Sermons by the Monday Club
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul…
I. PAUL COMING FORWARD AS THE GREATEST MISSIONARY TO THE GENTILES.
1. What position he should take, how he would discharge the duties of his office, were unsettled questions when he was separated to this work. When the parties set out, their names stand Barnabas and Saul. Now the pen of Luke seems naturally to write, Paul and Barnabas.
2. He went out with the sanction of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit today, as then, calls and makes genuine missionaries; not churches, not missionary societies. We cannot say how this call may come. We are not to look for visions and voices. The knowledge of one's own powers, the circumstances of life, the trend of thought, and the outward invitation from authorised sources, it may be, may constitute a clear call of God.
3. He wrought miracles to attest his place as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Elymas and the lame man at Lystra.
4. More remarkable, and far more lasting in its power, was Paul's true eloquence. He so spake that great multitudes believed. Now, to produce these immediate effects, we ought to remember that he did not address those to whom the gospel was a tale that had been told. This is the position of the modern Christian audience. But the mind of Paul was originally broad, penetrating, and fertile. He had been well trained, and to his native strength and careful culture must be added his marvellous experience at conversion. Yet his chief power was that which we may share — the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. Throughout the journey Paul showed the highest forms of Christian courage. The journey was attended with manifold perils. He was stoned and left for dead at Lystra. In all this he bore up bravely and patiently. He endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He fought the good fight of faith. In all respects, he came back to Antioch approved as a workman.
II. THE REJECTION OF CHRIST BY THE JEWS. They were in all the places whither the apostles came. It was natural and necessary for the apostles to make the offer of salvation to their own countrymen first, nor was this in vain; but the fires of jealousy burst forth when they heard the Gentiles invited to come to their own feast. So Paul was compelled to take a new and definite position, saying, "Lo! we turn unto the Gentiles." Unto the Gentiles! Has the Church of Christ remembered the words of Paul, and been true to his spirit? Christ's ministry was chiefly to the lapsed and overlooked classes. Centuries of history show little effort on the part of the Christian body to reclaim the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness.
III. THE OPEN DOOR AMONG THE GENTILES. At Cyprus, Sergius Paulus was eager to hear God's Word. At Antioch, the whole city came out to hear Paul. Even the superstition that led the Lycaonians to propose Divine honours to Paul and Barnabas was in itself a force that might be turned to useful channels. The heathen were not prejudiced against the gospel as the Jews were.
IV. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHURCHES. The new faith must have a new form. It would not do to let the zeal of first love expend itself in individualised work. There must be organisation and order. We cannot determine precisely the form of these young apostolic churches, nor is it necessary that we should. Christ left no external organisation, but gave over this work to the Holy Spirit who should come to guide into all truth.
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.