GAMBLING ON GAMALIEL


Acts 5

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

38 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:

39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Acts 22

1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.



Besides the tactic of suggesting that those who oppose what is happening in Brownsville, Florida may be in danger of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit at some future date, Brownsville supporters also appeal to the Gamaliel argument that if what is happening isn't of God, it will disappear, and if it is of God, no one can stop it and one might find oneself fighting God, as was Paul.

An examination of the passages referring to Gamaliel do not support this argument. Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee and teacher of the day, but he was no friend of the Christians. As can be seen in Acts 22, Paul had been taught by Gamaliel. However, this was before his conversion. Until that time he had been an active persecutor of the followers of Jesus Christ. It wasn't until his Damascus experience that he was converted.

While the advice had saved the apostles, Gamaliel had actually given some bad advice to his fellow council members. Were people to follow this advice, one could never speak out against error. One could never stand up and say about a group claiming Jesus Christ as their leader that Mormonism is wrong, or the Watchtower is wrong, or the Children of God are wrong. They could be right, and then we'd find ourselves fighting against God! One could never point out serious dangers in groups that do believe the Jesus of the Bible, because maybe they've received some new revelation not revealed for 2000 years! Maybe, as Carol Arnott and Jesse Duplantis suggest, the Holy Spirit isn't in heaven anymore. Maybe Duplantis is correct when he publicly admonishes a man in a wheelchair for not having the faith to get up out of the chair (TBNs "Praise The Lord," June 23, 1997). Perhaps Benny Hinn is right, and God wants us to be healthy and wealthy, but our lack of faith is keeping people in wheelchairs and out of luxurious houses. Maybe we didn't hear what we heard and John Kilpatrick didn't issue a prophecy from God on April 6, 1997! Maybe hatred and name-calling of other Christians is permissible under new revelation. Perhaps calling critics liars without offering evidence is a new fruit of the Spirit! Perhaps calling critics "lukewarm backslidders [who] say this outpouring at Brownsville is 'not of God,' just manipulation," without offering evidence of a backslidden condition is a new fruit of the Spirit! (Steven Hill, June 14, 1997)

One should be able to see the absurdity of using the Gamaliel line of defense. Maybe one day the Brownsville/Pensacola supporters will realize that there are people who feel so strongly that this is not a move of God that they sense they must speak out against it or disobey God if they don't.

Bob Hunter.