At the Laurel fellowship, we are still studying the book of Acts, and as indicated in the last edition of this newsletter where we shared what we learned from chapters 12 to 14.
Our goal still remains the same as listed below;
- Understand how the Apostles lived their lives.
- Understand what they experienced from their interaction with the world.
- Learn from them and also what the Lord did through them.
Summarized below are some of the lessons and observations from chapters 15-19;
- Fundamental Truths: In Acts 15 v 1, deviating or the addition of “practices” to our walk with the Lord could be very dangerous and this was not taken lightly by the Apostles when certain people were trying to include some of the old testament customs(circumcision) taught by Moses as a criteria for salvation. Also, this might seem harmless on the surface but the Apostles understood that salvation is by grace and not by works lest any man should boast and hence they corrected this strongly and made sure believers in Antioch were property educated about this. There is no other foundation that can be laid in addition to that which the Lord Jesus himself had laid.
- Disagreement amongst believers: It’s not unusual when Christians differ strongly in their opinions or views on situations. Paul and Barnabas disagreed sharply on who to take on their mission trip in Acts 15 vs 39 for different valid reasons to the extent that they parted ways. We won’t all have same passion and temperament but what eventually should be driving us is the desire to do the Lord’s will which in this case was to do the work of the Lord. This obviously is NOT the same as having 2 believers having conflict over material possession or issues that doesn’t advance the good news. They both differ in their approach in the selection of who would be the appropriate partner while on the mission trip.
- Restraint by the Lord: In Acts 16 v 6, it was recorded that the Holy Spirit prevented Paul and his companions from preaching the good news in Asia. This should make believers pause and realized that we need the Holy Spirit to guide us in doing things even those things that we know the Lord generally desires us to do. In the case of Paul here, if not that they are under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they would have gone to preach in areas the Lord didn’t want them to be at that specific time and hence not in line with His plan and will. So, as always, let us commit our ways and plans into the Lord’s hand for direction and thereby not taking anything for granted.
- Power of Conversion (Lydia): In Acts 16 v 14, the bible clearly shows us in the conversion of Lydia that it is only the Lord that is able to make the heart of man receptive to His word. No matter how eloquent we are, eloquence on its own, cannot open the hearts of people to respond to the calling of Christ, only the Lord is able to draw to Himself. This is clearly when the bible recorded that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia to respond to Paul’s preaching.
- Believers in Berea: The Jews in Berea were described, in Acts 17 v 11, as being noble in their character, for they received the message of salvation with eagerness and they also validated what Paul preached to them. This is a lesson for us in this generation to not be lazy in our study of the Word of God. There are so many false teachers in our generation and in order not be tossed to and fro with new and different winds of doctrine, we ought to be well grounded in His Word. The bible says we would test all spirits, I John 4 vs 1 and also in the letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy on the need to study to show oneself approved in 2 Tim 2 vs 15;
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”
- Encouragement to Paul 18 v 9: Even servants of the Lord do need encouragement. In Acts 18 v 9, the Lord Himself encouraged Paul not to be afraid. There must be a reason why the Lord that see all things to encourage Paul. This is indeed a lesson to us that those that we look up to spiritually are only able to function according to the grace that the Lord has made available to them, at best man is still man, so let’s pray and encourage one another regularly especially our leaders not take for granted the need to encourage one another.
- Apollos – When Apollos came to Ephesus, he was described as a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Even though, he taught about the Lord Jesus accurately, it was recorded that he only knew about water baptism. As true brethren, what Priscilla and Aquila did was to teach and explain to Apollos the way of God more adequately. The lesson here is that the eloquence and knowledge Apollos demonstrated did not prevent him from learning more from more experienced brethren, as we all know knowledge usually puffs up.
Also, Priscilla and Aquila, did not use their own knowledge to prove a point that he’s lacking in some areas but rather they invited him home and then explained to him about areas he is not knowledgeable about(Baptism of the Holy Spirit). This is indeed a demonstration of how believers ought to support and edify one another as true brethren.