Derek Prince - The Holy Spirit May Sometimes Forbid Us To Go Someplace
This is an excerpt from: The Headship of Jesus - Part 2
I'd like to continue for a little while with the second missionary journey of Paul. We get some other examples here of the headship of Jesus exercised through the Holy Spirit. In Acts 16, Paul set out with Silas and they conscripted Timothy pretty early on. And let me just point out to you, because this is interesting, keep your finger in Acts 16 and turn to 1 Thessalonians for a moment. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 This is from the three persons, Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. Silvanus is another form of the name Silas.
So these three persons that we're going to be reading about Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote this letter collectively to the church in Thessalonica. And then it says in chapter 2, verse 6: Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. What were they? Apostles. Who were apostles? Paul, Silas and Timothy. Why were they apostles? Because they'd been sent out at the initiative of the Holy Spirit to perform a special job.
Going back to Acts 16, we move on in the story to verse 6. You'll notice in this chapter it switches between they and we because the writer was Luke and at times he was with them and then it's we; at other times he was not with them, it's they. They were in what we call Asia Minor and it says in verse 6: When they had gone through Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
Isn't that an astonishing statement? The same Holy Spirit that inspired the Scripture through whom Jesus gave instruction to the apostles, 'go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature' said don't go to Asia. How many of us would have listened to that? Sometimes people tell me God doesn't answer my prayers. I say you need to bear in mind no is an answer as well as yes. Sometimes He says no, but you don't take it for an answer.
Going on in verse 7: After they had come to Mysia they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. If you could picture this in the mind, they're going in a northwesterly direction through Asia Minor. They try to turn left into the province of Asia and they're forbidden. So they try to go right into Bithynia and they're forbidden. So they really had no option, they had to go on northwest. Going northwest they got to Troas.
Don't you think they must have been puzzled? Now let's read what happened in Troas. Verse 9: A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia stood, and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' Then they began to understand, you see? And after he had seen the vision, we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Paul was a real leader. Do you know how we notice that? He had the vision. But it doesn't say he concluded, it says we concluded. He imparted it to his team, you understand.
That's leadership. Not I make all the decisions and tell you what to do. I hear from God, and we together decide what God wants to do. We won't go any further but in the light of 19 subsequent centuries, that was one of the most decisive movements in the early church because they'd been in Asia Minor which today is basically Turkey. And which for 13 centuries has been totally Muslim with hardly a vestige of Christianity anywhere. But God squeezed them out of Asia Minor into which continent? Europe, that's right. This is the first time the gospel had come to Europe. And it was brought there by the apostle of the Gentiles.
If you think back over history, which continent preserved the Christian faith all through the Dark Ages? Europe. From which continent did the first missionaries then go out? Europe, that's right. In other words, Europe had a totally special place in the future plans of God. Paul and Silas didn't know that. But the Holy Spirit did. Had they relied only on their own wisdom and planning they would have done the wrong thing. As it was, God got the gospel into Europe in a crucial moment and established the Christian faith there.
Another thing that impresses me is when they got to Philippi, Satan got really angry. Paul, you know, prayed for the slave girl with the spirit of divination and she was delivered. Her masters lost the money that came in through he fortune telling. The whole city was thrown into an uproar. Paul and Silas were seized, beaten and thrown into the chief security prison. That was totally illogical. I mean, it was absolutely without any real basis in reason. What was the cause of it? Satan was very angry because his territory was being invaded. You see that? Paul said a lot of people interpret this in different ways Paul said in 2 Corinthians that God sent an angel of Satan to buffet him. And he prayed three times and God said no, I'm not taking it away.
Now, there are a lot of different theories, and how can I prove that I'm right, I'm not even interested. But I believe myself this angel stirred up trouble for Paul in almost every city he went to. It didn't happen to all the other apostles. There's a hardly a city that Paul went to where there wasn't a riot. I think there was a satanic angel behind that. But what I'm pointing out is Satan was really angry that his territory was being invaded. And then we notice also that God intervened in a tremendous way. He sent an earthquake, shook the prison, opened the doors, set the prisoners free. See, this was really high level strategy. Both God and Satan were intensely interested in what happened in Philippi.
And then one more thing to notice. Paul was forbidden to go to Asia. Later in his career in Acts 19 he went to Ephesus which is the main city of Asia. And had perhaps the greatest results of all his ministry in any city. Isn't that something to ponder? Had he gone there early I think it would have spoiled everything. The ground wasn't ready. God spoke to Ruth and me a little while ago and He said, 'I will lead you to the places where the soil has been prepared.' He said in effect, 'You may go to some rather surprising places.' Well, we've seen that to be true. We were in Britain last year. We went to some places I wouldn't have chosen but we saw some rather amazing results. Had we chosen the big crowds and the famous places we would never have been there.