One of the great problems of our day is that many an evangelical is trying to bootleg the gospel.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello, friends. How are you today? Well, I’m seated here with my three Ampex tape recorders and my desk, which is liberally sprinkled with concordances and various versions of the Bible and my Greek New Testament and six flashlight batteries and four pens and a stapling machine and some postage. That’s what I got here. [chuckle] No coffee today. How about that? I tell you, some days you just don’t quite make it. How are you getting along? You doing alright? Well, I trust so. I wanna continue with you today in the 14th chapter of the Book of Acts. Paul and Barnabas had gone to Iconium and there was an assault made by the unbelieving sector of the town.
Remember that a few malicious unbelievers can reap a whole harvest of discontent and ill will, just as a few who trust the Lord Jesus can reap a whole harvest of faith and love and joy. You have to make up your mind, which kind of harvest do you want? So when this assault was made to stone the men, to use them despitefully, they were aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia.
Now all of this I think is in Turkey, isn’t it? What we now call the land of Turkey, so that you can look up in your Bible map and then compare it with your world atlas and see approximately where they were traveling. These were rather some distances. It wasn’t just a hop, skip, and a jump. There were quite a bit of traveling in between some of these cities and towns. But it said they went to Lystra and Derbe, and it says just six words, actually, in verse seven, there’s where we start today, Acts 14:7. And there they preached the Gospel. It says a couple of things to me. One, God wants you to know that this area got the Gospel. Two, God wants us to remember that even though you have opposition and persecution, this does not deter you from your main job. The human tendency is to slack off when opposition arises and to say, “Well, I’ll just take it easy and I won’t say anything.” The human tendency is to what we call go underground.
And it may well be if some of us had been in Paul and Barnabas’ shoes, we would have said, “Well, let’s just move into town and we’ll testify it by our lives. We won’t say anything, but we’ll just live and let them see that we’re different.” Is that what they did? No, they didn’t. Now, I realize that your life has to back up what you say. There is no question about that. Your life has to back up what you say, or else what you say doesn’t have any value. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” it says. If we say we abide in Christ and hate our brother, we’re a liar. Okay, let’s grant that that is so. But it does not necessarily follow that the best way to reach people for Christ is just to be among them and say nothing. That doesn’t follow. It’s perfectly human to go underground and to say, “Oh, well, I won’t say anything more, so I don’t raise any more opposition against me, so I’ll have an easier time of it.” That’s the logic of that.
That’s perfectly human, but it doesn’t make it right. Now these people had come to Antioch in Pisidia, and they left and went to Iconium. They came to Iconium, and there was an assault made. So they left, went to Lystra and Derbe, and instead of keeping quiet, it says, “And there they preached the Gospel.” Why? Because you and I are obligated. We are obligated to communicate the good news of the Gospel to people. And so our main job is that. Anything else we do is secondary, not so that it had happened, and we’ll see this as we go on into the 14th chapter, that even at Lystra, they were going to have trouble because it says there came thither certain people from Antioch and Iconium who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city supposing he had been dead. But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up and came into the city, and next day, he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
And then after they had talked to many people and made disciples, they came back to Lystra and back to Iconium and back to Antioch confirming the disciples’ souls. Well, that’s a little farther on ahead. So this isn’t the last time he’s gonna get in trouble for the Gospel. But knowing the dangerous results, the possibility of a personal danger if he kept on being vocal about the Lord Jesus Christ, he just kept on being vocal. There is no substitute for confessing with your mouth Jesus as Lord. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” How shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach except they be sent? Right? “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. How shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach except they be sent?”
The whole business of the Gospel, according to Romans 10 is to say the truth about the Lord Jesus and back it up with the kind of person you are. Right? So let’s not get this thing reversed. Let’s not just say, “Well, I’ll just live quietly and I’ll be different and people will wonder why I’m different, and then I’ll be able to tell them about the Lord Jesus.” Well, you tell them about the Lord Jesus and back up what you tell them with the kind of a life that says that person is so different that what he says must be so. That’s the way that works, right? There they preached the Gospel. After all a whole lot of persecution? Yes. In times of personal danger? Yes, they preached the Gospel.
Why? Because that’s the job. That’s the job. I’ll tell you something, this will help you, my dear friend, in setting the priorities in your own life because anything that comes into focus in your own attention can be evaluated by this simple question: Does it contribute to doing the job I’m supposed to do? There are a lot of good things and a lot of defensible things, a lot of things you could defend as being legitimate that do not necessarily advance the cause of your Lord and Savior. Some things which are legitimate actually blunt the edge of your spiritual life, and I can’t tell you what they are. You know because the faithful spirit of God will remind you of them. But very simple things can get in the way of God. I recall on a Wednesday night, a good many years ago in Philadelphia, one of my church members got up and said, “I’d like to give a testimony to what the Lord has been saying to my heart.” Now, this was a lovely person, a housewife, a fairly young Christian, hadn’t been a Christian for more than maybe a year or less said, “You know, I’m busy all day long.”
And so she was. She was a very busy housewife and had many duties and had a very full day I’m sure. She said, “I’m busy all day long. I have fallen into the habit of after all the day is finished and all the work of the day is done, I reserve a few minutes to myself to sit in bed and read the paper.” Well, now, I’ll stop here long enough to ask you is there anything wrong with sitting in bed and reading the daily paper? Of course not. Nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly legitimate and it’s done by many people. Alright. She said, “I had reserved this time to sit in bed and read the daily paper until I got sleepy enough and then I’d go off to sleep.” But she said, “The Lord has been speaking to me and telling me that I ought to have his word as the last word before I fall asleep.” And so she said, “I’ve been laying aside the paper and I’ve been taking up my Bible.” In awe, she said, “It’s been wonderful to get something of God’s Word before I close the day.”
Daws Trotman of sacred memory, the founder and director for many years of the Navigators, used to have a little terse saying that he would use now and again, “LWHW,” he would say, “LWHW” at the close of a day, and to those who knew Daws knew what he meant: Last Word, His Word. Close the day in otherwords with the Word of God. Now I didn’t learn that till many years after this testimony that I just reported to you. But the truth is the same. Now, this is legitimate, reading the paper. What’s wrong with that? But put it in its proper place, put God first. Put God at the top of the priority list. Put God’s Word at the top of the priority list. You see, that’s the point. Put the Gospel out there first. One of the great problems of our day is that many unevangelical is trying to bootleg the Gospel. He’s trying to slip it in the side door of people’s attention, hoping that they really won’t notice that it really is the Gospel until after it has affected them.
Well, you can’t do that. You can’t bootleg the Gospel, can’t slip it in the side door, can’t dignify the Gospel to the unsaved heart. You have to present it frontally. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and he was seen of all these people, last of all, me too. Your witness about the Lord Jesus has to have the “me too” in it. It has to have that personal attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in order to make it really a value. A frontal presentation of Christ is what it’s all about. Let’s not forget that in this day of being so very tactful. It’s possible to be so tactful that you’ll lose the value of the Gospel entirely.
Now, I don’t mean that you should be a human bulldozer or running roughshod over the feelings of people and being like an accident going somewhere to happen. You know that I don’t mean that. If you’re that kind of a person anyway, don’t blame God for it. Give some thought to being a little easier to get along with and not quite such a catastrophe on wheels. Okay? But let’s grant that you have a modicum of good sense and training in tact and courtesy. The fact is that it’s possible to try to get so tactful and so courteous that you never do get around to speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ and a frontal, overt, unposed, frank, honest, sincere presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ and presented in the power of the Holy Spirit is what it’s all about. That is, as the young people say, where it’s at. Alright? There, they preached the Gospel. They didn’t go underground. They didn’t shut up in order to avert the possibility of opposition. They just kept right on talking about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Father, have your way with us. Help us to put Jesus first. I ask you in his name, amen. Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way.
That’s all for now till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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