Summary: Looking at Paul's journeys
Acts 14 - 6/4/17
PRAY - Turn with me this morning to Acts 14. We have spent a couple months working our way through this transitional book that picks up where the gospels leave off - Jesus is crucified, risen, and ascended, and the Holy Spirit comes upon believers, empowering them to go out and share the message of good news - we call that the gospel, a word which means good news - the good news is that because of what Jesus did for us, paying the penalty of our sins, we don’t have to pay the penalty ourselves. He bore the wrath of God for our sin, so we could receive His righteousness. When we place our faith in Jesus, we become a new creation - and that truly IS good news!
And lest we ever forget, the message the early church had is the same message we have today. And the Holy Spirit who empowered Peter and Philip and Paul and Barnabas is the same Holy Spirit who lives in us today, giving us everything we need for life and godliness.
The believers were called to take this good news to Jerusalem - they started where they were, they started at home - to Judea, their neighbors, and Samaria, those a little different but with similar understanding of the scriptures, and finally to the uttermost part of the earth - to those with NO biblical knowledge. We see the record of the spread of the gospel here in the book of Acts. And today we pick up the story in Acts 14.
We saw in Acts 13 a strong Gentile - which means Non-Jewish - church established north of Israel in the country of Syria in a city called Antioch. It was a multi-ethnic church that embraced people of all backgrounds. It was a church that truly built disciples, not just getting people saved, but following that up with strong teaching and training. And it was a sending church. The Holy Spirit placed a call upon Paul and Barnabas to leave Antioch and go to other cities to share the good news. And they followed faithfully.
Now let me refresh your memory about something we have almost forgotten about - back before the days of cell phones and blu-ray players, we had this cutting edge invention called the “slide projector.” Do you remember them? And along with them we had the 8 MM movie projector. My dad loved to take pictures - but he often cut of heads, or would focus on a plane or car in the background, but cut out the family member standing in the foreground.
But can you remember the day of travelogues? Everyone would gather to hear a speaker show slides of their trips. I remember going to sportsmen clubs and seeing slides of hunting trips to the great northwest. And in churches, the whole church would gather to see missionaries show slides that let the home churches know what they had been up to and the highs and lows of their ministry. If you look down at verse 26 of Acts 14, you see that Paul and Barnabas shared just that type of report of their ministry with the sending church at Antioch. It says here in verse 26 - From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
So Paul and Barnabas have been sent on a year long mission trip, and they come back home and share all the stories with the believers, to encourage the church and let them see how God has been at work. And what we find in chapters 13 & 14 of Acts is the content of their travelogue.
We saw last time that they started at home, going to the island of Cyprus which was the home of Barnabas. They went through the island, and God gave them many opportunities to share the good news, but Satan threw strong opposition against them. They saw the governor of the whole island converted, and God did an amazing work there. From the island of Cyprus they went into Turkey, where their companion John Mark left them to return home. Then on to another Antioch, this one not in Syria, but in Turkey. It’s normally differentiated by calling it Pisidian Antioch. Just like in the US, several states have towns with the same name - there is a Riverside in 46 of our 50 states.
At Pisidian Antioch Paul delivers his first recorded sermon, where he lays out a beautiful overview of the OT and how it points to the good news of Christ’s salvation. Many believe, and the word of God spreads through the whole region. But Satan raises up opposition, and they end up moving on.