Today, Ed Bousman talked about Acts 3-4, where Peter healed the lame beggar. It was interesting to me that he pointed out the two groups of people who questioned the miracle. One was the Saducees, and the other the priests (Pharisees). The Saducees, he said, were those who only believed what was in the books of Moses, i.e. Genesis through Deuteronomy. What he didn't mention- at first, was that they were also distinguished as not believing in the ressurection of the dead. This is tantamount to no faith at all, because Paul in I Cor. 15 says:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
If they believed in God, it was a god they might as well not have. If God created us only to have us live this life, and upon having faithin Him, to then die and that's all she wrote, then there IS no point to it. Atheists believe faith is the presence of self-delusion. If there was no ressurection, they would be right.
The other group, the priests, they believed in the entirety of the Word of God ( the Old testament) but they failed to grasp the point of it. God gave the law to show man that, because he was incapable of keeping it (James 2:10- For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.), he had to depend on God for salvation. Their take was that it COULD be kept, and if one didn't it was because it wasn't explicit enough. So they expounded and expanded the law, to the point where you were breaking the law by accidentilly kicking a seed into a crack on the Sabbath since you "planted a seed" which was "work". So they worshipped God, but it wasn't right worship because they didn't understand Him.
This is much the situation that exists today. Unbelievers who reject the ressurection and thus God, and followers of false beliefs, seeking a way to earn their place in eternity. In between was the man who was healed, called into question by the priests and Saducees because his healing brought into question their beliefs. I should phrase that differently; they did not question their beliefs even then, even exposed as flawed. They merely worried at the effect on the beliefs of those who listened to them. And so it is today. In Acts 4:14 we see the same attitude of the atheists out there:
But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
If you can't beat them, shut them up. Ban the Bible was a popular way of expressing this years back when I went to Promise Keepers with a friend. He wisely kept me from tilting with the protesters, but I asked myself, why does God let these people even show up here? Then we went into the arena, and the echoes of the entire crowd singing How Great Thou Art thundered down the hallways. And I understood: where else could He put these protesters and have 10,000 men right there to PRAY for them?
Just like He put the beggar at the Temple- where His men could find him. What is hard to understand is that between the beggar and the priests and the Saducees and the protesters, there is NO difference. The crowd of protesters had among them Pharisees who had thought out but mistaken ideas; Saducees, whose commitment was to have everyone deny the existance of God as they do; and perhaps, somewhere in the group, a beggar, spiritually lame, looking for "money" from the masses, who through our prayer got something far more precious- the ability to walk. The Saducees would try to pass him off, run him out; it would be easy for them to say he was just suffering from a delusion- they weren't the ones who suddenly were healed.
To close, as I read in Isaiah, I found a marvelous 1,200 year old description of today's intellectual elitists. From Isaiah 41:
21 “ Present your case,” says the LORD.
“ Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
22 “ Let them bring forth and show us what will happen;
Let them show the former things, what they were,
That we may consider them,
And know the latter end of them;
Or declare to us things to come.
23 Show the things that are to come hereafter,
That we may know that you are gods;
Yes, do good or do evil,
That we may be dismayed and see it together.
24 Indeed you are nothing,
And your work is nothing;
He who chooses you is an abomination.