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What God Requires

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Introduction

The verses we will consider today mark the end of the first missionary journey. We will see Paul and Barnabas…
Preaching The Gospel In Pisidia And Strengthening The Disciples 13:51b-14:28
Tortoise and the hare.
There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.
Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at the tortoise and cried out, ‘How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?’
Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, ‘There is plenty of time to relax.’
The tortoise walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.
The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare.
Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.
After that, Hare always reminded himself, ‘Don't brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!’”
Slow and steady wins the race. Faithful service, steady working, a consistent, daily walk with Christ; that is what wins the race.
A few weeks ago we looked at Paul’s longest recorded message. We looked at his audience, his ability, and the answer of the people to his message.
The verses we will consider this week and next mark the end of the first missionary journey. We will see Paul and Barnabas…
Preaching The Gospel In Pisidia And Strengthening The Disciples 13:51b-14:28
What this passage demonstrates is that
God has one requirement for the child of God. Faithfulness.
Faithful service to Christ brings growth and effectiveness in the Christian life.
In this passage, the specific application of this one requirement is limited to two life experiences.
Life experience #1 is opposition. Therefore…

1. Faithfulness Is Required In Opposition vv. 51b-20

Opposition is a form of pressure. When pressure comes against us we can either give way or we can stand firm.
Scripture repeatedly exhorts the child of God to stand firm. Therefore,
Constant pressure needs to meet an immovable force.
To be an immovable force in the face of opposition the child of God needs to understand two realities about opposition.
Reality #1…

a. Opposition can be endured vv. 51b-7

If we do not understand that we can endure opposition, we are going to fold under pressure.
Opposition can be endured, however…
Endurance of opposition is conditioned on the believer receiving support. In these verses three sources of support are revealed.
Source #1…

i. The support of the Holy Spirit vv. 51b-1

READ V. 51b
As Paul and Barnabas continue their journey they leave Pisidian Antioch and arrive in Iconium (S).
v. 52 – Filled with joy and the HS! That is their response to being kicked out of the city.
READ V. 52
This is so fascinating. They are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit! That is their response to being kicked out of the city.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
When we are filled with the Spirit it is only natural that we be filled with His joy! If we lack joy, chances are we are not being filled with the Spirit which means there is something preventing Him from producing joy in our lives.
Being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit is what enables these men to continue to minister despite opposition.
READ V. 1
They are filled with the Spirit. The result of their Spirit filling is an inability to be silent. Yes, they were just kicked out of a city. So what! They must preach Christ!
Their responsibility to preach Christ leads them once again to the synagogue.
Though we are not told, it is likely that they are again asked to speak. When they do they speak in such a manner that a large multitude of people believe.
The idea here is that they spoke in such a manner.
What do these verses tell us? They give us three keys to gospel proclamation.
1 - Preparation. They were prepared by the filling of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel! If we are not filled with the Holy Spirit we will not be able to reach others. This requires that we live with sin confessed and in obedience to God and His Word.
2 - Position. They were put into a position where they could proclaim the gospel. So they did! This requires that we recognize the opportunities we are given.
A large multitude of people believe.
3 - Proclamation. They proclaimed the gospel clearly and persuasively. These two ideas must be a part of any gospel proclamation. We must speak with clarity. If the gospel is not clear, it will not be effective. We must speak persuasively. This does not mean that salvation depends on our presentation. However, it does mean that people are more likely to listen when we speak with passion and conviction.
Proclaimed the gospel clearly and persuasively.
Again, all of this is done in surrender to the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, He is the one who convicts and draws. Yet He does that using our lips as we share the Word of God.
To endure opposition, be filled with the Spirit.
In opposition the first source of support is the Holy Spirit. If we are not Spirit filled, we will be powerless to stand firm when we are opposed.
Source #2…

ii. The support of Christ vv. 2-3

READ V. 2
This is the reality of what we will face. Notice careful what this verse says.
These are unbelievers. One thing you can absolutely count on. Unsaved people will oppose the proclamation of the gospel. Why? Because they are under Satan’s dominion.
They stirred up the Gentiles. The Jews provoke and rile the Gentiles up. The method they use to do this is the poisoning of the Gentiles minds. This word literally means to mistreat or harm. The idea is that they make the Gentiles bitter against the believers. This is deliberate and the implication is that it is wrongful. This is what we are seeing in our culture. The minds of unbelievers are being turned against Christians. We are routinely painted in a bad light. However, this should not discourage us! Why? Because it gives opportunity as we will see in the next verse.
READ v. 3
What takes place here is amazing and completely opposite of human nature. The unbelievers poisoned the minds of the people against Paul and Barnabas, so they stayed longer!
Why do they act this way? Because they are filled with the Spirit! Guided and directed by Him.
When faced with opposition, we must be faithful! God will show us when it is time to go.
The opposition to the gospel gives greater boldness.
The Lord backs up their ministry providing miraculous affirmation of their message. They are proclaiming the message of His grace. Salvation is by grace through faith, not works, not merit, not effort. Grace. Christ affirms this message by means of miracles.
This is one of those times where we need to note that The book of Acts is descriptive not prescriptive. What do I mean? The book of Acts is a historical narrative detailing the expansion and growth of the gospel in the first generation of the Church. The book of Acts is not an instruction manual on how to do church today. Nor is it a manual showing what we can expect.
Why do I bring this up here? Because we cannot expect miracles to authenticate our ministry. God may do that, He most certainly can do that, but we cannot expect it. Why? We are not Paul and Barnabas. We have God’s completed revelation and that is all the authentication we need. If God chooses to accomplish miracles through us, so be it. However, miracles are not needed to authenticate the gospel today. We have God’s Word to do that.
We are not Paul and Barnabas. We have God’s completed revelation and that is all the authentication we need.
With that being said, we do have Christ on our side giving us the strength to stand firm! How do we know that? (S).
Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Verse 20 tells us that Christ will be with us to the end! This is why we are commanded to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ!
When we are facing opposition it is what we know to be true of Christ that will get us through!
To endure opposition, cling to Christ.
If we do not know what Christ has promised us, pressure will break us. When faced with opposition we can endure because we have the support of the Holy Spirit, and the support of Christ.
Source #3…

iii. The support of the Body vv. 4-7

READ v. 4
If we have proclaimed Christ effectively, this will be the result. Some will be for us, some will be against us. This reality should not bring fear. Rather, it should increase our boldness because some will listen!
Barnabas is referred to here as an apostle. The word apostle literally means “one sent with a message.” However, in Acts it typically refers to a select group of people. The requirements to be part of this group are given in . This is why we do not believe there are apostles today. To be a Biblically qualified apostle, you have to have physically seen Christ and His disciples.
Acts 1:21–22 NKJV
“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Barnabas meets these requirements.
READ vv. 5-6
The leaders of Iconium, both Jewish and Gentile, join forces to “abuse and stone” Paul and Barnabas. The words “violent attempt” let us know that This is a premeditated, well planned, assassination. They want to shut these men up.
Abuse is verbal and stoning is obviously physical. The idea was to ruin their reputation and put them to death.
When Paul and Barnabas become aware of this plot, they escape.
This is really important. When the opposition was verbal, they remained and spoke more boldly. When plans were made to physically attack them, they fled. In proclaiming the gospel there may come a point when we need to flee. This is perfectly acceptable. How do we know when to flee? We must be filled with the Spirit. He will let us know. However, a good indication seems to be the threat of physical violence. When physical harm can be avoided, it should be.
They leave Iconium and go to Lystra and Derbe (S). What do they do?
READ v. 7
This is faithfulness! They don’t stop preaching because of opposition. They are bold and continually preach the gospel. When chased out of one area, they simply move to the next.
There is something subtle and almost easily missed in these verses. It is one repeated idea. V. 4 “apostles” plural. v. 5 “them” verse 6 “they” v. 7 “they.”
Everything that is faced in these verses are faced with a plurality of believers! We cannot stand firm if we do not stand together! My favorite illustration of this is the game “red rover” (S). The game is played in two lines of people facing each other. Each line holds hands and calls for someone from the other line to come over. The runners goal is to break the line and capture one of the opposing team. The line’s goal is to hold steady. The game ends when only one person is left in a line. The line is only strong when everyone stands together. That is the body of Christ! The enemy is sending attacks and if we don’t stand together, the line breaks and people are taken out of the fight.
In these verses we find the word “they” over and over again.
We need one another if we are going to stand firm!
To endure opposition, fellowship with the saints.
We are to encourage and support one another enabling us to stand firm in the face of opposition.
We can endure opposition because we have the support of the Holy Spirit, of Christ, and of our fellow believers.
If we are going to stand as an immovable force we must understand that opposition can be endured. There is a second reality we need to understand about opposition.
If we are going to stand as an immovable force we must understand that opposition can be endured. There is a second reality we need to understand about opposition.
To endure opposition, fellowship with the saints.
Reality #2…

b. Opposition can be exceptional vv. 8-20

By exceptional I don’t mean good. I mean that it can be out of the ordinary. That is what we see here.
Before we even study the verses I want to give you all a thought. Who is the energizing force behind what takes place here? Satan! How do we know? Because He blinds the minds of those who don’t believe!
These people have been blinded by Satan and so they are more easily manipulated. They have been blinded by Satan and they are worshiping false gods.
Exceptional opposition can be difficult to handle. However, strength is found when we are forewarned and thus forearmed. This passage gives us three warnings about exceptional opposition.
Warning #1. Exceptional opposition is…

i. Subtle opposition vv. 8-13

READ vv. 8-10
Verse 8 backs up to give us an account of what happened while they were in Lystra.
At first glance this seems like all positives. And as far as these verses go, it is. This man was born a cripple, he is listening to Paul preach and Paul sees his faith. Paul orders him to stand up and the man does. It is important to note that Paul doesn’t heal the man. God does that. Paul simply observes the faith and makes the command.
Stand up straight on your feet. The problem was his feet had no strength. He wasn’t able to stand straight. He had never even walked. With God all things are possible! The man is able to leap and walk.
Some have made much of this phrase “seeing that he had the faith to be healed.”
This is one of those times where we cannot go beyond what is written.
This verses has been used to teach that if you do not have enough faith, you won’t be healed. However, The verse doesn’t say anything about the amount or even quality of the man’s faith! What it says is that he believed he could be healed.
Also need to note what the verse does not say. Doesn’t say that if the man had less faith he couldn’t be healed. Doesn’t even say that if the man had no faith he couldn’t be healed. To argue either of those points is to argue, at best, from implication and that is very dangerous. Jesus healed people who gave no evidence of faith at all (the little girl whose father came). What we have to believe is what is actually stated. This man, in this instance, in this circumstance, believed that he could be healed and so Paul was used by God to heal him. That’s it. That’s all the verse says.
READ v. 11
Here is where the subtle opposition starts. The people of the city worship the Greek pantheon. They see Paul heal and think he is one of their false gods. Satan has hijacked this miraculous healing and is trying to use it to lead these people into greater darkness! They are speaking in a dialect that Paul and Barnabas do not know.
Warning #2. Exceptional opposition is…
Satan wants to hijack the miraculous for his own purposes. Sometimes he does this through distraction. Someone has a miraculous experience and Satan leads them into a false religion.
Do you see Satan’s counterfeit here? The gods have come in likeness of men. There is only one God who did this! Last week we mentioned (S).
Philippians 2:8 NKJV
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus Christ is God manifest in human flesh. He didn’t just look like a man, He was a man. Satan knows that, he wants these people to think that their false gods can do the same.
READ v. 12
They even determine who Paul and Barnabas are in their list of false gods. Satan’s deception is thick and powerful!
READ v. 13
The priest of these false gods bring animals and sacrificial wreaths intending to sacrifice with the multitude because of the arrival of Paul and Barnabas who they think are gods.
This is how subtle opposition can be. Satan has these people blinded and deceived and he is keeping them from the truth.
This miraculous event has become a distraction from the gospel.
In exceptional opposition, be discerning.
We must be on guard to know when we are faced with subtle opposition. This requires that we be men and women of the Word. But we also need to be aware of what is happening in the culture around us. Discernment is needed when unbiblical claims are made on the basis of experience instead of truth. Discernment is needed when people become so focused on miracles that they greatest miracle of all, the miracle of sinners becoming saints through faith in Christ.
There is subtle opposition.
Warning #2. Exceptional opposition is…

ii. Spiritual opposition vv. 14-18

What Paul and Barnabas are engaged in here is a spiritual battle.
READ vv. 14-16
The gods served by these people stand in direct opposition to the true and living God.
Tearing the clothes was an expression of outrage and grief. It was a very serious symbol showing extreme emotion.
Crying out is the idea of essentially screaming. Paul and Barnabas run screaming into the crowd in an effort to stop them.
Why? This is serious business! We are not to be worshiped, God alone is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise.
Notice the description given by Paul and Barnabas.
First there is a question to make them pause. Why are you doing this? They are doing this because of the miracle. That leads to the next statement.
We are just like you. We are not gods, we are men just like you.
Thirdly, Sacrificing to false gods is useless. It cannot accomplish anything! You can kill all the animals you want and nothing will happen.
Fourthly, We serve a living God. A living God can interact, He can accomplish things on our behalf. Every other religion has at its center a dead person. We serve a risen Savior!
Fifthly, Our living God created everything. Everything that they worship as god or that their false gods supposedly rule was created by the living God! The heaven refers to all the sky and universe. God created that. The earth, the only planet that can sustain life. God created that. The sea with all it’s huge assortment of life and mystery. God created that. Everything in the universe, the sky, on the earth, and in the sea. God created it all!
Beloved, we need to keep this high view of God. (S).
Colossians 1:15–17 NKJV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Christ is the creator and sustainer of all things. Because this is true, he is worthy of all our praise.
v. 16 mentions the reality that God allows nations to pursue their own path. Paul is using this as a setup to discuss natural revelation in the next verse.
READ v. 17
Though God is not always obviously active, He reveals Himself all around us. This is often referred to as natural revelation. says (S)
Psalm 19:1 NKJV
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Nature itself testifies to the reality that there is a God! takes this even further (S).
Romans 1:20 NKJV
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
God’s existence as well as His eternal power and Godhead are all declared in nature. Paul’s statement here to these idol worshipping people of Lystra parallels what he wrote to the church in Rome. God clearly exists and rules and reigns supreme. No one has an excuse for not believing in Him.
He is responsible for all that is good, sending rain, causing fruit, seasons, and filling our lives with food and gladness.
READ v. 18
All of these revelations barely stopped the people from sacrificing to Paul and Barnabas.
This is clearly spiritual warfare.
This is a tactic of opposition. Satan is good at convincing people to embrace counterfeits. This is something he is still actively doing.
How do we stand firm in the face of spiritual warfare? (S).
2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NKJV
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Spiritual battles are won through the knowledge of God and obedience to Christ. That is exactly what Paul did in this passage!
In exceptional opposition, be obedient.
Our ability to fight Spiritual battles is conditioned on our obedience to Christ. No obedience = no victory.
We have been warned about subtle opposition and spiritual opposition.
Warning #3. Exceptional opposition is…

iii. Steadfast opposition vv. 19-20

READ v. 19
The Jews are steadfast and persistent in their opposition. The travel from Antioch and Iconium for the sole purpose of causing trouble for Paul and Barnabas! That is dedication!
They are able to convince the people to stone Paul and they drag him out of the city thinking he is dead. This is opposition.
There will be those who oppose us with this kind of steadfast determination.
Apparently there was no chance to escape and Paul is stoned. There are many places in the world where being a follower of Christ comes with the expectation of physical violence and suffering. (S).
1 Peter 4:12–13 NKJV
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Trials are to be expected. Paul is stoned, dragged, and left for dead. But…
READ v. 20
God miraculously preserves Paul’s life!
Though we will face opposition and suffering, never forget who is on your side!
The God who raises the dead fights for us! The healer of the sick, the God of all comfort, the Father of mercy, that is who we serve! When we are walking in His will we are invincible until it is accomplished.
I want us to notice something very powerful in this verse.
When do Paul and Barnabas leave Lystra? The next day!
I don’t know about you, but after a murder attempt, I might be leaving town immediately. Paul gets up, goes right back into the city, and then stays the night there!
This reminds me of what Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter. (S).
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
This is faithfulness! Opposition does not stop Paul and Barnabas, not even steadfast and dedicated opposition.
What about you and me? Will we remain faithful in the midst of steadfast opposition?
When the door for ministry closes in Lystra, they move on to Derbe.
Don’t give up when the hard times hit. Don’t throw in the towel! God is not finished with you yet! How do I know that? Because you and I are still breathing.
In exceptional opposition, be persistent.
Keep moving forward. Keep testing the doors to see if they are open. When God closes a door, move to the next one.

Conclusion

says (S)
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
It is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Greatness is not measured by external standards of success.
In God’s estimation, greatness is determined by faithfulness.
If we are going to be faithful we must understand that opposition can be… endured.
This is possible through the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the fellowship of the church.
If we are going to be faithful we must understand that opposition can be… exceptional.
To help us be on guard we must recognize subtle, spiritual, and steadfast opposition.
God has given us everything we need to walk with Him faithfully.
This is His one requirement.
Growth comes as we are faithful.
Effective ministry happens as we are faithful.
Faithfulness is what drives the believer’s life.
May faithfulness be the story of our lives.
#43 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (v. 3)

2. Faithfulness Is Required In Strengthening vv. 21-28

Acts 13:51–14:20 NKJV
But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. And they were preaching the gospel there. And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

a. Preparation gives strength vv. 21-25

i. Prepared by proclamation vv. 21-22

v. 22 – expect trials.

ii. Prepared by placement v. 23

v. 23 – Appointed elders in the churches.

iii. Prepared by preaching vv. 24-25

b. Presentation gives strength vv. 26-28

i. Presenting the story vv. 26-27

v. 27 – Reporting back to the sending church.

ii. Presenting the service v. 28

Conclusion

It is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Greatness is not measured by external standards of success. In God’s estimation, greatness is determined by faithfulness.
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