THE ACTS 11
ALWAYS DO WHAT GOD TELLS YOU TO DO
As you read the accounts of the first converts when the Apostles began to preach the Gospel, you are struck by the joy and enthusiasm the recipients exhibit. The reason for this is that it introduces them to an entirely different God, and this changes their whole view of life. Both the pagan and the Jew had distant gods, mysterious and to be feared. For all of them, their entire lives were lived in fear of
displeasing the gods, or, for the Jew, of being condemned for breaking the law of God. Now, the God they were afraid of, is being presented as a God who came to earth, in the person of His Son, and is a friend who is loving and forgiving, instead of angry and to be feared. Such was an astounding change for everyone who heard the Gospel story.
Even the ones who were preaching this wonderful story were taught all of their lives a totally different concept of God and His Kingdom. This is why God, in the person of His Holy Spirit, was present, and was directing all their thoughts and activities during this beginning period of Christianity. The story was too important to leave in the hands of fallible men, even those with total faith in Jesus Christ.
In this eighth chapter, we find Phillip, who was one of the deacons, or servants of God’s family in Jerusalem, chosen to take care of the Grecian widows. He had also become a powerful proclaimer of the Word. Phillip was preaching in Samaria when God sent him down to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. This was a miraculous intervention by God to tell Phillip to go.
This incident reminds us of something which we often hear in our age and generation. Someone will say, “God told me to do so-and-so”.
The age of God speaking directly and miraculously to men has passed. Those who make such claims do so for various reasons. Some are deluded by something out of the ordinary which has happened in their life, and which they interpret as an action of God. This is a false assumption for when God directed any disciple to do anything He always spoke to them in unmistakable words. He never used symbols or innuendos to give His directions.
Others are just using this as an excuse for something they are doing or want to do. It is a form of blasphemy to blame God for some action I want to take or feel I should take, even an act of service or doing some other good. However, that should be motivated by one’s own desire to do something worthwhile. Not a direct order from God.
Still others are simply showing their piety by such a statement. They wish to appear spiritually driven, or spiritually superior by suggesting that God has contacted them personally. But, miracles are no longer necessary to authenticate the Word which is preached, and that was always the purpose for the miracles. God no longer speaks to anyone directly, nor does His finger write on the wall what you should do.
In another sense, however, God does tell us what to do. God gave to His creature, man, a mind with which to think, examine, plan and decide. With this mind, God also gave him a factor we call conscience.
This is the built-in sense of right and wrong. Animals can learn what to do and what not to do, but they do not have the sense of right and wrong which man possesses. This conscience not only tells us that there is a difference in what is right and what is wrong, it also makes us realize that we should only do what is right. Your conscience only gives you one message: “Do what you think is right!” This is God, telling you what to do.
Paul said he had lived in all good conscience before God all his life. We know that at one time he was a persecutor of the church (which we will learn in the next chapter of Acts). However, even at that time, he was following what he thought was right. I tell my students to just open their Bibles and read, any passage, and say, “Lord, what do you have to say to me?” Whatever you find on that page, that applies to your life, is urging you to listen to the voice of God. He is telling you to follow your conscience and do what the Word tells you.
Then you can truly say, “God told me to do this”.