Acts 14* Paul and Barnabas at Iconium. (1-7) A cripple healed atLystra, The people would have sacrificed to Paul and Barnabas.(8-18) Paul stoned at Lystra, The churches visited again.(19-28)1-7 The apostles spake so plainly, with such evidence and proofof the Spirit, and with such power; so warmly, and with suchconcern for the souls of men; that those who heard them couldnot but say, God was with them of a truth. Yet the success wasnot to be reckoned to the manner of their preaching, but to theSpirit of God who used that means. Perseverance in doing good,amidst dangers and hardships, is a blessed evidence of grace.Wherever God's servants are driven, they should seek to declarethe truth. When they went on in Christ's name and strength, hefailed not to give testimony to the word of his grace. He hasassured us it is the word of God, and that we may venture oursouls upon it. The Gentiles and Jews were at enmity with oneanother, yet united against Christians. If the church's enemiesjoin to destroy it, shall not its friends unite for itspreservation? God has a shelter for his people in a storm; heis, and will be their Hiding-place. In times of persecution,believers may see cause to quit a spot, though they do not quittheir Master's work. 8-18 All things are possible to those that believe. When wehave faith, that most precious gift of God, we shall bedelivered from the spiritual helplessness in which we were born,and from the dominion of sinful habits since formed; we shall bemade able to stand upright and walk cheerfully in the ways ofthe Lord. When Christ, the Son of God, appeared in the likenessof men, and did many miracles, men were so far from doingsacrifice to him, that they made him a sacrifice to their prideand malice; but Paul and Barnabas, upon their working onemiracle, were treated as gods. The same power of the god of thisworld, which closes the carnal mind against truth, makes errorsand mistakes find easy admission. We do not learn that they renttheir clothes when the people spake of stoning them; but whenthey spake of worshipping them; they could not bear it, beingmore concerned for God's honour than their own. God's truthneeds not the services of man's falsehood. The servants of Godmight easily obtain undue honours if they would wink at men'serrors and vices; but they must dread and detest such respectmore than any reproach. When the apostles preached to the Jews,who hated idolatry, they had only to preach the grace of God inChrist; but when they had to do with the Gentiles, they must setright their mistakes in natural religion. Compare their conductand declaration with the false opinions of those who think theworship of a God, under any name, or in any manner, is equallyacceptable to the Lord Almighty. The most powerful arguments,the most earnest and affectionate addresses, even with miracles,are scarcely enough to keep men from absurdities andabominations; much less can they, without special grace, turnthe hearts of sinners to God and to holiness. 19-28 See how restless the rage of the Jews was against thegospel of Christ. The people stoned Paul, in a popular tumult.So strong is the bent of the corrupt and carnal heart, that asit is with great difficulty that men are kept back from evil onone side, so it is with great ease they are persuaded to evil onthe other side. If Paul would have been Mercury, he might havebeen worshipped; but if he will be a faithful minister ofChrist, he shall be stoned, and thrown out of the city. Thus menwho easily submit to strong delusions, hate to receive the truthin the love of it. All who are converted need to be confirmed inthe faith; all who are planted need to be rooted. Ministers'work is to establish saints as well as to awaken sinners. Thegrace of God, and nothing less, effectually establishes thesouls of the disciples. It is true, we must count upon muchtribulation, but it is encouragement that we shall not be lostand perish in it. The Person to whose power and grace theconverts and the newly-established churches are commended,clearly was the Lord Jesus, "on whom they had believed." It wasan act of worship. The praise of all the little good we do atany time, must be ascribed to God; for it is He who not onlyworketh in us both to will and to do, but also worketh with usto make what we do successful. All who love the Lord Jesus, willrejoice to hear that he has opened the door of faith wide, tothose who were strangers to him and to his salvation. And letus, like the apostles, abide with those who know and love theLord.
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