We have been preaching our way through the book of Acts. As we have been walking through Acts we see God’s might works of the Holy Spirit. Today we will continue to see God’s work. Acts has been called the Acts of the Holy Sprit. Acts is the first church history book.
Acts is about the spread of the Gospel and the Gospel is eternal life. Listen to what I once read:
THE TREE TRUNK THAT TRUMPETED LIFE AND TRUMPED DEATH By Pastor Rick Sams
The most popular tourist attraction in Herfordshire County, England is a graveyard. People come from all over the world to see a grave of a woman buried over 200 years ago.
Lady Anne Grimston was a proud, wealthy, and obstinate woman who lived for this life alone.
Toward the end friends tried to encourage her to think about what comes after we breathe our last. She would not. She believed there was nothing beyond: “It is as unlikely that I shall continue to live as that a tree will grow out of my body.”
She went so far as to make a challenge to Heaven, saying: “If, indeed, there is life hereafter, trees will render asunder my tomb.” [Allegedly there is the same kind of story about a local man and snakes on his grave. Can anyone confirm?]
Lady Anne Grimston died, was buried, and forgotten. But not quite. After many years the thick marble slab over her grave was found ajar. The builders put it back and forgot her again.
But once more the marble slab tilted to one side, and in the middle was a crack, with a tiny bunch of leaves bursting through. The crack was sealed with cement and the slab returned to its original spot. A few years later the marble was again lifted up, the crack opened wider than before, and the trunk of a tree emerged from the opening.
Workmen repaired the increasingly crumbling tomb and installed iron rails and rods to hold everything together. But the young tree would not be tied down. It kept making its way, breaking the masonry, destroying the walls of the tomb, and tearing the heavy iron railings out of the ground.
Today, growing right from the heart of Lady Anne Grimston’s grave in St. Peter’s churchyard is one of the largest trees in England. Because of that tree the site is a mass of twisted metal and crushed marble.
For over 200 years an old tree trunk has trumpeted: “life trumps death.”
“Whoever believes in me will have eternal life…For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name…And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (John 3:16; 5:21; 20:31; I John 5:11-13).
Jesus is eternal life so it is critical that we are persistently giving people Jesus.
As I teach you this passage notice Paul’s persistence to preach the Gospel. Actually, fast forward to chapter 14 and verse 7. Right there, this section ends with Paul continuing to preach the Gospel. Each section and each location they are preaching the Gospel.
Let’s read the passage. Read with me Acts 13:42- 14:7:
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the gospel.
Persistence is important:
Swindoll reminds us:
I’m sure Anne Mansfield Sullivan had a host of folks telling her that the blind, 7-year-old brat wasn’t worth it. But Anne persisted—in spite of temper tantrums, physical abuse, mealtime madness, and even thankless parents. In her heart she knew it was worth all the pain. Was it ever! Within two years her pupil, Helen Keller, was able to read and write in braille. She ultimately graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College (where Miss Sullivan had “spelled” each lecture into her hand), and Helen Keller devoted the rest of her life to aiding the deaf and the blind.
- Missions is about the Gospel.
- I have a concern. I have a concern that missions is not about the Gospel. But look at this. Each part of this passage and each section of this passage is about the Gospel.
- In verse 42 the people were begging that these things would be spoken of more.
- So, verse 42 the whole city is gathered and they are going to share the Gospel.
- Verse 48: the Gentiles, non Jews are excited, they are rejoicing because Paul had just quoted an Old Testament verse stating that they are to be a light to them and that salvation is for them as well. Verse 48 says that as many were appointed for eternal life believed.
- Verse 49 says that as many as were appointed for eternal life believed.
- Then we come to 14:1, now they are in a new city and what do they do? They go to a synagogue in order that they can share the Gospel.
- They would go to the synagogue so that they could proclaim they Gospel to the Jews first, but also because there would be Greek and Romans there as well who would believe in God.
- Then we come to verse 7 and the passage ends with Paul and Barnabas heading to another location in order to proclaim the Gospel.
- So, I just gave a rough overview of this passage and you can see that this is all about the Gospel. It is all about evangelism.
- Why do I bring these things up? I bring them up because we have drifted from the Gospel in missions. We have done this in all churches and denominations. The Gospel changes lives:
- I could start by talking about the testimonies that were shares just a few weeks ago on our front lawn, all the testimonies that people shared.
- What about your testimony? Has Jesus changed your life?
- Josh Smith the Youth pastor rom Science Hill, shared his testimony.
- Dave Penturf shared his testimony.
- What about the people’s lives who are affected by Men’s challenge? You will hear about them later on.
- I could share something I read that happened in the Billy Graham Crusades:
Billy Graham writing about the impact of Madison Square Gardens Crusade in 1957:
One night a plainly dressed woman stood in the inquiry room with tears running down her cheeks as she asked Christ to come into her life. When her counselor asked if there was anything else she wanted to share, she replied that she was very afraid of her son. “He drinks a lot,” she said, “and I’m afraid he may beat me when he finds out I’ve become a Christian.” Before the counselor could speak, a voice nearby called out, “It’s okay, Mom. I’m here too.” (“Just As I Am, the Autobiography of Billy Graham.” published by HarperCollins Worldwide, available from HarperOne and Zondervan in the United Stated, HarperCollines Canada, HaperCollins U.K., and HaperCollins Australia. Copyright 1997 by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. page 321)
Page 296: Billy Graham writing about their new evangelistic magazine called “Decision.”
Speaking of crumpled paper, I must tell also of the well-dressed man who one day entered BGEA’s London office. He told Maurice Rowlandson, the manager, that he had been manager of a bank until his life was ruined by alcohol. He lost his family and job, eventually ending up as a vagrant on the streets London. One day he was rummaging through a trash barrel looking for something to eat when he came across a discarded copy of “Decision.” Intrigued by the cover story, he read the magazine straight through, and as a result turned his life over to Christ. Now, a year later, he had been reconciled to his family and was once again working in a bank. (“Just As I Am, the Autobiography of Billy Graham.” published by HarperCollins Worldwide, available from HarperOne and Zondervan in the United Stated, HarperCollines Canada, HaperCollins U.K., and HaperCollins Australia. Copyright 1997 by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)
Listen to something that Chuck Swindoll wrote:
Various methods are employed to communicate the good news of Christ to the lost. Some of the approaches appear to be successful and effective on the surface, but underneath they leave much to be desired.
Take the Redskin Approach, for example. The philosophy behind this method is: The more scalps, the better. The major emphasis is numerical—telling the absolute maximum number of people every day about salvation, regardless. This approach isdecision centered, and little (if any) effort is directed toward follow-up or discipleship. Redskins aren’t difficult to identify. They can usually be overheard counting (out loud) the scalps in their belts or seen shooting their flaming arrows into every wagon train they spot during the day or night.
The Harvard Approach is quite different. The thinking behind this method is: Let’s all discuss the world’s religions. Because it’s reason centered, it attracts both genuine and pseudo intellectuals. The modus operandi is invariably a vague discussion that shifts from Bahai to Buddhism . . . from the pros and cons of no prayer in public schools to the rapid growth of the Rajneeshies in the 80s. This approach is educational and occasionally quite stimulating, but it suffers from one mild drawback—no one ever gets saved! Specifics regarding salvation by grace through faith are frowned upon. The direct discussion of forgiveness of sins through Christ’s blood at the cross and His miraculous resurrection is about as welcome in a sophisticated rap session on religion as a life-sized bust of Martin Luther would be in the Vatican.
Perhaps the most popular is the Mute Approach, which promotes: I’m a silent witness for God. The best you can say about this method is that no one ever gets offended. That’s for sure! The saint who settles for this self-centered approach could be tagged a Clairol Christian. No one knows for sure but God. Somewhere down the line this person has begun to swallow one of Satan’s tastiest tidbits: “All God expects of you is a good, silent life. Others will ask you about Christ if they are interested in hearing.” You know, I can count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number of people in my entire life who have suddenly come up and asked me about Jesus Christ. While no one can discount the value of a godly life, that alone never brought anyone into the family of God. “Faith,” please remember, “comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17).
As we have looked at this passage we notice Paul’s persistence in sharing the Gospel. I challenge you to share the Gospel. as well.