Acts 14: 1-18

Written by kathleen on Aug 16, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 14: 1-18

You got to know when to run

The first outreach of the church into the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus said, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. You will be witnesses of Me both in Jerusalem and Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. And as we look at the Book of Acts we find that this is exactly what is happening. They began their ministry in Jerusalem. They spread out through Judea. Philip went to Samaria. And now beginning with chapter thirteen and now into chapter fourteen we have the witness of the church to the uttermost parts of the earth. So they went first to the island of Cypress and then over to the area of Antioch in Pisidia, which is present day Turkey.

1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.

Now as they are coming to the area of Iconium, they have left the coastal plains and headed up to the high plateau, the region of Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, which were in the area of Galatia.

So when Paul wrote his Galatian epistle, he was writing it to these people. Now he is moving away from advanced civilization, where there was great Roman power and into the rural areas where there was not as much Roman control. So you are getting into sort of “wild west” country, although it is “wild east” over there. But as they come to Iconium as was their usual practice, Paul and Barnabas went first to the synagogue.

2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

As opposition was stirred, rather than leaving and saying “Well, you know it’s getting rough around here.” They stayed and continued teaching and preaching in the face of the opposition and the Lord granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands, which gave testimony to the words of grace that they were sharing.

In the book of Mark (16:17) Jesus commanded the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, He said that certain signs would follow those that believed

In other words, the miraculous signs were done in order to prove the word of God to the people.

There is a move in today’s world with an emphasis upon signs and wonders hoping that they will attract people.

In the early church they were teaching and preaching the word of God and that was the chief emphasis of their ministry

The signs and wonders followed the teaching of the Word to confirm the Word of God in the hearts of the people.

Just as we see here in Iconium; as they were teaching, the Lord gave witness to the truth of what they were saying with the signs and the wonders that were done by their hands.

This is the example God has given us as the church to follow. Teach the word and expect God to do the rest! / (signs & wonders)

4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.

This is a mob mentality that gathered together to get rid of Paul and Barnabas. They were plotting to stone them. So when they heard of this plot, they got out of town and went a little deeper into the land to Derbe and Lystra. Derbe is the area, where Timothy originated and it was very possible, on this journey that Paul first met Timothy.

Idolatry at Lystra

7 And they were preaching the gospel there. 8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Now here no doubt is a combination of gifts of the Spirit being exercised by Paul. 1st. The gift of prophecy as he is preaching the word; 2nd. the gift of discernment for as he is preaching he notices that there is this lame man over there and began to observe him and as he did he perceived that God gave this man, faith to be healed. So that’s the gift of discernment, realizing that this man has the faith to be healed.

So he said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” demonstrating 3rd. the gift of faith. You know if you are in a strange area preaching on the street and you have a crowd there listening and there’s a guy over here who has never walked. He’s about forty years old. For you to say, stand up straight on your feet! That would take a lot of faith. Then there was 4th. the gift of miracles because the man began to leap and walk.

11 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!” 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, (Jupiter), and Paul, Hermes, (Mercurius), because he was the chief speaker. 13 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.

Notice that Paul and Barnabas didn’t go to the synagogue when they arrived at Lystra and Derbe. In that day every town with at least ten Jewish males had a synagogue, therefore we can assume that there were not even ten Jews in Lystra or Derbe.

Legend had it that many years earlier, Jupiter and Mercury came to Lystra and walked among the people. Because no one but a man named Philemon and his wife, Baicus, realized they were gods, Jupiter and Mercury killed everyone except for Philemon and Baicus, whom they turned into trees in front of the temple of Jupiter. So this was sort of a legend in that area so the people didn’t want to miss it if this is Zeus and Hermes again they wanted to recognize them so that they wouldn’t be cursed. So they said that because Barnabas was the taller of the two, he must be Zeus and the little short guy with the squinty eyes and the crooked nose must be Hermes

Someone probably ran to the temple of Jupiter and said, hey, man, your gods are here by the city gates, and so the priest of the temple Jupiter comes dragging an ox up the street to the gate of the city and was going to offer a sacrifice to Barnabas and to Paul.

At this point they were facing the most danger in their ministry. It was not when they were in Iconium and there was a plot to stone them. Or in Lystra when they did stone Paul, but right now is the greatest threat to the success of their ministry; as the people are ready to worship them as gods because of God’s working through their lives

There is a certain danger with the gifts of the Spirit that we all need to be wary of. As Paul said (1 Corinthians 12:31), covet earnestly the best gifts. When we desire to see God’s power manifested in our lives and through our lives by way of spiritual gifting. But, whenever this happens, people have a tendency to get their eyes on the instrument that God is using and to elevate and glorify that instrument.

Jesus said (Matthew 5:16), “Let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works they will glorify your Father, which is in heaven.” Therefore for them the danger was in taking God’s glory.

They could have sort of rationalize it and say, well, I’ll let them think I’m Zeus and that will give me a chance then to really, you know, and then I can lead them around to Jesus.

So there is a temptation to enjoy and to sort of savor that adoration and attention.  But it’ll be the end of your ministry.

God will not share his glory with man; so when Paul and Barnabas saw the priest and they saw the ox; they put things together and they realized what was going on and knew they were in great danger as the priest of Jupiter was ready to offer a sacrifice to them

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 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 to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.

Paul and Barnabas were as wise as they were humble. They didn’t flirt with, joke about, or take lightly the worship of the people.

Instead, they tore their clothes in an outward demonstration of deep inner grief and then turning the focus back to God by saying You are to serve the living God, who is the Creator of the whole universe.

Concerning verse 16 God could have forced His ways upon this world Instead, He chose to allow people and nations to “walk in their own ways.”

What happens when nations choose their own way rather than God’s? When people ignore the Word, the results are tragic. But what does God do? Read on.

 17 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.”

Although society rejects Him and nations turn from Him, God still does good. He allows rain to fall upon the just and the unjust. He allows food to be produced. He allows our hearts to be filled with gladness. He allows people to have life, to experience the joy of a sunrise, to play, to hold a baby—all because of His goodness.

18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

It was important that they turn these people away from themselves and to the Lord! When we read in the Old Testament of Elijah (1 Kings 18:20-40), we read the fire coming down from heaven. We read of the miracles that Elijah did. Don’t you believe that Elijah was some kind of a super saint? I mean look at the power that this man had! But the Bible says (James 5:17) Elijah was a man of like passions, like unto us.

When you read of the ministry of Paul and of him saying to the this lame man, thirty eight years old, never walked before, born with this impediment; “Stand up on your feet” and you see him walking and leaping you might say Paul is something super!

But he is saying, no. We are men with the same nature as you.

He’s saying God uses common ordinary people to accomplish His work. God wants to use you!

It’s interesting how men that God has used have always felt that somehow they weren’t usable.

Look what God had to go through to get Moses to go to the Pharaoh? (Exodus chapter 3) Lord, I’m—stuttering—not eloquent. I can’t really speak, God. Well all right I’ll give you Aaron to speak. But Lord they won’t believe that You sent me!

Well, what’s in your hand? This old stick. Throw it on the ground! It became a serpent. Grab it by the tail. It became a stick again. I’ll be with you. I’ll work with you. Moe’s response: Oh, Lord, why don’t You get someone else?

God said to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5). Before you were ever conceived in the womb, I knew you. While you were being formed in your mother’s womb, I ordained that you should go and stand before kings and speak My word. Jerry’s response: Oh, Lord, you’ve got to be kidding, I’m just a teenager. Who is going to listen to me?

(Judges 6:11) When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” deliver the children of Israel from the Midianites. Gideon said, You’ve got the wrong address! You’ve got the wrong man! I’m from the least tribe. My father is the least in the tribe and I’m the least in my father’s house. You’ve got the bottom of the barrel! But he was used mightly!

You see, those people that God used always felt, well, Lord you can’t mean me.

Men and women that God uses are men who always are surprised that God would use them. God wants to use you! Who knows what God would do through your life if you fully yielded yourself to Him?

Someone once said the world has yet to see what God can do through a man who is totally yielded unto God.

Dwight Moody heard that and said, I want to be that man! And we see what God did though Dwight Moody. Chuck Smith said the same thing; yet, I’m sure if you asked them they would tell you that they weren’t totally yielded. The world has yet to see what God could do through a man or woman that is totally yielded to Him.

So Paul and Barnabas said we’re men of like passions. We’re not gods. We’re just men, ordinary men! And we’ve come to tell you to turn away from these kind of vanities. The worship of false gods are empty.

There is a true and a living God, who is the Creator. He is the One that you are to worship.

Today I’ve come to tell you about Him!