“Live in the Spirit”

Lesson 32 –- Acts 18:23 – 20:38; Galatians

Introduction

Think of a talent or skill such as playing an instrument, sewing, writing, or playing a sport that you once developed but have not used for a long time.  Would you feel comfortable using that talent or skill today? How successful would you be? What would you need to do to use that talent or skill as well as you did in the past? Recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost can be thought of as a spiritual talent or ability. The more we use this spiritual talent, the better we become at it.  We can develop the ability to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost by living righteously, by seeking inspiration through the Holy Ghost, and by obeying promptings when we receive them. 

Today’s discussion of Paul’s third missionary journey and his letter to the Galatians will review situations in which we need to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and how we can be blessed by doing so.

 

Paul taught, baptized, and conferred the Holy Ghost on believers in Ephesus.

Acts 18: 22-23 After Paul returned from his second mission, he spent some time in Antioch and then departed on a third mission. During this third mission he spent most of his time—nearly three years—preaching in Ephesus.

Apollos was a Jew who knew about baptism as taught by John the Baptist but did not know about the gift of the Holy Ghost. When Aquila and Priscilla, two members of the Church who were in Ephesus, heard Apollos preaching, they taught him “the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26).

Acts 18:24-28 The qualities that made Apollos teachable included his knowledge of the scriptures and his desire to follow the Spirit.  These qualities also made him an effective teacher because he was prepared and he responded to the Spirit. 

Acts 19:6 A spiritual manifestation occurred when some of the Ephesians received the gift of the Holy Ghost—the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy were received. 

Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-46 This kind of manifestation occurred at other times—when the Apostles spoke in tongues when they received the gift of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost and when several Gentiles in Caesarea also spoke in tongues after Peter received a vision that the gospel should be taught to the Gentiles.

D&C 6:15, 23; D&C 8:2 (also see 1 Kings 19:12) Manifestations of the Holy Ghost frequently experienced today included inspiration and enlightenment and the personal witness of the Spirit.  The Holy Ghost also speaks to our hearts and minds. 

Acts 19:8-9 Paul left the synagogue in Ephesus and began teaching in the school of Tyrannus because many hardened their hearts to his message.  (Note: disputing in these verses means preaching or reasoning.)

3 Nephi 11:29-30 We should respond to people who criticize or oppose the gospel with testimony and truth, but not contention or ill will.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught: “When others disagree with our stand we should not argue, retaliate in kind, or contend with them. … Ours is to explain our position through reason, friendly persuasion, and accurate facts. Ours is to stand firm and unyielding on the moral issues of the day and the eternal principles of the gospel, but to contend with no man or organization. Contention builds walls and puts up barriers. Love opens doors. … Contention never was and never will be an ally of progress” (Ensign, May 1978, 7-8).

Acts 19:23-28 Demetrius and the other silversmiths were upset with Paul’s preaching because they were creating and selling shrines for Diana, a false goddess, and were worried about losing customers as Paul helped people become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Concerns about material wealth or other worldly interests can affect our loyalty to God and such concerns may affect our ability to hear the promptings of the Spirit. It is up to us to prevent that possibility.

Acts 19:18-19 Compare the attitudes of Demetrius and the silversmiths to the attitude of the Ephesians who destroyed their sorcery books when they began following Jesus Christ. We need to keep the proper perspective regarding earthly possessions.

 

Paul gave a farewell address to Church leaders from Ephesus.

Paul left Ephesus and traveled throughout Macedonia and Greece, preaching the gospel. He planned to return to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. On his way back to Jerusalem, he sent a messenger to ask Church leaders in Ephesus to meet with him in Miletus. He delivered a stirring farewell address and then resumed his journey.

Acts 20:28-35 Believing that this would be the last time he would speak to the Ephesian elders, Paul emphasized staying in tune with the Spirit to avoid apostasy and being charitable in his farewell address.

Acts 20:29 The “grievous wolves” Paul warned about were enemies of the Church.

Acts 20:30 Paul also warned about members of the Church who would apostatize and try to lead other members away.  Still—today, we need to guard against apostasy in our lives.

Acts 20:28; See also John 21:15-17 Paul told the Ephesian elders that they should feed the church of God to help protect Church members from those who would try to lead them away from the Church.

Paul concluded his address to the Ephesian brethren by reminding them of the Lord’s teaching that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Consider how you have found this to be true.

 

Paul chastised and counseled the Galatian Saints.

While Paul was on his third missionary journey, he wrote a letter to the Saints in Galatia, many of whom had returned to keeping the law of Moses. He chastised those who believed that salvation could come through the works required by the law of Moses rather than through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gal. 3:23-26; Jacob 4:4-5; Mosiah 13:29-30 The Lord’s purpose in giving the law of Moses to the Israelites was to help them remember him and to prepare them to receive salvation through his Atonement.

3 Nephi 15:2-5; Alma 34:10; 3 Nephi 9:19 The law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus through his Atonement, which was symbolized by many of the law’s ordinances.

Gal. 1:6; Gal. 4:9 Paul was amazed that the Galatian Saints had returned to the law of Moses so soon after having learned the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Gal. 2:16; Gal. 3:1-5; Gal 5:1-6 This return to the law of Moses showed a lack of faith in the Lord because they were putting their faith in observances and actions rather than in the mercy and teachings of Christ.

Gal 1:7-8 In Paul’s day, some people sought to pervert, or change, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Gal 1:11-12 We learn from these verses that we receive a testimony of the gospel from the Spirit through personal revelation. It is important that our testimonies are based on revelation from Jesus Christ because that is the only sure foundation. Some testimonies are built on other foundations, such as social relationships or intellectual analysis, but those often do not withstand trials of faith.

Gal. 5:19-21 Paul warned the Galatians against doing “the works of the flesh”.  The works of the flesh were listed as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such.

Gal. 5:21 Consequences of doing these works include banishment for the kingdom of God. Despite the prevalence of the works of the flesh in the world today, think about what you can do this week to improve the spiritual environment you live in.

Gal. 5:16, 25 Paul encouraged the Galatians to seek the fruits, or results, of living by the Spirit.

Gal. 5:22-23 The fruits of the Spirit include love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are these fruits manifest in your life?

Gal. 5:14; Gal. 6:2; see also Mosiah 18:8-10 Paul taught the Galatian Saints to treat their neighbors just as they themselves would want to be treated and to “bear … one another’s burdens”.  Helping our brethren makes their lives easier and brings us closer to Jesus Christ.

Gal. 6:7; see also D&C 63:58 When Paul said that “God is not mocked”, one meaning of his words is that those who disobey God and do not repent are mocking him and will be punished.

Gal. 6:7-9 “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” teaches a principle that applies to our ability to hear and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost; to our relationships with other people; and to other situations in our lives because our behavior and attitudes will come back to us—whether good or bad.

 

Conclusion

 

Unrighteous attitudes and actions, such as contention, worldliness, and apostasy, will prevent us from receiving promptings from the Holy Ghost. But if we strive to live righteously and follow the promptings we do receive, our ability to recognize and follow promptings will increase. This week, do your part to seek and follow promptings from the Holy Ghost.