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Are you Filtering God Out? (Hearing God’s Voice 2)

May 15, 2020

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Bible Gemz 1626 - The Continuum of Response: Indifference, Rejection, Acceptance (Acts 13:42-52)

February 25, 2019


As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. 

Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God. 

The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. 

But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said. 

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, "It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 

For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'" 

When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. 

So the Lord's message spread throughout that region. 

Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. 

So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. 

And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:42-52) 


The reactions:


The Positive 

The Negative 

Those who were only interested in debate, a good discussion.

The reaction of the Gentiles

The reaction of the Jews

Those motivated by jealousy

Those motivated by their desire to be right with God – in gaining eternal life. 


Writing what I did two days ago (in the last Gemz) reminded me of the Engel Scale which I encountered at Bible College. The scale was developed by James Engel and Viggo Søgaard but was later modified and published by Engel in his book What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest (1975). It helps us to understand the journey a person undergoes to move from no knowledge of God to maturity as a believer in Christ. Engel has been criticized for his linear approach to these matters and a number of people have since modified his scale. Frank Gray from FEBC developed a two dimensional model using two scales – 1. Knowledge of the Gospel 2. Attitude toward the Gospel. 



Your background, experience and knowledge of God determines your response and attitude to the Gospel. People either react positively, negatively or are indifferent to the Good News of Christ. We all move along the scale which Engel first conceived according to our knowledge or attitude to the knowledge we hear. I once picked up a hitch hiker on the road in NZ who was shocked when he discovered "I was a Christian too”. He has been been traveling south from Whangarei to the point where I picked him up. Every one of the drivers who picked him up had been a Christian. He told me how he had been moved from the point of No Consciousness of God to where he was ready to Decide to Act after talking with me. Don’t misunderstand, that didn't all happen when I picked him up. Each of the drivers who had picked him up before me had been instrumental in moving him along the continuum to the point of decision making. I just simply used me knowledge of the Engel Scale and my own personal testimony to move him to the Decision to Act. For that man he had moved along the scale quickly over a several hours as he encountered each driver who picked him up. It doesn't usually work like that. Normally it takes some time to work out our response to God over a much longer time. I just simply used what had occurred before I picked him up to move him to the point of making a decision. The other drivers had done the groundwork for that to happen.  


After making the decision for Christ, it takes longer to work the response needed after decision making into your life. Following the Decision it becomes a matter of your decision moving from the head to the heart. I have told you before of my reaction after making the decision to become a Christian. I was discipled by Reg Ackland, a Navigator, who took me through the Navigator book series New Life in Christ. I was so intent on learning about this new life that I read each of the first three books successively over three nights and answered the questions. But after the third Reg wisely counseled me to stop the cerebral process and begin the heart process. It is not just a case of knowledge it is a case of working the principles into your heart and life.  


I have since realized there is no point spending a lot of time discussing things with a person who is indifferent or who merely wants to debate. Some times debate can open up the sharing of ideas which kick starts a desire to know more. This happened with me to move me from my rejection of the concept of God to the point of being willing to seek Him. But there are many who are merely interested in debating the notion on an intellectual level. For them it is just an exchange of ideas, you have yours, I have mine. Let’s debate the notion. Most often that simply wastes time. If I sense the person is only wanting an intellectual discussion I tend to withdraw because I don’t wish to waste my time on an intellectual discussion only. Something more was happening in Acts 13:42. The word used indicates these people were inviting Paul and Barnabas to talk more about these things. But it was not merely for an intellectual exchange of ideas. They begged, implored, earnestly desired to know more. Many times I have been in that situation when something happens in the process of talking to move the person to a willingness to know more about the gospel associated with a willingness to do something about it. Its at that point that I will gladly spend whatever time is necessary to help the person to the point of repentance and acceptance of Christ. it is not enough to simply accept some facts or body of knowledge about the Gospel. There needs to be a step of repentance. If this thought is new to you, go the Berean Insights website and read what I wrote in Gemz 1371 about the three big words – Repent, Believe and Be Baptized.      


Today is a strange day as I feel like I am in the middle of events exactly like Luke describes in this passage where there is turmoil in the city as a result of this process. There are major protests in the city today over remarks the Christian governor of the city has made related to truth and error. Elections are coming up and many are incensed that a Christian governor may be re-elected. There have been warnings put out related to all of those reactions which Luke describes in the passage above. For those of you who read this Gemz today please pray for the peace of Jakarta. There are suggestions there may be as many as 50,000 people protesting within a kilometer of where we live. Pray for the demonstrations to be peaceful. Pray for protection over the governor and his family. Pray for the reactions across religious lines. It feels like I am living in the midst of Acts 13:42-52. We have been warned to stay off the streets today. The Gospel of Christ will always divide because it pierces to the very heart of man: 


For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. (Luke 12;51-52)  

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Rev 3:15-16)


No wonder it set the city of Antioch into riots and demonstrations just as the hint of it is doing in Jakarta at the moment.  



I am not afraid of being looked down upon by people, because, when I look up I see the smiling face of God. Chinese Evangelist in prison. 


Your future is not about the people who walk away, it's about the people who choose to stay.


Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will! Rick Godwin


Life's all about timing. It's like a drowning man being offered a bag of gold, it's what you want, but right now, it will kill you. Paul Scanlon


The most dangerous response to the Gospel for you personally to adopt is indifference. Ian


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