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  • Nov 25 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The First Church Council in History (Acts 15:1-35)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The First Church Council in History (Acts 15:1-35)

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The First Church Council

Acts 15:1-35 (Pastor Heo)

The Council at Jerusalem

1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 ” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ [Amos 9:11-12] 18 that have been known for ages. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul– 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain (1) from food sacrificed to idols, (2) from blood, (3) from the meat of strangled animals and (4) from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. 30 The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the brothers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them [34 but Silas decided to remain there]. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.


This, chp 15 is the first church council / conference in history. This is “The Jerusalem Council”. Main locations are Jerusalem and Antioch (300 miles / 500 km between them). This council happens between Paul’s 1st and 2nd Missionary Journeys.

  • Chp 13, 14 = Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey
  • Chp 16, 17, 18 = Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey

There is only one agenda here: is circumcision essential for Gentile salvation? No. This may seem very clear to us today, but at that time, it was very divisive and debated.

The question was: Should Gentiles be circumcised first to be saved?

In many cities, during Paul’s Missionary Journey, many Gentiles turned to the Lord and became believers. Also many Gentile churches were planted there, and this news spread rapidly even to Jerusalem.

Some Jewish believers were happy, but others were not – they also doubted the salvation of the Gentiles and their sincerity.

To Jews, at that time, circumcision signified them as God’s covenant people. Once circumcised, there was no turning back – he would be a Jew forever. Of all the traditions of the Jews, at that time, circumcision was the MOST IMPORTANT to distinguish them from their pagan neighbors.

When the Gentiles began to believe, Paul and Barnabas were preaching the simple message, “Just believe in Christ and be saved.” But the Judaizers were afraid that soon the Gentiles would outnumber the Jews and that the Gentile believers would lower the moral standard of the Jews – if they didn’t strictly follow the Jewish laws.

So, elders came down from Antioch and strongly argued that the Gentiles must become circumcised (must become Jewish) first before being saved.

Consider this situation:

  • A Korean says to a non-Korean, “You must become Korean before you can become a Christian.”
  • Or a black man to a white man, “You must become black before you can become a Christian.”

This is silly.

We should say to EVERYONE, “Believe in Christ Jesus and be saved!” Short and simple.

So, Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to make this clear.

v. 1-2

“1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.”

As delegates, Paul and Barnabas and others, went to Jerusalem to have this big meeting with the other elders there. At first, in this meeting, Paul and Barnabas gave their first missionary report (just as they did at Antioch church). If Antioch church is the mother church in that Paul and Barnabas are foreign ministers sent by the church, then the Jerusalem church is the “grandmother church.” Jerusalem was the mother church of Antioch church.

After their mission report, strong Judaizers stood up and argued strongly, “No! Gentiles must be circumcised first!”

v. 5

“5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” “

They had much discussion, and the head of the conference, Peter stood up and spoke. He made it very clear that Gentile salvation is only “by faith in Christ through grace” (“plus nothing”). The decision of this council is:

“Salvation is the grace of God through faith in Christ PLUS nothing

Peter also made it clear that God had purified Gentiles as a result of his ministry experience (Cornelius in chp 10) – this happened about 10 years earlier. Peter shared his own ministry experience with Cornelius to the assembly. Then, Paul and Barnabas also shared their experiences in their First Missionary journey – the signs, miracles, and wonders that are evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the Gentiles.

v. 12

“12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. “

  • First speaker: Peter
  • Second speaker: Paul and Barnabas
    • They shared their ministry experiences and supported each other.
  • Final speaker: James

After listening to his argument, this conference reached its conclusion with their final decision.

v. 13-21

“13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: [Amos 9:11-12] 16 ” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ 18 that have been known for ages. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain (1) from food polluted by idols, (2) from sexual immorality, (3) from the meat of strangled animals and (4) from blood. 21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.””

This James is the brother of Jesus and the writer of the epistle James, as well as one of the head leaders of the Jerusalem church. He was well-respected and well-known for his holiness and devotion to the Law. He was called “Camel Knees” (because he prayed so much) 낙타 무릎

His point is: God’s promise given to David – to keep his kingdom – was not earthly/politically, but by the Messiah who would renew the spiritual kingdom and rule forever. This was evidenced by the resurrection of Christ and the salvation of Jews and Gentiles. So, the salvation of Gentiles by the grace of God through faith alone, does not contradict the Old Testament scriptures.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barnabas used: missionary experience to prove salvation is by grace alone through faith alone
  • James used: the Word of God (Amos) to prove salvation is by grace alone through faith alone

The four of them had the same argument. The difference =

  • Paul, Peter, Barnabas used the experience;
  • James used the Word of God.

Thus, we can witness that the final test of truth is the Word of God.

Yes, ministry experience and our own beliefs are important. But the final test of truth must be the Word of God. This is the only absolute proof and absolute standard. Thus, what is important is what the Word of God says. The more we read, meditate, etc, the better able we will be able to determine what is correct in times of doctrinal debate.

Conclusion: “Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing.”

#4 Things of “Loving Compromise”

Abstain from:

  1. Idolatry (free FROM it, not TO it)
  2. Sexual immorality
  3. Meat of strangled animals
  4. Blood

Do you eat blood? No problem, this is not a matter of salvation.

In fellowship, eating together is a big part of fellowship. Without eating together, having fellowship is almost impossible.

Lev 17:11, 12 “The life of a creature is in the blood. Do not eat blood.”

Do you know strangling an animal would keep the blood in the circulatory system and not drained away. This would cause the blood to be eaten with the meat.

If we kill by strangling, it is difficult to remove blood from the meat. So at that time, Jews never ate blood. But doing this was very common to Gentiles. So, by eating blood, it would be almost impossible to have fellowship between Jews and Gentiles.

At that time, they often shared common meals like our potluck. This is not a matter of salvation, but a matter of nutrition, unity, fellowship, etc. We want unity in diversity and diversity in unity. Even today, we must learn the art of “loving compromise.”

Yes, no question, we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. But IF we are, there must be evidence of change – by rejecting the old lifestyle – because “salvation has power” and “salvation is NEW life.”

2 Cor 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation…”

They reached this final agreement and wrote a letter – the decision of this council – to send to Antioch church to encourage and strengthen them.


v. 23-29

“23 With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul– 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:

29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.

You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell. “


Antioch sent two delegates: Paul & Barnabas to Jerusalem with this debate. Jerusalem sent two delegates back: Judas (Jew) & Silas (Gentile) with this news

v. 34

“34 but Silas decided to remain there” (some manuscripts have this, some don’t) NIV: no KJV: yes

Later, this Silas will accompany Paul in his Second Missionary journey in the place of Barnabas who visited different cities with John Mark.

Next Sunday, we will begin the study of this Second Missionary journey.

Conclusion: “Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing.”

Yes, we say this today, but practically, there are many challenges and temptations to add small things.

  • Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved through faith – this not of yourselves, it is the work of God – so that no one can boast.”
  • Romans “Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation in Christ, for the law of Christ sets me free from the law of sin and death…”

Remember, the death of Christ is the price paid for our redemption and salvation and freedom.

In ancient markets, slaves were bought for a price. Redemption speaks of the purchase of our salvation – as the price for our sin. The emphasis is on our “freedom” which we receive by the price paid by Christ.

Conclusion:

We can put the matter like this.

  • Essentials: Unity
  • Non-essentials: Diversity
  • All things: Charity and freedom
  1. “In essentials: unity;” (Eph 4 – “One God, one faith, one baptism, one hope”)
  2. “In non-essentials: diversity and variety;”
  3. “In all things: Charity and liberty.”

“God bless you with unity, variety, charity, and liberty.”

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 18 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Our Mission is Good News (Acts 14:20-28)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Our Mission is Good News (Acts 14:20-28)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Our Mission is Good News

Acts 14:20-28 (Pastor Heo)

20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

The Return to Antioch in Syria

21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.


We don’t know how long this “sabbatical” was for the two. Our sabbatical will happen in heaven – not on earth.

These two chapters are the story of Paul and Barnabas’ First missionary journey. They were constantly on the move to multiple cities through the region.

Last Sunday, what happened at Lystra? Paul healed a crippled man by the power of Christ. After this, the crowd thought they were gods. So they wanted to worship P&B by offering them sacrifices. But they shouted “NO!” tearing their clothes and said, “We too are only men like you.” At this moment, their worshiping attitude turned to anger and they stoned Paul and left him for dead.

This is human nature.

Also with Jesus, he understood how fickle the crowd could be. In his earthly ministry, many people watched many signs he did, but he never entrusted himself to the crowd because he knew what was in men’s hearts.

Yes, when people praise us and recognize us, we feel proud, but we must not allow this to cloud our judgment. Do not put your trust in the crowd – it is so changeable and fickle. So:

“Trust in God with all you heart.. in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jesus says, “Trust in God, trust also in me.”

So, Paul was thrown out of the city, but when the disciples gathered around him, they were overjoyed to see him rise again. Then they immediately re-entered the hostile city, and the next morning, they left for Derbe (the last mission field in this missionary journey.)

v. 20-21

“20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,”

Derbe is the next city east of Lystra (small city). As usual, the first thing P&B did in the city was preach the “good news” (gospel).

Missionary’s priority #1 is to preach good news all the time. Also, this is my priority. And if you are a true Christian in this world, then your priority is also to preach the good news.

Only good news can win souls to Christ. What is this good news? “Good news of great joy for all the people at the same time for eternity.” – this is the death and resurrection of Christ.

This is a strange story actually.

The story of “death” is “good”? Can you say this? Even if my enemy dies, we cannot say this is “good news” to me.

But in the world, there is no religion that says the death of its founder is good news. Christianity is the ONLY one that says this. Can you say that the death of Christ is “good news”?

Why? Why and how is this possible?

If your parents die, can you say this is “good news”? No.

But there are billions of reasons the death of Christ is good news (actually, you are one).

This time, finishing their missionary journey, let me share 7 reasons why the death of Christ is good news.

7 Reasons why Jesus’ Death is “Good”

#1 Jesus died for others

Evidently: Jesus did not die for his own sins – he died for others. “Jesus died just for me.” He bore the punishment for our sins in his body on the cross.

“God demonstrated his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“By his wounds we have been healed.”

His death is the substitutionary death for our sins (propitiation).

That’s why the day he was crucified is called “Good Friday.”

#2: Satisfied God’s justice

His death fully satisfied the demands of God’s Law and his justice.

The death of Christ is not only the satisfaction of the justice of God, but also the requirements of his Law. The transgression of that Law brings with it a punishment – but we can never meet the requirements of the Law. But Jesus met these requirements fully.

Romans 10:4 “Jesus is the end (fulfillment) of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

#3: Gives us forgiveness of sin

Do you need this?

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans) – spiritual and physical death.

This means everybody needs forgiveness of sin – and only his death gives us this forgiveness. The IMMEDIATE result is forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews: “The Law requires that everything be cleansed with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no cleansing. But the blood of Christ cleanses our sins…”

“If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

This is good news to you and me!

#4: Removes the wrath of God

God is holy – too holy to see sins.

Habakkuk 1:13 “God’s eyes are too pure to look upon sin.”

God cannot tolerate any kind of wrong. Thus, there is wrath of God against sin and against the sinner.

Eph 2 “We were by our very nature, the objects of wrath.”

John 3:36 “Whoever rejects Christ cannot see eternal life because the wrath of God remains on him.”

Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed against all men who suppress the truth.”

Only the blood of Christ can cover / remove the wrath of God against us.

1 John 2 “Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins.”

Imagine, if the wrath of God remains on my head, can I live in peace? No!

#5: Reconciles us to God

“Be reconciled to God.” the Bible admonishes us.

We need reconciliation (회복) – the restoration of relationship with God.

The idea of reconciliation is like this:

Gen 1, 2 before the Fall of Man.

There are more than 1,000 chapters in the Bible (1,069?).

In only 2 chapters, God and man (Adam) stood face to face in perfect relationship. But, in sinning, man turned his back to God and walked away.

Then, in his sadness, God turned his back on man and was sad.

Now, only the death of Christ has satisfied the demands of the Law. So, now God has turned his face back toward man and is waiting. This is the invitation of God. It is now up to man to turn back around to be reconciled with God.

#6: It gives us the ministry of reconciliation

2 Cor 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation: the old has gone, the new has come.”

2 Cor 5:18 “All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Remember, if you are reconciled to Christ, you have received the ministry of reconciliation.

Thus, we must say that preaching the gospel is our priority #1.

#7: God declares us righteous

Do you have a bank book? Check it.

When you believe in Christ, the righteousness of Christ is “transferred” into your “bank book.” (A full account!)

Then, God declares us righteous through Christ’s resurrection.

Finally, we can say his death is good news because he rose again from the dead!

v. 21b, 22-25

“Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.”

Attalia is a sea port in Perga – to sail to their home base (Antioch).

After finishing their final ministry in Derbe, they went to Perga to return to their sending church. And on their returning, they backtracked, retraced their steps.

  1. Derbe (end of journey)
  2. Lystra (Paul had been stoned)
  3. Iconium (almost stoned)
  4. Pisidia (expelled)

What courage!

They went back home through a hard way, willingly. Yes, they knew the dangers they faced before. They knew the dangers, but why did they go then?

Even though they knew of these dangers, they had a responsibility to encourage the new believers there.

Lesson: No matter how uncomfortable or dangerous the task, we must always encourage new believers who need our help. We should have a clear strategy to help them grow in faith.

Paul: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Can you say this to new believers?

Two purposes to revisit these former mission fields:

1. Strengthen new believers in the things of Christ and encourage them to remain in the faith

(continuation is strong proof of faith in Christ “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”) If we have real faith, we must show our faithfulness to Christ.

Remember, living a Christian life in this world, I can say like this to you and me: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Because this world is sinful and adulterous and ruled by Satan. Around us, we have all seen good, faithful Christians who are going through hard times.

Sometimes even dedication to Christ, commitment often brings us face-to-face with MORE difficulties than if we live only for ourselves without commitment to Christ. And Paul? If he had aimed lower, he would not have experienced such a variety of pains and sorrows, BUT he also would not have been used so powerfully by God.

Remember, Jesus did not save us to make our lives easy. He saved us to make us great, strong, powerful.

He did not save us to follow the pattern of the world, but to fight the pattern of the world. He made us fighters.

Thus, everyone who wants to live a godly life, will be persecuted.

“If the world hates you, remember it hated me first.”

“Take heart, for I have overcome the world.”

Romans: “If you are children of God you are heirs and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. These sufferings on earth are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us in heaven.”

“We can do all things through him who gives us strength.”

v. 26-28

“26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples. “

After returning home, they gave their mission report. They reported the work God had done through them – they reported the blessings joyfully to the church.

Maybe this was the first “missionary conference” in history.

From this conference, we must learn some lessons.

v 27 – in their mission report, P&B did not say, “We did this for God…” – they were not the subject (주어) in this story – they made God the subject “God did this through us…” – also in our testimony and mission report should be like this. “God did this through me…”

Another amazing thing is that P&B did this great job without the modern missionary tools we have today (cars, computer, KakaoTalk, smartphones, …)

In mission history, some believers have done SO much with so little. But other Christians have done SO little with so much. (These are two kinds of missionaries).

Remember, one day, we will stand before God, face to face, to give our mission report.

“A man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.”

Revelation “Behold, I am coming soon. My reward is in my hand and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

Just like P&B, we will give this report to God. As long as we live, our priorities will be reordered.

God bless you to be missionaries.

Let’s start the Second Missionary Journey next time.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 11 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Be a Christian of Courage

Acts 14:1-20 (Pastor Heo)

In Iconium

1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the 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 do miraculous 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 the 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 good news.

In Lystra and Derbe

8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.


  • Chp 13 = first half of first missionary journey
  • Chp 14 = second half of first missionary journey

In Paul’s early ministry, he went to large cities and planted churches, hoping to reach out to smaller cities from the central locations. He moved along the line of least resistance – through the open gates – and went to his own countrymen first. But when rejected, he turned to the Gentiles.

Chp 13, first half, Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus, to Pamphilia, to Pisidia Antioch. Here, there were filled with joy and the HS, but they still encountered hardships and persecution. They also expelled Paul and Barnabas from their region – so the two shook the dust form their feet and moved to another place: Iconium (in chp 14 here) – about 90 miles east of Antioch.

v 1-5

“1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the 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 do miraculous 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 the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.”

v 1: “Paul and Barnabas went as usual…”

They went into the Jewish synagogues (Jewish churches). Israel was ruled by Rome at that time, and the Jews were scattered all over the world (the Diaspora), and when they scattered, they built “sune – goge” (synagogues) wherever they went.

Greek “sune” = “together”; “goge” = “bring”

This was a religious, social, public building specifically set aside for the Jewish people.

The first thing Paul did was look for a synagogue because he knew he could meet many people there.

Today, there are 10s of thousands:

  • about 10,000 synagogues in Israel,
  • 4,000 in North America,
  • 3,500 in Europe and Asia

Paul and Barnabas began preaching there, but they ran into difficulties – more serious than at Antioch. Greeks and Jews were plotting to stone them, so they had to move on.

In Corinthians, Paul writes, “I have been constantly on the move…”

2 Cor. 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life maybe expressed through ours.”

v 6-7

“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 good news.”

Whatever happened to them, whatever circumstances / surroundings, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel. Paul was a realist but also an optimist.

Are you a realist? Optimist? Pessimist?

Some preachers say like this:

  • Optimist: “85 year old man who married a 35-year old woman and moved to a 12 room house near an elementary school”
  • Optimist does not allow the facts surrounding him to take away his faith, vision, etc that something great can happen.

Remember Paul’s declaration from prison: “I know what it is to be in need, or to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in all circumstances: well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13)

Four reactions to the gospel

How are you showing your reaction to the word of God?

1. A crippled man’s response

v 8-10

“8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.”

As usual, Paul preached the gospel message – and among the audience was a crippled man.

He reacted with faith

The Word of God produces faith and by faith, he was healed.

This also should be applied in our own reaction to the Word of God. At least every Sunday, we receive the Word of God and we should react by faith.

Rom 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.”

Heb 12:2 “Fix your eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith.”

2. Crowd’s reaction

v 11-13

“11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.”

The crowd tried to worship them as though they were the visual representation of gods.

Yes, miracles happen. Our lives are miracles. Salvation is the miracle of miracles.

But we know that miracles by themselves do not produce confession nor faith. Miracles must be accompanied by the Word of God.

This shows the crowd was superstitious and interpreted these things through their own mythology.

  • Zeus = Jupiter = Barnabas = chief of gods
  • Hermes = Mercury = Paul

Do you know how many gods in Japan? 8,000,000

How many in Hindu? ALL

This is “pantheism” = ALL gods

Barnabas evidently looked older, had a more noble appearance. Paul spoke for the two – and Hermes was the messenger of all gods, so that was Paul’s “unofficial” title.

What lesson can we get? Even today, Jesus is made a captive of man’s presuppositions – they do not REALLY understand Christ.

What they think, what they want him to be like, they create him as such.

  • Long ago, in the room in the inn in Bethlehem, there was no room –
    • but today, we have mansions, but no room. To many people, just is just a hero, a teacher, a priest, a culture, but not the Lord of their lives.
  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, so many people were delirious shouting “Hosannah! The King to come!”
    • But when Jesus spoke of his coming death, they became full because this did not fit their preconceived notion about him. Only days later, the SAME crowd shouted “crucify him!”

This is the same in this adulterous, unbelieving world today.

  • Yes, almost everyone will receive Christ as the greatest man who ever lived – he is the supreme psychologist of history – the most important man of all time. He is safe, and soft, and mild, and gentle.
    • But they reject him as personal Savior, Lord, God.

How about us today? We Christians often wear blinders as we read the Bible. We only see what we seek. We find our own preconceived ideas.

It is only with God’s help and the illuminating power of the HS that we can see the truth.

Another thing we can get from this attitude: (this is a basic weakness in our attitude): We often exalt the messenger instead of the message itself.

Check yourself, when you receive the sermon every Sunday, do you receive the messenger or the Message? This is a serious and important point.

We have a tendency to make human beings (rather than God) our security. We have a tendency to have our own Christian pantheism. Yes, we “know” God hates idol worship the most and we “try” to go away from idols. But we can also have “Christian idols.” So with God’s help, we must examine our hearts to see:

WHOM am I worshiping?

Are we worshiping ourselves? Our favorite Internet preacher? A Christian author? Entertainer? Or do you worship and serve Christ himself?

In the next response, P&B make it very clear whom we should serve.

How about this? If you do something great in public and the people exalt you and honor you, what attitude should you have?

3. Apostles’ response to the crowd

v 14-18

“14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they *tore their clothes*[expression of repentance, sorrow, anger] and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. “

If somebody glorifies you, tear your clothes and run away. ….

Yes, we must desire that one day God will glorify us – this is our final hope – that we share in the glory of Christ. But we should reject any kind of glory in this world from human beings.

What a great temptation this must have been for them – even Satan knew it.

How easy it would be to accept this kind of worship. They could rationalize it by saying, “Well, OK, we will accommodate them and THEN point them to the true God.” They could say, “We will use this honor to teach them the truth.” But this is not the way of God.

It is to their credit that they did not receive any kind of glory from men. They boldly told them that the gods of this area were nothing. “All kinds of gods made by men are nothing / worthless.” They cannot speak, hear, see, – they are just ideas out of man’s head.

Paul challenged them: “Turn away from your fake gods to the TRUE God.”

This is true / basic / fundamental repentance that should happen once for all in our lives.

This God is the Living God. Do you believe in a living or dead god? Living, Sustaining, Supporting, Forgiving, Self-revealing God.

Also we should follow and worship this God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

4. Mixed reactions

v. 19-20

“19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

They moved to the next small city the next day.

P&B tried to calm the crowd, but some trouble-making Jews came from Iconium and Pisidia Antioch to stir up the crowd.

  • At Antioch, they expelled P&B.
  • At Iconium, they TRIED to stone P&B, so they fled.
  • Now, in Lystra, maybe the same people came and DID stone Paul.

They thought he was dead (so he was almost dead – he was not a pretender). When they realized what they had done, they were afraid. Iconium was a Roman colony, and Lystra was an outpost. But stoning a Roman citizen (Paul) without trial was terribly illegal. They were afraid, thought he was dead, and they dragged his half-dead body out of the city and threw it away in order to escape the consequences of their riot.

A stoning is a terrible, bloody thing. Have you ever been stoned?

Jesus was crucified. This is a historical fact. Jesus was crucified to give us eternal life. Have you ever received even a single stone for Jesus Christ?

“Jesus was crucified for me. Have I ever been stoned for Jesus?”

Maybe at this time, Paul’s mind flashed back to the stoning of Stephen. At that time, Paul was there, approving of the stoning of Stephen.

In this case, they did the same to Paul. Paul was lying in a lonely place with blood, dust, dirt, his clothes torn, he was motionless.

At this time, the Christians came and stood around him, likely crying, weeping, praying. “How can we give him a funeral, a burial?” But suddenly, one eye “popped” open and he said, “It’s alright.” They said, “Paul, how are you?” “Fine, thank you. And you?” And he got up.

When he came to his senses, the FIRST THING he did was go right back into the city in which we was almost murdered. What bravery! What an act! This much pain and blood must have been quite a spectacle. This was more effective than 1,000 sermons. No one could stop P&B from preaching about Christ – because they KNEW that Jesus died “for me.”

  • Do you have this kind of courage?
  • Do you have bravery to preach the gospel?
  • Do you have courage to share the gospel message?

Today, we need this kind of courage and bravery.

  • Courage = “not the absence of fear, but the ability to be VERY afraid, and still do the right and good thing anyway”
  • Courage and “fearlessness” are not synonyms
  • Courage = doing the right thing in spite of GREAT fear

Even Christ encourages us to “be courageous” – “You will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

OT and NT, God encourages us to be “strong and courageous.” (Joshua in the OT)

Be a Christian of Courage.

Challenge and encourage yourself.

We need this kind of courage in this world.

Remember Jesus was historically, truly crucified – have you ever received a stone for him?

This is our big blessing, responsibility.

God bless us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 04 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)

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Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

13:42 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 and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

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 Jews 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 from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


Chp 13 & 14 are one package = they cover the First Missionary Journey of Paul & Barnabas. Chp 13 = the first half.

In chp 13, P&B&(John Mark) started from Antioch church in Syria, sailed to Cyprus – their first mission field. The began in the east end and went to the west end (Salamos -> Pathos) – like from NYC to LA if it were the US.

From the west end, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There, John Mark left them, but the other two continued on to the other Antioch. Then, Paul preached (last week) and his sermon is the same as my sermon:

  1. Jesus died for our sins
  2. On the third day, he rose again for our justification
  3. He is alive today and sitting in heaven on the right hand of God and interceding for us
  4. The justification of sins (declaration of righteousness) is based entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus

Today’s sermon = the response of the people to this message.

Also today, we are showing our reaction / response to the Word of God.

v. 42-45

“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 and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

  • some are filled with jealousy
  • others are filled with joy in the HS

When they heard this sermon of Paul, the people wanted to hear more. So the news spread throughout the whole city of Antioch in Pisidia. So, on the next Sabbath, almost the WHOLE city gathered to hear the Word of God – most of them were Gentiles.

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy

Jealousy, you know, is a dangerous sin – it can consist of one or more emotions: helplessness, spite, rivalry, disgust, etc… It is a consuming desire for the other person to be a loser / failure / unhappy “like me.”

When I’m jealous of somebody, look at myself – I’m already a failure, miserable, and ruined. Jealousy is one of the strong weapons that Satan is using to destroy our Christian character.

Ask yourself, when you see SOMEONE ELSE benefiting, or winning, or succeeding, where I cannot, can I rejoice with them?

Actually, jealousy is a more common reaction – but how tragic this is when our emotions cause us to stop God’s work. So, IF that person is impacting someone’s life for Christ, REJOICE! no matter who is in the spotlight.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or in vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

“I’m free from jealousy ~ I’m free from envy~”

Light & Life

v. 46-48

“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.”

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

“Appointed” is a military word – chosen, arranged, predestined (theologically)

  • v. 46: They reject eternal life because they do not like it
  • v. 48: They receive eternal life because they were chosen / ordained / elected for eternal life

This means:

  • If we are saved, we are saved because **GOD** elected us before the Creation of the world.
  • But, if not, then it is because **WE** reject the grace of God.

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

God’s logic is not the same as man’s, it is higher.

Isaiah 59:5 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts are higher than yours.”

Yes, we must believe in predestination – we believe in the sovereign will of God.

Romans 8:30 “Those he knew, he predestined; those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified.”

“God knew us before the Creation of the world… in his love, he predestined us to be called children of God.”

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved… not by works, this is the gift of God, so that nobody can boast of his salvation.”

But, nowhere does it say that God predestined anybody to be destroyed. Rather, he wants ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. He does not want ANYONE to perish. He is not happy with the destruction of any sinner.

Yes, we must believe the doctrine of predestination – but we must also know that this doctrine is ONLY applied to the “elect” – only to the saved.

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

  • There are two sides to every coin:
    • if this, then that;
    • if not this, then not that

But God’s logic is NOT limited to two sides of a coin.

Now about “eternal life.” Let me make it more clear. What is it? What are its characteristics? How can we get it? How can we know we’ve got it?

Eternal life: The gift of God

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This means, this life is a gift of God. Also, this gift is in contrast to death that is the natural result of sin. This gift comes only through Jesus Christ. This gift comes only to those who believe in Christ – the Resurrection and the Life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

But also, we must understand that life in Hell has NO END. There is no finish to it.

But, it is a mistake to understand this “Eternal life” as an unending sequence of years.

Greek “eternal life”: aionia zoi (αιώνια ζωή)

Eternal life is independent of time – it can function beyond the boundaries of time as well as within the boundaries of time. Therefore, eternal life is something we Christians experience NOW! Now and here!

Now and here!

We receive eternal life AS SOON AS we believe in Christ!

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ *has* eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes in him who sent me *has* eternal life – he *has* crossed over from death to life.” (Present perfect tense)

John 6:47? “Truly, he who believes *has* everlasting life.” (present tense)

The focus of eternal life is NOT on our future – but on our CURRENT standing in Jesus Christ. This pertains to the present.

Why? Because the purpose of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification was to provide eternal life to human beings. The Bible definitely mentions this as in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”

Eternal life = knowledge

There is no knowledge of God without the Son. He came as the visual revelation of the invisible God.

Jesus says, “He who sees me, sees God.”

It is through Jesus that God reveals himself to the elect.

Another important point:

This eternal life (knowledge about God and the Son) is relational knowledge – this is not just an intelligence briefing.

On the final judgment day, there will be some who claim to have followed Christ – but never had any relationship with him. To those false claimers, he will say, “I never knew you! Away from me!”

This experiential, relational knowledge of Christ = so important. This is why it was Paul’s FINAL goal.

Of course, Paul knew Christ more than me, more than you, but this was still his ultimate goal.

Phil 3:10-11 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

This is good news (gospel) – Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Believe and accept this good news!

This is good news!

Imagine, if good news is very difficult, many people could not understand it. But this news is good for ALL people – short, simple, easy to understand. Old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, all can understand.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 John 5:10-11 “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.”

v. 47

“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.’ ” “

If you have eternal life, then you are the light of the world.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor can a lamp be hidden – rather it is put on a stand. Therefore, let your light SHINE before men.”

“You are a chosen people; a royal priesthood; a holy nation; a people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.”

v. 49-52

“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews 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 from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God is like seed – it is scattered and spread.

Our hearts that receive it are like soil – the earth that receives it.

The seed is always the same, but the field is often different.

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

  1. Hard field – birds come and eat the seed away
  2. Rocky field – seed can’t take root
  3. Thorny field – seed takes root, but the thorns choke it to death
  4. Good field – seed takes root and can produce a harvest of 100 times that which was planted

Which field is your heart?

In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul, this seed is spreading – the same seed – but the fields are all different.

Also, in Antioch here, the same word, the same seed, was preached by Paul – but the reception was so different.

  • one group received it with joy
  • the other group rejected it, persecuted them, and expelled them from the region

Remember, P&B were set apart by the HS, sent by the HS, filled with the HS, but they encountered hardships, sufferings, persecution (v. 50). Yes, even those set apart, sent, filled with the HS, can encounter these hardships. Why? Because they preach the gospel.

Some Christians may say, “There was only persecution at that time – but not in Korea, in America, there isn’t that kind of thing any longer.”

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

Preaching the gospel = persecution (literally like two sides of the same coin)

Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me – rejoice and be glad because great will be your reward in heaven.”

The last verse: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the HS.”

Imagine – if you give money, clothes, etc, things the people want, they will not persecute you. Only preaching the gospel = followed by persecution.

But, at the same time:

Preaching the gospel = great joy (like a three-sided coin)

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

You know, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. If you believe this, why are you not willing to taste a SMALL suffering for his glory, for the benefit of others?

If we really believe that Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life, we should preach the gospel.

If you are children of God, you are coheirs with Christ. If you share in his sufferings, you share in his glory. But our present sufferings are incomparable with the glory that is to be revealed. The best is yet to come!

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen