A Gentile Who Walked the Walk – Acts 14:8-18

 

Summary:

The healing of this lame Gentile that comes at the beginning of Paul’s new ministry among the Gentiles is a type of it. Before Paul, Gentiles couldn’t walk in a way that would please God (IThes.4:1) because only Jews could be saved. But this miracle typifies how that had now changed. In time past, if a Jew wanted to walk in a way that pleased God, he had to hear the words of Moses (Deut.11:22). But today, Gentiles must hear Paul, as typified with this lame man.

The Lord also healed a lame man to symbolize His new ministry among the Jews (John 5:2,3). He’d been lame 38 years, something pictured in Deuteronomy 2:1,14. God actually made the Jews wander 40 years until that generation died off (Num.32:13), so why’d Moses focus on 38 of them?

Well, the 40 years the Jews had to wait to enter the Promised Land typified the 40 generations they had to wait to enter the kingdom. Matthew 1:17 says it was 42 generations until Christ came to give them the kingdom, but there was no Israel until the third generation of Jews came along in Jacob, whom God renamed Israel. But instead of receiving their kingdom, the people of Israel crucified Christ, and God was ready to cut them down. But on the cross, the Lord asked God to give them one more year (Lu.13:6-9) when He prayed, “Father, forgive them.” And God did give them an extra year in Acts 1-7. But they stoned Stephen in response at the end of that year.

But at the beginning of that year, Peter healed a lame man to symbolize his ministry among the Jews (Acts 3:2-8), a man who was 41 (Acts 4:22). That would account for the extra year God gave Israel. That’s when God gave Paul a new ministry among the Gentiles, typified by this healing.

These Gentiles worshipped the planets and stars (Acts 14:11,12, and they had ever since Genesis 11:1-4. That was a religious tower with the zodiac on top, designed to help them “reach” heaven by worshipping the stars. That was a perversion of the religion God gave the Gentiles in the stars before the Bible was written. The story of Christ in the stars starts with Virgo to represent the virgin Mary, and ends with Leo to represent Christ reigning as a lion-like king in the kingdom (Rev.5:5). The sphynx, a monument with the head of a woman and the tail of a lion, was built in Egypt to help men remember how to read the circle of the stars.

After the Gentiles forgot how to read the stars, they made themselves priests to sacrifice to the stars, then point to them to tell men what the stars said to do (Acts 14:13). That was another perversion of the religion God gave Gentiles like Adam, Abel and Noah. He told them to sacrifice to Him and look to the message He put in the stars. But the Gentiles perverted that into sacrificing to Jupiter and Mercury, and looking to the zodiac to learn from it. They wouldn’t listen to a preacher who pointed to the Bible to deliver a message from God like Paul did. But this lame man did! That’s how Paul perceived he had faith (Acts 14:9).

Saying the gods had come down in the likeness of men (v.11) is another perversion of God’s gospel in the stars (Phil.2:7). Remember, this lame man couldn’t walk “from his mother’s womb” (v.8). Paul’s mother’s womb was a perversion of the religion God gave the Jews (Gal.1:13-15). This lame man represented how the Gentiles couldn’t walk and please God ever since they perverted the religion God gave them. They called Barnabas “Jupiter” because he was bigger than Paul. (“Paul” means small.) “Garlands” were given to kings, not gods, but the stars taught them that when God came down in the likeness of men, He’d be a king in the kingdom!

God lets people make idols out of the stars (Acts 14:16), even His own people (Hos.4:16,17). He stopped talking to Gentiles, but never stopped witnessing to them (Acts 14:17cf.Ps.19:1-3; 36:6,7).

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “A Gentile Who Walked The Walk” Acts 14:8-18

 

Hearing is Believing – Acts 13:48-14:7

 

Summary:

After the Gentiles in Antioch heard and believed the gospel, they glorified the Word (v.48) by believing it (cf.IThes.3:1). And since “glorify” means praise (cf. Ps. 50:23), you glorify and praise the Word when you believe it as we teach it at our church. And since “glorify” also means worship (Ps. 86:9-12), we worship God when we teach doctrine (ct. Mt.15:9).

Before Paul, only Jews were “ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48 cf. John 4:22). But now Gentiles were also ordained to it. The dictionary says “ordain” can mean prepare, as it does in Psalm 7:13 and Isaiah 30:33. “Tophet” (v.33) is a name for hell, which was “prepared for the devil” (Mt.25: 41). But if men got saved in the Lord’s day, they could go to another place God prepared (Mt.25:34). But the kingdom was the place God prepared for Jews (I Chron.17:9).

God began to prepare that kingdom for the Jews “from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34). That’s also when He began to tell the Jews about the kingdom (Acts 3:21). Com-pare that to how Paul tells us Gentiles that God “ordained” the mystery for us “before” the world began (ICor.2:7), and didn’t talk about it (Rom. 16:25). That means God having mercy on whom He will (Rom. 9:18-24) means having it on Gentiles as well as Jews, as that passage clearly says.

“Publish” (Acts 13:49) means to make something known that was unknown (Amos 3:7-9). And when God made known the mystery to Paul, these Gentiles published it. But “devout” women opposed it (Acts 13:50). Devout is the noun form of devoted. They were devoted to some god, but not God. So unsaved Jews here were getting unsaved Gentiles to do their dirty work—as they did when they got unsaved Romans to crucify the Lord. But Paul shook their dust off and left (Acts 13:51) as the Lord told the 12 to do (Mt.10:14). And the new “disciples” in the Body of Christ were full of joy and the Spirit (Acts 13:52), i.e., they spoke in tongues (cf. Acts 2:4). God gave Israel’s gifts to members of the Body during the transition from law to grace.

Paul “so spake” that a multitude believed (Acts 14:1). That sounds like they believed because he was a polished speaker, but he wasn’t (cf.IICor.11:6). Those Gentiles believed be-cause God was now offering them salvation, and those Jews believed because Paul wasn’t doing what Peter did. Peter blamed them for the cross, saying, “You did it, now you must repent of it to be saved” (Acts 2:38). Paul told them, “God did it—for you! And now you must believe it to be saved.”

The Jews in Iconium also stirred the Gentiles to oppose Paul (Acts 14:2); “therefore” he spoke boldly (v.3)! The Lord testified to his words with miracles, but He testifies to our words with greater miracles (Col.1:9-11). God’s “glorious” power (Col.1:11) was seen in miracles like the Red Sea crossing (Ex.15:4). Now it’s seen when His glorious power makes us patient (Col.1:9-11). Mere men can overcome the force of nature like God did at the Red Sea. We did it when we reversed the flow of the Chicago River, and built the Hoover Dam. It takes more power to overcome the force of human nature in us. And that miracle testifies to our words!

Because Paul didn’t preach politics, the people weren’t divided over politics (Acts 14:4). He taught grace, so they were divided over grace. It’s okay to divide people. The Lord did (Lu.12:51-53; John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). When truth divides your family, do what the Lord did and rejoice in your spiritual family (cf. Mt.12:47-50).

“Assault” (Acts 14:5-7) means to throw a punch. It becomes battery when the punch lands. Paul became aware of the as-sault on him the Jews were planning because he was a prophet, and the Lord saved him from it (IITim. 3:11). But today there are no prophets, so God uses members of His Body to warn each other of such attempts. That’s more proof that God now uses us to do things He used to do with miracles!

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “Hearing is Believing” Acts 13:48-14:7

Following Paul – Philippians 3:17-21

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Summary:

I often hear from people who follow Moses. They tell me I should too, by keeping the sabbath and the diet laws of the law of Moses. But our apostle Paul (Rom. 11:13) says we are not under the law (Rom. 6:15), so we should follow him (Phil. 3:17). This means we can eat things Jews couldn’t (ITim. 4:4), if it doesn’t offend a weaker brother (Rom. 14).

But to follow a man’s teachings, it helps to have role models. So Paul says to mark men who follow him (Phil.3:17). That means there must be something you can see Paul’s followers do or not do as role models that will help you follow Paul. To help us understand what he means, Paul tells us about men who don’t walk in his footsteps in Philippians 3:18.

That verse says if you don’t follow Paul, you’re an enemy of the cross! Paul says he’d warned them about these men in Philippi, and continued to warn them in this epistle (3:1,2). When he calls them dogs there, he’s not talking about Gen-tiles (Mt.15:26). Beginning with Paul’s ministry, there was a dispensational change, and now unsaved Jews were dogs.

We know Paul’s talking about unsaved Jews in Philippians 3 because he also calls them “the concision” (3:2). Circumcision is now nothing more than a concision, a cut that makes something shorter, more concise. There were still leftover kingdom saints who were circumcised, but they’d believed the kingdom gospel and been saved, so God still recognized their circumcision. But Paul calls these Jews dogs because they were not saved, and were telling the Philippians they had to be circumcised if they wanted to be saved.

But we don’t need circumcision, “for” (Phil. 3:3)—i.e., because—we’re already circumcised (cf. Col.2:10). So Paul calls those “evil workers” (Phil. 3:2) “enemies of the cross” (v.2 cf. Rom. 11:26,28), because the ordinances of circumcision and baptism were nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14).

Paul wept over them (Phil. 3:18) because if they were unsaved, they were heading for the “destruction” (v.19) of hell. If they were saved, they were heading for the destruction of their life’s work (ICor. 3:17). Why would saved Jews tell Gentiles to be circumcised? Paul says that saved or lost Jews often did that because their god was their belly (Phil. 3:19). If you make something your god, you serve it, and these men served their belly (Rom. 16:17) by making speeches telling Gentiles to be circumcised for money (Tit. 1:10,11).

Circumcision and baptism were once glorious components of God’s program for Israel, but if you preach them today, your glory is in your shame (Phil. 3:19). Of course, that’s a “shame” that could be avoided by rightly dividing the Word (IITim. 2:15).

These men didn’t mind sinful things, they minded “earthly” things (Phil. 3:19), like Israel’s earthly circumcision and baptism. Paul says we shouldn’t mind those things, “for” (v.20) our conversation isn’t earthly, it’s heavenly. The Greek word for conversation is politeouma, from which we get politics. A form of that word is translated “citizen” elsewhere, but the context tells us the form used here has to do with the politics of heaven, where we’ll be involved in politics ruling angels (ICor.6:3). The Jews needed circumcision to be citizens of the nation Israel, and they’ll need baptism to be priests (Ex.29:1,4) and kings in the kingdom (Rev.5:10), where they’ll be involved in earth’s politics.

Before the Lord raptures us to heaven (Phil. 3:20). He’ll “change” our bodies (v.21) like His resurrection body that couldn’t sin, according to His power to subdue Satan himself (ICor.15:24-28). Our bodies will also be changed like His physically, and be able to rise through a rock tomb, teleport (Lu. 24:31), and change forms (Mark 16:12). If your body dies and dissolves at sea, He can restore it according to His power to restore heaven and earth after they dissolve (IIPe. 3:10-13). How then should you live? See verse 12!

A video of the sermon is available on YouTube: “Following Paul” Philippians 3:17-21