I’ve written this article to identify how the apostle Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit, often through visions, on at least 7 occasions, that in turn, led to major breakthroughs for the gospel and Church Planting Movements
Throughout the article, I will explore how these Spirit-Guided Breakthrough’s occurred, leading to the opening up of entire regions…
On the road to Damascus (Acts 9), as Paul (Saul) set off to persecute the Christians there, as he had done in Jerusalem; going from house to house and dragging them off to prison, a bright light shone, he was blinded, and a voice from heaven spoke to him. Paul had a vision of Jesus. In the vision, Jesus rebukes him and sends Paul to Damascus; ‘Get up and go to Damascus and there you will be told everything you are to do.’ (Acts 22:10) The Lord sends him to a specific house. The man of the house (Ananias) leads Paul in repentance, faith, baptism in water and receiving the Holy Spirit and he receives back his sight.
Paul also receives his calling from Jesus; ‘Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake’
This encounter with the risen Jesus through a vision turned Saul from the path of persecutor, and into Paul the movement pioneer. He was guided to the city of Damascus and the first breakthrough’s began.
The impact of Paul’s work in Damascus was felt so strongly that he says; ‘the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him’ (2 Corinthians 11:12)
The leaders of the church of Antioch (the prophets and teachers) including Paul, were worshiping the Lord with prayer and fasting (Acts 13:1-3). The Holy Spirit spoke to them saying; ‘Set apart Paul and Barnabas for the work I have called them to’. So Paul and Barnabas, along with John Mark, set sail for Cyprus. They planted churches across Cyprus. They then headed on to the region of Galatia. Throughout Galatia, they planted churches in Pisidia Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. This all began through leaders coming together to listen to Jesus, whilst worshiping, praying and fasting and then being prepared to act on what He said. Being obedient to the vision from heaven…
[Once a region opened up, Paul and his team usually adopted a similar pattern…I write more about that HERE!]
Paul, Silas and Team tried on 2 separate occasions to enter the region of Asia. But the Spirit of Jesus prevented them both times from entering Asia at that time. That night Paul had a vision of a Macedonian Man. They concluded that Jesus wanted them to preach the gospel in that province. So they set off straight away…(See Acts 16:6-10). As a result of following that heavenly vision churches were planted in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea
Continuing on from the vision for Macedonia, Paul traveled on to the region of Achaia and headed to the prominent city of Corinth. A vision came to Paul at night through which the Lord spoke to him saying; ‘Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no-one will attack or harm you, for many people belong to me in this city.’ So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God (Acts 18:10-11) Paul planted the church in Corinth, and it was in Corinth that Paul met some of his strongest disciples!
On his next journey Paul went to Ephesus. After Paul had spent approximately 3 years in the region of Ephesus, he felt ‘compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,’ he said, “I must go on to Rome!”(Acts 19:21)
Once Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he was praying in the temple and fell into a trance. He saw a vision of Jesus saying; ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me. Go I will send you far away to the Gentiles…’ (see Acts 22:17-21, Acts 23:11)
So Paul was told when to arrive in Jerusalem and when to leave Jerusalem!
Out of some mix-up regarding Paul’s behaviour in the temple, Paul was arrested and taken to the high council in Jerusalem. That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said; ‘Be encouraged Paul. Just as you have been a witness for me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well’ (Acts 23:11).
When Paul finally arrived in Rome, whilst under house arrest, he spent 2 years welcoming all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. You can see all he accomplished during that time HERE!
On Route to Rome, Paul’s ship got caught in a storm. An Angel of God stood beside him at night and said; ‘Don’t be afraid, you will stand trial before Caesar’ Paul encouraged the captain and crew saying; ‘no-one will lose their life in the shipwreck’. They ended up shipwrecked on the isle of Malta, and everyone on the island who needed healing, came to Paul and team to be healed. And they were healed! (See Acts 27:21-26)
This all began as they found the Person of Peace, Publius, the chief official of the island! He welcomed the team for 3 days and Paul healed his father. Paul then spent a further 3 months on the island (Acts 28:1-10)
Whilst on trial, Paul declared; ‘And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven’ (Acts 26:19).
As we have seen throughout this article, that is indeed what the apostle Paul and his team did repeatedly… they obeyed the heavenly vision, and that resulted in multiplying movements of disciples, churches and leaders…
Are you obeying the heavenly vision?
What is happening as a result?