Engage in Kingdom Building
Acts 13:1-4;14:21-28 Nov.18 2012
Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, the church at Antioch commissions Barnabas and Paul as history’s first official Christian missionaries . Their first adventure takes place on the Island of Cyprus, where Paul curses a sorcerer with blindness and witnesses the conversion of the Roman proconsul . In Pisidian Antioch Paul preaches first in the Jewish synagogue, stimulating great interest in his message about Jesus . But when great numbers of Gentiles turn out the next Sabbath to hear him, the Jewish elders are jealous and hostile. Paul then declares his intention to go directly to the Gentile community with his message of salvation, and a great revival sweeps the countryside . The Jews, however, incite persecution of the missionaries. Paul and Barnabas are forced to leave. But they leave behind a vital, joy-filled young church .
1. The mission of Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 13:1-4)
Acts 13:1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that the Lord raises up instruments for his work, from various places and stations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give up flattering connexions and prospects to promote his cause. It is by the Spirit of Christ that his ministers are made both able and willing for his service, and taken from other cares that would hinder in it. Christ’s ministers are to be employed in Christ’s work, and, under the Spirit’s guidance, to act for the glory of God the Father. They are separated to take pains, and not to take state. A blessing upon Barnabas and Saul in their present undertaking was sought for, and that they might be filled with the Holy Ghost in their work. Whatever means are used, or rules observed, the Holy Ghost alone can fit ministers for their important work, and call them to it.
2. Paul stoned at Lystra, The churches visited again.
Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 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.” 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.27 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. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
See how restless the rage of the Jews was against the gospel of Christ. The people stoned Paul, in a popular tumult. So strong is the bent of the corrupt and carnal heart, that as it is with great difficulty that men are kept back from evil on one side, so it is with great ease they are persuaded to evil on the other side. If Paul would have been Mercury, he might have been worshipped; but if he will be a faithful minister of Christ, he shall be stoned, and thrown out of the city. Thus men who easily submit to strong delusions, hate to receive the truth in the love of it. All who are converted need to be confirmed in the faith; all who are planted need to be rooted. Ministers’ work is to establish saints as well as to awaken sinners. The grace of God, and nothing less, effectually establishes the souls of the disciples. It is true, we must count upon much tribulation, but it is encouragement that we shall not be lost and perish in it. The Person to whose power and grace the converts and the newly-established churches are commended, clearly was the Lord Jesus, “on whom they had believed.” It was an act of worship. The praise of all the little good we do at any time, must be ascribed to God; for it is He who not only worketh in us both to will and to do, but also worketh with us to make what we do successful. All who love the Lord Jesus, will rejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith wide, to those who were strangers to him and to his salvation. And let us, like the apostles, abide with those who know and love the Lord.
The missionaries continue on their swing through Asia Minor. They visit Iconium, where the Gospel message again creates such dissension that Paul and Barnabas are forced to flee . In Lystra and Derbe the two missionaries are mistaken for pagan gods. They barely succeed in keeping an enthusiastic crowd from offering sacrifices to them. But some Jews, who have followed them from Antioch and Iconium just to hinder their work, succeed in turning the crowd against them. Paul is stoned and left for dead, but revives and continues preaching . Despite the hazards, the missionaries win a “large number of disciples.” Finally they return to their home church and report how God has opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles .