God will work His will ? even when we might not want Him to! - Acts 11:1-30
This is a sermon by Tim Benstead from the morning service on 31st January 2021.
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God will work His will
What is it like when all of our preconceptions are challenged and it is we who have to change our mindset?
1. Human-centred (standard) thinking
This church was Jewish in its religious observance, its prejudices, its thinking and its culture. What would happen when over a thousand years of cultural baggage were to be let go in such a short period of time?
How can such people become followers of Jesus unless they too become Jewish first? We can see the problems that Paul would later have are rooted in these first days. But does that make the Judaisers the baddies? It is understandable isn’t it? These people had heard Peter preach the gospel on the day of Pentecost and had become followers of Jesus as Messiah.
It was William Carey, the great Baptist missionary who said, ‘It is the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavour to make it known among all nations.’ It was church leaders who told him that if God intended the heathen to believe then he would do it without Carey’s help!
2. God-centred (gospel) action
God has gone beyond where the church was comfortable. He is pushing outwards and making the words of the prophet true. The church is now becoming a light to the Gentiles and this is seen in Antioch. God is causing Christians to reach out, having seen Peter lead the way.
How do we know this was of God? Because men and women came to trust in Christ. Verse 21 tells us that the ‘hand of the Lord’ was with them. Lives were changed. Men and women threw off falsehood, paganism and wickedness. Indeed, vv 27-30 shows us that the gospel changes lives, as these new Christians were determined to send financial aid to the mother church in Jerusalem as they suffered from famine.
Consider the statement, ‘Culture isn’t the gospel’. Is this true? If not, in what ways have we allowed this to be true in the church?
What are the cultural issues (our shibboleths) that exist within us/our church, and which may block people hearing of Jesus?
In what ways has God gone beyond our expectations?
How might our own prejudices act as a block to sharing the gospel?
In what ways might we be a hindrance to God working?
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