Astonished by God’s Word

As we approach the task of sharing the gospel with our neighbors, we look to scripture to better understand the message of good news. Take a moment to read through Acts chapter 13 and watch how Paul and the others were sent and presented the gospel.

[Please read Acts 13]

In chapter 13, we have three basic sections: First, we see the call of the Holy Spirit to send out Paul and Barnabas. Second, we see them sharing the word of God with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Finally, we hear Paul speaking to those in the synagogue to provide encouragement. Let me share a few observations.

The call and sending by the Holy Spirit (verses 1-3)

In preparation for this task of sharing the glorious news of Christ’s redemption of His people we must sense that call of the Holy Spirit. We come to God in humility. We seek His glory and pray earnestly before him. This is no menial task, it is the commission of our glorious King, to serve Him and seek to carry out His will. When we approach this commission, we are reminded that we are serving in obedience to the King. It is a great honor and a joy!

Proclaiming the word of God on the island of Cypress (verses 4-12)

Paul and Barnabas went to Cyprus and were joined by John there. It is good to labor together. They proclaimed the word of God, not their own word or opinions. Some say, “do not use the Bible when talking with unbelievers.” This is the deception of the world, it is only with God’s word that we have the power and authority to proclaim what God has done and to explain the grace given to us sinners. God’s word will not go out void (Isaiah 55:11), “it shall accomplish that which I purpose.”

They started with God’s chosen people, in the synagogues, and went through the whole island. The people on the island could not help but hear God’s word because of their dedication. They encountered the proconsul who is described as a man of intelligence, who sought to hear God’s word. Christianity is not just a “heart thing,” it is a reasonable faith that can be explained and defended from all accusations. In the process of explaining, Elymas the magician opposed them, this is not an uncommon situation even today. Paul called him out to “stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord” and the Lord blinded Elymas. The proconsul was astonished, not by the miracle of blinding Elymas, but he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. God’s word is powerful and effective.

Paul gave encouragement to the saints (verses 13-52)

Paul was addressing those who feared God, not just the Jews. He bore witness to God through the history and faithfulness shown to Israel in the Old Testament. He did not avoid scripture, but used scripture to tell of God’s plan and its fulfillment in Christ. Fulfillment of prophesy is one of the key evidences to the truth of Scripture and its divine origin.

Paul points to the resurrection of Christ as evidence to the truth of the gospel and vindication of Jesus as God’s own son. Paul writes about the centrality of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:14,17 that without it, “our preaching and faith are in vain,” for “we are still in our sins.” Christ did not see corruption, He was raised by God, proving his message, and giving God’s people hope in His promises. Without the resurrection we are still alienated from God by our sins. We need the grace and reconciliation provided by God alone. The resurrection, rooted in real history, is undeniable evidence for Christianity.

After giving this message, the next Sunday “almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” When God’s word is proclaimed boldly, and clearly, people gather. It is an amazing thing to see, God sends people to hear his word so that when they seek Him, He may be found. God accomplished His purpose in “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” It was the Jews who reviled Paul, filled with jealousy, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas. God uses His people and His word to draw His people.

When we see God’s word accomplishing its purpose in others we are filled with joy! We see the same thing in Luke 10:17 when the disciples returned from preparing the way of the Lord to the cities around them. God’s word is the foundation of the power of the gospel.

Additional Learning

  1. Ken Ham on using the Bible in witnessing
  2. We will have this Resurrection Gospel Tract to give away at the booth
  3. Confirmation the Bible is true

Prayer

Please pray that God will help us to recall his word as we engage with unbelievers. As He promised in John 14:26, pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us and give us remembrance.

Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on February 12 2017
Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior.
John Newton