Paul and Barnabas Refute People’s Worship

Over 100 million adults attend church weekly, most are 10+ years, 49% are not even believers. The average Christian in American today will die without ever having shared his faith in Christ with another person. (George Barna Seminar, Spokane, October, 1998). … More

Witnessing

Paul and Barnabas did not go to Lystra simply to escape persecution; they also went to preach the Gospel. Apparently there was no Jewish synagogue in Lystra, so God used a different way to bring the Gospel to these people. This passage is especially interesting because it gives us Paul’s approach to those who were completely heathen. He could not even appeal to their Jewish background. 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 need to remember in our witness that we may need to start with something that is known, in order to take people to spiritual truth which is not known.

A lame man, who had been lame from birth caught Paul’s attention. Paul commanded the man to stand up and walk, and he did what Paul commanded him to do (vv. 8-10). Keep in mind that these signs and wonders were given to the apostles and early church workers because there was no written New Testament.  Because of this, God enabled the apostles to perform wonders and signs to validate their ministry.  Of course, this is not necessary after God’s Word came into being. This means that we can be sure that anyone who claims to have a new revelation from God is a false prophet. We can also be sure that He will never ask us to do something that is contrary to His Word.

This brought a response from the people that was not expected (vv. 11-12). They were a superstitious crowd who interpreted events in the light of their own mythology. In this case they identified Barnabas as Jupiter, the chief of the gods; and they identified Paul as the messenger of the gods. Since Paul and Barnabas could not understand the Lycaonian language they did not understand what the people were saying.

Application

There are some Christian leaders today who people seem to worship! I need to always make sure that all of my worship is centered in the true and living God, and not any man, no matter how persuasive he may be. God will not share His glory with anyone.

Acts 14:8-12 (English Standard Version)

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

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