Summary: Exposition of Acts 13:42-14:6 about the fact that the gospel tended to divide people by response and by the plan of God
Text: Acts 13:42-14:6, Title: The Gospel Divides, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/18/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: Tell about Mel and Josh and how the gospel is further dividing their marriage,
B. Background to passage: Paul has just invaded the city of Antioch Pisidia, and preached the gospel in the synagogue. And in our text today we see the reaction of the Jews and the city in general. And in the following passage where they do the same thing in Iconium, the same thing happens. So I want to look at both of these incidences together from the perspective that the genuine gospel tends to divide believers from non-believers, rather than allowing the two to coexist peacefully.
C. Main thought: We will see in both these texts that the gospel divides upon the basis of response.
A. A Sweet Reality (v. 42-44)
1. When the gospel is proclaimed there will be some that believe. And in these two texts, we see those that do. And we see several things that happened with they believed that will be helpful in identifying authentic belief. They had a hunger for the preached word. They begged Paul to preach to them next Sabbath. They followed them in the road and asked them questions. They were grateful to God and glorified Him for sending His Word. Their enthusiasm was so contagious that the whole city showed up for church next week. And they were spreading the word throughout the region. And they exhibited the fullness of the Spirit and joy upon their life, even though they were being persecuted. Even though they were booted out of one city, and about to be stoned in another, they were full of joy.
2. Acts 2:41, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 8:6, 12, 8:31, 9:35, 42, Hab 3:17-19
3. Illustration: Thom Rainer’s group was conducting an interview with some people for a study, and the interviewee asked if they would tell him how to become a Christian when it was over, tell about the one night that we didn’t have prayer guides, and Benny suggested that we pray for God to give us a genuine hunger for the word; this is what they did for George Whitefield the week that he died, and all through his ministry, Peter and John being bold before the Sanhedrin,
4. There are a lot of people out there waiting on you to share the gospel with them. And these are the marks of genuine belief, along with perseverance, which Paul encouraged them to strive for. Do you have a hunger for the word? What new insight or truth has he shown you this week? Do we ever seek out good preaching? Do ever beg people to preach more? Are we bold in our evangelistic efforts? The word is used once in each of these passages (meaning speak openly and without restraint), and the word is spreading throughout the entire region. When we believe our joy is lodged in Jesus, not in our circumstances. Does your belief produce joy that overshadows circumstances? Is your joy full? Don’t let your joy be paper thin? Let it run deep into the depths of the satisfaction of Christ, so that when you don’t have money, or a job, or your health, or anything you want/need, you can still rejoice in the Lord!
B. A Difficult Truth (v. 45, 50)
1. The flip side of the truth that there will be believers that sell out to Christ when the gospel is preached, is that also there will be those who reject Christ and are damned. And as we have seen previously in Acts, some that will even profess faith, but never truly be born again. And there are some characteristics about unbelievers that we can see. These Jews are envious, probably of two things—the largeness of the crowd, and the fact that these Jews preaching Jesus were inviting gentiles to be saved. They were also violent and angry. They also were stirring things up, actively opposing Paul and Barnabas. These unbelievers were blaspheming Paul’s God and Savior.
3. Illustration: Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, A poll done by The Minneapolis Star Tribune a few years ago found that 65% of the people in Minnesota believed in hell. That is a pretty high number. Only 15%, however, said they knew someone who would be a sure bet to go there, and only 3% felt that they themselves deserved to end up in hell. In other words, most folks accept hell as a reality; they just don’t see it as a danger. Tell about the Two Rivers Baptist Church and their big fight and lawsuit, According to the teaching of our Lord, what is wrong with the world is precisely that it does not believe in God. Yet it is clear that the unbelief which he so bitterly deplored was not an intellectual persuasion of God’s non-existence. Those whom he rebuked for their lack of faith were not men who denied God with the top of their minds, but men who, while apparently incapable of doubting him with the top of their minds, lived as though he did not exist. John Baillie