Good News for the Pagans
– As the gospel continues to spread southeast into Asia Minor, we encounter today one of Paul’s most colourful missionary encounters as he and Barnabus are mistaken for two Greek gods!
– The story of Paul and Barnabus at Iconium, Lystra and Derbe reveals three important functions of the Gospel
I. The Gospel Divides Men (vv. 1-7)
1) Paul’s experience at Iconium reveals a recurring pattern of Christian ministry
- Some hear the message and believe
- Some hear the message and blaspheme
- Some hear the message and resort to mob violence
- The first missionaries understand Jesus’ difficult words in Matthew 10:34-39
2) The Gospel of Jesus Christ Divides Humanity into Two Groups
- Those who bow the knee to Jesus
- Those who worship idols in place of Jesus
- Application: “One door and only one, and yet its sides are two – I’m on the inside, on which side are you?”
II. The Gospel Delivers Men (vv. 8-18)
1) Deliverance pictured through the healing of the lame man (vv. 8-10)
- Deliberate parallel between Peter’s miracle (Acts 3) and Paul’s miracle (Acts 14)
- The gospel takes the spiritually lame and enables them to walk!
2) A Terrible Misunderstanding (vv. 11-13)
- The pagans in Lystra mistake Paul and Barnabus for Zeus (Jupiter) and Hermes (Mercury)
- Application: Good works are essential, but they do not replace the verbal proclamation of the gospel!
- Application: Be very careful that you do not make idols out of your heroes!
3) An Opportunity for Deliverance (vv. 14-18)
- Paul and Barnabus declare the message
- Their method with the pagans is different than their method with the Jews
- No quotations from Old Testament
- Message begins with God the Creator
- Application: Because our society is becoming more like Lystra than Iconium, we need to learn how to communicate the gospel with the ‘pagans’ in our culture
III. The Gospel Makes Disciples out of Men (vv. 19-28)
1) Paul counts the cost of discipleship
- He is stoned to the point of death, but gets up and gets busy!
- Application: The Christian life is not for the faint of heart! Have you truly counted the cost of following Jesus?
2) Paul and Barnabus actively make disciples!
- They encourage the young believers
- They appoint Church leadership
- They report to their sending Church