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(Acts 13:13–52) The Message

(Acts 13:13–52) The Message

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Acts
Ref: Acts 13:13–52

God tells us that 'from out of the heart a man speaks.' Every time Paul opened his mouth, the gospel came pouring out. Rehearse the message of the gospel in this lesson.

CLICK HERE to access all of the messages in this series.


Preaching seems to be falling in the polls lately.  More and more voices are calling for an end to the preaching of doctrine and truth and put in its place a myriad of less dogmatic, less confrontational things.

I read an article a few months ago about one pastor who inaugurated a 20 minute service – he told the interviewer, this way you get the regular prayers, a few hymns, communion, the benediction and you’re on your merry way.

One pastor of a mega church out west went on record recently saying, “Nobody wants to hear a preacher any more get up and say open your Bibles to such and such a passage and then bore them to death as he works his way through it.”

So replace the kerugma – or preaching – with other more interesting things – multi media, panel discussion and open forums – turn church into something lite and comforting – don’t convict, challenge, and certainly don’t stand and speak as if you represent absolute truth.   The secularists have identified this growing number of churches and refers to them as McChurch – fast food for the soul – and you can have it your way.

Yet the pattern of scripture is quite the opposite.  The word preach and the activity of preaching is mandated in scripture. 

The example of our Lord is seen in Matthew 4 – Jesus began to preach, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

In Mark 16:15 Christ told His disciples to  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

I Tim. 2:7 –Paul says, “And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle, as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

I Cor. 1:23 – We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, to Gentiles foolishness.

Rom. 10:13-14.  For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of glad tidings!”

Imagine that, at the very time that many in the religious world are calling old fashioned the preaching of the gospel, the scriptures are upholding and honoring the method and practice of preaching.

Why would it be important to uphold the preaching and teaching of God’s word as a timeless method of the church?

Turn to 2 Tim. 4:2 where we are warned…


…warned at what will happen when preaching is replaced with something less declarative, authoritative – Paul solemnly charges Timothy, a young pastor to; “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season (literally, stay at your post); (now, what does it mean Timothy to preach?  It means to . . .) reprove (according to Trench, Kittle and others, this greek word means to so prove with evidence the truth of scripture that it will bring the hearer, if not to a point of confession, at least to a conviction of sin) rebuke (this word carries the idea of sharp censure – the same word was used when Jesus rebuked the demons), to exhort with great patience and instruction.”  The word exhort – parakalew - is the same greek word that explains the ministry of the Holy Spirit – he is the paraklete – He comes alongside us and encourages and urges us forward.  The work of the preacher is to complement the work of  the Spirit of God.  The same ministry.

What happens in a generation that lacks the ministry of preaching – read on -  3.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”

If there is a passage that so describes our own generation it is this one –

            Life on other planets?  A myth

            Space ships waiting to take you away?  A myth

            Truth channeled from spirit guides?  A myth

            That you have the answers within your own spark divinity?  myth

            Newsweek magazine carried an advertisement that introduced it’s product with the words: 


To teach and preach the word of God.  The truth is, when that is done, there rarely lacks an audience of hungry hearts and minds for the Word of God which is alive and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword. 

As your turning back to Acts give this paragraph:

I find it interesting that in the Book of Acts, Luke, the inspired author gives us verbatim several sermons. 

Peter – Acts 2; 

Stephen in Acts 7. 

Paul’s first sermon in Acts 13.

ACTS 13:

In fact, in this chapter there are several firsts:

The first missionary journey – Paul and Barnabas and Mark are traveling in and around cities in the Roman province of Galatia – it will be to these new churches and villages that Paul will eventually send an epistle or letter called the Epistle to the Galatians.

We have the first Missionary defection.   The little phrase in Acts 13:13b “And John left them and  returned to Jerusalem.”  This is the beginning of a conflict that will later erupt in Acts 15, causing the division of Paul and Barnabas.

I’ll reserve comments on John Mark’s defection until we reach Acts 15, but I will mention that some believe he left because he was upset that Paul has become the leader and his uncle Barnabas has taken a back seat.

In fact, you might notice the subtle, yet interesting shift in the placement of names in Acts:  -11 – Barnabas & Saul  -12  B & S – 13:2 B & S

But now and for the rest of the their relationship in chapter 13:13 it is Paul and his companions – v. 42 Paul and Barnabas; 46,  v. 50 

Perhaps John Mark was upset that his uncle was no longer the leader, the spokesman – so he left.

Nevertheless, Paul and Barnabas continue pressing forward.

Now lets read on at what becomes the setting for the first missionary sermon: 14. But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.

Now you notice that Paul didn’t barge into the synagogue with his gospel guns blazing – hey all of you, this synagogue is now a relic of the past – it’s time to convert this thing into a church – no, he made himself available to God, then allowed God to ultimately open the door for ministry.

15.  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.”

Maybe someone had slipped the synagogue leader a note that said, “We’ve got a rabbi from Jerusalem with us today – I believe he attended seminary under the great teacher Gamaliel.

It was not uncommon for visiting men to address the congregation.

But can you imagine what when through Paul and Barnabas’ hearts as they heard – “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”  Ha!  If . . .

Make no mistake – Paul hadn’t gone to this synagogue on the  Sabbath, hoping someone would invite him home afterward for dinner – he didn’t’ go attempting to discuss the issues related to the current debates between the Hillel and Shammai factions within Pharisaism.

He went to preach Jesus Christ.

Now remember, Paul didn’t have even one book of the New Testament in his hand when he began – so he began with the Old Testament scriptures.

I’ve divided his sermon into two points:


16.   And Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand, he said,  “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:

17.  “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it.   18.  “And for a period of about forty years

He put up with them in the wilderness.

Imagine – God put up with them for 40 years.    The Israelites did nothing but complain – they were never satisfied – because of His covenant and faithfulness to His word – He did not cast them off – but this verse provides an alarming perspective from heaven’s vantage point – “God put up with them for 40 years.”

Could God be saying that of you or me today – all you ever do is complain complain complain?  Your not happy with how God runs your universe and so you respond toward him with anything but gratitude and thanksgiving?

The one before whose throne at this moment cherubim are singing their endless refrain, “Holy Holy Holy”.  The One who is surrounded by winged creatures declaring His majesty; the One who sovereignly maintains order in the universe and brings all things to pass according to His will – the One who has seated beside Him our resurrected Redeemer – this is the One we complain to – this is the One we dare question.

When I get to heaven  I don’t want Him to say, “That man is one I had to put with you - but that man I partnered with through life.”

Put up with?  Or Partnered together with?

19.  “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance—all of which took about four hundred and fifty years.   20.  “And after these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.   21.  “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.   22.  “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.’ 

Now, so far, Paul has been singing a song the synagogue loved to hear -  the history of the people and of their beloved King David.   But now, Paul makes a turn in his preaching that introduces the son of David, their Redeemer/Messiah. . .notice v. 23.  “From the offspring of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,  (Having just delivered the shocking statement that Jesus is the Messiah – Paul immediately calls to the witness stand for evidence the ministry of an Old Testament prophet – John the Baptist.)  24.  after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.   25.  “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.’   26.  “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the word of this salvation is sent out.   27.  “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.

Did you catch that?  You’re reading the Bible every day, yet you don’t  know Him.  You have the prophets declaring every thing about him  - a descendant of David:  born in the town of Bethlehem:  crucified on a cross:  raised from the dead; given the throne of David. . .etc, etc, etc.

Every Sabbath you’ve heard the reading but you weren’t really listening – 

A large part of Stephen Davey’s problem – and your problem is that we have the same ability to hear the word but not apply it – that is, we read the word but apply it to somebody else.  We hear the word – we are surrounded by the truth – but we’re not really listening to the truth so we’re not reformed by the truth

You could call it selective hearing.

My wonderful wife complains every once in a while of that problem – she’ll be talking to me and she knows when my eyes glaze over that I’m no longer listening – I’m somewhere else – she says, “Honey, what did I just say to you?”  “To me?”  Uh, well, you were talking about uh you know the subject at hand.”  My daughter Charity, who is only 3 years old,  was  riding with me the other day – just the two of us – I could remember vaguely hearing somewhere in the background, “Daddy . . . Daddy . . . Daddy – then she leaned over toward me and said, “Daddy – helllllo”  Where’d she learn that from?!

One of the few shows I’ll watch is the funny video shows – human life captured on film – I was watching one the other day – it was a wedding scene – huge wedding party – packed sanctuary – very formal affair – the reverend was up front – the bride and groom in front of him a few feet away on a lower level.  You could tell by looking closely at the groom that he was daydreaming – man he wasn’t even there – he was looking at the floor as the pastor sort of droned on – finally the pastor said, “If there is anyone in the audience who knows just cause as to why this couple should not wed, let him now speak or forever hold his peace.  Long pause – during which the groom snapped out of it – thinking he’d missed a cue and said, “I do.”  They’re not even married yet and he’s not listening – that poor woman.

When it comes to Biblical instruction that personally convicts and challenges, we naturally tend to close our ears in proud self-defense and miss the application of truth to our own lives.

And think about it – for this generation, what they missed because they didn’t want to listen to the Word, was their Messiah.

The question is, “What are you missing today . . . because you’re not listening?”     28.  “And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed.   29.  “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. 30 “But God raised Him from the dead;   31.  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.   32.  “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers,   33.  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.’   34.  “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.’   35.  “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.’   36.  “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;   37.  but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.  

Paul has preached things they’ve never heard – they have heard him apply OT scripture so clearly, that they sit, spellbound by the truth.  Now Paul personally applies his message to them with two key words.

38.  “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 

The first key word is forgiveness!  That is a new proclamation.

I was witnessing some time ago to a Hindu man.  Eventually I was able to tell him, “Sir, one of the primary thing that separates your religion from mine, is that you do not have forgiveness of sin – there is nothing in your faith that takes care of even one of your sins – in fact, your next life on earth will be payment for the sins of your present life – yet all my sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ who can offer me forgiveness!

He somberly shook his head and said, “What you say is true”

Paul declared - “Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

the next key word appears in v. 39.  and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.  

– freed (the word in the original is dikaiothune – translated justified.) What does it mean to be justified – it’s a legal term that means to be declared righteous. 

Several years ago I entered the Charlotte speedway.  Well, it was actually I85.  You need to know that I was driving a borrowed vehicle and the wheels were larger than the original size so the calibration was off - I was actually going 6 miles faster than I thought – so actually I was going 76 instead of 71 in a 65 mile an hour zone – okay, it had just changed to 55 – would you keep quiet, this is my story.   I was definitely speeding.  Fortunately, blue lights pulled me over and I got a ticket; which helped preserve my safety.

In order to minimize the penalty, I chose to appear in court.  As I stood in line with all the other race car drivers I was hoping the judge would charge me the fine and then my crime would not be entered in the books which would make my insurance go up.

When it came my turn, I stepped toward the desk – the judge was writing something and he said to me, “I’m doing you a big favor!”  I said, “Thank you.”  Without any explanation, he said, “You can leave now – and sir I hope you know I am doing you a big favor!”  I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it sounded good to me.  I said, “Thank you sir.”  As I walked out of the courtroom, just as I reached the door, he loudly said, “I’m doing you a big favor!” 

You will not stand before God one day and hear Him say, “Oh just look at this list of sins – I’ll tell you what – I’ll do you a big favor and let you in  - but remember, I’m doing you a big favor.

Doing me a favor and declaring me righteous or justifying me are two vastly different things. 

Let me put it this way.  In order for that judge in Charlotte to justify me, guilty of speeding, he would have had to say to me, “Listen, I’m going to take this police report and erase your name write my name in your place – so that your crime is imputed to me and my innocence is imputed to you.”

That’s justification.

Turn over to Colossians 2:13.


 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14.  Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

In other words, God switched the names on the criminal report – Christ’s name is written at the top of the volume of all your sins - Christ became as it were you the criminal and you and I became the innocent one.  

Peter wrote, “He bore our sin in his own body on the tree”

He took our vileness and gave us His virtue – He took on Himself our perversion and gave us His purity.

Now we who believe in Him stand, in Christ, justified – “just as if I’d never sinned”.  Incredible grace.

Back to Acts 13

ACTS 13:40

40.  “Take heed therefore, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:    41.  ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, andperish;  For I am accomplishing a work in your days,  A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’” 42.  And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.   43.  Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God. 44.  And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.   45. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.   46.  And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.   47.  “For thus the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles,  That You should bring salvation to the end of the earth.’”

End of the message – now, let the chips fall as they will!

The products of this message were two-fold

First there is acceptance and regeneration

48.  And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.   49.  And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

The second product of this message is opposition and rejection

  1. But the Jews aroused the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Driving them out implies that they were beaten according to the custom of their day. . . and literally dragged out of the city.

51.  But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.

The missionaries were symbolically declaring themselves cleared of any further responsibilities regarding the cities unbelief.  The city had heard.

52.  And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Paul and Barnabas might have had to leave their new converts, but the Holy Spirit did not.  He filled them.  John Phillips wrote, “The Jews might be able to drive out the servants of God, but they could not drive out the Spirit of God.”

Why?  Because there were people in this town who had heard the message – the preaching of gospel - and they had believed.

Pray . . .let’s not be like the Israelites – God has to put up with us so to speak because of our complaining – let’s give thanks (Sing Give Thanks)


Mention that this averts the crisis this fall but not the challenge; parents still need to meet with Pastor Scott this evening to discuss the many changes for children – be expecting some new parking  plans as well some room changes on site – that back corner wall will be coming out as well as we prepare to enter the fall with the growth we’ve experienced this summer as well as accommodate the people who return for school.


Inside each of us is an inner child yearning to reconnect with nature.  That’s a myth.  The truth is, each person yearns for the truth of God and will come up empty with any other pursuit – including mother nature.

What’s the solution?




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