Summary: How can we move forward for Christ? 1. Encourage people to embrace God’s grace (vs. 38-43). 2. Be flexible to follow the Lord (vs. 44-47). 3. Allow God to give you a full and fruitful life (vs. 48-49; 52).
Moving Forward for Christ
The Book of Acts - Part 45
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 8, 2014
*In the Scripture tonight, Paul was on his first missionary and was about to finish his tremendous sermon in the city of Antioch in modern-day Turkey. As Paul finished preaching, he sensed that many of the Jews were rejecting the good news. Those jealous Jewish leaders were about to make the most tragic mistake of rejecting Jesus Christ. Not only did they reject Christ, they began to aggressively oppose the gospel. It was a mistake that they regret to this day, and they will regret for all eternity.
*But spiritually blind people still oppose the gospel today. The church has many enemies, and they seem to be growing stronger every day. Whether they know it or not, and most of them don't, their leader is Satan. And though his doom is sure, he still has awful abilities today.
31. . . "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.''
*In John 10:10, Jesus called Satan a thief and said: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
*In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul said this to Christians:
10. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
*And in 1 Peter 5:8-10, Peter tells us:
8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
9. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
10. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
*In all of these Scriptures we see the enemy at work, but more than that, we see the Hand of the Lord at work! And Satan doesn't stand a chance against the Lord! God's mighty Hand will prevail! So, in spite of our enemies, we can still move forward for Christ! How can we do it? Tonight's Scripture helps us see.
1. First: We should encourage people to embrace God's grace.
*This is exactly what Paul and Barnabas here. Notice again what happened as Paul began to close his sermon in vs. 38:
38. "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;
39. "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
40. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
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.'''
42. And when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
43. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
*Yes, there were Christ-despisers in the synagogue that day, but in vs. 42 we also see Gentiles who begged to hear the Word of God! How wonderful! What a blessing to see people hungry for God! And it wasn't just the Gentiles. In vs. 43 many of the Jews were eager to hear more.
*I have met people like that. There was a lot of that kind of hunger in Eastern Europe after the Iron Curtain fell. Randy Alcorn has a friend who went on a mission trip to Moscow in 1990. They were there passing out free Bibles to people. Sadly, they ran out of Bibles, but a man saw one of the empty boxes and asked if he could have it. Even though he couldn't have a Bible, he wanted to have the box, because it had held the Word of God. (1)