Woodland Baptist Church

Wednesday Night – Discipleship Class

Acts 14:9-20 – These Worthless Things





    1. 2 Timothy 3:10-1710 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


      1. Those inspired words of Scripture were written by the Apostle Paul near the end of his life…as he searched his conscience for the words that he knew his protégé, Timothy, would need to hear as Timothy pressed on for the gospel of Jesus Christ…from that passage I want you to hold on to some verses, specifically 11, 12 and 13 – Paul reflected on the events of today when writing this passage to Timothy.


    1. Summary – After Paul’s conversion he disappears to Arabia for several years Let us remember that Paul had been converted on the Damascus Road, immediately went to Damascus for restoration and baptism and then he spends several years in Arabia of  which we have no record.  Then, God establishes a new church in a new place that will be instrumental in the future of Christian missions…Antioch of Syria.  When Jerusalem hears of this racially mixed church of Jews and Gentiles, they send a very special servant named Barnabas to go and assist the church in discipling these new believers.  When Barnabas gets there he realizes quickly that he needs help.  He remembers a young Pharisee that had been converted to Christianity and become a powerful preacher and evangelist for the faith, named Saul…so Barnabas travels to Tarsus and comes back to Antioch with Paul and for a year they serve together at Antioch.  It was during this time that the Holy Spirit prepares them to spread the gospel to the utmost corners of the earth.


      1. All the missionary journeys originated from this place called Antioch of Syria:  What we will look at today is the tail end of the first journey when Paul and Barnabas come to Lystra and Derbe.
        1. First Missionary Journey – Begins in Acts 13, ends in Acts 14 – Two chapters…one trip…eight cities.


          1. Acts 13 – They sail from Seleucia to the island of Cyprus – Salamis – Paphos – sail from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia – Pisidian Antioch
          2. Acts 14 – Iconium – Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe…


            1. Return trip – Lystra – Iconium – Pisidian Antioch – Pamphylia – Perga – Attalia – sailed back to Antioch of Syria, this time bypassing the island of Cyprus.


  1. READ ACTS 14:1-7
  2. READ ACTS 14:8-20
  3. VERSES 8-10 – The                              that                                  the crowd


    1. 8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.  9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. 


      1. In all of these instances in Scripture (Acts 3…Mark 2) the miracle has three primary purposes:


        1. Testify to the power of God vested in the one performing the miracles, in this case, Paul, to give him credibility.
        2. Soften the heart of the one that received the healing to bring them to repentance and faith.
        3. To gain the attention of those in the immediate vicinity to create a platform for the gospel to be preached.


    1. Here the miracle ran parallel to God’s power displayed by Christ…Peter and now Paul as he heals the man crippled in his feet, lame from birth and had never walked.


      1. Many times we want to question God as to why we don’t continue to see these types of healings today…and I would answer that question in this way:


        1. First – I’m sure there are healings in other places, we just don’t see them or hear about them.
        2. Second – these manifestations of the Spirit in Acts served a specific purpose during a specific time in the beginning stages of Christianity.  During the early years of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, it was necessary to prove by sign and miracle God’s power.  Miracles and signs were used of God to prove the reality of Christ’s power…and God used tongues to prove the transition of the church through different racial barriers.


          1. We don’t need to see these dramatic signs and outpourings of the power of God anymore to authenticate His work, they have served their purpose…we have all of them from the past recorded in this book to read whenever we want to, to bear witness of who He is.
          2. Matthew 12:39“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.


        1. John 20:2929 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


    1. So, the Holy Spirit works through Paul and heals the crippled man…the crowd marvels and then…


  1. VERSES 11-13 Never worship                   in place of                            .


    1. 11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”  12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  


      1. Let’s look a little closer at the details of how they worshiped Paul and Barnabas:


        1. They shouted in their native tongue – Lycaonian – which meant that Paul and Barnabas did not understand what they said.
        2. The claimed that Paul and Barnabas represented gods in human form
        3. They named them:


          1. Barnabas – Zeus
          2. Paul – Hermes – chief speaker


        1. They wanted to offer sacrifices to them – The priest of Zeus – the pagan holy man that ran the local shrine, brings a whopper of a sacrifice to honor Paul and Barnabas for what they did…what brought all this on?


    1. There was an ancient legend in Lystra, found in a work written by Ovid called Metamorphoses which claimed that Zeus and Hermes, two well known and powerful Greek gods, once visited an elderly couple that lived there, a man named Philemon and his wife Baucis – (read Ramsay, page 107).


      1. We must be very, very careful about what we believe – this entire community believed that Greek gods came down and visited them and spent time with this couple…because of this legend that was such a part of their culture, they were hardened toward the gospel…Paul has a word for us here.


        1. 1 Timothy 4:1-81 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron…7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.


    1. So, these pagans that were being blessed by the presence of two ministers of the Gospel were so consumed by the lie that had been sown by Satan concerning these fictitious Greek gods, that they wanted to worship these men, thinking they were gods, instead of hearing the message the miracle was meant to represent.


      1. It seems like they were just looking for a reason to have a party to me – they see this miracle, they don’t ask any questions…they assume they know exactly what has happened based on tradition and just celebrate!
      2. They were trapped in a heavy, idolatrous delusion that seared their consciences…almost to the point of no return.  They had found their gods in false gods…these people in Lystra were blinded by Satan and Paul and Barnabas would do their best to break Satan’s hold on them….


  1. VERSES 14-18  Testify to the                                    and                                of God


    1. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”  18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.


      1. Let’s look a close look at their actions:


        1. They tore their clothes – a Jewish expression for extreme disgust at blasphemy.
        2. They rushed into the crowd shouting – to try to stop what was going on and gain everyone’s attention.
        3. They made sure the crowd understood that they were not gods – we are only men, human like you.


      1. They testified to God and his oneness and goodness:


        1. Turn from these worthless things to the living God who…


          1. Sovereignty over Creation, Nation & Salvation


            1. Creation – who made heaven…earth…sea…and everything
            2. Nation – Let Nations go their own way…yet has…
            3. Salvation – provided testimony – for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse – Rom 1:20


          1. Sovereignty over Human Need


            1. Giving rain from heaven…crops in their seasons
            2. Provides with plenty of food…fills your hearts with joy


    1. Psalm 8:1-9 1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
      You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


      1. So the miracle had marveled the crowd…the people had worshiped men instead of God…Paul and Barnabas had testified to Character and Nature of God…and now something unexpected happens…


  1. VERSE 19  Be prepared for the                                  of                                         .


    1. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over.  They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.


      1. How much time passed between the their confrontation of the crowd and priest and the arrival of the Jews is not known, but one thing is for certain, these Jews were able to turn the crowd against Paul and Barnabas quickly.


        1. Most likely, these Jews were those that Paul and Barnabas angered from one of their recent preaching events and they show up at Lystra, tracking Paul and Barnabas like blood hounds…and they quickly turn the crowd…how?


          1. Most likely, the crowd was not too pleased with the way Paul and Barnabas had sternly rebuked them for trying to sacrifice to them as gods and refused their offering…so they were easily swayed by these Jews into a frenzied hatred of the traveling missionaries.


        1. So these Jews…won the crowd over – that sound familiar doesn’t it…like coming into Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Only to be crucified by them in a few days!!  These Jews from Antioch and Iconium somehow won over this crowd of pagans to the point of throwing stones at him until he was on lying motionless on the ground in a pool of bloody mud…then they grabbed him by his extremities and dragged him outside the city…and left him for dead like some kind of diseased animal – we are not told how Barnabas escaped.


          1. That’s how fierce the demonic forces of hell can be – this entire scene was caused by the tongue – James 3:66 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.


      1. Acts 9:16 – 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – The Lord’s words to Ananias before he sought out Saul and restored his sight.
      2. John 15:20 – 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.


    1. We look at that scene and we think to ourselves this is absolutely detestable how could someone do such a thing…but let me assure you of something…today it is no different…the political religious elite do the exact same thing, they just don’t use rocks…today they use slander…political power…financial manipulation…or…we ostracize them socially.


      1. This event in Paul’s life reminds us of the opening Scripture – everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.


  1. VERSE 20  The                                      to                                 for the gospel.


    1. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.  The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.


      1. Paul, has just been verbally abused, publicly humiliated and nearly beaten to death by a frenzied mob…then his bloody, limp body was dragged through the streets of Lystra and dumped outside the city…after a while, those that had become Christians encircled him, probably prayed over him and he regains consciousness and returns to the city that tried to murder him.


        1. Questions:  How was he able to get up and go back into the city after almost being beaten to death?  How could he walk?  How could he see?
        2. Why would he go back into the city that just tried to kill him?


      1. Answers:  He was able to get up and go back into the city through the power of God’s Holy Spirit – God’s grace is sufficient.  When we are doing God’s work he will give us the strength we need to complete it.  God restored Him – remember God gives us power to be His witnesses not play church.
      2. Why would he go back into the city?  Because Paul feared God more than man and it was not time for him to leave yet.  Possibly, he went back to get medical attention…or to complete some unfinished business before he left for Derbe…or maybe he wanted to confront his attackers or the priest of Zeus…we are not told, the point is…he went back, willing to suffer again.


      1. The reality we see with Paul is that he was willing to suffer for the gospel and die if necessary  because he knew the more he suffered, the closer he came to truly becoming like Christ…and there was nothing more desirable in his heart than becoming like the savior that set him free!


        1. Philippians 3:10 – 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.


  1. CLOSE – Application


    1. How on earth does this story have any significance in the contemporary church?


      1. First – do we know any contemporary church in America that has a missionary that is sold out for Christ like Paul was?
      2. Second – all these teachings are as true today as they were two thousand years ago – God’s miracles of old should still marvel the crowd, we should never worship man over God, yet we do it everyday…we should testify to the goodness and sovereignty of God as his people and be prepared to be suffer and be persecuted for Him.


    1. The key verse in this passage for us today is Turn from these worthless things to the living God – what were these worthless things?


        1. Anything that comes between you and the living God
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