Plan of Man or God?

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 5:38b-39a

Do you remember Rabbit Telecom? The chances are that you probably don’t! I vaguely remember it from around the mid 1990s. It was a telephone system a little bit like a cordless home phone in the days before mobile phones. The idea was that you had a phone handset, and in shops and other public places there was a Rabbit base station. If you stood near a base station you could make phone calls. If you wandered too far away, though, just like with your cordless phone, you would lose the signal. Rabbit did not last very long because within a year or two people had started buying mobile phones. A few years later, everyone had one, and there was no need for the Rabbit system.

Sometimes new products emerge which seem like a good idea, and often they are. For various reasons, though, they sometimes fail. It might be because a better product comes along, it might be because it’s too expensive, or maybe the producer does not have the marketing budget to get the message into the retail world. In today’s verse, we see a similar idea. Gamaliel, a prominent rabbi and the teacher of Paul, speaks good sense to the Sanhedrin during their trial of the apostles. He tells them that if the apostles are frauds, then in time their message will be forgotten and everyone will go back to their normal lives and forget all about them and their message of salvation through Christ. If, however, the apostles are genuinely teaching God’s message, then they will succeed, whether or not the Sanhedrin tries to stop them. Here we are, 2,000 years later still talking about the message that those twelve men worked to hard to get out into the world. If Gamaliel could see the global church now, I am sure that he would have no doubt whatsoever that the Christian message is genuinely from God!

Sometimes we all have doubts about our faith, and wonder if perhaps the Christian message is made up and meaningless. To me, though, the fact that many of the apostles were willing to die for their beliefs, that over 2,000 years later millions of people still live their lives for Christ, and many of those can speak of the way in which Jesus has transformed their lives, seems to suggest that the Christian message is real and genuine. If it is, then we need to think how we respond to this. Do we follow Christ and seek to serve him, sure that Christ has won us eternal life, or do we ignore him, live purely for ourselves, and reject his gift of salvation?

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