THERE THEY PREACHED #1
Acts 14:5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, 6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 7 And there they preached the gospel. 8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. 11 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. 12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13 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.
Here we come to the first city where it does not state that Paul and Barnabas entered into the synagogue and preached. The simple reason was that there was no synagogue in this city! And that really changes everything. For with the law, at least there was no paganism! But here there was an abundance of superstition in the worship of the multiple gods of mythology. Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
So just where did Paul select a place to have a crowd for the preaching of the gospel? There are two things which give us some understanding of this. First there was the presence of the cripple man, having never walked since birth. And we remember one exactly like him as recorded in the third chapter of Acts, whose family laid him daily at a place where there was a great deal of foot traffic. (Acts 3:2).
Secondly we have another passage that does tell us where the Apostle was accustomed to preach. Acts 17:17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Here we see that Paul also favored the market place for his preaching. So by the providence of our Sovereign Lord, the Apostle also chooses this lame man’s “spot” for the first declaration of the gospel in this city with no Jewish synagogue!
But what effect has the gospel without the underlying foundation of having been brought up under the strict teachings of the law? Carefully consider these verses: Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Our Lord set us forth to preach the gospel to every creature; not to set up synagogues to teach the law! Remember, in all the past cities that the apostle preached, there was the presence of the law. Yet even with this benefit, not all of them came to Christ. But every soul who effectually hears the gospel, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, rich or poor, all come to Christ! John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Now what of the healing of this lame man, who has never walked since birth? As Paul stationed himself near to where he was lying, he heard Paul speak. Then the Holy Spirit does the same in Paul as he had done in Peter and John in their miracle of raising up the exact same kind of man at the gate Beautiful, (recorded in Acts three). Both apostles had a strong inner work of the Holy Spirit as revealed in their stedfastly beholding, or in fastening their eyes upon these impotent men. And just as Barnabas was given ability to see the grace of God, (11:23), and as the other apostles could perceive the grace that was given to Paul, (Gal. 2:9), so here, Paul was given ability to perceive faith to be healed. Paul witnessed the sovereign work of God in His granting faith to this poor crippled soul, who had never walked in the Spirit with God! For the granting of God’s gift of faith is always closely related to His Word! Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
That word is not only the preaching of the gospel, but also the Person of the Word, revealing himself by the Holy Spirit! John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Never be deceived with modern man-centered evangelism, dear heart! No man has any inner flame of faith that only needs to be fanned, in order for it to flame up! Man is totally dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). He has no ability to equal his responsibility to repent! Grace and faith are gifts from God alone! Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. And we are told in the very next verse (Ephes. 2:10), that although it is not of works, it is most assuredly unto good works. For God has as much ordained the works that evidence true faith, as he has the individuals that are to receive the faith!
Listen to the apostles proclaim to the Jerusalem crowd how the man there was healed. Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
And never be deceived by modern day “faith healers.” They use a portion of this verse (Acts 14:9), upon all who find they are not healed, after all the hype and emotional fever are all over, and the charlatan has struck his tent and moved on to the next city. These deceivers simply put it back on the poor afflicted soul by saying, “It’s your own fault. You just didn’t have enough faith to be healed!” But this is exactly what this verse does NOT state! It clearly states that God granted the faith at the same time he was issuing forth an effectual revelation of his Son through the preaching of the gospel!
Also in James’ writings concerning healings, we read that the prayer of faith is to be had among the elders, summoned to minister to the sick individual. (We are not told to bring the sick to a “healing line,” but that the elders of the local church are to be summoned unto the sick!) James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. These elders can no more grant faith than they can forgive sins! But the Holy Spirit using them in obedience to Himself, and in sincere empathy for the sick, can do both!
Pastor Gene Breed