Prioritise the Jewish People, But Pursue the Lost No Matter Who They Are
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Background (Acts 13:1-3,5,13)
A. Two Active churches now:
1. One in Jerusalem, with 10’s of thousands of born again believers – all Jews though
2. Another one in Antioch – mixed with Jewish and Gentile believers
3. This is the future!
4. But never at the expense of the Jewish people hearing the Gospel
5. THEY (the Jewish people) are supposed to always get the Gospel first
B. The first Missionaries have now been called by the Holy Spirit of God to go, on purpose, where the Gospel had not been preached yet – into all the world (Mark 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
C. John Mark Quit
1. He had started so well, volunteering to go with Barnabas and Saul, but he fell out and went back home
2. No worries
3. Barnabas will go after him and encourage him, just like he had gone after Saul and got him back serving the Lord in Acts Chapter 11
D. Barnabas and Paul just kept going
1. Volunteers come and go
2. People come to church, and leave
3. But those of us who know the will of God, stay the course, no matter what it costs
E. They now come to Antioch Pisidia [MAP] on modern Turkey
F. And they go right into a Jewish synagogue
1. Remember, there was no church there - No Christians
2. Just some Jews
3. And that was a start
4. Paul and Barnabas knew they were supposed to give THEM the Gospel ahead of the Gentiles
A. Looking for An Opportunity to Preach (Acts 13:14,15)
1. They started with the Jew First (Acts 13:14)
a. Acts 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
b. They were no longer Jewish, but went right into the synagogue – on the Sabbath
c. WHY go into the synagogues at all?
1) The Jews had crucified their own Messiah – rejected Him – blasphemed Him
2) Yet Jesus came to the Jewish people first
a) John 1:10,11 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
b) Remember, Jesus was a law-keeping Jewish Rabbi, who spent His entire life teaching JEWS the Bible!
3) Jesus prioritised the lost sheep of Israel over all other nations
a) Matthew 10:5,6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
b) Matthew 15:24 …But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
d. Paul knew who to give the Gospel to first (Romans 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
1) Because of a promise God made to Abraham to care about his descendants – and He cannot break His promises
2) Because they have the Old Testament, and know it, and need to believe it
a) Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
b) They are owed it, and deserve it by the election of God!
3) Because Jesus commanded it
a) Jesus never said start with the Jews, and then leave them alone – abandoning them after the first century… NO!
b) Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
4) Preach to the lost in Jerusalem and in Judaea, AND to the lost everywhere else – always at the same time! Never forgetting the Jewish people’s need to be saved!
a) Just care for Jewish souls first, and amazingly the whole world will hear
b) But if you hate them, ignore them, and God will be against YOU and will hinder you!
c) Psalm 129:5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
d) Deuteronomy 7:15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
e) Deuteronomy 30:7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee [ISRAEL].
2. Paul and Barnabas were Invited to Speak (Acts 13:15)
a. Acts 13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
b. Paul was very knowledgeable of the Bible
c. It was an open door from God – an opportunity to preach the Gospel – and they instantly accepted it
B. “Let’s Review Our History” (Acts 13:16-23) – but looking at the Big Picture
1. Paul takes the opportunity to get everyone of those Jews to see what the end of all their history was leading to… (Acts 13:16) Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
a. Why? Because Remembering what God has done is a big deal
b. It cures us of complaining!
c. And it points to a great goal
1) This Bible is NOT just history, or commandments, or revelation – it is pointer, a lens like a scope, pointing to a grand conclusion out in the distance…
2) Whenever you are reading the Bible, you are following its direction to an end
3) These are just words
4) They are instructions on how to get from A to B
5) And it shows us what is there waiting for us
d. Think about all that God has done just for YOU!
2. Rapidly goes through the history of the Jewish nation (Acts 13:17-22)
a. By the way, this is OUR history too if you are a Bible believer!
b. Acts 13:17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
1) Our people were CHOSEN by God out of all people to be His people
2) God HONOURED / EXALTED us as a people in Egypt, scaring the Egyptians
3) God SAVED our nation from slavery in Egypt – without any weapons or armies
c. Then God put up with / SUFFERED their immaturity in the wilderness wanderings for 40 long years while our forefathers murmured and complained and wanted to quit
1) Acts 13:18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
d. Then God gave them the Land of Israel that He had promised to them, clearing out all their enemies, and dividing up the land by our twelve tribes
1) Acts 13:19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
e. Then God gave them Judges / deliverers for 450 years (Samson, Deborah, Gideon…)
1) Acts 13:20 And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
f. Until the people demanded a king, and they got Saul - Saul was their first king for 40 long years
1) Acts 13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
2) But he was a terrible king
3) He was the people’s choice, not God’s choice
4) God had to remove him, so that he could replace him with a right king
g. And that’s when GOD gave them David – a man after God’s heart
1) Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
2) Someone whose heart was all for God – loved God
3) Easily did God’s will – not a rebel like Saul had been
4) THIS POINT IS IMPORTANT
3. Paul then Focuses their Attention on the Climax – the focal point – the end of all that God has been working towards throughout Israel’s history…
a. Acts 13:23 Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
b. And a wonderful promise that God would give Israel MORE than a king - a Saviour, named Jesus
C. The Word of Salvation has Come to You (Acts 13:24-26)
1. Acts 13:24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
2. Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
3. Acts 13:26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
4. To YOU, sitting here, at this moment in time, is given great news!
5. The word of salvation – words that save!
6. What a gift to those Jewish people gathered in that synagogue in Antioch Pisidia!
7. How could ‘words’ save someone?
a. Example: Someone is unaware that a wood beam is swinging and will hit them, so you yell “DUCK!” That will save their life!
b. Another Example: Someone is texting while driving, and you look up and notice and yell “HEY! EYES ON THE ROAD!” That could save not only their life but a lot of other people’s lives too!
c. Words can save!
d. Every one of GOD’S words, are SAVING words! (James 1:21) … receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
8. And now Salvation works only for those that …
a. Knows the true God – not blind faith here, but learned from Scriptures
b. And those that fear Him! HE IS GOD! So needed!
c. And those that WANT to be saved!
d. People who don’t want to be saved, and don’t fear Him, won’t be saved! Can’t be!
D. “Our Own Nation Crucified Our Saviour” (Acts 13:27-31)
1. Acts 13:27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
2. Acts 13:28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
3. Acts 13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
4. Acts 13:30 But God raised him from the dead:
5. Acts 13:31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
6. The Jews in Jerusalem DIDN’T understand Jesus – never got to know Him
7. Didn’t pay attention to the Bible they read – all the prophecies
8. So they MURDERED Him – the very promised Messiah of God
9. But that’s okay! Jesus is Back Alive now - God raised Him from the dead! Surprise!
10. NOTE: Has anyone noticed how to deal with the evils of a nation’s past? By exposing it, and understanding it in light of God’s will, and being patient with it. God’s plan can save a world of sinful people!
E. And We Have GREAT News (Acts 13:32-37) – The Gospel!
1. Acts 13:32,33 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again…
2. The same Scriptures that promised the Saviour
3. Promised to raise Him up again from death
a. Acts 13:33 …as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
b. Acts 13:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
c. Acts 13:35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
d. Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
e. Acts 13:37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
f. ‘No corruption’ means no decay and THAT means Jesus came out the tomb PERFECT, not rotting and decayed from death
F. The Gift of God (Acts 13:38,39)
1. Two Things have been Given to the World… One gift, but two parts, like two sides of a coin
a. Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
b. Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
c. So, Through Jesus anyone can now be forgiven of the sins we have done, and all their sinful record can be expunged / cleared / removed!
d. One side is not any good without the other part!!!
2. The Forgiveness of Sins is Offered to ALL Who have Sinned Against God
a. Forgiveness is not available to good people, but to the worst people!
b. It is available through the Life of JESUS, not the Law of Moses
c. Forgiveness may not mean much to you but…
1) When your wife has had enough of your shenanigans, gentlemen, and is super angry at you… you will desperately need forgiveness to have any kind of home life
2) When you have three traffic tickets and have to go to court, and are facing losing your driver’s licence, you will seek forgiveness and value it like GOLD!
3) And when you have SINNED all your life, and are about to face into the presence of Almighty God, and you have no righteousness, you will / should cry out for forgiveness! But at that moment, it will be too late!
3. And Justification is given away too
a. To justify, is to correct someone’s criminal record – to pardon them
b. Not to say what they did was okay, but to remove the record completely, so no one can bring them under condemnation anymore!!!
c. To have a clear clean record when it was so full of unmentionable things you have done, that you do not ever want known by anyone!
4. Jesus completely paid for those gifts at such a high cost to Himself! Forgiveness and Justification can only be done by the blood of Jesus Christ, blotting out your sinful record!
G. God’s Gift Can Be Missed (Acts 13:40-42)
1. Acts 13:40-42 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
2. EXAMPLE: Of a runner in a marathon race, and passing by a crowd, and is dying of thirst, and someone holds out an ice-cold clear, refreshing bottle of water, and he turns away and just keeps running. HIS LOSS!
3. Paul says, “What I am preaching and offering still the same gift, is a passing moment, and the opportunity to get forgiven and justified will be GONE!”
a. 2Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
4. And it is forfeited constantly today – people have IGNORED the use-by date of the Gospel and will weep and wail for all eternity, simply because they neglected these words!
a. Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape [DAMNATION], if we neglect so great salvation?
b. Matthew 13:49,50 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
H. A Great Awakening, a Great Rejection, and Great Joy (Acts 13:43-52)
1. Paul and Barnabas encouraged the new Gentile believers to focus on the New Testament – the GRACE of God over the Laws of God – not that anyone gets rid of the Laws, but we understand the liberating power of GRACE that the Law never had!
a. Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
2. Almost the whole city came and gathered outside that synagogue to hear (Acts 13:44)
a. Acts 13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
b. The grace of God attracts a lot of sinners!
c. There was a great hunger for more preaching and teaching about a Saviour named Jesus!
3. Envy and Rejection by the Unbelieving Jews (Acts 13:45)
a. Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
b. Paul and Barnabas Accept Rejection (Acts 13:46,47)
c. Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
d. Acts 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
e. A light to WHO? Not just to the Jews, but to the GENTILES – to the Germans, Nigerians, Australians, Indonesians, Irish, English, French and so on!
4. The Gentiles were Glad (Acts 13:48,49) – the rejection by the Jews didn’t stop the Gospel from getting to the Gentiles – as a matter of fact, it pushed it further!
a. Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
b. They loved the Gospel
c. Ordained to eternal life…
1) So misunderstood by so many people
2) It simply means “Commanded to believe” - not forced to believe
3) Calvinists think people are forced to believe
4) You see, Moses wrote the Law as a series of commandments to do
5) But now that the Law has been kept by Jesus, the only commandment remaining is to BELIEVE
6) So, the Gentiles were TOLD to repent, and believe Jesus, and they did
7) And so THEY, not the Jews, believed and received the gift of eternal life
d. Acts 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
e. They were so glad, they couldn’t keep their mouths shut – loved talking about Jesus!
f. They talked about what they heard from the Bible to everyone they met – throughout the entire county!
5. The Jews Expelled Paul and Barnabas out of town (Acts 13:50,51)
a. Paul and Barnabas were physically driven out of town by the people in power
b. That’s okay! They must keep moving, keep witnessing, and they will!
c. Acts 13:50,51 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
6. But Every Christian Was Filled with Joy AND the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:52)
a. Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
b. What a Revival!
c. It simply was the result of sinners
1) Hearing the Gospel
2) Believing it – getting saved
3) Getting persecuted for it
4) And holding onto the GRACE of God through it all
III. Application and Conclusion
A. Know Bible History - Enjoy the Big Picture (HIS-Story)
1. This Book is a complete unit
2. It is One story… HIS Story of the redemption of mankind!
3. You will never know the wonder of Grace unless you know the righteousness of the Law
B. Be always Looking for An Opportunity to Preach Gentlemen
1. Some of you would be glad to go into a Catholic or Protestant church
2. Be willing to go right into a Jewish synagogue! To help THEM know the Gospel
3. Pray for an opportunity to talk with a Jew about their Messiah!
C. We Have GREAT News! Share It!
1. The Word of Salvation has Come to You this morning!
2. The same Scriptures that promised the Saviour
3. Promised to raise Him up again from death
4. And tell everyone, Jew AND Gentile how to be saved!
D. Enjoy being saved, and the Holy Ghost in you!
E. Don’t Neglect What Jesus Offers
1. The Forgiveness of Sins
2. And Justification – removal of the record of your sins