A time to bless and a time to blind! Acts 13:4-12

June 8, 2014

INTRODUCTION – – there’s a time to love, bless and pray for our enemies; and there is a time to put them in their place by the Spirit of God – especially when they are enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I want to affirm this morning the truth that probably the most oft repeated command in the New Testament is to love. And I’m convinced that one of the reasons the church in the first century grew so fast and had such an amazing impact is because of its genuine Christ like love. But that does not mean for a second that these disciples did not speak truth and confront sin and stand against deception when it needed to be confronted.

Think back with me about what we’ve seen so far in this regard in our journey through the history of the early church in the book of Acts:

Peter in the 2nd chapter of Acts – when all of a sudden in front of a large crowd of unbelieving Jews – drawn by the miracle of tongues speaking – in his sermon/explanation of this miracle – said in vs. 23, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Later in vs. 36 he said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”

In his second sermon to a large crowd drawn by the healing of a lame beggar, Peter continued confronting these Jews with their evil actions first in ch.3 vs. 13, “…the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of Life..”

In ch. 4 – when he was brought before the religious authorities because of his audacity to heal this lame beggar and because of his preaching about the resurrection of Christ – Peter spoke of Christ, and added, “whom you crucified”

In ch. 5 – Peter rebuked Annanias for lying to God, and then basically did the same with his wife Saphhira and announced their on the spot judgment from God – at which point they both drew their last breath in front of the gathered church.

When later in this chapter his second arrest is described, and Peter again is having to answer for himself, he again – speaking of Jesus – adds “whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.”
Stephen in ch. 7 – at the end of his long sermon to the Sanhedrin Council – rebuked them by saying, “You men who are stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

Peter in ch. 8 – while visiting with all of those in Samaria who had responded to the gospel through Phillip’s ministry – encountered Simon – the former magician – who made the mistake of offering to pay money for Peter and John to confer on him the authority they had to lay hands on people so they could receive the Holy Spirit – – when Peter heard this – he passionately rebuked him by saying, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have not part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

In Acts ch. 9 – Jesus Himself blinded Saul for several days – rebuking him for persecuting His church.

In Acts ch. 12 – the resurrected and ascended Jesus Himself sent an angel to assassinate King Herod.

So now in ch. 13 – we find leaders of the church seeking the will of the Lord together; the Holy Spirit reveals that He wants them to send Saul and Barnabus out on a missionary journey; they obey, and our passage for today describes the first leg of their journey and a very interesting encounter with a couple of men – and yet another example of a level of obedience and filling of the Holy Spirit that God wants to be ours.

I. The Sending of Saul and Barnabus – vs. 3 & 4
Who sent them out? Vs. 3 “they sent them away” vs. 4 “sent out by the Holy Spirit” Well which one was it? tis both and what a joy to be the kind of people that the Holy Spirit can work through without hindrance!

II. The Strategy of Saul and Barnabus – vs. 5-
Proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews
Paul said to the church in rome, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (or Gentile).”

III. The seeking of Saul and Barnabus – vs. 7
Proconsuls were governors appointed by the Roman Senate
This one was spiritually sensitive and hungry and obviously a man of great influence. Thus the spiritual stakes were high for which way he would influence the region he had authority over.

IV. The opposition of Saul and Barnabus – vs. 6,8

V. The opposition – silenced and blinded by Saul – vs. 9-11
Was temporary
2nd time someone blinded in Acts (see 9:8)

VI. The Salvation of the proconsul – vs. 12

1. it was the miracle or power encounter that sealed the deal for this gov’t leader

2. Even though this governor had the political authority that governors had in that day – – he knew it wasn’t enough. The question was: would he pursue the extra authority from heaven or from hell? This power encounter helped steer him to heaven.’s authority and away from hell’s.

Lessons:

1. When someone is responding to your ministry and witness, and someone else begins to try to stop it, God may very well want to use you to stop them.

2. Saul didn’t do anything until he was filled with the Holy Spirit – vs. 9 Saul’s dealings with Elymas the magician were a result of being filled by the Holy Spirit. Only when we fully submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit can we know His will – whether it be to bless our enemies or rebuke and disarm them like Paul did . Only when we receive those on the spot fillings of the Holy Spirit can we find the power to do whichever one He leads us to do.

3. Saul called him names and rebuked him for his evil deeds – – the Holy Spirit could lead us to do that. – vs. 10 Jesus often called the religious leaders of His day hypocrites to their face or worse. Now He was amazingly compassionate and gentle with people who were oppressed by the devil and mired in various addictions. But to those who were using their religious titles and authority to block and hinder the spread of the gospel – – Jesus was very much in their face with no holds barred. What is crucial here is that when we are led to boldly and straightforwardly confront such people – our words must be accurate – pinpointing the sin – and not out of out of control anger and spite and disdain for someone. Please note – whenever you see bold – in your face rebukes of the lost in the book of Acts it is not over politics – – it is over resistance and hindering others from the truth of the gospel.
I’m all for speaking truth into the culture – especially over the crucial foundational issues of the sanctity of life in the womb and God’s brilliant design for the distinctive male and female genders and traditional marriage. But the number one most foundational issue is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15); and there is anger in heaven over anyone who would try to prevent that from happening, and who attacks His main instrument to see that happen – the body of Christ – sons and daughters of the King – His witnesses.

a. Jesus’s words to Saul on the Damascus road – Acts 9:4: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul for a second probably thought – – I’m not persecuting you, I’m persecuting these Christians! But in Jesus’s eyes – His church is an expression and extension of Himself – – He died for them – – He prays for them constantly – – and when someone messes with them/us – – He doesn’t take it lightly.

b. Jesus’s words to the 12 when He sent them out in Matthew 10:11-15; Jesus’s words to the disciples – Matthew 18:5,6

CONCLUSION – – The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis – 322 pgs.
Somaliland is bordered by Ethiopia in the south and west, Djibouti in the northwest, the Gulf of Aden in the north, and the autonomous Puntland region of Somalia to the east.[16]
This kind of opposition and much worse is common in many parts of the world today. Since this is the Global Day of Prayer

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