Acts 14:18-23 “And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. 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. 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. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 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. 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.”
The ministry of Paul and Barnabas in Lystra was one of two extremes. Paul, with God’s power, healed a lame man. When the people saw this, they began to make preparations to worship them. Paul and Barnabas ran among them and begged them not to worship them. They said, “We also are men of like passions with you…”
After they had restrained the people from doing sacrifice to them, these same people were persuaded by the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium to stone Paul. They picked up stones and threw them at Paul. After he was about dead, they took him outside the city and left him for dead. The crowd was very fickle. They went from adoring them to hating them. This is the nature of crowds. The same thing happened with Jesus. One minute they loved him, the next they hated him.
The fickleness of crowds can be very frustrating, but we must focus our attention on the faithful church. When Paul and Barnabas came back through Lystra, they confirmed the souls of the disciples, encouraged them to continue in the faith, taught them that tribulation would come, set up elders (pastors) in every church, prayed with fasting, and then commended them to the Lord.
The crowds came and went, but there were faithful believers who made up local churches. They were the crown and rejoicing of Paul. His heart was so encouraged to see the faithful people who were not fickle, who were willing to endure suffering for the cause of Christ, and who were committed to the Lord.
When it comes to church-planting, there will be days that the crowd is with you and days the crowd is against you. Our focus should not be on pleasing and keeping the crowd; it should be on finding some faithful men that we can train and who can teach others also. What are you trying to build? A crowd or a church? A crowd will eventually turn on you and the Lord, but a church will remain faithful.
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