ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD

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But if he had been operating on that basis, he would have missed this opportunity to explain the gospel to this small group of women by the river. And yet this was how God intended to start the church in Europe.


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It would be a waste of my time to share with him or her. Paul and Silas bore witness not only by their proclaiming the gospel verbally, but also by their example. Their rights had been violated, their backs were ripped open by the rods that beat them, and they were thrown into the stocks in prison. But rather than complain, they sang hymns and prayed It serves you right, you barbarian! If you rejoice in the Lord and keep your focus on the salvation of those who are mistreating you, your life and words can lead them to the Savior.

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If your focus is on yourself and getting your rights or getting revenge, you will miss the opportunity. But his more dangerous strategy, because it is more subtle, is not aggression, but alignment. Those were perfectly true words! Why would Paul get irritated? If the girl had been shouting out a half-truth, I can see why Paul would be upset. But why was he upset with her shouting out the truth? As Paul put it 2 Cor. He is doing it in our day through the Mormon Church declaring itself to be just another evangelical denomination.

When Protestants publicly confirm that they are one with Roman Catholics, the world mistakenly thinks that both groups are just different flavors of Christianity.

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You can take your pick in accordance with your preferences. But the truth is, the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormon Church both proclaim different ways of salvation than the gospel. Note that he explained the way of salvation, both to Lydia and her group, and to the Philippian jailer and his household , People need adequate understanding in order to believe. They must know who Jesus is and what He claimed. The Jesus Christ that Paul proclaimed is clearly eternal God in human flesh, who came to bear on the cross the just penalty that God requires for our sins.

He taught that we are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Rom. There are some in evangelical circles who say that since salvation is by faith alone, that to tell people that they must accept Jesus not only as Savior, but also as Lord, is to mix faith and works. You must trust in Him as Savior and submit your life to Him as Lord.

Of course you grow in both faith and obedience as you mature as a Christian. The initial evidence that these converts submitted to Jesus as Savior and Lord is seen in their obedience through baptism and in the good deeds that followed their faith , 33, He does it through the same gospel message, proclaimed by His servants.

Even though Lydia was a religious woman who feared God, she was not converted. She did not have it in herself to believe in the gospel. Many, if not all, in her household also believed, since they confessed their faith in baptism The jailer and his family also believed and were baptized That is always the order in the Book of Acts: belief first, then baptism as a public confession of faith.

The New Testament is clear that if we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, it is not because we were so brilliant as to make that decision. It is because God graciously opened our hearts to respond. Saving faith is the gift of God Acts ; Eph.

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There were some in this story who could have met God, but they missed Him. The owners of the slave girl missed God because of their greed and anger toward Paul for taking away the source of their income They also lied to the city magistrates, trumping up false charges about Paul and Silas. But they missed their opportunity to meet God, because as good politicians, they wanted to keep their constituency happy. Probably some anti-Semitic prejudice inclined them to reject Paul and his gospel.

A. Other Encounters

Those who reject Jesus Christ cannot blame God for not opening their hearts to the gospel. They are responsible for their own sin.

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God does not owe them salvation. I once knew a man who was living as an immoral, drug-using hippie in one of the canyons leading to the beach northwest of Los Angeles. One morning a pastor and his wife prayed that God would direct their day and perhaps lead them to someone who needed to hear about the Savior. He went up to the door to ask if he could use the phone, and through this contact, he led this man to Jesus Christ. Is He providentially behind your being here today and hearing this message about your need for salvation?

I think so! The question is, how will you respond? In your hardness of heart, will you cling to your greed and sin and respond in anger to the message, as the slave owners in the story did? Or, will you join Lydia and the jailer and their households by responding in faith and giving glory to God for opening your heart to the good news, that Jesus Christ will save every sinner who believes in Him? Latest Articles Q. Standing Together In Victory, Pt.

But these three encounters with God teach us that … God providentially works to draw very different people to Himself through the same gospel. God works through His providence to draw different people in different circumstances to Himself. God uses the same gospel to save people, no matter how different they are. We should seek every opportunity to proclaim the gospel, both through our words and through our lives. Satan seeks to thwart the gospel by his subtle strategies.

The gospel always centers on the person of Jesus Christ and on faith in Him alone as the way of salvation. Those who hear the gospel can either respond in faith or reject it because of the hardness of their hearts. God opens the hearts of some to respond in faith. Others reject the gospel because of the hardness of their hearts. Conclusion I once knew a man who was living as an immoral, drug-using hippie in one of the canyons leading to the beach northwest of Los Angeles. Discussion Questions Is there such a thing as luck? How can we know that all things are ordered by a wise and loving Providence?

Should evangelicals work together with Roman Catholics or Mormons on social issues, such as abortion? Copyright, Steven J.


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Cole, , All Rights Reserved. A missionary to Africa many years ago told of a woman who came to every service, accompanied by her dog. She would sit on the outside, next to the aisle. At the end of the service, when the pastor gave the invitation to come forward for prayer, she would go forward, and the dog would come along beside her.

In fact, he beat her so severely because of her Christian lifestyle that she died. There must not have been any law enforcement in that part of Africa then, because the man was not arrested. So he was left alone with the dog.

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He began to notice that every Wednesday evening about 7 p. Also, every Sunday morning, the dog would leave about 9 and return about noon. Sunday evening, again the dog would leave for a couple of hours and then return. He followed it to the church and he took a seat in the back to watch. The dog sat down near the aisle, in his usual place. After the service, he watched the dog go forward and take his place at the altar, where his wife had prayed.

The man was so touched in his spirit that he, too, went forward and gave his life to Christ. So God used a dog to lead a hardened sinner to repentance! We may not have any stories quite like that here today, but if we went around the room, we would hear some very different ways that God worked to bring each of us to salvation. Our text shows us three very different people who had different encounters with God. We cannot be sure that the second person, the slave girl, actually got saved, since the text does not say.

But we can hope that she was saved, since God delivered her from demonic forces. But these three encounters with God teach us that …. God providentially works to draw very different people to Himself through the same gospel. These three encounters may seem insignificant, but actually they were the beginning of a movement that changed world history.

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