Acts 14 -- 16
Whenever there is a great spiritual awakening and people are being saved, without exception, Satan will seek to disrupt, discourage, and destroy its effect. So, it is no surprise that, everywhere Paul and Barnabas traveled, there was violent opposition by religious rulers . . . to stone them (Acts 14:5). While Paul was speaking at Lystra, his attention was drawn to a crippled man, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, (Paul) said with a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And he leaped and walked (14:9-10). These people who worshiped many false gods were convinced that the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men (14:11). Paul and Barnabas strongly objected to this idolatrous supposition. Once again, certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium persuaded the people that Paul should be put to death, and having stoned Paul, they then dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. However, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and went back into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe (14:19-20).
Later, Paul made a brief reference to his extreme suffering, saying: We must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God (14:22). There are "musts" in the life of every Christian; and we too should not be surprised that, following our best efforts to serve the Lord, Satan will seek to discourage us with criticism or disappointments, even from those from whom we expected encouragement.
When Paul returned to the Church at Antioch after his first missionary journey, he rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles (14:27). But certain men came down from Judea . . . and said, Except you (Gentiles) be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved. Paul and Barnabas strongly opposed this false teaching and determined to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. . . . In Jerusalem they were welcomed by the Church. Peter agreed with Paul saying The Holy Spirit . . . put no difference between us and them (the Gentiles), purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved (15:1-2,4,8-11).
Keeping the Law or any good works can save no one, because everyone, since the day of Adam, has sinned. It was James who wrote: Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).
This does not mean that there are no disciplines for living our faith; what it does mean is that faith in Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives brings us into fellowship with God and, through His indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives us guidance to live out what He has lovingly provided in His Word as our Guide for Life. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
For Acts 15:16-17: See Amos 9:11-12.
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