POWER AND GRACE
The Other Antioch: -- Paul and Barnabas travelled from their "home base" of Antioch of Syria 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 have 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 Isrealite 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 Jesus 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 13:41).
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 tht 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" (Rom. 1:16).
The Power Of The Gospel As Is Found In: -- Heb. 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 tht which was preached (Acts 13:45) When people have a bad motrive, 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 the hearts of both Jew and Gentile. One group accepted its teaching and the other refused it. The Jews, the previous special people of God, were the ones who rejected it, because they were envious of the Gentiles being accepted of God through the preaching of Paul. They discriminated against the Gentiles.
We find that Paul and Barnabas could be bold too. They told these Jews tht 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 14:1).
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 the 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 (Rom. 10:17). Good seed, when properly sown in good soil will produce good fruit (Lk. 8:51). We note that Paul and Barnabas kept sowing the seed, and so must Christians today.
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 length of 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; Heb. 2:4).
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 (Eph. 4:1- 6). However, it divides between the believer and unbeliever and saint and sinner. In this sense Christ "came" to divide (Matt. 10: 34,35).
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 of the Lord (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.
By S. Scott Richardson in the Jackson Drive Admonisher, April 11, 2010.
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