This Week's Gospel Sermons
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April 11, 2010
Paul and Barnabas travelled from their “home base” of Antioch to
spread the word of God. After a brief stay on the island of
Cyprus and going to the mainland to the north, they came to
Antioch of Pisidia. This is in the Roman province of Galatia.
This is the location where Paul preached what we hve as his
first “recorded” sermon (Acts 13:14-43). The place of
the sermon was in the Jewish synagogue and the time was the
sabbath (Acts 13:14).
What a great sermon! Paul began with giving an account of God’s goodness
to the Israelite people (Acts 13:17-23). Paul then told
them that through David, God had sent a Savior, Jesus, as John
had announced (Acts 13:22-25). Paul then told them that
the Jews at Jerusalem were instrumental in having him slain (Acts
13:26-29). Paul spoke of hope—God had raised him from the
dead and had presented him alive to many (Acts 13:30,31).
Paul next proceeded to show that this was a matter of prophecy (Acts
13:32-37). Then came his grand announcement, telling them
that they could benefit from all of this (Acts 13:38-41).
Even though the benefit was available, warning was given (Acts
We are told that these Jews left the synagogue (Acts 13:42). Many
of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas.
Paul and Barnabas urged them to continue in the grace of
God—in the provisions made known through God’s grace (Acts
13:43). Of course, the Gentiles would not have been allowed
in the synagogue, but the Gentiles had learned of this great
sermon and asked that on the next sabbath they might hear it. Is
it any wonder that we see Paul describe the message of God’s
word the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,
to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16)?
The Power Of The Gospel
In Hebrews 4:12 we are told about the power of the gospel. The
incidents of Acts 13:44-52 vividly illustrate this. The
whole city came together to hear the word (Acts 13:44).
What a wonderful scene this must have been! The word was spoken
(Acts 13:45), but all’s not well which looks well, at
times—and all was not well here. The Jews opposed that which
was spoken (Acts 13:45). The problem was that of envy.
The large gathering filled the Jews with envy (Acts 13:45).
So, the Jews contradicted that which was preached (Acts 13:45).
When people have a bad motive, they may contradict truth,
regardless. The Jews went even farther. They blasphemed (Acts
13:45). They were out of control. The gospel in its power
had been preached and it had really pierced.
We find that Paul and Barnabas could be bold, too. They told these Jews
that they were unworthy and that, as a result, they were going
to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46). This was the same as
telling them that they were wasting their time to continue with
them. They did not mean that they were through with all Jews,
for in the very next town they went first to the Jews (Acts
That which is sad can be glad. The Gentiles were glad (Acts 13:48).
When the gospel message was preached to them, rather than
blaspheming as the Jews did, they glorified God (Acts 13:48).
Those who were of the right disposition believed. This implies
that they accepted and obeyed this gospel message (Acts 13:48).
But the rejected Jews were not through. They resorted to subterfuge and
violence (Acts 13:50). We see two types of results while
power of the gospel is at work.
Preaching The Word Of Grace (Acts 14:1-7)
Paul and Barnabas, leaving Antioch of Pisidia, came to Iconium (Acts
13:51). They went into the synagogue and preached (Acts
14:1). A new expression is here found relating to the gospel
or the word—the word of grace (Acts 14:3). This
expression is again found in Acts 20:32. There is a very
important lesson to be learned from this. Notice carefully that
the grace of God which saves is found in the word, and we can
safely conclude that it is not found elsewhere.
What happened here when “grace” was preached? A multitude of people
became believers (Acts 14:1). This shows “how” grace
comes, and it also shows “how” true faith comes (Romans
10:17). Good seed, when properly sown in good soil will
produce (Luke 8:15). We note that Paul and Barnabas kept
sowing the seed, and so must Christians.
We also observe, much like in Antioch, that all did not believe (Acts
14:2). These unbelievers stirred up the Gentiles (Acts
14:2). Don’t forget that these were religious
people—Jews. The message of the gospel caused this “stirring
up,” but the real culprits were the unbelievers.
We observe that, regardless of this, Paul and Barnabas were permitted to
stay here for an extended time (Acts 14:3). They
continued to preach the word of grace and to perform miracles (Acts
14:3). The Lord was with them and with the miracles gave
witness to what they were preaching (Acts 14:3; Hebrews
Finally, the contention became so great that an assault was made by the
Jews, Gentiles, and rulers (Acts 14:4,5). It is strange!
The gospel is intended to unite and make one (Ephesians 4:1-6).
However, it divides between the believer and unbeliever and
saint and the sinner. In this sense Christ “came” to divide
Although propriety dictated that it was time to go, the efforts of Paul
and Barnabas here had been well spent, for in leaving they left
behind them a church (Acts 14:21-23). Remember? In
leaving Antioch, Paul and Barnabas left a church in existence,
too. (Acts 13:52). So the gospel has its effect,
discerning between good and evil. The power and grace of
God—it really does succeed after all.
—S. Scott Richardson