Acts 13:16-14:28

Acts 13:16-14:28


[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to Expound, a verse
by verse study of God’s word. Our goal is to expand your
knowledge of the truth of God, by explaining the word of God
in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational. Father, now we deliberately
calm and still our hearts, pushing away any device
or any thought that would distract us from you. And I think of the words that
this book of acts begins with. The former treatise
that I wrote to you oh, Theophilus, of all that
Jesus began to do and teach. And I think about
the possibility that is found in
that verse alone, that Jesus began something. He started something
and he’s not done. And today there is a
continuation of those things, Father, through now, our lives. And so, Father, we’re
praying that you’d inspire us to pick up the
torch, to pick up the mantle, and to continue by the
power of your Holy Spirit. The same spirit available
to the early apostles, the early followers,
the early converts, is available to us
and for us today. And so we pray, Father,
that more great things would be noted and written,
because you have used our lives for your purposes. May we find what that purpose
is, and glory in your power in and through us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Well, we left off right
in the middle of Paul the Apostle’s sermon,
in Antioch of Pisidia. Now these are names. I don’t expect you
to remember them. If you do remember them,
I like those names. I actually look at them and try
to remember where they’re at. A couple of these places I’ve
been to, so they’re in my head. But the chapter opened
up, the previous chapter, in Antioch of Syria, and
closed in Antioch of Pisidia. And that’s where we
were last time when Paul was preaching the
very first sermon recorded, that Paul spoke. I’m sure he spoke at other
times, but as far as something recorded– and it seems to
be recorded in its totality. So I like that. I love being able to study
Paul’s style of communication, when Christianity first started. This radical rabbi
radically transformed, gives a message
of grace and faith that was, at that time,
absolutely radical. Not so much anymore,
we’ve heard it. And unfortunately,
we’ve heard it so often that we fail to
recognize how revolutionary it is. But this is the first recorded
sermon of the apostle, Paul, who was known as Saul. And is now, as we saw
last time, his name has been re-regarded
as Paul the Apostle. I remember my first sermon. It wasn’t anything remarkable. And it was something
that I prepared for. I was scared to do. It was a home Bible study,
at a friend’s rented house. A few people on the
living room floor. I was sweating bullets. But I got enough
positive feedback from that first message, that I
was encouraged to do it again. So I loved the idea of
studying and teaching the word. And then the first sermon I
ever preached at a church, I was tricked into
doing by the pastor who, was a mentor at the time,
was starting a young church plant in this area. Invited me to come on a
Sunday night to fill in for him, while he
was out of town. He left town. I began to speak on the
book of Jonah chapter one. I told you the story, but
it’s dear to my heart. He walks in the
middle of the message, and he’s sitting in the back. Now I’m just really nervous. I was like, wait
a minute, you were supposed to be out of town. Well, he was, but he was also
coming back from out of town that night. And he got half the message. So afterwards he’s walking
right toward me and I’m going, uh oh, I really blew it. Because he’s looking
at me very intensely. I said something wrong,
some false doctrine and I’m going to be stoned after church. I don’t know. And he said, tonight you
covered Jonah chapter one. I’m thinking, OK, keen
eye for the obvious. But he said, you would do a
disservice to these people if you stopped at
Jonah chapter one. I think you need to come
back and do Jonah chapter 2 next week. And perhaps, finish
the book as well. So then I understood
what his trick was. He invited me. He wanted to hear how I did. And I must have said something
that he thought, well, I’ll give him a shot next time. So the first one was
in a home Bible study. The first one at a church,
I was tricked into. But then someone a few years
ago handed me a cassette tape. Do you remember those? Now they’re usually
found in museums. And you have to buy them
on eBay I think now. I don’t think you can
get them anywhere. But we used to record things
on this medium called cassette tapes, believe it or not. And somebody handed
me a cassette tape of me doing a message, at the
church that I started out at, in California for another
small Bible study. And I plugged it in
and I listened to it. I found a tape deck somewhere,
and I listened to it. And it’s like, oh, it
was so embarrassing. So we’re looking at Paul’s
first message much better than any of mine
ever were or are. And he’s about 10
years old in the Lord. Now Paul’s in the synagogue. Remember his style. He goes into a town. He’s Jewish. He has a Jewish
rabbinical background. He looks for the synagogue,
goes there first. Why? Because he has a belief,
and it’s his m.o. And later on he will
describe what that m.o. is. It’s to the Jew first, and
then also to the Gentile. So he always extends the gospel
first to the Jewish community. Because after all,
the Messiah was promised in Jewish scripture,
fulfilling Jewish prophecy. It is the messiah
for that nation. But then also to the Gentiles. So first to the Jew,
also to the Gentile. Last time I told you that
every synagogue in antiquity had a liturgy, a format. It began with a
prayer called shema from the first word
of Deuteronomy 6:4. [SPEAKING HEBREW] Hear, oh, Israel. The Lord, our God. The Lord is one. That was always the
declaration it began with. Prayer was then offered by the
head of the synagogue service. Followed by a reading
from the law, the Torah. Followed by a reading
from haftarah, which is another portion
of the scripture. Followed by what was
called the drasha, which was a rabbinical
commentary on the text that was read, either by the one
who is conducting the service. Or in some cases,
by visiting rabbis. Well, Saul of Tarsus
happens to be in town. Word gets out, he’s not only
Jewish, but he’s a rabbi. He gets to come up and
give that little commentary at the synagogue service. And now we read what it is. So we’re going to
begin in verse 16, because that’s where
the message began. And last time I even gave you
the outline of his message. So he’s giving the background
of the Jewish nation, verse 16. Then Paul stood up. Motioning with his hand
he said, men of Israel and you who fear God. Those were Gentile
converts to Judaism. God fearers they were called. Listen, so he gets
her attention. Listen, the God of this people
Israel, chose our fathers. And exalted the people when
they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt. With an uplifted arm he
brought them. out of it. Now for a time of
about 40 years, he put up with their
ways in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven
nations in the land of Canaan, he distributed their land
to them by allotment. After that he gave them
judges, for about 450 years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward, they
asked for a King. So God gave them
Saul, the son of Kish. A man of the tribe of
Benjamin, for 40 years. And when he had removed him,
he raised up for them, David. A King to whom also he
gave testimony and said, I have found David,
the son of Jesse. A man after my own heart,
who will do all my will. From this man’s seed,
according to the promise, God raised up for
Israel a Savior, Jesus. It takes Paul the Apostle
eight verses to get to Jesus. Eight sentences. He begins with the
Exodus of Egypt. How that God chose Israel
as a special group of people from all the people on earth. Brought them out of Egypt. Delivered them from
the bondage of Egypt. He takes them right
into the kingdom years. The United Kingdom under
the first King, Saul. He was rejected. God raised up David. And then from David he
goes right to Christ. It’s a natural transition. Jesus is related to King David. Jesus is the progeny of David. One of the genealogical
heirs of the promise. So since he is
from that lineage, he goes right to Christ. So we’re seeing a few things
about the way Paul preached. And if you communicate
Bible truth, it’s good to make note of these. First of all he is
anchored in scripture. He goes back,
briefly albeit, but through the scriptural
account of God choosing them, delivering
them, raising up leaders, etc. He’s anchored in the Bible. Later on when Paul
writes to Timothy, and he tells him to
preach, he’s very direct. He said, preach the word. Be ready in season
and out of season. Rebuke, encourage, etc.,
with all long suffering and doctrine. But he says, preach the word. He didn’t say, Timothy preach
your own feelings about things. Or preach your own
opinion about God. Or preach clever little
sayings that will get people really riled up,
and really stoked. He says, when you proclaim
make sure you preach the word. It should be anchored
in scripture. And that sounds so fundamental. But it’s so rare,
especially in these days, to find preachers
who preach the word. Paul preached the word. So it’s anchored in scripture. Something else to notice,
it’s centered on promise. He’s showing how that God
delivered them all the way to Jesus, whom God,
in the Old Testament, promised would be the deliverer. And identifies him quickly
in just eight verses. So this is important that the
New Testament, the new covenant in Christ, is directly
related to the promises that God made in
the old covenant. So he’s speaking
to Jewish people. All they know, all they have. There is no New Testament
letters or books circulating at that time,
among these synagogues. So they have just
the Old Testament. He’s showing them
that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. One of the things that
God, in the Old Testament, promised concerning
the nation of Israel, is that they would be a
light to the Gentiles. God said, I’m going to
make Israel, my people, a light to the Gentiles,
to bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. One of the reasons God chose
the Jews, delivered them out of Egypt, brought them
into a land called, the land of Israel,
is so that they could take the knowledge
of God and spread it. Not just to Jewish people,
but to Gentiles as well. He wanted the Jews to be
the light of the world. They failed. They became insular. They turned inward. And they regarded
themselves as chosen, thus everyone else not chosen. So God raised up
Jesus, who said, I am the light of the world. He did what they
never fulfilled. God’s intention was
to make them a light. Jesus became the
light of the world. So again, he does
that in eight verses. And I love that. He focused on Jesus Christ. I think it was Charles
Spurgeon, who said, I announced my text that
I’m going to preach. And then I make a
beeline for the cross. No matter what text
it is, I always show them how it
relates to the cross. I make a beeline to the cross. So in eight verses, Paul begins
with the Exodus in Egypt, makes a beeline to the cross,
through the United Kingdom, raising up Saul, the first King. Raising up David in his place. And then his heir, Jesus. Verse 24, after John had first
preached before his coming, the baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel. And as John was
finishing his course he said, who do you think I am. I am not he. But behold there
comes one after me, the sandals of whose feet
I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, sons of
the family of Abraham– can you see them looking
around the synagogue– and those among
you who fear God. The Gentiles who are hanging out
in the back of the synagogue. To you, the word of this
salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in
Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not
know him, nor even the voices of the prophets,
which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled in
condemning him. And though they found no
cause for death in him, they asked pilot, that he
should be put to death. Now when they had
fulfilled all that was written concerning him,
they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised
him from the dead. He was seen for
many days by those who came with him from
Galilee to Jerusalem, who are witnesses to the people. And we declare to
you, glad tidings. That’s what gospel means. To preach the gospel is to
preach glad tidings, good news. Some people hear the word
gospel and the go, oh, bummer. It’s going to be a real sad
thing he’s going to say. It’s going to be a bummer. It’s good news, man. It’s glad tidings. Therefore, when we
share with people, would you please
share with people like it really is good news. Glad tidings, the
gospel, that promise, which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this
for us, their children. In that, he has raised up Jesus. As it also is written in the
second Psalm, you are my son. Today I have begotten
you, quoting scripture. And that he raised
him from the dead, no more to return to corruption. He has spoken thus. I will give you the
sure mercies of David. Therefore he also
says in another Psalm, you will not allow your
Holy One to see corruption, a prophecy of the Resurrection. For David, after he had served
his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep. And was buried with his
fathers, and he saw corruption. But he whom God raised up, that
is Jesus, saw no corruption. Therefore let it be
known to you, brethren, that through this man, capital M
in my Bible speaking of Christ, through this man is preached
to you the forgiveness of sins. Now watch this. And by him every
one who believes is justified from all things,
which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Now verse 39 is a
startling statement. The people in the
synagogue that day were shaken by what he
said in that verse alone. Jesus Christ, the one who
is from the line of David, the Jewish messiah, the one
proclaimed in our scriptures, has died and has
risen from the dead. And by trusting in Him, you
can be justified from all the things that the law
of Moses, which you love, and revere, and follow,
cannot justify you in. It was Earth shattering to them. Because they always look to the
law, the covenant of the law, and their relationship
as Jews before God, as the means of their salvation. Now Paul is going to
develop this little thing that he talks about here,
this gospel of grace– he’s going to develop this,
that he shares in one verse, he’s going to develop it
in an entire book, called The book of Romans. He’ll go into depth. It will be truth after
truth, going through Judaism, unlocking question and answer. A great theological treatise,
and he’ll cover it also in the book of Galatians. But here he gives it
in a single verse. What he’s saying is this. The law is good. The law served its purpose. But it cannot do what
you think it can do. And the reason the
law is good, is that the law reveals that
you are a filthy sinner. That’s all I can do. It can’t cleanse you from it. It just reveals that
that’s what you are. It can’t remedy
the condition, it can just reveal the condition. It’s like looking in a mirror. You look in the mirror
and you go, I need help. I can’t speak for you. I know that’s what I say
when I look in the mirror. You know, I always think– I feel like I’m 20 years old. And then I look in the
mirror and go uh-oh. Now, the mirror
is doing its job. I can’t fault the mirror
for the way I look. I can’t say, you
stupid, ugly mirror. You’re worthless. Because the mirror
has done its job. It’s just told me
the truth about me. Now, if I look to the mirror
to remedy my condition, that’s the problem. If I look to the law of Moses to
remedy my condition as a sinner it won’t work. It will reveal my condition. Paul said in the
book of Romans, I would not have known sin
unless it was through the law. So again, it’s like an x-ray. You go to the doctor, and
you’re not feeling right. You go get an x-ray. The x-ray reveals, perhaps, a
condition like a broken bone. Oh, this is why that
arm hurts so much. I have a broken bone. Now, if you try
to take the x-ray, and like, wrap it around you,
tape it up, thinking, great. That’ll do it. That’ll fix it. My x-ray that revealed my
brokenness is going to fix me. That’s folly. The x-ray reveals
your condition. It can’t remedy your condition. The law of Moses reveal– it’s like an x-ray
of the heart– it reveals your brokenness. But it can’t fix it. So the law, Paul
said in Galatians, was a schoolmaster,
Protatakas, one who would lead us
to Christ– a tutor who would lead us to Christ. Someone who would
walk us along the way telling us that we need to go to
Christ to remedy our condition. So, “everyone who
believes is justified.” I’m not going to get into
the depth of that word, but you may want to write in the
margin of your Bible, Romans, chapter 5, verse
1– therefore being justified by faith we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. You are justified, just as
if you had never sinned. “He who believes is
justified from all the things which you could not be
justified by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest
what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you.” Now he is making application
and appeal in his message. And here it is,
he’s quoting again, “Behold you despisers,
marvel and perish. For I work a work in
your days, a work which you will by no means
believe though one were to declare it to you.” Interesting text of
scripture that Paul brings up in concluding his sermon. He’s pulling out a reference
from the book of Habakkuk, or Habakkuk, depending on
what part of the country you’re from. So Habakkuk was that prophet–
one of the minor prophets. He’s called a minor
prophet, but he was really in the major leagues. So Habakkuk was complaining one
day because the nation that he was in– the people of Judah,
the people around Jerusalem– were sinful, and breaking God’s
laws, and filthy, and corrupt. And Habakkuk, the
prophet, says, God, I don’t know why you see all
this corruption in our country, and you don’t do
anything about it. And so God says, well,
Habakkuk, it’s a funny thing. But I’m going to work
a work in your midst that even if I were to tell
you, you wouldn’t believe. So he goes, oh, wow. Well, tell me what it is. He goes, I’m going to
raise up the Chaldeans– the Babylonians– to come
and destroy this land. That’s not a thing to clap at. It’s going to destroy
and judge these people. So now Habakkuk gets
all bent out of shape. He goes, now God, now why would
you do something like that? I mean, OK, we’re bad. But they’re like really bad,
and they’re Babylonians. They’re godless. They practice idolatry. Why would you raze
somebody more wicked? I mean, we’re wicked, but
they’re like way wicked. Why would you
allow somebody more wicked than we to be our
judgment, to be your chastening rod against us? Then we get to chapter 2. And the key verse that Paul
will base the book of Romans on is written in Habakkuk,
chapter 2, verse 4– “the just shall live by faith.” So he’s bringing up this
prophecy in Habakkuk, basically saying what Habakkuk
said to the people from God– you need to change, or
you’re going to perish. If you believe, and you remain
in faith, trusting in God, you’re going to be OK. But unless you do that,
you’re going to be judged. So he pulls out Habakkuk,
chapter 1, verse 5, which leads us to
chapter 2, verse 4, “the just shall live by faith.” I find it interesting. Verse 42, “So when the Jews
went out of the synagogue”– synagogue service is
over, church is over– “the Gentiles begged that
these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” Can I just say anybody
who begs a preacher to preach scores high
points in my book. Here they’re saying,
please, preacher, preach that message again. Wow. I mean, that’s like
music to our ears. So these Gentiles had never
heard the gospel of grace before. They were God-fearers. They’re listening
in the synagogue every week to Jewish sermons
about the Torah, the law, the psalms, et cetera. Do this, don’t do that. Be a good person. Don’t be a bad
person, et cetera. Now Paul comes along–
blows it out of the water– says all you need to
do is trust in Jesus. Believe by faith, and you’ll
be justified and cleansed. You don’t have to go through
all of these rituals, all of this legalism. Now the Gentiles hear this and
go, we want some more of that. Bring that stuff on. Don’t stop there. “So they begged that
they might be preached to them the next Sabbath. So when the congregation
had broken up, many of the Jews and
devout proselytes– converts to Judaism– followed Paul and Barnabas,
whose speaking to them persuaded them to continue
in the grace of God.” Please mark that. Not continue in the law
of God, but continue in the grace of God. Because this is the gospel
of grace he’s preaching. John, chapter 1, “for the law
came by Moses but,” anybody, “grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ.” The comparison of
those two covenants– the covenant of the
law, covenant of grace. Most people can’t handle
the pure gospel of grace. Either they don’t understand
it and think it’s license to do whatever you
want, or they’re insulted because, after
all, it has to be up to me. I got to work my way to
heaven, work my way to God, make God like me. So they have a problem with
just the sheer, unmerited favor of God. But I’ll tell you what
the gospel of grace does. It does two things. Number one, it reveals your
utter helpless condition. You cannot get to God, so
something must be done for you. And number two, it shows us
the sheer unlimited favor that God is willing
to bestow upon you. He loves anybody,
everybody, all the time. So it shows you and I
your helpless condition, God’s limitless
love and kindness. “So they persuaded him,
‘Continue in the grace of God.’ On the next Sabbath,
almost the whole city came together to hear
the word of God.” Oh, sounds so wonderful. “But when the Jews saw
the multitudes they were filled with envy.” There’s envy. We talked about that
this last weekend. “And contradicting
and blaspheming, they opposed the
things spoken by Paul.” Whenever God does a work,
the devil does a work. Find God’s work, you’ll
find the devil’s work. Every action brings an
equal and opposite reaction. You learned that in school. When God is at work,
you’ll find the devil trying to counteract that work. And here he does it through
this religious system. Think of Nehemiah building
the wall in the Old Testament. He’s building it. That’s what God wants him to do. He’s empowered by the spirit. He’s come hundreds of miles
from Persia to Jerusalem. Only 50,000 Jews return. God gives him the
power and the strength to get the right people
to do it together. But there’s a guy named
Sanballat and Tobiah who ridicule the Jews, and
try to stop the work, sending letters to
Persia, doing everything they can to halt the
work of God in Jerusalem. So whenever you
find the work of God don’t be surprised when you
find the work of the devil. Now why is this important? Because too many Christians
are so naive in this. And they go, well, you
know, I’m trying to do this. But it’s not working
out very smoothly. So that must mean
God’s not in this. Well, it could be
that God is in it. That’s why it’s
not going smoothly. Because every action brings an
equal and opposite reaction. If you’re getting opposition
from the right source– you know, whenever I get
opposition, I always consider– I always weigh it. And I weigh it to find
out what the source is. And if the source is from the
Lord I always pray about it. But when it’s from
a source that I believe is not a godly
source, then I go, a-ha. I see what’s happening here. So as you prepare to
step out into service, be prepared to pay the
price of sacrifice. And the more effective you
are, the more a target you are. So again, I don’t know that I
would necessarily clap at that, but feel free. “So they were filled with
envy and contradicted them, blaspheming and opposed
the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas
grew bold and said, it was necessary
that the word of God should be spoken to
you first,” to the Jew first, and then
also to the Gentile, “but since you reject it,
and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold,
we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded
us, I have set you as a light to the Gentiles that you
should be for salvation for the ends of the earth. Now when the Gentiles
heard this they were glad,” yeah, what he said, “and
glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as
had been appointed to eternal life believed.” There’s a whole
sermon right there. “And the word of
the Lord was being spread throughout that region. But the Jews stirred up the
devout and prominent women and chief men of
the city, raised up persecution against
Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them
from their region. But they shook off the dust
from their feet against them and came to Iconium.” To shake dust off your feet
was a Jewish expression of breaking
fellowship revulsion. Jesus, in Luke, chapter 9,
said, if you go into a city, and they don’t receive
you, shake the very dust off your feet. And the idea was we don’t want
to bring unclean Gentile dust into Jewish regions. That’s sort of the idea of it. But it became
simply an expression for breaking fellowship,
breaking communion with, and because the
gospel was pushed away by this religious group– the Jewish people
in the synagogues who stirred something up– he said, we’re turning
to the Gentiles. And it says, “They
came to Iconium, and the disciples
were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” OK. So now they’re in the
region of Galatia. You’ve heard of Galatia. You’ve heard of the
letter to the Galatians. Galatia isn’t a city. It’s a province. It’s an area. There are several cities in it. Iconium is one of those cities. 80 miles away, he
travels, to Iconium. Now, one of the questions
I frequently get asked is what did Paul the Apostle
look like physically? Is there any
physical description written down of Paul? And the answer is yes. And it happens to
come from somebody who lived in the city
of Iconium from Galatia. So because I get
asked a lot, what did he look like, and of
course, we don’t know. This is simply one
person’s description– the only one that we
have written down. This is from a
second century work called the Acts of Paul written
by a resident from Iconium by the name of Onesiphorus. And here is how
he described Paul. “And he saw Paul
approaching,” listen to it, “a man small in size with
meeting eyebrows,” you know, that’s a unibrow. There’s like no
break right here– just like one big line of hair– a unibrow, “with a rather large
nose, baldheaded, bowlegged, strongly built, full of grace. For at times, he
looked like a man, and at times he had
the face of an angel.” Isn’t that beautiful? So he didn’t look
like much outwardly. And he does seem to
speak about that. You know, he just
says, you know, my enemies say he’s
not much to look at. And perhaps, this is
an accurate description of what he looked like. That he was diminutive– nice way of saying short– unibrow, bowlegged,
large nose, crooked nose. “But sometimes, he looked like
he had the face of an angel.” Now, all of that is unimportant. It’s interesting. It’s fascinating. If you want to know what Paul
looked like this is probably the best description we
have from antiquity– the only one we have. However, don’t you love what
it says in the Old Testament– that when God was looking for
a man to replace King Saul, and he tells the
prophet, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but God looks at the heart. And what a heart Paul had. He had the heart to
preach the gospel to places that had never heard
the glad tidings of the gospel. And so, at Iconium– that’s where he ends
up with Barnabas. And it says, “The
disciples,” verse 52, “were filled with joy and
with the Holy Spirit.” Now they just got persecuted. They just got booted out of
town, and they’re joyful. Why? Because they’re filled
with the Holy Spirit. Man, you’ve got an
artesian well wherever you go if you’re filled
with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the spirit,
you can be filled with joy. And perhaps they just saw,
man, we’re relating to Jesus. We’re identifying with him. He was persecuted. And he said we would be too. And we’re persecuted
for righteousness sake. Now, I like the
fact that they were joyful after being persecuted. But I want to issue a warning. If you get persecuted,
make sure that you’re getting persecuted for
righteousness sake. Because some people
are just weird people. And they kind of deserve
to be persecuted. Just because it’s like– it’s not that their
message is offensive. They just are doing it
in an offensive manner. I remember going witnessing– street witnessing– out at
the pier at Huntington Beach– sometimes every weekend. And there was
always this one guy. And when he was there,
it’s like, oh, man, he’s going to make
it hard for me. Because I would love to– I would just go up to
people, and talk to them, and engage in a
conversation, and try to be as affable as I could. But this guy, at the beginning
of the Huntington Beach pier, would be yelling at
people, going, sinner. Here’s his message of good news. You’re going to hell. I’m thinking, now that
is an attractive message. Who wouldn’t want to
listen to that right there. Tell me more. So he just repelled everybody. He was being
persecuted, by the way, but not for righteousness sake. He was being persecuted
because he was lame. And if you’re going
to get persecuted, make sure that
you get persecuted for righteousness sake. “They were filled with joy
and with the Holy Spirit. Now it happened,”
verse 1, “in Iconium that they went together to the
synagogue,” that’s his style, “and so spoke that a
great multitude, both of the Jews and the
Greeks, believed.” There’s something in that verse
that it wrests my attention. He so spoke that
people believed, which implies that if you’re
a preacher or a teacher or a witnesser, you can so speak
so that people won’t believe. And I read this
and it convicts me. I want to make sure that I
so speak that my message is studied, and
researched, and smart, and filled with the
spirit, and all the things that will reach into people’s
hearts, and make them deal with the truth so
that they will believe. It implies there’s a right
way to do it and a wrong way to do it. “So they so spoke
for in such a manner that the multitude, both of
the Jews and Greeks, believe. But the unbelieving Jews
stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds
against the brethren.” Are you seeing a pattern here? Are you noticing that the
greatest enemies to the gospel are not the prostitutes
or the atheists, but the narrow-minded
unsaved religious people. Man, your movement is growing
bigger than our synagogue, or our meeting, or our
thing, or our belief. You’re threatening us. Our people, if they
hear your message, are going to go to your deal. And so they became the
greatest antagonists. “Therefore, they stayed
there a long time speaking boldly in the Lord,
who is bearing witness to the word of his grace,
granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. But the multitude of
the city was divided. And part sided with
the Jews, and part sided with the apostles. Now, consider
something for a moment. The word apostles is
used in that verse. Do you see it? Do you find it a little odd? Because Peter’s not there. James is not there. John is not there. Bartholomew is not there. Even Thomas, he’s not there. But it refers to apostles. So it’s an interesting
choice of words. Why do I bring this up? Because I said something at the
beginning of this book of Acts, which I don’t expect you to
remember all the things that I say even in the same book. But people often ask,
are apostles still an office for today? Is the office of an apostle
something that is contemporary? And I say yes. And I say no. No in the strict sense,
yes in a general sense. So in a strict sense, there were
and are only Twelve Apostles. So then in Acts 2:42 they
gave themselves continually to the Apostles’ doctrine,
breaking of bread, fellowship, and in prayer. It’s a reference to the
teaching of the Twelve Apostles who follow Jesus in
his earthly ministry. One was replaced, Judas
was replaced by Matthias. And there are only 12. In Ephesians, Paul
will say that our faith is build on the foundation of
the apostles and the prophets. Those are the 12. By the way, Paul is
called an apostle. He calls himself an apostle in
1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1
Timothy, 2 Timothy. He calls himself
Paul an apostle. But he never numbered
himself with the 12. He called himself an
apostle to the Gentiles. So in a strict sense, there
are no more apostles today. The new Jerusalem will be
built on the 12 foundations of the Twelve
Apostles of the lamb, we are told in Revelation. However, in another
sense they do continue. And here is a use
of the word apostle that is not referring to
the strict sense of the 12. Because Paul wasn’t of the 12. And Barnabas certainly
was not of the 12. And yet, it’s a
reference to apostles. So get this– 75 times in the New Testament,
the word apostle shows up. And people that are not of
the 12 are called apostles– including Timothy,
including Barnabas, including Andronica and
Junia, and a few others are referred to as apostles. So the root meaning
of the word apostolos simply means somebody who
was sent out, dispatched, sent on a mission. Originally, it spoke of an
enclave of ships sent out on an expedition. It came to mean somebody who
was just sent out on a mission. In the strict sense,
it refers to the ones Jesus, out of the disciples,
identified and sent out. But it is used also
in the New Testament to refer to just somebody sent
out on a mission generally. So that’s why I say yes and no. Does that make sense? The Eastern Orthodox Church uses
the term apostle, apostolos, since they do speak Greek
and are a Greek church, in referring to
their missionaries that they send out. You could look at an
apostle as somebody who has influence, who
provides leadership, perhaps over a number of churches,
or even a missionary. So in a general sense,
they’re still around. Oh, by the way, John
Calvin in his institute– by the way, John Calvin,
some people think is on a par with Paul the
Apostle, though he’s not. John Calvin said, God
raised up apostles on particular
occasions when required by the necessity
of the times and he has done it in our own times. So it’s interesting
that John Calvin, whom some revere as a biblical
character almost, referred to apostles as just
those who are being sent out even in his own time. So I hope that
answers the question. You’re thinking, I never had
the question to begin with, so– but if you did, there it is. Verse 5– and when a
violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and
Jews with their rulers to abuse and stone them, they
became aware of it. And they fled to Lystra and
Derbe, the cities of Lycaonia, to the surrounding region. And you say, well,
why did they do that? Are they chicken? No, they’re smart. You can be bold and foolish. They were bold and prudent. They were wise. Jesus even said, if you are
persecuted in this city, flee to the next city. So don’t be persecuted
and die unnecessarily. So they didn’t. It’s an important principle. Our approach to people
in our evangelism needs to be tailored based
upon their response to it. Didn’t Jesus say, don’t give
what is holy to the dogs, don’t cash your pearls
before swine because they’ll trample them underfoot,
turn around and attack you? So when I share with people,
I see how open they are. If what I’m going to say,
they’re just turned off to, their bent against
it, no matter what I say they’re just going to
make fun of it, I’m done. I’m not going to cast my pearls
before pigs, Jesus’ words. But I’m going to wait
till they’re open to it. If they’re open to
it, I’ll continue. If they’re not, I won’t. So think about
Jesus’ own approach. He spoke to the crowd one way. He spoke to Pontius Pilate
an entirely different way. And when he stood
before Herod Antipas, he didn’t say anything at
all, not a single word. He refused to speak, refused
to give him any truth at all. He knew his heart. So they’re done. They’re packing up. And they’re going. And they go 18 miles
from Iconium to Lystra. And why is Lystra important? Because in Lystra lives a woman
named Lois and her daughter Eunice who happened
to be the grandmother and mother of Timothy. And it is probably during
this first missionary journey that Lois and Eunice and
Timothy get saved in Lystra. So it’s an important town. It’s beautiful. But it’s not over yet. There are some hard
times coming up. It says, they were preaching the
gospel there, verse 7, verse 8. In Lystra, a certain man
without strength in his feet was sitting a cripple
from his mother’s womb who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him
intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed– the gift of faith is
about to be working with the gift of healing– said with a loud voice, stand
up straight on your feet. And he leaped and walked. Now, when the people
saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying
in the Lycaonian language, the gods have come down to
us in the likeness of men. And Barnabas, they called Zeus. And Paul, Hermes, because
he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of
Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates intending to
sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles– there it is again– Barnabas, and Paul heard
this, they tore their clothes and they ran in among the
multitudes crying and saying, men, why are you
doing these things? We also are men with the same
nature as you and preach to you that you should turn from
these useless things– or idols– to the
living God who made the heaven, the earth, the
sea and all that are in them. Who in bygone generations
allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he did
not leave himself without witness in that he did
good, gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons filling our
hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings,
they could scarcely restrain the multitudes
from sacrificing to them. It’s an interesting response. A man is healed– wow, awesome, amazing,
you can imagine all of the emotion that
would go with that. If you’ve ever seen somebody
legitimately healed– I just don’t mean they cough a
little bit less, I mean healed. It’s pretty amazing. And the emotions run high. But this town said,
bring out the animals, man, let’s have a sacrifice. These two dudes are
gods in human flesh. These are the two gods Zeus
and Hermes in their mythology. Now why would they do that? A little history will help. There was a poet, a Roman
poet, named Ovid, O-V-I-D. Maybe you’ve heard of him? If you’ve studied
literature, you have– Ovid. He had a legend, a story,
that the gods came down from heaven to Lystra and
they were Zeus and Hermes. And they tried to
get food and lodging, to get the local townspeople
to take care of them. None of them would except
an old peasant couple by the name of Philemon
and his wife– not the biblical Philemon. And So after they were nourished
by this elderly couple, these two gods from heaven
drowned the local townspeople, killing them all, but
made the humble abode of Philemon and his wife into a
beautiful palace in which they served as priest and priestess. Then when this old
couple died, they became two stately trees
that grew in among that city. That was the legend. That was the history from Ovid. So they believed that. They believed that legend. Now Paul and Barnabas
come, somebody is healed, they go, I know what this is. We’re not going to make
that mistake again. Treat these guys like royalty. Let’s just make sure they
get a good sacrifice going. So that’s probably what’s
going on in their minds. Now, I’m looking at the time. I’m making a decision of
where to go with this. I mean, I can always go long. But I can go deep too. So I am trying to figure
out which road to take. Do I turn right? Do I go– OK, so– Paul is preaching to
this group of pagan idolators. And when he preaches to them,
which we have just read, notice what he does. He goes from
general to specific. He starts wide and
then he goes narrow. He says, we’re also
men like you are. You should turn
from these things. God who made heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that are in them, who
in bygone generations allowed nations to
walk in his own ways, nevertheless did
not leave himself without witness in that he
gave food, rain from heaven, fruitful seasons fulfilling our
hearts with food and gladness. You know, that creation
is a gift from God. And with these sayings
they could scarcely restrain the multitudes
from sacrificing to them. So here’s his approach. When he is addressing
people like this, he doesn’t begin with the Bible. When he’s in the synagogue,
he begins with the Bible because they’re
familiar with the Bible and they believe the Bible. These are unbelievers. These are pagan worshippers. He does not begin
with the Bible. He begins generally, with
like, here we are in creation, God made it all, gave us cool
stuff, we drink, you know, something they can grasp and
understand about the Bible. Now, why is that important? Because if you go up to
an unbeliever and you say, you know, the Bible says– they don’t care. They don’t believe the Bible. You’ve got to start
at a different place. Your approach has
to be different. Even Jesus’ approach to
people was different. Scribes and Pharisees, he would
counter them with the Bible. Have you not read–? When he’s in Samaria talking
to the woman at the well, his approach is very different. He’s speaking to
a woman who tried to fill the spiritual
thirst in her life by a series of
men, relationships. And the men did not fulfill her. So Jesus said, you know,
if you drink of this water, you’ll thirst again. But whoever drinks the water
that I give will never thirst. It got her attention. She’s thirsty. He begins with her
need, not the Bible that she does not believe all
of because she is a Samaritan. You get the point. The approach is different. So you need to read
and know your audience when you share the gospel. And Paul does that quite well. So even with that, they
could scarcely restrain them. Then Jews from
Antioch and Iconium came there, having persuaded
the multitudes they stoned Paul. OK, this is a
fickle bunch, right? We want to worship you. Oh, you won’t let us? We’ll kill you. It’s not so much unlike
the Jews in Jerusalem who on Sunday said, Hosanna
to Jesus, but on Friday, crucify him, crucify him. This is a fickle crowd. However, when the
disciples gathered around after they stoned them, he
drug Paul out of the city supposing that he was dead. So it was a pretty
severe beating he got. However, when the disciples
gathered around him, he rose up and went
into the city– wow, they stone
you in that city, they almost kill you in that
city, you dry up the blood and go, I’m going back. Really? You want more of that? He went back into the
city, unstoppable. And the next day he departed
with Barnabas to Derbe– good move. And when they had preached
the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they
returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening
the souls of the disciples exhorting them to continue
in the faith and saying, we must, through
many tribulations, enter the Kingdom of God. And when they had appointed
elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they
commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. And after they had
passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia,
these are regions. Now when they had preached
the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. And from there they
sail to Antioch, this is Antioch of Syria. They’re going back
to that first Antioch where they had been
commended to the grace of God for the work which
they had completed. Now when they had come and
gathered the church together, they reported all that
God had done with them, and that he had opened the
door of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long
time with the disciples. Now, something happened
to Paul the Apostle while he was in
Lystra and Derbe– probably Lystra– that changed
his life forever and gave him a motivation unlike anything
he had ever known before. And next week, I’m going
to tell you what that is. Man, it’s epic. It’s so epic you
don’t want to miss it. But the chapter concludes– hey, one and 1/2
chapters tonight. The chapter concludes where they
get back together in Antioch and they have the first
missionary conference in history, sharing
what God has done. I wonder what it would be
like if we decided, hey, let’s go out street
witnessing tonight. We’ll meet you in a couple
hours and let’s just hear what the Lord has done. It would be one of the most
encouraging services you could imagine, I bet, just to watch. I mean, some of you would come
back so geeked, so pumped, because God used you and
you led somebody to Christ, and would encourage
the rest of us. So even though they’ve been
beat up and persecuted, and Paul almost died, they’re
like, God did a cool thing! So I pray this week that
God would do cool things in and through our lives,
that you would go out in his name as soldiers
of the living Christ, sharing hope with people
around you who are hopeless, able to judge where they’re
at, what they need to hear. And then even next week,
you’ll have some great stories to share with those that
you’re sitting around of what God has done through you. Father, thank you first of
all that you have given us this history, this scriptural
account of Barnabas and Saul, now Paul and Barnabas. And we’re seeing this one that
you chose on the Damascus road, that you equipped
for three years down in Arabia, that you nurtured
back in his hometown of Tarsus, now 10 years after
his conversion, powerfully sharing in
Antioch and Pisidia, and then in Lystra
and Derbe, and setting the stage for more trips and
more usefulness in the future. Father, we come and as
we close this service, we just place ourselves before
you as living sacrifices, as Paul said in Romans
12, holy unacceptable, which is our reasonable
service, and we pray, Lord, that you would use us
tonight, this week, to be an encouragement,
to be a witness, to bring people into the
kingdom, to invite them. Use our lives for your glory. Shake the city, Lord. Shake the country that needs
to hear the message of hope in Christ, and that they
hear it through our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen. For more resources from Calvary
Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org

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