October 27, 2019 First Missionary Journey

First Missionary Journey

The Holy Spirit selected Barnabas and Saul (Hebrew)/Paul (Gentile) to repeat their evangelistic model from Antioch (Syria; Acts 11.19-30) in other cities of His choosing (Acts 13.1-3; John 3.8). These men were servants carrying out the orders of their Master: go to certain cities and do certain things. The Master does not explain His rationale for selecting these cities. [Luke 10.1-12 also illustrates.] The cities, discussed below, are shown on the following map. A correction from Scripture is that Segment 8 was, actually, a return through Segments 7, 6, 5, & 4 (Acts 14.21-23). The Journey took 18 months.

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(Google: Map of Paul’s First Missionary Journey)

Pay attention to what the Holy Spirit does to save the lost, mature the saved, and destroy the works of the devil, as Jesus described the Holy Spirit’s work (John 16.8-11). I will share some thoughts at the end.

Cyprus: Acts 13.4-12: Sergius Paulus was saved when he witnessed soccer Elymas blinded at Paul’s words; Paul and Barnabas preached Christ in the synagogues. Their message made Paulus curious; blinding Elymas convinced him that Jesus is powerful (1 Corinthians 4.20).

Perga in Pamphylia: Acts 13.13: They would preach here on their return trip (Acts 14.24-28). The Holy Spirit, apparently, wanted to hurry them to Antioch in Pisidia.

Antioch in Pisidia: Acts 13.14-50: They had traveled from Paphos, Cyprus to Perga, Pamphylia and arrived at Antioch, Pisidia. Notice Paul’s strong sermon (which he probably preached everywhere to Jews was like Stephen’s) in the Synagogue at Antioch. On the second Sabbath, the Jews resisted their message because of the larger crowd. They drove Paul and Barnabas out of Antioch. Shook off the dust of the city, as Jesus had instructed in Matthew 10.13-15. The Antioch believers continued to be nurtured by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13.52). The Holy Spirit led them to Iconium, Lycaonia (verse 51).

Iconium in Lycaonia: Acts 14.1-7: Paul repeats his sermon at Iconium and taught in the synagogues for “a long time”, because of the persistence of darkness. Many Jews and Gentiles accepted Jesus because of the attesting signs and wonders. But disrespecting Jews and Gentiles, stirred by some from Antioch, and their rulers tried to silence them, even to stone them. The Holy Spirit led them to Lystra, Lycaonia.

Lystra in Lycaonia: Acts 14.8-18: The Holy Spirit pointed out the paralytic’s faith to receive healing during Paul’s speech, to attest to the message and to attract the other people. Note how the message becomes tailored to the culture of the pagan people, as a starting point.

Death and life in Lystra: Acts 14.19-20: Note the persistence of Jews and Gentiles from Antioch and Iconium who stir up others in Lystra to complete their task of stoning Paul to death. But believers prayed, and God returned his physical life. Paul uses this experience for encouraging Timothy (2 Timothy 3.11) and for encouraging believers’ dependence upon God’s faithfulness to His promises. Note in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 how Paul speaks of these occurrences in the third person, perhaps applying this blessing to every believer. He refers to the OT use of “thorns” to identify people (Joshua 23.12-13, Judges 2.3, Ezekiel 28.24). Paul makes his point in 2 Corinthians 12.9-10: the “grace” found within the Name ‘Jesus’ is sufficient for overcoming every assault by satan! Remember that Jesus gives believers authority over satan’s kingdom; Luke 10.17-19. After evidencing himself alive to those who had stoned him dead, Paul and Barnabas go to Derbe, Lycaonia.

Strengthening believers during the return trip: Acts 14.21-23: Paul and Barnabas return from Derbe to Lystra to Iconium to Antioch (Pisidia) evidencing Paul as alive and reminding the people that the Holy Spirit will equip us and carry us through to accomplish His task assigned. The Holy Spirit identifies leaders for each church location to mature the believers in Jesus.

Perga and Attalia in Pamphylia: Acts 14.24: They return through Pisidia and Pamphylia, preaching in Perga and Attalia before departing.

Return to Antioch in Syria: Acts 14.25-28: They returned to Antioch, Syria, after 18 months and report on the accomplishments of the Holy Spirit through them for “opening to the Gentiles the door of faith”. They stayed there a long time, probably resting and reflecting on and teaching about what they had learned.

satan’s agents in Antioch: Acts 15.1-4: explain some of their activities, debating with Jewish philosophers. This led to the First Jerusalem Council in about AD 50, which made a clean break with Judaism (on circumcision).

What did the Holy Spirit accomplish through Paul and Barnabas (John 16.8-11)? Sergius Paulus was the first of countless many who were saved; that is, brought “’from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me’” (Acts 26.18). Disciples began maturing in an orderly structure of discipleship (Acts 13.21-23). Lastly, satan’s agents were defeated in every city, from Elymas to the Jews and Gentiles who stoned Paul to death. All of these activities were important to the growth of Christianity.

What did the Holy Spirit accomplish for Paul and Barnabas? As John Mark’s Gospel states, Jesus was with them as they did their work (Mark 16.15-20). They experienced how the Holy Spirit spoke the appropriate salvation message in each culture, with the same theme He had spoken in Antiock, Pisidia (Matthew 10.19-20, Acts 13.16-41, 1 Peter 3.15). Paul, personally, developed a boldness that he expresses throughout his writings. For example, 2 Corinthians 2.14, 2 Corinthians 10.1-6, 2 Corinthians 12.9-10, Ephesians 6.10-18, and Philippians 4.13!

The Holy Spirit will do the same through and for you when you obey His voice and follow His commandments (Jeremiah 7.23)!

Be filled with Holy Spirit boldness!

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2017. www.sozoclass.com.

 

October 20, 2019 It Is Time

It Is Time

Three words that change history. They speak of a new beginning. It may be the birth of a child; a move to a new city for employment; breaking through a barrier to a new level of proficiency of knowledge or practice.

For Moses, the burning bush evidenced God’s application of Moses’ upbringing in Pharaoh’s court and years herding rebellious sheep to doing God’s work of transferring the Hebrew people to the Promised Land (Exodus 3.1-9). For Paul, a day of worship of God with Barnabas and others in Antioch was the time and location chosen by Jesus for applying Paul’s vast knowledge and his initial experiences of training to transferring the people of Asia Minor “‘from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness and release from their sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified (set apart, made holy) by faith in Me’” (Acts 13.1-4; Acts 26.18; Amplified Bible, 2015).

From these and other illustrations, you should learn that Jesus is all about action: choosing, preparing, calling, engaging! He states this in His description of the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16.8-11, 13-15). The Holy Spirit is about saving the lost, about destroying the kingdom of satan and his works, and about maturing the saved in the knowledge and faith possessed by Jesus (John 14.26; Ephesians 4.11-13).

God had said to Moses, “’I have in fact seen the affliction (suffering, desolation) of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters (oppressors); for I know their pain and suffering’” (Exodus 3.7). These words might, now, be said to express the sights and sounds which God heard from persons in “‘darkness… [and] the power of Satan’”, persons made in His image from within the lands of wickedness to which He would send Paul (Acts 26.18).

Christians in Antioch were, now, developed sufficiently for the Holy Spirit to redeploy Paul and Barnabas. Acts 11.26 states that they had taught the principles of the Kingdom of God and demonstrated them for a year and that the new followers of Christ had, even, wanted to send a gift of support to believers in Judea during their similar duration of the famine (Acts 11.28-30). Acts 12.25 states that Paul and Barnabas had returned from completing this mission.

With the lost of Antioch now saved and maturing and the works of satan being destroyed, perhaps now by the first generation of new believers in Jesus, Paul was available for a new assignment.

Are you?

Have you completed Jesus’ last assignment? If not, do it soon, so He can give you something greater to do (John 14.12). If your last mission is complete, are you ministering to the Lord, even to the abandonment of eating, as you await His new assignment (Acts 13.2)?

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5.6-7; Amplified Bible, 2015).

It is time!

It Is Time 191020
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

October 13, 2019

Paul’s Choice

I believe that 1 Corinthians 2.1-5 is Paul’s statement about submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leadership in the Kingdom of God. He summarizes in verses 4 & 5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (NKJV).

Verses 1 & 2 state his alternative methods. The Amplified Bible (2015 Edition) note to the word “know” in verse 2 reveals how Paul might have responded: “In reality, Paul was a highly-trained student of the Old Testament writings, Jewish law, and of logic and rhetoric; and evidently he was conversant in Roman law as well.” Paul’s comment (verses 4 & 5) is a continuation of 1 Corinthians 1.23: “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom.” He might have continued that Romans demand power. Paul would, even, use his knowledge of Greek philosophy, later, with the philosophers at Mars Hill, Athens, Greece (Acts 17.22-34). His used many methods!

However, Paul chose “to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions” to focus his readers’ attention on the superiority of Jesus Christ’s life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection (Amplified Bible, 2015, 1 Corinthians 2.2). He writes a similar, strong statement of impact in Colossians 2.8-10.

Consequently, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he was trembling with fear and in weakness when he came to them (1 Corinthians 2.3). Why? Because he was not in control. He was not controlling his vast knowledge, weaving his superior logic and phrasing his eloquent rhetoric (ibid, verse 1). Rather, he chose to be submissive to the Holy Spirit, as he would similarly reflect in 2 Corinthians 12.9-10.

When did Paul learn to let the Holy Spirit control his use of his methods for enlightening and equipping? Is the result of Paul’s reflection the listing of Spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.1-31? Different methods. Choosing the Holy Spirit’s control prepared the way for Him to use Paul to introduce His individual gifts for individual persons.

During Paul’s three years in the Arabian Desert (Galatians 1.17-18), I suspect that Jesus took Paul through the same ‘training manual’ He had used with the other Apostles, which may explain Paul’s comment about being “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15.7-9, AMP). Matthew 10.1-42 names the Twelve Apostles and records Jesus’ ‘on-boarding’ them. Verses 16-23 might, even, explain why Paul went from city to city throughout his ministry career. Verses 19-20 taught Paul to depend upon the Holy Spirit wherever He might take him (John 3.8).

Learning the Holy Spirit’s voice and releasing control to Him can bring trembling fear and weakness! This becomes easier with experience.

Paul probably experienced this when he returned to Tarsus to evangelize his family and friends (Acts 9.30). There, he found Jews seeking signs and Greeks seeking wisdom, but these became confounded by Paul’s presentation of Jesus Christ’s life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 1.22-24).

This is where Barnabas finds Paul and recruits him for service to believers in Antioch (Acts 11.25-26). Followers of the ‘Way’ (John 14.6) had scattered there after Stephen was martyred (Acts 7). Antioch was on the Orontes River in Syria, about 16 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. “It ranked third, after Rome and Alexandria, in point of importance, of the cities of the Roman empire. It was called the ‘first city of the East’” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

Antioch was an important city for commerce and government. This fact may reveal the importance of Antioch being where believers were first called “Christian” (Acts 11.26). This name was “given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach to the followers of Jesus.” Thereafter, it became the title given to believers. “Christian” is only used again in Acts 26.28 and 1 Peter 4.16 (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

Thus, by “signs and wonders” (Hebrews 2.1-4; Mark 16.20), even Greeks and Romans acknowledged that Jesus was “Anointed” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, g5547); His follower were pronouncing the ‘Kingdom of God’ and proving it (Matthew 10.7-8; Psalm 107.20; Luke 10.17)! Disciples were imitating Jesus, as Luke records in Acts 10.38: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (my emphasis). The Holy Spirit was anointing the followers of the Way in Antioch in the same way (John 17.18; Mark 16.15-20; John 3.1-8, explaining 2.23; Luke 10.19).

Paul seems to reflect upon his deeper learning about the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2.6-16. Notice his conclusion, that Christians’ minds are “anointed” by Jesus! That is, the Holy Spirit makes known to us Jesus’ knowledge, logic, and rhetoric for every situation (John 16.13-15; Ephesians 4.13). Additionally, Paul, the OT scholar, may have been reflecting upon Zechariah 4.6: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

So, is it your ‘choice’ to depend upon the Holy Spirit for superior knowledge, logic, and rhetoric from Jesus in every place the Holy Spirit leads you? He will prove that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 10.7-8). This will be demonstrated by your faith expressing through your deeds (1 Corinthians 2.4-5) the power of the Name ‘Jesus’, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4.20: “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”

Let me give you the illustration the Holy Spirit gave me about the power of faith and the name “Jesus”. Nuclear fission bombs were dropped on Japan to end the Pacific Theater of World War II, causing horrific destruction. Today, nuclear fission is used as the trigger to release the multiplied-greater destructive energy of nuclear fusion bombs!

Just so, said the Holy Spirit: faith is the fission that releases the enormous power from within the Name ‘Jesus’! Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 28.18, that He has been given “all” authority on earth. In Luke 10.19, He states that He gives His followers this authority: “‘Listen carefully: I have given you  authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you’” (Amplified Bible, 2015). Jesus reminds us: “‘Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full’” (John 16.24, NKJV). Acts 3.16 and 4.12 illustrate. The healed man probably shouted the psalmist’s words in Psalm 119.162: “I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great treasure.”

Remember that Jesus is the “Source of all human knowledge”, the “Epistemological Logos” of God (The Word of God and The Mind of Man, Nash, p. 67). We were meant to iterate our knowledge of our careers by continually walking with and learning from the Holy Spirit (John 1.9; John 14.26). Even so, the Holy Spirit works through us to bring the Kingdom of God into every context where He leads us (1 Corinthians 2.6-16; John 3.8). Consider Jesus’ example in Matthew 11.2-6 (Luke 7.20-22).

This is the reality of John 14.26 operating in Matthew 6.33. This is far better than man’s wisdom, as the psalmist reminds in Psalm 118.8: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (NASB). This was Paul’s choice: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2.4-5, NKJV).

Which is your choice?

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.