Mission and Rejection | The Book of Acts | 13:13-52 | Pastor Duane Smets
This an exegetical and expository sermon on Acts 13:13-52. It deals with the ways that God uses faith in Jesus as a means to seize, justify, and satisfy His people, but also glorify Himself. This sermon was originally preached on July 22nd, 2012 at The Resolved Church in San Diego,CA.
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The Resolved Church
Pastor Duane Smets
July 22nd, 2012
Mission and Rejection | Acts 13:13-52
I. Gospel Opportunities: Seizing the Moment (v.13-16)
II. Gospel Message: Justification By Faith (v.17-41)
III. Gospel Response: Some Believe & Some Don’t (v.42-50)
IV. Gospel Goal: God’s Glory & Our Joy (v.48, 51)
Well, good morning everyone. Good to see you all this morning. If you’re visiting we’re glad you’re here. We believe that there is a God, that he created us for His glory, to worship Him…and that Sundays are one of the chief days when we gather to sing praise to Him, learn from Him in his Word and come to His table in response and need of His grace.
I’m Duane and I serve as one of the pastors here under Jesus, our head pastor.
Today, I can’t help but feel like there is an extra weight on us this morning. You know sometimes it seems like things come in waves or clumps and you don’t want get hyper-mystical and start reading into things but it seems that not only on a global and national level but also just among the life of our church this week.
• On the global level…the fighting and bloodshed in Syria has escalated.
• On the national level our country has been in shock this week as a young man, only 24 years old who grew up and went to high school only a few miles from here, went into the midnight movie theatre premier of the new Batman with multiple guns and just began unloading. He killed twelve people, thirty more were hospitalized with a total of some 52 people with injuries. It has many people wondering this morning…why?
• On the local church level…in our church…one of the things that is unique about being a pastor is you tend to hear about and see a lot of the behind the scenes things most or many are not aware of.
> We’ve all been praying for baby Lucie Warner, who almost didn’t survive her birth. She is doing well, but not quite well enough to be released from the hospital just yet.
> Just in this past week I was put in contact with four different couples who are really struggling in their marriage.
> One of the gals in my community group had one of her co-workers commit suicide this last week and another gal in another community group witnessed a person committing suicide this week by throwing themselves in front a car and she can’t get the image out of her head.
> And on top of it all I got really sick late Thursday to Saturday. Which is really minor in comparison to everything else but when I get sick my wife says I turn into total man-baby and I feel like the whole world is falling apart.
Sometimes things just seem to come in clumps…but even when they do, it is never without light or hope. In this same week in our church we’ve had a new baby born, baby George Hutchison who was born last Sunday! We had a couple of new pregnancies announced. The weather has been epic. And we live in the best city in the country! Right?
Due to all the stuff going on, I almost bailed on Acts this morning to preach a special sermon on suffering or marriage or hope or something along those lines…since the next section we come to in our study through the book of Acts is mainly about being on mission and how that’s actually quite challenging often resulting in rejection. So I almost decided to do something different.
But as I was re-reading our text, thinking over it and praying through it…I was reminded these difficult things, the real stuff of life, are the very reason we so desperately need a gospel…we need good news in a bad news world. And that’s why we’re on mission because God has entrusted us as believers and followers in Jesus with the only hope and healing that truly touch and change the hearts and lives of the hurting and the broken as well as the proud and the arrogant.
The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the very best thing that God has given unto men…better than life itself because just having life is so easy to take for granted but having new life, a redeemed and born again life far exceeds anything because we know the depth of sin and it’s effects but as Christians we know we are saved from it and have an everlasting hope. And when you have that the world and its sin-effaced atrocities cannot touch us…we may weep and we may groan but we have something unshakable beneath our feet…and his name is Jesus who truly conquered sin and death and rose again. He gives new life!
So, I’m sticking with Acts this morning and as we talk about mission, the message of the mission and the varied responses which are not always good…by biggest prayer in it all this morning is that you might hear the Gospel.
• I’m praying that for some of you today it would be the first time you truly get the Gospel…that the ball would drop and you would realize for the first time what it really means and you would be moved to really put your faith and trust in Jesus.
• I’m praying that for some of you today that you would be reminded of the goodness of the Gospel and that in hearing it God would re-ignite the unshakable joy that comes from knowing Him through His Son and having the hope of eternity that meets us here and now today!
• And I’m praying that God would birth an immense passion and burden in us for those who do not yet know him…that He would move and empower us to get on mission for the hurting and the broken and enable us not to give them a false hope but the one true hope that is in the light of the Gospel.
So let’s go ahead and read our text, declare it as God’s Word, thank Him for it and pray over our time in it together.
• Read Acts 13:13-52
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer: Oh Lord my God…break through today. Through your Word read and understood…by the power of your Spirit would you break through today. Minister to the broken. Rebuke and soften the hard hearted. Train us in Godliness. And most of all would we get the Gospel and see how good it is. We need joy, we need hope, and we need to see why it’s so important for us to be on mission.
Okay, so we’re going to look at four things today: Gospel Opportunities, the Gospel Message, the Gospel Response and the Gospel Goal. I’ll explain more what I mean by each of those things as we get into them. First, Gospel Opportunities. With this one we’re talking about “seizing the moment.”
I. Gospel Opportunities: Seizing the Moment (v.13-16)
So, our text today starts out with Paul in a new place. He’s a newly appointed spokesperson for the Gospel and the ministry of the Church. Last week we saw him go toe to toe with a witchdoctor on the island of Cyprus and as a result of declaring the Gospel the ruler of the whole island came to faith. This week we find Paul about 300 miles away in new town, Antioch of Pisidia…a different Antioch then one we’ve heard about before in Acts.
This Antioch is up in the region of Galatia and it would have taken Paul and Barnabas some time to get there. They would have had to go on a boat, across a treacherous mountain range and we catch a glimpse in verse 13 that all was not well. John-Mark left them and tradition has said that during this time Paul caught malaria and was possibly even mugged when crossing the mountain pass.
Regardless, they get to Antioch Pisidia and once there they go to the synagogue and while there he is given an opportunity to speak. Now there’s a couple things going on here I want to point out and highlight.
First, what Paul does here…first going into the synagogue when he gets to a town is pretty strategic. In upcoming chapters of Acts we’ll see him do this same thing when he comes to a new town over and over again. In fact, six more times after this in the book of Acts we’ll see Paul in a new place immediately going to the synagogue first looking for an opportunity to share the Gospel (14:1; 17:1; 17:10; 17:17; 18:4; 18:19).
Now, if you’re wondering what a synagogue is, just think old school church. If there was a group of ten Jewish men they could start a synagogue. They would have an “archisynagogos” the head of the assembly and the synagogue meeting would consist of prayers and possibly singing followed by two Scripture readings, one from the Torah/Law and one from the Prophets and then a person would get up and basically preach. So, not too dissimilar to what we are accustomed to here…except they didn’t have fancy sound and video equipment like we have.
So this first synagogue meeting in Antioch Pisidia is likely a fairly small gathering, at least initially…so they could tell when there were new people present. Either that or Paul was wearing Rabbi clothes and they recognized him as being one of the students of the famous Jewish Rabbi, Gamaliel. Either way after the readings they invite Paul to speak and Paul goes for it.
What we’ve got here in Acts 13 is probably Paul’s first real sermon…it’s the third longest in the book of Acts only after Stephen and Peter’s and it’s a phenomenal sermon. It weaves together the story and history of God and his people and combines it with a zeroed in focus on the core article of the Christian faith, namely justification through belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection for sin.
This really is a great sermon of Paul’s. You can tell by the tone and the word choices that it was a passionate delivery. One of the love about this sermon is the added of verse 16 where it says Paul “stood up” and that he was “motioning with his hand.” Most of the times guys would sit down and teach…but Paul is standing up and he’s using hand motions and just going for it! My kind of preacher.
Okay. So the reason I bring up the whole Paul going in to the synagogue first thing coupled with how this whole thing went down is because what it highlights is both being strategic with mission and seizing the moment when an opportunity arises. Years after this took place Paul wrote in Colossians 4:3 asking for prayer that God would, “open a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.” And then later in 2 Timothy 4:2 to be ready “in season and out of season” to “preach the word.”
So let’s think about why the synagogue first and then how to recognize opportunities. On the synagogue first piece…there’s a bigger issue here in line with what Paul says in Romans 1:16 about the Gospel being for the Jew first and then for the Greek but we’re not going to get into that today other than recognizing that it makes sense to start with people where there is at least some common ground.
Think of it this way. If you are on mission in a new place or even say it’s a new person…it’s much harder to begin a conversation about Jesus and the Gospel if the person is not even sure whether there is a God or in this case, whether there was just one God versus the common Greco-Roman belief that there were many gods or many different ways to God. So Paul begins with a common God-story.
When you’re talking with a person it’s much easier before you get into stuff that they may not yet believe or find trouble accepting to begin with some things you do agree on. You establish commonality with what is similar about each of your worldview’s or life experience. So that’s the synagogue thing: a good missionary tactic is to try and find common ground first before you launch into the Gospel Message…look for a door in.
The second piece is when the door does open…that you find courage to stand up and speak. Now I don’t mean that you literally have to stand up but I mean when you see an opening to seize it and figure out a way to tie to Jesus. Here we see Paul being asked to speak and I think that’s what we’d all like to happen for us…we should want for people to ask us what we think and how we live and why.
Something that is so helpful for that is when we are asking others questions. We don’t have to be asking because we are trying to figure things out in our own search for truth but we can ask because we want to get to know another person and understand how their mind works and where they are coming from so we can know how to properly share and apply the the Gospel to their lives. Like an investigator, we gather information so we can better know how to properly apply the Gospel to their lives.
For example, just the other day we had a couple over for dinner who we’re on mission for and we’re trying to get to know and so we just started asking them all kinds of questions about how they met, how long they’d been together, what they thought about marriage and family etc. And guess what happened after we we’re asking them these real life questions…they turn around and asked us what we thought about marriage and family. “Glad you asked!” A prime door was opened for the ministry of the Gospel as we started to talk to them about how our lives apart from Jesus were miserable. About how Jesus is the center of our marriage. And how our whole home is all about following and loving Jesus.
The long and short of this point is we need to be looking for and praying for opportunities and then when they arise to not back down in fear but seize the moment and tell the story of who God is and what he has done in Jesus that changes the way we see everything…whether it’s marriage, family, our jobs, our future or whatever. If you don’t see those connections then if could be a sign that you quite haven’t come to fully embrace the Gospel because it’s meant to effect our whole lives and every aspect of them. There is a difference between the Gospel being the front door between it being the house you live in.
Well, let’s shift gears and talk about the Gospel Message. If I were to stop and go through every person in this room and ask you to share with me the Gospel Message do you think you could do it? How would you go about it? What are the key elements of the story?
What we have in verses 17-41 is an awesome presentation of the Gospel. It has all the key elements of creation, fall, redemption and restoration in it all culminating in the good news that we can be justified by faith and through that be freed and forgiven. So point number two, “Gospel Message: Justification By Faith.”
II. Gospel Message: Justification By Faith (v.17-41)
Now we don’t have time to go through every detail of Paul’s sermon so I’ll just explain the essentials of what he does and points out.
He begins with God’s creation and care of a people who would know him and follow him and ends with a call to belief in Jesus as God’s promised Savior from sin and its consequences. So follow me real quick:
• In verse 17 he says the “God of this people…chose our fathers and made the people great” and then he quickly chronicles 450 years of their history. So God is the creator of a people meant to live for him.
• In verse 22 & 23 he brings up Jesus saying he would be a king in the line of David, a man after God’s hearts and would be the Savior. So God promised a Savior for His people.
• Then he tells the story of Jesus…how John the Baptist pointed to him as the Savior…how the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem and the Jewish leaders did not recognize or believe that he was this promised savior…and how Jesus was put to death but then rose again and appeared to several people for many days as prophesied in Scriptures he cites. So Jesus is clearly identified as the Savior.
• After he’s said all that, told the whole story…then he goes to the heart of the matter and explains what kind of Savior Jesus is and what is offered through belief in him. And this is the culmination and climax of the sermon.
Basically Paul brings you into this intriguing story…a story about a God, about a certain people, about some prophesies or hopes for a great man from God to arise among them…then the recounting of some recent events which he claims are signs that this Jesus is that guy. But you don’t expect verses 38 & 39 to come.
What kind of savior and what this Jesus is supposed to save you from is withheld until this point and when he says it’s forgiveness of sins and freedom from the law it’s like getting the rug pulled out from beneath your feet…both because you’re not thinking about this Jesus saving you personally and you’re not thinking freedom from the law was ever a possibility.
So that’s what I want to focus on…the heart of this message: the forgiveness of sins in verse 38 and the “freed” from the law of verse 39.
First, forgiveness for sins. There’s two different ways to look at this depending on if you were a Jew listening or if you were a Gentile. We know that since it’s a synagogue it’s primarily Jews which is probably why Paul can get away with a lot of the shorthand history he throws out. However, at the same time we know there’s were Gentiles there because verse 43 tells us they were.
Now if you’re a Jew…you’ve got it engrained in your head that you are a sinner. The Torah, the whole law is basically a bunch of rules you are supposed to keep and a list of sacrifices and other things you are supposed to do when you break the rules. The other half of Torah is the story of how your forefathers and the history of your people is a story not keeping the rules and failing.
So the need for forgiveness is something engrained in your identity and blood and death is ultimately seen as the price for sin…which is why there was supposed to be animal sacrifices for breaking the law…blood and death for sin. Hope is found in keeping the rules or doing the right things when you break the rules. So forgiveness is found in keeping by doing stuff. It’s moralism or religion, which a lot of people believe today…that if you’re a good enough person or try hard enough then you’ll be alright.
Now if you’re a Gentile, with a Greco-Roman background…you are not so guilt stricken for breaking God’s law as part of your identity but you are fixated on the concept of immortality. The Greek pantheon of gods were idolized a great immortals. Seeking immortality was a great goal of life. Even the very city Paul was preaching in, Antioch of Pisidia was called Antioch by a king named Antiochus who believed his grandfather was the Greek god Apollos. He wanted to immortalize himself so he named 16 cities in various places Antioch.
So when Paul says in verse 37 that this Jesus did not see corruption but rose from the dead. All the Gentile ears would have perked up. Immortality?! Hope is found, not so much in trying to keep the rules but in doing whatever pleases you in order to make yourself great and immortal. It’s irreligion…thinking right and wrong doesn’t really matter but what makes you happy is what really matters, so find your own way and do what you want.
Yet, ultimately…whether a Jew or a Gentile, whether a person back in Bible times or a person today, whether in religion or irreligion…it doesn’t matter, forgiveness is a common human need and experience. It seems to me people today find themselves this same predicament and are in one of two camps.
Either they don’t think they really need forgiveness or they have trouble receiving forgiveness. Here’s how you what camp you’re in…
When you don’t think you really need forgiveness you find yourself saying or thinking, “nobodies perfect…we all make mistakes…it’s impossible to do everything right.” When you do this you try to minimize the guilt before God that you know you should have…basically telling yourself you don’t really need a savior.
When you have trouble receiving forgiveness you tend find yourself saying or thinking, “I just can’t forgive myself…or I just need to forgive myself…I could’ve done more or I could’ve done better.” When you do this you try to atone for the guilt before God you know you have…basically telling yourself that you can be your own savior.
And neither way works…because the truth is we all are sinners who have fallen short, rejected God and His Word in our lives and we really need forgiveness from a savior and we really can’t forgive ourselves.
So, the question is: How does The Gospel provide that?
Verse 39. Let me re-read it. “By him (that’s Jesus) everyone who believes is freed from everything which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”
Okay. First thing here is an ESV rebuke. Bad ESV. Usually it’s the NIV getting a spanking but today it’s the ESV. Actually NIV and NASB get a spanking here too. Only the good ole’ King James and NKJV get it right because the word here in our ESV for “freed” in the Greek, is the word, “justified.” When Bible translations use the word “freed” they are describing or interpreting an effect of what the Greek Word “justified” means but not translating the word directly.
I don’t want to overcomplicate things this morning so, I won’t get into it anymore than that here today except to say if you want to see why I’m right go read Martin Luther and John Stott on this verse. Most of you should have a little note in your Bibles at the bottom which say, “Greek – justified.” At least my Bible does. That’s right, so make a note of it.
I’m throwing a little fit about it this morning because of the importance of this word “justified.” In my opinion it’s simply one of those difficult, funny sounding Christian words that we simply cannot do without. “Freed” doesn’t cut it. Actually here’s part of what Martin Luther said on it, “The true and chief article of Christian doctrine is this: We must all be justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ, without any contribution from the law or help from our works. This doctrine is the chief intention of the book (of Acts) and the author’s principle reason for writing it.”
So that’s why this point in my sermon is calls the Gospel Message: “Justification By Faith.” Justification by faith. What is it? There’s a ton I could say here. I’ve preached whole messages and sermon series on this very question and topic. But rather than get in over our heads here, let me try to make it as simple as I can.
To be justified is to be made right or just before God. “Dikaiosune” in the Greek. It’s a courtroom word and picture. Imagine a big dark wooden judges bench up here and sitting behind it is God. Then there is just you and the baliff in the room. While you stand here, the Baliff reads out of a book everyone of your sins, not only the things you’ve done but the things you’ve thought and felt in your heart, as well as your measly attempts to fix yourself…it’s all uncovered and laid bare, read out loud there in the courtroom.
Your sin and your attempt to fix your sin by doing good things and trying to make up for the bad don’t even compare on the scales, the law of Moses could not justify…and it never could because when you stand there and you look into the judges eyes you don’t see a mean, harsh, cruel and unfair judge who’s just upholding laws of a land he may not even agree with…you see that the laws flow out of the very kindness and goodness of his being. You look into his eyes and just see light and love.
Immediately you know that the only just sentence is eternal death in hell because you violated the God of the universe. You realize in a moment that is what you truly deserve. And as you hang your head in remorse and shame a man walk in from some side door and into the courtroom and he walk up in front of you and says to the judge that he will pay the price of your debt. You stand there wondering how he could and you catch a glimpse of his eyes and see that they to burn with the same fire of light and love you saw in the judge’s eyes.
And then you hear the Great Judge speak and he says, “You have been justified, your penalty has been placed on this man and all his righteousness is given to you. You free to go.” As you begin to walk away toward the exit door in amazement, you turn around and you see him carried away, sat down in an electric chair with his arms and legs strapped down. Then it’s turned on and with screaming and weeping as he takes on the wrath of God for your sin.
Overwhelmed by it all, you walk out of the door of the courtroom to go outside. A slow walk that seems to take days. Once you get outside a man comes up to greet you. You look up to see who it is and what you see blows your mind…because it’s the very same man! Right away the questions start to rush into your head, “What, Why, How…?” Then with those flaming eyes he says, “I was dead, but now I am alive forevermore.” And new life floods in and fills your bones.
This, my friends is the heart of the Gospel. This is what it means to be justified by faith. To believe in and accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ as Savior for your sins. It means you believe and admit you’re a sinner. It means you believe you could never make up for your sin by doing the good works of the law. It means you believe he took your place of punishment, all of eternity. And it means you believe he rose again and gives you new life that causes you now to live differently.
This message caused quite a response in the story of our text today. Verse 42-43 says that after the synagogue meeting many followed out Paul and Barnabas and wanted to hear more. So let’s look at what happened and what we can learn from it in our next point, “Gospel Response: Some Believe & Some Don’t.”
III. Gospel Response: Some Believe & Some Don’t (v.42-50)
So verse 44 tells that by the next Sabbath, the “whole city” came out to hear Paul preach the Word of the Lord again. Population estimates are in the 50,000 plus range. Excavations discovered a stadium there which could’ve been the place where they gathered.
I often wonder would it would take for the whole city of San Diego to gather over the Gospel. Sometimes it just seems like the Gospel is old news to most and there is nothing riveting about the message any more. My hunch is that the more we actually believed this message and lived it out the more people would be interested in actually hearing the message and being a part of the Church it forms. But that’s another topic.
Basically there’s two responses. The positive response is in verse 48. When the Gentiles hear that the Gospel is for them too and not just the Jews it says, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” So a number of Gentiles come to faith.
Surrounded by this positive response is the two references to the negative responses.
• The first is in verse 45, “When the Jews saw the crowds they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.” So jealousy and arguing.
• The second is in verse 50, “The Jews incited the devout women of high standing (that’s the wives of the city’s rulers) and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their district.” So apparently the Jews had friends in high places and they are successful at getting Paul and Barnabas kicked out of the city.
Here’s what I want us to think on about this for a moment. That responses to the Gospel are almost always varied. Somehow, somewhere along the way I think we’ve bought into a lie that thinks if someone doesn’t respond positively to the Gospel then our sharing it was a failure and we get discouraged thinking the Gospel wasn’t successful. But that just isn’t true.
It’s not Scriptural. Even in Jesus’ day when he was teaching and preaching there was always varied response. Some believed and others didn’t. Some people are going to believe and others are not. In Matthew 13 Jesus even said it was part of the purpose of the Gospel…to cause some to see and understand and to turn others away. We have to learn this: our sharing the Gospel is not meant to be dependent upon how well people respond! Pragmatism and the Gospel don’t mix.
It seems to me these days that many of us have become so fettered with fear that someone is not going to like us or respond well that we just don’t speak because really we just can’t handle the rejection. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and it seems to me that it really boils down to our love of others thinking good about us. We don’t want them to not like us or think bad of us…so what we really care about is what other people think and we live in a constant fear of man. Rather than a fear of God.
What this reveals is the truth of our hearts that we really care more about other people’s opinion of us than God’s. So people tend to either not say anything at all about Jesus or when they do they are so afraid that the person is going to respond bad that instead of being kind or gentle with the Gospel they just use it like a club to beat the person up. “You’re a sinner!” BAM, take that! “You’re going to hell!” BAM, take that! And then when they get mad you pat yourself on the back for being persecuted! All that is a unloving hateful message really springing out the person’s sharing’s attempt to protect themselves from having the person say anything back that will hurt them or cause them to question what they are saying.
We’ve got to get comfortable with realizing that not everyone will always respond well. We will be rejected at times. And that is okay. Do you know why it’s okay? Because Jesus was rejected! Our Gospel is a rejection Gospel. Paul himself said it in his sermon in verse 27 and 28…”they did not recognize him nor understand…(instead verse 28)…they asked Pilate to have him executed.” Rejected.
When we really believe that Jesus was rejected for us it makes us able to handle it when people reject us for being all about Him. Let that sink in.
Man, at times I’ve been the worst at this. I hate, hate it when someone doesn’t like me or thinks I’ve wronged them or am crazy or whatever….I hate it. I hate being rejected. And it’s been in those times, when I can’t sleep because I can’t get what they said out about me of my head that I remember that Jesus was rejected to and that my heart’s disdain for rejection is a sign of my disbelief in the Gospel.
You see the Gospel is a rejection Gospel. It’s for rejects who get saved by a reject.
Thus, the real question for our hearts in this isn’t even so much about how bold we are in talking to others about Jesus but where are we really at in believing the Gospel ourselves? The text gives us some good clues about how to tell where we’re your at.
• Do you find yourself arguing with Scripture and with those who are lovingly trying to help you believe in and truly follow Jesus? I mean when I find myself in conversations with people who are argumentative and want to contradict everything I’m saying…usually I’m just quoting the Bible and I have to wonder, what’s going on here? If this person truly loved Jesus and believed in him wouldn’t they just want to do whatever He says here instead of questioning it or making excuses?
• How about when they drive Paul and Barnabas out? Do you drive away people in your life who are trying to point you to Jesus? Do you push away Sundays and push away community group because you just don’t want to hear it?
Please, please, please….don’t just assume you’re a Christian because you know all the Christian stuff. Ask your heart where you are really at. What’s the ones like who truly believe?
They’re like verse 48. They rejoice in and glorify the Word of the Lord! If you don’t love the Gospel, love the Bible, love and obey the things of God…if they don’t bring you joy. It doesn’t matter whether you grew up in Christian home or can recite the words of the Gospel up and down…I’m telling you today you’re probably not really a Christian. You’re still trying to justify yourself by the law and there is no inward reality of new life in your heart.
Is that where you’re at today? I’m trying hard here. I either want to drive you to Christ or have you drive me out so that your heart is unveiled and those who truly believe might emerge.
The Gospel goes out. Some believe. And some don’t. Do you?
Well, we’ve got one final point for this morning, “Gospel Goal: God’s Glory & Our Joy.”
IV. Gospel Goal: God’s Glory & Our Joy (v.48, 51)
This point really is an expansion or extension of the last point but takes into account what is said in verse 48 and 51. In the last point we highlighted the fact that the Gospel does not always result in people believing. In this point I want to highlight the greater goal of sharing the Gospel in that it goes beyond just the person…ultimately the goal is the glory of God.
I’ll show you what I mean. Look at verse 48. When the Gentiles believe they are “rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord.” Then look at verse 51. Paul and Barnabas were kicked out of the city. So you’d expect that they’d be bummed…but they’re not. Verse 49 says they are persecuted…and that the people “drove them out.”
It’s almost like the Jewish and Roman leaders here are throwing rocks at them chasing them out of the city. And Paul and Barnabas’s response? They’re stoked. Verse 52, “They were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
This is a telling verse. It tells us there was a deeper reason and motive for their work in Antioch Pisidia then…that what they really cared about was pleasing God in doing what he had instructed them to do. They trusted God with the results.
Constantly, in this world things are not going to go the way we think they should or the way we want them too…even when they are good, Godly, Gospel-oriented things. And the key to not getting bummed or bent out of shape is recognizing that God is sovereign over all those events. When recognize that then we can be filled with joy because no matter what happens God’s purposes are accomplished.
Look at how verse 48 is worded, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Question. Who appointed them? God did. Who determined the exact number that would respond in faith and the exact number that would not? God did.
James 1:2 has a real wacky but vivid way of saying this same thing. It says, “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds.” Trials are by nature not joyful. But when you’re able to look at a trial as coming from God, then you can shake the dust of your feet and move forward in the Spirit and joy of God.
Some of you today I know are facing some things that are not going well. It may not even be related mission, but the same principle applies. I want to encourage you today to look up, no matter how stark the situation is you may be facing…if you have fear about the future…if you are hurting and depressed…if things just have not been going well…look to the glory of God. You have a heavenly father who loves you, sees what’s going on and he cares.
That’s why he sent His Son into the world to do battle against sin and that is why the Father and the Son have deposited the Spirit unto us to comfort us and to give us peace and joy even in the most dire of circumstances.
Well, let’s conclude. We’ve talked about a lot today. We’ve talked about opportunities for the Gospel, we’ve talked about what the Gospel itself actually is, we’ve talked about how some people are going to believe it and others are not and we’ve talked about how our motive in sharing the Gospel ought to be for God’s glory which enables us to have joy regardless of the responses.
As we prepare for the Lord’s Supper…I want to invite you to the table. I know we do this each week here and whenever you do something every week it can get old and lose its meaning and power. So let me try it a little different today. Here’s an invitation.
I invite you to the table of Jesus. He gave his life and his blood on a cross to pay for your sin so that you might come and dine with him.
This is a moment you are meant to seize.
Perhaps you’ve realized today you never really knew what the Gospel was and it has struck your heart.
Perhaps you’ve been rejecting God and today you realize he was rejected for you that you might come to him.
Perhaps you just need to come and eat the bread and drink the wine and as you do be reminded that you have a God who loves you no matter what.
Perhaps today you need to be fueled by a cross centered vision for mission…that you might offer the only true hope for humanity.
So come. If you are a child of God. One who has been adopted into the family through faith in Jesus. Then I invite you to the table of the Lord.