Acts 13* The mission of Paul and Barnabas. (1-3) Elymas the sorcerer.(4-13) Paul's discourse at Antioch. (14-41) He preaches to theGentiles, and is persecuted by the Jews. (42-52)1-3 What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that theLord raises up instruments for his work, from various places andstations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give upflattering connexions and prospects to promote his cause. It isby the Spirit of Christ that his ministers are made both ableand willing for his service, and taken from other cares thatwould hinder in it. Christ's ministers are to be employed inChrist's work, and, under the Spirit's guidance, to act for theglory of God the Father. They are separated to take pains, andnot to take state. A blessing upon Barnabas and Saul in theirpresent undertaking was sought for, and that they might befilled with the Holy Ghost in their work. Whatever means areused, or rules observed, the Holy Ghost alone can fit ministersfor their important work, and call them to it. 4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and menin power, to keep them from being religious, for their examplewill influence many. Saul is here for the first time calledPaul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was aHebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under thedirect influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his truecharacter, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischieftogether, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those whoare enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to allrighteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. Theways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven andhappiness. There are many who not only wander from these waysthemselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly areso hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsulwas astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heartand conscience, and at the power of God by which it wasconfirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more weknow of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Thosewho put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit forthe kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to faceopposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the workof the ministry. 14-31 When we come together to worship God, we must do it, notonly by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of theword of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in publicassemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and thepeople exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doingthat which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply itto themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, whichmight best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ asthe promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, ofthe Lord's dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy andlong-suffering, and of man's ingratitude and perverseness. Paulpasses from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesusis his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which thejudges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, theirworst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour,they were so far from concealing his death, that they alwayspreached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, isrepresented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose againfrom the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truthto be preached. 32-37 The resurrection of Christ was the great proof of hisbeing the Son of God. It was not possible he should be held bydeath, because he was the Son of God, and therefore had life inhimself, which he could not lay down but with a design to takeit again. The sure mercies of David are that everlasting life,of which the resurrection was a sure pledge; and the blessingsof redemption in Christ are a certain earnest, even in thisworld. David was a great blessing to the age wherein he lived.We were not born for ourselves, but there are those livingaround us, to whom we must study to be serviceable. Yet here isthe difference; Christ was to serve all generations. May we lookto Him who is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrectionfrom the dead, that by faith in him we may walk with God, andserve our generation according to his will; and when deathcomes, may we fall asleep in him, with a joyful hope of ablessed resurrection. 38-41 Let all that hear the gospel of Christ, know these twothings: 1. That through this Man, who died and rose again, ispreached unto you the forgiveness of sins. Your sins, thoughmany and great, may be forgiven, and they may be so without anyinjury to God's honour. 2. It is by Christ only that those whobelieve in him, and none else, are justified from all things;from all the guilt and stain of sin, from which they could notbe justified by the law of Moses. The great concern of convincedsinners is, to be justified, to be acquitted from all theirguilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight, for if any isleft charged upon the sinner, he is undone. By Jesus Christ weobtain a complete justification; for by him a complete atonementwas made for sin. We are justified, not only by him as our Judgebut by him as the Lord our Righteousness. What the law could notdo for us, in that it was weak, the gospel of Christ does. Thisis the most needful blessing, bringing in every other. Thethreatenings are warnings; what we are told will come uponimpenitent sinners, is designed to awaken us to beware lest itcome upon us. It ruins many, that they despise religion. Thosethat will not wonder and be saved, shall wonder and perish. 42-52 The Jews opposed the doctrine the apostles preached; andwhen they could find no objection, they blasphemed Christ andhis gospel. Commonly those who begin with contradicting, endwith blaspheming. But when adversaries of Christ's cause aredaring, its advocates should be the bolder. And while many judgethemselves unworthy of eternal life, others, who appear lesslikely, desire to hear more of the glad tidings of salvation.This is according to what was foretold in the Old Testament.What light, what power, what a treasure does this gospel bringwith it! How excellent are its truths, its precepts, itspromises! Those came to Christ whom the Father drew, and to whomthe Spirit made the gospel call effectual, #Ro 8:30|. As many aswere disposed to eternal life, as many as had concern abouttheir eternal state, and aimed to make sure of eternal life,believed in Christ, in whom God has treasured up that life, andwho is the only Way to it; and it was the grace of God thatwrought it in them. It is good to see honourable women devout;the less they have to do in the world, the more they should dofor their own souls, and the souls of others: but it is sad,when, under colour of devotion to God, they try to show hatredto Christ. And the more we relish the comforts andencouragements we meet with in the power of godliness, and thefuller our hearts are of them, the better prepared we are toface difficulties in the profession of godliness.
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