Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Genuine Faith

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Acts 20:17-38

INTRO: This morning we will continue our look at the book of Acts in chapter 20, and the portion we will look at is in verses 17-38. I find sermons like this, Bible study sermons if you will, very interesting. Because unlike topic sermons which can go into detail on a topic, these study sermons often touch on several topics and will often bring up things we desire to look at in more depth within the rest of the scriptures.

After the miraculous event in Troas, the raising of Eutychus from the dead, we left the apostle Paul in Miletus. [my-lee-tus] You may recall that Paul intended to sail by Ephesus in the hope of reaching Jerusalem before Pentecost. While he was in Miletus, he called for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him there.

We catch up with him in Acts 20:17-21 – “17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19. Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21. Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”[KJV]

When Luke tells us that the elders from Ephesus arrived to meet Paul, he reminded them of the struggles he faced while in he was in Asia. Paul had served the Lord with a humble attitude, even to the point of being moved to tears at times and surviving more than one Jewish plot against his life.

Despite all the heartaches and tears he continued faithfully to declare the truth to them, both publicly in the synagogue and in the school of Tyrannus, and teaching in the houses. We saw also that his preaching had extended to the Jews as well as the Greeks.

I. Like we have seen before, his preaching included the need for repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Let me ask you, what is faith? I have heard it said there is faith and there is faith. I believe the best way to answer the question about genuine faith is to go to the Bible.

A. In Hebrews 11, which is commonly called the “Hall of Faith” we find the writer explaining just exactly what genuine faith is.
B. First is your faith logical? In Hebrews 11:3 the writer says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Or to paraphrase in part; “By faith we understand... that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Genuine faith “understands” that the universe is not self-existent; rather, it was designed by the Creator and so what we see is that logic and faith are companions.
C. Second, is your faith dependent upon revelation? In Hebrews 11:4-6 the writer says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

1. It was by faith, illustrated in obedience, that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.
2. By faith he was commended as a righteous man when God spoke well of his offerings. By faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
3. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death. God took him away. And before he was taken he was commended as one who pleased God. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
4. In the scriptures, the writers tells us that God has, “witnessed,” “testified,” “warned” or “commended.” Why did He do that? Because mankind, left to his own devising, does not know how to serve God.
5. The blood of Abel says that faith is the key to true and acceptable worship. In other words, genuine faith sees faith like the writer says in Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [KJV] Genuine faith understands that God has revealed His will for mankind within the Holy Scriptures.

D. Third, does your faith involve trusting our Maker? The writer says in Hebrews 11:7-8 – “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

1. When Noah was warned by God, though he had never seen a flood, he by faith prepared the ark.
2. Abraham by faith left Chaldea even though he didn’t know where he was going. In other words... genuine faith clearly trusts the unseen God.

E. Fourth, does your faith have actions with your words? So many people in the religious world today seem to entertain the notion that faith is merely a mental conviction. Hebrews 11 tells us quite clearly that genuine faith must act with actions.

1. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that by faith Abel “offered” a sacrifice.
2. Hebrews 11:7 tells us that by faith Noah “prepared” an ark.
3. Hebrews 11:8 tells us that Abraham “obeyed” the Lord.
4. You see folks, faith without any actions attached is not a genuine faith. As James tells us in James 2:26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

F. Finally, does your faith discriminate? Hebrews 11:26 – “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” Moses, (being a type of Christ) considered the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

1. The writer tells us that Moses valued righteousness greater then the treasures of this world.
2. Why? Because Moses understood that genuine faith chooses the spiritual over the material, genuine faith chooses the eternal over the temporal.
3. Folks, I hope and pray that when you examine your faith, you find it is a genuine faith because there really is a difference between faith and genuine faith.
4. We all know the truth of the matter is that this is a personal examination, and only you can answer that question for yourself.

II. Luke carries on telling of Paul’s discussion with the Ephesians elders in Acts 20:22-27 - “22. "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23. "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24. "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25. "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26. "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27. "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”[NKJV]

A. Paul after reminding them of his time working among them, goes on tells the elders that he was compelled to go to Jerusalem, despite the knowledge of what awaited him there.

1. It is one thing not knowing what lies ahead of us, but it’s another knowing exactly what lies ahead.
2. You’re at the doctors awaiting some results from a blood test to find out if you have serious kidney problems.
3. You have family members in the armed forces, you know there’s been a bombing in the area where they are assigned, and you’re waiting to hear if you’re loved ones are all right.
4. You’re heading towards the hospital in an ambulance, and you don’t know whether you’re going to survive to see your family again.

B. It is during those difficult times of uncertainty about what lies ahead, that things like worry and anxiety creep into our lives. It’s usually not until after the event, or until after you have been diagnosed with an illness, that you start to deal with it.

1. Folks, that’s when genuine faith in God helps us get through. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit had testified to Paul, through the voices of prophets and other inspired men, concerning his impending arrest and the other trials he would confront in Jerusalem.
2. In other words, Paul knew what was going to happen in his life, he knew what lay around the corner.

C. Most of us want to run away from difficult times and we try to avoid those times at any cost.

1. The reason we do that is because we are concerned with ourselves.
2. We’re afraid that we might get hurt.
3. We’re afraid that we might be slandered.
4. We’re afraid that if we go there, people might think we have an alternative motive.
5. There are many things that can make us afraid. Instead of embracing those times when they come, and seeing them as an opportunity to grow in our faith, we try very hard to avoid them.

D. James says in James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”[NKJV]

1. Paul’s greatest concern was not for his own personal safety. Paul’s greatest concern was with completing the special ministry Jesus had given him, the preaching of the kingdom.
2. Scripture is clear, and there is no mistake about it, Paul knew what lay ahead of him. He did not expect to ever see the faces of those elders again. That’s why he called upon them to faithfully witness the content of his preaching among those at Ephesus.
3. He knew within himself, that because he had preached the whole truth, he was free from any responsibility for those who might have remained in their sin. In other words, his job was finished in Ephesus. Like we looked at a few weeks ago, he was not responsible for those who didn’t respond to the good news.

E. Someone once said, “Christians don’t have problems, Christians have challenges.” A commentator, talking about the soul that is mature in their understanding, said that;

1. The mature soul prays, "Lord, make me as big as my problem." While the immature soul prays, "Lord, let me off easy."
2. The mature soul asks, "Lord, give me strength sufficient for a hard day." While the immature begs, "Lord, let me have a lighter load."
3. The mature soul prays, "Lord, stand with me until I finish my task." While the immature soul says, "I am tired, and I want to quit."

F. Paul didn’t see his mission with Christ as a problem, he saw it as a challenge. Yes, there were times when he was beaten and flogged. Yes, there were times when he was tired, thirsty, and hungry. His real challenge was to simply trust His God with that genuine faith we looked at earlier.

III. Before Paul leaves the Ephesian elders, he warns them by saying the following in Acts 20:28-31 – “28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one, night and day with tears.”

A. Paul, because he did not anticipate seeing them again, charged those elders, who had been selected based on the qualifications listed by the Holy Spirit, to watch out for their own spiritual well being. And he also reminds them that they were commanded to watch out for every sheep in God’s flock at Ephesus. Why? Because they had been given the oversight, they were elders over the flock which was purchased with Jesus’ blood.
B. Make no mistake about it folks, being watchful was, and still is, necessary today because false teachers, even from within the eldership, would draw away disciples. Paul urged the elders to remember his own watchful service of three years as he had been warning them day and night, even with tears in his eyes.
C. We have said before false teachers are still a real problem in the world today, and I believe it’s necessary for all of us to be able to identify them.

1. A young preacher of a little church complained to Charles H. Spurgeon, about the smallness of his church and its few members. Spurgeon asked him, "How many members do you have?" "Fifty," replied the preacher. "Ah," exclaimed Spurgeon, "that is more than you will want to account for on the Day of Judgment."
2. You see, preaching or teaching is one of those God given positions within the Lord’s church which needs to be prayed about carefully before taking on the responsibility. It’s also the responsibility of every member of the Lord’s church to be on their guard against false teachers.

D. The power of the public speaker is enormous. So today is the power of those who speak in other kinds of public forums.

1. There are many historic examples of this, some for good and some for evil. One comes to mind: On June 14th, 1940, when the British were in the dark days of WWII, Churchill said, “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
2. Public speakers have a lot of influence and those who have been called to be preachers or teachers within the Lord’s church need to be aware of that. James warns us in James 3:1 – “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”[NKJV]
3. It is also why Paul cautioned young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2-4 – “2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
4. John warns us in 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”[KJV]
5. Teaching is a very responsible job at any time. Just as teachers in schools and universities will shape young minds, teaching within the Lord’s church will shape the maturing souls and we know that there are false teachers out there.

E. How do we know the difference between a teacher and false teacher? Again, if we allow the Bible to tell us we will find the answer.

1. John tells us there are at least two tests you can do and the first one is this: If they deny any gospel accounts or anything revealed within the gospel accounts concerning Jesus Christ, they are false teachers.

a. 1 John 4:2-3 – “2. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3. and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”[NKJV]
b. Any spirit (or person) who denies the facts revealed in the New Testament regarding the life of Christ is under satanic influence and is antichrist.
c. This would include those who deny the details of His birth to the virgin Mary; His miraculous ministry; His innocence; His death, burial, and bodily resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God.

2. The second test is this, is what they are teaching Bible based? 1 John 4:6 – and I paraphrase, “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”[para]

a. Remember that John was dealing with a particular problem that was developing.
b. As already indicated, there were those who denied that Jesus came in the flesh, but the Holy Spirit, being omniscient, looked across the centuries and saw the damage of false and novel doctrines that would develop from the wicked hearts of men.
c. Here John says that “we.” Who are the “we”? He’s referring to the inspired men who recorded the very message of the Holy Spirit and he says that those inspired men are of God.
d. The second test is simple, those who “know God” are those who demonstrate through their words and deeds that they are receiving their information from the only source of divine truth, and for us that is the Bible.
e. Those who “don’t know” God are those who don’t listen to Christ’s apostles and inspired teachers. These are the teachers who modify the scripture.

3. That’s one good reason why we need to get back to what people used to know us by, “the people of the Book.”

F. All of us need to be like the Bereans about whom Luke says in Acts 17:11 – “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”[KJV] They examined the Scriptures every day to see if the message was true or false.

IV. Paul has warned the Ephesian elders to watch out for false teachers, but he wasn’t finished with them just yet. Paul goes on and tells them in Acts 20:32-38 – “32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33. I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 36. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38. Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”

A. After kneeling with them in prayer, Paul with more tears in his eyes left their company.
B. Before he left, Paul recommended that the shepherds trust God and His word, which would help them grow stronger and inherit eternal life.
C. He reminded them how he worked with his own hands to support himself and did not covet anyone’s money.
D. He urged them to also labor to support themselves and help the weak, while reminding them that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

CONCLUSION:
As I read those familiar words something struck me. Let me ask you, do you believe that? Do you believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive? How opposite are these words to the thoughts of people today where the purpose of living is in the “getting”.

There’s a story from many years ago that a benevolent doctor heard of a preacher who was sick, poor, and had a large family. That evening he gave a friend a sum of money, requesting him to deliver it in the most delicate manner, and as from an unknown person.
The friend said, "I will go see him early in the morning." The doctor then said, "Would you please do so today instead? Think of what importance a good night's rest may be to that poor man."

I was reading a poem the other day which I would like to share with you just before we finish. It’s called, ‘Let Me Give’.

I do not know how long I'll live
But while I live, Lord, let me give
Some comfort to someone in need
By smile or nod, kind word or deed.
And let me do what ever I can
To ease things for my fellow man.
I want naught but to do my part
To "lift" a tired or weary heart.
To change folks' frowns to smiles again.
Then I will not have lived in vain
And I'll not care how long I'll live
If I can give ... and give ... and give.

When we think of giving, we often only think of giving money. But giving money isn’t going help the man who has just lost his wife in an accident. Giving him of your time and a shoulder to cry on will. Giving money isn’t going to help the women whose husband has just walked out on her for someone else. Giving your time and understanding will. Giving money isn’t going help the child who’s just failed one of their exams at school but giving them encouragement to keep going will.

We all feel blessed when we receive encouraging messages but not nearly as blessed as we feel when we send one and receive a reply back saying ‘God bless you and thank you for thinking about me’.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned to trust that God will meet all our needs.
It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned to put other people first.
It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned that giving really does bring happiness into someone else’s life.
It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned that when you give, you’re giving on behalf of God.

Proverbs 21:25-26 – “The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.” Paul gave everything he had to bless others, and we should be encouraged to think about what we can give to someone this week. Whether it is time,
money, food, or a shoulder to cry on. The greatest gift that we can give is sharing the gospel. We do not want to hear someone say on that day, you never mentioned Him to me.
____________________________________________________________________________________

We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

# 644
Taken from sermon by Mike Glover

We Are Alive!

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Acts 20:2-16

INTRO: We are now at chapter 20 in our look at the book of acts. In the past few weeks, we have seen the power of Jesus name. We also saw the power of the gospel to dispel the myths and ignorance about God. Sadly, we also saw how people can go around all excited and yelling even though they do not know what they are excited about, and we were reminded that we have the freedom of choice but there are consequences to those choices.

Today we catch up with Paul’s journey starting in Acts 20:2-6 Luke tells us: “Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.”[NKJV]

Luke tells us that after encouraging the brethren in Ephesus, Paul went to Macedonia. Paul sailed to Macedonia and built up the churches there before he went on to Greece, the district containing Athens and Corinth, where he stayed for some three months. Then, he planned to sail to Syria, but the Jews plotted to kill him as he was about to depart.

Paul was warned of the plot, and when he found out, he went north to Macedonia. Paul was carrying a large contribution to give to the needy saints in Jerusalem. We recall one mention of this in Romans 15:26 – “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” It looks like, from what Luke tells us that, he took along several men with him. The reason for this was probably to see to the proper handling and use of the money.

Folks, when it comes to giving, we should note that the early church gave for a purpose. They didn’t just give for the sake of giving. They gave to further the cause of Christ and they gave to bring glory to God through their giving. Giving was part of their worship.

I. We, all of us, have a calling from God in this life. Our efforts and our giving should be to produce glory for God while we are still alive. In Hebrews 13:16 we read; “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”[NKJV] Paul also reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 –“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”[KJV] As we said before, we have free will, we can make a choice. James tells us in James 4:17 – “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

A. In Luke’s record is a whole list of names traveling with Paul. I thought that was interesting, so I did a little research and found that someone once said, “You need to observe that the Macedonian congregations were represented by Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus. The Galatian congregations were represented by Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra. Then we see the ones located in Asia were represented by Tychicus and Trophimus. According to 2 Corinthians 8:6 and following the Corinthian’s contribution was entrusted to Titus and two other brethren who were sent by Paul to Corinth to receive it.”
B. So what’s important about that? Well, if it’s not important it’s certainly interesting, because if it tells us anything, it tells us that they went around collecting the funds. They were going to meet at a predetermined location, which in this case was Troas. They didn’t have banks like we have today where they could just wire or transfer money in accounts.
C. They had to go from congregation to congregation to collect those funds. They collected funds on behalf of others. The people gave and the funds were collected for a reason. These funds were for the saints who were in massive need in Jerusalem.
D. Isn’t this an amazing way to encourage each other? The fact that these men who were sent on behalf of their home assemblies, would have seen the gratitude in the eyes of those at Jerusalem as they gave on behalf of their congregation. The home congregations were involved.
E. The encouragement doesn’t stop there; can you imagine when they return to their home congregations? I would imagine that they would give a full report about how everyone in Jerusalem was doing and how their offerings had blessed so many other people. Folks, if we could see the offering that we give each and every week through eyes like those, we would truly see just how much more of a blessing it is to give.

II. In fact, that’s exactly how Paul saw giving. He said to the Ephesians elders a few verses later in Acts 20:35 – “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

A. There’s something else interesting in our text passage. Luke uses the word ‘we’ a couple of times in verse six. Acts 20:6 - “... we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” The reason he does this is simply to remind Theophilus (remember Theophilus is the person Luke is writing to, Acts 1:1) that Luke himself was present and rejoined Paul at Philippi. That’s why he uses the word “we”. They both stayed there and sailed for Troas after the Passover. Luke is a witness to the event that happens next.
B. Listen carefully to Luke’s report about what happened starting in the very next verse. In Acts 20:7-12 – “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.'' The NIV says “Don’t be alarmed, He’s alive! Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.” What an amazing scripture that is when you read the whole thing in its context.

1. When Luke tells us that Paul and his company stayed seven days in Troas, this helps us in understanding the custom of worship in New Testament times. That little phrase helps us a lot. Luke tells us that, “They came together on the first day of the week.” [para]
2. I know there are religious groups who come together on Saturdays for worship. The reason some of them do that is basically because they don’t believe that Jesus was the messiah. That’s why they get together on Saturdays for worship. Ask yourself a question, if Paul and his companions were there in Troas on every other day of the week why did they partake of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day? Why did they do that?
3. This is a big lesson for the church right here and for every one of us. Even though they were busy doing other things for the Lord each and every day of the week, these men knew that everything else takes a back seat in their lives when they came together on the Lord’s Day to remember His death. That’s important to this passage.

III. Let’s think about it. Think about the first day of the week. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on a Sunday according to Mark 16:9. Jesus’ disciples assembled after His death on the first day of the week according to John 20:19ff. The church was established on what day? Sunday, according to Acts 2:1. The church, the congregation in Troas, which we are now looking at, met on the first day of the week according Acts 20:7. There were regular contributions taken into the church treasury. When? “Every first day of the week” according to 1 Corinthians 16:2.

A. For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. One commentator suggests, “All Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Savior arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship.”
B. You see, folks, although Sunday might have been a workday in the ancient world, the disciples set it apart as a day of worship and it became known as “the Lord’s day,” according to Revelation 1:10 as John tells us.
C. Way, way back in the Book of Leviticus Moses records in Leviticus 23:15-16 – “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.”
D. Ok, why am I telling you this? What relevance is this? God says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” according to Exodus 20:8. My point is this: the Jews understood that He meant every single Sabbath. Not just every now and then, but every single Sabbath. They were to keep that Holy. Go over to the New Testament where we’ll look at Paul’s account to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11:18-26 – “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Now listen Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”
E. To put this another way... If a school teacher becomes frustrated with disruptive students and says to them while they are at school, “You did not come here to learn.” That very statement tells you that they were there to learn, doesn’t it? That’s what Paul is saying here. You didn’t come here to observe the Lord’s Supper because you don’t act like it.
F. The reason these early Christians assembled, was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We know they assembled every first day of the week, and Paul tells us they got together on the first day of the week to give as well. 1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper...”

IV. I recall hearing about a congregation that loved good fellowship and they always served coffee after the sermon. The preacher asked a little boy one time, if he knew why they served the coffee. The little boy thought and said, "I think, it is to get the people wide awake before they drive home." Apart from Bible study when I teach, the longest sermon I have ever preached here was 37 minutes. Thankfully, as far as I could see from up front, everyone managed to stay awake. I think we are safe not serving coffee after service.

A. Certainly, it is possible some people may think that I preach for a long time. Notice though, going back to our text in Acts 20 and in verse 7, Luke tells us that when the church assembled in that third story room, Paul’s lesson continued until midnight. It was there we find a young man who needed more than a cup of coffee to stay awake.
B. Scripture tells us there were many lamps where the people were gathered. Quite warm I imagine. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting on a window ledge listening to Paul. He fell into a deep sleep and fell out of the window and died.
C. Look what happened next. Did Paul say, “Wait until I finish my sermon then we will deal with this? Did Paul say, “I’m getting to a really important point in my sermon, can you hold on and then we will go down and deal with this? No, he didn’t. They went down straight away and that tells us something. There are some priorities more important than preaching and teaching. They went down straight away to see to the young man. After he was pronounced dead, Paul took him up in his arms, then announced that his life was in him. The Power of God was being used through the apostle Paul to bring him back to life.

V. To me this text is almost unbelievable. I’m not talking about the miracle. I’m talking about what they did next. Luke says that after the miraculous restoration of this young man’s life, the Christians again assembled in that upper room to eat a meal together. Hard for us to understand, isn’t it? Right after this miracle they returned to what they were doing. They got on with life.

A. We are told the talking lasted until daybreak, which tells us just how highly the brethren thought of the apostle Paul, and how interested they were in what the apostle was saying.
B. Let me ask you this question. How can we be sure that Eutychus was dead in the first place? There are a lot of people who don’t believe he was you know. What we need to remember is that if anyone can tell whether a person is alive or dead, it’s a doctor. Surely, a doctor knows if someone is dead or if they’re alive. Luke, the writer of Acts, present with Paul at this moment, is a doctor according to Colossians 4:14.
C. It’s Luke who tells us that Eutychus was “dead” here in verse 9. When Paul addressed the situation, he did not say, “His life is still in him,” or “His life is yet in him” as some translations have it. He simply said, “his life is in him.” Luke later comments that Eutychus was brought “in alive” at verse 12

1. If the young man had merely been injured, why would Luke stress the point that he was “brought in alive”? To merely mention that he was brought in would have been entirely sufficient.
2. After all, weren’t they all alive who returned to the upper room? What was so special about this young man? Very simple, the fact that he had been dead! He was dead and now he’s alive! No wonder Luke says the saints in Troas were comforted.

VI. I would suggest the resurrection of Eutychus brought “comfort” to the saints in Troas, as Luke tells us, for two reasons. First, it let them know that their religion was genuine. They understood that only God can affect a resurrection.

A. Remember when Jesus raised Lazarus back to life, Jesus said in John 11:40-42 – “..., "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?'' Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.''”
B. Jesus is saying the miracle of raising Lazarus from the grave was performed so that the people around would believe that Jesus was the Christ. When the people believed that fact, they would trust that the message which Jesus delivered was true and genuinely from God Himself.

1. In a small country town, the local doctor went to the home of a terminally ill man to check on him. The man said to his doctor, who was about to leave after the visit: "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side." Very quietly the doctor turned and said, "I don't know." "You don't know the man said? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?" The doctor was holding the knob of the door to the man’s house and from the other side came sounds of whining, and as he opened the door a dog sprang into the room and leaped on the doctor with an eager show of gladness.
2. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Have you seen this dog before? The man said, “no”. The doctor said, “my dog has never been in your house before. Never. He did not know what was inside this room. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. When the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness."

C. That’s the second reason why the resurrection of Eutychus brought “comfort” to the saints in Troas... and to us. It brought to them comfort because it showed them that the grave is not the end of human existence. The Creator of life can bring life out of death. In other words, death is not the end. It’s just the beginning in many, many ways. We can understand why those saints were comforted.

VII. Let’s bring this a little closer to home. Don’t we feel comforted in the fact that the religion we place our whole faith in, is genuine? Doesn’t that bring comfort? Have we ever questioned the Lord’s church? Have we ever questioned the church’s beliefs and its practices?

A. I know we have at times. I am glad we question things about what we teach and preach and practice as a community of believers. Let me tell you why it brings me comfort. It brings me comfort because it forces me to study the Bible more often. It brings me comfort because it forces me to look at other religious group’s doctrines. It brings me comfort when I see that what we teach, preach and practice is according to God’s word, the Bible.
B. I come to the same conclusion as a very wise man who once said; ‘if there were another religious group that taught and practiced closer to the truth than the Lord’s church that is where I would be.’ Wise words from a wise man. It brings me comfort, to know that the Bible brings me everything I need to know about God and what God wants from me.
C. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” Do the words ‘all things’ leave anything out? No, all things mean everything.
D. Most importantly, it brings me comfort because if I knew I were going to die today, I would be filled with gladness, just like the doctor’s dog, as I run towards my master for eternal salvation. Loved ones, I hope and pray that each and every one of us are feeling the same way.

VIII. A friend of mine asked one time if I had ever read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I said no but asked him what it was all about. He said to me, ‘if you read it, you’ll discover one of the strangest imaginations ever put together, especially the part where the old mariner represents the corpses of all the dead men rising up to man the ship, dead men pulling the rope, dead men steering, dead men spreading sails.’ He went on and said to me that when he had finished reading it, he thought to himself, ‘what a strange idea that was’ for a book.

A. Do you know what, folks? I agree with him it is a very strange idea. Yet, I wonder if perhaps that idea describes what we find today in some congregations. I have personally gone into congregations, and I have seen a dead man in the pulpit, dead men as a deacons or elders. I’ve been to places where the men handling the Lord’s Table are dead and dead men were sitting to listen.
B. Well folks, we were all just as dead in our sins spiritually as Eutychus was dead physically. Just like Paul brought Eutychus back to life physically, Jesus Christ has brought us back to life spiritually. In Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Listen to the next part But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”. It’s an amazing passage, isn’t it? Thinking about dead people for a moment.

1. You know when we visit a cemetery; we expect to be among the remains of dead people and it’s just not the liveliest of places to visit. We know that dead people belong in the cemetery, because their spirit has left their bodies and is awaiting judgment, but their earthly remains belong in the cemetery.
2. Jesus Christ has proclaimed to the world that anyone who has died into Christ in the waters of baptism is very much alive in Christ Jesus today. That’s what people should see. Not only in our daily lives but in our worship services too. People should see that our worship to God is joyous, and spirit filled because God’s people are very much alive in Christ Jesus.

CONCLUSION:
Let us look at the remaining part of our text. Luke carries on with his letter to Theophilus in Acts 20:13-16 and tells him, “Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.  We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios; the following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium; the next day we came to Miletus.  For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”

Folks, Eutychus is alive, and the apostles are alive in Christ Jesus. The gospel is moving forward. I pray that each of us will continue to do the same. We too, should never forget that we are alive in Christ. It’s my prayer that we will continue to find comfort from God through His word and His people. Yet, we must never get too comfortable staying in one place so that we fall asleep spiritually.

We also should never get to the stage where we are totally relying on people just walking into our assemblies. Each of us, as individual Christians, needs to watch for every opportunity to take the good news about Jesus to others.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

# 644
Taken from sermon by Mike Glover

Why Are You Here Today?

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 19:17-41

INTRO: Good morning. Today we continue in our look at the book of Acts. Last week we saw that Paul found some disciples who had been baptized with the baptism of repentance, which looked forward to the coming of Christ. Paul explained to them that the baptism for salvation was baptism into Christ. We suggested that we each need to ask the question; “Who am I?” “Was I baptized for the right reasons?” “Who’s will am I doing?” And most importantly, “Does Jesus know my name?”

I heard a story about a big, mean lion who met a monkey in the jungle.
The lion pounced on the poor monkey and said, "Who is king of the jungle?"
The frightened monkey replied, "You are, O mighty lion."
The lion let him go.
The next animal the lion met was a zebra.
He pounced on it and roared, "Who is king of the jungle?"
"You are, O mighty lion."
The lion let him go.
The lion next met an elephant and asked the same question.
The elephant grabbed the lion, twirled him around, and then threw him 50 feet.
The lion picked himself up and huffed, "Just because you don't know the answer is no reason to get so rough."

We know that there is really only One king, and His Name is Jesus. He’s the one who is ruler overall. He’s the one who possesses authority overall.

The last time we were together we saw very powerfully that the Name of Jesus is the Name all should fear. Even the evil spirit in Acts 19 knew this and only feared the Name of Jesus. After asking ‘Who are you’? The evil spirit beat up the Jewish men who were trying miss-use the power of Christ.

I. We catch up with Luke’s report to Theophilus in Acts 19:17-22 – “17. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. 21. After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.”

A. Luke tells us that since an irreverent use of the name of Jesus brought on this attack by the evil spirit, both Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus were moved to reverent awe, for the authority of Jesus. Folks, we know when we see Jesus in His proper light, we can’t help but be in awe of His holiness and righteousness.
B. When a person sees Jesus like that, they are going to bow down and recognize His authority.

1. We should take notice what they did when they submitted to Christ... they repented.
2. Their repentance was very visible and many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.
3. Their repentance was further illustrated when a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls or books together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the books that were destroyed, the total came to some 50,000 pieces of silver. From that point forward, the gospel grew in a great way and conquered the hearts of many in the region.

C. At the end of these verses Luke tells us that Paul mapped out plans to go through Macedonia and Achaia on the way to Jerusalem. Paul eventually wants to go to Rome and so he sent Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia while he personally stayed in Asia.

II. When we use our car these days the computer checks for any errors, and it can warn us of problems with the check engine light, the tire inflation light, and other indicators. We would be wise to have checkups ourselves to see if there are conditions, medical, dental, or optical which can be corrected before a serious problem develops.

A. We also need to have a spiritual checkup and ask ourselves; “is there a sin in my life which needs to be confessed to God?” Is there a sin in my life which needs to be burned in a fire?

1. Maybe it’s the sin of gossip, maybe it’s the sin of lying, maybe it’s the sin of sexual immorality, or maybe it’s the sin of worry. Do we have a sin that weighs heavy on our heart?
2. That question reminds me of something that happened when an open-air preacher was telling the old, old story, and a thoughtless man yelled out, "You tell us about the burden of sin. I feel none." Then he flippantly added, "How much does sin weigh? Eighty pounds? Ten pounds?"
3. The preacher answered, "Tell me sir, if I put a 400-pound weight on the chest of a dead man, would he feel it?"
4. "No, because he is dead," answered the heckler. The preacher responded, "And the man who feels no load of sin is dead spiritually." The man's remarks had only proved what he was, dead.

B. The Scriptures call it "Dead in trespasses and sins" in Ephesians 2:1.

1. Does anyone hearing this feel the burden of their sins? Is it time to rid yourself of the sin in your life?
2. Thinking of Ephesians 4:31 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” We need to get rid of all forms of malice.
3. Let me ask this, is there something in your life that you need God to help you with? Colossians 3:7-8 – “ In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” We used to walk in those ways, in the life we once lived. But now we must rid ourselves of all these.
4. Does anyone have an area of your life from before you became a Christian that you still struggle with today? 1 Peter 2:1 – “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,”

C. I’d like us to notice that Luke tells us in verses 18 and 19 about the believers’ repentance and then in verse 20 how the “word of God grew and prevailed”. Not before or during but after. That very same principle applies to the church today. If we want to grow as a congregation, we first need to repent of the sins which dominate our lives.

III. Luke continues his report to Theophilus, and he tells us that while the believers were repenting and while the church is growing, a riot took place in the city of Ephesus. Acts 19:23-28 – “23. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25. Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” [KJV]

A. Luke tells us that while Timothy and Erastus were away, a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made shrines of Diana, or Artemis as some translations have it, began to stir people up against Christianity. He called together the other members of his craft, reminding them that their wealth came from making silver idols. He truthfully reported that Paul’s preaching had impacted people in Ephesus and throughout Asia. He said that Paul had declared idols made with hands were not gods, to the point of destroying their business and causing Diana to fall into disrepute.
B. As Paul Rogers puts it; “Demetrius solemnly spoke of “our trade” and the “great goddess Diana.” Patriotism and piety oozed from every pore of his body, yet the overriding issue was that of personal profit.... Many a modern man poses yet as a pure patriot, consumed with public progress and righteousness, while having his own private enrichment as the chief goal.”

1. His words enraged his listeners, and they began to shout, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” We can understand why these people were upset. Imagine if you had a successful business and someone came along and put your business at risk? We also note that his business was more precious than truth to him, and his business was more precious than his soul. Don’t we see things like that today?
2. Jesus told a parable that I’m sure you all recall in Matthew 19:16-24 – “16. Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'' 17. So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'' 18. He said to Him, "Which ones?'' Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 19. 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' '' 20. The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?'' 21. Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'' 22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24. "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.''” [NKJV]
3. When push comes to shove its only when you seriously search your heart, that will you find out what is most important in your life. People search and try to find riches in all the wrong places. That home we own can be lost. That car we drive can be damaged beyond repair. Our husband or wife or children can be lost in a moment because of their or someone else’s recklessness. Everything and everyone we see around us today is temporary... except for the souls who belong to Christ.

C. These craftsmen were more concerned about their temporary riches than they were about the true eternal riches which can only be found in Christ Jesus. Paul said to the church in Philippi in Philippians 1:21 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” These idol makers would have said, “For us to live is making money, and to die is tragic.” All these people are upset with this apostle named Paul whom they thought was trying to ruin their business. But in all reality, he was trying to save their souls.

IV. They were so offended by such a message that apparently these craftsmen spread this around and Luke goes on and tells us in Acts 19:29-34 – “29. So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions. 30. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32. Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34. But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!''”[NKJV]

A. So, the gathering now becomes a mob. Luke says the whole city came together to see what was happening. Along the way, they seized two Macedonian travel companions of Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go to the people, but the brethren wouldn’t allow it. Even some of the Asian officials who were his friends pleaded with him not to enter the theatre.
B. It’s interesting that Luke says, “that many in the crowd didn’t even know why they were there.” It’s also interesting when you speak to some who profess to be Christians about why they attend a certain ‘church’. Some say that they like the preacher, some say they have always gone to that ‘church’. Some say they enjoy listening to the music and that helps them in their worship.
C. We need to ask ourselves; “Why am I here today?” Worship that is accepted by God is a privilege unique to the Christian. 1 Peter 2:4-5 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [NKJV]

1. Peter says Christ is the living stone, so also are the Christians. Why "living"? Because the Lord is the living One, and the life-giving One, the same yesterday, today, and forever. As members of Christ's spiritual body, Christians partake of the same nature as their Lord, and they too are "living stones," endowed with a measure of the Spirit which shall raise them up at the last day. Christians are permitted to offer acceptable worship only by the grace of God. Without this grace there is no right to worship God. It is disheartening when children of God deliberately reject this privilege and stay away from the public assembly which God has ordained for His glory and our good.
2. I recall the words of Charles Spurgeon: “Some Go To Church To Take A Walk; Some Go There To Laugh And Talk. Some Go There To Meet A Friend; Some Go There Their Time To Spend. Some Go There To Meet A Lover; Some Go There A Fault To Cover. Some Go There For Speculation; Some Go There For Observation. Some Go There To Doze And Nod; The Wise Go There To Worship God.”

D. Have you ever thought about the significance of worship? Let me share with you just a few thoughts on this.

1. Worship is obedience to a divine command.
2. It is also a means of nourishing the spirit.
3. Worship assists in achieving spiritual growth and it encourages others in their spiritual development.
4. Worship shows the world where our priorities are, and it is one means of expressing our love for God.
5. It is an avenue that God has provided by which we can praise His name and offer spiritual sacrifices.
6. It is a way of showing our thanksgiving to God for all He has done for us.
7. Worship is a time of communion with God with the world shut out entirely.
8. Finally, worship is an experience that should make the heart of every Christian glad.

V. Folks, as Christians we should know why we are here today and why it is important to be here every Lord’s Day. I note in the scripture that some people in Ephesus didn’t even know why they were in that theatre. Yet now Ephesus is in an uproar and when some Jews singled out Alexander to make a defense and the people found out he was a Jew. The crowd shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

A. After a period of two hours of shouting Luke tells in Acts 19:35-41 – “35. And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36. "Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37. "For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38. "Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39. "But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40. "For we are in danger of being called in question for today's uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.'' 41. And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.”[NKJV]

1. Luke says that the city clerk got the crowd to quiet down and appealed for reason and a lawful approach to the matter. Here was a man who knew how to reason even with a mob. He said, no one could deny Ephesus worshiped Diana. He proposed that Demetrius and his colleagues make their case before the authorities. That is if they had a case in the first place.
2. He recognized that the disciples didn’t steal from the temples, and they didn’t blaspheme the goddess. He realized they had done nothing wrong, and he warned the mob that such an assembly might be questioned by the Roman government and had no choice but to quietly dismiss the crowd.
3. It’s amazing just how quickly a chaotic situation can be made calm when people are willing to reason together. So many congregation fights and splits and personal agendas would be laid to rest if people would only reason together.

B. In Isaiah 1:11 God is telling the people through Isaiah that they have made meaningless the observance of forms and sacrifices because they lost the heartfelt devotion and faithful obedience to all of God's commandments which were supposed to accompany these external observances. He goes on and tells the people; “16. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17. Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19. If ye be willing and obedient...”]KJV] God says in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together."

1. Have you ever tried to discuss something with someone that you both knew was a reasonable discussion? Yet they could only see one side of the discussion and their reasoning was always right no matter what you said. People who act this way are lacking the ability to reason and to listen to reason. Reasoning together involves more than one person. Reasoning together, means just that, we reason together.
2. In other words, we respectfully listen to what each other is saying, think about what we are both saying and weigh it with what the scriptures teach. That’s reasoning together. When we do that, the result will always be the same. We can part company quietly and without any further fuss.

CONCLUSION:

In the film Gladiator, Russell Crow plays the part of a Roman General named Maximus Decimus Meridius and at the very start of the film when he is getting his army ready to fight against the Germanic tribes, he says to his men, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

I think that is so true. Whatever decision we make in life is going to be echoed in eternity. That’s why it’s important for us to share the good news about Jesus with as many people as we can. If people choose to live for Christ, that will be echoed in eternity, by living with Christ for eternity. If people refuse to live for Christ, then that too will be echoed in eternity by living without Christ, but with the devil and his angels in hell.

We need to know why we are here. Remember, your destiny is your choice.
I pray you choose wisely.
May God bless us in our efforts to reason with other people.
May God bless us in our efforts to repent of our sins and live a life which is pleasing to Him.
May God bless our efforts in trying to persuade the world that everything they see and posses today and tomorrow is just temporary.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# ???

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Who Are You?

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 19:1-16

INTRO: Good morning. Our text for today will be in Acts 19:1-16. I'm going to start with a story. A number of years ago a man was sitting on a park bench when a little boy of about five sat down near him and started looking at what appeared to be a most prized possession, a watch. The man said to the boy, "My, what a good looking watch," "Does it tell you the time?" "No sir," replied the boy; "you’ve got to look at it." I suppose this story looses it’s effect a little today where there are watches that indeed do speak the time.

My point with this story is that God's truth is everywhere, but you must look for it and at it, to see it. When it comes to the Holy Spirit and identifying if a person possesses Him or not, apart from the Fruit of the Spirit, there is no physical way of knowing.

Last time we ended with a quick look at what Luke records in Acts 19, and we saw Paul addressing that very question, do you posses the Holy Spirit? Acts 19:1-2 - “... while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost."

Luke tells us that from Corinth, Paul went on to Ephesus where he met a group of disciples and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. If you recall from last week we saw that Apollos knew a lot about the Scriptures, and he taught about Jesus accurately, but he hadn’t been taught about baptism for the forgiveness of sins. When Priscilla and Aquila met Apollos they took him aside and taught him the way of the Lord more clearly. We found that described in Acts 18:24-26.

I. Now in Ephesus Paul finds some people who may have been taught by Apollos prior to the time he learned of the baptism commemorating the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. Luke calls them Disciples.

A. Paul asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit and they answer by saying they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. Then Paul asks another question in Acts 19:3-4 - “Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they reply. Paul said, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
B. The failure to know about any gift of the Holy Spirit pointed out that something was missing in the instructions they had received, so Paul asked, “Into what then were you baptized?”
C. John told people to repent, be baptized, and believe on the Christ who would follow him. Then Jesus came, He died, was buried, and resurrected. But before He ascended back to heaven He clearly commanded everyone in Mark 16:15-16 -, “... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
D. In Acts 2 we see people being obedient to those commands. Acts 2:38 - “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
E. Those that heard Peter’s sermon had heard the gospel and believed, asking what they should do? In other words, for those who would be Christians, belief in Jesus should come before they have repented and been baptized under the authority of His name for the remission of sins. It’s amazing when you speak to some people today about baptism. They will gladly tell you that they were baptized or Christened as a child and think that that baptism is their ticket into heaven.

II. I should mention that there are some religious groups who only baptize in Jesus Name and not in “the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. But remember what Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” People need to remember that there are not many baptisms that a person is to receive to be saved, the Bible tells of only one. Paul reminds us of this fact in Ephesians 4:4-6 - “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

A. When a person studies the scriptures one of the questions they need to ask themselves is; “Was my baptism, the one baptism which Paul speaks of here?” Because if it was not, that person needs to do what the disciples at Ephesus did in Acts 19:5-7 - “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
B. Luke tells us these disciples were re-baptized under the authority of Christ. Paul then laid his hands on them and they received miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit which enabled them to speak in languages they had never studied and they proclaimed God’s will.
C. This brings the question to mind; “Are there any today whose baptism was so defective or inadequate that they should be baptized again "into the Lord Jesus"?” The answer without any doubt whatsoever, is yes.
D. We should understand that not all baptisms are scriptural. The Christenings or baptizing of a child is very popular in today’s society. But the problem with that is that a child doesn’t have personal faith. Jesus says in Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
E. If someone was baptized as a child, they didn’t have much say in the matter even though their parents may have been sincere in their thinking. When the child is grown up, able to have personal faith, and is able to decide for themselves, then they need to submit to Christ and be baptized according to scripture.
F. Millions today have never in any sense obeyed the apostolic injunction of Acts 2:38 to “Repent, and be baptized”. That passage makes it absolutely clear that the convert must consciously, and of their own will, submit to Christian baptism. If infant baptism were adequate, then baptism without faith, confession, or repentance would be valid also.

III. True baptism reflects a person’s understanding that this ordinance pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we are told in; Romans 6:3-4 - “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

A. Then over in Colossians 2:12 – we read; Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. In other words the sinner is buried in and raised from water, just as the Lord was buried and then raised from the dead.
B. There are also some people who are baptized without repentance. If a person was baptized without genuine repentance, then such a baptism is useless and one would have to question the motive behind the person’s actions.
C. You also can’t have a baptism without faith. If a person is baptized without a sound faith basis, baptism becomes only a useless ritual.
D. Some religious groups believe that Jesus was a good man but they deny that Christ is God in the flesh and yet, for various other reasons, they desire baptism. Folks, no baptism grounded upon such a counterfeit faith can be considered a genuine baptism.
E. Then there are those who are baptized without any purpose. If a person has submitted to baptism for some purpose other than that which is supplied in the Bible then in reality they have not obeyed the Lord. This would include those whose baptism was an action initiated by others, not themselves, or whose baptism was, in their hearts, undertaken for any unscriptural purpose, such as

1. Merely going along with the group,
2. Primarily to please parents, husband, wife, or other persons, or
3. Any purpose other than that of surrendering the soul to the Lord as commanded in the gospel and for the purpose of coming "into Christ," receiving the forgiveness of sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

F. Baptism is never defined in the Bible as “an outward sign of an inward grace” as some like to say.
G. Finally there are those that are baptized not for the remission of sin but to become members of a denomination. That is not what we are told in Acts 2:38.

IV. Baptism is not a mere representation of redemption for those already saved. We’ve already seen the purpose for baptism in Acts 2:38, for the forgiveness of sins. Or as Luke tells us in Acts 22:16, to have sins washed away. Baptism according to Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:26-27, places a person “into Christ” or into his “body” according to 1 Corinthians 12:13.

A. It is at this point that a person is saved according to Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21. When you think about it, a person’s soul is too valuable, the plan is too simple, and the remedy too easy to access, for a person to “gamble,” hoping that a former “baptism” will be alright.
B. I would think that if there is any question in a person’s mind regarding a previous “baptism,” they should be safe and do it right. Now I know I’m preaching mostly to the converted, but folks, there are a whole lot of people out there who think they are right with God yet have had a baptism which wasn’t Biblical. Why are people so skittish about something so simple?
C. I earnestly pray that all who hear or read this will ask themselves in all humility, "Was I Scripturally baptized?" If the answer is negative, the re-baptism of these twelve disciples at Ephesus, long ago, provides an inspiring example of what should be done. There was nothing wrong with their baptism, except that it had been for the wrong purpose; but that was enough to invalidate it. 169 times, in the writings of Paul alone, the New Testament uses the expression "in Christ," "in Him," or its equivalent. That says as loudly as it possibly could that this purpose of Christian baptism is absolutely vital and should be honored.

V. After baptizing anew the twelve men, and passing on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, Paul leaves them and goes into synagogue. Acts 19:8-10 - “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” [KJV]

A. Luke tells us that Paul entered into the synagogue to boldly teach the Jews about the gospel. If you recall back in Acts 18:19-21 Paul had already taught in the synagogue in Ephesus and had been urged to teach further. But he had left for the feast in Jerusalem and he promised to return and teach some more if it was God’s will.
B. We see here that it was God’s will for him to return and teach more. On this occasion, he reasoned with them for three months and persuaded them about matters concerning the kingdom of God. As usual we have those who will listen and those who won’t. Folks, it’s all about free will. God is not going to make a person believe.
C. I’m reminded of William Holman Hunt's famous allegorical painting "Christ the Light of the World". Hunt represents the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20 - “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” According to Hunt: "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be a divine command, and not simply a good subject." “The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing "the obstinately shut mind". [William Holman Hunt Artworks – The Art Story].
D. We should realize that our Lord never destroys the will, but provides to us, though the gospel, the knowledge we need to make us willing. It is always "Whosoever will". In Revelation 22:17 - we read; “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” [KJV]
E. It is our decision that secures – or - loses our salvation. We know that there are people who do refuse to accept. Look at; John 5:40 - “... ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [KJV] When Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem He looks on and says in Matthew 23:37- , “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” [KJV]
F. God is willing, it’s people that are not willing. These Jews, who Paul was preaching to, are the very same way. Some of them became hardhearted and chose against the way of salvation and so Paul withdrew with the disciples to continue teaching in the school of Tyrannus. That is where he continued to instruct anyone who would listen over the space of some two years.

VI. The effects of Paul’s teaching radiated out to all of Asia. Paul had previously been forbidden to preach in Asia according to Acts16:6. Now much fruit was born for God in that region. In fact, many scholars believe his teaching helped to establish the seven churches to whom Christ wrote in the Book of Revelation chapters 2&3. We should note though, that even though Paul was a great preacher of the word, he always remembered whose Name holds the power. The Name of Jesus.

A. What Luke records next is a powerful lesson which we must never forget. Acts 19:11-16 - “... God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
B. Luke says that God caused great miracles to be worked through Paul. Even to the point where pieces of cloth, like a handkerchief or apron, which had touched his body could be placed on the body of the sick, and diseases or evil spirits went out.

1. Then Luke tells us that there were some wandering Jewish exorcists that tried to capitalize on the power of God that they had seen at work through Paul.
2. Particularly, the seven sons of Sceva who attempted to cast out an evil spirit by calling on the name of Jesus’ whom Paul preached. The spirit recognized both Jesus and Paul and asked, ‘who are you?’ Then the spirit caused the possessed man to leap on, overpower and strip them, so that they ran away wounded and naked.

C. There’s a powerful lesson to be learned here. Our name cannot save anyone. Our name doesn’t frighten people or demons. Nor does the name of any preacher or church leader. But make no mistake about it folks, all hell is afraid at Jesus’ Name. That’s because our name hasn’t been exalted, Jesus’ Name has. Our name isn’t above all other names, Jesus’ Name is. People are not going to bow down when they see us, but they will bow down to Jesus. People are not going to confess our name before the Father, but they will confess Jesus’ Name before Him.
D. Philippians 2:9-11 - “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
E. The lesson is clear, no man has a right merely to appropriate the name of Jesus’. I do not doubt that many today are guilty of doing that same thing. There are those who say, "I am a Christian," yet really have no right to such a claim. How does one become a rightful and lawful wearer of the name of Jesus? In this very chapter it is declared that men were "baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5); and the Scriptures reveal no honorable alternative to that means of being entitled to His Holy Name.

VII. There is another important point we need to understand here. The use of Jesus Name in our prayers and in our words is not some magic formula which God acts upon. It’s not the ‘name’ of Jesus that works in a mechanical way over the powers. The name is not a ‘key’ of some sort. If we are channels of His power, it is not because we know of His Name but because we know Him and more importantly we are known by Him.

A. Regretfully there are religious people who claim they drive out demons and heal in Jesus Name but there is a problem with that. If you ever see one of these, note that most of them need a big audience and you will see that what or who is really being glorified, is everything except God.
B. Jesus says in John 10:27 -, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” The problem that many people have is that they only know the Name of Jesus; but they don’t know Jesus. All they are interested in is the power and not the relationship.
C. Jesus tells us in; Matthew 7:22-23 - “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
D. What does scripture say? It says many will do things in Jesus name, but Jesus does not know them for they are not His. Then I have a question. Why does Jesus not know them? Look with me at Matthew 7:21 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He that does the will of my Father, the will of God. Ok, then, how does one know what is the will of God?

1. A young man went into a church and started praying. He was so anxious to find God's will for his life that he took a piece of paper and wrote down all the things that he was going to do for God. Then he started to pray that God might reveal to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.
2. That is not the way God wants us to find His will. All He wants of us is to obey the gospel and our name will be added to the Lamb’s Book of life. Then, if we live faithfully studying God’s word and letting His word work in our life, God will fill in what His will is for us. The evil spirit knew Jesus and knew about Paul who was following the example of Jesus in doing the will of the Father in heaven. We must never forget that we are in a world of two forces, good and evil.
VIII. Someone once said to me that the reason that churches are not full of people is because people don’t believe in heaven. Well, the truth of the matter is the churches are not full of people because they don’t believe in the hell. The world has created its own gospel of love, peace, joy, and prosperity but left out things like hell and damnation and the consequences of a sin filled life.

CONCLUSION:
Let me finish by suggesting that each one of us here today, needs to ask the question, who am I? Am I a person who needs to be baptized for the right reasons? Am I a person who knows Jesus’ Name but doesn’t really know Jesus and doesn’t really know what His voice sounds like? Whose will am I really doing? My own, the will of a preacher, some leader or the will of our Father in heaven? What is your heart telling you today?

Let me encourage you to seriously think about these questions, because I don’t want you to go through your religious life thinking that God is going save you from the fires of Hell where the demons don’t even know your name. But more importantly where Jesus doesn’t know you at all.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# 647 – Almost Persuaded

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Seeking The Truth

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 18:12-28

Intro:
Good morning. Today we are in Acts 18:12-28. In the last few lessons we saw Paul’s teaching ignored, questioned or rejected in Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth. Though there was success, there was a lot of discouragement as well.

If there was ever was an apostle who could have felt discouraged it was Paul. You probably recall some of the trials Paul went through. Paul recaps some of this in 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27 – “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” [KJV] With that in mind what Luke tells us next in Acts 18, should not come as a surprise to us.

Acts 18:12-18 - “Now when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia [uh - K AY – uh], the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, "This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.'' And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. "But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.'' And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then they took Sosthenes [sauce-then-nees], the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things. So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, [Sen’KRE-uh] for he had taken a vow.” [NKJV]

Luke tells us that the Jews brought Paul to the judgment seat before Gallio when he was proconsul of Achaia. There they accused Paul of preaching contrary to Moses' law, but Gallio drove them out without hearing the case because it did not have anything to do with Roman law. Then some seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before Gallio's judgment seat without the proconsul taking any notice. Despite all the difficult times Paul had, he continued to work in Corinth for some time before leaving the brethren and sailing for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila.

I. Fear. Luke also tells us that he had taken a vow in Cenchreae [Sen’KRE-uh] and had his hair cut off. Why I wonder? Perhaps it might relate to a form of a vow as we find described in Numbers 6:1-21.

A. This vow was practiced among the early Christians and we will read about a vow again in Acts 21. The vow was often offered in gratefulness for deliverance from danger. One explanation might be found in what we read in Acts 18:9-10. Paul had been upset with the opposition of the Jews at Corinth and he had been afraid. Luke tells us that: “The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision telling Paul not to be afraid; to keep on speaking, and not to be silent.”
B. Last time we had a lesson on fear as you may recall. Fear can do things to a person, because fear is a very real thing. It can leave you powerless and silent - but if you trust God, that fear will be driven from your mind because you know that you can ask Him to help you.
C. In verse 11 we are told Paul, trusting God, continued to speak. Then we read what happened in verses 12-18 and saw how Paul was delivered from the Jews. Paul trusted God to be with him and when God delivered him from all the events of Corinth, Paul was grateful. Some scholars suggest that Paul may have expressed that gratefulness to God by making a vow which consisted of shaving off his hair. The question has been asked should we be practicing a vow like this? I think we need to understand that Paul’s expression of gratitude to God was done in a way in which was culturally acceptable for him. From the perspective of Orthodox Judaism the Nazarite vow is not a historical curiosity but can be practiced even today. However, since there is no temple in Jerusalem to complete the vow, and that means any vow would be permanent. Modern rabbinical authorities strongly discourage the practice to the point where it is almost unheard of these days.
D. In that sense we shouldn’t practice this expression of gratefulness, but we should be a thankful people and express our thankfulness to God. I’m not saying that we should go out and shave our heads, but what we should be doing is being continually grateful to the Father, not only when He delivers us from danger, but for all the blessings we receive daily.

II. Remembrance. I don’t know about you, but I like to keep little reminders of places I have been to. I like to take photos of people I have met and events in which Nina or I have taken part. Many of you have been to our house on July 4th and seen our “refrigerator magnets”. Currently I’m starting to go through old photos and remembering the good times. But let me ask you, do you keep things which remind you of bad times?

A. Maybe you had someone leave you deliberately or perhaps they were taken from you and you just can’t bear to look at the old photos because it brings back so much pain. Maybe a person doesn’t like the police because they or a family member has been falsely accused of something and every time they see the police it brings back memories of false accusations. Or perhaps someone doesn’t like the military because a loved one served and perished.
B. Nobody likes to remember the bad things that have happened in their lives because it can bring back pain and anxiety. When God delivered His people out of the hands of the Egyptians that is exactly what He wanted them to remember, the pain and anxiety.
C. You will recall that the Passover was first introduced during the Israelites slavery in Egypt. It was the tenth plague which involved the death of the first-born Egyptians both men and cattle, which also included Pharaoh’s very own son. Look in; Exodus 12: 5-8 - “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” According to Exodus 12, a year-old male lamb or goat, without blemish was to be slain on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew religious year, “in the evening” according to Exodus 12:6.
D. According to Josephus in the first century the lamb was killed between 3 and 5 p.m. Exodus 12:46 tells us that none of its bones were to be broken. The blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, and the Lord promised in Exodus 12:13, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” That is where we get the word Passover.
E. God never wanted His people to forget those days when they were slaves in Egypt and His delivery of them from that bondage. God says to His people in Exodus 12:24-27 - " And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. "It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' "that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' '' So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.”[NKJV] They were told to obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for them and their descendants.
F. The Passover was to remind them of their deliverance from Egypt, but it was also a reminder of a painful memory which most of them would gladly forget. God delivered them and every time they partook of the Passover celebrations they expressed their gratitude for that deliverance.
G. When we turn our attention to the New Testament, we begin to understand that the Passover lamb was a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus and his atoning death. The Savior was introduced by John the Baptizer as what? As “the lamb of God” in John 1:29. Paul stated that “our Passover” is Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 5:7. We know from 1 Peter 1:19 and 1 Peter 2:22 that Jesus was “without blemish”, in other words without sin.
H. John tells us in John 19:31-33 that during the crucifixion not one of Jesus’ bones was broken. According to Matthew 27:46 Jesus died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. His blood became an offering for sin according to Romans 3:25. His blood wasn’t just shed for the chosen few. It was shed for everyone who accepts it by obedience to His will, according to Hebrews 5:9. It is that very same blood which cleanses us according to Hebrews 9:14. However, that only happens when we receive the good news and submit to Him in the waters of baptism according to Ephesians 5:26.

III. Thanksgiving. What does that tell us? It tells us that God sometimes wants us to remember bad times. He wants us to remember what Christ went through on Calvary for us. He wants us to open up the Bible and be reminded of why He had to die for us in the first place. He wants us to remember that it is because of our sin He went to the cross. That’s why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week; He wants us never to forget the pain and agony and the suffering He went through... for us.

A. Just like Paul might have been doing when he took that vow and expressed his gratitude to God for delivering him from murderous hands in Corinth. We too should be partaking of the Lord’s Supper every week as a way of showing our gratitude to God for delivering us from our sin. Paul knew what he was taking about when he wrote in Colossians 1:13-14 - “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” [para]
B. The King James Version says it this way; “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” We’ve all been delivered, we’ve all been rescued. Paul, after showing his gratitude to God, then goes to Ephesus.

IV. God is in charge. Let’s read on. Acts 18:19-23 – “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry a longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, (note what he says here) if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.” “

A. From our text we see that Paul spent a short time preaching in the synagogue in Ephesus. He promised to return if it was God's will and then left Priscilla and Aquila and sailed on to Caesarea. He made a quick trip to Jerusalem and then went to Antioch and after some time, he went on to strengthen the churches in Galatia and Phrygia.
B. Let me say a bit about Paul’s choice of words here. - A man named Walter Knight told of an old Scottish woman who went from house to house across the countryside selling thread, buttons, and shoelaces. When she came to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed. One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times. "Why do you toss the stick more than once?" a passerby asked. "Because," replied the woman, "it keeps pointing to the left, and I want to take the road on the right." She then dutifully kept throwing the stick into the air until it pointed the way she wanted to go!
C. When Paul said to the Ephesians, “If it is God’s will I will return”; he understood exactly who was directing His life. I wonder how often we hear Christians making directions for themselves in life because that is the way they are determined to go. Even Christians may make plans without considering if that is God’s will for them or not.
D. Jesus tells a parable about that attitude in Luke 12:16-21 - where He says, “... The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
E. Yes, in this parable Jesus is teaching about the importance of being rich towards God. But He is also teaching about the dangers of making plans without God. James tells us basically the same thing over in James 4:13-15 - where he says, “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit''; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.''”[NKJV] James reminds us about our life. “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”... Then he reminds us how we ought to think.
F. All the future plans we have as a congregation. All the personal future plans we may have for our own life. Every decision, big or small we make, needs to be made with the question, ‘Is this God’s will?’ Like Paul we need to remind ourselves of exactly who it is, that is directing our lives.
G. Are we going to throw sticks in the air until we get the answer we want? Or are we prayerfully going to allow God to guide us and just accept the fact that God may not want us to go in that direction. Everything we do as Christians should be directed by the will of God.

V. Sincerity. Paul is offering encouragement to the churches elsewhere and now Luke introduces us to a man named Apollos. Acts 18:24-28 – “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” We are told Apollos was a Jew, a native of Alexandria. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus diligently, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.

A. Luke tells us, and this is important, that Apollos only knew about John's baptism. Apollos began to boldly preach in the synagogue. Priscilla and Aquila were evidently paying attention. They heard him speak and recognized his inadequate understanding of baptism, so they took him aside privately to more fully instruct him in the ways of the Lord. Later Apollos decided to go into Achaia and the brethren wrote him a letter of recommendation.
B. It was in Achaia, that he was able to give great assistance to the brethren using powerful arguments from God's word to show Jesus is the Christ. Remember Achaia was where Paul all but gave up on convincing the Jews about Christ.
C. Apollos serves as a good example of a preacher and teacher of the Word of God who means well and is very sincere, but he was wrong. In Acts 18: 25 - Luke says that, “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately (as some translations have it), though he knew only the baptism of John.”
D. But when Apollos travelled to Ephesus, and began speaking “boldly in the synagogue,” Aquila and Priscilla heard him and realized that he still was advocating the baptism of John the Baptist as it looked forward to the coming of Christ.
E. Obviously Aquila and Priscilla knew that John’s baptism was no longer valid because it has been supplanted by the baptism commemorating Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Yes, Apollos was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong on that one point. That’s why Aquila and Priscilla “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”
F. We need to take a moment and think about what this man did. When his error was pointed out, did he go off in a tantrum and resist what he was being told? Did he say “who are you to tell me what to believe?” No he didn’t. He corrected it and subsequently continued with his preaching and teaching about Christ, apparently with much success.
G. Folks. Apollos was a good teacher but nevertheless, for a time he taught error. BUT when he was shown his mistake he possessed an attitude of humility, and a love for the Truth that caused him to make the necessary correction. That’s a wonderful example for all who would be teachers of God’s Word. Because many of us who teach have found ourselves in a similar situation to that of Apollos.
H. In our sincere attempt to spread the Gospel or defend the faith, we may unintentionally make a mistake, and teach error. When our mistake is made known to us, we correct it, we learn from it, and we are determine not to repeat it.

VI. False teaching. Let me ask you this, and we have talked about it before. Does the fact that we taught an error necessarily make us a false teacher? No, I don’t believe it does. As one writer says, “a person receives a label when a certain behavior becomes characteristic of him. A preacher, for example, is one who preaches; a teacher is one who teaches; a criminal is one who commits crime. Not everyone who has ever delivered a sermon deserves to be called a preacher; not everyone who has ever violated a traffic law deserves to be called a criminal. Regardless of its content, a label should be reserved for those distinguished by the corresponding behavior.

A. Apollos wasn’t a false teacher. Why? Because when he learned of his mistake he changed his teaching accordingly. Did Apollos also put what he learned into action? The text doesn’t tell us about his baptism into Christ, however I strongly suspect it must have happened because Luke tells us about another group of people in Ephesus who had only received John’s baptism in the very next chapter.
B. We move on to Acts 19 and Luke tells us in Acts 19:1-5 – “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'' And they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.'' And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?'' So they said, "Into John's baptism.'' Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.'' When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” “Paul went to Ephesus where he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said no, they had not heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul asks about their baptism and found they had received John's baptism. Paul then explained to them about baptism and on hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”
C. I’m not going to say too much about this text because we will deal with it another time. But just before we finish I want to ask you, if you came to the realization that you believed the wrong thing for many years, what would you do? What do you think you should do? It takes courage to do what Apollos did, and it could be the most courageous decision you’re ever made in your life.
D. I don’t want to frighten people, but souls are going to be lost forever because they were sincere in their beliefs - but sincerely wrong. When the apostle Paul was still known as Saul he sincerely believed that killing Christians was God’s will, but he was sincerely wrong.
E. Many of the people we know sincerely believe they are right, and doing Gods will, yet they are sincerely wrong.
F. When I was younger I sincerely believed that God would accept everyone into heaven as long as they were good, I was sincerely wrong. There are some who sincerely teach once saved always saved, and they are sincerely wrong. Some teach that just faith in God is all you need to please God - but again, they are sincerely wrong.

CONCLUSION:
Folks, there is no excuse today for not knowing what God’s will is for people. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God wants everyone to be saved, that’s His will for all of mankind. But we need to be doubly sure of what we believe about God and His will for our lives by reading His word for ourselves. There are many people that are sincere yet they are not right with God. Don’t let discouragement keep us from encouraging people to check the scriptures, because it’s one thing being sincere but another to be sincerely wrong.
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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# 644—Trust and Obey

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Stop Being Afraid

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 18:1-11

INTRO: Good morning. Last time our text was in Acts 17 and we left the apostle Paul boldly preaching in Christ’s Name to the so-called wise men of Athens. Today we will look at the first verses of Acts 18.

In chapter 17 as usual, we found there were those who were convinced and believed that God was the creator of all things and we found those who weren’t convinced and didn’t believe. No organized opposition to Paul's preaching developed in Athens, but he did not remain there very long. I suspect it was probably because of the arrogant snobbery of the intellectuals who dominated Athenian society at that time.

Luke tells us in Acts 18:1 that “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.” Luke didn’t explain why Paul left Athens or how he journeyed on to Corinth. The journey of some forty miles could have been made in two days on foot or one day if one sailed, but which ever route he took, the final destination was Corinth.

I heard about a man who hadn't attended church in years, then suddenly began attending faithfully on Sunday mornings instead of going fishing as was his normal habit.
The preacher was highly gratified and at the end of service one morning told him, "How glad I am to see you at service with your good wife!"
"Well, Preacher," said the fisherman, "Quite honestly, it's a matter of choice. I'd much rather hear your sermon than hers."

I. When we think of the city of Corinth, honesty is not the word which most people back then would have used to describe it. Let me share with you some background information about Corinth. Corinth was the capital and chief city of Achaia [uh - K AY – uh] which is in the area we call Greece.

A. Corinth became an important city because of its location just one and a half miles south of the Isthmus of Corinth. It was able to control that four-mile-wide neck of land. The city also commanded the eastern port of that peninsula, Cenchreae, [Sen’KRE-uh] which is mentioned in Acts 18:18.

1. To save time and avoid the one hundred and fifty miles of dangerous waters around the tip of Greece, ships would unload their goods on one side of the peninsula and have them carried to the other side. Some smaller ships were even pulled across and placed in the water on the other side. In that way Corinth was a trading center by land and sea.
2. It was also strategic militarily speaking. Although the Romans were a minority in the population, there was a strong force stationed there as this was one of the colonies established by Julius Caesar. This was a port city with all the positive and negative aspects you would expect to find there. The commercial prospects of the city attracted a lot of people. It was mostly settled by Jews and Greeks, both of which were significant in the city. Many other nationalities mixed with those major groups.

B. If Corinth was well known for anything, it was well known for its corruption. Charles Pfeiffer, in Baker's Bible Atlas, writes, "Greeks, Romans, Jews and adventurers from the entire Mediterranean world came to Corinth for trade and vice in all its forms. ’To live like a Corinthian,' became synonymous with a life of luxury and licentiousness."

1. As could be expected, the city's morals were the scandal of ancient times. The Greek language "made a verb out of the city's name, 'Corinthianize' (kəˈrɪnθɪəˌnaɪz) was an intransitive verb meaning “to live a promiscuous life”. The low point for the reputation of the city was prior to the Roman period, but it was still as bad as most major trade cities of the time when Paul was there.
2. I bring this up because while the reputation of Corinth was much spoken of, in reality many cities of this time were scary and getting more so for Jews and Christians.

II. Next Luke tells us in Acts 18:2-3 that Paul - “... found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. ”[NKJV]

A. In Corinth, Paul found two Jews, Aquila, who was from Pontus which was a province between Bithynia [bih-THIHN-ih-uh] and Armenia [aar•mee•nee•uh], and his wife Priscilla, who was also known as Prisca according to 2 Timothy 4:19. Luke reports they, and all other Jews, were expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius. This may have been sometime between AD 49 to 52 and was likely because of the continuous disturbances within the city which were attributed to the Jews. I can imagine this had to be frightening being placed under edict to leave the city.

1. All Jews, even the wealthy and learned, were taught a trade. Alexander Campbell wrote; "The Jewish law, after their exile, held that a father who taught not his son a trade, taught him to be a thief." Paul arrives in Corinth and like all good Jews, Paul had a trade, that of tent maker. He immediately found two Jews who had the same occupation with whom he could live and work. We might say Paul was a leather worker because tent making included any type of leather work in Paul's day.
2. Paul's later writings do make it clear that these two became special friends and allies of the apostle as he preached the gospel of peace. Romans 16:3 - “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”

III. Paul had some success in Athens but a lot of rejection too. I certainly would have been discouraged with the reactions of those philosophers in the Areopagus.

A. Now God has set the stage for the next part of Paul’s journey, and the preaching in Corinth. Acts 18:4-8 – “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.'' And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”[NKJV]

1. As we have seen many times, Paul first preached in the synagogue when he got to a city. It was during this time that Silas and Timothy once again joined his company. It seems possible from 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 that Silas may have come from Berea, while Timothy more than likely arrived from Thessalonica. Luke tells us that it was around the time of their arrival when “Paul was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. ” meaning that he became fully occupied in telling the Jews about Jesus being the Messiah.
2. When the Jews rejected the truth and spoke against the Lord, Paul shook out his garments and began to preach to the Gentiles. Off he went to the house of Justus, which was next door to the synagogue. Next Luke tells us that Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed and was baptized by the apostle's own hands according to 1 Corinthians 1:14 where he writes – “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,”[NKJV].

B. I note that it wasn’t only Crispus who believed and was baptized. Those in Crispus' family and many other Corinthians also believed and were baptized. You know, I for one can’t figure out how anyone can study the Book of Acts and not understand the importance of baptism. It’s all over the book.

1. I think the only way a person can miss it is that they don’t want to understand the importance of it. I don’t want to go into the importance of baptism again because we have covered it in other chapters.
2. I do want to point out something else we see here and other places when studying the Book of Acts and that is this. Not everyone wanted to know or be convinced that Jesus was the Messiah.
3. The same is true today when you share the good news with people, and find they are just not interested, don’t put yourself down and feel like you’re a failure. You’ve done exactly what God wants you to do.

C. I have heard it put this way; every single human being on this planet deserves the opportunity to reject the gospel at least once.

1. Every time you share the gospel with someone, that’s what we call faith and obedience. It’s faith in God because you trusted Him to help you through that fear of sharing.
2. It’s obedience because He commanded us to share that message in Matthew 28:19-20.

IV. You’re not responsible for people’s responses to the gospel. However, it can be very discouraging and it can bring about a very real fear.

A. Let me ask you; is there a place to which you won’t go because of fear?

1. Maybe it’s your best friend who isn’t a Christian yet, and you’re afraid that if you share the gospel with them, you will lose them as a friend.
2. Maybe it’s your family members and you’re afraid to tell them the good news about the Christ because they might reject you.
3. Maybe you’re afraid to fully commit to God because you believe people will think you take your faith too seriously.
4. Maybe God has blessed you with the gift of teaching or preaching but you’re afraid to step out in faith and trust God to help develop that gift. None of us does an exemplary job the first time we attempt a task. It takes time to develop and just a craftsperson must be an apprentice first, someone who teaches must put in the time to learn themselves and then practice.

B. I do not doubt but many of us have experienced this sort of fear. I suspect that fear even lingers when we are in the process of teaching or preaching. We experience fear not only about failure, and rejection, but we experience fear of saying the wrong thing that might turn someone off and they end up missing the gospel message.

1. Psalm 56:4 says; “In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”[KJV]
2. Whatever God asks us to do, wherever God asks us to go, we need to have the same mindset as Paul when he looked at Corinth and thought to himself, I am afraid but I will go and trust God. After all what can mortal man do to me?

V. I imagine you are wondering; How do we know that Paul experienced fear in Corinth? Read with me now Acts 18:9-10 – “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; "for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.''”

A. Does that surprise you? It did me. The great apostle who suffered so much rejection and bad treatment. Like I said earlier fear is a very real feeling, but God does understand. He understands when we are frightened and He certainly understood when the apostle Paul was afraid in Corinth. In fact God was so aware of Paul’s fear that He spoke to Paul in a vision encouraging him and telling Paul to continue preaching and teaching. This promise of the Lord did not mean that men would not assault Paul, but that they would be unsuccessful in their efforts to thwart his preaching.
B. God tells Paul “I have many people in this city.” There were many people in that city who were not yet saved, and there would be many who would accept the gospel when they heard it. This was a promise from God to Paul. Luke continues in Acts 18:11 – “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
C. Folks, one of the most serious problems with fear is that it paralyses. It paralyses our will and our ability to act. It sucks the determination from our heart, and mocks our every effort to step out in faithful obedience to our Lord.

1. The Bible is filled with the tears of men and women who give in to our enemy named “Fear.” There are people who betrayed both themselves and their God while held prisoner in fear’s grasp.
2. It was fear which cast its shadow over Aaron so that he yielded to the Israelites’ demand for an idol.
3. It was fear that froze the hearts of the ten spies so that they told the people of Israel the giants in the land of promise could not be overcome.
4. It was fear which entered the tents of Saul’s warriors and released its venom into the bloodstream of Israel’s army so that God’s people trembled before an uncircumcised Philistine, named Goliath.
5. It was fear that caused Peter to weep alone in the darkness after his denial of Jesus.
6. It was fear that gripped Elijah when he said in 1 Kings 19:4 – “"It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!''” and then in verse 14 “... I alone am left... ”

D. You and I know that feeling all too well, don’t we? We long to take our God at His word and we long to make His precious promises ours, but so very often fear sows the seeds of doubt in our minds. When fear begins, our best intentions dissolve in a sea of indecision.

1. Paul says, in Philippians 4:19 – “... my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Fear whispers in our ear, “What if?” and our peace of mind disappears like smoke in the wind.
2. Intellectually we can we grasp the meaning of our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:28 – “"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” But fear is like a lead weight that threatens to drown us in a bottomless sea of anxiety and worry.
3. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Still fear invades our soul by a dozen different doors. Instead of boldly preaching the word of God to others, we almost whisper the good news, in the hope that someone, anyone will hear our whispers. You see, folks, we’re all suffering from fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of darkness, fear of crowds, fear of financial loss, the list is endless.

E. As that fear squeezes the joy from our lives, it is joined by guilt because we know in our heart of hearts that our lives without joy have no power to attract an unbelieving world.

1. That is bad news because when fear is around, guilt and despair are not far behind.
2. There is good news however, and that is fear can be conquered, and it can be conquered by using our number one weapon. Its name is Faith, and its source is the Word of the Holy Spirit. Its fruit is optimism, hope, and courage.
3. The Bible tells us that faith banishes fear in Psalm 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

CONCLUSION:
I am convinced the way to conquer fear is by filling our minds with the promises we read about in the word of God. When we fill our minds with God’s promises then and only then, will the ridicule of unbelievers and the rejection by people be powerless to harm us.

Faith is also the answer for despondency. The Bible says in Psalm 33:20-21 – “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.” When we trust God and His promises, joy will begin to follow, because trust and joy are inseparable.

There are no doubt times when we all worry about the future. In these days concern for what the future will bring, can paralyze people just as certainly as other fears. Are you worried about the future? Listen to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 57:13 – “When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry them all away, a breath will take them. But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain.” People today look to many things to help them in an uncertain future. Truly those things are as idols and have no real power to save.

Is the prospect of death a shadow upon your happiness? Listen to what Paul said to his young friend Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

You probably have talked to people who believe that the world is getting out of control and is becoming more and more unsafe to live in. Does the world appear to be out of control to you? Listen to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 14:27 – “For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?''” The point of all this folks is, faith banishes fear!

It is time for us to stop being afraid. Although God asks us to go to frightful places or asks us to share His word with someone and we’re afraid to, we need to remember the promise of Hebrews 13:5, where God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

One night the house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee out his bedroom window to the roof.
The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you."
He knew the boy had to jump to save his life.
All the boy could see, was flame, smoke, and blackness and he was afraid to leave the roof.
His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you."
But the boy cried, "Daddy, I can't see you."
The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."

We need to remember that although we can’t see God, if we would just have faith in Him and know that He sees us, then that’s all that really matters. Paul realized that and trusted God to help him overcome his fear in Corinth.

We need to do the same, we need to trust that God will give us the strength and courage to overcome any fear we may have in our lives.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# ???

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

The Day Is Set

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 17:16-34

INTRO: Good morning. The last time we were together we left Paul speaking with the more noble Jews of Berea and we saw that their attitude towards God’s word was the kind of attitude God wants from everyone. People with that attitude do not just listen to the traditions of men, but examine the Scriptures for themselves to see if what was being preached was true.

What we are going to see today is a debate that Paul had with the so-called wise men of Athens. Our text for today is Acts 17:16-34.

But before we begin there I’d like to look at something Solomon said back in Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 that; “Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is protection just as money is protection, But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom keeps its possessors alive.” [para]

Folks, wisdom is more than knowing right from wrong. It also involves choosing to do the right and not the wrong. What we’re going to see today is wisdom in action.

I. Let’s read from the text today starting at Acts 17:16-21 – “16. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?'' Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,'' because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20. "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.'' 21. For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.”

A. While he waited for the others to arrive, Paul apparently toured the city and discovered it was totally given over to idolatry. This provoked, or some might say angered, him. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and devout Greeks of the city. He also discussed the gospel with those he met in the marketplace. Paul preached the gospel, just as he always did, "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
B. This drew the attention of certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, some of whom decided they wanted to hear what the "babbler" had to say.

1. These two groups mentioned here by Luke were the most powerful and popular at that time. The Stoics believed that the good life was obtained through the pursuit of what they thought was virtue, glorifying human reason and self-sufficiency. The Epicureans made pleasure the end-all of human existence.
2. Both philosophies, however, were outcroppings of a single basic error, that of the deification of humanity, an error that blinds the present generation no less than it blinded theirs.

C. Some in the crowd thought he was talking about foreign gods. Luke tells us that they took a hold of Paul in a non-threatening way and brought him to the Areopagus.

1. The Areopagus, was the earliest aristocratic council of ancient Athens. The name was taken from the Areopagus, a low hill northwest of the Acropolis, which was its meeting place. The power of the Areopagus waxed and waned for hundreds of years but at this time of Roman domination it was at a high point discharging significant administrative, religious, and educational functions.
2. As an aside, the name Areopagus is a composite of the Greek name Areios Pagos, which is translated “Hill of Ares”. Ares was the mythical god of war to the Greeks and was called Mars by the Romans. Ares was supposed to have been tried by the gods on the Areopagus for the murder of Poseidon's son. Hence the Roman name for the place, Mars Hill.

D. Back to our text, these philosophers and intellectuals want to know more about what Paul is teaching. Paul was not on trial. The council members of the Areopagus only wanted Paul to explain what he had been teaching the people in the marketplace. Of course, Paul takes this moment as an opportunity to teach.

1. I find it interesting that a messenger for the true Prince of Peace was placed in that spot, dedicated to a mythological god of war, so that curious philosophers might hear something new.
2. Let me ask you, have you ever heard someone teach something which you found strange to your ears? In a way it’s easy for us to hear some strange teachings especially if they don’t correspond with the Bible.
3. The following story was shared by a preacher. He said that he remembered speaking with his brother one time about his brother’s views and beliefs. His brother told him that he believed that he had been in this world before and that he saw life as a never-ending cycle repeating until he reached perfection which he called Nirvana.
4. The preacher found that strange because the Bible teaches in Hebrews 9:27 that “... it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” We’re all destined to die once, not over and over and over again. We’re never going to reach perfection even if we had our lives to live over again a thousand times.
5. The preacher went on and said; “Both my sisters had attended a spiritualist church in Scotland, and they believed that they could communicate with the dead and be told what is going happen to them in the future.” He found that strange because the Bible teaches something different in Isaiah 40-48.
6. In this entire section the Lord sets Himself apart from the idols of the people by affirming that He alone will tell them what will happen before it happens. Then when the event takes place they can know that He is God.

a. God says through Isaiah in Isaiah 40:18 – “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” Then in Isaiah 40:25, God says, “"To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” The point being is that it is only God who can see the future, and He cannot be compared to anyone else.
b. In the very next chapter in Isaiah 41:22-23, God says speaking of the idols, “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together.” In other words the ability to know the future is restricted to God. The reason I brought this thought to your attention is to remind you that when we share the gospel with people, they too may find it strange.

E. Did you find it strange when you first heard the gospel? Perhaps not, but some people do. You tell someone “You need Jesus in your life!” and you may get a look like you are an oddity. People can’t understand why we come to worship every week to remember a guy who died and was raised back to life.
F. We know that when we say these things to people we are going to get a mixed reaction. Some will say that sounds wise and others will say that’s stupid. That’s what we see happening next in Acts 17.

II. We see a mixed reaction to Paul’s wisdom. Acts 17:22-25 – “22. Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23. "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to the unknown God. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24. "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25. "Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all, life, breath, and all things.”

A. Notice how Paul began his sermon. The apostle began by noting that they were very religious, worshipping idols devoted to all types of gods, even an unknown God. I suspect that’s where most of us would make a mess of it. We tend to think that because people don’t behave the way the Bible teaches, or they don’t worship the way the Bible instructs us, that they are not religious when in fact they are. You can be religious about anything. What is wrong is the focus of their religion, either the object of, or the actions they take or even just a lack of full understanding.

1. We saw an example of one case in Acts 10 with Cornelius. Acts 10:1-2 – “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” Cornelius was a religious man in every sense of the word, but he wasn’t saved at that point in time. People can be religious but not saved.
2. Notice also that Paul didn’t go in there all guns firing. Instead, he practiced what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15-16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

B. Paul seized upon their recognition of their own limited knowledge and began to tell them about the true God. He tells them that rather than there being a series of gods, each over some small element of the universe, there is one God who created all and rules over all. He says the Creator is not confined to some building made by men, nor did He need men's worship. In fact, Paul stated that all beings and all things are sustained by His power.
C. Paul tells them 4 key things. The first two are;

1. God is Creator (17:24). Paul declares that one God made it all. Paul begins by pointing out that the Athenians worship the gods as if they were distant and cannot be known. In fact, one altar was erected to the "unknown god." Paul wants to teach them that God is known and He is the creator of all things. God does not live in temples made with hands, but is Lord of heaven and earth.
2. Next God is Provider (17:25). Paul also declares that there is one God who gives all things. We do not give to God; God gives to us. God gives to mankind life, breath, and everything. There is no thing that mankind can give to God.

D. We have heard it said that human beings have a built-in urge to worship. If we know anything from history and today’s society it is this, if people do not worship God, they will worship something else. It could be the sun, a tree, money, or self. There are literally no limits whom or what people choose to worship.

1. When Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, he says in Romans 1:20 – “ For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”.
2. Paul says that the Creator makes His existence known in the wonderful, and obviously designed elements of the universe, and that those who reject that evidence are without excuse.
3. He goes on to say in Romans 1:21-25 that lots of people have refused to glorify God and become vain in their reasoning’s, with their “senseless” hearts being darkened. He says it is so bad that they even exchange the worship of the Creator for the worship of “created creatures,” such as men, birds, beasts, and even creeping things.

E. Isaiah 44:12-17 – “12. The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, fashions it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms. even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13. The craftsman stretches out his rule, he marks one out with chalk; he fashions it with a plane, he marks it out with the compass, and makes it like the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. 14. He hews down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. 15. Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. 16. He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.'' 17. And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. he falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god.''” Although this sounds amusing, it’s actually very tragic. It’s tragic because this shows us just how far from God people can get when the knowledge of the Creator is left out, and the human need to worship is satisfied on the lowest level imaginable.

III. Paul tells those gathered there that there’s not a lot of different little gods who represent every little thing in the universe, but there is one God who created all things and rules over all things.

A. Paul continues his sermon in Acts 17:26-29 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising.”
B. Here Paul goes on to give them the third key thing; God is Ruler (17:26-28). Paul declares that God is the supreme ruler. Paul tells them that the God of heaven had made all the various peoples and He worked within them in precisely the way and at precisely the time He planned. Paul says to these Gentiles that this divinely controlled flow of history was used by God to encourage men to seek him. Yet, the supreme God is always near since we live in him, move in him, and depend upon him for our very existence. Paul, being an educated man, noted that one of their own poets said men are God's offspring, so God cannot be stone but must be alive just as His children are alive.
C. It’s now that Paul gets to the point. He carries on in Acts 17:30-34 and says, “30. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31. "because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.'' 32. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter.'' 33. So Paul departed from among them. 34. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”

IV. Paul now tells them the fourth thing; God sent a Personal Savior (17:29-34). They were not to think of God as gold, sliver, or stone from which an image can be formed. God overlooked this foolishness but now commands all people everywhere to repent. God has fixed a day upon which He will judge the world. Proof of the judgment is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

A. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them mocked, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." At that, Paul left the Council.

1. Some became followers of Paul and believed. Luke says that among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
2. Paul boldly stated that God would no longer overlook the ignorant worship of men. But now God demands that they turn from their ignorance and serve Him. This is what we call repentance.
3. Paul didn’t mince his words here, and we should never leave repentance out of the gospel. Jesus tells us in Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

B. When the apostle Paul wrote a tough letter to the Corinthian church, telling them to repent of their ways, he writes again with another letter and says, in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 – “ For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” True repentance means more than just feeling sorry for what you have done or said. It’s a turning, a refusal to go back to the ways of the world. It’s a conscious decision to start following God and His ways.
C. Paul now calls for repentance from these Gentiles in Athens and he says such repentance is especially important. What does he say the reason is? Because a day of judgment had been set aside by the Divine Planner.

1. Make no mistake about it folks. Judgment Day is set and coming, and in that day, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ will rightly judge all men. This is a truth confirmed by His resurrection from the dead.
2. I know some people think, “Yeah, yeah, people have been saying that for the last two thousand years and life is still going on, everything is the same as it always was.”... Please don’t be one of them.

CONCLUSION:
Just before we finish, listen carefully to Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:3-14 – “3. knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
4. and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.''
5. For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
6. by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
7. But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12. looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
13. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;”

Have you ever been away from your friends and family for a long period of time and you end up being home sick?
I remember when I went into the service. Basic training was tough. They removed any reminder of your home including pictures in your wallet. It was so tough that some recruits did not make it a week before breaking down. I wonder if we feel that sort of emotion about heaven?

Do we look forward to Jesus coming to take us home? Are you longing for Jesus to come back?

Peter says, listen if you honestly believe that the Judgment Day is set and coming then “you ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

Peter says if you truly believe that the Judgment Day is set and coming then “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
Repentance needs to happen today.
The Day is set and coming, it really is, but you need to be ready for His coming.

The story goes that just before the death of the actor W.C. Fields; a friend visited his hospital room and was surprised to find him thumbing through a Bible. His friend asked Fields what he was doing with a Bible, Fields replied, "I'm looking for loopholes."

Loved ones, there are no loopholes in God’s judicial system.
Today is the day for repentance.
Today is the day for turning to God.
Folks, that’s the message we need to let people know about, because we don’t know when the Day of Judgment is going to come. There is a sense of urgency about the message.

Oh, I’m sure that when we share that message with people, some like Paul's listeners will mock our words. They ignore the evidence.
Oh, I’m sure like some of Paul’s listeners they will want to hear more. They want more evidence.

One thing I know for certain, as long as we keep sharing that message with others, a few people like Paul’s listeners will actually be moved to obey the gospel.

As we said last week, God has commanded all people to repent. We must seek the Lord and do as He commands. His commands are not burdensome.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# ??? Only a Step

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

God Loves That Attitude

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 17:1-15

INTRO:
In our last sermon we left Paul and Silas being freed from prison. The preachers through teaching the gospel had led a bunch of people to be freed from their sins and there was also a slave girl who was freed from demon possession. Then they both left Philippi after spending some time with Lydia and her household. Our text for today will be Acts 17:1-15 though we will look at a number of other verses also.

We catch up with Paul and Silas on their second missionary journey at Thessalonica in chapter 17. Acts 17:1-4 – “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia , they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'' And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”

Paul tells us in Acts 22:3 – “"I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.” Paul was well qualified to use the scriptures and reason with the Jews. You see he knew his audience and he knew exactly what to say even though sometimes that meant saying words which were going to hurt.

I. Luke didn’t tell us why Paul passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia. He did tell us that the next stop on this second missionary tour was Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Remember that Philippi did not have a synagogue, so Paul and Silas went to the place of prayer in Philippi.

A. Here in Thessalonica, they had a synagogue, so Paul went there for three consecutive Sabbaths to reason with the Jews. We notice how Paul and Silas preached in the city. Verses 2-3 tell us that they "reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead".
B. Remember that the very idea of a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews as we find in 1 Corinthians 1:23. What Paul does here is argue from the prophets, saying that this was precisely what God had foretold in Isaiah 53. He then goes on to establish the fact that God had also planned and accomplished Jesus' resurrection from the dead and made Him King over His people.

1. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul says, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”
2. What Paul does in other words, is show that all these things which were recorded by the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The scriptural evidence was supported by the miracles worked by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth he writes, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” There was more than enough proof that Jesus was the risen messiah.
4. It was during these three weeks teaching in the synagogue in Thessalonica that Paul and Silas worked with their own hands to support themselves. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 – “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

C. There are three things they did in their preaching: reasoning, explaining, and proving.

1. This is an important lesson that all Christians must see. All of us need to be able to reason from the scriptures, explaining and proving the things which we believe. We must develop the personal tools to be able to reason, explain, and prove the scriptures. We have to put forth some effort and time in study to be able to do this.
2. Consider that Paul and Silas did not ask the people of Thessalonica to have "blind faith" in Jesus. Paul and Silas used logic and reason to teach the people that what happened to Jesus was necessary and that Jesus is the Christ. We must be able to defend our faith.

D. The point we see here is that the combination of scriptural preaching, the miracles and the apostle's obvious commitment to reach the lost had its desired effect. With the proofs presented, the efforts of Paul and Silas were rewarded as Luke tells us in Acts 17:4 “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women”. Some believe the gospel, others do not; but the difference lies in the hearts of the hearers. The gospel is a message of life to some, death to others.

1. It is to these young Christians whom Paul refers when he writes to the church that meets at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 – “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,”. What a great way to be remembered as a congregation! They used to worship idols but now they have turned to God.
2. We should never forget who we used to be and where we came from and who we are now. If someone were to write a letter about us, the congregation here at Chardon, I wonder what they would say about us? I wonder if they would focus on who we were or what we have become?
3. I believe there is a time and a place to talk about our former lives before we became Christians. I think the reason we should do that is to contrast our lives before we became Christians with our present Christian selves.
4. The Bible clearly reminds us who we were and what we have become. I’m thinking of Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”
5. You used to be dead in your sins but now God has made you alive in Christ Jesus. You used to look to the world for the answers to life, but now you turn to the living God for those answers. Just like Paul and Silas did with these Jews and Gentiles, you are persuaded that Jesus truly is Lord over everything and your life needs to reflect that persuasion. It’s only when we remember who we used to be in reference to being sinners, that can we show those who are still dead in their sins the way back to life.

E. One preacher suggested that perhaps we can only start to help people outside if we see them as dead. Yes, they may be walking around singing and being merry. Yes, they may give the appearance of being alive, but you and I know all too well that they are dead in their sins. It’s our responsibility to show them the way back to life.

II. Following on in Acts 17, what we have seen happening a number of times throughout the Book of Acts, is there are those who are made alive in Christ and those who choose to remain dead in their sins. Acts 17:5-10 – “But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. "Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king Jesus.'' And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.”

A. Other then the “some” mentioned, the response of the Jews in Thessalonica is total resistance and fury against the message of the word of God. Even though Paul and Silas would defend the scriptures through reasoning, explanations, and proofs, these people would not listen. The people violently opposed the teachings so fiercely that a mob formed.

1. This can be the response of people today. Some people weigh the evidence and think that it is not for them. But many times, as it was in Thessalonica, people simply choose to be mentally shut off to the possibility that there is a God who requires something from them. There are even those today who go to great lengths to attack others who believe in God.
2. Luke says that Paul’s words moved the unbelieving element of the Jews to jealousy. These jealous Jews enlisted the help of some trouble makers and stirred up a mob to go to Jason's house and bring Paul and Silas out.

B. I guess if you can’t find the people you’re looking for, you will take the next best thing, and that’s what the mob did. When they couldn’t find the two missionaries, the mob dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the rulers of the city. Then the accusations began to flow. They accused Paul and Silas of being part of the number who turned the world upside down by teaching that Jesus was King.

1. I do not suppose that there are many who are aggressively fighting against God in the same way that we see in Thessalonica, but there may be some who do not want to listen to any discussion about God. There may be some who do not want to hear the explanation and proofs of the scriptures, for Jesus, and for God.

a. Why have such a mentality? What does truth have to fear? Should we all not want to engage in honest, open, and friendly discussion about the existence of God and Jesus and the trustworthiness of the scriptures?
b. We should want to know the truth, even if it does not mesh with what we believe, because it is the truth.

2. Ignoring the truth does not change the outcome. Ignoring the speed limit does not mean that I will not get a ticket, because the truth is that there is a law against speeding. In the same way, ignoring God does not change the fact that He exists, and if we willfully are violators we will receive punishment. We should want to find the truth. Our lives depend upon the knowledge of truth and ignorance cannot help us.

III. It was during this mess that Paul and Silas were sent away by night to Berea, some 50 or 60 miles away. Acts 17:10-12 – “... When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded (some translations say “more noble”) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”[NKJV]

A. Luke tells us that Paul and Silas immediately entered the synagogue to teach as had been their custom in every city they entered. However, the character of the Bereans was far different than the character of the people in Thessalonica. Rather than base their decisions on the traditional teachings, the Bereans carefully examined the word of God to determine the truthfulness of the teachings they heard.

1. As a result many Jews believed the gospel along with honorable Greek women and not a few men. The key word I see here is “many” as contrasted to “some” in Thessalonica.
2. Don’t you just love the attitude of the Bereans? I do and so does God. They did not go to their neighbor, or as we might social media, or take some poll or survey to verify what they heard. They did not rely on opinions of their family or the scuttlebutt at work or most importantly, on the traditions they had been taught.
3. Even the word of an apostle is studied and verified in light of the scriptures. Today we are bombarded with opinions about virtually everything and that includes the gospel. How do we respond? Who do we listen to? We need to think for ourselves and examine the scriptures for ourselves.
4. Do not think that it is a simple thing to be open-minded when it comes to teachings. The Greeks had believed in a myriad of gods. It was difficult for them to believe that there is only one true God. The Jews had believed that Jesus was not their Messiah. It was difficult for them to accept that their brethren had killed Jesus who was sent from God to be their Messiah. We must be willing to make changes in the face of truth, regardless of how hard it may be to accept. The truth may indeed hurt when it confronts long held belief.

B. I pray that more people in the world would have that same attitude--an attitude that checks out the Scriptures for themselves.

1. What about when we are teaching, telling someone about Jesus and what God has done and can do in their life? Wouldn’t it be good if the people we try to share the Bible with rechecked it for themselves to make sure that what we are teaching is true?
2. Let me ask you, how do you know what I, or any one preaching here says is true? You can go home today and think to yourself that was a great lesson you heard, but never take the time to reflect and double check what I’ve preached... with the word of God.
3. We’ve had visitors to this congregation who have said they have really enjoyed the lesson, they were happy to hear again things that they have not heard for years. At the same time, I wonder if those very same people will go home and look into the Scriptures to see if that really is the case. We’ve had people come and go and agree with everything we teach but they won’t read the Bible for themselves and do what the Bible says.

IV. James 1:22-25 tells us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

A. James tells us that not only should we be reading the word of God, but we really need to be doing what it says. Because if we don’t, in essence we’re just deceiving ourselves. We’re deceiving ourselves into thinking we are something when we’re not. In other words as the saying goes, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

1. We all know people who profess one thing, but their lives reflect another thing. Don’t tell the world that you love God if you can’t be bothered to come and worship Him every week! Don’t tell the world you really appreciate what Christ has done for you if all you do is live your life the way you did before you became a Christian!
2. A Christian is a person who not only follows Christ but obeys Him. Folks, there’s a world of difference between a person who struggles with sin and someone who just blatantly goes ahead and sins.

V. Now I ask you; Have you spotted the underlining problem with these troublemakers which Luke refers to here in Acts? When it comes to preaching the word of God, there will be those who believe, who humbly accept the message, and those who don’t accept and are filled with jealousy.

A. In Acts 5 when the apostles were performing many miracles and a great number of people believed, Luke tells us in Acts 5:17 – “Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,” (i.e. jealousy).

1. When the apostles were in Antioch, we see again that their preaching upset certain people and Luke tells us in Acts 13:45 – “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”
2. Here again in our text at Acts 17 Luke reports that these people who were jealous stirred more jealousy among the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica who then journeyed to Berea and stirred up the multitudes there.
3. Acts 17:13-15 – “But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”[NKJV]

B. Jealousy is a sin and sin prevents a person inheriting the kingdom of God. I’m going to refer you to Galatians 5:19-21 here and I paraphrase – “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” .[para]
C. Since it is a sin, jealousy is one of those things which should have been put off at your baptism. As Romans 13:13-14 says; “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” [para]

1. Jealousy and envy are powerful tools for the adversary to use, and Satan is well versed in their use. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person.
2. For example, God says in Exodus 20:17 – “"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.''”
3. That’s envy but jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person. Although jealousy can apply to our jobs, our possessions, or our reputations, the word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we are afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival.
4. We may fear that our husband or wife, or perhaps our children, will be lured away by some other person who, when compared to us, seems to be more attractive, capable, and successful.

D. That’s what is happening here in Acts, whenever the apostles have any success, and a multitude of people begin to listen to them--the unbelievers get filled with jealousy. They are afraid that they will no longer be popular within the community. They are afraid that the apostles will take these believers away from them and their traditions.
E. Luke tells us that these jealous troublemakers come to Berea and stir things up there also. It reminds me of the parable in Matthew 20 where the workers who had been hired first, were jealous of those who had been hired last when they all received the same pay. In that case the jealous workers “...murmured against the landowner, "saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.'” Matthew 20:11-12.

1. "You have made them equal to US!" There is the root of the trouble. WE have done the work, shouldered the load, borne the heat, and carried the mail so to speak. Those latecomers ought to be way down on the scale compared to US! Folks, we all can experience the US problem. Satan is very, very good at using it. It even existed among the sacred numbers of the twelve apostles.
2. But wherever the problem exists, nothing solves it like getting things in the proper perspective. That is what Jesus sought to do with this parable in Matthew. The FIRST ones became last by their very bitterness and pettiness and their self-righteous preference for themselves above others; and those LAST became first by their loving trust of the householder. In Acts the Jewish unbelievers will become last in the same way.

F. Luke goes on to say that some of the brethren escorted Paul safely to the sea while Silas and Timothy continued at Berea. Then the brethren journeyed on to Athens with Paul and were asked by the apostle to send Silas and Timothy as soon as possible.

CONCLUSION:
Paul taught with reasoning, explaining, and proving. Then there were the miracles. As we study Acts we see that some simply mocked what Paul said, others actively resisted the gospel. Both rejected the evidence out of hand without checking.

Today is the same. God has presented the evidence in this world so that mankind would seek to find Him. Atheists and evolutionists have presented their evidence. It is time for you to decide. But God is not on trial. Your soul is on trial. Your eternal existence is at stake.
If you reject the evidence, then you are declaring that you are willing to take the chance that when you die there is nothing. There is no accountability, there is no final reward, there is not final judgment, that there is absolutely nothing. You are saying that this life and this moment that we have right now, is all that there is. If you believe this, then at best you have a few decades of life left and at worse, you will lose your life by some accident today.

If you accept the evidence for God, then you are declaring that you realize the evidence is there. You may still have some doubts, but you realize that there must be something to life more than this. You realize that our moral consciences must come from something. You realize that life and this world must have been created.

Your soul hangs in the balance. If there is anything after death, if there is any light at the end of the tunnel, if loved ones are waiting for us, and if we are more than just matter that goes to the dust, then we must get ready because God says that there is a fixed day for judgment. What will you do if you are not ready?
God has commanded all people to repent. We must seek the Lord and do as he commands. His commands are not burdensome. In fact, following God will bring you peace and true joy that nothing else in this world brings. You will be ready to stand on the day of judgment and know that your soul is spared. Why take the risk? What profit is there to ignore even the possibility that there is a God? Obey before the day comes.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# ???

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Freedom!

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 16:16:40

INTRO: Good morning. Last week we left Paul and Silas in Philippi after the conversion of the very first European converts, Lydia and her household who were added to the Lord’s church. Our text for this morning continues in Acts 16:16-40.

First though a quick story I heard a long time ago about a young couple looking for their first new car. While looking around the auto dealer's showroom, the young people were a little surprised by the price of a compact car.
"They're almost the same price as a full-size car!" the young man exclaimed.
The salesman quickly replied, "But, you see, if you want economy, you have to pay for it."

I wonder what value we put on things? Most of us place value on things that are worth something to us, whether it be our homes, our cars, or our possessions. Then there are things that are very difficult to value. What value would we put on our family members lives? I guess all of us would say that our families are priceless.

When we look around at our church family and their families we see people who are struggling with many things. Eyesight, hearing, pain, the ability to move easily, fading memory and a whole host of ailments. In our own families I imagine most of us are used to seeing some of our loved ones struggling too, because they have ailments from time to time. How would you, and they, react if they were suddenly healed of those ailments?

I. What Luke records next is just that very thing, healing. But the reaction to the healing is interesting to say the least. Acts 16:16-24 – “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.'' And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.'' And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.'' Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”[NKJV]

A. Luke reported that as the group went for prayer, a slave girl who we are told was possessed by a spirit followed them crying out, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

1. I would have thought that such an occurrence would be very helpful in furthering the gospel, but Paul clearly did not think so, and after consideration we can see why. After all, the people there believed this girl could foretell the future and her masters made considerable profit in the process.
2. Thinking about it, accepting the recommendation of demons would have been to lend credence to anything else the demon might have made her say, even lies.

B. Paul cast out the demon by the authority of Jesus, but look at the reaction of her masters’. After Paul had healed her, they only saw one thing... they saw their income going right out the window. So, they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the marketplace, and once again we see... mob rule. The magistrates had Paul and Silas beaten, cast into the inner prison and their feet placed in stocks.

1. You would think that her masters would be grateful that this girl was now demon free and healed. If your values are in the wrong place though, and all you see is an income and not a person, then you won’t place much value on that human life. That is the essence of slavery, isn’t it? Every day it seems we hear of similar things where people have their values in the wrong place.
2. Let me share a few thoughts with you about so called modern day psychics and fortune tellers. Most psychics use a method called “cold reading” and although I am no expert in “cold reading” in that I’ve never done it, the concept is simple enough to grasp.
3. If the “psychic” wants to reveal something about a person’s past, he or she begins fishing (i.e. talking with the person) looking for affirming nods or verbal agreements from the one for whom the “reading” is being conducted. Then they continue along these lines, making very general statements, until they are satisfied they have “revealed” something that would impress the person, or at least earn them money.
4. When we make these nods and slight body movements while we talking with someone we may not even realize we’re doing them. Psychics look for these things that are done unconsciously by those who are being read. They are trained in reading body language.
5. Most of us see others reactions when we are talking to them and to a large extent we ignore the reactions. However, those non-verbal clues can be quite important in communication. In talking to a friend or relative, expressions or body language indicating displeasure may cause us to quickly reflect on what we have said and help us avoid difficulty or make a correction.
6. I can see reactions when I’m preaching. In that case, I look for agreement, disagreement, or confusion, all of which signal me to consider what I’ve said. I stick to facial expressions because that is the easiest for me to quickly take in. You can move a part of your body in expression and you don’t even know you did it. We do these things unconsciously. Psychics are experts in reading these signs.

C. One person has described psychics as “terrorists of the mind.” If it is the future they are foretelling, their predictions are vague enough to be “fulfilled” in any number of ways.

1. For example, one woman was told that her life would be filled with song. Her daughter became a song leader in high school.
2. Someone told me about a friend who used Tarots cards and every time this person went to visit his friend he would read the cards for him. Some of the things he said were interesting, but one thing the friend said every time was, “you’re going to get some money soon” and do you know what happened? He was right, every second week the person telling me this would receive a check from the unemployment office because he didn’t have a job. His friend knew he was unemployed. His friend knew he would be getting money from the government.

D. I have often wondered how many of the speculative predictions, that fit in the realm of the fantastic have failed, and yet nobody goes back to look into them. Folks, I am persuaded that psychics, astrologers, fortune tellers, Ouija boards, and such like are an abomination to the Lord because they encourage people to place their confidence in someone or something other than God and His will for their lives.

1. I think that when we look in the newspapers and read the horoscopes, we’re guilty of misplacing our values as well. The only place we should be looking for guidance is in the Scriptures. Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” There’s no place on earth or in heaven that God cannot guide you.
2. I like what David said in Psalm 139:7-10 - “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast”.

II. Where do we look for guidance? Back in the days when ships sailed by compass, and in a time before modern navigational technology came along, there was a binnacle, a waist-high case or stand on the deck of the ship, generally mounted in front of the helmsman. Its traditional purpose was to hold the ship's magnetic compass, mounted in gimbals to keep it level while the ship pitched and rolled.

A. The construction of many early (mid-18th century) binnacles used iron nails, which were later discovered to cause magnetic deviations in compass readings. With the introduction of iron-clad ships the magnetic deviation observed in compasses became more severe.

1. I’ve been told that some ocean going ships used two separate compasses. One on the binnacle and one up on the mast. Periodically a sailor would climb up the mast and check to make absolutely sure they were on course.
2. Someone asked a Captain about this, "Why do you have two compasses?" He answered, "This is an iron clad vessel. The compass on the deck is often affected by its metallic surroundings and could give an inaccurate reading. That is not the case with the one on the wooden masthead. The one above is not influenced by what is around it."

B. God has blessed us with two compasses to help guide us. He has blessed us with a conscience, and the Bible. Our conscience is affected by our surroundings and by the way we have been brought up. The way we’ve been taught. The conscience has a history of giving inaccurate readings.

1. He has also blessed us with His Word, the Bible, and it is given to us as the more reliable compass to guide us.
2. Twice in the Book of Proverbs in chapter 14:12 and chapter 16:25, He says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” In a sense this is God's way of telling us, "Be careful which compass you rely on."

C. I hope it is obvious to all of us that if we were to rely on mediums or tea leaf readings and that sort of thing, we would be relying on the wrong compass.

1. Back in the Old Testament before God’s people entered the Promised Land, God warned them to stay away from people peddling those things, and not get involved with them. I’m thinking of Deuteronomy 18:10-12 – “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” I’d say that is pretty clear, wouldn’t you?
2. Do you know what the punishment for this was? God said in Leviticus 20:27 – “A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.” God tells us this is serious. Make no mistake about it, folks, anyone who practices these things will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

III. Now let’s look back in at Paul and Silas who are in prison for doing good. What we find they are doing next is amazing, they are praying and singing! Acts 16:25-34 – “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.'' Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'' So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'' Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”

A. Luke tells us that at midnight, while the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas singing and praying, a great earthquake shook open all the prison doors. The jailor was about to kill himself because he believed the prisoners had escaped. He would rather kill himself than face the Roman soldiers because he would get the same punishment that the prisoners were supposed to get.

1. Paul stopped him by crying out that they were all there and he should not harm himself.
2. The jailor called for lights, leaped into the prison in trembling fear, fell before Paul and Silas, brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

B. Folks, the inspired response was the same as found in other conversions in the Book of Acts. The questions were similar, and the response is always the same.

1. It was the same in the beginning when Peter preached to the Jewish brethren on Pentecost. Acts 2:37-39 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” [KJV]”
2. It was the same on the Damascus road for the apostle Paul. Acts 22:10 – “ And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. Then Ananias was sent to him and he told Saul what was to happen and we read in verse 16 – “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

C. The jailor was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him so that faith could be produced.

1. Remember what Romans 10:17 teaches. Romans 10:17 - “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of God.” [para]
2. At the same hour of the night, he washed their stripes, which is a clear evidence of repentance. Immediately afterward, he and all the members of his household were baptized just like Peter’s audience did and just like the apostle Paul himself did.
3. Luke tells us then, and only then, "he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household”

D. The jailor and his household weren’t saved just because they believed. They had to do something with that belief. They needed to express that belief in action. Their action was to follow the commands which Paul and Silas told them and that was to be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

1. The rejoicing didn’t begin until after they had been baptized into Christ.
2. Why? Because that was the point in time when their sins were washed away, and they entered into a new relationship with Christ Himself.

IV. The church which meets at Philippi is beginning to grow thanks to God adding to their number. Luke continues in Acts 16:35-40 and here I’ll paraphrase - “When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men." The jailer told Paul, "The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace." This seems to imply that one of the conditions of their release was that the preachers should leave town; but if that was their intention, the magistrates were in for a shock.

A. “Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."

1. This indicates that Silas was also a Roman citizen. Perhaps that was one of the reasons Paul had for choosing him for the journey, we do not know.
2. “The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.”
3. The crime committed by the magistrates in beating and imprisoning Roman citizens without due process of law was a serious one. "The Valerian and Porcian laws exempted Romans from degrading forms of punishment," and these had been in force for centuries. No documentation was required. The simple statement, "I am a Roman citizen," took all proceedings against a prisoner out of the hands of local authorities.

B. “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them... Then they left.”

1. I wondered, why did the apostle refuse to go quietly? One possibility is that Paul wanted the authorities to realize even Roman citizens had believed in Jesus.
2. In any event Paul's refusal to leave the jail except on the condition of being personally escorted by the magistrates was a master stroke. It did much to establish the legality of their deeds in the minds of the people and was doubtless a source of much encouragement to the brethren. Moreover, the implied condition (at first) that they should get out of town was also negated. Paul’s group did leave after but he avoided any appearance of being thrown out of the city.

C. Before they did leave the city, they returned to Lydia's house and encouraged the brethren, then they bid them farewell.

1. There is something astounding about this. Those men who had been so shamefully treated, abused, beaten, illegally cast into prison, suffering the torture of stocks in the inner dungeon - those men encouraged the brethren!
2. They must have still been suffering from their treatment. Yet, they encouraged the young Christians whose distress at knowing of this treatment while real enough, was nevertheless mental rather than physical.

CONCLUSION:
Folks, as Christians we, in a sense, have all been to Philippi. We, like Lydia, had our hearts opened to respond to the message which was proclaimed to us.
We, like the demon possessed girl ,have been freed from the evil things which dominated our lives. We, like the jailor, had no purpose for living until someone came along and shared with us God’s purpose. We too like all the saints in Philippi have been set free.

I wonder about those who are not yet Christians. Is there a sin in your life that you need to be free from? Is there a sin in your life that has you chained to the prison walls?

Maybe your like the English singer-songwriter Robbie Williams who wrote a song called ‘Make me Pure’ but at the end of each verse he writes, “Oh Lord make me pure, but not yet.’
Are you like that? Do you want God to help you take the power of that sin away, but not yet?

I recall the film the Shawshank Redemption and during the film a young man named Andy enters the prison and makes a good friend with a lifer named Red. They are chatting away and Red says to Andy, ‘Prison does strange things to a man, first you hate it, then you get used to it and if you are here long enough you learn to rely on it.”

Sin can be just like that folks. When you first started knowingly sinning you hated it, then you kind of get used to it, and now you rely on your sin to help you through the week.

James describes how sin works in our lives better than I ever can. James 1:13-15 – “ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” [para]

One of the Hymns we often sing, written by Lewis E Jones, says, “Would you be free from the burden of sin? There's power in the blood, power in the blood; would you o’er evil a victory win? There's wonderful power in the blood.” There is power in the blood folks, power to set people free from the bondage of sin.

The only way to receive that power is by coming into contact with the precious blood of Christ in the waters of baptism. In those waters Christ will wash away all those sins if you will allow him to.

If you’re already a Christian, Christ has and will continue to wash those sins away but you need to allow Him to do that by continually living a faithful life.

Freedom comes to us in different forms. In the film Braveheart, the battle is brewing for Northern England and William Wallace with his family and friends have decided Longshanks has crossed the line. The murderous ways won't be tolerated any more.
Fantastic battles were fought and lost, betrayals and deception, payoffs and corruption abound, until agreements between clans create turmoil and mistrust amongst the warriors. The Rightful King of Scotland is betrayed and betrays as a result.
Clan trust is lost.

William Wallace can no longer hold together what they knew was rightfully theirs. Rebellion and lies costs him his life. Near the end of the film when Wallace is on the gallows, he says that famous word, one last time, “Freedom”.

Christ’s death on the cross, His burial and resurrection sent a clear message to all of Heaven and Hell and everyone in-between, ‘Freedom’! The freedom offered is rightfully yours, the freedom from sin and the power of the devil in your life. Mankind began in that freedom and lost it through sin but God offers us a way to gain it again through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God bless and thanks for taking the time to grow in your understanding of God’s Word.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# ???

Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

He Opened Our Hearts

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 15:35-16:15

INTRO: We are continuing our study of the Book of Acts this morning. We will pick up the story in Acts 15 at verse 35 and then on to 16 verse 15.

First though a story. An elderly man on the beach found a magic lamp.
When he rubbed it, a genie appeared and told him he would grant him any wish.
The man thought for a while and said, "My brother and I had a fight 20 years ago and haven't spoken since. My wish is that he would finally forgive me."
The genie clapped his hands, a bright light shot across the sky, and then he said, "Your wish has been granted."
Then the genie said, "You know, most people would have asked for wealth or fame, but you only wanted the love of your brother.
Is it because you are old and do not expect to live long?"
The man said, "No way!
My brother is, and he's worth $60 million."

I guess the point of the story is that not all people are purely motivated by love for their family.

We remember that the church as we find it here in Acts 15 is still in its infancy and to avoid a major division within the baby church, the apostles handled a particularly sensitive question concerning the Gentiles, their eating habits and their way of life.
They did it with the motivation and spirit of pure love for each other.

I. Lets start in our text with Acts 15:35-39 – “35. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. 36. And some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38. But Paul thought (it) not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;” [KJV]

A. The apostle Paul knew the importance of continued teaching and encouragement for the young church. He understood what it was like to be a baby, and so to avoid leaving these young converts to look after themselves, Paul approached Barnabas about visiting the brethren in all the cities where they had previously preached.

1. If there is one lesson the church can learn from this, it’s young Christians need teaching and encouragement.
2. We all have witnessed too many young Christians who have been left to their own devices straight after their baptism and people wonder why they have fallen away.

B. They have fallen away because they are weak in their understanding. There is much they are missing and they haven’t received the next part which we see in Matthew 28:19-20.

1. Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20 – “19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” What is Jesus telling them? Look at the progression, Jesus says teach them, baptize them, and teach them more.
2. If you’re a young Christian, and I’m not necessarily talking age here, I would encourage you to allow the teachers of the congregation to teach you. You can be many things as Christian, but a strong Christian, a mature Christian, is not something you achieve without being taught. That’s one of the reasons why Paul wanted to go back to these young converts.

C. It seems from our text that Barnabas had a strong desire to take his cousin John Mark on the journey, but for some reason Paul did not want to go with John Mark. Exactly why that is, we’re not sure. Possibly it had something to do with Acts 13:13 where Luke tells us that John Mark left to return to Jerusalem for an unknown reason.

1. Both Paul and Barnabas were so firm in their opinions, even to the point of being provoked to anger that they decided to separate. I think we should just say a few words about this separation. Strong men with minds strongly made up often find disagreement between them. The one redeeming note in this otherwise unhappy and regrettable episode is that neither party to the dispute permitted it to hinder the work of God. Rather there was a beneficial result in that there were now two teams of missionaries on the field in the place of only one.
2. Many times when we fall out with our brethren, all we remember is the bad things about them. What do you remember about those brethren who have hurt you in the past? Why is it when we think of some people we seem to forget all the good things they have done and we choose to remember the one bad thing? I think the answer is in the word ‘choose’.
3. We choose to remember. Folks, in many ways our memories are a choice. Paul chose to remember the good about Barnabas. Paul later used Barnabas as a good example of one who worked to support himself while preaching the gospel. He says in 1 Corinthians 9:6 – “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” [NKJV]
4. Paul also chose to remember the good about John Mark. He described John Mark as one who was useful in ministry, in 2 Timothy 4:11 – “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
5. The point here is that despite this early dispute between them, neither of them allowed the dispute to hinder the work of God. God does not create disputes, but He can certainly use disputes to further His cause.

D. Luke tells us that God used the disagreement between these two great men of faith to produce two teams to go in different directions with the gospel. Barnabas went with John Mark to Cyprus which according to Acts 4:36 was his homeland. Then in Acts 15:40-41 – “40. And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”
E. Paul took Silas who appears to be one of the leading men among the brethren at Jerusalem according to Acts 15:22, with him. Luke recorded back in Acts 15:22 – “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren”

II. As Barnabas and John Mark were heading off in one direction with the gospel, Paul and Silas were moving in another direction. They went through Syria and Cilicia to southern Galatia and along the way they strengthened the churches.

A. It is while they are on this journey that we are introduced to a young man named Timothy. We are now in chapter 16. Acts 16:1-5 – “1. Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. 4. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.”

1. If you recall from Acts 14:9-20, Lystra was the place where the apostle Paul was stoned almost to death. That alone might have discouraged some men from returning. However, Luke told Theophilus in Acts 14:21 that Paul and Barnabas went back through the city as they were strengthening the churches at the end of their missionary tour.
2. It’s now that Paul returned again, this time with Silas, and discovered a young disciple with great potential. His name is Timothy, his mother was a Jewish woman who believed and he had a Greek father, but more importantly he was highly recommended by the brethren. These verses reveal the good reputation of Timothy, not only in his home community of Lystra, but also in the more important city of Iconium as well. Paul was rewarded for his earlier efforts in Lystra by the emergence of a young convert who was destined to be a faithful companion of the great apostle.
3. The text tells us that Paul “took him and circumcised him”. Why did he do this? If circumcision in the flesh wasn’t important for salvation anymore, why did Paul have him circumcised?

B. With that question in mind let’s look at what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 – “20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” [ESV]

1. The reason why Paul had Timothy circumcised was simply because this robbed any contentious Jew of at least one argument that might be thrown up in Timothy’s face when he entered the synagogue to teach.
2. I should mention here that there are those who have accused Paul of inconsistency in this, because of his adamant refusal to circumcise Titus as we find in Galatians 2:3. Those who do so have failed to discern the essential differences in the two situations. Titus, was a Greek, who had no Jewish connection and there was no excuse for circumcising him. Except the condition, as the Pharisee Christians demanded, of making his circumcision a precondition of salvation; and Paul never for a moment would have allowed that.
3. Paul then left with Timothy and Silas to carry the message from the meeting at Jerusalem to all the churches with which the apostle had previously worked. In this way, he prepared them to fend off the potential attacks of the Judaizers.
4. Paul avoided another possibility of division, the churches were strengthened in the faith and continued to grow in number. We see how over and over again, if we just think about what we’re doing first, and think of the consequences of our actions, we can avoid many troubles.

C. I do note however that Judaizers are still in business today. (1) attempting to bind sabbath-observance on Christians, (2) ordaining a "priesthood" separate from the "laity," (3) the lighting of sacred candles, (4) the requirement of certain periods of official, formal fasts and feasts, and (5) the imposition of diet restrictions, etc., etc.

III. Continuing now in Acts 16:6-8 – “6. Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.”

A. Just west of the cities in south Galatia was the Roman province of Asia. Luke says Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to enter that region to teach.

1. This might have been done directly or through the agency of a prophet inspired by the Spirit. Paul says in Acts 20:23 – “... the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” [KJV]
2. It also says in Acts 21:10-11 – “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”
3. How it happened that Paul was forbidden to go to Asia is not really important, but we do know that Paul going to Asia wasn’t a part of God’s plan at this point. As we will see later in Acts 19, Paul did get his opportunity to preach in Asia and the church grew there in a fine way, as is evidenced by the Lord's letters in Revelation 2-3.

B. In the meantime, Paul and those with him continued to work their way along until they came to Mysia, which was at the northern border between Asia and Bithynia.

1. They would have gone into Bithynia, but again the Spirit forbade them to go, so they turned westward to Troas.
2. It’s during this time that Paul received a vision. We are now looking at Acts 16:9-12 – “9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us.'' 10. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11. Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12. and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.” [NKJV]
3. The group may not have understood why the Lord wouldn’t allow them to go to Asia.
4. They may not have even understood why the Lord wouldn’t allow them to go to Bithynia, but Paul and his company determined, after a vision the apostle had in the night, that the Lord did want them to preach in Macedonia.
5. I note the words “... concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Luke is including himself with those who preached the gospel.

IV. They immediately made arrangements and set sail from Troas to Samothrace, then Neapolis and, finally, Philippi, which Luke described as "the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony."

A. Its here we’re introduced to a woman named Lydia. Acts 16:13-14 – “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”

1. It was customary at the time for ten Jewish heads of households to form a synagogue within a community. Here in Philippi, there was no synagogue, but there was a group of Jewish women who met by the riverside for prayer. Paul's company joined the women on the Sabbath day and spoke to them. One of the women, whose name is Lydia, was a seller of purple.
2. This was an expensive purple dye, made from rock snails known by the name “murex” in ancient times, and it was one of the most valuable commodities of antiquity. I would think that Lydia's engaging in trade of such a product surely indicates some considerable capital.
3. Notice where Lydia’s home city is. Lydia's home city was Thyatira. You might wonder what’s so significant about that? Thyatira is in the province of Asia Minor. Even though Paul had been forbidden by the Lord to go to Asia personally, he actually got to teach one of its citizens.

B. All of us have read instruction labels on many products. Many of these instructions have made me wonder why they were written.

1. Instructions like these found on;

a. On a packet of airline peanuts: "Open and eat contents."
b. On a chainsaw: "Do not attempt to stop chain with hands."
c. On a container of milk: "After opening, keep upright."
d. On a steering-wheel lock: "Remove lock before driving."

2. Things most of us would call common sense. However apparently these instructions are necessary because not all people have common sense.

C. Common sense must be used when we read what Luke tells us next. Acts 16:14-15 – “ Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.'' And she persuaded us.”

1. Luke doesn’t go into the details of Paul’s message to Lydia, but common sense tells us, that the central message of the gospel was preached. Just as we see Paul reminded those in Corinth of his having preached to them the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – “1. Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2. by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. 3. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4. and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”
2. Paul shared with Lydia the story about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. After God had opened her heart by hearing the words spoken by Paul, Lydia and other members of her household obeyed the spoken word by being baptized. The obvious means by which God opened the heart of Lydia was the preaching the gospel. Since God gave the gospel, the results produced by it were properly said to be God's action.

D. What was it in Paul’s sermon that led them all to be baptized? Romans 6:3-5 – “3. Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4. Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” “

1. Paul explained the importance of baptism in terms of being united with Christ. In Galatians 3:26-28 Paul says, “26. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
2. Paul tells the Galatian Christians that they were all children of God by faith. How did that happen to them? It happened because when they were baptized into Christ ,they entered by faith into Christ, and clothed themselves with Christ, so that there was no longer anything to separate them one from another.

E. In other words when Paul was preaching to Lydia, he explained the whole story about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and he explained what she needed to do to be right with God.

1. Don’t let anyone tell you that baptism isn’t important for a person’s salvation. Every single conversion we have recorded in the Book of Acts has the person or the people humbly submitting to Christ in the waters of baptism.
2. If people have not died to self in the waters of baptism, if they haven’t been buried in the waters of baptism, if they have not been raised to a new life after coming out of the waters of baptism, then they are undermining and totally missing the importance of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself.
3. Lydia understood how the old covenant worked in relation to sin but now she had her heart opened to the new convent, and she understood that to enter this new covenant with Christ, she needed to be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of her sins.

F. After Lydia and her household were added to the Lord’s church, she then pleaded with Paul and the others to stay as guests in her house. Paul may have hesitated because she was a single woman, which seems to be indicated by reference to her house. However, when she prefaced her request by saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord," Paul yielded.

CONCLUSION:
Folks, here we have the first convert to Christ from that part of the world we now call Europe. Lydia didn’t wake up one morning and think to herself, I’ll go down to the river and pray and I’ll become a Christian. No! God sent Paul to share the gospel message with her.

As Romans10:17 tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” She heard the message of Christ through Paul and God opened her heart to respond to the message.

People do not suddenly decide with no information that “I’m going to become a Christian today.” No! God sends His people to share His message with them and then He opens their hearts to respond. For those of us that are members of the Lord’s body that is what He did with us. That’s what He did with me and that’s what He did with you. He opened Lydia’s heart, He opened my heart and He opened your hearts.

We should challenge ourselves to ask God help us see the opportunities to share His message about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Ask God to open their heart to respond to that message by being united with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection in the waters of baptism.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

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