Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Discerning God pt5

The intended purposes of God are not always understood or lived out. Even characters in the New Testament had struggles. This piece will take a look at a couple of examples where two apostles needed to be re-directed. It is to be noted, that after Pentecost, it was the Holy Spirit that communicated most of the direction and purposes of God. An entire piece will be devoted to the ministry of the Holy Spirit as he pertains to guidance and direction.

I find the Apostle Paul's ability to understand the will of God remarkable, yet he is still able to be mistaken. In the book of Acts we find the writer giving us details of a time when Paul was mistaken about what he should do. He was wanting to travel into Asia and communicate the gospel message. His intentions were pure, honest and God honoring. Yet, he is expressly told, "No".  After the Holy Spirit closes the door to Asia and Paul understands, he is directed to the open door of Macedonia.

The importance of the closed door to Asia and the open door to Macedonia can not be over emphasized. If Paul had not listened and obeyed the Spirit's directive there may have been a much different portion of the New Testament, known as Paul's Epistles.

Paul travels to Macedonia and we find a very important series of events take place. In the city of Phillipi he finds a gathering of women having a time of prayer down by a river. Paul speaks about Christ and a prominent business woman, Lydia, listens and believes in Christ. Giving us her name is very important, in that Paul's words to her show no bias because of gender. In fact, we know her name and her husband who also believes, remains nameless. He is moved by her and stays with her family for some time. By following the direction of God we have the, "Epistle of Joy- Phillipians." The events in Phillipi will eventually bring Paul to Rome and Caesar.

The understanding of the direction and purposes of God can be ignored. The Apostle Peter is a classic example of a man at his highest and lowest. After walking with Jesus for three years and hanging on every word he can still do things contrary to Jesus. After Pentecost and the revolutionary movement of God, Peter finds himself the central figure in the young church. The communication of God's redemptive plan is spreading among Jews and Gentiles alike. This plan, the universal spreading of the gospel, has the approval and blessing of all of the apostles.

The book of Galatians gives us the sad story of Peter failing to stand for the very truth he sanctioned. He disrespected the very people he was directed to by showing partiality towards Jewish believers. He is rebuked to his face and a lesson is learned and taught.

Paul will listen and obey all the way to the executioner. Peter will follow Christ's leading right up to, and past, being crucified upside down.


  1. I'm a bit disappointed since in neither case did you mention Peter's rooftop vision -- as a VISION -- or Paul's DREAM. The role of dreams and visions in the NT age seems significant to me. Especially in light of Joel's prophecy regarding them. Who is to say (or not) if that is still a way God communicates with men.

  2. In one of the gospels Joseph is directed several times by dreams. That makes Paul's and Peter's experiences important. Did these folk have dreams of this nature because they were alert to the possibility of them?

    I guess I wonder at what point, if indeed they have, dreams ceased to be a means of communication/direction. What has taken their place? Are the directions still as crystal clear?

    There are many Spirit-filled people who claim divine guidance in everyday situations. Others perhaps like myself no longer believe in coincidence - that the steps of the righteous are directed.