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Summary:

Thesis: Believers are best motivated from within.

Intro.:

1.

a. "We tried a visitation program here but it didn't work."

b. "I started a daily BS & prayer time but things kept coming up."

c. "We tried knocking on doors but we never could get enough people."

d. "I tried having a weekly Bible Study in my home but it fizzled out."

2. From mouth of a 1st cent. rabbi comes a challenging response to these 20th cent. problems!

a. Who is that rabbi? (Jesus? Paul?)

b. None other than Gamaliel--an unbelieving Jew!

I. WHO WAS GAMALIEL?

A. Best known as Paul's teacher (Acts 22:3 (quickview) ).

1. Prominent Pharisee rabbi--greatly revered in his day ... and after!

2. Mentioned in a number of sources outside the New Testament.

3. Main guy in Pharasaic Judaism prior to A.D. 70.

B. Insight into Gamaliel's wisdom--Jewish council (Acts 5 (quickview) ).

1. Prior to this Peter & John had been arrested (Acts 3-4 (quickview) ).

2. Warned not to preach in name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-21 (quickview) ).

3. Arrested again and brought before Sanhedrin (Acts 5:27-32 (quickview) ).

4. Gamaliel's advice (Acts 5:33-40 (quickview) ).

II. AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE (5:38-39).

A. Is this a true statement?

1. Yes! (Tower of Babel; Saul in 1 Samuel; Israel in captivity).

2. Truly, "if God is for us who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

3. If an activity is of God it will succeed; if not, it will fail.

B. Our ability to recognize hand of God will largely depend on how we define success.

1. Man: John the Baptist, Paul, even Jesus were "failures."

2. God: Looks at two important measures:

a. TRUTH: is it right?

b. FAITHFULNESS: are we faithful?

III. WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

A. Our motivation will reveal whether or not our efforts are "of God."

1. What we do is important; why we do what we do is even more important! (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

a. This is why a strictly "rules approach" to the Christian life will not work.

b. Rules are limited in what they can accomplish (Col. 2:20-23).

2. Nothing wrong with rules, as long as we are already motivated to obey them.

B. All of this is to call into question a common approach taken by many churches.

1. Establish a program of work; expect everybody to get on board.

2. It won't work because the motivation is external to the individual.

a. Programs are good--but they are lousy motivators.

b. Illust. Look at what the disciples were doing in Acts 5:42 (quickview) . Was it because they had a visitation and personal work program? Are you kidding? Just been flogged! (v. 40). Their motivation was to be faithful to Jesus! Instituting a program is often an admission that the work is not being done--otherwise you wouldn't need a program.

c. Programs are best seen as ways to coordinate & better accomplish work our love for God has already motivated us to do!

d. When programs themselves become the motivation--it is no longer of God and it won't last long!

Conclusion:

1. When hearts are filled with a desire to obey God a church doesn't need to be pleaded with, prodded, cajoled, enticed, or hear nasty sermons to be active.

2. And all kinds of good things will happen. Remember what Gamaliel says: "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 it!"


Talk about it...

Mrs Jacqueline R Stewart

commented on Oct 26, 2013

If their purpose or activity is of human origin -It will fail; but if from God, you will not be able to stop it. Does this mean that the 9/11 attack was from God? Did God want to send Americans a message about our lifestyle?

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