  Acts of The Apostles 5:38, 39.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you want your people to be involved with what you want to accomplish.  Thank you, too, for showing us by the results of what we do whether or not you are involved.  Please open us to see what you want us to pursue in helping others to come to the truth of your gracious and free provision of all you have for both sides of eternity.  Help us to see what it is you have for us to be and to do in reaching all you want reached.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  Do you believe that if God is in something it will be accomplished regardless of what people may try to do to stop it?  Why or why not?  How do we determine if God is behind a certain idea or movement?  Is it based purely on the results?  Why or why not?  What does it look like to be “fighting against God”?  How can that be avoided?

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