True Christians Will Join the Fight, Not Sit on the Fence
by Stuart DiNenno
If we do see the beginnings of a reformation in our day, be careful that you do not follow the the example of the Jewish rabbi Gamaliel, who was Paul the apostle’s teacher at one time. Gamaliel was on the council in Jerusalem to which the apostles were brought after they were arrested for teaching in the Temple. He appears to have recognized the truth in the teaching of the apostles and so was cautioning his fellow council members against opposing them, yet Gamaliel was not willing to go over to the other side by publicly committing himself to the apostolic church and defending it, and instead advised a tepid “wait and see” posture toward the Christian movement:
“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: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
There are many who recognize the righteousness of a cause from the beginning of its manifestation but want to sit on the fence or hide in the shadows until they see if the movement behind it is going to be successful. However, to “halt between two opinions” is not the behavior of a faithful Christian, who will join the offensive without reservation if he sees that it is fighting for vital truths in opposition to anti-Christ.
19th century biblical commentator Charles J. Ellicott wrote about Gamaliel’s words:
“The advice implies something like a suppressed conviction not bold enough to utter itself. Gamaliel takes his place in the class, at all times numerous, of waiters upon Providence, who are neutral till a cause is successful, and then come forward with a tardy sympathy, but who, above all, shrink from committing themselves while there seems any possibility of failure.”