“If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” Acts 5:38-39
These are the words of Gamaliel in Acts 5. He was a member of the Jerusalem council, a Pharisee in good standing with the people. The Apostles had been arrested the previous night for preaching Christ, but in the middle of their first night’s imprisonment they were released by an angel of the Lord. The next day they were found again preaching the gospel in the temple as the angel had instructed. The council was enraged and would have killed them had Gamaliel not spoken up. His words are inspired and provide great encouragement for the Church today.
Man’s Undertakings fail
History is filled with the failings of mankind. In God’s divine wisdom He allows humans the freedom to plan and plot, to scheme and invent, but never has He given man complete authority. Never has man controlled the outcome. Every self-proclaimed and boastful super power on this earth will one day find that all of their efforts to rule and reign were futile in God’s grand eternal plan. There is one factor alone that determines the ultimate success of an undertaking; is it of God, or not?
The Apostles stood outside the court while Gamaliel convinced their persecutors to just let it go and see what happens. Leaders with “great” plans had come and gone in their day with nothing to show for it; men with followings, cults and defiant armies whose plans proved over and over again to be nothing. The verdict that day would spare the disciples of death, but that will not always be the case. The plan of God is always opposed by the enemies of God. Whether spiritual principalities or governments of man, God’s enemies will never be the victors. They fail, not because we fought them well or because they did not try hard enough, but because it was not of God.
Is it of God?
This is important to consider when determining what causes you take up in life. Are you going to invest your time and resources into failing trends and fads, or in the unfailing plan of God? You already know the outcome and you know what’s at stake. Like the Apostles, we need not fear the enemy as we endeavor to advance the Kingdom. We need not fret over evil-doers for we know their end. All we must do is stand for the cause of Christ in this world, stand for the Gospel and stand for those for whom the Gospel defends. You will hear from time to time the scoffers of your plans. You may be a mom whose heart is to home-school but you’ve been told that you’ll fail. Maybe God has called you to step into an unknown region of this world to engage in a spiritual war you cannot possibly fight on your own. Are you feeding the poor or rescuing the fatherless? Is your home a lighthouse for the needy and a beacon for the hopeless? Can you sense a God-given passion to evangelize in your community but you’ve been rejected one too many times so you’re not sure it’s worth it any more? All of these are God’s cause if they are done for Christ, and none of them can fail in the end. Take up these causes in the face of your fear and the taunting of the Enemy because it is the Enemy who holds the sentence of failure, not you. God’s cause will not be overthrown.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32