Building Spiritual Confidence as We Watch the Lord Build His Church.

As Timothy accompanied Paul, Luke and Silas on their second missionary journey, he had a lot to learn. His role was an observer as he followed his spiritual leader. He saw what great things God can do through a few gifted people.


So far in Acts 16, we've seen this ministry team's steps redirected to pioneer the gospel to a western colony of the Roman empire. When Luke wrote the book of Acts, Rome was the world leader and Philippi was dominated by its power. Timid Timothy was learning ministry confidence in this visit. In his experience, we can see how God develops a life through the Word and ministry experience to serve Him for greater purposes in the future.

Lesson #12: God Builds His Church through Interaction with People.

The primary way God builds His church is not through programs or music or services. He adds to His church through the holy light of His people personally interacting with those who need Christ. If the church in the West comes under persecution, God will still build His church through relationships, even though our programs will be gone. They are not our primary way to reach lost souls. Paul's missionary team demonstrated this.

How They Interacted

Paul's entrance to Philippi was unassuming and personal. He did his homework before the visit or soon after arriving, so he knew where to find people. Our interaction with unsaved people should be the same: not coming with a lot of show, but with sincere interest in people.

God places His people in specific places where we can become genuine friends with unbelievers in order to introduce them to Christ. Isn't it wonderful that God is pleased to use folks like Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy -- and you and me -- to build his church?

Who They Interacted With

Paul always did two things when entering a town. If he was not well-funded, he set up his tent shop to make a living while he was there. Then he went to find people, his top priority.

Paul always went first to people who were familiar with God from the Old Testament. In Philippi, there were not enough heads of Jewish households to form a temple or synagogue. Paul knew that God-fearing ladies would still have gathered to worship God, often by a body of water. So he went to the river and found a group of Jewish and converted-Jewish women who he could share the gospel with.

The leader of the group, Lydia, was a Gentile who was worshiping as a convert to Judaism. After accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior, she “urged” Paul and his companions to stay at her house. The word in Acts 16:15 is the same that is used of the two men on the Emmaus road in Luke 24:29. She strongly persuaded them to come to her house so they could learn more about the gospel.

Lesson #13: God Builds His Church through the Use of Spiritual Gifts.

A lot happens to a person at the moment they trust Jesus as Savior, and they spend the rest of their earthly life learning about all God has worked in them. At salvation, every Christian is given a spiritual gift, either a ministry or speaking gift. From what we see in the Bible, probably three of the four men ministering in Philippi had speaking gifts. Though Timothy didn’t know it yet, he had the pastor-teacher gift. He was learning as he observed Paul exercise his evangelist gift, telling people about Jesus.

Acts 16:13 repeats that “we” all went together to the river. The gifted ones who spoke well weren't the only ones. Each of the four men had different spiritual gifts, but they all played an essential role in the visit to Philippi. Luke, the doctor, could care for Paul and Silas after they were beaten and thrown in prison. Timothy was developing a spiritual burden and love for people. All used their gifts together for the same cause.

Your individual gift must be exercised, but never at the expense of aiding God's work in all areas of ministry. Every member of Christ's body should be willing to fill in wherever there is a need, whether it relates to your specific gift or not. In the text, all team members were specifically designed by God but were doing the same task together.

We must avoid the danger of only congregating with other people who share our gift. Neither should we be so energetic and specialized that we have an attitude with others who are not gifted in the same way or are not as active. Overemphasizing one Bible doctrine at the expense of others is damaging to the body.

God gives specific commands to all Christians. For example, all are responsible to witness, even if we don't have the gift of evangelism. Not one divine obligation is expendable as we pursue another.

The diversity in Paul’s group is for our instruction and learning. God used a group of just four men, all with different personalities and talents, to pioneer the gospel to the Western world. From Philippi, God's Good News spread to Europe and was eventually extended to us! God's people, governed and gifted by the Spirit, work together with balance and integrity for one cause: the advance of the gospel as God builds his church.

Application Points

  • What do you view as a primary means of reaching lost people? Do you depend on programs, or do you have personal interaction with friends so that you can introduce them to Christ?
  • Do you know your spiritual gift? How do you exercise it? Are you willing to help with ministry needs outside your gifting?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "Channels Only"

How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous pow’r
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation,
All Thy loving message sound.

Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no pow’r but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.

Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner man may flow.