Date: January 30, 2005
Theme: Glorify The Word!
– Acts 14:19-23
– Ude, John
The Order of Worship:
Liturgy: TLH, p. 5 ff.
Theme: Glorify The Word!
Paul Stoned at Lystra
19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (ESV)
Sermon: Acts 14:19-23 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
In the name of Jesus January 30, 2005
Winter fest began with fireworks. There will undoubtedly be fireworks of two kinds in Iraq today. These chapters of Acts describe another kind of fireworks. Acts 13:48 says Antioch believers glorified the Word. Because the Word 700 yrs. beforehand foretold that Christ would be a light to the Gentiles and was today fulfilled in their midst their joy and praise exploded with delightful fireworks. And Acts 14 reveals Paul’s life as a delightful firework’s display, an example of what it means to GLORIFY THE WORD.
Let’s fact it Paul was either crazy or a Christian on a mission. If we honestly ask ourselves, “Why is my life not more often glorifying the Word,” we will have to answer, “we too often don’t intend it to be.” In Antioch Paul preached the gospel and a mob ran him out of town. In Iconium he preached the gospel and a mob gathered to stone him. In Lystra he preached the gospel and a mob did stone him and leave him for dead. In Derbe he preached the gospel and returned to each of those cities that had persecuted him preaching the gospel more. Persecuted in one city he went on preaching a delightful firework’s display glorifying the Word of Christ. What an example of dedication to that message, “Your sins are forgiven in the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Acts 13:17-24 exemplifies how Paul enters their synagogues and delights in announcing the divine fireworks that all of the O.T. promises are fulfilled in Jesus and displaying God’s grace actively leading them to glory whether Jew (A13) or Gentile (A 14:15-17). The very fact that this grace is displayed for all, creates the jealous anger that ran him out of Antioch, mobbed him at Iconium and stoned him at Lystra. The display of God’s grace accomplishing every good thing through history, in our ancestors and in us, removes every layer of pride and superiority that man seeks to build in himself. Daily the gospel is able to peel back all these layers of pride and superiority so that we gaze in awe at the utter nothingness that we are without the grace of God given through His Son. But when we wrap up in and cling to just one layer of pride, in resentment and jealousy it wars against the gospel, it sabotages God’s fireworks, as at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. Oh that daily we may ever remain among that group which displays God’s grace to glorify the Word.
Yet exactly when we are glorifying the Word we may face such jealousy and anger from others. For in this sinful world there is often a great problem in giving real love. Christ’s love creates in us a deep concern about any unbelieving behavior or attitude in our loved ones. We want those loved ones to find daily joy in following the Savior with us. But like Paul’s preaching the best gospel encouragement or warning is at times met with anger or jealousy. The Jews at Antioch became jealous when the whole city came to hear Paul, but that’s a jealousy about God’s gracious work in people’s lives. For shame. Jesus’ love sends us on a mission displaying the fireworks of His love that alone saves our souls.
The moment we are displaying the fireworks of His love Satan in many ways and means viciously seeks to ridicule teachers undermining the Word as he did at Antioch, to poison minds as he did at Iconium, to distract people from the gospel with a variety of idolatrous reactions as at Lystra, to discourage people suggesting that long, hard trek up a mountain for the gospel just isn’t worth it, or even to stone people with losses of health or finances.
Where did Paul find the renewed dedication, even when persecuted in one city, to go on to the next? Its interesting to take note of the legend which lay behind the action of the people of Lystra. According to their legend Zeus and Hermes had long before come down to visit their city but no one had shown them kindness except one old couple. Consequently the city was destroyed except for that one couple. Now they were not taking any chances for surely this was again Zeus and Hermes who else could make a lame man walk? Yet, what comparison does their legend have to the delightful fireworks of God actually becoming man and dwelling among us? Jesus is no legend. His birth, death and resurrection are the most well attested event in history and all proclaimed by the Word that never fails. That fireworks display calls us to receive Christ in daily dedication to His Word. In their synagogues Paul demonstrated that glory of the Word which prophesied hundreds of years beforehand the exact details of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. Paul never waits for them to object: “but our leaders found this Jesus of yours did not measure up.” Without pausing he reveals their leader’s rejection was itself a fulfillment of God’s Word. God dwelt among them and they scorned Him to their own doom in the fireworks that shall end the world.
With bandaged head and blackened eye Paul set out again from Lystra to Derbe, persecuted in one city, he went to the next. Paul in that Word of eternal destiny stood straight and called clearly: “To you this word is come, God sent His Son to die for your sins and raised Him from the dead that by Him you might have everlasting life.” With a trail of blood he journeyed on announcing: “In Jesus blood you have the forgiveness of sins.” Along that trail of blood the seed of faith arose and along that trail Paul returned to strengthen each Christian’s heart with the Word reminding them that being a Christian is never easy but its worth it. V.22 “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” You can glorify the Word thus strengthening one another in the Word.
Paul concluded his message in those synagogues with an urgent appeal. In our day popular religion has concluded that the way to win people to God is to entertain them: clowns and comedy, parties and stories. Paul and Jesus laid before them the deadly seriousness of God’s Word. Long before God had come down to the Jews with a warning that Babylon itself would devour them and carry them away if they did not turn from their sin to live by faith in His Word. Today Paul concludes that warning is before you: Acts 13:41 “behold, you despisers, marvel and perish; For I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.” Those fireworks call us to glorify the word lest they consume us. Amen.