2018 09 02 Lorna Laister Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility

2018 09 02 Lorna Laister Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility
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Create DateSeptember 2, 2018
Last UpdatedSeptember 2, 2018


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Book of Acts 13 -Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of men

Now God is calling the apostles to move. We will see God moving by the Spirit. So that there is a

Call; Command; Urging or a directive

Followed by a response, an answer or an action

What does this mean for our lives? How do we hear God’s voice? Do we hear it? Do we even listen?  Do we answer? Do we move into action?

God is sending the apostles further out. They are going into the third phase of the Great commandment. They had been witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and now they were to go to the ends of the earth.’

But here we have the Holy spirit making the choices and the decisions.

But does the Holy Spirit make ALL the decisions?

Today we are going to look at the Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of men

God tells, and we respond

Acts 13:1

God had chosen a mixed group of people to lead the church in Antioch. There were 5 in all. Different backgrounds – Barnabas was from Cyprus – a little island to the west of Palestine. Simeon was African – dark. Lucius was from Cyrene – North Africa. Manaen had grown up with Herod Antipas – so he was from high society!

With such backgrounds they were able to minister to the many different ethnic groups in Antioch. And it is here, whilst the church was worshipping that the Holy spirit spoke

Acts 13:2-3

Strange this. Don’t you tend to think that god will speak to you in the silence? When you’re absolutely alone?

Clearly not. These guys were busy!!

We don’t always need to escape to a mountain top to sense God’s leading. Often his voice will be clear when we are busy reaching out to others, counselling or sharing the gospel. Why? Because we are sensitive to the Spirit at these times, because we are working alongside already – and being guided and empowered. (Acts 1:8)

Acts 13:4-5

There is a blending here of two factors: God's sovereign authoritative choice, and man's necessity to choose within a more limited area. It was the Spirit who laid this on their hearts and created an intense desire within to move out. But then the next phrase reads, "they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus." The Spirit did not tell them to go to Cyprus; that was the choice of Saul and Barnabas. The Spirit told them to move out, but the men decided where to go.

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

The Spirit may lay on your heart some need, some ministry, some opportunity that is before you, and you feel impressed to do it. You chat to others and perhaps they will join you in it. But maybe you do not know quite how to get started. Then, start with what looks like the most natural/obvious thing, being confident that God has gifted you and is in you. He will help you in your choice, and to bring out of it what he wants. Here you have the Sovereignty of God calling, urging, pleading; and your responsibility, to answer and use YOUR GIFTS to make it happen

They went to Cyprus, landed at Salamis, and began to preach. Obviously, they expected God to be with them and to open doors everywhere they went. This is the way the Holy Spirit commonly operates. No one is to wait for orders covering everything he does.

There are many mistaken ideas abroad today as to how the Holy Spirit leads us. We want black and white answers. A or B???

This is not how God works. He does not want robots!! God is interested in our understanding that he is to live within us. He will direct us precisely at times (and when he does, don't ignore it), but when he doesn't, move out where you are with the confident expectation that God is with you and will open the doors to make a way for you. AND your urging will always be in line with scripture.

God had already had men planted in Cyprus, ready to respond whenever his people go out to proclaim the truth. That is what it means to join Jesus in ministry. He is already there. That is what Paul and Barnabas found.

The Holy Spirit is radical. You cannot improve on it. That is what we find all through the book of Acts; this remarkable combination of divine sovereignty and human responsibility which, working together, co-laborers with God, produces exciting situations and climactic circumstances where anything can happen, yet which almost always opens a wide and fruitful door for ministry.

Acts 13:6-8

Paul and Barnabas went through the island of Cyprus that way. But one special incident in Cyprus is recorded for us. When Paul and Barnabas arrived at Paphos, they met the governor. Sergius Paulus, being Roman, was quite superstitious. He kept this magician/prophet beside him to forecast the future and interpret omens.

Here is a remarkable example of how the Holy Spirit works. Paul and Barnabas had no idea that they would be able to have a hearing before the governor of the island,

Sergius governed the whole island, and, prompted by the Holy Spirit, though he was a pagan Roman, sent for Paul and Barnabas, and asked them to speak to him the words of truth. You can never anticipate how the Holy Spirit is going to work things out. But Paul and Barnabas came and began to preach to the governor.

Elymas, in Greek, means magician. His name in Hebrew was Bar-Jesus, so, he was claiming that he was a follower of Jesus, but what he taught was absolutely contrary to what Jesus taught. But Elymas knew that if the governor listened to the Christian message and believed it Then Elymas would be out of a job!! No wonder he was causing opposition. Paul was deeply disturbed by this and, aroused in his spirit, and, as we are told, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke to this man.

Acts 13:9-12

In this situation, Paul became a true apostle. He began here to exercise his apostleship:

For the first time and filled with the Holy Spirit, he began to act as an apostle. It was the kind of sign that would show what an apostle is. It shows that he was selected by the Lord Jesus to be a founder of the church, who could lay the foundation of faith in the Scripture and become a writer of the Scriptures.

There too there was an immediate judgment. Only the apostles had power to act in judgment like this. This is not something any Christian is to do. But here Paul becomes an apostle and immediately the leadership shifts from Barnabas to Paul.

So, we are at the beginning of the great ministry of the Apostle Paul. And what characterized his ministry primarily? was his power in teaching. What impressed the governor was the teaching, the remarkable, radical doctrine of Christianity, that Jesus Christ the Son of God become man and was prepared to live his life again in every human being who would receive him. The life they would then live would no longer be their life, but his life, lived in their situation. That is the remarkable thing about Christianity. That is what impressed this proconsul and made him believe.

So, what about you? You aren’t going to be a PAUL. You aren’t an apostle. But you are you. You are gifted. When the Holy Spirit speaks what will you do?

When God urges what will you do?


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