Sovereign Grace Blog

Sermon Summary - Evangelism and Election - Acts 13:42-14:7

Sermon Summary - Evangelism and Election - Acts 13:42-14:7

Most people don’t like conflict. That disposition within most of us is related to evangelism, in the sense that it creates a fear in us to share the gospel. For that reason, we are constantly desperate for the Holy Spirit to fill us, that we not be dominated by the desire to avoid conflict and not speak the gospel clearly. If we Christians stand for the Biblical gospel, we will encounter opposition and conflict, sometimes even among family and friends (Cf. Matt. 10:32-36). Everywhere Paul and Barnabas went, their message caused conflict and division. Some Jews believed the message they preached (Acts 13:42-43), but others rejected their message and drove them out of the city (Acts 13:45, 50). The gospel is good news; but it divides. It saves some and angers others. It changes the lives of those whom it saves, which creates a lifestyle that also divides (Cf. 1 Pet. 4:3-4). Rejoicing in the glory of God is the engine of joy that propels the believer to walk with the Lord and preach the gospel faithfully.

In this passage, there are 4 lessons about the gospel that we are to learn:

1) God has an elect people
2) the gospel is about the glory of God foundationally
3) the Biblical gospel wipes out all human boasting
4) the gospel divides

1) We are meant to grasp that God has an elect people (Cf. Matt. 24:22, Luke 18:7, Acts 18:9-11). Luke clearly points to the doctrine of election in Acts 13:48. It does not say “as many as believed were appointed to eternal life.” When people hear the gospel and believe, it is because God appointed them to eternal life. There are many true Christians who turn this around, saying that God, in His omniscience, knows which people will believe of their own free will. Then God appoints to eternal life those whom He foresees will believe. But this does not line up with Acts 13:48 (see also Rom. 9:11-13, 16). Objection: Why preach on a controversial topic like election when talking about evangelism? Because the text brings it up. And why does Luke bring it up? Because God’s sovereign election is important to believe in the work of evangelism. If salvation is ultimately dependent on people’s autonomous decision to believe, we have no guarantee that anyone will ever believe. In fact, none will (Rom. 3:12, John 6:44).

2) The gospel at its core is about God’s glory. We see this in the Gentiles’ response to the gospel in Acts 13:48. The gospel is about God’s glory being seen and loved by the redeemed (Cf. Eph. 1:3-6). If we want to see God’s elect get saved, we must tell them the gospel. A terribly unbiblical conclusion to draw from anything said in this sermon is that God’s sovereign election means that it’s not important to preach the gospel.

3) The Biblical gospel wipes out any reason for human boasting. The doctrine of election is crucial in humbling human pride. We cannot even boast in our faith. The gospel is a message of God’s undeserved mercy and grace to sinners (Acts 14:3). Pride is at the core of sin. That pride is what creates religions upon which human beings can boast. Only the gospel of grace roots out legalistic, works-based religion.

4) When we preach the Biblical gospel, we should expect division and opposition. In Acts 13:45-47, Paul and Barnabas are announcing to those who refuse to believe that they have condemned themselves by rejecting the gospel of grace. Lastly, notice that in the midst of all the rejection and opposition to the gospel, Paul and Barnabas did not change their message to make it more acceptable. They knew that the gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is the means by which Jesus will save sinners. 

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