Powerful Perception

Powerful Perception

Pastor Don Carpenter

The Gospel On Tour / Acts 14:8–20

A stranger was walking down a residential street and noticed a man struggling with a washing machine at the doorway of his house. When the newcomer volunteered to help, the homeowner was overjoyed, and the two men together began to work and struggle with the bulky appliance. After several minutes of fruitless effort the two stopped and just stared at each other in frustration. They looked as if they were on the verge of total exhaustion.

Finally, when they had caught their breath, the first man said to the homeowner: “We’ll never get this washing machine in there!” To which the homeowner replied: “In? I’m trying to move it out of here!”

Part of being an effective missionary and soul winner is the ability to effectively communicate to folks who have a different frame of reference than you do. As we dig deeper into the Gospel on Tour, we will see more and more that Paul adjusts his approach to fit the background of his audience. That is why it is important that a communicator of the Gospel have Powerful Perception.

Perceive Ripe Fruit.

Acts 14:8–10 KJV

And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 

The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 

Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

 • Someone who knows his hopelessness

 • Someone who responds to the Word of God

 • Someone who is ready to believe

 • Someone who will respond publicly

 • Someone who will respond joyfully

Perceive Misguided Devotion.

Acts 14:11–13 KJV

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 

And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 

Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

 • Excited to see the power of God

 • Responded within their limited frame of knowledge.

Local Phrygian legend told of an ancient visitation by Zeus and Hermes to Phrygia. In the story only one couple, Baucis and Philemon, received them graciously; the rest of the population was destroyed in a flood. Knowing some form of the story in their own language, the Lycaonians are not about to make the same mistake ancient Phrygia had made; they want to honor Paul and Barnabas, whom they mistake for gods. People sometimes considered miracle workers as gods.1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 14:9–11

 • Responded like someone who did not know the Old Testament.

 • Honor for the preacher did not equal honor for the preacher’s God.

Inscriptions show that Hermes and Zeus were worshiped together in the Phrygian region. Sacrificial animals were often decorated with garlands before being offered. Temples “outside the city gates” or “just outside the city” (NIV) were quite common in Asia Minor. The lame man had probably been healed at the gate, because lame people made their living by begging, and beggars normally found their best income at such places of transit (cf. 3:2).1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 14:13.

Perceive The Path to Communicating The Gospel.

Acts 14:14–18 KJV

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 

Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 

And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.

 • Show clear displeasure for their veneration.

14:14 tore their clothing A sign of severe distress in ancient Near Eastern cultures (compare Gen 37:29; Josh 7:6; Mark 14:63–64).1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ac 14:14.

 • Preach repentance from false gods and faith in the true God.

14:15 living God By using this description, Paul and Barnabas distinguish Israel’s God, Yahweh, from any other deity.1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ac 14:15.

 • The true God is the Creator

made the heaven and the earth While Jews would know God as Creator, the apostles need to provide the Gentiles with this background.1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ac 14:15.

This passage is especially interesting because it gives us Paul’s approach to those who were without any Jewish background to which he could appeal because they were followers of Greek and Roman gods. With such people, he started from nature to get to the God who was behind it all. He started from the here and now to get to the there and then. We do well to remember that the world is the garment of the living God. It is told that once, as they sailed in the Mediterranean, Napoleon’s party were discussing God. In the talk, they eliminated God altogether. Napoleon had been silent, but now he lifted his hand and pointed to the sea and the sky. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘who made all this?’1

1 William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 127–128.

 • The true God gave a witness of His goodness with rain, seasons, food and gladness.

Although using biblical language, Barnabas and Paul preach to these Anatolian farmers in terms they would not need to know the Bible to understand, emphasizing the God who rules nature, who was already recognized by paganism. Jewish people often pointed to pagan philosophical teachings on the supreme god, which Jews felt contradicted the pagan worship of idols. Jews called idols “vain” (futile), in contrast to the “living” God. Jewish people believed that God allowed a lower moral standard for Gentiles, who had only seven laws to keep; but idolatry, like sexual immorality, was not an issue on which God would permit compromise.

14:17. Phrygia was fertile, and Phrygians especially worshiped the mother goddess who was supposed to provide fertility to the earth. Various philosophers, especially Stoics, believed that nature itself testified to the character of the supreme god. Jewish teachers agreed that nature testifies to God’s character (this is biblical; cf. Ps 19:1; 89:37) and taught that he provides all peoples with health, food and so forth.1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 14:15–17.

Perceive The Power to Keep A Go!

Acts 14:19–20 KJV

And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 

Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

A poisoned crowd stoned Paul

14:19 stoned Paul Paul refers to this event in 2 Cor 11:25 and more generally in 2 Tim 3:11.1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ac 14:19.

 • He was surrounded by disciples

 • He was moved(perhaps by his crowd of baby believers) to get up and keep going.

Lystra was a Roman colony, but it was an outpost. Nevertheless, when the people saw what they had done, they were afraid. That is why they dragged what they thought was Paul’s dead body out of the city. They were afraid of the strong hand of Roman justice, and they were trying to get rid of Paul’s body in order to escape the consequences of their riot.

The outstanding feature of this story is the sheer courage of Paul. When he came to his senses, his ?rst act was to go straight back into the city where he had been stoned. It was the great Methodist John Wesley’s advice: ‘Always look a mob in the face.’ There could be no braver thing than Paul’s going back immediately among those who had tried to murder him. An action like that would have more effect than 100 sermons. People were bound to ask themselves where Paul got the courage to act in such a way.1

1 William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 128–129.

 • The next day the two missionaries started in another city. About a 50 mile hike

1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Perseverance

Sometime go out and watch a stonecutter hammering away at a rock. He might hit the rock a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Then, suddenly, at the hundred and first blow the rock splits in two. Was it the one blow that split the rock? Only in an immediate sense, for that one blow would have accomplished nothing if it were not for all that had gone before.

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