““You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?” – Acts 13:10
We’re still talking about restoration of New Testament Christianity in our study of Acts. Yes, we’re back in Acts – chapters 13 and 14. Of course I haven’t lost interest in our study of Acts! I hope that you haven’t, either. I’m impatiently waiting to get to a few chapters that I love, but we will get there soon, if the Lord is willing. If there’s only two or three gathered by the authority of Christ, Jesus said there He will be in the midst (Matt. 18:20). So, if there’s just one person following along in the study, God is with us.
We’ve covered nearly the first half of Acts; we’ve discussed much of Peter’s ministry. Now we venture into the works and ministry of the apostle Paul in the last half of the book of Acts. In chapters 13 and 14 we see Paul on his first missionary journey. Paul spoke boldly to the Jews and Gentiles everywhere he went.
“Look, you scoffers,
marvel and vanish away,
because I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will never believe,
even if someone were to explain it to you.” – Acts 13:41
Sure enough he and Barnabas faced some pushback from both Jews and Gentiles. They persecuted them in Antioch (Acts 13:50). “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him” (Acts 13:45).
The same things happen today. When people are jealous of you in your teaching of the truth, they will hurl insults at you and do everything to try and humiliate you and strip you of your dignity so that no one will listen to what you have to say.
“But they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 13:51-52
When that happens, we have to do what Paul and Barnabas did: they shook the dust off their feet. Or, you can brush it off your shoulders – wherever it lands. Notice that the text says that they were filled with joy (Acts 13:52), and the kept on evangelizing (Acts 14:7) after the people attempted to assault and stone Paul for teaching the gospel in Iconium.
We can’t let the hatred, jealousy, and stupidity of other people – nor their attempts to dehumanize us – keep us from fulfilling our God-given mission. Get that dust off of you and keep it moving.
And when they went to the next town of Lystra, the Gentiles treated them as if they were Greek gods when they saw Paul heal a man who was lame from birth. But they exclaimed to them that they were mere men and were not to be treated any differently than that.
If that is how apostles wanted to be treated – as humans like everyone else – then, today, that’s how we should treat preachers. They should not be treated as if there is somehow some cosmic gap between them and the rest of the believers. That brings about a distinction that the Lord never intended. Notice what Paul and Barnabas said.
“Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.” – Acts 14:15
And even after they had persuaded many in Lystra, the Jews from Antioch and Iconium were still hating on Paul’s and Barnabas’ teachings about Christ. They went to Lystra and persuaded the people to stone Paul. They stoned him and left him for dead.
It’s sad, but there are some in this life who hate you so much, they will follow you – stalk you, even – and try to get other people to hate you, too. They show no concern for your life, but will leave you for dead – just like they did to Paul.
But he got up. And he kept going and strengthened the disciples “by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, ‘It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22).
I love that. What a wonderful example! Paul was stoned and left for dead, but he didn’t let that stop him. And he used it as an opportunity to encourage the other disciples of Christ to continue in the faith.
Are you in the faith? You can be if you will believe in Jesus as Christ, repent of your sins, confess His name, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. Then when troubles come your way, you can shake the dust off of your feet like Paul did and keep on moving closer towards heaven.
When it comes to heaven, what we experience here on earth is nothing but a little dust on our feet. Let’s brush it off and get to heaven.
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