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Another Sabbath in Antioch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 2, 2020 8:00 am

Another Sabbath in Antioch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 2, 2020 8:00 am

Its one of the most famous questions in the Bible. It comes from a prison guard whos having such a bad night with earthquakes and broken locks that hes about to take his own life. Looking for a reason to live, he speaks the famous words: What must I do to be saved? And Paul just happens to be there with the answer.

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Was Paul's guest sermon at the synagogue, a success or a failure on the one hand, most of the town turned out to hear him speak again the next week, but on the other hand, the synagogue leaders turned vicious. First, they shouted him down. Then they organized a posse to drive him out of town infects out of the whole region.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically when you preach the word of God. There is no telling what might happen.

The same word that draws one person toward God turns another person against God and against his people. Let's turn now to ask 13 and listen to Dr. Boyce's very funny sometimes the things that will come into your mind from the past that you've forgotten about for many many years. Something like that happened to me this way because I was thinking about these verses the close. Ask 13 I remembered talk that was given in a Friday night in her varsity chapter meeting during my college days when I was in Cambridge Massachusetts.

I don't remember all the details of the talk was given but I do know that it was about witnessing and that point was being made that in order to witness effectively.

You should make friends with those with whom you're trying to share the gospel. What I remember about it, particularly I'm going to show in a minute.

Why God has come to my mind now is that the person was giving a talk asked the question how long does it take to make a friend.

I recall how we went about answering that we were college students and we thought deeply about things, but superficially the way older people might've thought her younger people might've thought we knew perfectly well that to make a friend takes a long time somebody I recall, said well it depends, of course, but I suppose it takes several years make a good friend and apparently the leader is going.

The talk wasn't satisfied with that. Is it doesn't really take that long and someone who was getting the drift of the way this was going said no, maybe not necessarily you might be able to make a good friend in six months or so and he kept pressing and we got it down to maybe a couple months and finally got tired of what we were thinking and he said I don't think it's a great time at all. I think you could make a good friend didn't 30 minutes or five minutes.

Just as you run into somebody and strike up a conversation and realize that you have many things in common you from that time on that you're friends with many things to add to that, but the essential relationship is there. Well I don't know why I remember that over all these years. As a matter of fact, I was quite sure that I have forgotten, at least never occurred to me what I think is been all these years. In between those days. Last but as I was looking at the latter half of acts 13 and thinking about this church in Antioch that the apostles Paul and Barnabas established on the first missionary journey. It occurred to me to ask the question how long does it take to found the church now we all know the answer to that we are not superficial people.

We know that you don't do things superficially or quickly and that everything should be done decently and in order and as long as possible in some way. Take a great deal of time and these things especially today.

We very careful about where were going to plant a church. We do Democrat traffic studies to know whether an area that's rising in its population declining in this population. We want to know what kind of people live there.

Whether there's a nucleus for a church weather is likely to grow. Once you establish it. We take a long time to find the people that we want to establish the church. The pastor slows work with them. We have tests they take. We want to know whether they have the abilities and talents and gifts.

Training is going to make the work successful. We raise the money and then we very carefully move into the area and lay groundwork and we got all that we have our first meeting and if the Lord blesses the thing goes forward doesn't always do that.

Even then we learned. I am sure that it pays off and take that kind of care in establishing the church reason those questions go through my mind is as I read these verses and discover what the apostles Paul and Barnabas did on this occasion, I find that in this case, at least the establishing of the church took no more than one week I moved into the area. They preached on one Sabbath was an interested response to their preaching.

They were invited back. The days intervene. They undoubtedly talk to the city and when they came back on the second Sabbath people literally thronged the site gospel was preached, and as a result of that grace church was established, one that lasted not only through their lifetime, but blasted really for hundreds of years as these Gentiles because this was chiefly a Gentile church. The first church really was chiefly Gentile.

These Gentiles went on to follow Christ and to establish a church which in its turn became a missionary church to the rest of their world. I know that I'm simplifying it a bit. Does say verse 49 that the word of the Lord spread through the whole region. I guess that's the kind of phrase that embraces an indefinite period of time of the less significant that what we are told of here is to stab us Sabbath of initial preaching that period of informal talking, conversing, witnessing, maybe canvassing in between, and then a second Sabbath, and that it was shortly after that there was so much opposition to what was done on the Paul and Barnabas had to move on and they did going on.

Do I coating them blistering derby stories which are recounted in the next chapter, I was interesting. I'm not recommending it necessarily is a procedure I do think it pays to take time and plan carefully what we do, especially when we have limited resources but the post Telus that what God does in a situation like this does not necessarily depend upon us of the length of time of the preparation of the study of the expertise we may have here is a church I got started very quickly now. It's a continuing story. When we were looking at it last time we were studying the first half of the chapter we saw there that Paul preached a great sermon that had to do with the person of Christ is work preceded by what God did in the Old Testament. Leading up to it and then he cited a number of texts that were fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Maybe that sermon was a great deal longer than the one we have recorded in acts but this is certainly to just over the outline and it was significant that at the end of the preaching of those who heard them in the synagogue but is a Jewish place of worship in Antioch invited them to come back next week I might have responded negatively with things here that they did respond negatively eventually, but nevertheless they were invited back during that week that intervene between the first Sabbath in the second. This new gospel was word that had begun to be preached on the first Sabbath circulated around the town.

When we come to the account here, beginning with verse 44 about the second Sabbath, we discovered that it was the whole city and is many many people throughout his great city of Antioch that respondent now that was chiefly a Gentile city like many of these Gentile cities was a Jewish community the Jewish community had its own synagogue worship. That's where Paul preached first, but word was spreading among the Gentiles, so when they came to the synagogue to respond to the invitation to preach again the invitation of the Jewish leaders well there place was thronged out by all the Gentiles people that are not set foot inside the door of that synagogue previously came to hear what Paul and Barnabas might say, we asked the question why did they, what was it that stimulated their curiosity and their interest.

When I first began to think about that. I began to reflect on the kind of things that made the ministry of these two men in that day, so different from a similar ministry hours are day people are surefooted with information radio and television and newspapers and magazines. They really didn't have that in that day when somebody came through from another city person was a source of information. People naturally thronged about them.

So I began to think about that. I said well here were people came something new so must've been the same kind of curiosity for their message as the Athenians, for example later pad when Paul and his companions arrived in that great metropolis like came out listening to hear what it might be that was new, but they would say that when I looked at this and began to study what the text itself says I discovered that the interest was not at all and the novelty of these men, nor was it because my mind also went along these lines in their eloquence or the dramatic presentation that they may sometimes people today get a hearing in that way. I say outlandish things and as we well know newspapers and magazines and the television on the radio sometimes pick up on that for a short time at least religious news is Vogue everybody's paying attention to these things. But it's only because it's outlandish. I read these verses. It's not that either that they had something novel news from afar. Not that they made some striking presentation set, outlandish things, but rather the curiosity and interest of the people of Antioch was provoked very important.

Pay attention to it, provoked by the word of God making that up.

You say that's the emphasis of the text look at it four times, this short period of verses this is what is set verse 44 of the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord my say. Well, they gathered to hear the word of Paul. Well, perhaps somebody doesn't say that perhaps you say they gathered to hear the word of Barnabas as maybe some doesn't say that is a gathered to hear the word of the Lord. That's what these minute preached earlier, it's what they had come to preach and it's what they preached again that is what stimulated the interest of the people and you find it verse 46 Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly saying we had to speak the word of God to you first.

So Paul and Barnabas were conscious of the fact that's what they had come to deliver a diverse 48 the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord about the word of Paul not Barnabas but the word of the Lord and then again in verse 49. The verse immediately follows the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region is remarkable. That's important important by its emphasis.

What stimulated the interest of the people was the word of the Lord as the Holy Spirit blessed. I think about that. I can't help but reflect negatively on what passes for so much preaching or teaching in our day. Much of that is geared to what we call felt needs much of it is geared to stimulate curiosity or interest by using the world's methods worlds devices on Barnabas to move any of those things I am well aware that there are times when the Holy Spirit leaves and blesses in their times in the proclamation of the gospel seems to fall on deaf ears. Sometimes it's possible to do the right thing and humanly speaking not find results. Many faithful people who have preach the word of God in so far as we can tell they got it for a long period of time with very minimal response.

Certain areas of the world like that is no excuse for abandoning the commission commission is to take the word of God and all the world bottled Barnabas did sometimes say look up to a sitting they were received from the church was established at other times they came into an area and the word was rejected as it was here by the Jewish leaders but they persisted in the task where they did accidents where the Holy Spirit was at work here and there very frequently in their day.

People found their curiosity stimulated in their interest drawn they came to that preaching of the word, and said what is it what is it that your teaching.

We want to hear about these things so that was the first new element here fact that there was great interest on the part of the Gentiles is God blessed the word been anything quite like that earlier we have preaching in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit blasted many Jews responded. We had Philip going down along the coast and witnessing one-on-one Ethiopia and we saw how the church got established in the Antioch of Syria and other was a mixture of leadership and how the teaching went forward. We saw the missionary journey to Cyprus and Solon all that time it was preaching and there was response, but there's never been anything quite like this here for the first time we see this great response to the gospel so it's worth noting, but I speculated something else. It's also worth noting, and that was Jewish reaction to the preaching, we read that they were filled with jealousy. Verse 45 and that they talked abusively against what Paul was saying, why did they do that we reflected earlier on why the Gentiles were responding.

Let's ask the same question of why the Jews were turning down the message and speaking against it are number of reasons. One thing the very way in which the gospel was presented certainly indicated these Jewish leaders in this far-off area that their leaders in Jerusalem.

The center of Jewish life had rejected this Jesus all income proclaiming that he was the Messiah fulfillment of all legal Testament Scriptures with their own leaders in Jerusalem and not responded. This would not be lost on is true that they invited Paul to come back, but they must've been thinking about the single perhaps is one reason why they were resistant again.

Paul had said something negative.

At least they would've conceived it as being negative about the law, Jews were wrapped up in the law of the Torah life was the Torah learning the law trying to figure out what the law meant obeying the law, and yet Pollitt said verse 39 the midst of his sermon on the previous Sabbath through him that is through Jesus. Everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses and of course the simple truth.

Nobody is saying by law, all law can do is condemn you while broken the law so you can't be saved by trying to keep it.

The law condemns anybody trying to get to heaven by obeying the law while they are destined to fail and that that's all Paul was pointing out he was saying and he knew it from his own experience because it been a Pharisee before these things you trying to keep the law, but he knew that he couldn't do it all. He had thought he was righteous back in the days of his zealous adherence to Judaism, but he came to say that the things that he was trying to do were actually keeping him from the way of salvation because they were making him self-righteous. So they were keeping him from Christ's law doesn't justify the law condemns and he was trying to point out at sea did on every occasion as he points out all his epistles justification through the work of Christ by faith in him only where the Jews listening to that I would've said I supposedly began to reflect on these things.

Well, here is Amanda was preaching against the law of Moses said that about Jesus previously he had said I came not to destroy the law but to fulfill. The very fact he had to defend himself in the matter indicates what they were thinking they were saying because he didn't treat the laws they did. He has come to tear down our traditions.

Jesus said you say I come to save the world come to call people to faith and maybe not tear down the law because those who come to me fulfill it in spirit and truth which these adherence to Judaism are unable to do so, but same thing that was said of Jesus was undoubtedly set of Paul and they would've been thinking negative thoughts for that reason all of that to the contrary, however, it seems to me that what bothered them here is not so much that their leaders in Jerusalem and rejected Jesus or the Pollitt said something that they might have construed as a negative comment on the law, but rather the fact that the Gentiles were coming in such large measures. That's been the problem all along and say I didn't mind. I hadn't really cared in the other cities either. If the Gentiles came and sat in the back of the synagogue, paid attention and perhaps became good Jews and thought the rite of circumcision.

Everything else was involved.

I was all right. They were glad to have that is the way Presbyterians are glad to have people come and sit in the pew and eventually become Presbyterians, and Baptists are glad to have people comments in the PO and eventually become Baptists aliens are glad to have people common sit in the pew and become Episcopalians and so on.

But I didn't want to Gentiles coming as Gentiles being received at exactly the same basis as they thought they were being received is Joe's here was this man coming to preach a gospel centered and one whom he claimed was there Messiah, who apparently was now opening the gate of salvation to all who should, regardless of their nationality. This is what had been happening during the week between the two saps were told at the end of the first Sunday that many of the Jews about converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas. That is, Jews and Gentiles followed and asked many questions asked how a person could be saved. What was grounds for salvation. What you had to do first order to qualify ball certainly preach the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone did not tell the Gentiles that they first of all, had to become Jews little later were going to find it out.

Much further on here in acts that were invited in the 15th chapter. This is the battle that he thought out in Jerusalem.

The first great counsel of the church Jews wanting the Gentiles to become Jews.

First of all, before they could be saved.

All of those who traveled with him arguing just as strenuously to become saved through faith in Christ and you don't have to become a Jew for you to become something else.

What you become, through faith in Christ as a Christian you become a Christ one is mean that you know your own way and do your own thing, you begin to follow Christ.

The door to Christ is not the door to Judaism or the door of a Protestant church or Catholic Church or anything else.

Door is Jesus Christ. You must follow him.

That's what Paul contended for nothing else to do that here on this Sabbath were all these Gentiles. I guess I wouldn't mind it if it been a few more than normal goblet here. After all, you are glad to have your church fill up and they had been very respectful and had listens to the Jewish leaders said what was we do. They didn't do that.

They were there to hear this gospel. That's why Luke says they were jealous jealous Gentiles in their response and they spoke against what Paul was saying.

So Paul answered them, and here we see great decision made by Paul and the great principle laid down that he was to follow in virtually every city where he preach the gospel from this time forth, said to these Jews. It was right for us to speak the word of God to you. First we had to do what he says was necessary for us reason courses that he was a Jew and had to speak to his own people.

First, because when Lord gave the great commission, particularly the one we have recorded in the book of acts. He said begin in Jerusalem that is with Jews are equivalent of that were Gentiles beginning where we are. Don't think this means necessarily that we Gentiles were Gentiles are to begin. First of all the Jews think that's a proper application of it. You begin where you are and you go from there. Paul was a Jew and had started in Jerusalem and so when he went about preaching the gospel he would first of all the synagogues, which incidentally was a very sensible thing to do because Mary had a group of people that were already versed in the Old Testament that were interested in spiritual things and he was going to reach Gentiles to live most spiritually by the Gentiles were in the synagogue so they great sense because he said we had to begin there. And so we did said as he goes on to explain it. If you reject it when it's been presented when your Messiah is presented to you know then we will go to the Gentiles because this gospel is not a Jewish gospel exclusively as a gospel for the whole world. Jesus Jewish Messiah when he spoke to his apostles, all of whom are Jews and begin a Jerusalem then go from there into Judea and Samaria and eventually to the uttermost parts of the world. I might've said I guess the slave responded to it. But that is the way it should be. And Paul had the answer.

He quoted from their own Scripture this case from Isaiah 49 six saying to them I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. They were to be the light they were to be a vehicle so home. This message was proclaimed, but if they would not proclaim it word of God would not be bound Messiah would not remain hidden from the Gentiles, and he Jew himself would take the gospel to them. Interesting isn't that that first part I have made you a light for the Gentiles is something Simeon the old man quoted when he first saw Jesus Christ at the time of his nativity's father and mother were bringing them up to the temple and Simeon was there and he greeted them and he took this young child in his arms and he praised God because God told him that he would not die until he saw the Lord's anointed jury was then use these words.

I have made you a light for the Gentiles, Simeon the agent Jew in Jerusalem the time of the dedication of the infant child saying this child is to be a light for the Gentiles here was Paul now quoting this saying that that's what you come to do carry the gospel to this Gentile community wonderful thing about this is that when the gospel is proclaimed.

These Gentiles did believe it. Total number of things about them. First of all, they parted glad and they honor the word of the Lord means they believed it and obeyed it. The fifth of the 10 Commandments is honor your father and your brother one thing that involves obeying them.

So when is Gentiles honored the word of the Lord means they obeyed, it's the word of the Lord called for faith in Christ. So they had faith in Christ. They believe on it.

That's the first thing secondly were told that the word of God spread through the whole region. That means that they immediately became witnesses is an incidental point here, but one spot be passed over that when Luke says the word of God spread through the whole region he's being really very accurate in describing this community. William Ramsey, whom I mentioned before is pointed this out saying that the inscription has been discovered in Antioch describing the century and that is a soldier who was over 100 other soldiers and he is described there. In this inscription as being a region. Mary Centurion that means is that this word region is not just a general term like we might say the neighborhood but it was a technical term. This was the region of Antioch. It was a Roman term in the centurion that was appointed to be in control of the region was called a regional centurion and others what Luke says word of God spread throughout the whole region. It shows that he has accurate information, always talking about is getting the terms exactly right. Anyway, this is where the gospel spread and the spread by those Gentiles you say who first came to believe on Jesus Christ this week. As a result of Paul's preaching. I want you to see something else right in the middle of that between words say they honored word that is believed that the word others. Verse 49 you have in all appointed to eternal life believed interesting in the middle of this account that there you have a statement of election that those were appointed to eternal life believed. And right in the middle of great evangelistic story for people who see that be a contradiction. I can imagine how if God appoints women to eternal life. That is deciding will be saved and then saving them. I got understand how if that is true, anybody should be an evangelist or a witness because the argument would go if God's going to say the Bible say them anyway and so what I do doesn't matter, or if it depends on name alone depends on me and you mustn't talk of God's election actually doesn't work that way and those who have the greatest faith in God's electing power. Those who, by the grace of God throughout history also proved to be the greatest evangelists.

All of the great missionary pioneers. Virtually all of the great missionary pioneers were Calvinist theology, which meant that they believed in election say well why didn't they go out to visualize that they believe that God was going to say people anyway isn't quite the way to put it. God is going to say someone God is going to save them and they will be saved. It is not quite correct to say that God will save them anyway because when we say God will save them anyway. What we mean by that is, God will save them apart from our witness is not true. God appoints the ends also appoints the means and the means is our witness. Just as in prayer. God promises to answer and give what we need. We are to pray for it were to be witnesses. Jesus said, go, and all the world with the gospel teach everyone call them to faith as you go know God work through that to bring to faith those whom he has before. Appointed, I sometimes say I don't know how you can do it any other way least in the thinking manner. Suppose it doesn't depend on God suppose it depends on you.

Most people are saying because your eloquent because you have the right answers because you happen to be in the right place at just the right time entirely apart from God. I know how anybody can live with that because of me just leave you don't have the right answers and you're not in the right place. You know, presented in just the right way. If you inadvertently offense it will then they're going to be a hell and it's your fault how anybody can live with that. You believe that God has appointed some eternal life from that as you testify, God will use that testimony to bring them to fight so that those were appointed to eternal life believed. Then why takes the burden off and witnessing becomes what it really should. Becomes a joy as it obviously was Paul and Barnabas joy aspect gospel is also something that produces persecution was persecution told in the last section here that the Jewish leaders start up God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. That is, people of influence.

These stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas so that they were expelled from the region as a technical term.

Again, I had to leave that area had to pass on meconium ass.

They were expelled they left. They shook off the dust from their feet as a testimony against those who were re-rejecting the gospel, although they were repulsed.

The church that had been established in that short period of time was not subdued.

On the contrary, it was well-established and I went on to thrive and become one of the great churches of the ancient world. What did it well.

It wasn't the perseverance of Paul and Barnabas.

They weren't there for very long. I wasn't a great spiritual perception or understanding of the early Christians because they could hardly have much. They hadn't even had much time to be taught Paul and Barnabas did come back through the region later and try to ground them further in the faith wasn't that it was the word of the Lord is what makes a church strong word of the Lord.

That's what makes an individual Christian strong the work of the Lord and that's why we spend so much time thinking about which you read it to study its laid up in your hearts to meditate upon it. That's what were called to do because it's only as we do that we are strong. Spray our father, we would pray that what happened here in this city of Antioch might happen among us as well and in spite of persecution or even the difficulties that attend the proclamation of the gospel. There might be such a love of your word. In such a feeding upon it that we ourselves become established and that you would bless us make a strong then as we are strengthened in spiritual things out of the wisdom of men are in the eloquence of men or women. But as we are strengthened in spiritual things in your word. We might then become witnesses to those about is these early Christians obviously were we ask you to bless our witness, not because of who we are, but because of who you are because you have promised never to let your word return unto you, Boyd pray in Jesus. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James voice listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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