Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts #12: Right & Wrong To hear this message and others download our free app @ the App Store by searching The Gathering Connect.
The Right Thing in the Wrong Ears Acts 14:1-8, 2 Timothy 4:2-5
Have you ever tried to offer good advice to someone who just didn’t want to hear it, or give something helpful to someone who just didn’t want to use it? Perhaps you found a job for someone who was just too lazy or irresponsible to keep it, or you gave a precious gift to someone who misused it.
The gospel (lit. Greek: good news) is always the right thing at the right time but often it is heard by the wrong ears. Why do you think that Jesus always said “He who has ears let him hear?” (Matthew 11:15) People hear what they want to hear, when they want to hear it. Jesus was basically saying “Hey, who’s really listening to what I’m saying?”
The apostle Paul, giving advice to his “spiritual son”, Timothy, said “For the time will come when men will not put up sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.” Paul goes on to tell Timothy that people will turn aside to myths rather than follow a truth that may upset their path of living. Paul advises Timothy to stay with the truth and endure the “hardship” that it produces.
In Acts 14:1, Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds… The important thing to see here is that the response of the people who didn’t believe had nothing to do with how well Paul and Barnabas spoke. (they didn’t even believe because of the “miraculous signs”) It had everything to do with their willingness to hear the truth. As Christians we must remember that we have the right message but some will not accept it no matter how it is presented. Many times these people are not content to reject your message alone, but they want to bring others against you as well. Jesus called humans sheep and it is human nature to want others to join us as we flock around a belief, be it truth or a lie. Following the truth isn’t always popular, but it is the truth! We need to stick to the truth as Paul told Timothy and continue to “preach the good news” as Paul and Barnabas did. They didn’t stick around where people didn’t want to hear. They moved on with their message and we should do the same. Someone will always want to hear.
The Right Thing and the Wrong Reaction Acts 14:8-20, (21-28), Matthew 7:6
Have you ever tried to do something good only to have your actions mistaken for something bad? What a discouragement that is! Once again, people perceive things the way that they want too. As a matter of fact, in the instance recorded in the passage above, the people chose to perceive Paul and Barnabas as gods. When Paul and Barnabas insisted that they were not, and could not be persuaded by the crowd to accept worship, the crowd allowed another group to incite them to riot against them. Funny thing, if Paul and Barnabas accepted the people’s worship, the Jews from Antioch and Iconium would have been stoned for speaking against the new “gods.” The bottom line, once again, is people believe what they want to and those who don’t join them they will persecute. What was the response of the “dynamic duo?” Once again, they left for another city!
Jesus warns us not to give what is holy to dogs or to throw our pearls before swine. What He is saying is to move on with our message. When people won’t receive the truth that you present to them, don’t give up, get discouraged, or quit. Go elsewhere.
Grace Check Matthew 7:1-5, Philippians 2:3-5
It is vital, that as we share the truth of the gospel, that we give ourselves a “grace check”. Is the reason people are turning away from our message because of the judgmental way that we are presenting it? Are we presenting the message of God’s grace or our own self-righteousness? Are we representing Christ? Without periodical “grace checks” we can easily chase people away.
Grace Message Acts 15:1-2, (3-9), 10-11, (12-27), 28-29, (30-35).
Even Christians who say “we are saved by grace” can become practitioners and preachers of a legalistic, law keeping, message of bondage. Paul and Barnabas were called in to clear up such mixed messages from some ”well meaning” but mistaken men from Judea to Antioch. (Teaching that Gentile converts must become circumcised and follow the law of Moses) Paul and Barnabas, as well as two others sent (Judas and Silas), cleared up this mixed message to remove the “yoke” of bondage from the pure message of the grace of God.
The council did send some eating restrictions to the Gentiles (Acts 15:28-29). Not given as a law by which Christians must live, for the New Testament clearly teaches that we are not under law (Romans 6:14; Galatians 4:8–31). Rather, the Jerusalem counsel was advising Gentile Christians to respect their Jewish brothers by observing some food practices that would utterly offend them. This passage is used by some religious groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, to claim that blood transfusions are against God’s will. This passage refers to the Old Testament restriction against eating or drinking blood (Genesis 9:3–4, Leviticus 17:10–12). These prohibitions were directed at eating flesh that was still pulsating with life because the lifeblood was still in it. “Sexual immorality” was also prohibited. Pagan worship often featured all of these acts done together at temple rites.
No Super Saints Acts 15:36-40
Paul did not show the grace towards John Mark that he preached. We don’t know exactly why John Mark (Barnabas’ nephew and the author of the gospel of Mark: Mark was his surname; his common name was John.) left Paul and Barnabas but the fact remains that he wanted to join them again. Barnabas went on to preach successfully with John Mark and Paul left Barnabas and took Silas. Reconciliation must have later occurred between Mark and Paul as we read of Paul’s affectionate request for his services in 2 Timothy 4:11. There are no super saints in the Bible. Everyone, even the apostles and disciples, are imperfect. Wrong can only be made right when we desire walk in the truth making constant “grace checks” along the way. Be encouraged…God’s grace extends to all… always!