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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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Pastor's Pen - November 18, 2007
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November 18, 2007

Acts 14-15
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Acts
Chapter 14
  1. And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
  2. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
  3. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
  4. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.
  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.
  14. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
  15. And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
  16. Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
  17. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
  18. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
  19. 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.
  20. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
  21. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
  22. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
  23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
  24. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.
  25. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:
  26. And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
  27. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
  28. And there they abode long time with the disciples.


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Acts
Chapter 15
  1. And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
  2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
  3. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
  4. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
  5. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
  6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
  7. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
  8. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
  9. And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
  10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
  11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
  12. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
  13. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
  14. Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
  15. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
  16. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
  17. That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
  18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
  19. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
  20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
  21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
  22. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
  23. And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
  24. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
  25. It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
  26. Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  27. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
  28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
  29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
  30. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
  31. Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
  32. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
  33. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
  34. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
  35. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
  36. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
  37. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
  38. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
  39. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
  40. And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
  41. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.


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Thought for the day:
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 Acts 14:11-18 gives us some good insight into the attitudes of Paul and Barnabas towards man-worship. In Lystra, the Lord, through Paul, healed a man who had been crippled since birth. Upon seeing this, the people of the town decided that Paul and Barnabas must be gods. They proclaimed them as such, and began to make preparations to offer sacrifices unto them. The two missionaries immediately tore their clothes and ran among the people crying for them to stop worshipping them. They reminded the people that they were simply human beings like everyone else, and had similar passions to everyone else, and that their purpose for being in Lystra was to point people towards the God of Heaven. not to receive honor that was due only to Him. Through their protests Paul and Barnabas were finally able to get the townspeople to stop.

 This story is very relevant to fundamentalism today. We live in an era of man-worship. People are attempting to pattern their lives after a certain preacher or pastor or Bible College president, and they are forgetting that those men are simply servants of God. If a man has a large church, or can preach an good sermon, or has written a good book, there always seems to be a group of people who are willing to lift him up to some exalted position. Then the man becomes the standard of excellence rather than the Lord. Just today I read an article that mentioned an item in a magazine that stated, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in "(name omitted)". The Bible says that the mind that the Christians should possess is the one that was in Christ. However, this magazine replaced the name of Jesus with the name of a fundamental Baptist leader. This is not simply man-worship, it is blasphemy! There are two things that need to stop. First of all, believers need to stop idolizing men. It is true that Paul said that people were to follow him, but he said that they were to do it as He followed Christ. How would someone know if Paul was following Christ? The only way is to be looking at Christ! Thus, even in that statement Paul is pointing men towards the Lord. The author of Hebrews says that we are to be "looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2). We need to remember that even the best of men fail. How many Christians have been ruined because they put their eyes on men instead of on God, and when the man fell, their own Christianity was destroyed! God has given us leaders, but the ultimate Authority and Leader is God. Paul indicted the Corinthians for carnality because of their attitude of "I am of Paul" and "I am of Apollos". Note what Paul said about himself:

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?"
In other words, Paul and Barnabas were simply servants, and it was the Lord Who gave salvation. This leads to the second thing that needs to stop: pastors and church leaders need to stop deifying themselves and put Christ back on the throne in their churches and ministries. This is not a call to abandon leadership, but it is a call to remember that those of us in church leadership are supposed to be "ministers", and that we have received our salvation and our position strictly through the grace of God, and that all glory must go back to Him. Anything that we have accomplished was done because He called us, He empowered us, and He allowed people to respond. Thus, He alone is worthy of praise.

Pastor Mark J Montgomery

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