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Miracles and Mere Men (Acts 14:8-18)

November 28, 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 communicates the sufficiency, power, and glory of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter expounds on the amazing truth that God has the power to enable what sin has disabled. The focus of this sermon is on the ministry of the Gospel in Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas experienced the satisfaction of seeing a man turn to Christ in faith and the sorrow of the futility of the praise of men.

The Gospel: Turning from Idols to Christ

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And he sprang up and began walking (Acts 14:8-10;ESV).

There was a man present, who had been disabled from birth and unable to walk. Pastor Carter emphasizes that feet were made for standing and walking that is the purpose for which God created them. These feet, therefore, were unable to do that for which they had been created, and this was a problem. With this in mind, as we understand the problem, we can understand the purpose of the miracle. This man’s disability pointed to his inability, and for this reason, the Lord delighted in displaying His power to enable what sin had disabled (cf. Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24; John 9:3, 11:4). When Paul saw that the power of God had changed this crippled man’s life, he commands him to do what he was unable to do. Likewise, notice that what God commands, He also grants.

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The Futility of Man: Turning from Christ to Idols

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them (Acts 14:11-18; ESV).”

Whatever joy that Paul and Barnabas had experienced at the sight of God bringing yet another sinner to repentance, was soon turned into sorrow at the sight of men idolizing men (cf. Luke 15:7, 10; Jeremiah 17:5). The crowd was so fixated on the sign, that they misread the sign and attributed praise to Paul and Barnabas instead of God. Thankfully, Paul and Barnabas understood that they were not the message. They deflected and corrected the praise of men by explaining the Gospel in such a way that the crowd could understand their sin, regardless of their non-Jewish religious background (cf. Psalm 8, 19; Romans 2). The amazing thing is that God is gracious to believers and unbelievers, but the time is coming when every person will give account to whether they followed Christ or the idols of their hearts (cf. Deuteronomy 31:27; Joshua 24:14-20; Matthew 6:24; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Are you really worshipping Christ?

Do not be deceived, you can be in the presence of the Word of Christ, hear the message of salvation, sit under the preached word, and still be in idolatry because you make it about everything and everyone else except Jesus Christ. We must search our hearts today and pray that He would remove the idols that hinder us from receiving Him.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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