Good morning, everyone. Let’s begin this morning with Psalm 20.
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. 3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
9 O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!
We thank you Lord for your presence in our lives. May we acknowledge you and pledge our allegiance to you. We honour you by trusting you with all our hearts.
Bless our time today as we open up to your Word and hear from you once again. AMEN.
Last week in Acts 13 we saw how the Holy Spirit initiated His move by setting apart Barnabas and Saul plus John Mark and led them on their first missionary journey.
• They went to the island of Cyprus and then led the Roman proconsul to Christ.
• They left thereafter for Perga on the mainland and then to Pisidian Antioch, where Paul preached to the people gathered in the synagogue.
• We are going to look at this amazing sermon today.
13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak."
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: "Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!
• In the audience were both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. Paul went on to give his exhortation, and here we have his first recorded sermon, from verse 17 to 41.
• We will go through it later as we move along. When the sermon concluded…
13:42-43 42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism [Gentiles who adopted Judaism] followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
• That was the impact of his message. And that’s not all. 13:44 tells us “on the next Sabbath, almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”
• The whole city was stirred by the message of God. Let us go through it now.
PAUL’S SERMON - Acts 13:17-41
17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country…
18 he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19 he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance.
• God chose Israel’s ancestors. He prospered them in Egypt and became great. He delivered them with mighty acts.
• He endured their conduct for 40 years in the desert. ESV “he put up with them in the wilderness”; NASB “as a nursing-father bare he them in the wilderness”, KJV “suffered he their manners in the wilderness.”
• God patiently provided for their needs despite an ungrateful response.
• God did that for 40 years until He finally led the new generation into the Promised Land when He overthrew the Canaanites in the land.
20 All this took about 450 years [from the time they entered Egypt to Canaan]
"After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet."
• We read that in the book of Judges - Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Samson.
• These judges did not rise up on their own; God raised them up to deliver and preserve His people.
21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'
• God gave them Saul (their first King) and then He removed Saul and made David King.
23 "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as he promised.
• God made the promise to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam 7:16), referring to the coming of His Son Jesus, the Son of David.
• That was 1000 years ago. The coming of Jesus was God’s plan, not a random event.
24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'
• Paul used the words of the forerunner John the Baptist to draw their attention to “the one whose sandals John was not worthy to untie”.
26 "Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.
• Paul says, it is to us, both Israelites and God-fearing Gentiles, and not the patriarchs or the prophets that came before, that God has sent this message of salvation.
27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
• Paul chose his words carefully. Whatever that has happened to Jesus wasn’t random or accidental.
• The people and rulers of Jerusalem condemned Jesus, but in so doing they fulfilled the prophecies of the Scriptures, which they have been reading in the synagogues every Sabbath.
• They had inadvertently carried out all that was written about Him in the Scriptures.
It was the predetermined plan of God. It was His promise, foretold by the prophets and written in the Scriptures long ago. God had set things up for this.
• Jesus was sent and He came, finally, in the fullness of time and died on the cross for the redemption of His people from sin. He was buried but rose from the dead.
• Paul: “It is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.” (13:26)
32 "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
"`You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'
[Quote from Psalm 2:7, pointing to Jesus’ exaltation.]
34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:
"`I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.' [Isaiah 55:3]
35 So it is stated elsewhere: "`You will not let your Holy One see decay.' [Psalm 16:10]
[Both quotes point to Jesus’ resurrection.]
• Paul quoted these passages to show that their ultimate fulfilment in Jesus.
• He used Scriptures to prove the fulfilment of the prophecies in Christ, who was the Saviour that God has promised, through Israel.
36 "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
• Unlike David, who died a mortal man, buried and decayed, this greater Son of David, Jesus, was raised by God to life immortal and imperishable.
Look at the instances of what God did:
17a – God chose Israel’s fathers
17b - God made them prosper in Egypt and led them out with mighty power
18 – God endured their failings in the desert
19 – God overthrew the nations in Canaan and gave them their land
20 – God gave them judges
21 – God gave them a king, Saul
22 – God removed Saul and made David king
23 – God brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus
24 – God sent John the Baptist the forerunner
27 – God’s plan was fulfilled when the ignorant ones crucified Jesus
30 – God raised Jesus from the dead
Paul chose his words carefully, to help them see God’s redemption story in history.
• Israel’s history, though marked by failures, was the story of a God who loved His people and remembered His covenant with them.
• God is not just the ACTOR in history but the DIRECTOR of His redemption story, spanning some 1500 years.
Re-read this sermon slowly and we can see God in every season of Israel’s history.
• He has been its central figure, whether Israel saw Him or not, whether the people acknowledged Him or not.
• Even in their ignorance, as displayed by the people and religious leaders of Jerusalem, they were fulfilling the sovereign will of God.
All these acts of God in history culminates in the coming, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation. This is the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
38 "THEREFORE, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.
• Paul now appeals to listeners as ‘my brothers’, without distinguishing the Gentiles, as he did earlier.
• He was urging them both the Jews and Gentiles, to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and their justification before God, which the Law could never provide.
• They are the gifts of God through faith in Jesus Christ, which the Law points to.
40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41 "`Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.'" [Habakkuk 1:5]
• Don’t remain in unbelief. Prophet Habakkuk was warning the people of Judah then of God’s impending judgement that would come from the Babylonians.
• Paul is saying, “Don’t fall under God’s judgment like them because of unbelief.”
• “Don’t reject the Word of God and ignore the work of God in Christ. Receive the salvation that God has provided through Jesus.”
Paul’s appeal to his audience is an appeal to us today. It’s a warning not just to them but to us too. We cannot ignore what God has done in Christ.
• God justifies all who believe by grace through faith, that Jesus Christ died in our place and was raised to life as the proof and the promise of eternal life.
• No human efforts or law-keeping can make us right with God.
• Our faith in Christ brings about repentance and a change in our lives from the inside-out.
If you do not know Jesus or find it hard to believe Him, pray. Ask God to enlighten you through the Scriptures and the help of the Holy Spirit. Be open and humble to listen.
• Only Jesus can save you. This is the only way and our only hope of living a life with God, one that is free from sin and guilt, a life of righteousness, joy and peace.
A young boy worked hard at creating a small sailboat. When the boat was painted and the sail set up, he carried it proudly to the edge of the river for its first launch.
He placed it carefully in the water and slowly let out the string. The new boat sailed beautifully in the river! What a joy to see.
He sat by the edge admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. When he tried to pull it back, the string broke. The wind and current pushed the boat downstream.
The young boy ran along the shore as fast as he could, but within minutes, his little boat was out of sight.
All afternoon he searched for it but failed. When it was too dark to look any longer, he went home very sad.
A few days later, on the way home from school, he spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see — sure enough — it was his!
He hurried into the store and spoke to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!”
“Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it.”
He ran home and counted all his money. He had exactly enough. He rushed back to the store to buy it.
As he left the store, the boy hugged his handmade boat and said, “Little boat, now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”
Do you know that you are God’s workmanship? And that we are precious to Him.
• Once lost (because of sin) but He bought us back, through Jesus Christ.
• Paul showed us how God went to great lengths to redeem us and to bring us back to Himself. So let’s treasure our lives and live for Him.
This redemption story has to do with you and me.
• Don’t repeat the mistake of the religious leaders in Jesus’ time. They were too blinded by their prejudice to recognise Jesus.
• They had the OT Scriptures read out to them every Sabbath but they did not see Him.
• They never ask questions or make attempts at understanding His Word. They did not take it seriously.
• The Messiah Jesus came into their midst and left, without them even recognising Him.
• Judaism was just a religious rite to them. Christianity would be the same for us today if we are not careful.
Let us acknowledge His presence in our lives, walk with Jesus every day, understand His Word, and know His will.
• History is His story and our future is in His hands. You can be very assured that He cares for you.
• We pray that the redemption story of God will continue to be shared everywhere, wherever His people are. To God be the glory!
Our gracious God, we thank you for the great salvation that you have provided for us in Christ. We are the recipient of your love and grace.
Enlighten our eyes to see the great hope to which you have called us and let us live each day with gratitude and joy.
We pray that you would continue to open doors in our workplaces, schools, families and among our friends, for us to share Christ and your love. Make us aware of the needs and opportunities around us where we can bear witness to your love and grace.
Let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify you, our Father in heaven.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forevermore, AMEN.