Tod Kennedy, March 12, 2000
Main points of application or “So what?” from Acts 14
- Stay gospel-minded: continue to pray for opportunities to witness about Jesus Christ the Savior; watch for opportunities to witness; and witness when God gives those opportunities to you.
- There will always be opposition to the gospel. Don’t let this intimidate or deter you from telling others about eternal life through Jesus Christ.
- Explain the Word of God to new believers and continue to encourage them in their Christian walk. The church is Christ’s body and needs spiritual food, encouragement, protection, and challenges.
- Idolatry and polytheism are prevalent in our time just as they were in the time of Paul and Barnabas. Do not allow this to be an excuse for not speaking out for Christ and God’s viewpoint.
- Missionary reports greatly encourage those in the home church who support the missionaries.
- People may try to put you on a pedestal like they did Paul and Barnabas. If they mistakenly think that you are a super Christian, be careful. If you begin to take their praise of you seriously, you are not only setting yourself up for divine discipline, but you are also taking God’s honor and glory to yourself.
- Whenever you are beaten up for witnessing for Christ, pick yourself up and resume the spiritual conflict; this is your royal birthright mission: “striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
- Acts 14.1-7. Paul and Barnabas traveled about 100 miles southeast from Pisidian Antioch to Iconium. Iconium was an ancient city that, in Paul’s day, was a part of the Roman province of Galatia. When they reached Iconium, they did as before: they went to the Jewish synagogue where they preached the gospel with many Jews and Greeks believing the gospel. As Paul came to expect, many disbelieving Jews attacked him and Barnabas, but this did not stop their ministry. Finally, when the city divided over the gospel and events became too dangerous, the two missionaries left to take the gospel to the Lycaonian area of Roman southern Galatia—Lystra and Derbe. Timothy was from this region (Acts 16.1-2).
- Acts 14.8-18. In Lystra, Paul healed a congenitally lame man. This miracle made Paul and Barnabas immediate celebrities, so much so that that the people hailed them as gods. The people of Lystra simply extended their idolatry to two more god. The missionaries could not take that: they ran out into the crowd and said that they were also men and that they had come to this city to tell them about the one true God, the creator who has always had a witness to himself through the orderly seasons and harvests that he has brought to mankind. God has always revealed himself to all mankind through general revelation—General revelation includes creation or nature (Psalm 19.1-6), weather (Acts 14.17), order in creation (Colossians 1.17), God-consciousness (Romans 1.18-21), Israel (Hebrews 11.1-2,26-27; Joshua 24; Act 7).
- Acts 14.19-20. “Religious” unbelievers are often very antagonistic and intolerant toward believers who witness for Jesus Christ. The rabble-rousing Jews from Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13) and Iconium (Acts 14) showed up in Lystra and got the crowd worked up against the apostles; they stoned Paul and left him for dead. He apparently died and was given a brief glimpse of heaven before God resuscitated him. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 11.25. It probably happened while he was at Damascus, Jerusalem, or Tarsus—between Acts 9.23 and Acts 11.30. God the Father brings tests—not always stoning—into our lives so that we depend upon him and his grace and so that humility replaces pride. Paul later wrote in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 of another painful condition, the thorn in the flesh, that also forced him to depend on God’s grace.
- Acts 14.20-21. The next stop was Derbe, another city in Roman Galatia about sixty miles from Lystra. Here they again presented the gospel of eternal life through faith in Christ, then taught the new believers, and so “made many disciples.” Do you see the pattern that Paul follows? He goes to an area where he first teaches about Jesus Christ, the savior. He then teaches basic doctrine to the new believers who are called disciples or pupils of Jesus Christ.
- Acts 14.21-26. Derbe was the turnaround point for this first trip. Paul and Barnabas left Derbe and revisited Lystra and Iconium on their way back to Antioch. At each of these stops they taught Bible doctrine to the new believers and encouraged them to continue in the faith. Paul and Barnabas did not leave these new believers footloose and without spiritual leadership. They appointed elders; these elders were the pastor-teachers who had the responsibility of teaching (the explaining of the Word of God) and shepherding (leading and protecting) the believers in the various churches. After Iconium, they stopped briefly in Perga to witness and teach before they went on to Pisidian Antioch. They had finished their first missionary circuit.
- Acts 14.26-28. Since Paul and Barnabas had been sent out by the believers in Antioch, after they arrived (Greek aorist tense) and gathered together (Greek aorist tense) the church, they took some time reporting (Greek imperfect tense) what God had done (Greek aorist tense) with them. The aorist tense looks at an act generally as a whole, while the imperfect tense was used to relate that the missionaries took some time and went into detail about the wonderful ministry that God had completed through them. Verse 28 continues to bring this out by saying “they were spending (Greek imperfect tense) not a little time together with the disciples.” When we send missionaries, we are responsible to pray for them and provide support for them. When they return, we need to hear about the mission so that we can better pray and support them and the new churches.
Dictionary of Bible Doctrine
- Abundant life is what we all want—that extraordinary and supernatural and eternal kind of life in our day to day experience. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1.3-4 that God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness. This life is ours to enjoy. The movie “It’s a Wonder Life” starring Jimmy Stewart illustrates the point that we often reject or miss that which we really want. George did not recognize and appreciate what he already had until he thought he had lost it. God has given every believer the opportunity to live an abundant life; whether we experience this kind of life depends upon our day to day relationship with God and his Word. We often miss the opportunity to love life and to experience God’s day to day blessings. Jesus said in John 10.10, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” Jesus uses the word “life” in three ways in John 10—eternal life, an abundant spiritual life in time, and physical life. Peter wrote about the abundant spiritual life in 1 Peter 3.10; he quoted the Psalmist, “Let him who means to love life and see good days….” Both John and Peter have day to day life in mind—an abundant and fulfilling and enjoyable temporal life that is possible because believers possess eternal life. To enjoy eternal life in time, the abundant daily experience of eternal of life, we must continue to live in a growing and submissive relationship to Christ our Shepherd. John 10 includes four elements for the abundant life (John 10.3, 4, 9, 10, 14): 1. A sheep-person must be a part of the shepherd’s flock (believe in Christ). 2. The sheep-believer must follow the shepherd (listen to him and watch him). 3. The sheep-believer must depend on the shepherd (trust him, believe him). 4. The sheep-believer must obey the shepherd (faith application of the Word). The abundant life can be lived during days that are filled with routine or suffering or testing or success or prosperity because it does not depend on circumstances; it depends on relationship with Jesus Christ our shepherd. Jesus taught the disciples, in John 13-17, the central truths that they would need to live the abundant life: occupation with Christ, knowledge of the Word, faith-rest, confession of sin, spirituality, prayer, and ministry in order to experience this abundant life.
- Blessings are good things—a word, an act, a gift—that encourage us, lift us, and help us. All blessing begins with God because he created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the verb bless “to confer well-being or prosperity on” and the noun “something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity; a boon.” These definitions are accurate for the Hebrew (krb, berach, hkrb berachah) and the Greek (eulogew eulogeo, euloghto~ eulogetos, makario~ makarios) words for blessing. Believers receive unique blessings because of their relationship with Christ. God blessed Israel in the past and will bless Israel in the future because of the conditional covenant with Moses (Mosaic law, Deuteronomy 28) and unconditional covenants for Israel (Abrahamic, Genesis 12.1-3, Palestinian, Deuteronomy 30.1-10, Davidic, 2 Samuel 7.14-16, and New, Jeremiah 31.31-34). God has blessed every church age believer with positional blessings—the same blessings for all believers—simply because we are believers in Christ (Ephesians 1.3; Romans 4.6-9; Galatians 3.14). He also blesses individual believers with experiential blessings—individualized blessings for those who practice accurately the Christian life (Acts 20.35; Romans 15.29; Galatians 4.15; Hebrews 6.7; 1 Peter 3.14; 4.14; Revelation 22.7). God also has blessings for believers during the millennial kingdom and eternity; these begin with Christ coming for his church (Titus 2.13; Matthew 5.3-11; Revelation 19.9; 20.6).
- Encouragement is the general ministry of believers to each other in which we encourage, comfort, and challenge each other. Each of us is encouraged by knowing that God cares for us (1 Peter 5.7), that we can go to God’s gracious throne in prayer (Hebrews 4.16), that “God works all things together for good” (Romans 8.28), that God is our helper and will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13.5-6), and that no one or nothing can take us out of his gracious and mighty hand (John 10.27-29). This general encouragement ministry by all believers is different from the special ministry of encouragement directed by the spiritual gift of encouragement (Romans 12.8). God wants us to encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 4.18; 5.11,14; 2 Thessalonians 2.17; Hebrews 3.13; 10.25). We learn to encourage others through our own personal hardship, tests, and suffering (2 Corinthians 1.3-5). We can encourage with the Word of God (Romans 15.4; 1 Thessalonians 4.18; Hebrews 12.5; 13.27; 1 Peter 5.12), with news of the spiritual growth and momentum made by other believers (2 Corinthians 7.6-7,13; Ephesians 6.22; Philippians 2.19; Colossians 4.8; 1 Thessalonians 3.7; Philemon 7), by stressing the great encouragement that comes through our relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 1.5), and by reminding others that God encourages us (Acts 9.31; Romans 15.6; 2 Corinthians 1.3; 7.6; 2 Thessalonians 2.16-17).
- Happiness is a joyful and contented attitude that begins with faith in Jesus Christ as our savior (John 20.29) and then continues as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23). Happiness is also the by-product of God’s blessings (Psalm 144.12-15) and of the faith application of the principles of the Bible (John 13.17). This application of Bible doctrine takes many roads that lead to happiness: 1. gracious treatment of the poor (Proverbs 14.21), 2. our possession of God’s wisdom (Proverbs 3.13), 3. occupation with Christ and therefore gladness that we are related to Jesus Christ and follow him (Philippians 4.4), 4. knowing that believers to whom we have ministered are growing in their Christian lives (Philippians 4.1), 5. our understanding and application of the Word of God (John 13.17), 6. knowing that we are doing the right thing (Romans 14.22), 7. we recognize the tests that come from God and know that God is strengthening us, blessing us, and will reward us later on (James 1.2,12; 5.11), 8. knowing that the gospel is going to unbelievers and that we have a part in this spread of the gospel (Philippians 1.18), and 9. awareness of our privilege to serve God (Luke 1.45-48; 2.10). A sure way to make ourselves unhappy is to make our own happiness the goal of our life, especially at the expense of others.
- Revelation means that God has communicated himself and his word to mankind (John 1.18; 2 Timothy 3.16-17). There are two kinds of revelation: General and Special. Mankind knows, through General or Natural revelation, that God, exists but General revelation does not tell mankind how to have relationship with God (Psalm 19.1-6). We see God’s glory and design when we look at the heavens (Psalm 19.1-6) or recognize the seasons and weather (Acts 14.17). We know he exists when we see the design and order of the unseen but accepted laws that govern and maintain the solar system (Colossians 1.17). Since the creation of man all mankind has possessed God-consciousness—an inner knowledge of God’s attributes, power, and nature (Romans 1.18-21). The very existence and survival of Israel documents that God exists and has a purpose for the world (Hebrews 11.1-2,26-27; Joshua 24; Act 7). Special revelation refers to the way that God has revealed specific details about himself and his redemption plan: he has specifically revealed himself through his Son and our savior, Jesus Christ, the living word (John 1.18; Hebrews 1.2-3) and through the Bible, the written word (1 Corinthians 2.10; 2 Timothy 3.16-17). The Bible is without error (Joshua 23.14-15; Matthew 5.18; 22.31-32; Luke 24.44; 2 Timothy 3.16-17; Deuteronomy 25.4; Matthew 10.10; Titus 1.2). God has made his written word, the Bible, known and understood to mankind through three steps: revelation (Acts 3.18-22; 1 Corinthians 2.10; 2 Peter 1.21), inspiration (2 Timothy 3.16-17), communication (Ezekiel 2-3; Ephesians 4.11-12). Both general and special revelation honor God and bless mankind (Psalm 119).
- Spirituality (Galatians 6.1) is the absolute condition of any believer “walk[ing] by the Spirit” (Galatians 5.16) and “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5.18). God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells every believer (1 Corinthians 3.16; 6.19 12.13), but every believer is not always spiritual. Spirituality emphasizes Christian life practice, while fellowship emphasizes Christian life relationship with God (1 John 1.1-10). Spirituality is distinct from spiritual maturity. Carnality, which describes the condition any believer controlled by his sinful nature, is the opposite of spirituality (1 Corinthians 1.1-3 and Galatians 5.16-17). Every believer is either spiritual or carnal at any point in time. Spirituality is the normal condition of the believer’s life, but personal sin quenches (1 Thessalonians 5.19) or grieves (Ephesians 4.30) the Holy Spirit and places the believer under the control of the sinful nature; this condition is carnality (1 Corinthians 3.1-3). Spirituality is regained by confession of sin (1 John 1.9 and 1 Corinthians 11.30 compared to Galatians 5.16-17) and trusting the Holy Spirit to live through one (Galatians 3.2-5). The Holy Spirit controls the sinful nature while a believer is spiritual; the spiritual believer possesses the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23); he can serve in the restoration of carnal believers (Galatians 6.1); he has the spiritual freedom to please God instead of following a legal code out of duty (Galatians 5.18); the spiritual believer has the spiritual freedom to reflect God’s ongoing transformation of him to Christ-likeness (2 Corinthians 3.17-18); and spirituality orders and uplifts the believer’s soul and makes him thankful (Ephesians 5.19-20).