Acts 19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
Two things are absolutely certain in the believers journey on earth. One is that the Lord God has unalterable purposes for his life. Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
The other is that the believer knows not how these things are to present themselves, therefore his walk, even as here in our verses, in the spirit, is strictly by faith! For our first verse listed above reveals that Paul knew he was to go to Macedonia. Therefore he purposes in the spirit to go there. But look at Acts 20:3. There we find that he has to work out this overall purpose revealed to him from God by an alternative practical purpose! And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. He is going to Macedonia! But the plan to get there he later “purposes” to alter, as there is an unforeseen danger in the route he first intended to take. For if we all knew specifically the unchangeable will of the Lord, there would be no need of faith or prayer! For even though the Holy Spirit is working God’s eternal will in us, we must work these things out with fearful trembling! Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Never forget that the just SHALL live by faith, and not by sight!
There are those in religion who reject the absolute sovereignty of God in an attempt to preserve the will of man and his responsibility. And there are those religionists who promote God’s absolute sovereignty to such an extent that they diminish man’s responsibility. But these two things are not at odds with one another! Therefore neither should be denied. And the reason that these two errors are exacted upon the religious community is because those promoting them only seek to know God by human reason and not by spiritual faith in his word. But the human mind cannot fully comprehend the essence of an eternal, immutable, all wise God!
One of the things that is required even of the born again believer is that he is to work on the renewal of his mind! Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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.
We must come to know and exercise our faith within the mind of the Spirit! Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. For it is not man’s intentions, apart from the Spirit that are always brought to reality! Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?
And we must remember that the very first sin to ever enter creation was that of the highest angel, who became the Devil in commission of this very sin. His heart was manifest in the statement, “I will!” (See Isaiah 14:12-15). But what should we, and all created beings say? James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
We absolutely cannot deny the absolute sovereignty of God! Please observe these passages: Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? And less I overload you with scripture references in this article, please take time to also read for yourself Isaiah 46:9-11.
Dear Reader, this is most important to your ability to worship, so as not just to go through the motions in only having a form of godliness! For it is this doctrine of God’s sovereignty that reduces the fleshly mind to a reverential fear, required for proper worship! Listen to this passage.
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. (And what does he give as the source of this awe?) 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (The only source given is that God alone has the ability to speak, and have that which he has spoken come to pass!) 10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
And the failure of the pulpits in America to preach that God as he is, and as he only presents himself, is the root cause of the downfall of true Christianity among us today! The Lord has leveled the charge against the church as being the ruin of a godly society! …thou hast polluted the land! (Jeremiah 3:2). But in order to avoid such an introspection, we continue to point to others whose sins we have come to deem far more atrocious than ours. But this is a trick of Satan to help religionists into eternal darkness by ignoring the greatest sin of persisting in striving to form God into our image!
For failing to believe God as he presents himself is the granddaddy of all sin! Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Do you see? Man is changed for the worse when he reduces God to be that which can be understood by human reason! All the awe and true worship is gone!
Would you like to hear just what our forefather’s faith was concerning the Person of God?
“God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself, is alone in, and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth:…” That quote is from the 1689 Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Chapter II, “Of God and of the Holy Trinity,” paragraph 2.
Does that sound anything like the God of whom you have ever heard from the pulpits in America in your life time? Certainly not! Therefore you now know that this God, the only True God, not being declared in his sovereignty is the cause of the absence of that “awe” spoken of in Psalm 33! And that is why we have turned to entertainment and other such foolishness in the churches across this great land! We should be honest and not call these religious entertainment centers, “Houses of Worship.” And we should quit listing the words, “Worship Service” as an item on our church bulletins.
Let us now return to Paul’s situation in working out the revelation God had given him by the Spirit. Here are some passages from his own hand that give us insight to that matter:
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. Those words, let hitherto mean that he was “kept back,” or “hindered.” So we see that even though he knew it was God’s will for him to come to them, he also knew that it would only be in God’s time and for God’s glory.
2 Corinthians 1:15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; 16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. 17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? 18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. We find him here defending his proclaimed purpose which he had made to them. He assures them that this was not done casually, or in a fleshly mind, but it truly was the intent of God. Again, it was just that God’s purposes would take their own course in order that all may know that the accomplishment thereof was most certainly of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 16:5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. Notice here that he is not speaking from the ability, or lack thereof, in his coming to them. But the phrases, “I will come unto you,” “I shall pass through,” and, “I do pass through” are spoken from the certainty that because the Spirit revealed it unto him, it most assuredly would happen!
Dear soul, do not grow discouraged when you know the Lord would have you accomplish something based on his word, if your attempt is not successful at first. Do not quit on God. We should rather quit on our inordinate affections! That which God has determined to transpire cannot be hindered. But when we misinterpret God’s purposes due to our own self interests, we learn a hard lesson! Which is that God will most assuredly destroy our self reliance, forcing us to rely entirely upon him!
Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
There is also another spiritual necessity that is derived from what we call “delay” of God. And that is patience. It only come by the trying of our faith in such matters. James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. It is essential to obtaining a God-likeness! 2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And it is in the grace of practicing patience wherein we properly possess our very souls. Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
It was through their own active patience that generations of previous believers came to realize the purposes of God. Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. And so it shall be that our generation shall be enabled to do the same. Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
In the second verse of our text (Acts 19:22 listed above), we clearly see that the Apostle Paul began to act upon God’s revealed instructions. He, like his Master before him, sent forth gospel representatives to prepare the hearts and minds of those to whom he would come and minister to personally. Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Here is that which the apostle wrote concerning this matter: 1 Corinthians 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. And why would he give Timothy a task of taking such a laborious journey, and posting such a detailed letter as to why he was doing so, if he did not believe that this was God’s purpose?
The test of faith is always in carrying out that which is believed. For that is not a true faith which has no corresponding works. James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Pastor Gene Breed