Read Acts 15:36-16:10.
Stream or download Tribulation and Trouble-the lot of God’s people, Pt1
On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas exhorted their recent converts, issuing a timely warning, speaking to them of the certainty of difficulties and affliction. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22. The Saviour had said the same. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.
I. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS BESET BY TROUBLES WITHIN AND WITHOUT
It was not long until the wisdom of these words was demonstrated, Acts 15:5-7, 35-40.
1. False teaching must be opposed. Verse 6. Cannot be tolerated or ignored.
2. There is a proper way for this to take place. “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter,” verse 6. This is rule by Presbyters (presbuteros) or ‘Presbyterianism’.
3. The Word of God, confirmed by the actions of the Holy Ghost, should guide us. Verses 12-21, 24-29. This was how they settled the dispute. Even so must we use this method. “What saith the Lord?” Used to be the watchword of the FPC. Let be so still.
II. THE VERY BEST OF MEN CAN HAVE DISAGREEMENTS
Acts 15:36-40. I believe that Barnabas was wrong!
1. I believe that he was motivated by family loyalty. Mark was the nephew of Barnabas. Colossians 4:10. Nothing is easier than to be biased, to show undue favour to a relative. It has been a snare to many! Ahithophel became a bitter enemy of David. “And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom,” 2 Samuel 15:31. He had been a close friend and advisor. “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me,” Psalm 41:9.
He was a picture of Judas. “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me,” John 13:18.
2. What turned Ahithophel from friend to foe? He was the grandfather of Bathsheba, 2 Sam 11:3, 23:34, and was greatly offended by David’s actions. God forgave David as did Bathsheba but her grandfather could not. It led to rebellion and finally suicide, 2 Sa 15:31, 17:23.
3. Beware of undue loyalty to family. Our loyalty must be to Christ. Remember the Saviour’s words. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me,” Matthew 10:37.
III. THE WAY GOD’S PEOPLE SHOULD GO IS NOT ALWAYS EASILY DISCERNED
At the beginning of chapter 16 there is a record of the circumstances Paul and his company found themselves in which I believe may be helpful to you all here. Verse 6-10.
1. Learn that sometimes God hides from us the way forward. This is meant to intensify our seeking of God.
2. In such circumstances, we should seek to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not,” verses 6-7. It is His will we desire to know and obey. Notice that they continued to explore openings. They did not just sit on their hands, as it were!
3. As it was, direction was given in the place of prayer. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night,” verse 9.
I am inclined to believe that Paul was in prayer when he was given this direction. Peter’s vision was given to him as he prayed, Acts 10:9. “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision,” Acts 11:5.
4. I do not doubt that, if we wait upon God and look to Him, the Spirit will make clear to us what He wishes us to do. It is important that we keep in memory the word of God, in order that it may be a guard against all our own imaginations.
Is there not direction here for this congregation as its seeks God’s direction regarding a minister?
5. Such direction is to be followed by prompt obedience. “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them,” Acts 16:10.
What blessing followed this leading by the Holy Spirit and the obedience of the disciples.
May it be the experience of the church here in Kilskeery.