2018-09-30 – Acts 13.13-41 – Paul’s Synagogue Sermon
Bible Text: Acts 13:13-41 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon
2018-09-30 – Acts 13:13-41 – Paul’s Synagogue Sermon
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
In preparation for our church’s anniversary celebration, I have been going through a lot of this church’s history. It is amazing to read about how God has worked through this building and through the saints here throughout the years. Today we are going to see in scripture that it is important to know our history, as it provides us with a foundation from which to expound upon what God is doing in our lives now. We should share with one another our history, especially as it relates to our Christian journey. For instance:
About 15 years ago I took my little girls to McDonalds in Milan, as they have a play place that we enjoyed going to. This particular Saturday was special for me as I had just been ordained as a minister for my church. As the girls were playing, I was standing in line ordering the food, when a man that I never seen before turned around from the counter and walked up to me. To my complete surprise, he looked me right in the eyes and with a big smile said, “You’re a pastor, aren’t you?” to which I said yes, then he put is finger up and said, “Isaiah 41:10” and then he turned around and walked out the door. I think the Holy Spirit inspired him to say that to me that day. I never forgot that meeting. I looked up the verse, which is now one of my favorite go-to verses and I will share with you now. [Pass out the Business Cards]
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.
You never know what kind of impact you might have on somebody’s life if you are willing to share God’s word with them. We are going to see that same dynamic in our message today. It is called Paul’s Synagogue Sermon. We are going to witness and read the first full sermon of the Apostle Paul. I have no doubt that Paul had rendered many sermons as he was going about starting new churches. But God has preserved only this sermon of his in its entirety for us to enjoy and learn from. Through it, Paul is going to validate what he knows and believes about God and our savior Jesus Christ. Through this sermon and the Gospel that was preached, people’s lives were changed. Maybe yours will be changed too.
Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 13:13 which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.
However let us start today with prayer.
Like I stated last week, this map here shows the three missionary journeys of Paul. The ones in RED are the first missionary journey, and it is in the middle of that first journey that our verses take place.
Paul’s Sermon in Antioch of Pisidia
13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”
Paul went to the synagogue to worship and to share with the people the Good News of Jesus Christ. He knows at this point, that he is not dealing with ignorant people. They knew Jehovah God and what was written by Moses and the Prophets. The leaders in the synagogue recognized and respected them as visitors from Jerusalem and wanted to hear what knowledge or wisdom they had to share.
I have traveled to many countries, and had the privilege of being in this same type of situation as Paul is here in our verses. It is kind of strange being treated like a dignitary, one who is expected to impart great wisdom to the people in attendance. You kind of have the center stage, and I am sure Paul was expecting that, counting on that in fact for the purposes of sharing the Gospel.
I should note also that it was here that John Mark left the company and returned home. Why did he leave? Was young Mark afraid? Was he not comfortable with the ministry to the Gentiles? Were there personality clashes between him and the strong, overbearing Paul? No one knows exactly, but it is clear that Paul regarded young Mark’s departure as a desertion. It is good to know however from scripture, that a reconciliation later took place between Paul and Mark, which is a testimony to the power of gospel regarding healing and forgiveness.
Now what follows is Paul’s entire sermon to the people that day. You might find it to be very similar in scope to Apostle Peter’s sermon, earlier in this book of Acts. It starts out with a brief history of the Jews, then it moves to the Gospel of Jesus:
16 Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel, chose our ancestors, made the people prosper during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm.
18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness; 19 and after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 This all took about 450 years. After this, he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 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 After removing him, he raised up David as their king and testified about him:’ I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my will.’
So again that is very brief survey of the Old Testament given by Paul to the people who happened to be in the synagogue in Antioch. Paul and his Christian missionary brothers were going about for the purposes of spreading the Gospel as was commanded by Jesus to be doing. He knew that the Jewish believers there knew the Old Testament, so by giving this overview, Paul hoped the Jews would recognize that he was wise in the ways and the beliefs of the Jews. And therefore he would have a chance at gaining their trust so as they might believe the rest of the story, about who the Messiah Savior was that the Jews had been waiting for. And since the crowd present that day also included Gentiles, or non-Jewish people, by giving this His-Story lesson here, they might be brought up to speed as to why a Messiah Savior might be necessary in the first place.
Paul was very wise, and he knew how to reach the people he came across for the benefit and purpose of God saving them for eternity. As stated in last week’s message, we should also assess our audience as we go about sharing the Gospel.
Now what follows, is Paul’s rendition of when Jesus entered into the picture. You should understand that these folks may have not heard anything about Jesus yet. In my travels around the world, I have run into people who had no concept of who Jesus is. They might know who Krishna, or Buddha is, but Jesus isn’t hardly spoken in some corners of the world. One might think that if there were missionaries in that country, they would surely know. But on the contrary, it only takes three generations to wipe out all knowledge of Christ. It is an ongoing effort, one that needs continuous support. Starting at verse 23, Paul said:
23 “From this man’s descendants, as he promised, God brought to Israel the Savior, Jesus. 24 Before his coming to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 Now as John was completing his mission, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the one. But one is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet.’
That was John the Baptist referring to Jesus starting His ministry. Paul continues:
26 “Brothers and sisters, children of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, it is to us that the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 Since the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him or the sayings of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, they have fulfilled their words by condemning him. 28 Though they found no grounds for the death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had carried out all that had been written about him, they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb.30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. 33 God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
So Paul, who was preaching this sermon almost two thousand years ago, is making reference to a verse from Psalm 2:7 written by King David a thousand years prior. David wrote these prophesies (meaning, things to come), and Jesus fulfilled them. In the next few verses we will see other prophesies written by King David, but in all, there are hundreds of prophetic writings in the Old Testament written by many authors, but inspired by God, that point to Christ’s coming.
34 As to his raising him from the dead, never to return to decay, he has spoken in this way, I will give you the holy and sure promises of David. 35 Therefore he also says in another passage, You will not let your Holy One see decay. 36 For David, after serving God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed, 37 but the one God raised up did not decay. 38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man [Jesus], forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. 39 Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
41 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.”
And explain is exactly what Paul was trying to do on this day. He was trying to explain to them that God has a plan. He planned it from the beginning, that Jesus would be the Messiah Savior of all the people.
Paul was offering to them that day, that their sins could be forgiven. That they could go to heaven only because Jesus justifies them before our Righteous God. That word Justifies is an interesting word. There is an old saying for the word Justified = “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.
Simply put, to be justified is to be declared righteous, to make one right with God. God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous. Based on Christ’s righteousness being credited to the accounts of those who receive Him.
Because Jesus took all my sin up on the cross at Calvary, and because He died to pay the debt of my sin, then it is for that reason alone that I am justified. “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.
Paul was sharing the Good-News to the people that day. He gave them the history, the prophesies, and then the solution. The Messiah had come. He paid the price for our salvation. We are free from the burden of sin, and can now be guaranteed a home in heaven, for those that accept the gift of Jesus upon their lives.
Again, what you just heard was Paul’s first sermon in the Bible. It is a readers digest condensed version of the Old Testament and also the Gospel of Jesus.
And Paul sets a great example for us here today. Like him, and even the fellow I met at McDonalds 15 years ago, we should not be afraid to share God’s word.
You never know, it could make an eternal difference for somebody, and for God’s glory as well.
I will close with the verses that Adeline read to you earlier. This was Paul’s message to the Corinthian church, but now I want you to receive it as if he was speaking to you directly here today.
1 Corinthians 15 – “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, IF you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”
Have you made the Gospel message your message yet? These are not mere words brothers and sisters, this is God’s breathed message to you personally.
He loves you so..
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation and prayer.