Summary: God has called EVERY BELIEVER to TELL OTHERS about Jesus.
Through This Man
The message of Jesus, what he has done and what he has accomplished has been the message of all eternity. From the moment of the fall of man, God forecasted this king that would come. And that message has gone out. And many of you who are here this morning have heard the message and have embraced who Jesus Christ is. That message is a precious message that right now is being taken to the ends of the earth.
The specific message that Jesus had arisen from the dead, and who he was, the fulfilled messiah, that message began to spread like wildfire 2,000 years ago as a result of a church understanding those truths and beginning to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
If you were here last Sunday we saw the first mission trip recorded in the Scriptures. It’s when the apostle Paul, and his cohort Barnabas, are launched out from a city in Syria – Antioch – and they blast off with a specific mission in mind; namely, to take the message of the gospel global. They get in a boat and set sail and land at an island known as Cyprus and begin to preach Jesus Christ from one end of the island to the other.
That was the first stage of the missionary venture and today we will be studying the account of the second stage of this missionary journey. Last week really focused more on WHO he preached to. This week in Luke's account we'll see WHAT he preached. This is the first recorded sermon by Paul in the book of Acts. Luke has preserved for us the content and how the apostle Paul presented Jesus to the world. If we are going to be a church on mission, this is very valuable truth for us.
But before we even begin to look at the sermon, let’s catch the setting. Let’s paint the backdrop upon which this sermon is preached. 13Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.”
That’s the setting, the backdrop of Paul’s message. It’s at this point that Paul takes the lead position on the mission team. Up to this point they were referred to as “Barnabas and Saul, Barnabas and Saul.” Barnabas was the one that everyone looked to. But after their visit to Cyprus and God’s working through the gifts of Paul, now it becomes Paul who is the leader.
Paul enters the city of Antioch of Pisidia, and as his normal custom was, he goes to the synagogue. He goes into the synagogue and he sits down. Just like many of us came in here and sat down on the Sunday, he goes into the synagogue and simply sits down. Now their worship service had elements that would be universal no matter what synagogue you went to. They would quote the Shema – "Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one." They would have done it in Hebrew; there would have been a reading from the Law and from the prophets. And normally the custom was that someone would give a sermon or an exegesis of part of the text.
Well two visitors were there that day. And one of them, Paul, had been brought up under the tutelage of one of the greatest Jewish teachers of their day – Gamaliel. So they turn to Paul and they ask them, do you have something to say? Do you have an exhortation for the people? And Paul says, “No, I don’t really have anything to say.” Of course not – Paul takes the opportunity that’s been presented and uses that platform to proclaim Jesus to them.
How do you present Jesus? How should we present Jesus? Well today we’re going to see in this passage how Paul presented Jesus and we'll discover some timeless truths about how we can share Jesus with the world. I thought about entitling this message "The Secret to Successful Witnessing." In fact, by the end of this message I'm going to give you the fundamental and foundational secret of being a successful witness.
I. SEIZE Opportunities
After being asked, Paul seized the opportunity to speak. Look at verse 16:
16So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. Sitting there, he stands up and he addresses two groups. First, he addresses the Jewish people who are there. That seems normal. But what would have been surprising is he addresses the God-fearers. We’ve talked about this term “God-fearers” before in our study through Acts. These are Gentile people who had not grown up in the Jewish religion, but they were monotheistic; they were interested in the Jewish God; they saw the credibility of monotheism as opposed to the paganism and polytheism they would have grown up believing. So they are attending the synagogue for the express purpose of learning more about the God of Israel.