Acts 15:1-29

Intro:
Using the two side of the sanctuary, divide into two groups.
East Side: Represent Jewish Christians. You know that God chose your people, and gave you special promises as well as a Law to live by. God has sent you prophets, and His own Son came as a Jew to die for sins. You are convinced that your ways are right, and that they are also godly, in contrast to the ways of non-Jews. It is clear to you that if a person really wishes to please God he must live as you do, subject to the Law as a good Jewish Christian should be. And you are ready to contend for this truth.

West Side: Represent Gentile Christians. You have been saved through faith in Christ and are part of a vital Gentile congregation. You don’t have anything against the Jews, but you certainly aren’t one. You don’t even feel comfortable with their strange customs, most of which have nothing to do with morality. You have been upset by these Jewish Christians who insist that you must give up your own culture and live as they do to be saved. You’re concerned, and a little bit angry too.

You guys are really at odds with one another. You have issues. Do you get it? Have I made my point?

Now, this side of the church like to have contemporary worship, as modern as you can get it, you always have, always.
The other side of the church is so traditional you would make John Wesley contemporary.

Think about that…. Just think. See how things divide us.

That example is not really as deep as the Jews and Gentiles one. We’ll look at that in a minute. In that manner, we have no excuse, no excuse for petty things to divide us.

In Ireland they have actual violence between Catholics and Protestants. Our violence is in our thoughts and I think that hurts God because we are the bride of Christ.

Let us look at this passage, but let me give you my theme, my great idea, your take away:

The Jerusalem Council meets and frees the church for evangelism. In doing so, they affirm that the Gospel is for everyone (verse 14) which means that they decide not to make it difficult for non Jews to become Christians (verse 19). A simple application, do you make it difficult for a non believer to become a Christian? Does our church? Do we care?

Let’s read Acts 15:1-29:

Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 
“‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
17 
that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’—
18 
    things known from long ago.
19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
Greetings.
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell.

Okay, now let’s talk about this. Let’s break it down.

First, what is a Jerusalem Council? Why is that important? I am getting ahead of myself but this was an official meeting of the church. They had to decide on a doctrinal position. We will get into that. We are going to skim over this passage.

You know how when you fly in an airplane you see things but it is not in great detail? That is what we are going to do with this passage. I am going to pick out some mountains, but for the most part we are going to give you the theme and some applications. What is the theme?

The Jerusalem Council reaffirmed that the Gospel is for everyone. (verse 14) That is the simple theme. They decided not to have barriers or great barriers in front of non-Jewish people to become believers.

The problem erupts in Verses 1-5:
Okay, so we see a low level fly by showing us that some people are trying once again to mess with what the Lord is doing.
NIV makes note that since they were from Judea they were given a hearing. Not that they correctly represented the apostles, they may not have.
They were probably Pharisees from verse 5.
Paul and Barnabas had great debate with them about this.
So, Paul and Barnabas are to go to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this.
They passed through Samaria and Phoenicia sharing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles and this brought great joy.
Interesting that this is mentioned here except to better make the case for the conversions
They arrived in Jerusalem to a happy group of people. 
Here is a John MacArthur study note: Throughout church history Church leaders have met to settle doctrinal issues. Historians point to 7 different ecumenical councils in the churches early history. Especially the council of Nicea (AD 325) and the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). Yet the most important was the Jerusalem Council because it established the answer to the most vital doctrinal question of all: “What must a person do to be saved?” The apostles and elders defined efforts to impose legalism and ritualism as necessary prerequisites for salvation. They forever affirmed that salvation is totally by grace through faith in Christ alone.
II. In verses 6-11 Peter gives his testimony
This was no small issue. There was much discussion. Here is another John MacArthur study note: “Peter gave the first of 3 speeches at the Council that amount to one of the strongest defenses of salvation by grace through faith alone contained in Scripture. Peter began his defense by reviewing how God saved gentiles in the early days of the church without a requirement of circumcision, law keeping or ritual— referring to the salvation of Cornelius and his household. (10:44-48; 11:17,18) If God didn’t require an additional qualifications for salvation than neither should the legalist.)
Peter refers to this Acts 10, Cornelius, experience as the early days.
Peter says that they are putting God to the test by giving the Gentile disciples a burden that the Jewish Pharisees and their father’s couldn’t bear. They couldn’t keep the law.
The law was given to show them that they were sinners (Romans 3:20)
Matthew 23:4 is a really good explanation about the Pharisees putting burdens on themselves that they are not willing to bear.
They believe that they are saved through faith as the Gentiles are.
Rev 2:23: God searches the hearts and minds
Gal 5:1: it is for freedom that Christ has set us free
Romans 3:23-24 deals with salvation and justification
Ephesians 2:5-8
III. In verses 12- 21 we hear Paul and Barnabas’ testimony and James makes a ruling
I what to fly a little higher at this point to emphasize the theme.
Paul and Barnabas talk about signs and wonders. The signs and wonders would confirm to the Jews that God really is behind what is going on.
Then we see that James makes a ruling. This James is the same James that later writes the New Testament epistles of James. He is Jesus’ baby brother. It seems obvious that He is the man in charge. He is the spokesperson for the group. We would think Peter would be in charge, but he is not. It is James. We would think Paul, but it is James. James was not an early disciple, but he is pastoring the Jerusalem church and he is in charge.
In verse 14, he says that God wanted to choose from the Gentiles a people for His name. That is extremely phenomenal. The Jews were God’s people, but now this wraps the Gentiles in as well. This is a special verse for today. He is saying that The Gospel is for everyone.
Then James quotes an Old Testament passage regarding Gentiles.
Then he says we do not need to get in their way. So,
Make sure they stay away from food sacrificed to idols.
Stay away from fornication.
Stay from what is strangled by blood.
Now, then James has a letter written which Paul and a few companions will send, this starts in verse 22. The letter will explain this and give them more contact with the churches.
The end of this chapter begins Paul’s next missionary journey.
Close:
Think back to the exercise we did in the beginning of the message today. Some of you were the Jewish side of the church, some the Gentile side of the church. Some of you were the contemporary side of the church, some the traditional side. You know that we all do have our preferences. Think about this:
Are your preferences guided by a full, Holy Spirit filled understanding of Scripture? How do you know? How can you be sure it is what God desires? Understand your preferences, give them to Jesus in prayer and let us be united as a church.
This passage calls us to unity for the great commission. Verse 19: we do not need to add obstacles in front of the Gentiles when we are sharing the love of Jesus with them… Neither do we. Let’s also share Jesus without added obstacles, barriers, or whatever else.
Review:
The Jerusalem Council meets and frees the church for evangelism. In doing so, they affirm that the Gospel is for everyone (verse 14) which means that they decide not to make it difficult for non Jews to become Christians (verse 19)

A simple application, do you make it difficult for a non believer to become a Christian? Does our church?

First, is your heart right with Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Pray

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Acts 14:8-18

Intro:
We are journeying our way through Acts and we come to an amazing passage. Think about the complexities and the contradictions in this passage:
This is a passage where the Apostles can heal someone yet be stoned in the same passage, really?
This is a passage where Paul will be stoned and left for dead and preach so that people can receive real life immediately after that, really? Preaching the Gospel you were just stoned to death for? They are killing you, but others are receiving real life!
This is a passage where we realize Paul’s ability to identify with an audience in preaching. We see an abbreviation of a sermon which he will preach in Acts 17:16ff.
Who’s your god? Do we make people gods as well? Paul and Barnabas wouldn’t allow themselves to be worshipped
Back when I was a kid in school I remember studying the ancient Greek culture and all the gods and the goddesses that they worshipped. The idea was that they had many gods while we only worship the one God. We were studying in public school so the majority of class either believed that in today’s time we don’t believe in many gods and many people do not believe in or worship a God at all. The idea is that we have advanced we know that these things about Zeus and Hermes, etc just aren’t true. Looking at the church across America I wonder, have we really advanced? The Ten commandments say, “Do not Commit Idolatry.” Do we?
I remember when I have gotten a new car. Can you remember a time when you have gotten something new. For me it is hard to get something new and not let that “thing” consume me. When I have gotten a new car that is all that I think about. I might even commit idolatry with that man made thing. It has been said that worship is our response to what we value most. It has been said, “If you will follow the trail of your time, energy, passion, money you will find out what you worship.. could be $, yourself, friends, things, your past, etc..” Point is that were created to worship.
We are about to turn to a passage in the New Testament where people who have worshipped Hermes and Zeus now try to worship Paul and Barnabas. Let’s look at that passage:
Read Acts 14:8-18
 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

Notice that Paul and Barnabas were God focused.
Paul and Barnabas were God focused; therefore they would not accept worship. Nor would they worship anyone else or anything. Notice how that impacts what they do. Let me explain this passage verse by verse. But first let’s look at the context.
Context is everything. Look at the previous 7 verses. Paul is on what we call his second missionary journey. Paul had left for this journey back in 13:4. They had already gone to Pisidian Antioch and preached there. While still in Antioch, in 13:46 the Jews got jealous and so Paul and Barnabas moved on to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. This seemed to start a precedent for Paul that he would always go to the synagogue first and then to the gentiles. In 13:50 the text tells us that the “Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” That leads us to the beginning of chapter 14. They have now moved on to Iconium. They followed the same procedure in Iconium as they had in Pisidian Antioch. Paul and Barnabas had gone first to the synagogue and spoke to the Jews. Many Jews and Greeks believed. In 14:2 the text tells us that the Jews who disbelieved “stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.” However, Paul and Barnabas stayed around and spoke boldly, the text even emphasizes with “reliance upon the Holy Spirit.” Still, verses 5 and 6 tell us that there was an attempt to stone them and Paul and Barnabas found out about it and left. They then went to Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region. Verse 6 told us where they went and then verse 7 particularizes that by stating that they continued to preach the Gospel in those locations. Now, that brings us to verse 8. It seems that verse 8 is particularizing an event that happened while at Lystra.
Do you notice it? Do you notice how Paul and Barnabas are so persistent that they keep preaching the Gospel.
They tried to stone them! In verse 5 it says this. Did that shock you? It didn’t shock me. The first century person would have been shocked by this. Stoning was a terrible punishment. The accused would usually be taken outside the city and stripped Then the witnesses would cast the first stones followed by everyone else. I have heard that they would throw stones until the person is buried.
Despite this happening in the previous city because of Paul and Barnabas preaching the Gospel, they still move on in order to preach the Gospel.
Paul and Barnabas were focused then but what is about to happen would have definitely tested me.
Verses 8-10: now they are in a city called Lystra. This is a city in what would be modern day Turkey.
Verse 8 simply tells us that a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet. How long was he lame? The Bible tells us from birth. Then the same verse gives an extra emphasis by saying that he had never walked. Now, if the text has already said, “Lame from his mother’s womb.” Why does the text need to say that he had never walked? The writer is making the emphasis that this man had never ever walked. The writer is preparing the reader for what is about to happen. Why? What is about to happen is a miracle.
Hearing versus listening. This man was interested in the Gospel.
Paul looks at him and can tell that this man had faith to be healed. What does that mean?
Dave Wray was the man who was my youth pastor when I was in high school. About 10 years before I met Dave he was at a country church called Pleasantview Missionary Church. While there their daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. They prayed for healing and did extensive treatments. However, after a few years there daughter passed away and went to be with the Lord. During this illness there were people who really thought that she was not healed because of a lack of faith.
I totally reject that. Jesus didn’t heal everyone and Paul himself had a thorn in his side that wasn’t taken away. (2 Cor. 12)
We can’t be sure what this passage means by saying, “Faith to be made well.” What I think is that the Holy Spirit supernaturally showed Paul that he believed in Christ and did have faith. It is over reaching to take this passage and say that everyone who is not healed doesn’t have faith.
In verse 10, Paul said to this man to stand upright. This man leaped to his feet.
I notice no hesitancy in Paul’s voice, I notice no physical therapy for this man. He leaped to his feet.
Many of you are parents and grandparents. Remember with the children that you had started to walk. Did they just leap and started walking? Of course not! There was a slow process of learning to walk. Not in this case!!
The application is that when God is involved things can happen quickly. God needs no time period.
This is the 3rd time in Acts that a lame man is healed (Acts 3 and 9:34)
God doesn’t heal everyone; however, we do need to understand that the Holy Spirit is still alive and active today. The Spirit hasn’t hidden in a cave or gone into retirement. I pray every day for Meagan to be healed of her M.S. I pray every day for the doctors to give is a medical cure so that all can be healed of M.S. However, if that request is not granted that doesn’t mean that I started saying there is a secret sin or a lack of faith. This means the Lord doesn’t will this at this time.
He may in ten years or two or when it is her time to go and be with the Lord. Then there is complete healing.
One last thing about this, when someone is made well do to our medical advanced, yes give the doctors credit but mostly give the Lord the credit. God works.
In verses 11-13 we see the reaction to what God had done.
It appears that a whole crowd had seen what God had done through Paul.
The crowd started speaking in the Lycaonian language. The people were probably speaking in Latin to begin with. It appears that at this location they knew Latin and Greek. There is also evidence that this native language was used up until the 6th century A.D. “There is evidence that two Christian monasteries in Constantinople (Byzantium) founded in the sixth century used the Lycaonian language in their liturgy.”
Why would they think that the “gods” had come down? One reason would be the miracle. Just imagine, you are sitting at the hospital with someone who can’t walk and all of a sudden they jump to their feet!!! This would be amazing!
Another reason is this: IVP: Local Phrygian legend told of an ancient visitation by Zeus and Hermes to Phrygia. In the story only one couple, Baucis and Philemon, received them graciously; the rest of the population was destroyed in a flood. Knowing some form of the story in their own language, the Lycaonians are not about to make the same mistake ancient Phrygia had made; they want to honor Paul and Barnabas, whom they mistake for gods. People sometimes considered miracle workers as gods.
Do we do this today? Do we worship people? What about actors? Athletes? Do we worship video games and things? Cars? Houses? Careers?
A visiting minister was substituting for the famed pastor Henry Ward Beecher. A large audience had assembled to hear the popular pastor. At the appointed hour, the visiting minister entered the pulpit. Learning that Beecher was not to preach, several began to move toward the doors. The visiting minister stood and called out, “All who have come here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw from the church! All who have come to worship God, keep your seats!” No one then left.

Verses 14-18 show that Barnabas and Paul will not be worshipped
They tear their clothes which is a sign that they have seen idolatry. They say:
We are men like you
We preach the Gospel that you should turn to the living God who:
Made everything
God has given you a witness of Himself that He gave you rain, food, and fruits.
They said these things and with difficulty restrained these crowds.
Do you notice it? They were being worshipped! They could have accepted it, but instead they turned the attention to God. They were God focused!
Close:
7587 Queen Stands At “Messiah”
When Queen Victoria had just ascended her throne she went, as is the custom of Royalty, to hear “The Messiah” rendered. She had been instructed as to her conduct by those who knew, and was told that she must not rise when the others stood at the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. When that magnificent chorus was being sung and the singers were shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” she sat with great difficulty.
It seemed as if she would rise in spite of the custom of kings and queens, but finally when they came to that part of the chorus where with a shout they proclaim Him King of Kings suddenly the young queen rose and stood with bowed head, as if she would take her own crown from off her head and cast it at His feet.
—J. Wilbur Chapman

No matter who we are we must turn the attention to God.

Christians, love and being more loving

I just read a very good article by Dr. Brown the chancellor of Cedarville University. He wrote about the death of Robin Williams. You can read it at this link:

Robin Williams and the Christian Response

Christians need to be more loving regarding mental illness. 

Acts 13:42-14:7 sermon today: Paul’s persistance in the Gospel

We have been preaching our way through the book of Acts. As we have been walking through Acts we see God’s might works of the Holy Spirit. Today we will continue to see God’s work. Acts has been called the Acts of the Holy Sprit. Acts is the first church history book. 

Acts is about the spread of the Gospel and the Gospel is eternal life. Listen to what I once read:

THE TREE TRUNK THAT TRUMPETED LIFE AND TRUMPED DEATH By Pastor Rick Sams

  The most popular tourist attraction in Herfordshire County, England is a graveyard. People come from all over the world to see a grave of a woman buried over 200 years ago.

  Lady Anne Grimston was a proud, wealthy, and obstinate woman who lived for this life alone.

  Toward the end friends tried to encourage her to think about what comes after we breathe our last. She would not. She believed there was nothing beyond: “It is as unlikely that I shall continue to live as that a tree will grow out of my body.”     

  She went so far as to make a challenge to Heaven, saying: “If, indeed, there is life hereafter, trees will render asunder my tomb.” [Allegedly there is the same kind of story about a local man and snakes on his grave. Can anyone confirm?]

  Lady Anne Grimston died, was buried, and forgotten. But not quite. After many years the thick marble slab over her grave was found ajar. The builders put it back and forgot her again. 

 

  But once more the marble slab tilted to one side, and in the middle was a crack, with a tiny bunch of leaves bursting through. The crack was sealed with cement and the slab returned to its original spot. A few years later the marble was again lifted up, the crack opened wider than before, and the trunk of a tree emerged from the opening.

  Workmen repaired the increasingly crumbling tomb and installed iron rails and rods to hold everything together. But the young tree would not be tied down. It kept making its way, breaking the masonry, destroying the walls of the tomb, and tearing the heavy iron railings out of the ground. 
  Today, growing right from the heart of Lady Anne Grimston’s grave in St. Peter’s churchyard is one of the largest trees in England. Because of that tree the site is a mass of twisted metal and crushed marble.
  For over 200 years an old tree trunk has trumpeted: “life trumps death.”

  “Whoever believes in me will have eternal life…For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name…And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (John 3:16; 5:21; 20:31; I John 5:11-13).

 

(SOURCE:http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h010rp.LadyGrimston_Galitzin.html

Jesus is eternal life so it is critical that we are persistently giving people Jesus. 

As I teach you this passage notice Paul’s persistence to preach the Gospel. Actually, fast forward to chapter 14 and verse 7. Right there, this section ends with Paul continuing to preach the Gospel. Each section and each location they are preaching the Gospel. 

Let’s read the passage. Read with me Acts 13:42- 14:7:

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel.

Persistence is important:

Swindoll reminds us:

I’m sure Anne Mansfield Sullivan had a host of folks telling her that the blind, 7-year-old brat wasn’t worth it. But Anne persisted—in spite of temper tantrums, physical abuse, mealtime madness, and even thankless parents. In her heart she knew it was worth all the pain. Was it ever! Within two years her pupil, Helen Keller, was able to read and write in braille. She ultimately graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College (where Miss Sullivan had “spelled” each lecture into her hand), and Helen Keller devoted the rest of her life to aiding the deaf and the blind.

  1. Missions is about the Gospel. 
    1. I have a concern. I have a concern that missions is not about the Gospel. But look at this. Each part of this passage and each section of this passage is about the Gospel.  
    2. In verse 42 the people were begging that these things would be spoken of more. 
    3. So, verse 42 the whole city is gathered and they are going to share the Gospel. 
    4. Verse 48: the Gentiles, non Jews are excited, they are rejoicing because Paul had just quoted an Old Testament verse stating that they are to be a light to them and that salvation is for them as well. Verse 48 says that as many were appointed for eternal life believed. 
    5. Verse 49 says that as many as were appointed for eternal life believed. 
    6. Then we come to 14:1, now they are in a new city and what do they do? They go to a synagogue in order that they can share the Gospel. 
    7. They would go to the synagogue so that they could proclaim they Gospel to the Jews first, but also because there would be Greek and Romans there as well who would believe in God. 
    8. Then we come to verse 7 and the passage ends with Paul and Barnabas heading to another location in order to proclaim the Gospel. 
    9. So, I just gave a rough overview of this passage and you can see that this is all about the Gospel. It is all about evangelism. 
    10. Why do I bring these things up? I bring them up because we have drifted from the Gospel in missions. We have done this in all churches and denominations. The Gospel changes lives:
    11. I could start by talking about the testimonies that were shares just a few weeks ago on our front lawn, all the testimonies that people shared. 
    12. What about your testimony? Has Jesus changed your life? 
    13. Josh Smith the Youth pastor rom Science Hill, shared his testimony. 
    14. Dave Penturf shared his testimony. 
    15. What about the people’s lives who are affected by Men’s challenge? You will hear about them later on.
    16. I could share something I read that happened in the Billy Graham Crusades:

Billy Graham writing about the impact of Madison Square Gardens Crusade in 1957:

One night a plainly dressed woman stood in the inquiry room with tears running down her cheeks as she asked Christ to come into her life. When her counselor asked if there was anything else she wanted to share, she replied that she was very afraid of her son. “He drinks a lot,” she said, “and I’m afraid he may beat me when he finds out I’ve become a Christian.” Before the counselor could speak, a voice nearby called out, “It’s okay, Mom. I’m here too.” (“Just As I Am, the Autobiography of Billy Graham.” published by HarperCollins Worldwide, available from HarperOne and Zondervan in the United Stated, HarperCollines Canada, HaperCollins U.K., and HaperCollins Australia. Copyright 1997 by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. page 321)

Page 296: Billy Graham writing about their new evangelistic magazine called “Decision.”

Speaking of crumpled paper, I must tell also of the well-dressed man who one day entered BGEA’s London office. He told Maurice Rowlandson, the manager, that he had been manager of a bank until his life was ruined by alcohol. He lost his family and job, eventually ending up as a vagrant on the streets London. One day he was rummaging through a trash barrel looking for something to eat when he came across a discarded copy of “Decision.” Intrigued by the cover story, he read the magazine straight through, and as a result turned his life over to Christ. Now, a year later, he had been reconciled to his family and was once again working in a bank. (“Just As I Am, the Autobiography of Billy Graham.” published by HarperCollins Worldwide, available from HarperOne and Zondervan in the United Stated, HarperCollines Canada, HaperCollins U.K., and HaperCollins Australia. Copyright 1997 by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)

Listen to something that Chuck Swindoll wrote: 

Various methods are employed to communicate the good news of Christ to the lost. Some of the approaches appear to be successful and effective on the surface, but underneath they leave much to be desired.

Take the Redskin Approach, for example. The philosophy behind this method is: The more scalps, the better. The major emphasis is numerical—telling the absolute maximum number of people every day about salvation, regardless. This approach isdecision centered, and little (if any) effort is directed toward follow-up or discipleship. Redskins aren’t difficult to identify. They can usually be overheard counting (out loud) the scalps in their belts or seen shooting their flaming arrows into every wagon train they spot during the day or night.

The Harvard Approach is quite different. The thinking behind this method is: Let’s all discuss the world’s religions. Because it’s reason centered, it attracts both genuine and pseudo intellectuals. The modus operandi is invariably a vague discussion that shifts from Bahai to Buddhism . . . from the pros and cons of no prayer in public schools to the rapid growth of the Rajneeshies in the 80s. This approach is educational and occasionally quite stimulating, but it suffers from one mild drawback—no one ever gets saved! Specifics regarding salvation by grace through faith are frowned upon. The direct discussion of forgiveness of sins through Christ’s blood at the cross and His miraculous resurrection is about as welcome in a sophisticated rap session on religion as a life-sized bust of Martin Luther would be in the Vatican.

Perhaps the most popular is the Mute Approach, which promotes: I’m a silent witness for God. The best you can say about this method is that no one ever gets offended. That’s for sure! The saint who settles for this self-centered approach could be tagged a Clairol Christian. No one knows for sure but God. Somewhere down the line this person has begun to swallow one of Satan’s tastiest tidbits: “All God expects of you is a good, silent life. Others will ask you about Christ if they are interested in hearing.” You know, I can count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number of people in my entire life who have suddenly come up and asked me about Jesus Christ. While no one can discount the value of a godly life, that alone never brought anyone into the family of God. “Faith,” please remember, “comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17).

As we have looked at this passage we notice Paul’s persistence in sharing the Gospel. I challenge you to share the Gospel. as well. 

Acts 13: 13-41: Paul preached the whole Gospel

Intro:
Billy Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been heard the message of Christ through television, video, film and web casts.I’ve been inspired by reading Billy Graham’s autobiography, Just As I Am.  In 1953 Graham was doing a series of evangelistic meetings in the Dallas Cotton Bowl.  In his own words he recalls:

“One night my preaching did not seem to have spiritual depth or power, although a number of people did come forward at the Invitation.  After the meeting, John [Bolten, who was a close and trusted friend of Graham’s] and I took a walk together, and he confronted me.
 
“‘Billy,’ he said, ‘you didn’t speak about the Cross.  How can anyone be converted without having at least one single view of the Cross where the Lord died for us?  You must preach about the Cross, Billy.  You must preach about the blood that was shed for us there.  There is no other place in the Bible where there is greater power than when we talk or preach about the Cross.’
 
“Graham writes, “At first I resisted his rebuke.  The Cross and its meaning were more often than not, a part of my sermons.  But that night I could not sleep, and before morning came I knew he was right.  I made a commitment never to preach again without being sure that the Gospel was as complete and clear as possible, centering on Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead for our salvation.”
 
That commitment to constantly preaching the cross did two things for Billy Graham: it brought him constant criticism from so-called intellectuals; and it resulted in revival and conversions wherever he went.
 
During Graham’s life he had to wrestle from time to time with feelings of inadequacy.  In addition to the criticism he faced, he sometimes felt insufficient to preach at campuses such as Princeton and other prestigious universities since he did not have an advanced degree and had never been to Seminary.
 
So, Billy Graham had to be convicted to preach the cross. Today, let’s look at a passage when the Apostle Paul preaches a sermon and let’s break it down because we will see that he preaches the whole Gospel. Paul does not budge on anything. Paul does preach the cross. Paul preaches the death, burial and the resurrection. Paul also challenges the people to an application.

Let’s read Acts 13:13-41 and my theme today is the whole Gospel is critical.

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“‘You are my son;
    today I have become your father.’
34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
35 So it is also stated elsewhere:
“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’
36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41 
“‘Look, you scoffers,
    wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
    that you would never believe,
    even if someone told you.’”

In verses 13-25 Paul begins with the foundation.
Now this is not to say that we always must begin with the Old Testament. But when declaring the Gospel we must be very wary of taking short cuts and not giving someone the whole Gospel.
Now, if you have been following along in my sermons on Acts, then this sounds familiar. Stephen preached a similar sermon in Acts 7. They all preached the whole Gospel.
Verses 17-25 are Old Testament history. Verse 17 we see that God chose. Later we see that God found David in verse 22.
We see an emphasis on God as sovereign.
The foundation for our faith is in the Old Testament. This does not mean that we must read through the Old Testament every day, but do not neglect the Old Testament.
In sharing the Gospel this is simple: God created us to be with Him. Yet, Our sins separated us from God and sins cannot be removed by good works.
In verse 25 Paul brings in John the Baptizer.
They would have known of him. I love how John the Baptist is quoted in verse 25: John recognized that he was not the Messiah, but the Messiah is to come.
John recognized that he was not worthy to unstrap the shoes of the Messiah.
Only slaves could unstrap shoes.
In verses 26-41 we see the emphasis on the death, burial, resurrection and application.
In verse 26 Paul addresses the people again as Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles. He is readdressing them.
Paul now moves in to talk about Jesus.
I mentioned Billy Graham and the cross.
Paul says that Jesus was executed without proper grounds for a sentence. (verse 28)
Paul tells them of the burial and the resurrection. (verses 28-30 and 33-34)
Paul emphasizes forgiveness of sins (verse 38)
Notice that Paul does not leave out sin. (verse 38)
Notice that Paul boldly preached when given opportunity he stood up and spoke.
This gives as an application. 1 Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give an answer of the hope that is within us.

This is not unlike us sharing the next step: Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.
Then,
Everyone who trusts in Him alone will inherit eternal life.
Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever.

Details matter and every detail and observation when sharing the Gospel matters:

A small bottle containing urine sat upon the desk of Sir William Osler. He was then the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University. Sitting before him was a classroom full of young, wide-eyed medical students listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details. To emphasize his point, he reached down and picked up the bottle. Holding it high, he announced:
This bottle contains a sample for analysis. It’s often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.
Suiting action to words, he dipped a finger into the fluid and then into his mouth, as he continued—
Now I am going to pass the bottle around. Each of you please do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case.
The bottle made its way from row to row as each student gingerly poked his finger in and bravely sampled the contents with a frown. Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students with the words:
Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth!
Observation and in this case, my point is taking notice that it is important to share the whole story of Jesus as Paul did.

Close:

So, Billy Graham had to be convicted to preach the cross. Today, we looked at a passage when the Apostle Paul preached a sermon and he preached the whole gospel. Paul did not budge on anything. Paul did preach the cross. Paul preached the death, burial and the resurrection. Paul also challenged the people to an application.

This is what we saw in this passage and I hope we see this in our lives that the whole Gospel is important.