Fighting Against God
The Christian faith and church grew under its most persecuted time in history. That is a very counterintuitive idea. How could something grow so large under such persecution? If the ruling powers were trying to stop it, how did it continue to grow? God is the only answer. When the church was just beginning, some of the opposition it met was from the high priest and Sadducees.
“The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.” (Acts 5:17-18)
However, as history has proven again and again, man is not going to stop God. If a thing is ordained by God, if it is God’s will, nothing is going to stop it. As followers, we must make ourselves receptive to His will. The high council gave strict orders to the apostles to never again preach in the name of Jesus. This seems like a nail in the coffin for Christianity, but nails have never done a good job holding Christ. Peter replied to this demand by simply saying, “We must obey God rather than human authority” (Acts 5:29). Upon hearing this response, the high council wanted to kill the apostles but a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up and ordered that the apostles be taken out of the chambers for a while. Gamaliel was an expert in religious law and well respected by everyone; he could not sit by silently—he had to take a stand.
“Then he said to his colleagues, ‘Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
‘So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!’” (Acts 5:35-39)
Why has Christianity stood the test of time? Why is it still the number one religion in the world with an estimated 2.3 billion followers? Because it is from God and no one can overthrow it. Those who fight against Christianity—true Christianity, not a corrupted or distorted version—find themselves fighting against God, and He is undefeated. No one is going to beat God, not even all the powers of hell. I wonder if, in this moment before the high priest, Jesus’ words came to Peter’s mind: “Now I say that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18). We would do well to remember them: Jesus has built His church, each of us is a part of that body, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.