Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
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December 17, 2017
SCRIPTURE: Acts 14:8-11, 19-23
KEY VERSES: 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)
BACKGROUND: Let’s look at a brief background of the Galatian country which Paul is entering on this first missionary journey.
· The people for whom the province was named were Gauls, a Celtic tribe from the same stock which inhabited France. In the fourth century and they invaded the Roman Empire and sacked Rome. The people were blond Orientals.
· Later they crossed into Greece and captured Delphi in 280 b.c. At the invitation of Nikomedes I, King of Bithynia, they crossed over into Asia Minor to help him in a civil war. They were a warlike people and soon established themselves in Asia Minor.
· In 189 b.c. they were made subjects of the Roman Empire and became a province. Their boundaries varied, and for many years they retained their customs and language. The churches which Paul established on this first missionary journey were included at one time in the territory of Galatia, so this is the name which Paul would normally give to these churches.
INTRODUCTION: In Acts chapter 14 Paul and Barnabas face the almost impenetrable paganism of Galatia. It’s believed that the Galatian field was the hardest mission field that Paul ever entered. You need only to read the Epistle to the Galatians to discover that.
Galatians was the harshest epistle that Paul wrote. He wrote it to a group of people who had a spiritual bent in the wrong direction. They were constantly going off the track, and Paul visited those churches more than any others.
I. DEALING WITH MISUNDERSTANDING. (Acts 14:8-10)
(Acts 14:8-10) And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
A. Paul and Barnabas Were Miracle Workers.
We know that Paul and Barnabas had the gifts of an apostle, the miracle working sign gifts. They came into these places without any New Testament with the message of the gospel. What were their credentials? How could they prove their message was from God? Paul spoke and the man was healed (See Acts 14:9).
B. Paul and Barnabas Had Sign Gifts.
The sign gifts were their credentials -- they needed them. Today we have the entire Bible (all 66 Books), and what people need today is to study this Bible and to learn what it has to say. If we can get people to do that, sins may be forgiven, lives may be changed, and people may become true believers in Jesus Christ!
Your Eyes Off Men
By Vernon McGee
The other day I played golf with a very affable, generous, bighearted man. He is an unsaved man, and he told me very candidly that he was chasing around. Mutual friends had asked me to play with him. I attempted to talk with him about the gospel. He knew the facts of the gospel as well as I do. And you know something else? He believed them. He said he believed that Jesus died and rose again, and he believed that if he put his trust in Jesus, He would save him. So I asked him why he didn’t do that. Then he began to mention names, names of certain men whose lives just didn’t measure up to their profession of faith.
So I said to him, “For goodness sake get your eyes off men. In the first century the apostles performed miracles and men got their eyes on the apostles. So it was necessary to get their eyes off the apostles and turn them to the Book which presents the Lord Jesus Christ. You need to get your eyes on the Word of God and learn what God says today. He tells us that the important thing is our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All those other men you mention will not even enter into the picture when you stand before the Lord Jesus someday. The only question will be your personal relationship to Jesus Christ as it is revealed in the Word of God. Go to the Word of God.”
I’ll be very frank with you, I didn’t really get very far with this man. He did say that I had given him a new approach; he had never heard it that way before. He thought maybe he would try it. I encouraged him again to get his eyes off other Christians, because we all have feet of clay. The people at Lystra were looking to Paul and Barnabas. – Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee
II. PERSEVERING DESPITE OPPOSITION. (Acts 14:11, 19-23)
A. Wrong Perception. (Acts 14:11)
(Acts 14:11) And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
The man had real faith to be healed. When Paul told him to stand upright on his feet, he leaped and walked. Remember that the people in the area were pagan, heathen people. When they saw what Paul had done, they began to shout that the gods had come down in the likeness of men. Their eyes were on Paul and Barnabas. They were really excited about them.
B. Improper Worship. (Acts 14:12-13)
(Acts 14:12-13) And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
Paul is the leader of the team, the chief speaker, and the people want to make them gods. They bring garlands and sacrifice and are ready to worship them. Fickle! Does it remind you of someone else?
In America it is a baseball player one year, then a politician, then a football star, then another politician. By the following year they are all forgotten, and it is someone else new. It is the same way with the preachers. One can preach the Word of God and everyone will acclaim him as a wonderful preacher. Then the next day they are ready to crucify him.
C. Startled Reaction. (Acts 14:14-16)
(Acts 14:14-16) Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
Paul and Barnabas are not only startled and amazed that these people want to worship them, but they are completely shocked. They rush in among them, shouting, “We are human beings like you are!” (You will remember that Peter had to say the same thing to Cornelius when Cornelius bowed down to him to worship him.)
Certainly none of us is to bow down to worship any man or woman. A Christian is not to be so submissive that he gets down to lick the boots of anyone. Unfortunately, even in Christian work, we find some people who want others to bow to them. How tragic that is.
D. Godly Witnessing. (Acts 14:17-18)
(Acts 14:17-18) Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
He is attempting to turn their attention to the living God who is the Creator. He wants to draw them away from their heathen, pagan idols and the mythology of the Greeks.
E. Satanic Aggression. (Acts 14:19)
(Acts 14:19) And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
How amazing this is. Such unpredictable people! One day they are ready to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. The next day they try to stone Paul to death. How like Americans -- we follow fads. One time it is the hula hoop. Then it is the miniskirt. We simply follow one fad after another.)
INSIGHT: Why would God permit this stoning? Galatians 6:7 tells us: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Paul reaped what he had sowed. He had ordered the stoning of Stephen. Maybe someone will object that now he is converted. Yes, but even after conversion we will reap whatsoever we have sown. This is a law of nature as well as a law operating in our lives. We shall reap whatever we sow. Because Saul took part in the stoning of Stephen, years later the same thing happened to him.
F. Won’t Quit. (Acts 14:20)
(Acts 14:20) Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe [Acts 14:20].
This is miraculous. A man who has been stoned would be brutally wounded. Paul rose up, and the very next day he was able to travel. This is a miracle whether or not he was actually raised from the dead.
INSIGHT: They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city “supposing he had been dead.” Do you think he was dead? I’ll tell you what I think. I think he was dead. Later Paul writes of the experience he had: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2–4).
Who was that man? It was Paul himself. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7). I don’t think that crowd left him there half dead; I think they left him dead. I believe that God raised him from the dead.
G. Assisting Disciples. (Acts 14:21-22)
(Acts 14:21-22) And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
If you are following the map, you will notice that Derbe is the pivotal point. It is the end of the line. At this point they turn back and retrace their steps through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.
H. Establishing Leaders. (Acts 14:23)
(Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
They return through Pisidia and Pamphylia, and preached again in Perga. Then they go to Attalia, and sail from that port back to Antioch.
Reason And The Risk
By Mart DeHaan
Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. -- 2 Timothy 2:10
It was the kind of moment that people have nightmares about. A tanker truck filled with 2,500 gallons of propane gas caught fire while parked at a fuel storage warehouse. The flames shot 30 to 40 feet out of the back of the truck and quickly spread to a loading dock. Several large tanks nearby were in danger of exploding.
At that point, the plant manager, after helping to rescue the badly burned driver, jumped into the cab and drove the blazing truck away from the warehouse. His quick action and courage saved lives.
The apostle Paul also risked his life on behalf of others (2 Timothy 2:10). He was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). On another occasion he was mobbed, whipped, and imprisoned (Acts 16:22-23). Three times he was shipwrecked, and he was beaten many times with lashes and rods (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Why did Paul willingly endure such suffering? He was thinking in terms of eternal fire and eternal life, so he gladly undertook the risk.
Do we see the danger as clearly as Paul did? Do we take advantage of opportunities to go to the rescue of people who need the good news of Christ? Are we filled with the same sense of purpose that caused Paul to endure all things for the sake of the lost?
What risks do we take if we dare to tell others about Jesus?
Physical harm? Verbal abuse? Rejection? Ridicule?
Loss of possessions? Other?
-- Adapted from Mart DeHaan, Our Daily Bread, January 27, 2003
CONCLUSION: What have we learned from Acts chapter 14?
· Christians Must Stay Busy: The Apostle Paul was a man on the move and not one easily stopped because of problems. “But none of these things move me” was his testimony of faith (see Acts 20:24), and he lived it.
· Christians Must Press On: When Paul and Barnabas were ousted from Antioch in Pisidia, the two shook off the dust of their feet and went on to Iconium (see Acts 13:50–52; Luke 10:11). When the people of Iconium tried to stone them, they moved on to Lystra where they were treated like gods! (That proved to be a greater danger than persecution.) Large crowds are fickle, and they changed their minds and stoned the apostle. Paul just got up and went to on Derbe.
· Christians Must Count Their Blessings: Paul and Barnabas had the courage to retrace their steps so that they could encourage and help the new Christians! When Paul and Barnabas returned home, they testified to the church what God had done, but not what they had suffered.
· Christians Must Be Humble: In their lives these two men (Paul and Barnabas) put (1) Christ number one, (2) others number two, (3) and themselves number three. They had something to do, and they were determined (by God’s grace) to do it. How much does it take to move you (or me) to faithfully do the will of God?
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.” -- David Sarnoff
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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
REV. RONALD C. PURKEY’S OFFICE
E-Mail: Ronald Purkey