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The Gospel in Philippi

(Acts 16:6-15)

Lesson 11 -- fourth quarter 2005
November 13, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Do you know how to deal with closed doors?

How is your heart before God -- opened or closed?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

If one door is closed, don't turn away from another

Somehow God made abundantly clear to the missionary team that He had closed the door to Asia. They were "forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia" (Acts16:6). Then when they tried to go into Bithynia with the Gospel, God's Spirit made clear they should stay out of there as well. Those two restrictions at that time did not keep them from being sensitive and open to calls from elsewhere. The closed doors did not so discourage them that they missed the door that God did open.

We ought not turn away from a request for spiritual help.

We do not know how these missionaries could assuredly gather from one member's night vision "that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them" (Acts 16:10). But the call from God and from Macedonia came through clearly to them. Their hearts and their actions turned immediately toward the need.

Obedience requires promptness.

When God closed a door, they left it alone right away. When God called them to an open door, they promptly walked through. We want prompt attention from God, but who are we to expect such a thing? God requires immediate action on His orders; who are we to give anything less?

God opens hearts.

How God works in the hearts of people, we do not know. But we do know that He does do such work. We must remember this in our praying for and dealing with people. Plead with Him to open their hearts. And plead with Him to open your heart...all the way.

Questions and Responses

Doesn't God want the Gospel preached everywhere?

Yes, of course. What Scripture would you use to prove that?

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Then why would He not allow Paul & Company to preach in Asia and Bithynia? We do not know the answer, but we do know that His decision was perfect and His timing absolutely right. He would never deny anyone access to the Father through the Son's work.

How sensitive shall we be to Macedonian calls in our day?

Paul's sensitivity seems quite keen, triggered by a mere night vision. His response was no less sensitive, compelling him to immediately set out to go answer the specific call.

Likewise we must develop and nurture our own sensitivity to any pleas for help that may come our way. Those who turn away their ears and hearts from such pleas, do so at their own peril!

"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard" (Proverbs 21:13).

"When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezekiel 3:18).

"We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell" (2 Kings 7:9).

But what if we misunderstand the call or foul up the timing of our response? Then we change course and adjust plans as did Paul and his companions. Remember that twice in this passage God restricted where they could serve at that time.

And remember this too: "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).

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