Acts 14:5

Another interesting shell pattern in the marble floor of the Vermont State Capitol.

Monday, 6 February 2023

And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, Acts 14:5

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse revealed a division within the city where a part sided with the disbelieving Jews and a part sided with the apostles. That now comes to a head, saying, “And when a violent attempt was made.” Here, a new and rare word comes into Scripture, hormé. It will only be seen again in James 3:4 where the pilot of a ship desires to turn it by use of a rudder. It signifies a violent impulse.

One can see the heated anger of those opposed to the message of the apostles. They were certainly yelling out just as people yell out today, “How dare you say there is only one way to God!” The inability of man to yield himself to another in order to be saved is almost ubiquitous. These people could not accept what Paul and Barnabas had been teaching because they could not accept that they were so fallen that they needed God Himself to intervene in their salvation. And this sudden, violent impulse was “by both the Gentiles and Jews.”

This is how it has continued since the time of the apostles. All around the world, the masses have rejected the simplicity of the gospel and the doctrine that says, “Jesus is sufficient to save. Come to Jesus and you will be saved.” It is fought against by Jews, and it is fought against by Gentiles. If one stood in the halls of the US government today and proclaimed, “There is one and only one way to be saved,” the chambers would fill with angry cries of scorn and derision. This is the case now, and it was the case in Iconium. As it says, “with their rulers.”

The rulers could just see their supposed power fleeing away as a portion of their city bowed the knee to Jesus and not to them. Those who had accepted the gospel had been freed from the bondage and oppression they faced. There was a complete change in them that told these rulers they had lost their supreme authority to direct the minds and affairs of the Christians. And so, this angry multitude gathered together and with a sudden impulse came “to abuse and stone them.”

The sense is, “You are condemning us with your words of exclusivity. You are taking away our positions of power and authority. You are proclaiming a complete break from the way things have been. And we don’t like it.” They had rejected the grace of Christ and they were set to remove those who had proclaimed it. This is how it was for Paul and Barnabas. This is how it was for those who followed them in their newfound faith. And this is how it has continued to be anywhere the true gospel is proclaimed. It is a message of total inclusivity for any who believe, and it is a message of total exclusivity, for those who fail to believe.

Life application: There are those in the church who diminish the pure gospel, which is by faith alone through grace alone, claiming that one must make Jesus the Lord of his life before he can be saved (Lordship salvation), or that one must demonstrate works to prove that he is saved. If there are no works, that person is not saved (Calvinism and others in varying degrees). There are those who say one must repent of sin before a person can be saved (adding works to the gospel).

To trust in the pure gospel by faith is to simply say, “I believe that Jesus died for my sins” (implying the person has sin and is acknowledging that), that He was buried (with my sins), and that He was raised because of my justification (Romans 4:25). I accept this and believe that I have been granted God’s forgiveness.”

For those with such views as mentioned above, they cannot believe that “grace” means “grace” and that “faith” alone truly saves, even if they say they believe this. And so, they attack those who hold to the simple gospel by using pejoratives such as “easy believism.”

As also noted above, the inability of man to yield himself to another in order to be saved is almost ubiquitous. And more, it is considered so objectionable that even those who were saved by grace through faith in the first place then add works into their own gospel presentations. “Yes, it worked for me, but it certainly won’t work for others.”

As is clearly the case, “easy believism” is anything but. It is the hardest thing of all to accept. This is why the crowd rushed upon Paul and Barnabas. They held to a religious expression that says, “There is more than one way to be saved and it includes my goodness or my deeds that will impress God. He wouldn’t dare condemn someone as important as me.”

This is a lie of the devil, and it has been effective in every religious expression ever devised by man. Only when one understands that man is inherently flawed, fallen without the possibility of fixing the situation on his own, and needing to trust solely in the merits of Christ, can he be saved. This is the message of God in Christ, and it is the most difficult of all things for man to accept. There is nothing easy about belief. The Bible testifies to this from the first pages to its last.

But this is what God asks of you. Trust Him first, then give up your sin. Trust Him first, then do good works. Trust Him first, then make Him Lord of your life. Everything has an order and the order for salvation starts with God’s grace being worked out in you through your faith. Trust.

Lord God, may we stand firm on the simple gospel. You have done the work; people need to simply believe that it is so. May we never add to the purity of what You have proclaimed. People need Jesus first. Everything else follows after that. Thank You for the simplicity and beauty of what You have done for us. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.