Many times even today people defer to the perceived “religious leaders” or authority figures for guidance on what is right and what is not of God. Often it is for lack of studying God’s word themselves and a habit to just trust whomever identifies themselves in a established religious bureaucracy or whomever has the biggest crowds or most Facebook likes. These are not reliable measures of who teaches the truth about God. Often this can lead on a path to Hell, lost and far away from God.
Consider the high priest, Pharisees, and Sadducees during Jesus’ earthly ministry. They not only killed Jesus but also persecuted His disciples violently. For those who trusted only in the established religious bureaucratic organization, they were lost and missed out on the revelation of grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Instead, the truth of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed by Jesus’ humble disciples, who were being arrested and whipped and threatened for speaking the truth of Jesus Christ.
Each of us should take care… God wants us to study His word ourselves and pray daily, wholeheartedly seeking after Him and changing our lives to reflect how He wants us to live… even if it means pain and suffering for us in our lives. Of course this is difficult, and that is why God sent a helper in the Holy Spirit to help us as believers and followers of Jesus.
27When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32“And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
33But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. 34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36“For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37“After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38“So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Notice the wicked and hard hearts of the chief priest and the other religious leaders of the time. Not once is there a mention that they prayed to God for guidance regarding Jesus. Always they reacted in the flesh, seeking after their own traditions and power. They never considered that the Messiah they all said they were waiting for would actually come. What else could they possibly expect as evidence beyond what Jesus provided!
Now they are so mad that they want to kill the disciples rather than pause and consider if Jesus really was God. Now it is twice as hard for them because they would have to admit they were wrong and killed the Messiah.
Gamaliel came closest to recognizing the power of God… his advice was wise in that there is no point going against God. However, he too missed the fact that Jesus was Messiah. The others still insisted on flogging and threatening the disciples before letting them go.
By contrast to the attitude and behavior of the religious leaders, we see the Spirit filled disciples rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name. Despite continued threats, they returned to publically teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ! Surely true followers of Jesus should seek to be like these men.
When we seek to discern those who teach truth from folly we must first study God’s word in the Bible consistently and seek God humbly in prayer daily. They we will be better prepared to test the teachers we hear to ensure we follow the right ones… and none have the authority to re-write scripture and change God’s word… not even a jot or tittle.
Matthew 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.