Acts Devotionals

True to God’s Gospel

A lady I met on the flight from Johannesburg, Gauteng, RSA to Atlanta, Georgia, USA when immigrating to the USA, and I have been emailing each other with small updates as to our families. She is a school teacher and during vacation times she travels to the Eastern Cape, RSA to do mission work in rural areas with children. Recently she and her husband moved from Atlanta due to a new career path he has chosen. She said they had not yet found a Church but made certain that every Sunday they went to a Church to worship. Naturally this is the Christian thing to do when possible. It reminds me of Paul and Barnabas:

Ac 14:1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.

1) Just as Paul and Barnabas attended the synagogue “as usual” and just as the lady from Georgia goes to Church Sunday by Sunday, this ought to be the Christian’s practice. The only time you don’t is when you are ill, when traveling and when there is no Church preaching the Word of God faithfully. Some of you might be watching the sermons I record weekly. This is not intended to keep anyone out of Church. It is done for those either unable to get to Church or those unable to find a Bible preaching Church, as well as an additional teaching for anyone else. Having said this, we are not told that the synagogue attendance was on a Sabbath Day. It might have been, but we don’t know.

2) Preaching the Gospel. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. We are not told how they got to preach, but most likely they were invited. We are told of Jews, but note the terms “Gentiles”, not “God fearing Gentiles”. This seems to indicate that the Gentiles were proselytes. They had left their previous religion and converted to Judaism. This would seem the best way to understand their presence at the synagogue.

(1) The missionaries were “full of the Holy Spirit”, who enabled them to preach “effectively”. Here we find an interesting word that might easily be overlooked or missed. In out English language this word “effectively” could include meaning productively, constructively and successfully. Biblically it would mean the Holy Spirit so guiding and directing the speakers that the way they preached included all the necessary ingredients for the Holy Spirit to use, applying it to the minds and understanding of the hearers to the point where the message made sense and was believable. This too is a lesson for all preachers today. We need to study the passage that becomes the text so that we understand it so that we can proclaim it to our audience’s understanding. Not everyone is ready to hear the message in their soul, but presenting it so that the hearers understand, is when the Holy Spirit uses the message to rivet home Truth, bringing understanding and conviction leading to faith, confession of sin and repentance unto new life. We ought to be in much prayer for our pastors and preachers to grasp the deep truths of the passage enabling the Spirit to use it to bring both life to the saints and new life to the lost.

(2) Correct Gospel presentations achieve a Kingdom Harvest … a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. Surely this is the aim of all Gospel preaching, evangelism and missions! This is the reason I believe every sermon needs to contain the Gospel. People need to be challenged all the time by them hearing the Gospel. Who knows when the Lord will work?

3) Gospel blessings bring opposition:

Ac 2:2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

This is very interesting! Some of the Jews “refused” to believe. This means that many Jews did believe the Gospel. Those who refused were Jew in name and not Jew in heart. They stubbornly rejected the clear proof of Jesus as God’s Messiah. Someone said … “Belief is obedience and unbelief is disobedience”. Rejecting the Gospel is not just unbelief, it is disobedience … refusing to respond to the Gospel’s invitation. The result of disobedience in this case was agitating some of the Gentiles who had become proselytes, not to believe the Gospel. In other words they encouraged them forcefully not to be saved. How did they do this? They “poisoned” their minds. This is how the Sects operate. They take some Scripture, adding to it or taking away from it and then twisting it to make is say what they want it to say. They use persuasive language, coercing their hearers to believe error shrouded with some truth.

Gospel preachers do not work this way. We study the Word to understand what it is saying and then we proclaim it to people as it is … God’s undiluted and untampered with Word. Then the Spirit comes and applies what has been said to the hearers’ hearts enabling them to believe. The big difference between true Gospel preachers and deceivers is the Holy Spirit compared to the evil spirit. Beloved, be cautious about what you read and who you listen to. Many Christians with good intentions and little doctrinal understanding will bring your books, DVDs or send you a link to some online material. Be cautious! If you are uncertain about an author or a speaker or a particular ministry, ask your pastor or a mature Christian from a reformed and evangelical persuasion for guidance. What you put into your mind, which might not be Biblical could have an adverse effect on your spiritual growth. In the final analysis, you are responsible for your spiritual development … that is why you need to seek help. If you don’t ask you won’t get help.

By now, Paul and Barnabas were accustomed to rejection which normally leads to persecution. We shall always find that as God works so the devil works. Remember the parable about the wheat and the weeds. They grow together. The wise farmer separates the wheat from the weeds after his reaping is done. You and I need to separate truth from error immediately through knowing true doctrine that will expose false doctrine.

Father, we love You for Your enormous kindness displayed in the Lord Jesus. As we pursue Christlikeness, help us to remain true to Your Gospel and Your Word. Amen.

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