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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

False Doctrines (Acts 16)

Acts 16 has to be one of my favorite chapters of Acts. It clearly refutes false doctrine commonly taught in many churches today. It also teaches us other doctrinal truths we need to know to make sure we are not getting off track or drawn away by deception.

So let's look at 4 key teachings in this chapter:

1) Paul - Barnabas - Timothy Relationships

In Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas split up and went on separate missionary journeys to strengthen the churches which they had established in their first missionary journey. Right after this in Acts 16:1-5, Paul meets Timothy, a young man God directed him to take with him and disciple.

This is a reminder that we should each have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.

We each need a mentor in the faith like Paul, who is pouring into us, discipling us, and challenging us to draw close to Jesus each day, dig into God's Word, and live it out. Who is your Paul?

We each need a co-laborer like Barnabas who is doing ministry with us, helping us stay accountable to keep leaning into God's Word and obeying Jesus. Who is your Barnabas?

We each need to be discipling someone like Timothy, helping them grow in Spirit and Truth through God's Word and challenging them to follow God's Word as temptation comes. Who is your Timothy?

2) Share the Gospel with Green Lights, not Red Lights

In Acts 16:6-10, Paul wanted to share the gospel in Asia and Bithynia. But the Holy Spirit prevented him from going there. He listened and did not share where the light was red. But he did NOT stop sharing the gospel because of those red lights. As a follower of Jesus, he knew it was his mission to keep sharing the gospel wherever God led him, even if it wasn't where he wanted to go. So after obeying God, the Holy Spirit directed him and his co-laborers to Macedonia to share the gospel. As a result of their faithfulness, God used Paul, Silas, and Timothy to not only share the gospel but start churches in Macedonia. Today North Macedonia and Greece are still predominantly Christian.

As followers of Jesus, we are all called to share the gospel message of salvation. Along the way we will encounter several red lights. We must pray for the red light but then move on looking for green lights. Don't sit in front of the red light, waiting for it to turn green. Don't stop sharing because you came across a red light. There are green lights all around us. Turn around and go share with the green lights, God is directing you to. Constantly ask God to guide you to the green lights in your Macedonia.

3) Danger of Mysticism and New Age

In Acts 16:16-24, Paul and Silas encountered a slave girl who was making her master's profit by fortune telling. She followed Paul and Silas exclaiming "these men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." Her message was true but the spirit who was indwelling her and speaking through her was a demon. Paul recognized this and cast the demon out of her in the name of Jesus Christ.

Demons indwelling people is not only still happening in our time today, it is captivating the minds of our youth and many adults. On the outside, the message can seem innocent and even godly. Many teenagers and adults are getting sucked in to mysticism, crystals, and tarot cards. It draws them in through their thirst to connect in the spiritual realm without realizing who and what they are connecting to and inviting in. The attraction to this mysticism is that there are no consequences, no God to be accountable to.

Any lifestyle choices they make are perfectly acceptable. Sexual immorality is absolutely fine. Drugs are absolutely fine. And the more they participate in these mystic activities, sexual immorality, and drugs, the more they will be possessed by demons and unable to hear the truth, the gospel message of salvation and how much Jesus loves them. Unfortunately the love Jesus has for them is exactly what they are seeking deep down but don't realize it.

If you know of anyone using fortune-tellers, psychics, mystics, crystals, tarot cards, or other new age tools, pray fervently for them to escape these demonic activities and see them for what they are. Keep a safe distance from them and their activities so that you are not drawn into this deception.

If you have the opportunity to share Scripture with them, here are some good verses to acquaint yourself with:

  • Leviticus 20:6

  • Deuteronomy 18:10-12

  • 2 Corinthians 11:14

  • 1 Timothy 4:1

  • 1 John 4:1

4) Scripture on Infant Baptism

Years ago I asked a church elder to help me understand where in the Bible it speaks of infant baptism since Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20 to go make disciples (followers of Jesus) and baptize them. Obviously a baby can't decide to be a follower of Jesus.

So, he pointed me to Acts 16, to the stories of Lydia and her household being baptized in Acts 16:15 and the Philippian jailer and his household being baptized in Acts 16:33. I asked him why that was justification for infant baptism when it only says "household" and there is no mention of babies being baptized in either of those passages. His response was they assume babies were in those households and were baptized too. And so the entire doctrine on infant baptism is based on an assumption?

However, what we see very clearly in the case of the Philippian jailer is that the whole household believed after hearing the gospel. That means there were no babies being baptized.

Acts 16:34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

So then the logical assumption would be that the same is the case with the household of Lydia, isn't it?

Does it really make that big of a difference? Yes it does. If people are believing infants are saved at baptism, they are missing the importance of trusting in Jesus' sacrifice in our place. That results in people not seeing a need to share the gospel, believe in the gospel, and live in obedience and gratitude to Jesus.

Today we see many assumptions being made about Scripture and doctrinal truths. Some doctrinal truths concerning marriage and sexual immorality are being ignored or twisted to say what people want them to say. But just like what we learn here in Acts 16, we always need to test all teachings against Scripture for ourselves, rather than assume that what we are being taught is correct, so that we can be sure we are living a life pleasing to God and obeying Jesus' teachings.

If teachings don't seem to line up with Scripture, respectfully ask for help understanding them. If an elder or teacher can't show you exactly how their teaching lines up with Scripture and is instead just making assumptions or speculating, don't follow that teaching. If that elder or teacher is not open to you asking for more information on how the teaching aligns with Scripture, don't sit under that elder or teacher. Obey Scripture!

Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

Dear Lord, Thank you for giving me time today to study this and write it out. Thank you for teaching me through each of these points, especially in a time when false doctrine is so prevalent both outside and inside our churches. Lord, please put it on our hearts to examine all teachings against Your Word and to give us understanding when teachings are not consistent with Your Word and should not be followed or supported. Lord, in all things, let us listen intently to your Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. In Jesus' name, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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