And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
This week’s video is presentation 14 in our study of Acts, and completes the introduction to disciple-making from presentation 13. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 14).
Read and meditate on Acts 16.11-15.
Doubtless Paul and his companions spent some days getting to know the city of Philippi. No synagogue there, or we would have found our heroes in place on the Sabbath, doing what they’d done elsewhere. So they learned or discerned from their inquiries that folks convened at a place where prayer was customarily made just outside the city walls by a river. And on the Sabbath, they showed up to participate.
1. Paul and his team determined to bring the Gospel, first of all, to the people they considered most likely to be open to hearing it – those who already believe in and practice prayer. Is there a principle here for working your Personal Mission Field? Or for your church in its mission to the local community?
2. Same song, next verse: The ongoing work of Christ goes on, just as He’d promised. Lydia is described as a woman who worshiped God. This suggests she had some contact with Jews. As a business woman her contacts doubtless ranged beyond her own city of Thyatira (on the Asian mainland, where synagogues were plentiful, as we have seen), and she may have made it her practice to join Jews at worship in various places. Was she the founder of this Sabbath-day prayer meeting? Could be. She certainly seems to be the one most open to the Gospel, and when she heard it, she believed and was baptized, together with her entire household (though from Thyatira, she appears to have moved to Philippi). Paul was baptized shortly after he believed, and so he baptized Lydia. What is the role of baptism in the life of faith?
3. Did Lydia’s household include small children? It’s possible, but we don’t know for sure. She immediately showed the effects of the Gospel on her life by opening her home to Paul and his companions and insisting they make their abode with her while they remained in Philippi. So the first evidence here of the work of the Spirit is not speaking in tongues, as in previous situations, but hospitality – love for the brethren. True faith produces spiritual evidence (Heb. 11.1). What kind of evidence?
4. The ongoing work of Christ took root on the European continent in Philippi, and among people who appear to have been of Greek origin. Philippi was a colony and a prominent city, so there would have been many links between this city and Rome – links that doubtless would serve Paul well when he found himself under house arrest in Rome, and in need of friends who had friends in high places and knew their way around the capital city (cf. Philippians). The sovereign Lord is clearly at work here. Paul could not see where all this was leading, but he was faithful in whatever next steps the Lord showed him. How does Paul’s example counsel you in working your Personal Mission Field for the ongoing work of Christ?
5. Are there any places in your community – apart from the churches – where people gather to talk about things like religion, philosophy, culture, or current events? Should witnesses from your church have a presence there? Would it be possible to create such a place, like Lydia seems to have done in Philippi?
The ongoing work of Christ proceeds in small increments, typically, one person at a time. Faithful witnesses, like Paul, look for opportunities to engage others in conversation about spiritual matters, whether to strengthen them in their faith or to explore the possibilities for sharing the Gospel. Is this true of you?
Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.
He turned the sea into dry land;
They went through the river on foot.
There we will rejoice in Him.
He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book, The Kingdom Turn (click here).
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