The Preeminence Of The Gospel
Book of Acts Chapter 14
We already know that not everyone who hears the “Gospel” will believe it’s “life giving” message.
AND, non-believers will not sit back and allow Christianity to take over, what they see as their world!
Christians should seek every way to spread the truth of the “Gospel” but Christians should not avoid politics.
We saw a pattern in chapter 13 of a sending church that we should follow even in the day we live now. But we also saw a pattern of the actions of non-believers that also continue and are getting worse.
First non-believers will dispute the truth of God’s Word “then” they will bring legal action against those that live by God’s Word.
Paul and Barnabas had some success in Cyprus but that same success had not come in Antioch of Pisidia. A group of jealous and zealous Jews had stirred up the people.
Again as we still see today non-believers will stir up “women of power” and “politicians” in deceptive ways! Paul and Barnabas were forced to leave Antioch of Pisidia for other places but now we will see a change.
The people of Antioch of Pisidia, had deprived themselves of an opportunity to hear the “Gospel” and be saved!
There were some who did believe and were left behind and it was these who would start a church in Antioch of Pisidia.
Christian brothers and sisters can still have joy in the midst of this turmoil.
Chapter 13 ended with these words:
Act 13:51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
Act 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
*****Act 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
Iconium was a large city about 90 miles east of Antioch of Pisidia. It is still an important place called Konieh. Iconium was a province of Galatia at this time.
We might ask our selves if Paul was turning to the Gentiles, why then would we see him always beginning at the synagogue of the Jews?
This was the place where the leaders of Judaism gathered but this was also a place where spiritual matters where discussed.
In most cases this would also be a place where intellectual and affluent people would gather but there was also another reason!
Paul later wrote to the Romans:
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
That word Greek “meaning Gentile” as opposed to the “Jew”.
Paul also wrote these words:
Rom 10:12 For there is “no difference” between the Jew and the Greek: for “the same Lord” over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Paul knew the difference between the two, but in the eyes of God, the Gospel must be preached to the lost, “whosoever” they are, because this is the real command of Our Lord!
*****Act 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against [the brethren].
Notice that word “Brethren”.
Here again we see the results of the preaching of the “Gospel”.
First there are many that will believe and be saved and in turn there will be those unbelievers that stir up trouble for God’s missionaries.
*****Act 14:3 Long time “therefore” abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
Act 14:4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
At Antioch, Paul and Barnabas had been expelled from not only the city but the entire area but this had not happened so far at Iconium.
Paul and Barnabas abode in Iconium for a long time! The longer they stayed and preached the more divided that city became.
Some of these Gentiles held with the Jews, and part of the Gentiles held with the Apostles. These non-believers out numbered both the Jews and the Brethren and it is still this way today.
*****Act 14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them,
That word “assault” means this divisiveness of the multitudes came to such a point that they turned and came upon Paul and Barnabas intending to them harm. In fact if they could have gotten their hands on Paul and Barnabas they intended to stone them to death.
This of course meant that it was the Jews who led this assault. “Legally” these Jews could not do anything so they chose to do things “illegally”!
*****Act 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
Act 14:7 And there they preached the gospel.
These cities that are mentioned are in the area called Galatia in the days of Paul but we now know this area as modern day Turkey.
Notice that Paul and Barnabas were not intimidated by the opposition to the Gospel and we cannot be either.
This is a lesson every believer needs to learn. Though we get discouraged from time to time we cannot be intimidated by this world we live in. We must keep busy spreading the “Gospel” in every way that we can!
We have no control of the results! The results are in God’s hands and in the hearts of all those that hear the “Gospel”!
God’s message has not and does not change no matter the opposition to it!
*****Act 14:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Before we get to this verse God had healed a lame man through Paul in verse 11.
These people of Lycaonia had mental pictures of their false gods and all of a sudden they believed that Paul and Barnabas were those gods and began to worship them.
We can see that they also were expecting their false gods to come to Earth as men. They were and still are expecting a false messiah and we know that this will also happen. We call him the Antichrist.
Jupiter was a Roman false god, and would be the same as “Zeus” to the Greeks. Mercury was another Roman false god would be the same as “Hermes” to the Greeks.
These people had been taught that these pagan gods had once appeared before men and they thought that they had returned.
It does not take much to convince an unbeliever of a false messiah!
Paul told them that their gods were vain and non-existing!
He told them that what they considered as works of their false gods were actually only natural forces that were under control of the true Living God.
These people would have to be taught “Creation” by God’s Word in the Book of Genesis.
We find that the modern church is still confused about creation and fail to preach Genesis as the truth and it is the truth.
Our world was created in 6 days just as God said and is only about 6000 years old.
When we witness to the lost, we must have a clear understanding of “Creation” according to the Word of God.
We cannot be swayed by the false science of “Evolution” nor any of it’s teachings of an old Earth.
These evolutionists will do anything in their feeble attempt to prove the Book the Genesis to be wrong. In fact when they cause doubt, they have already succeeded!
God had winked at this false worship for a while because these people had seen the evidence of the true God and had been taught lies.
BUT, now was time to hear the truth of the “Gospel” and “Creation”.
We are wrong when we do not teach Jesus from the beginning and in every book of the Bible.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world “are clearly seen”, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; [so that they are without excuse]:
Men who cannot realize that “Creation” did not happen by accident have closed their mind, that God gave them, to the truth.
It takes a closed mind and blinded eyes to believe that everything in this world we live in happened by accident.
Every accident I have ever seen brought destruction and not life!
We saw Satan and the enemies of the Gospel have traveled more than a 100 miles to try to stop the spread of the “Gospel” and attempted to murder Paul, which brings us to the verse we are on now.
We should not miss this for the miracle that it was.
We know that Paul later wrote these words:
2Co 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) [such an one caught up to the third heaven].
2Co 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
2Co 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2Co 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
2Co 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2Co 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
If Paul was caught up to Heaven, it did not happen on the Damascus road.
It is quite possible that this was the occasion of Paul’s vision. It is very possible that Paul was stoned to death and God brought him back to life.
It is also very possible that a young Timothy was one of those that stood around Paul that day.
2Ti 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
And Paul tells us all that it is going to get worse than it was this day in Lystra:
2Ti 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
We can see the truth of this in the day we now live!
Paul and Barnabas and some other believers then left and went to Derbe.
*****Act 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
What we see in this verse is that “Doctor Luke” did not give any details of opposition in Derbe.
AND, We do believe that Gaius joined Paul at this time:
Act 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and [Gaius of Derbe], and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Paul and those with him, then went back to to all those cities they had been run out of and gave them additional proof of the “Gospel” by the Word of God.
This was a time of establishing the local church in each area.
These places needed to be organized in order to continue in the faith.
*****Act 14:23 And when they had “ordained” them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
The Greek word used for “ordained” in this verse means that they elected the leaders of the local church by a showing of hands.
In other words they had a church meeting and they voted. These elders could have been teachers and leaders but they were not Pastors. They were organizing the local body of Christ and we know there are no unimportant parts of this body.
The qualifications for these positions are given in the Book of Timothy:
1Ti 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
1Ti 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
We should notice that to be “the husband of one wife” would by these words of scripture eliminate “all female” church elders!
It is God Himself who calls His pastors, “not the church” and it is the Holy Ghost who distributes the gifts to each believer and no one else!
We can also see that the Apostle Paul was “a church planter” and though he tried to strengthen each local church, they would have to depend on God to lead them!
*****Act 14:24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
Act 14:25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
Act 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
Act 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
Paul and Barnabas had retraced the steps of their missionary journey.
They preached in each local church and established each one.
They were eyewitnesses to the power of God in the lives of these Gentiles.
AND, They now had returned to the church that had sent them out and supported them and gave them a full report.
We are now witness to the first missionary conference in the New Testament!
Notice how it was God who got the “Glory”. They rehearsed “all that God had done”, because we can be God’s messengers BUT it is God’s Word that does all the work of Salvation.
Then it is each individual who must believe!
Salvation is still a personal, “one on one” relationship with the Lord!
The Church at Antioch of Syria became the first headquarters for missions and there have been many since that time.
In fact every group of believers that gather together as the “Body of Christ” should be a headquarters for missions!
AND, If we cannot have joy in the good news of God’s work, then how can we call ourselves Christian!
This is the mission of the every local church to send God fearing men and women out into the world to spread the “Gospel”.
In return everyone that is sent out needs to report back on the things that God has accomplished!
A church that does not support missions that spread the “Gospel” of “the Lord Jesus Christ” have little need to exist!
A church that spreads any other message is a house of Satan!
Jesus gave us this command:
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 [Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you]: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
If Jesus did not teach it, then we should not teach it!
We have a “completed” copy of the Word of God. We are not to add words to it and we are not to take away any words from it!
*****Act 14:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
We can be sure that much had been learned from this first mission trip and plans were made for another.
Paul and Barnabas had shown that access to the Savior was as free to the Gentiles as it was to the Jews and this would continue to cause disagreements in the early church.
The first trip lasted for about two years and it would be another two years before another would begin.