2017-12-06 / Religion

Believers have faith to discern truth

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Acts 13:1-12

When a person accepts Jesus Christ of Nazareth as his or her personal savior, a changes in outlook and action take place. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Apostle Peter wrote of the divine purchase that was made, “ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

When this divine change takes place, the redeemed child of God receives life-directives from his or her new owner. Actions might, or might not, be directed along the lines of personal inclinations.

There are times when the divine plan goes contrary to personal preferences. However, our Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe, does not send anyone on a mission for which he does not provide preparation or instill the ability. He does not send one out to fail!

We are first introduced to a particular man, Joses, when physical needs arose in the early Church. We know little of his background. The apostles gave him a name that reflected his actions and attitude, “who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation), a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus.” Acts 4:36.

As events unfolded in the early days of the church, this man faded into the background. We do not meet him again until after the miraculous conversion of Saul of Tarsus. When this converted hater-of-thechurch went to Jerusalem, the apostolic leadership feared that his coming was some kind of trick or trap for the whole group. Acts 9:26.

Barnabas listened to the testimony of Saul, and brought him to the apostles, “But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” Acts 9:27.

As the message of the gospel continued to spread throughout the regions, most of the believers were Jews. Luke (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1) reported that these people were “preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” Acts 11:19b. He continued his report, “And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.” Acts 11:20.

Word of this revival reached the leaders in Jerusalem, “and thy sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” Acts 11:22. Even though this group was primarily made up of gentiles, non-Jews, this godly teacher did not allow the background of these hearers to color the intent nor power of his message. We are told that “when he came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they could cleave unto the Lord.” Acts 11:23.

There is no statement in scripture that gives any information regarding the way that Barnabas knew where to find Saul. However, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul.” Acts 11:25. The indication in the Greek is that it took great effort on the part of Barnabas to locate the object of his search. Yet, he was successful, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.” Acts 11:26a, b.

The divine command to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” Mark 16:15 needed a divine prodding. The church at Antioch had five ministers who operated with the spiritual gifts of prophecy and teaching. Barnabas and Saul were in this group. See Acts 13:1.

Luke shows all readers the way in which the Holy Spirit carries out the divine plan. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2.

The directive of the Holy Spirit was not a surprise unto these two men. The assignment was, simply, a confirmation of the inner promptings that were already at work in their hearts. “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:3.

These two missionaries were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit — “So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Acts 13:4. Since Cyprus was the home area for Barnabas, he most probably had friends on that island. “And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews...” Acts 13:5a, b.

As they ministered to the people of that area, “they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus.” Acts 13:6. This religious imposter had bewitched “the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man…” Acts 13:7a.

This Roman official had a heart that was hungry for a true experience with God, Jehovah. Luke tells us that the deputy “called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.” Acts 13:7b.

We are told that the sorcerer “withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.” Acts 13:8. For the first time in his account, Luke used the name, Paul, as he wrote of the former Pharisee. Paul pronounced a divine curse on this false prophet, and this nowblind interloper left the room, “seeking some to lead him by the hand.” Acts 13:11c.

Paul was able to discern, distinguish, the false from the true. Holy living recognized the false. As Barnabas was able to discern the truth of the life of believers, so error can, too, be recognized. God can help us to recognize the difference between truth and error. Ask God for this help, today.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@yahoo.com

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