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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012



Acts Chapter Fourteen

Sermon of the week #200817 – April 27, 2008

There are two men in the book of Acts who were lame from birth, and were healed by a miracle. The first in Acts three, involved Peter, and the other in Acts fourteen involved Paul. The one was in a Jewish city, and the other in a gentile city. These two miracles wrought on two helpless men—a Jew and a Gentile remind us, of Romans 5:6; “But while we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Mankind is helpless, and cannot save himself, other than through the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel song says it well:

It took a miracle to fling the stars in place

It took a miracle to put the moon in space

But when he saved my soul cleansed, and made me whole

It took a miracle of love and grace.

Now here at Lystra; Paul had fastened his eyes on the lame man, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole cried to him in a loud voice: “Stand upright on thy feet,” and leaping up he stood.

Since he was helpless how did he do it? The principle of Romans 14:4 is showing how God deals with His servants may be applied: “God hath power to make him stand.” Stand upright on thy feet is a good rule for any Christian activity today. One of the prophecies of the coming of Christ in Isaiah 35:6 tells us, “Then shall the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Stand upright on thy feet. This is true of any Christian endeavor today, the Lord has power to make us stand and will still work with us. Stand upright on thy feet. What Paul says in Ephesians 2:20 is still in effect; “Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ever ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.” Stand upright on thy feet.

There is no other way to explain this evangelistic radio program. We do not have the strength to do it, but God has the power to make us stand. Stand upright on thy feet.    

 Now before the lame man was healed we are told when Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra, they preached the gospel there. Paul identifies the gospel in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 when he tells us: “I make known unto you brethren the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye have believed in vain. Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, and was buried, and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scripture.” The preaching of those facts is the gospel.

And then revolving out of those facts is the message regarding our response to the gospel. In the New Testament, when they heard the gospel they said, “What shall we do to be saved?” And were told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. That was part of what they were told, and I will not stutter, and stammer; or turn white round the gills, and leave off the other part. Jesus said, "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Still there were others who when they heard the gospel and believe it asked, “Behold here is water what doth hinder me to be baptized; and they went down into the water and were baptized.” Saul of Tarsus asked what he must do, and was told, “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” 

And now take another look at the lame man at Lystra: Paul cried with a loud voice, “Stand upright on thy feet,” and he leaped up and walked. And when the multitudes saw it, they lifted up their voice, saying in the voice of Lycaonia, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” And they called Barnabas Jupiter; he was older, larger, more impressive looking, so they reasoned he was the father of the gods, and Paul, they called Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. According to mythology Mercury was the messenger of the gods. 

The people of Lystra were right when they said the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men, except for the fact they were a little mixed up in their theology. The Gods did come down to us in the likeness of men, but it wasn’t Jupiter, and Mercury, and neither was it Barnabas, and Paul.

            We read in Philippians 2: 6-7;  “Christ Jesus considered not the being on an equality with God a things to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant; being made in the likeness of men.” God did come down in the likeness of men. John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In Luke 1:35 the angel Gabriel told Mary that the power of the most High shall over shadow thee, and the Holy thing that is begotten shall be called the Son of God. God has come down to us in the likeness of men.

The People of Lystra were right. God did come down to us in the likeness of men and his name was Jesus. But not only did Jesus come down to us in the likeness of men, God the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and dwelt among men. Jesus told the apostles in his farewell address in John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall bear witness of me.” Jesus further explained the work of the Holy Spirit with the apostles when He told them in John 14: “But the Comforter when He is come will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you.” The apostles did not write the New Testament as they remembered it, but as the Holy Spirit reminded them of what Jesus had said. Therefore when you read the New Testament you are reading exactly what Jesus said even though the words the apostles wrote may be in black letters. Black or red make no difference; they are all words of Jesus.

In Acts 2:1-4 Luke tells us the exact time when God the Holy Spirit came down from heaven to the apostles as Jesus promised them. “And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven the rushing as the sound of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there came unto them tongues parting asunder like as of fire; and sat upon each one of them, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The people of Lystra were mixed up in their theology, but they were right when they said that the Gods have come down to us. 

Now when the news was brought to the priest of Jupiter, whose temple was before the city, they brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the multitudes. Then Paul and Barnabas rent their garments and sprang forth among the multitudes crying out and saying, “Sirs, why do ye these vain things?”

The first thing Paul had to do with these pagans was prove there is a real God in heaven. If someone asks me to prove there is a God, I would give the answer of the apostles.

Paul told them we also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things, unto a living God, who made the heaven, and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is… And yet he left not himself without witness in that he gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.

Paul referred to the seasons that God gave us. Every year there is a spring, and summer, fall and winter. The seasons come in endless procession, year after year. Did all this just happen? Actually God made an appropriate comment on the seasons after the flood in Genesis 8:22. “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”  Did all this just happen, or was it God?

Paul would use a similar argument to the Romans when he said in Romans 1:20; “For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived by the things that are made, even His everlasting power; and divinity that they might be without excuse.”  If you want to see the invisible God, and invisible things, just look up and there it is.

I went to a movie in my teen age years and in addition to the cowboy show there was a short feature about Mark Twain, who was born in 1835, and he said since he was born when Halley’s comet came in, he predicted he would die when that comet came back. Halley’s Comet comes around every 75 years, and in 1910 Halley’s Comet returned, and Mark Twain died in 1910. He made a good guess.

In 75 years later in 1985 Halley’s Comet returned after 75 years. The television weather forecaster announced if we went out about 10:00 PM and looked toward the west we could see it. I did, and saw it. Halley’s Comet is a dirty block of ice ten miles long, and six miles wide. It will come back again in 2060, if there is a 2060. Does this just happen over and over, or is it by intelligent design?

And then added to all this, I like what Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:6: “The wind goeth toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to His circuits.” That is an obvious reference to the ocean currents such as the Japanese current in the Pacific, and the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. The wind makes its circuits continually; did this just happen, or is it there by intelligent design?

King David strengthens these thoughts when he says in Psalms 19:1; “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies His handiwork.” And then the apostle John gives a fitting benediction to these thoughts of God’s creative power when he says in Revelation 4:11; “Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the honor and the glory and the power: for Thou didst create all things and because of Thee they were, and were created.     

Then after convincing the multitude they were not gods themselves; the Jews from Antoich, and Iconium came, and having persuaded the multitudes they were trouble makers; the fickle crowd stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city supposing that he was dead. 

But as the disciples stood round about him he rose up, and did an amazing thing. He went back into the city where he had been stoned. Why would any one in a like circumstance do that? It was because the disciples stood round about him. So evidently Paul had been there long enough before he was stoned to establish a church in Lystra; and for him to leave at that time would have left them discouraged, and the church would have died. Actually, he not only went back for a while, he went on to nearby Derbe; made many disciples, and then came back to Lystra confirming the disciples, informing them that with much tribulation they must enter the Kingdom of God.      We receive letters almost daily from various parts of the world where those with Christian faith are in jails because of their faith. Churches have been closed by the government, Bibles are confiscated, and yet they seem to have learned the meaning of Paul’s words: “With great tribulation you must enter the kingdom of God.”

Confirming the disciples is just as important as making disciples in the first place. What good does it do to tell people about salvation, and see them added to the church, if in a short time they fall away and never come back? It is important to tell lost sinners about Mark 16:16; “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” but it is equally important to tell them about Matthew 24:13; “But he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

It is important to remind the Christians to be faithful in observance of the Lord’s Supper; but it is equally important to remind them of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straight is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

It is important to hear the terms of salvation, in Acts 2:38 “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” But is equally important for the church to hear what Paul told the Christians at Corinth in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11; “Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of them selves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but you were washed, ye were sanctified, ye were justified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”

And then a final word of warning in this message is found in Hebrews chapter 2:1 when the inspired word of God speaks of the Christians who continue in the life style of the world; “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed unto the things that were heard lest we drift away from them.” Drifting can be very deceptive. It is like floating on a river in a rowboat; you seem to be standing still, going no-where, until you look over at the shore, and see different scenery. You may have drifted far away from where you should be. The years pass, and you are not aware of it. The gospel song says:

You are drifting from the shore; leaning on an idle oar.

You are drifting slowly drifting down.

You are drifting with the tide

To the ocean wild and wide.

You are drifting slowly drifting down.

You are drifting, drifting down

To the dark and awful sea, you are drifting down

From the Father’s loving care

To the blackness of despair.

You are drifting slowly drifting, drifting down.           

Remember Matthew 25:1, “And when the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory.” God came down from heaven once and He will come down from heaven again.