Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

Conflict & Confusion 

Intro:

Iconium & Lystra.... The one a Greek dominated city, the other 20 miles South-West, was more, Asian, more like what they had experienced in Antioch.  Going from one to the other, though a short distance, necessitated a crossing of a border, a change of language and culture.

(Though it wasn’t always the case and this account provided the evidence for William Ramsey’s ‘The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament’)

  

Grace & Wonder (v.3 & 8-10)

The by now familiar routine of going first to the synagogue  revealed here a crucial combination of factors that would always be a necessary part of telling the gospel message effectively.

A vital linking of...

 time committed,

brave speaking,

prayerful, spiritual power, and, above all...

a message of Grace.

These things mirrored the image of God Himself;

faithful,

pioneering,

powerful,

graceful.

 

It is always easy to miss one or more of these things, to over-emphasise one, or ignore another, so that the whole message, and the picture of God that’s presented, is distorted.  That was true then and it remains true now.

 

Threats & Courage (v’s. 4-5, 29-30)

As elsewhere their message was received well by many but stirred up many more.  Now though this negative response appeared stronger than before, even resulting in death threats. 

In Iconium this resulted in the apostles leaving but, in Lystra, it gives rise to a verse that is understated but extraordinary.  Paul, having been left for dead, walks straight back into the city.

2 Tim 3:10-12 ... “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,11 persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

We don’t suffer much but courage is a necessary virtue of discipleship. 

 

Confusion & Communication (v’s 11-17)

The non-Jewish audience in Lystra, responded with the only frame of reference they had.  This power from God, had to fit into their notion of who God was. 

Paul and Barnabas resisted the temptation to manipulate their adulation, and, instead, corrected their thinking.  These verses are the first real record of an explanation of the message to people for whom it was completely new.  As such it probably serves as a better guide than the previous chapter in our ‘post-Christian’ situation.  

It was relentlessly positive, not majoring on judgement, or even salvation, different from the emphasis on the fresh start, the being set free and made right we spoke about last week, instead it presented God as ...

living ...

creating...

kind...

knowable (revealed)...

bringing joy...

There’s a parallel here with Rob Bell’s new book, aimed at introducing God to a new audience, with chapter titles, God with, for, ahead...

 

Conc.

And so, as the journey continued, there were peaks and troughs, times to flee and times to stand, moments of encouragement, times of despair. There was never any guarantee of positive circumstances or favourable responses, but there was God, there was always God – real, living, powerful, welcoming ... and there was strength, to make it through the despair, to overcome the trouble and to make him known.