January 2nd, 2007
If someone comes up with new ideas and starts making claims about a new philosophy, how do you assess whether those claims are true? History shows that there are three major ways of dealing with this sort of situation: 1. Accept the claims; 2. Resist the claims and try to repress them; or 3. Ignore the claims and see what happens. The option of resisting and repressing has its advantages, but the result can be counterproductive. The people who subscribe to the claims can see themselves as martyrs, and the persecution which they suffer can elicit sympathy from others which supports their cause. So the best approach to take is often the wait-and-see approach.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 5
5:1 A man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a property. 5:2 He brought a part of the proceeds and placed it at the apostles’ feet, but kept back part of the money. His wife was aware of this. 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart, causing you to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land? 5:4 While you kept it, didn’t it remain your own? After it was sold, wasn’t the money in your control? What made you think of doing this? You haven’t lied to people, but to God.”
5:5 Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and died. Great fear came on all who heard these things. 5:6 Some young men got up, wrapped him up, carried him out and buried him. 5:7 About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 5:8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for this amount.” She said, “Yes, that was the amount.” 5:9 But Peter asked her, “Why did you agree together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
5:10 She fell down immediately at his feet, and died. The young men came in and, finding her dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 5:11 Great fear came on the whole church and on everyone who heard these things. 5:12 Many signs and wonders were done amongst the people by the apostles. They were all meeting together in Solomon’s porch. 5:13 None of the rest had the courage to join them, although the people admired them. 5:14 More believers came to the Lord, large numbers of both men and women. 5:15 Sick people were carried out into the streets, placed on stretchers and mats, so that as Peter came by at least his shadow could fall over some of them. 5:16 Crowds came together from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
5:17 The high priest was stirred up, together with his colleagues who were Sadducees. They were filled with jealousy, 5:18 and arrested the apostles, putting them in prison. 5:19 But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors at night and led them out, and said, 5:20 “Go and stand in the temple and tell the people this message of life.”
5:21 Hearing this, they went into the temple around daybreak and taught. The high priest arrived with his colleagues and called the council together and all the elders of the people of Israel, and sent instructions to the prison to have the apostles brought in. 5:22 But the officers did not find them in the prison when they arrived. They returned and reported, 5:23 “We found the prison shut and locked, and the guards standing in front of the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside!”
5:24 When the high priest, the captain of the temple and the senior priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering what would happen next. 5:25 Someone came to tell them, “The men you put in prison are standing in the temple teaching the people.” 5:26 The captain went with the officers, and brought them without using violence, because they were afraid that the people might stone them.
5:27 When they had brought them, they put them in front of the council. The high priest questioned them, 5:28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to blame us for this man’s blood.”
5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 5:30 The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree. 5:31 God exalted him to his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 5:32 We are his witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
5:33 When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 5:34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the council. He was a teacher of the law, honoured by all the people. He ordered that the apostles be sent outside for a while. 5:35 He said to the council, “Men of Israel, be careful what you decide to do with these men. 5:36 Some time ago Theudas came, acting as if he was somebody important, and about four hundred men followed him. When he was killed all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 5:37 After him there was Judas of Galilee at the time of the census, and some people followed after him. He also died, and all his followers were scattered. 5:38 I advise you to stay away from these men, and leave them alone. If this mission or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail. 5:39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to stop it, and you will even find yourselves fighting against God!”
5:40 They agreed with him. They summoned the apostles, flogged them, ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. 5:41 So they left the council, rejoicing that they were considered worthy of suffering dishonour for the name of Jesus. 5:42 Every day, in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and preaching Jesus, the Christ.
Entry Filed under: Searching