16” In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. “(Acts 14:16–18)
Both Barnabas and Paul continued to take this teachable moment to preach the truth from God’s Word. This was not only about who they were, but also who God is and what He does.
They stated, “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). Paul and Barnabas explained that God was not only the creator of all things, but also was patient and longsuffering to unbelievers. Romans 3:23-25 supports this doctrine when Paul wrote, “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” This long-suffering by God is a testimony of His grace.
Another testimony of God’s grace is His benevolent witness in creation. “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). God, in His common grace, sends forth the rain and fruitful growing upon the righteous as well as the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44–45). However, even as Paul and Barnabas fervently preached these words, it did not restrain the people from offering sacrifices to them.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “God’s providence and his creative power testify to man’s reason of his existence (Rom. 1:18–20), as does man’s own conscience, which contains his moral law (Rom. 2:13–15).”
We have to constantly remind ourselves to not offer so-called sacrifices of praise and worship to our fellow man when such praise and worship should be exclusively given to God. We can appreciate fellow believers and pastors, but we must never worship them.
Soli deo Gloria!