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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Acts 5:38-39, "And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

This morning, advice is something that most are looking to give and few are looking to receive. It is much more swelling to natural man's pride to be depended on rather than dependent upon others. Therefore, advice is bantered about quite often, but as the old adage says about good help, "Good advice is hard to find, and great advice is even harder." Today, much of the advice given is not worth much, but the best advice to be found is ignored the most: the written word of God. In our account above, we have an example of good advice being given, as compared with great advice. Great advice would be advice that holds true all the time, regardless of the circumstance. For example, James exhorts us to let our yea be yea and our nay be nay (James 5:12), and this advice will hold to our every situation and endeavour. No matter our place or course, it is always in our best interest to be honest, open, and lucid so that people know us, where we stand,
and what we mean even if in disagreement. Of course another form of great advice is to let all our actions (in both yea and nay) be done with charity. (I Corinthians 16:14) In agreement and disagreement, we need to be found abounding in charity at all times and all seasons. So, what is good about the advice above rather than great?

In our verses, Gamaliel is advising the Pharisee council in how to handle the apostles, their doctrine, and their preaching. His advice is good (not great) because it does not hold true for all seasons and circumstances. While Gamaliel uses an example to shows its value and truth, we can show other examples where it does not work and falls flat. So, what is the import of Gamaliel's advice, and most importantly, what can we learn from it and use it for today? Indeed, it can be a great blessing to use today, provided we understand the time and place as it will not hold for all things in all places.

Gamaliel's main point is that works of man fail and works of God endure. In a broad sense, that advice is most undoubtedly true, and without equivocation, we can say that God's works endure for as long as He is pleased for them to endure. The sun, moon, stars, earth, and all natural things will endure until that day He is pleased to burn them and melt their elements with a fervent heat at His return. They are reserved for that purpose, and no one shall extinguish them before the time that the Lord is pleased to do so. God's work of salvation shall most certainly endure throughout eternity, as it has eternal ramifications. The Lord's church will endure manifestly here in this earth (Matthew 16:18) until the day that she is triumphantly carried up into glory (I Corinthians 15:24), and all the things that He has declared shall stand. (Isaiah 46)

So the portion of Gamaliel's advice about God and His works is certainly beyond contest. Gamaliel even states the futility of that contest, for we cannot reasonably think to be able to overthrow God. The creation cannot overthrow the Creator, and as needy beings, we cannot overthrow the Sovereign Ruler. Some have even thought to be able to overthrow His works, but He will have all of them in derision and laugh them to scorn. (Psalm 59:8) When Christ laid down His life on Calvary's cross, there were those standing by that surely thought they had overthrown Him. They had put away and out of sight the One that condemned them by His presence and message. However, their seeming victory that merely bruised His heel, was His accomplishment that bruised His enemy's head. (Luke 9:31, Genesis 3:15) Man cannot overthrow God, and God's works endure.

On the other hand, man's works do ultimately come to an end. In this world or most certainly in the world to come, man's works have an end. Things that are of man do not endure as things that are of God, but what is the focus of Gamaliel's thought? What frame of reference does he place upon it? Looking at Gamaliel's example that he gave as proof of his advice were two cult leaders that led their followers into ultimate destruction. (verses 36-37) Gamaliel was speaking of being able to see the end of the efforts that are ultimately of man's design. His point was that if it is of man, "You will see it fall and come to ruin" so to speak. While this does indeed happen, we could not say assuredly that it happens all the time.

Consider all the various flavours and distinctions between the denominations and religious institutions. With as many choices as there are today, sheep could easily become confused with various and sundry avenues to take. Is confusion of God? Certainly not! Have some of these flavours endured down through the generations? Indeed, the ugly head of Rome with her various daughters have been with us now for many centuries, and they have certainly endured beyond the scope of our forefather's sight, and may very well endure longer than our scope of sight lasts in this earth. Yet, I firmly believe them to be the efforts of man.

Another example is that certain wicked kings and kingdoms have lasted beyond different people's lifetimes. While God does at times suffer His children to come into bondage for their disobedience, such as Judah being overrun by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, all forms of bondage are not Divine judgment for our disobedience. The inhabitants of Judah were forced into Babylonian captivity for 70 years to allow the land to enjoy her sabbath rests that had not been observed for 490 years. But, the children of Israel were held in Egyptian captivity, not for judgment for disobedience, but as the only reason given in Scripture, the new ruler did not know Joseph and was pleased to engage wicked delights. He delighted in their bondage, and it continued through many generations. Indeed, there were Israelites that lived and died during the 400 years of Egyptian bondage. Was that servitude based on the wicked delights of man? According to what we have on
record, I would say yes, but not all lived to see the eventual termination of that man's works by the mighty hand of God delivering Israel out by the hand of Moses.

So, Gamaliel's advice, while at times proper and instructive, does not hold for all cases. Certainly it holds in the eternal sense that man's works are burned up and come to nothing, while God's endure forever. However, there is great benefit to his advice today (provided it is a proper time to employ it). Gamaliel's advice could be summed up as, "Wait and see." We know there are times when we need to not delay, as when we move in the hearing of the going in the tops of the mulberry trees. When we hear and feel the blowing of His Spirit, it is not a time to delay, but it is a time to move and be up and about what He is stirring our hearts to do. But, there are times of patient waiting to see what will be the result and what our course should be. For example, if troubles are plaguing the church in areas not in proximity to us, we may have the luxury to "wait and see" for a time what the outcome will be. Should these troubles be near our
doorstep, that luxury may not exist for us, but at times, a "wait and see" approach can be beneficial.

Yet, even when we wait and see what will be the outcome, we need to understand the blessed truth that failure is not an attribute of God's work. Therefore, if we do see something fail, we know and understand that God is not in that matter. Further, we need to keep in frame that our God doeth His pleasure, and none can stay His hand or overthrow His work. Yet, finally, we must understand our own fallibility to not perceive something correctly, and always understand our fallibility in death that we may not live to see the outcome of a certain thing. No doubt the Israelites that longed for release from Egyptian bondage did not all see it as some died before its transpiration, and some may die before certain conflicts and wars are victoriously accomplished. So, we cannot stand upon the thought that we will always see the failings of man's works and success of God's works in all things during our life here. May we therefore bow in submission to Him
who doth not fail, and pray for His wisdom in handling things here so that we fight where we should, stand where we ought, and do all things as He would have us do..

In Hope,

Bro Philip