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Gospel Proclamation, Gospel Opposition (Acts 14:1-7)

November 20, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon testifies to the contention between the work of Christ and the works of the devil. Elder Woodard affirms that a Gospel that is not Christ-focused has no power. The focus of this sermon is on why Gospel proclamation overcomes Gospel opposition.

Gospel Proclamation: The Power of God

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 believedSo 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 (Acts 14:1, 3;ESV).

God ordained and commissioned His people to proclaim Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21). The Gospel is the message that God sent His Messenger – the Eternal Son Jesus Christ – to seek and save a lost people from condemnation to everlasting life, through His life, death and resurrection (Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 19:10; John 3:16-21, 11:25, 12:23-30). The life of Christ is incredible because He perfectly kept the righteous requirements of God’s Law even to the point of death, despite being tempted at all points (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15-16). For this reason, Christ was put to death, and since His righteousness exceeded that of mankind, God allowed Him suffer by the hand of sinful men (cf. Matthew 26:45-46; Mark 14:41-42; Acts 4:27-30; John 3:10-12). Above all, God was pleased to accept Christ’s living sacrifice by magnificently raising Him from the dead and those who have faith in Him experience the same to eternal life (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15).

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Gospel Opposition

But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothersthe people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles (Acts 14:2, 4; ESV).”

This Gospel brings opposition from the world, the flesh and the devil. Elder Woodard describes Gospel opposition as an attack against the message (or Messenger) trying to contradict the truth. Furthermore, it attempts to build up what God has torn down and tries to tear down what God has built up (cf. Matthew 16:18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-20). God is sovereign over the opposition, persecution, and tribulation. What Paul and Barnabas needed was boldness to proclaim the Gospel in the midst of these circumstances. Moreover, they had to remember that Christ had told them that they would experience these things in this world, but He also assured them that He was right alongside them (Matthew 28:20; John 15-17).

Gospel Proclamation: The Presence of God

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 (Acts 14:3; ESV).”

Finally, Gospel proclamation overcomes all opposition because the Lord abides with His people. First, He bore witness to the ministry of Paul and Barnabas with signs and wonders, essentially, attesting to the truth of the Gospel they proclaimed. Secondly, since they knew that God approves of the message of Jesus Christ, they were able to proclaim Him with confidence knowing that He was with them (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 4:15, 33:15; Matthew 28:20; Luke 17:21). Likewise, knowing that the Lord approved of their labor and abode with them, they were able to endure suffering in light of the hope that was set before them, namely, Christ (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). However, in this particular account, God did not leave them in the hand of their persecutors, instead He lead them out of that city to continue preaching the Gospel in other places.

Whose side are you on?

Gospel proclamation elicits a response. You will either receive the Gospel in faith or reject the Gospel in folly. God’s plan is for the Gospel to be proclaimed throughout the entire world and His plan shall not be thwarted or exhausted, for He will surely bring it to pass (Habakkuk 2)!

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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