Sermon Title: A Work in Your Days
Text: Acts 13
Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, . . . (Acts 13:26-33a, ESV).
In Acts 13, Paul’s first missionary tour had begun, and he came to Antioch of Pisidia and went to the synagogue, where the leaders asked him to share a “word of encouragement” (v 15). And so he did. His message in some ways is similar to the one that Stephen preached in Acts 7 (and which we studied last Sunday). But in some ways it’s considerably different.
The most significant but not terribly surprising thing is that Paul takes the Old Testament to prove that Jesus is the Savior of Israel. He explains to the audience that the prophets pointed to Jesus . . . that he would be the descendant of David that God told David about, that he would be arrested and killed, that he would be resurrected, and that he would offer absolute forgiveness—something the Law of Moses simply couldn’t do.
The synagogue crowd was intrigued by Paul’s message, but then some of the religious leaders stirred up trouble, and a hugely significant turning point occurred: Paul turned his attention to Gentiles, and the course of Christianity changed.
Here are two big takeaways from this text:
1. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s story . . . he is where the Old Testament was pointing, and this should strengthen our faith. Everyone has a “story” that shapes her or his life, and it’s important that the story we believe is actually true.
2. Satan will do anything he can to keep us from believing this, or, if we already believe it, he’ll try to distract us from its life-changing implications.
- How can our class pray for you or a friend or loved one tonight?
Start Reading(read Acts 13:26-33)
- What questions or observations did you have as you read the text? What jumped out at you?
- What are the parts of Israelite history that Paul refers to in his sermon? [hint: patriarchs (v 17), rescue from Egypt (v 17), wilderness wandering (v 18), etc.]
- What two groups is Paul referring to when he says, “Men of Israel and you who fear God” (v 16) (also here: “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God,” v 26)?
- What one thing about Jesus gets more of Paul’s attention than anything else?
- Sunday’s sermon mentioned the importance of the “story” that we believe. What was the point of that? Why does it matter?
- Pluralism essentially means that we can choose from multiple stories to organize our lives, and that none is better than another. How does the message about Jesus challenge that?
- After Paul’s sermon, some enemies of the faith disrupted the sharing and accepting of the gospel. What distractions does Satan use now to keep us from focusing on Christ?
- This week at home, work, or school, how will your conviction that what Paul said is true affect your choices? Your relationships? Your marriage? How you use your money? How you handle success or tragedy?
- Paul’s sermon hinges on the truthfulness of the resurrection. How does your belief in the empty tomb affect your daily life?
Start Praying(ACTS acronym)
- Adoration: Praise God for what he’s done in Christ.
- Confession: Confess how we so often forget about what God has done and is doing in the world through Christ.
- Thanksgiving: Thank God for the empty tomb.
- Supplication: Ask God to help all the members of this class find their place in God’s beautiful story.