April 18, 2010
Acts 16:6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them… 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night … “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10. When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
(See… I so often tend to “worry” because I do want to “preach the gospel” – and while sometimes the opportunities are wide open, other times it seems very clear that it is not the time or place. So I just be friendly, or move on, or whatever. But at the same time I wonder if I’m just not “bold” – and yet, when the time is clearly right, I have little or no problem. So I am thinking (again) that we need to really listen to the Spirit before we “go and preach the gospel.”
When I was growing up, we were really encouraged (pushed) to learn “the four spiritual laws” or the “ABC’s of salvation” or whatever; and then go out knocking on doors, or walk up to all kinds of random people on the street, at work, at school, wherever. And “present the gospel” and get them to “pray the sinner’s prayer” and “give their hearts to Jesus.” Seldom did we see them again…. Hmmm… so much for discipleship…
And if we were rebuffed, I guess we were supposedly being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Someone I looked up to used to say to be nice and polite to “door to door gospel – or, especially, cultic – salespeople. Because if one were rude to them, it would give them reason to “rejoice” and record “brownie points” in their notebooks. But if, on the other hand, one invited them in for coffee, this would keep them safely off the street… And maybe even build relationship, by which one could end up introducing them to real relationship with Jesus, and discipling them.
Now, I’m thinking that last bit might be a good thing… but I’m wondering if the rest of the advice was a bit more “doing it man’s way”?? I thought at the time that it was pretty smart, but now I wonder. Hmmm… NT scripture does say to NOT invite teachers of wrong doctrine into your house…)
Acts 16:14 … Lydia … a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul
(There again: “the Lord opened her heart.” It really is YOUR work. We need to be hearing Your voice, and speaking when, where, and to whom You are preparing. Paul and company went there, led by God, not just leaping in according to their own whim – or even their own research or whatever. Interesting: God even forbade them to teach in certain places [v 6] so they kept on traveling, and ended up where and when God had already prepared hearts.
So, does this mean we don’t just “preach” wherever, whenever, to whomever, but instead seek always to be in the leading of the Spirit? Sure sounds like it!)
Acts 17:11 Now these [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
(See: the scriptures ARE important. Over and over in the NT church, we see the scriptures appealed to – in fact, mainly OT scriptures! – and how they pointed to Jesus. It’s not just about “sharing my journey.” Searching the word of God IS important. And also note: they did so daily, not just once a week at “Sunday service” or “Bible study group” or whatever. They met together daily, ate together, shared the Lord’s supper together, even worked together day by day. And people like Paul taught daily, too, in marketplaces, rented halls, homes – not just in synagogues on the Sabbath, or just in the weekly gatherings of the church on the “Lord’s day.”) (see Acts 17:17, 19 … 18:3-7)
Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and all things in it… 25… Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26… He made… mankind to live … having determined their appointed times… 27. that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Hi, though He is not far from each one of us; 28. for in Him we lives and move and exist… 29. Being then the children of God… 30… God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 13 because… He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed… raising Him from the dead.
(Good gospel, eh!!!)
Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you… for I have many people in this city.” 11. And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
(See! “the Lord said…” It’s God’s work, and He guides His children where and when and to whom they should preach. And “I have many people in this city.” It’s God’s preparation of hearts!)
18:21 … taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail…. 28. [Apollos] powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
(Yes! Again! God’s will and direction … and, again, strong use of Scripture)