Year 2 Day 36
Read - Acts 16v1-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
Paul and Barnabas had gone their separate ways but the Lord would not let Paul minister alone. As Paul ministers in Derbe and Lystra, he comes across a young man called Timothy (v1). Timothy is from a mixed marriage with a Jewish mother and a Greek father (v1a) but the church in both Lystra and Iconium spoke well of the young man.
He becomes part of Paul's team but with recent debates in mind Paul's first step is to have Timothy circumcised. What's going on? Wasn't Paul the one who had claimed that circumcision was not necessary for Christians? He certainly was and claims in Galatians that in Christ neither circumcision or uncircumcision mean anything but only faith in Christ (Galatians 5v6).
So why circumcise Timothy? Soon the young man will be part of an evangelistic effort among the Jews (v3). Timothy's father was a Greek but his mother and grandmother were both Jews. For Timothy to be uncircumcised would suggest he had no regard for his Jewish heritage and certainly it would be a stumbling block for many of the Jews he was seeking to reach.
Paul was not acting hypocritically nor was he suggesting that circumcision was required for salvation. Instead with the decision of the Jerusalem council in his mind he was seeking to be culturally sensitive so that many might be won for the Gospel. We can learn much from the Apostle. If we want to see many won for Christ we would do well to remove any hindrance or block to the Gospel. Our flags and traditions and ways are not as important as the eternal destination of those we are seeking to reach.
As we seek to be sensitive to the culture around us we also remember that the work belongs to the Lord. The Holy Spirit prevents Paul from preaching the Gospel in Asia (v6-7). This Asia is either the northern coastline of Turkey or the Roman province of Asia which included the famous seven churches of Revelation. Regardless, the Lord had closed the door because His plan was for the Gospel to go to Macedonia. Paul was called by way of a vision to go and preach the Gospel in northern Greece (v9-10) and so the Apostle obeyed.
Brothers and sisters, how often do we believe the work of the Gospel to be all about us? We build ministries and reputations for ourselves and as we look into the mirror we believe ourselves to be indispensable. May the Lord forgive our foolishness. May we seek to make much of the time that is given to us. May we refuse to make idols out of the temporary traditions of man and may we be prepared to go wherever the Lord leads. Psalm 115 remains true "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!"
Q47 What is forbidden in the first commandment? The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying, the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.