Acts 14:1-2 ESV
“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.”
The Lord called Saul (Paul) and Barnabas for the work of the ministry. Thus, they were sent out by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the word of God both in and outside of the Jewish synagogues (their places of worship). And they had John to assist them (Ac 13:1-5).
Immediately they began to face opposition of the kind where someone tried to turn someone else away from the faith.
“But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” Ac 13:9-10
Wow! Doesn’t this speak to today? People are trying to discredit the gospel in hopes of turning others away from the faith. They are enemies of righteousness, full of deceit, and they are making crooked the straight paths of the Lord. Yes, this is happening now in the church.
Many people within the gatherings of the church who profess faith in Jesus Christ are teaching a false gospel of grace which requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord. Thus, they give free license to their adherents to continue living in sin only now without guilt.
So, they are enemies of righteousness, full of deceit and villainy, who will not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord. Do you see this?
But they don’t stop at just turning the gospel upside down, but they are bent on poisoning people’s minds against the true gospel and against its messengers. So, they will call the true gospel “works-based salvation,” and they will call its messengers “legalists,” “intolerant,” and self-righteous.”
And they have largely been successful, for this false grace gospel is permeating the church of today and is having a profound influence in getting many people to follow the lie straight to hell, on the promise of heaven when they die.
Acts 14:3 ESV
“So, they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
I have always found this passage intriguing. Paul and Barnabas were being persecuted, people’s minds poisoned against them, the opposition was great, and rejection was a sure thing. SO, they remained a long time speaking boldly for the Lord. Amen! May we follow their example!
Although our human tendency would be to retreat, as followers of Jesus Christ we must remain steadfast in doing the work God has called us to do despite all opposing forces coming against us. We must strengthen our weak knees in the strength of the Lord and persevere in our calling.
God can do amazing things through lives committed to him who trust him fully with their lives and who are willing to step out in faith to do what may get them hated and rejected in return. And sometimes that involves feeling the fear in our emotions but trusting the Lord and going against those fears.
For, if we are going to do what God has called us to do in sharing his gospel with the world, in its fulness, we have to be fully ready to face whatever opposition may come against us, and we must be fully ready to keep on in proclaiming the truth of God’s word despite all opposing forces against us.
Acts 14:4-7 ESV
“But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.”
Sometimes, when we are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, the Lord says to remain and to keep speaking boldly in his name. Other times he says to brush the dust off our feet and to go speak somewhere else. We don’t stop speaking out of fear, but he may relocate us sometimes.
But wherever he has us, we must keep speaking the truth of God’s word, because too many people are speaking the lies, and many people need to hear the truth so that they can turn from their sins, follow Jesus in obedience, and submit to him as Lord (master) of their lives.
An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”