Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Acts 13

April 3rd, 2010 by Vic

“Paul’s Sermon”

April 4, 2010 Easter

On the Day of Pentecost Peter, preached the gospel to the Jews.  Some time later Stephen, a Grecian Jew, preached the gospel to the Sanhedrin and his Grecian Jew accusers.  Now 10 years since Pentecost, Paul, preaches the gospel to Jews and Greeks in a synagogue 600 miles from Jerusalem.  These 3 sermons in Acts give us the Easter story from the perspective of these early Christians.  Each sermon is the same and different.

I have a message today that is the same and different.  It is the same because God has not changed.  It is different because I’m different and our situation is different.  But people don’t change that much.  Young people who don’t finish a job still frustrate their elders.  Some elders are more forgiving than others.  Some church people are excited about God doing a new thing and other church people are jealous and protective of the old ways.  Some people believe God is directing their lives even when persecuted and they can rejoice.  Others demand truth and justice.

Let the Holy Spirit use God’s word to examine your heart and correct your thinking as we read Paul’s Easter sermon this morning.

13:1-3

Because of a famine around Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul had brought an offering from the church in Antioch to the church in Jerusalem.  When they returned to Antioch they took John Mark, with them and again became part of the leadership team in Antioch.  Barnabas is listed first and Saul is listed last.

Remember the prophet is one who tells forth, proclaims the word of God or foretells the word of God.  Teachers help put the pieces together.  They help you see the connections between the Scriptures and Jesus.  The Jews who knew the Scriptures would be good teachers.

Simeon could be the Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus.  Manaen was the foster brother of Herod Antipas.

Christian Jews were keeping the Jewish fast.  The word for worship here gives us the word liturgy.  They were being faithful in the routines of ministry just like the priests in the OT.  The mission to Asia Minor occurs at God’s initiative, not because of human thought and planning.  The church did not call a committee to identify their purpose.  They did not write a mission statement.  God came and interrupted their routines.

What did the Holy Spirit sound like?  How did they know it was the Holy Spirit speaking?

Barnabas and Saul did not promote themselves.  They did not run for election.  The Holy Spirit had not talked to them in some vision or sent an angel.  They were just being faithful like everyone else.  The church leaders or maybe the whole church had a growing desire to share the gospel beyond their local church.  They had this hankering to go west.  And it began to seem that Barnabas and Saul would be the perfect missionary team.  Barnabas could introduce Saul to some people he knew in Cyprus.  Saul could take Barnabas to Asia Minor, west of his home town.

The church fasted and prayed to confirm the Holy Spirit’s instruction and leading.  They placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul as a sign of their friendship and support then sent them off without any financial support.

13:4-5

The maps in the back of your Bible probably identify the locations of these named port cities.  Salamis had more than one synagogue.  It was an immoral port city like Portland.  Their mayor was not a Christian.  It was the largest city on the east end of Cyprus.  Paul’s desire was to proclaim the good news to the Jews first.  However in the synagogues both Jew and God-fearing Gentile worshipped together.  Those unhappy with the polytheistic culture were worshipping the God of the Jews.

Mark was Barnabas’ nephew and had family ties here in Cyprus but was brought up in a believing home in Jerusalem.  He had some eye witness memories of Jesus last week in Jerusalem and some resurrection visits.  Peter had stayed in his home.  So Mark could tell some good stories.

13:6-12

Paphos was the provincial capital of Cyprus in the west.  Luke accurately calls Sergius Paulus the Roman proconsul.  This means Cyprus was a settled province under the rule of the Roman Senate.  Pilate was called a procurator, ruling over an unsettled military province.  Pilate was directly under the emperor.

Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man, but hung out with a sorcerer.  He was intelligent enough to get all the facts about Barnabas and Saul.  He had heard of their preaching in the east.  He heard they were in town and he sent for them.  It is smart to get all the facts.  But he was hanging out with a weirdo.  He had his own private wizard.

We can be devout and intelligent and also be terribly wrong about some things.  Do we hang around with shady characters?  Do we read the horoscopes and fortune cookies?  Do we play with Oiji boards, crystals, recreational drugs, mantras, tarot cards, and other borderline practices?  Many people and things will hinder you from doing what the Lord wants you to do.

Elymas was a Jewish sorcerer who called himself a son of Jesus (Bar-Jesus) a savior.  The word for sorcerer is ‘magi’, which can be good or bad.  A good magi is called a wise man.  A wicked magi is called a sorcerer.  He was a Jew not wanting any Gentile to hear the gospel.

The Holy Spirit gave Saul discernment and boldness to call Elymas a son of the devil.  He identified deceit, trickery, perversion, and pretension in Elymas.  Paul told Elymas that he was going to be blind for a while so he could do some serious thinking about his life.  Maybe Paul thought Elymas could find the truth through blindness like Paul had.

Note that it was not the miracle that saved the proconsul, but hearing the word of the Lord.

13:13

John Mark went home.  We don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because Paul seems to be taking over as leader.  Maybe because Mark’s name was not included with the staff in Antioch.  Maybe he was homesick.  Maybe he had not agreed to go north.  That was a very dangerous area.  I think it was because Paul did not baptize anyone in Cyprus.  I have seen pastors and staff people quit because they thought church policy or church discipline was not consistent.  Maybe the focus on Gentiles was too much of an adjustment for a Palestinian Jew like Mark.

13:14-41

In Galatians Paul suggests he got real sick with malaria in Perga.  They went about 100 miles up through the Taurus Mountains to Antioch near Pisidia.  It was over 3,600 feet above sea level.  The road had a reputation of hiding many bandits and robbers.

Paul entered the synagogue probably dressed respectfully as a Pharisee and sat down to worship with them.  After the readings, the leader of the synagogue asked if he had a word of encouragement.  Paul stood up immediately.  Did he have a word of encouragement?!!  This is the Easter message.  He was excited with the invitation to share the gospel.

Preparation for the Messiah  16-25

The OT is a record of God’s faithful preparation for the promised Messiah.  God prospered the people of Israel in Egypt 400 years.  For the next 40 years He revealed His will and ways in the wilderness even while the people complained.  It took Joshua about 10 years to overthrow the 7 large nations in Canaan so they could live at peace in the Promised Land.

God continued to prepare the way for the Messiah by giving to them judges and prophets.  When they asked for a king, He gave them Saul.  Saul turned his back toward God and God made David king.  David had a heart like God’s.  And God made David a promise that he would be a father to the Savior of the world.  Before the coming of Jesus, God sent John the Baptist to declare that the Messiah had been born.

Declaration that God kept His promise  26-37

This is the message of encouragement.  The message of salvation has come.  He is Jesus.  But the Jewish rulers did not recognize him as the Messiah.  They condemned Him as a heretic even while He was fulfilling the very Scriptures they read on the Sabbath.  They used mob violence to get Pilate to crucify Him which was also predicted by the prophets.  But God raised him up out from among the dead and over 500 people are witnesses.

This is the good news.  This is the hope and encouragement I have for everyone.  God has kept his promise.  He fulfilled the Scriptures to the letter.  As David said in Psalm 2, Jesus is the Son of God through the line of David.

Isaiah wrote about God’s invitation to all who are thirsty to come to the waters and be completely satisfied (Is 55:1).  God said I will keep my promise to David (Is 55:3).

God had promised David that the Messiah would rule an eternal kingdom.  God would not allow this Ruler to decay in the grave but He would be resurrected (Ps 16:10).  We know that David was buried in Jerusalem.  We have seen his bones, but the son of David, Jesus was raised from the dead by God and lives today.

Application for those who hear  38-41

What that means is that you can be forgiven.  The Law of Moses required regular sacrifices and an annual atonement.  Faith in Jesus accomplishes what the Law of Moses could not do.

By believing in Jesus you can be forgiven and justified.  God has this amazing ability to forget our sins and see us just as if we had never sinned.

David says that true happiness is for the person whose sins are forgiven and forgotten (Ps 32:1).  Our sins have been forgiven and forgotten.  They are covered by the blood of Jesus.

That is good news.  Unforgiven sin wrecks our lives and our health.  Sin separates and builds walls.  Forgiveness brings peace of conscience and peace with God.  Forgiveness gives access to God.  Forgiveness breaks down the walls of separation.  Believe on Jesus and be forgiven/saved.

The prophets have warned you not to be scoffers.  God has been planning this so don’t be surprised.  Don’t ignore the facts.  Pay attention to what God is doing.  He said it would happen.  It really is good news.  If you will not believe, then beware of Habakkuk’s warning (1:5)

After church 42-43

Paul and Barnabas were invited to come back the next Sabbath.  Then they went for lunch.  Paul talked with them and urged them to continue in God’s grace.  You may not understand everything that God is doing, so just continue in the grace He gives you today.  Just be faithful to keep doing what you know you should be doing.

Next Sabbath 44-48

The Gentiles who had heard Paul must have spread the news throughout the city.  Everyone was hungry to hear the truth.  They wanted to hear the word of the Lord, but not from the ritual Jewish Scripture readings.  The Jews were furious and tried to discredit Paul and Barnabas.  The Jews rejected the very message they had been waiting to hear.  How tragic to be so upset over another’s popularity that we ignore the real truth at hand.  They cut off their hand to spite their face.

Paul and Barnabas simply replied that these Jews were fulfilling the Scripture that Paul had quoted on the last Sabbath.  Like Isaiah said, we had to preach to the Jew first, but now we have been made a light for the Gentiles to proclaim salvation to all nations.

God has ordained that all men might be saved.  Believing does not originate with each individual.  God’s plan is to offer salvation for people of all nations who believe.  It’s like all have fallen into the pit of sin and God has provided a way of escape.  The rope is there, but you have to grab it.  Grabbing the rope is belief.  You can’t save yourself, but you can hold on to the plan that God has provided.  The Gentiles believed when they were ordained.  They grabbed the rope.

Filled with joy 49-52

Sometimes you need to just shake it off (criticism).  Don’t take time to argue with your critics.  Just move on.  The devout and honorable can be very wrong.  You may be falsely accused.  Just shake it off and overcome evil with good.  Refuse to hold grudges.

Let the word of the Lord prosper in your neighborhood.

13:38-41 Read again the conclusion of Paul’s Easter sermon.  He does not give an altar call.  He just says, “This is good news.  Don’t neglect the facts.  God has fulfilled His promise to David and has a great surprise gift for you.”  So what I say to you is, “Don’t take this message lightly.  Don’t get apathetic to the Easter story.  This is really good news that God designed to give you a happy life.”

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