Following The Pattern

Dead, cold organization leads to division, but organization that is filled with the Spirit of God leads to the dynamics of Christian ministry.

Scripture: Acts 14


Alright, thank you very much. And hello, radio friends, how are you? I’m so glad for this contact with you. It does a lot of good for me to dig into the Word of God, and then to share it with you. Let me let you in on a secret. If you will get something for yourself from the Word of God, write it down and pray it back to God until the truth gets warm and tender in your own heart and then share it with someone else. You will feel the repercussive effect, the kick, so to speak, of God’s truth in your own soul. It will drive the truth more deeply into your own heart if you’ll share it with someone. So, here’s the thing that will bless you.

I got this idea from Stephen Olford, Pastor Olford is now at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, as you know, but I met him years ago when he still lived in Great Britain. And he gave me this secret and I’ve put it in my own books, and I’ve preached it and used it through the years. Stay with any given passage of scripture until it says something to you. Right now, in my own private devotions, I’m going through 2 Chronicles and I’m having a great time. Oh man, I can’t wait to preach that to somebody. I’ll tell you, it’s great. Stay with any given passage of Scripture until it says something to you. Second, write it down, because if you can’t write it, you haven’t got it. Third, pray it back to God until the truth becomes warm and real in your own soul. And fourth, share it with somebody as soon as you can, somewhere, and this will help you.

Alright. Now, we’re in the 14th chapter of the Book of Acts. Paul the apostle has been stoned by these people who, a short hours before, had wanted to worship Him, now they’re stoning him, and they dragged him out of the city supposing he had been dead, but the disciples, faithful people they were, stood round about him. This must have been a dark moment for them. Death is a tragedy in any form, but to have this kind of death apparently coming to one who had been their informant about the gospel, their encourager in faith, and their leader in the things of God over these short times. It must have been a terrible blow to them, but they were faithful. They stood round about him. They took their stand.

You must know that people watched who it was that was there. They were watching. Who is it that follows this man? We’ll see to them. Oh yes, there were a lot of threats, not all of them veiled either, in connection with the faithfulness of these disciples. And not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be faithful. Alright, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and came into the city and the next day, he departed with Barnabas to Derby. Now, instead of running away, he went right back into town and stayed another 24 hours. I suppose, actually, that he needed to go somewhere to get bandages on the different portions of his body that had been lacerated and torn and bruised by the stones that had been thrown upon him.

It’s the most cruel and agonizing death, actually, but God had spared him from death and now he was in the process of healing up. I imagine he discovered muscles he didn’t even know he had. Have you ever been in an accident of any kind, and then the next day, you woke up and you thought, “Oh I can’t move.” And you were stiff in places that you’d never expected to be stiff in, isn’t that true? Well, there’s the Apostle Paul, he went back into town, however, and it says, the next day, he departed with Barnabas to Derby. He stayed another day in the same place where people tried to murder him. That’s courage, you know. Oh yeah, real courage.

Now, remember this. You fulfill the will of God by facing up to your opposition. You remember, I gave you a little rundown on what to do about opposition. In Chapter 13 of Acts, where the opposition is satanic, depend on the Spirit of God and face it down. Elymas, the sorcerer, was withstanding or opposing Paul and Barnabas. And Saul, who is called Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him and said… Alright, when the opposition is based upon the power of the devil, you depend upon the greater supreme omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit of God, and you simply face him down. Then later on in the same chapter, people were moved with envy because there was a bigger crowd, and so they were filled with envy.

Well, the answer to that kind of opposition is just to be bolder. Paul and Barnabas waxed bold and said it was necessary and so on, so the answer to malice and envy s just be more bold for Jesus. And then there was intrigue. It says their opposers stirred up devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city and raised persecution and expelled them out of their coast, and so on. It says they shook off the dust of their feet against them.

Intrigue, opposition based on intrigue, ignore it and go on preaching the Gospel. They shook off the dust of their feet against them. So, opposition based on Satanic power, depend on the Holy Spirit of God and face it down. Opposition based upon envy? Be more bold for Jesus and keep on preaching. Opposition based on intrigue, ignore it because it’ll hang itself anyway. Go on serving your Lord. Isn’t that great? Now, here you have opposition again. And what did he do? He went right back in town, and then the next day, he went on to Derby. So, in the face of a physical danger, and opposition, he simply kept right on with his ministry.

I talked with Dr. Oswald J. Smith years ago, he’s been my friend for a good many years, and Paul Smith of course, Dr. Smith’s son, worked with us in Youth for Christ for quite a while and has had such an outstanding ministry through the years as you know. Well, Dr. OJ Smith has been a figure that from time to time, was the object of a good deal of criticism. His unorthodox approach to missions, where he made his church, the center of many hundreds of thousands of dollars going out to missions. I think their missionary budget now is around $300,000 or something like that or more, every year. That’s a big missionary budget. And so he was the center of a good deal of criticism from people from time to time through the years and one day, years ago, I was talking to him. I said, “Dr Smith,” I said, “What do you do about criticism? I was. At the time, getting what I thought was unjust criticism from some people.

Whenever we receive criticism, we always feel why am I getting this when I’m such a nice guy? [chuckle] Do you ever feel that way? So I was sort of sorry for myself at the time, and feeling, “Why are they criticizing me when I’m working or for the Lord?” and so on. And I needed somebody’s shoulder to cry on. I was talking to Dr. Smith, I said, “Well, what do you do about criticism?” He said, “My friend. I’ve had a rule all through the years of my ministry, that I followed. No defense, no attack. He said, “I never take the time to defend myself because if I started doing that, I would soon be doing nothing else. And he said, “I never waste my strength on attacking other people, because I’m too busy serving the Lord. No defense, no attack.

Hey, you know that’s pretty good. I wish that more of God’s people could follow that sublime rule. There’d be more work done for the Lord Jesus and the fewer wounds sustained among the faithful, I think. No defense, no attack. Just keep right on. Now, this is Paul’s method, as you can see. Went right back into town, took time enough to put a few bandages on where the skin had been torn and bruised, and broken, and then he went on to the next place. And what did they do? He says, when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, made many disciples, that means, they returned again to Lystra and to Iconium and Antioch confirming the souls of the disciples. Now, look what they’re doing.

If you think I’m spending a little too much time on this, it’s for a purpose. These people didn’t run away. They didn’t say We better get on out of here. They said, “We’ve got our job to do, let’s do it.” And so, deliberately, they take their time, finally leaving Lystra, going on to Derby. They preached the gospel there, they made many disciples, they took time enough, in other words, to do what we called Christian nurture. They taught them how to walk with the Lord and do God’s will. You see? They helped the believers, it says, to grow and love for God in each other and encourage them to continue in the faith, in spite of all the persecution, reminding that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations. They appointed elders in every church and prayed for them with fasting, turning them over to the care of the Lord in whom they trusted.

Now, notice what these people did. They made disciples. They confirmed the souls of the disciples. They exhorted them to continue in the faith. They said, “We have to enter into the kingdom of God through much tribulation.” And then they helped to organize the church. They ordained or appointed elders in every church, and prayed for them with fasting, committing to the Lord on whom they had believed. Now, this is the process of doing Christian work. Here you have, in essence, the boiled down essence, you may say, of Christian work. What?

Make disciples, confirm the souls of the disciples, exhort them to continue in the faith. Why do you do that? Because it’s easy to get discouraged and quit when you’re a new Christian. So, they exhort them to continue in the faith. Nothing about conduct here, but faith. Your conduct will follow a real faith in Jesus Christ. Commit your life to Him in faith and your life pattern will be regulated by His Holy Spirit. Remember that. They exhorted them to continue in the faith and then they warned them to be faithful under pressure. They said, “We must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.” It’s not an easy road. So you wanna be prepared for that.

Then you want a group that is orderly. And so, they ordained elders in every church and prayed for them with fasting, so that there would be spiritual power in each of these lives. It wasn’t just dead organization. It was Holy Spirit-ordained organization. There is a difference. Dead cold organization leads to division, but organization that is filled with the Spirit of God leads to the dynamics of Christian ministry. There’s the difference. And then, they commended them to the Lord. They said now, they didn’t say keep in touch with us, they said, keep in touch with Jesus. There’s a difference, isn’t it? Oh yes.

We’re looking now, friends, at the 14th Chapter of Acts. And Paul and Barnabas and their company have gone from Lystra to Derby, and then from Derby back to Lystra, and then from there to Iconium, and from there to Antioch, retracing their steps in every one of these places they’ve been thrown out the threatened, or both, but they’re going right straight back and they are following out the classic pattern of Christian work. What is it? Make disciples. That’s your first job. You may do other things that are legitimate and pleasant and religious, but your first job is to make disciples. Bring people into a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, then confirm the souls of the disciples. Spend time enough with that new Christian to establish him in the faith.

Spend time enough with that new Christian to establish him in the faith. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and then exhorting them to continue in the faith. That is to say, help to motivate this young Christian to keep on looking to Jesus, because if your faith is strong in Christ, your life pattern will be regulated by the Holy Spirit. So, emphasize, as you deal with young Christians, people who have just received Christ, emphasize the importance of keeping on trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. Prepare them for testings and trials, and then help to organize this young church on the basis of the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, ordaining the elders and praying for them with fasting. This is the classic pattern of Christian work.

If you’ll follow this, you’ll never get into trouble. You’ll be blessed, and so will those who work with you. Alright, we’re going to stop here and have some prayer and I’ll see you next time, God willing.

Dear Father, have your way with us and guide, I pray thee, every step, that we might honor our blessed Lord Jesus today. I ask in His name. Amen. Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.

Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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