Friday, May 18, 2012

Reaching The Saved Who Are Lost

Acts 19:1-10, "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, 2 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. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve. 8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."

There are several points I want to mention regarding this passage of Scripture. First we see Paul roaming the land until he reaches Ephesus and runs into some Jews who were disciples of John the Baptist. These were indeed believers, but they were unlearned in the vastness of what they believed. Paul asks if they received the Holy Ghost, but they were unprepared for this question. They believed on the Christ according to John's preaching, but knew little of Jesus Christ. They had repented (changed their minds toward Christ for salvation), but they knew not Who the Messiah was by name. They hadn't heard about the Holy Ghost either. Why? Because, at the time of their baptism, the Holy Ghost had not shown up in Christ's ministry as yet. How do we know this? Because of verse 4, that, "they should believe on him (Jesus) which should come after him" (meaning that person who should come after John).

The twelve did repent of the Jewish laws and traditions by turning to the Christ John preached about. Once Paul had shown them Who the Christ actually was and what He wanted, they gladly were baptized in Jesus' name. Then, as a sign that the Holy Ghost would be upon them, Paul laid hands on them and they all spoke with different languages they had not previously known. They were Prophesying about Jesus and that He was the Christ Who saves. Just to clarify something; these men weren't speaking in a gibberish or so-called 'heavenly languages,' as our charismatic counterparts claim. These were actual known and spoken languages from other countries. And, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, that wasn't when they were saved. They were already believers when Paul met them. The Holy Spirit's Power came upon them when Paul laid his hands on them. There is a big difference in having the Holy Spirit sealing us until the Day of Redemption, and having His Power in our lives. Those who think that they needed Paul to touch them to be saved aren't very discerning. Samson was saved, but there were times when the Holy Spirit came upon him and there was another time when the Holy Spirit left him. But, he was still saved. These twelve men were obviously 'saved' when they first met up with Paul, but they were 'lost' in their understanding of Jesus and His ways. What had happened here is that Paul was reaching the saved who were lost.

He didn't stop there, though. In verse 8 we see him entering into the synagogue for three months, persuading and disputing with the elders about the kingdom of God. What was their reaction? They spoke evil of Paul and his teachings -verse 9. Notice the Bible says, "but spoke evil of that way before the multitude." These elders and their cronies broadcasted falsely that Paul was teaching heresy. Even though Paul was telling them the truth and backing up everything he was saying with Scripture, they were beholden to their traditions. The elders had the ears of the people. Their persuasions were more effective than Paul's (for the moment). After Paul separated his disciples from the synagogue, he took aim at a Bible college. He went to the school of Tyrannus. This is Probably where the synagogue got their preacher boys from. Paul figured that he wasn't getting through to the folks who've already been indoctrinated back at the synagogue, so why not try and persuade those at the source?

He stayed for two whole years teaching and preaching Jesus Christ until ALL in Asia heard the word of Jesus Christ, both Jew and Greek. Okay, so what's my point? Simple; just as Paul was reaching the saved who were lost, there are those today, in the home-based church of Jesus' design, who are trying to persuade those in the Institutional 'Church,' who are saved, that they are 'lost' in their understanding of what Christ wants for His people. Similar reactions abound when we compare Paul's experience and our own. When approached with the truth, the people who were shown God's way, were hardened and spoke evil of the message and the messenger. Guess what? Times haven't changed much. If we try and tell the truth, even God's truth, we are rejected because it always upsets the apple cart. It happens to me all the time!

A very young pastor I know was made aware of my blog site. His younger brothers used to be Sunday School students of mine. I can't recall, but he may have been in my class a time or two. He is a very sober minded man and has the best if intentions for his flock at heart. After reading some of my posts, he e-mailed me saying that he could disprove what I was saying on "so many levels." Ahhh, the language of young people. "What EVER-RRR!" Sorry, but I found that humerus and painful at the same time. Those of you who got the 'funny-bone' pun, yes, it was intended. Anyway, after I asked him to challenge me and himself to the Scriptural integrity of the topics in this blog, he declined. I explained that if he indeed had me on "so many levels," that he should show me so that I wouldn't become a stumbling block to my brethren. I don't mind changing my mind about a mistake. He's a pastor, apt to teach. He should show me if I ask; am I right? I'm not looking for a fight with him. I like him! I'm picking a fight against Institutional lies against the Word of the Lord Jesus like Paul did.

There is a well known pastor who has recently called me, (a brother in Christ) "a serpent and a false teacher." He couldn't deny the truths I submitted against his wresting of the Scriptures, so he has sunk so low as to discredit me. Sound familiar? That's exactly what the elders in the synagogues in Paul's day did to him! You see, they were a part of the Institutional religious establishment just as we see the Institutional 'Church' today. How is that possible? It's very simple really; they're both part of the same System! There may be lots of people who are deceived in this system, but that's one way it has become so effective. Satan seldom tells a bold face lie all by itself. What he'll do is mix the lie with a little truth. He does that with everything. I believe that the only time he will ever tell the truth is when he finally has to kneel before God and say, "Jesus IS LORD!"

There are many folks who are saved, but are lost in their understanding of what our Saviour and God wants for us as an assembly. We've had too many lies mixed with the truth fed to us most of our lies. The one thing that makes it so effective is that we are told these distortions by those we trust. Are they trying to deceive us on purpose? I don't believe so. I believe that they are mislead just as we were. Not only are there many who are saved but lost in the fundamental Baptist Movements, but there are many who are saved, but lost in many other denominational systems as well. Just because a believer is not called a Baptist doesn't mean they didn't get saved somewhere down the road. They just ended up in a cult or a doctrinally inept Main-Steam 'Church' system. This happens to saved, disgruntled Baptists who turn to the Mormon religion of polytheism. They may have received Christ as their Saviour before Mormonism, but haven't grown one inch since their new birth. They have been spoon fed the traditions of men all of their lives. What can we expect their reactions to be when they hear something so foreign as what Paul was trying to teach those in the same situation?

What I am trying to say, is that a lot of the time, our own stiff-necked, human nature gets in the way of God's message. It could be that they don't care much for the messenger, or they don't want to deal with learning something new after years of indoctrination and peer pressure. It's human nature to resist being re-taught. That's prideful, I know, but it's true. What needs to be done is a deep soul-searching of oneself. Take a good look in the mirror and decide who is God; man or Christ? If one is true to himself and not Jesus, he'll fail.

This article isn't meant to re-state what God's position is. For that we can read His Word for starters. My intent is to get us to realize that we get in God's way much of the time with our attitudes, traditions, allegiances and loyalties towards man. What we need to do is swallow our earthly stinking pride and search out for ourselves what Jesus wants. We don't need a 'One Man Show' so-called Senior pastor to dictate policy. Jesus spent His whole three plus year ministry tripping up the priests, Pharisees and elders of the synagogues to show them that God has a simpler way of paying homage to Him. If we have the information needed to guide others toward the truth, we should make it available to other believers. For not to do so would be a crime. To cut to the quick, the Problem really isn't a doctrinal one. Doctrine becomes academic once our way of thinking is focused on God's Word alone, without the 'benefit' of man's assistance. So, here we are! I urge and plead with anyone who is hardened or would speak evil of this information to consider what God wants and not what is self-serving. Take stock, saved brother or sister, and ask the Lord to show you if you need to be reached because you are lost in the traditions of man. Me? I already have, just like Paul.

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