FORBIDDEN TO PREACH
Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
The church has a standing order to preach the gospel throughout the world! Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. But we are not to violate the unction of the Holy Spirit! Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 1 Thess. 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
Notice in that Acts 1:8 verse, that those who are to go unto the uttermost part of the earth, are not witnesses without the Holy Ghost! For he is the sovereign leader and enabler for the church! He alone directs the church in its evangelism; and he alone can make that evangelism effectual! (See Acts 8:29,39; 10:19,20 with 11:12.) 1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. We must never forget that the kingdom of God is not identified by just factual, religious words, but by the power of the Holy Spirit! 1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
It is only those who are led by the Holy Spirit who actually are the born again children of God! Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And these actually have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, bringing the Lord Jesus Christ to bear upon their hearts and minds, coming to them and manifesting himself to them for their comfort and direction!
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
In verses eighteen and twenty one of the above listed verses from John twenty one, we have the Lord Jesus telling us that, by the Spirit, he will both “come to us,” and he will “manifest himself to us!” We do not hear an audible voice. But we have most assuring inner, spiritual awarenesses and comforts from the throne, causing us to know both that we are his, and how we are to walk before him.
For even if a preacher were in the pulpit, speaking to us, we may not hear from God! For it is that Holy Spirit’s voice within us that causes us, as the Lord’s sheep, not to follow any “stranger!” John 10:5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. God’s sheep have two effectual things given them by the Lord’s Spirit – hearing ears, and following feet! Their ears won’t hear strangers! And their feet will only follow Christ! John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
For every one of these, without fail, no matter in what world and time we find them, are directly and personally taught by God Himself! John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 1 John 2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Consider these verses wherein the Lord instructs that he will both hear our voices as we cry out to him, and that he will make sure we hear his! Isaiah 30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
This was a subject of prayer for the Apostle Paul. 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. The true christian believer is different from every other religionist on the face of the earth! For his God dwells within him, granting him the perceptions of God’s own mind! Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Our Lord was emphatic concerning this inner ability of his believers to hear his voice. In fact, he informed the religious gang of his day that not being able to do so was the evidence of their not having spiritual life! John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
But now lets consider the subject of our lesson. In verses six and seven of our Acts sixteen passage we read of an unusual matter. The Holy Spirit directs the Apostle Paul and the Prophet Silas not to go where they intended. The just shall live by faith. (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11, Heb 10:8). Therefore the concept of putting colorful push pins on the “Missionary Map” was not that which directed them, as it has come to be in this age.
And being required to have faith engaged in order to have true direction from God is set forth from ancient times! Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
This lesson which seems to be very difficult for the modern religious mind to grasp is that the Spirit of God directs us by closing doors of opportunity to us as well as opening others! Romans 1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. That word, let means, “I was hindered, or prevented.”
And just where was it said that they were hindered from going to preach the gospel? It was in Asia. Therefore, after Paul’s vision in the night, they make their journey from Asia (in Turkey), into Europe (in Greece). And after arriving, they still didn’t know where to go in order to preach the gospel. For in verse twelve of our passage we read that even after they arrived in Philippi, they just were abiding certain days! The servant of the Lord must not only be apt to teach, but also must be patient! (2 Timothy 2:24).
Finally, with no synagogue there, they are led to a group of women, (although it was a man of Macedonia that appeared to Paul in his vision), down by a river, for the intent of prayer. One of those women shall play a great part in the church that the Lord will call together in Philippi. She is called, Lydia. But what are we told of her? One of the things was that she was from the city of Thyatira! But why do we need to know that? Well, lets see we can learn about that. The Person of the Lord Jesus, in his revelation to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos gives us some farther understanding of this. Here are his words: Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
He says that Thyatira is one of the seven churches in Asia! So Lydia was from Asia. But she was now in Europe, directed there by the Providential hand of God in the following of her trade of selling purple fabrics. So Paul was forbidden to go to Asia because God’s elect child, Lydia, wasn’t at home! She was in Europe, so Paul was directed to go there to preach to her!
Dear soul, God has clearly stated that the times of our lives, and the place in which we are to spend them, are so ordered by Him as to be essential in our coming to know him! Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord,
And this is just such a case as leaving the ninety and nine in order to go find but one lost sheep! This is what our Lord did in the salvation of Zacchaeus! For before we are ever introduced to this name, we are told that Jesus entered and passed through Jericho! (Luke 19:1). The Lord passed through that entire city, not preaching a word to a single soul, nor healing a single sick person, in order to go stand under Zacchaeus’ tree!
Therefore, Paul was forbidden to go into Asia, for that one elect sheep was not home. Paul had to go out, as it were, looking for this one lost soul!
But let us not omit a very important part of this situation. For we are told in verse thirteen that the purpose of the women gathering at the river was for prayer. And we are also informed that the reason for the Lord opening Lydia’s heart was so that she would attend to the words spoken by Paul. (Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.) Could it then be that she was praying for God to send her someone to reveal himself to her? It certainly seems that way.
We know that the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous avails much. (James 5:16). And we read in Revelation 8:1-5 that God silences heaven in order that he may attend to the prayers of the saints, and mingle them with the atoning work of his darling Son! And then with the saints in one accord with the mind and purposes of God in the atoning work of Christ (referred to as the fire of the altar), and these are jointly poured forth into the realm of Providence, the earth is shaken from its intent on directing itself, and the Spirit of God is set forth to rule and direct for his glory!
And the purpose of this earthquake is clearly described as our receiving a kingdom! That is, this is how heaven and earth come together in one purpose, by the Spirit of God to rule the affairs of men for Jesus’ sake! Hebrews 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
This is how the church is said to live and reign with Christ during the entire gospel age! Rev. 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Pastor Gene Breed, April 12, 2013