“For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39
The apostles’ teaching and healing defied everything about the Jewish religious leaders; it defied their authority, their power, their laws, their threats, their teaching, their orders, their pride and their idea of the Messiah. This, along with their supernatural work and growing number of believers, created heated opposition. It made the Jewish leaders jealous (Acts 5:17) and furious to the point of considering murder (Acts 5:33). The apostles were an extension of Jesus, and their work for God had serious risks. They were imprisoned, interrogated, flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, but that didn’t stop them. These unstoppable believers were on fire, and in the fire, for God because their work was from God. So what differentiated this work from God from a work of man?
This passage, Acts 5:12-42, reveals several characteristics of a work from God. It involved God’s supernatural assistance (vs. 19). The full message of Christ was given out (vs. 20). Their obedience was to God rather than men (vs. 29). The Holy Spirit was present (vs. 32). They rejoiced for being counted worthy of suffering for Christ (vs. 41). And there was opposition, but it didn’t stop the work (vs. 42). Would these things characterize our work for God? Godly work creates worldly opposition, but the good news for believers is that the opposition is against God, and no one can succeed against Him (Proverbs 21:30). His plans cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). And He will finish the work He has begun (Philippians 1:6). Work from God is unstoppable because He is unstoppable. So how easily do we allow opposition to stop us? In this “politically correct” world with “have it your way” religion, how often do we forgo giving out the full message of Christ for fear of offending someone? Do we rejoice or complain in the suffering?
We also learn the characteristics of work that is of human origin. When the human who originates the work quits or dies, the work dies with him or her; the team, committee, or even sometimes a church scatters and the work comes to “nothing” (Acts 5:36). No one even needs to waste time or energy opposing it because the work fizzles on its own. Work begun with human origins, finishes with human endings. How many programs or ministries have you or your church begun that ended when the leader was either no longer interested or gone? How many times have we been stoppable because our work began in our own hearts and minds? Sure makes me want to evaluate all that I am doing in my life, especially if I think I am doing it for the Lord.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you that nothing and no one can thwart your plans. Thank you that you choose to use us to do your work in the world, and that you promise to finish that which you begin. Forgive us for our inclinations to create our own work. Don’t let us waste time on these things. Give us wisdom to know the work you are calling us to, and bless us with your supernatural help to do it. Let us not be fearful of giving out your full message. Give us courage and joy in the suffering. May we be unstoppable like these believers. In the name of the unstoppable, resurrected life of Jesus. Amen!