DO NOT REJECT THE MESSAGE OF GOD’S SOVEREIGN PROVISION OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, THE SEED OF DAVID, IN HIS CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION
Today you have the privilege of sitting under the preaching of the greatest expositor in NT church history – the Apostle Paul. As he begins his first missionary journey we find him still giving priority to taking the gospel to the Jews before moving on to the Gentiles. But this Jewish gospel he presents in detail in Acts 13 is the very same message we responded to and proclaim to others today. So you can look at today’s message as more of a seminar in how to present the gospel message to others.
We are probably familiar with a number of formats for gospel presentation:
– Four Spiritual Laws –
o God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life …
– Evangelism Explosion – starts off with that exploratory question:
o “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, why should He let you into His heaven?”
– Roman Road – quoting different verses through the Book of Romans
o “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
– Two Ways to Live – the Choice we all face
o Our Way = reject God as your ruler and try to run life our own way
o God’s New Way = Submit to Jesus as our ruler and rely on His death and resurrection for forgiveness of sins and new life
[cf. Jesus’ presentation to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4; cf. Peter’s earlier sermons]
Many of the principles we will be looking at this morning have been incorporated into those approaches.
SEVEN STEP GOSPEL PRESENTATION
I. (:14-16a) THE APPROACH — LOOK FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT THE GOSPEL – THE MISSIONARY MINDSET
“But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, ‘Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.’ And Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand, he said,”
Remember the subject of our last message = the desertion of John Mark – yet the reaction was not one of discouragement and ministry paralysis but going on with determination and vision and expectancy that God would lead and bless
How do we make connection with the unsaved and get a turn up at the plate?
Antioch near Pisidia – not in Pisidia
Wiersbe: Paul and Barnabas traveled 100 miles north and about 3,000 feet up to get to this important city on the Roman road.
Paul and his team went to great lengths to bring the gospel to new cities; driven by the Great Commission Mandate
Kent: First of Paul’s sermons to be recorded in any detail. It is similar to Stephen’s in its employment of historical retrospect (a speech which Paul probably heard), and also is not unlike Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in its interpretation of certain OT passages.
Stott: Luke will later give two samples of Paul’s sermons to Gentiles, that is, to the pagans of Lystra and the philosophers of Athens. But now the whole atmosphere is Jewish. The day is the Sabbath, the venue is the synagogue, the lessons are from the Law and the Prophets, the listeners are “men of Israel”, and the theme is how the God of the people of Israel has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as he promised. Luke is evidently anxious to demonstrate that Paul’s message to the Jews was substantially the same as Peter’s; that Paul did not turn to the Gentiles until after he had offered the gospel to the Jews and been rebuffed; and that, far from being an innovator, Paul was declaring only what God had promised in Scripture and had now fulfilled in Jesus.
Do you have the Missionary Mindset? Are you actively looking for opportunities to present the gospel message? Look at how aggressive Paul was – not just relying on friendship evangelism – he found ways to make contact with new groups of people
II. (:16b) THE ADDRESS — ESTABLISH COMMON GROUND WITH YOUR AUDIENCE – THE MISSIONARY CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
“Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:”
Getting people to listen to the message is difficult; all we want is a hearing
You can’t start out condemning them
III. (:17-22) THE AUTHENTICATION OF THE MESSAGE — REVIEW THE HISTORICAL RECORD OF GOD’S CHARACTER AND EXERCISE OF SOVEREIGN GRACE – THE MISSIONARY APOLOGETIC
Stott: Paul’s emphasis is on God’s initiative of grace. For he is the subject of nearly all the verbs.
Some people have more background in the Scriptures and a better understanding of God than others
7 Sovereign Acts of God (and 1 hiccup): History lesson – can we agree on how God has acted in the past?
A. Initial Sovereign Choice of Israel
“The God of this people Israel chose our fathers,”
A surprising choice and one they appreciated
[Here we might need to substitute our personal testimony = How has God proven Himself to be faithful and loving and wise and compassionate and sovereign in our experience?]
B. Sovereignly Prospered them in Time of Bondage in Egypt
“and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt,”
Sounds like they were just enjoying a restful time at some luxury resort – not exactly the picture from their perspective – time of great affliction – yet also God prospered them and their flocks
Ex. 1:7 “But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.”
MacArthur: The growth of the nation (cf. 12:37) was phenomenal! It grew from 70 men to 603,000 males, 20 years of age and older, thus allowing for a total population of about 2 million (Nu 1:46) departing from Egypt. The seed of Abraham was no longer an extended family, but a nation. The promise that his descendants would be fruitful and multiply (Ge 35:11, 12) had indeed been fulfilled in Egypt.
C. Sovereignly Delivered them from Egypt
“and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it.”
Despite Pharoah’s opposition; Crossing of the Red Sea = miraculous deliverance and judgment
[Contrast unfaithfulness of God’s people in each of these scenes with God’s faithfulness]
D. Sovereignly Protected and Provided for them in the Wilderness
“And for a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.”
E. Sovereignly Established them in the Promised Land
1. Destroying Enemy Nations – Remember crossing of Jordan and victory at Jericho
“And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan,”
against all odds
2. Giving Them Promised Inheritance of the Land
“He distributed their land as an inheritance– all of which took about four hundred and fifty years.”
Importance of the land
F. Sovereignly Provided Leadership via the Judges
“And after these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.”
Cycle of disobedience – yet God remained gracious
Time after time God sent a leader to rescue His sinful people and protect them from extinction
G. Exposed the Foolishness of Man’s Independent Initiative – Gave them what they wanted
“And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.”
How presumptuous of them to demand a form of governing after the pattern of the world and rejecting God’s invisible theocracy; reign of Saul was disastrous
H. Sovereignly Raised up the Godly Leadership of King David
“And after He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’”
God does the removing and the raising up of leaders
Point is to define the pedigree of the promised Messiah
David was type of Him who would come and reign in righteousness and peace
Obedience is the key to pleasing God – complete obedience
Climax: Building up to this point – no disagreement from the Jewish audience up to this point
IV. (:23-25) THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE SAVIOR — INTRODUCE THE HISTORICAL JESUS AS THE PROMISED GLORIOUS SEED OF DAVID — ANNOUNCED BY JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ANTICIPATED BY THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE – THE MISSIONARY FOCUS
A. Jesus – the Promised Glorious Seed of David
“From the offspring of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,”
It’s all about Jesus – that is who we are presenting to people
This is what Paul wants to drive home
B. Jesus – the Permanent Solution for Sin
“after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”
C. Jesus – the Preeminent Majestic King of Kings and Lord of Lords
“And while John was completing his course, he kept saying, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, one is coming after me the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’”
Understand the supremacy of the person of Christ – need to see Him as the majestic Son of God
John the Baptist = greatest among men; yet tremendous gap between him and Christ
V. (:26-29) THE AWAKENING OF GUILT BY EXPLAINING THE TRAVESTY OF THE CRUCIFIXION – THE JUST BEING CONDEMNED IN PLACE OF THE UNJUST – THE MISSIONARY HARD TRUTH
“Travesty” = a debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation (i.e. of justice)
A. Jewish Opportunity to be First Responders
1. Based on their Connectivity – Renewing the Address
a. Their connection to Paul
b. Their connection to the Jewish nation
“sons of Abraham’s family,”
c. Their connection to God – expanded to some Gentiles among them
“and those among you who fear God,”
2. Based on their Privilege of Stewardship of the Gospel Message and Priority of Access
“to us the word of this salvation is sent out.”
B. Jewish Culpability in the Crucifixion of Jesus
“For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. And when they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”
We awaken guilt by showing how our sins were the reason Jesus had to go to the cross
VI. (:30-37) THE AWAKENING OF HOPE BY EXPLAINING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION = AVAILABILITY OF FORGIVENESS OF SIN –
THE MISSIONARY GOOD NEWS
A. The Reality of the Resurrection
“But God raised Him from the dead;”
B. The Credibility of the Preachers = Witnesses of the reality of the resurrection
“and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. And we preach to you”
5 Purposes of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus:
– Proved the reality of His resurrection
– Renewed His fellowship with His beloved disciples
– Provided comfort and training for His preaching party
– Gave them instant credibility because of what they had witnessed
– Increased their motivation to bring the good news to the people
C. The Good News of Fulfilled Prophecy – 2 OT Quotes
“the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; today I have begotten Thee.’ And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.”
VII. (:38-41) THE APPLICATION — DRIVE HOME THE PERSONAL APPLICATION BY CALLING FOR A RESPONSE OF FAITH – APPEAL AND WARNING –
THE MISSIONARY INVITATION
A. Do you understand the Exclusivity of the Gospel – True for all people; True for all time – no other options that work
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him”
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
B. Do you want Forgiveness and Freedom vs. Condemnation and Bondage? If there is no heart desire for these precious blessings, then the groundwork of awakening guilt must be revisited.
“forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”
Toussaint: Acts 13:39 gives the thesis of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, which was probably written shortly after his first missionary journey and before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).
Kent: Those who trusted in Moses alone would find in the judgment that they had no real forgiveness with God at all. Faith was necessary even in the OT period. The good news revealed in Christ is that man’s debt has been paid by Christ’s death, and full forgiveness is available to all who will trust him for it.
C. Do you understand the Severe Consequences of Rejection of the Gospel?
“Take heed therefore, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’”
Paul has already demonstrated that the predictions of the prophets have been fulfilled down to the minute details – we saw this in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – much more we will see it at His second coming in judgment and wrath.
2 Thess 1:7-9 “when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power”
Wiersbe: In Habakkuk’s day, the “unbelievable work” God was doing was the raising up of the Chaldeans to chasten His people, a work so remarkable that nobody would believe it. After all, why would God use an evil pagan nation to punish His own chosen people, sinful though they might be? God was using Gentiles to punish Jews! But the “wonderful work” in Paul’s day was that God was using the Jews to save the Gentiles!
You do not want to continue through life in the category of “Scoffers”
2 Pet. 3:3 “Where is the promise of His coming?”
Don’t be afraid to ask for the order!