In Acts 12:25 to 16:5 (Lesson 4) we see the Holy Spirit sending out Saul with Barnabas on his first of three missionary journeys. These men proclaimed Jesus in synagogues as they went to Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. It was not without hardship, persecution and even the threat of death. But God was moving through these men in spite of the difficulties they faced. On the way back, they went through these same cities for a reason (see below).
The council held in Jerusalem only validates the pure gospel on the ground of grace and not works of law, and the work of the Spirit in the Gentiles which “brought great joy to all the brothers” (Acts 15:3). We must remember that difficulties we face in the church can result in spiritual growth and expansion if handled in the unity of the Spirit (See Ephesians 4:3). Notice that the letter sent from Jerusalem by faithful men (Judas and Silas) resulted in believers being “encouraged and strengthened” (Acts 15:32). Observe the following “Key Principles” and find the corresponding verses:
· The Holy Spirit is directly involved in the missionary selection and sending process.
· Paul confronts a man for speaking falsely about the faith – a much needed skill today.
· New believers must be encouraged and strengthened in their faith and obedience. This becomes the means of expanding the gospel to places yet unreached in the world.
· A great number believed because Paul and Barnabas “spoke boldly for the Lord”.
· Disagreements between brothers, if handled properly can result in multiplication of workers.
I almost feel like we are going through these lessons too quickly because of the tremendous importance of the “Key Principles” contained in these chapters. We desire that Christ, the Head of the Church, will inspire you to revisit these chapters over and over.
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