Acts 21:4 Spiritual Gift of Discernment

Acts 21:4 (KJV)
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

It happens frequently that I have some sort of impression about a particular decision either I or someone else is making and I have learned, by more than 30 years in the ministry, that more often than not, that impression is accurate. I believe it to be the spiritual gift of discernment. It carries no Biblical authority and I cannot make people follow my impressions. Most often I find it is more sensible not to even tell people what my impression of their decision is. Still, I have had maybe hundreds of opportunities to observe that these impressions prove true.

I see this passage in a similar light to that of my impressions. It was the Holy Spirit who gave these disciples that sense that danger awaiting Paul in Jerusalem. Out of love for Paul they expressed what the Holy Spirit told them would be the outcome of his trip. But they were not authorities over Paul’s own leading of the Spirit. Paul was responsible to follow the Spirit’s leadership in his life and not theirs.

Albert Barnes expresses the same understanding when he writes:
“…In solving this difficulty, we may remark:
(1) That it is evident that the Holy Spirit is meant, and that Luke means to say that this was spoken by His inspiration. The Holy Spirit was bestowed on Christians at that time in large measures, and many appear to have been under his inspiring guidance.
(2) It was not understood by Paul as a positive command that he should not go up to Jerusalem; for had it been, it would not have been disobeyed. He evidently understood it as expressive of their earnest wish that he should not go, as apprising him of danger, and as a kind expression in regard to his own welfare and safety.”

 

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Acts 21:4 Spiritual Gift of Discernment

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Acts 19:1-2 Observations and Questions

Acts 19:1-2 (KJV)
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

I think it was Torrey who speculated that Paul questioned that these disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost because there were only twelve of them. Torrey fell into the same trap as most in that he equated numbers with the presence of God’s power. This idea has, in my opinion, created the environment of worldly compromise we see in churches today.

The more common error springing from this passage is that of the Pentecostals and Charismatics. They see this passage as instructing them to urge people who do not speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

The two errors are similar in that they both look for some outward evidence of an inward work. I believe the lesson of the passage is much more basic. Paul approached a group of professing believers and asked them questions to determine how he might most effectively help them.

The ministry ought to be about taking people from where they are spiritually to somewhere else. Whether it was the heathen philosophers of Athens or these would-be believers in Ephesus, Paul made observations and asked questions so that he might best determine how to preach to them and to help them spiritually.

 

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Acts 19:1-2 Observations and Questions

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Leviticus 4:23 Sinning In Ignorance

Leviticus 4:23 (KJV)
Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:

There is such a thing as sinning in ignorance.

  • Sometimes we do not know a thing is not scriptural
  • Sometimes we act without realizing the consequences of those actions
  • Sometimes we hurt someone without knowing they could be hurt

That we did not know we had sinned does not excuse the sin. Sin is sin. Right is right. Wrong is wrong.

When we become aware that we have sinned:

  • It is revealed through our devotion or
  • We are confronted with it by another or
  • The preaching brings us under conviction

When we become aware, as soon as we become aware, that is the time to make it right.

 

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Leviticus 4:23 Sinning In Ignorance

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Leviticus 1:1 What Moses Most Enjoyed

Leviticus 1:1 (KJV)
And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

The book of Exodus ends with the construction of the Tabernacle and with Moses speaking to God from within it. Leviticus is, at least in part, what God said to Moses while there. Adam Clarke suggests that the whole of Leviticus was delivered in an eight-day period of time. John Gill adds that Moses may have written some portions of the book at some other period and then added to the book due to their containing the same theme; the practice of the Levitical priesthood.

I imagine Moses, his face aglow with the glory of God. He has entered the tabernacle, now occupied by God. Instructions concerning the particular nature of the ministry of the priests were being given, each of them in some way representative of Jesus Christ. Moses was alive with the blessing of God in learning these precepts.

Interestingly, Leviticus is vastly considered the least favorite of the books of the Bible. It reveals our lack of relationship with God that we don’t enjoy that thing Moses most enjoyed.

 

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Leviticus 1:1 What Moses Most Enjoyed

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Exodus 40:4 We Must Come to God His Way

Exodus 40:4 (KJV)
And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.

God is a God of order.

We live in such a casual world today. People want freedom:

  • Freedom from work
  • Freedom from expectation
  • Freedom from social pressures
  • Freedom from morality
  • Freedom from cultural acceptance

In short, they want freedom from God. They want God to accept them as are. They want the idea of God to go away. They want to be a god unto themselves.

Truth is, it just isn’t the way it is. God is. To the clearheaded mind, every evidence demonstrates that. And God is a God of order and design.

We, who would come to God, must come according to His design.

 

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Exodus 40:4 We Must Come to God His Way

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Acts 25:27 Unreasonable

Acts 25:27 (KJV)
For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Little this world does against Christianity is reasonable.

  • It was not reasonable for Felix to keep Paul bound
  • It was not reasonable for the Jews to conspire to kill him
  • It was not reasonable that Festus offered Him only these choices
  • It was not reasonable to continue holding him though Festus and Agrippa agreed he should have been let go.

The world, like the ancient Romans, likes to present itself as sophisticated, fair and given to sound law. These are merely facades. They bear no substance behind the walls. The world, like whited sepulchers, appears clean and sanitary. The truth is, it is filled with corruption. The best of men break the very laws they are sworn to uphold, often justifying themselves that they had to break the law to keep the law.

Christianity has done nothing worthy of the hatred it bears today. There have been errors, of course. But most Christian history is perverted. The evil that has been done in the name of Christianity has been done at the hands of those who never were true Christians.

The reasonable thing would be to let every man worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience and willingly hear out the preaching of the Word to try it’s truthfulness.

Little this world does against Christianity is reasonable.

 

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Acts 25:27 Unreasonable

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Exodus 36:5-7 Enough and Too Much

Exodus 36:5-7 (KJV)
And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.
And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.
For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

Once the people had seen Moses’s countenance, having met with God, and heard his vision for the tabernacle, they were only too willing to be involved. They gave and they worked. Soon enough these people, far from a perfect crowd by the way, had given:

  • More than enough,
  • Sufficient and
  • Too much

This passage is often used to motivate Christian giving; “If only everyone would do what they can, God’s work could have more than enough now too.” The implication is that the reason pastors, or other spiritual leaders, cannot tell the people to stop giving is because they haven’t all done what they could.

Perhaps there is another reason.

In the case of the tabernacle, Moses had specific instructions what he was building. His was not a five, ten and twenty year plan[1]. He was to build the tabernacle and the furniture to go inside it. That was it. They knew when they had more than enough because they had a fixed project in view.

Perhaps the reason some ministries never seem to have enough is because they have no finished product in view. They dream of bigger, better and more. Having such dreams, they are never content to tell their congregations that they have given enough.

I am of the opinion that if the congregation will tithe faithfully, the preacher ought to accept that as enough.

[1] The Tabernacle was used, as it was originally built, for hundreds of years.

 

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Exodus 36:5-7 Enough and Too Much

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Exodus 35:5 The Farmer’s Faith

Exodus 35:5 (KJV)
Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,

I once knew a man who had pastored a church in a Midwestern farming community. This man was a believer in the black and white nature of the Bible. If the Bible says it, we are to obey it without question or hesitation.  I agree by the way.

In this man’s case, his trouble came during harvest season. The Bible taught the Jews that they were to take the Sabbath off, even during harvest. This preacher just could not abide a farmer who would harvest on Sundays. He had church members, even leading ones, who harvested seven days a week for the two or three weeks it takes to get crops in. Either the farmer was going to get right or the preacher was going to be gone. The preacher left, never, to my knowledge, to pastor again.

How is it possible to reconcile the inerrant and black and white nature of God’s Word with patiently ministering to those we see as disobeying the Bible?

Of course there are some things that we would have to stand upon and take whatever are the consequences of our stand. But in many cases we can reconcile the two by looking for the willing heart. Ours is not to force our faith on others but to teach and preach the Bible to them. As they become more exposed to the Word of God, it will have the effect of changing their hearts

  • I can’t force a farmer to forsake his fields on Sundays but
  • I can teach Him God’s Word and pray he comes to trust God for the harvest while he worships God on Sunday[1]

[1] This principle may be applied to any number of other circumstances.

 

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For this and more than 3900 earlier Daily Visits with God visit http://bit.ly/18XDiAs. There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.

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Exodus 35:5 The Farmer’s Faith

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Exodus 33:7 Those Who Sought The LORD

Exodus 33:7 (KJV)
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

Once the tabernacle was constructed the Bible says, “that every one which sought the Lord went out” to it.

Obviously there were some who did not seek the Lord. Surely there were some who still sought after the gods they had connived Aaron into making, some who sought the gods of Egypt, some who pretended to seek God but they did it in their own way.

God gets to decide how we properly seek and worship Him. He has determined we do it in the place He ordained and the fashion He organized.

That, today, is a local, New Testament Baptist[1] Church.

[1] I am historically, doctrinally and Scripturally convinced that there is no other New Testament church.

 

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For this and more than 3900 earlier Daily Visits with God visit http://bit.ly/18XDiAs. There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.

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Exodus 33:7 Those Who Sought The LORD

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Exodus 31:2-5 Just Giving Thanks Today

Exodus 31:2-5 (KJV)
See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

One of the members of our church is keenly aware that it was the Lord who gave to him the skills he possesses. He makes mention of it frequently and gives thanks for it often. In his case, those skills are remarkably similar to those of Bezaleel.

I want merely to give thanks today for that man and for each of those who labor hard using skills God has gifted to them and who faithfully provide for their families and generously give to God’s house.

 

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For this and more than 3900 earlier Daily Visits with God visit http://bit.ly/18XDiAs. There you will find daily visits going back to 2006.

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Exodus 31:2-5 Just Giving Thanks Today

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