"GO AWAY FOR NOW..."
1. The Book of Acts, often called the book of conversions, could also be referred to as the book of non-conversions.
2. Usually, when we study the Book of Acts as a book of conversions, we are happy to tell of the acceptance of and obedience to the teach- ing of the gospel.
A. Such belief and actions are found in: 2:37,38,41; 5:14; 8:4-6,35,36; 10:33,48; 16:15,16,31-33.
3. But we want to look at the book from the standpoint of the non- conversions and learn from them at this time.
4. There are 14 cases of non-conversion or rejection of the gospel found in the Book of Acts.
A. Those, other than the 3000 baptized believers, gathered on Pente- cost. Acts 2:41.
B. The Sanhedrin. Acts 4:13-22.
C. Those who heard Stephen. Acts 6:9-14; 7:54-60.
D. Elymas, or Bar-Jesus. Acts 13:6-12.
E. The Jews of Pisidian Antioch. Acts 13:42-48.
F. The Jews at Iconium. Acts 14:1-5.
G. The Jews at Thessalonica. Acts 17:5-9.
H. The people of Athens. Acts 17:32-34.
I. The Jews at Corinth. Acts 18:6, 12-17.
J. The Jews at Ephesus. Acts 19:8-10.
K. A mob at Jerusalem. Acts 22:22-24.
L. Felix. Acts 24:25-27.
M. Agrippa. Acts 26:27,28.
N. The Jews at Rome. Acts 28:24-29.
II. THESE CASES OF NON-CONVERSION ARE POSSIBLY AS INSTRUCTIVE FOR US AS THOSE WHO WERE CONVERTED.
A. We can divide them into two groups: Jews and Gentiles.
1. The Jews largely rejected the gospel, while, as a whole, the Gentiles were much more receptive. Acts 13:46-48; 18:5f; 28:28.
B. One thing that both classes had in common is that neither tried to refute the doctrine of the resurrection, though this was the central theme of the apostle's preaching to all their hearers.
1. Why did the Sanhedrin, with the resurrection-denying Sadducees in power, remain rather quiet on the subject?
a. The same verse (4:10) that charges Jews with killing Jesus also affirms that He arose from the dead.
1) Though they ultimately objected to the killing of Jesus, they seem- ed, at least to some degree, to ignore His resurrection.
2) Had they given up on the first argument they put out; that the dis- ciples stole away the body of Jesus while the guards slept? Mt. 28:11-15.
C. On the other hand, it seems that the best the Gentiles had to offer, concerning the resurrection, was mockery and possibly polite evasion. Acts 17:32.
D. It seems that the common thread in Jewish resistance was stubborn ess. Acts 28:26-29; Isa. 6:9,10.
1. Jesus used this text in the same way. Mt. 13:14,15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8: 10; Jno. 12:39.
2. The Sanhedrin showed this spirit of stubborness when, though they could not deny the healing of the lame man, they set themselves against the power or name behidn the deed. Acts 4:7,17.
a. The prejudices against the Gentiles, 22:22 and envy,13:45; 17:5 came into play, it is clear whay Stephen called their kind "stiff-neck ed and uncircumsised in heart and ears", 7:51.
E. No specific reason is given for Agrippa's refusal.
1. Still, his story is valuable because it teaches us that ALMOST is not enough.
2. Perhaps he and Felix are meant to remind us that not many wise, mighty or noble are called. 1 Cor. 1:26.
III. GENTILE REJECTERS.
A. First, we look at Felix. He refused Christ, even though he was touched enough to tremble at Paul's preaching.
1. If only he had imitated the smitten Pentecostians, what a happy day that would have been!
a. However, personal convenience, 24:25, love of money, v. 26 and politics, v. 27, seems to have squelched any inclination he may have had to obey the gospel.
B. Next, we look at the Athenians. Their love of human wisdom kept them from the truth.
1. They doted on telling or hearing some new thing. 17:21.
a. Later Paul wrote about such attitudes. 1 Cor. 1:18,21.
1. The non-conversions in Acts were not due to a faulty message or to incompetent teaching.
2. The trouble was in the hearts of the hearers.
3. That reminds us of two things:
A. First, we must fight against blindness and love of earthly wisdom in ourselves.
B. Secondly, we must not become discouraged when people reject our teaching.
1) If they do reject us we are standing in good company, for they also rejected Noah, Jesus, and the prophets and apostles before us.
By Jim Sasser
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