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  • Oct 28 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Paul’s First Sermon (Acts 13:6-41)

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Paul’s First Sermon

Acts 13:6-41 (Pastor Heo)

13:6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”

12 Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

In Pisidian Antioch

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”

<PaulsFirstSermon>

16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, 18 he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19 he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

21 “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’

34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:

” ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

” ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’

36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

38 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41 ” ‘Look, you scoffers,wonder and perish,

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “

</PaulsFirstSermon>

Usually there is a tendency to ID the missionary and the enterprise as going to rural, small, remote, isolated areas – like the jungle, etc – whose people are poor, uneducated, uncivilized – and helping them for his whole life with medicine, education, etc, and then finally, sharing the story of the gospel, very personally. Yes, this is a KIND of missionary job – BUT Paul’s missionary enterprise is very different. Here are 3 key differences:

1. Paul focused on BIG cities –

because he wanted to preach to as many people as possible in a limited time.

If Paul were in Korea, he would travel to

  • Seoul,
  • Incheon,
  • Daejeon,
  • Gwangju,
  • Daegu,
  • Busan,
  • Jeonju, etc.

Later, he wanted to go to Rome very much because it was the biggest city at that time. In the book of Romans, he wrote, “God, whom I serve with my whole heart is my witness how I constantly remember you in my prayers at all times. I long to see you that I may impart a spiritual gift to make you strong. I’m obligated to ALL people, that’s why I’m so eager to preach the gospel to you in Rome.” This was the eagerness of a soul-winner, not a sightseer.

City Mission 도시선교

2. He didn’t live his whole life in ONE place, but moved continuously.

2 Cor he confessed, “I have been constantly on the move – in danger from rivers, the Gentiles, the city, my own countrymen, the sea, false brothers, etc.” If he preached the gospel and the hearers accepted the message, he helped them to organize their own local church and very soon he moved again to another place – because he wanted to preach the gospel to those who did not hear the gospel. But, if the hearers rejected their message, he ALSO moved to another place – because he wanted to preach the message to those who WANTED to hear and were ready to receive the message.

[Later, “Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet” and moved on.]

3. He was VERY clear in the knowledge of what his FIRST priority was as a missionary.

He was “set apart” as a “servant” and “slave” of God. All the time, the did the MOST important job FIRST (never second). He had his priorities in order. He was very clear about this. Remember, sometimes the second important job is the greatest enemy to the MOST important job.

What is the FIRST important job to a missionary? PREACH the gospel.

1 Cor 1:17 “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power and wisdom of God.” Are you saved? Then you are, at present, BEING saved. And finally, you will BE saved.

This sentence does not mean that baptism is not important, rather, that he was very clear in his priorities. Are you clear in your priorities?

“I’m a Child of God!”

We are! Are you very clear in your priority as a child of God?

God bless us to be so.

v. 13

“13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.”

Before this verse:

v. 9

“9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,”

This is the FIRST appearance of “Paul” – and from this point, his name is continually referred to as Paul. From this point, “Saul” appears no more.

v. 13

“13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.”

This is interesting. His companions include: Barnabas (the original leader) – “Barnabas and Saul” (but here, there is not even the name of Barnabas).

Who is this John? John Mark. He joined in the missionary team as a helper.

There were Barnabas (leader), Paul (second), John (helper).

Here, John left and returned to his home in Jerusalem. Why? According to the record, we do not know exactly why he left. We can only guess.

  • Homesick?
  • Miss his father?
  • Uncomfortable with saved Gentiles? (he was a very devoted Jew)
  • Fear of danger? (this team was moving into dangerous areas)
  • He wasn’t happy about the leadership? – from Barnabas to Paul (Barnabas was his uncle or cousin)

This sentence (v. 13) indicates that the leadership of the team came over to Paul.

Whatever the case, Paul didn’t like this departure of John. In chp 15, Paul and Barnabas were ready for the Second Missionary Journey (after a second sabbatical year). For this journey, Barnabas wanted to take John again, but Paul did not want to. They fought very sharply over this matter, and separated company. From that point (chp 15), there is no more mention of Barnabas in this book.

Barnabas took John, Paul took Silas.

Anyway, the point is: finally, John Mark redeemed himself in the eyes of Paul – he was respected and restored in Paul’s eyes.

In his last letter, 2 Timothy, chp 4:11, Paul said, “Bring (John) Mark to me. He is very helpful to me in my ministry.”

Key point:

We have no right to give up any person for his salvation nor restoration in being used by God in his kingdom and for his glory.

Who can we give up that God does not give up?

v. 16-41: Paul’s first sermon in his missionary work

“13:16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, 18 he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19 he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

21 “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’

34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words:

” ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

” ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’

36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

38 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41 ” ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish,

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “”

Amen.

His first sermon has 3 parts:

  1. v. 16-25
  2.  v. 26-37
  3. v. 38-41

Each part begins with an addressing word.

Part One v. 16

“”Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!”

Part Two v. 26

“”Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”

Part Three v. 38

“”Therefore, my brothers, “

We can see his audience was mixed Jews and Gentiles. In the third part, he doesn’t address them separately, but just says, “My brothers.” – to him there is NO more separation Jew / Gentile in Christ.

Part One

Paul summarized the history of Israel – climaxing with the coming of John the Baptist as forerunner of Christ – and with the coming of Christ as promised in the OT.

This was the Introduction (preparation)

Part Two (main body – declaration)

The main theme: The death and resurrection of Christ

Jesus came as Savior and Lord, but the world didn’t recognize him. They killed him. But he was raised from the dead. (at least 4x repeated)

  1. v. 30 “But God raised him from the dead, “
  2. v. 33 “by raising up Jesus.”
  3. v. 34 “The fact that God raised him from the dead, “
  4. v. 37 “But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.” (this is the final sentence in the second part of this sermon)

v. 37 Why? Because Jesus is original God.

John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. .. In him was light, and it shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. … This world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him…”

The death and resurrection of Christ is “good news” (i.e. gospel) – do you agree?

Paul’s message is the same as my message today.

What is the application? If we really believe in Jesus’ death, resurrection, our salvation, forgiveness of sin, sanctification, glorification, the conclusion / application is v. 38-39

v. 38-39

“38 “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

Two key ideas in these two sentences:

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. Justification by faith

Forgiveness of Sin

Can be found only in the death and resurrection of Christ. Do you believe this? We know the Law of Moses demands perfection – the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, the teaching of Christ and his example – all are perfect – but they all reveal our sin. They reveal our need for a Savior – but they do not provide the remedy for sin. The remedy can only be obtained through the death and resurrection of Christ.

v. 38 “I want you to know…”

God is a righteous God. He is good all the time.

The FACT that God is righteous means that God cannot pardon / forgive sin simply on the grounds of the sinner’s repentance. This would be impossible for a righteous God to do. Sin can ONLY be forgiven when the penalty of the sin is already paid.

So, in order to be able to forgive sin, and still remain a righteous God, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins already – in his body, on the cross.

This is a fact – the forgiveness of sin is proclaimed to us through the death and resurrection of Christ.

v. 39 “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

Justification by Faith

You can be involved in this (EVERYONE). Everyone who believes. What is the justification of God? This is when God declares the believing sinner as “righteous.” This is a declarative act of God.

Negatively: we cannot be justified by the Law of Moses, by our own power, effort, knowledge, good works, human made religion. We cannot be declared by God to be righteous by any religion made by man.

Only the grace of God is the root and source of our justification. This originates in the heart of God.

Knowing our inability to do this for ourselves, God decided to provide righteousness for you and me. It was God’s grace that provides righteousness for you and me.

In his mercy, he had regard for our miserable situation. That’s why we are justified only by the grace of God.

The blood of Christ is the foundation for our justification. Why? Because Heb 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.”

To receive the forgiveness of sins, somebody must shed blood. But even if I do it myself – shed my own blood, it will not work – because my blood (and your blood) is dirty – not clean. Only Christ’s blood is pure and holy.

1 John “The blood of Christ purifies us from all wickedness and all unrighteousness.” God is able to remit our penalty and restore us to his favor and his grace.

In justification, your sins are NOT excused. Rather, your sins are PUNISHED in the person of Christ. That’s why he is called our substitute (propitiation).

We are justified only by faith. Our faith is the condition for justification – not on merit. It is not FOR faith but BY / THROUGH faith that we are justified.

This means, our faith is not a prize for our justification.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 21 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

For What were you Set Apart? (Acts 12:25-13:5)

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For what were you set apart?

Acts 12:25-13:5 (Pastor Heo)

12:25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

On Cyprus

4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.


This chp 13 takes off where chp 12 ended.

12:25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

What mission? Delivering their gift to the mother church in Jerusalem.

Returned from where? From Antioch.

Let me introduce briefly the background of the birth of Antioch church (chp 11, 12, 13 connection).

Chp 11

Remember with the death of Stephen, there was great persecution in the Jerusalem church. Because of this, most of the believers scattered like seed – Judea, Galilee, even Antioch. They preached the gospel there, and some people accepted the Lord and the mother church heard about this and sent Barnabas to Antioch to help them.

Barnabas was the organizer and first senior pastor of that church. But he needed a helper, so he went to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found Saul, he brought him to Antioch and they worked together for 1 year.

There became a big famine over the entire Roman empire, so they gathered a special offering for the mother church (Jerusalem) and they sent this gift to the mother church with Barnabas and Saul.

This is the story of chp 11.

Chp 12

Then, James was killed, Peter in prison. At that time, Barnabas and Saul were there together with them. After Paul’s deliverance, they returned to Antioch – their sending church.

This is chp 12.

They returned with John Mark (Barnabas’ nephew – or young cousin).

We know that Antioch church is a very significant Antioch in church history. There are two, but this was the Antioch in Syria. Later, in 13:14, we can see the other Antioch.

This Antioch is 300 miles north of Jerusalem and near the Mediterranean. It was the 3rd biggest city of that time (after Rome, and Alexandria).

This Antioch holds many FIRST records:

  1. The FIRST public, willing evangelism to Gentiles
  2. The FIRST place believers were given the nickname “Christians”
  3. The FIRST to give an offering to their mother church
  4. The FIRST to pray with fasting (all together) – at least according to the record of the Bible
  5. The FIRST to send foreign missionaries abroad “officially”

Our Antioch is named after THIS Antioch (this is a good model – and we are trying to follow this model – so we need to understand how the original Antioch was at that time)

v. 1

“13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.”

At that time, Antioch had 5 pastors – Barnabas was the “senior” pastor and these others were the “assistant” pastors.

Antioch was amazingly heterogeneous – very international. Let’s look at each briefly.

  1. Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) – native of Cyprus (island in the Mediterranean)
  2. Simon (very common name in the Bible) – this name suggests his Jewish background. But he had a Latin name also (“Niger” – which literally means “black skin”). He may have been mixed – Jew and African
  3. Lucius of Cyrene (Latin name) – Cyrene was in northern Africa, as the capital of Libya (so he was black)
  4. Manean (means “comforter”) – he had grown up with Herod the tetrarch (Herod Antipas who’d had John the Baptist beheaded) – he was a foster brother of this Herod. They grew up together and spent their childhood together – one grew to be an evil politician, one grew to be a leader in the Christian church. How ironic that a member of Herod’s family grew up to be a member of the church.
  5. Saul – Pharisee of the Pharisees, highly trained – a Jew and Roman (“Paul”). He was listed last because he was the newest believer, or because he was the second most important person in this list. (Sometimes in Greek, the two most important words in a sentence were placed at the first and last position.) – Anyway, he will be FIRST soon.

The social geography and racial variety of these men shows the spirit of God had been moving rapidly, over a broad geographic area. Not only had the word spread, but also the Spirit of God had assembled this team for the next phase of the adventure.

They were a human patchwork (like a quilt – or mosaic).

What variety is found in God’s church! These men were from different cultural and different racial backgrounds. So, it is very reasonable to assume they had different skills, abilities, ages, personalities, characters, likes, dislikes. The common trend among them was their deep faith and love for Jesus.

So, from this story, we must NEVER exclude anybody whom Jesus has called to follow him.

One sign that we are in God’s mission is when our church is a human patchwork of people from all kinds of races, colors, backgrounds, etc.

Gal, “There is no longer any slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, male nor female, for we are ONE in Christ.”

Eph “Make every effort to keep unity in the bond of peace – for there is ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God – who is over all, in all, through all. “

Remember, if we are really in God, our differences cannot be a reason for disunity, but rather, they should be life-fulfilling.

Variety in unity;
unity in variety.

This is the heart of our Father God.

This is the heart of God.

v. 2-3

“13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Today’s title: “For WHAT are you set apart?”

Notice that the commission of the HS (in v. 2) is “set apart for me” – this came on them while they were worshiping and praying. Also, Jesus gave us a Great Commission: “Therefore, go, … baptising them in the name of the Father, Son, and HS, and teaching them all I have commanded you.”

The HS came on them in worship.

This means that Worship and Service go together hand-in-hand all the time.

We call is a “worship service” – this is “serving” God with our worship (trying to make him happy). But another meaning is “our worship must be FOLLOWED BY our service to others.” Remember, worship and ministry service must go together. If you are really a Christian, remember this.

“Worship and service go together.”

They can never be separated. If you try to work for the Lord, without worshiping him, you will be Legalistic (self-centered, religious service for self-righteousness – like humanitarian satisfaction)

If you worship without service, you will be outwardly godly, but internally empty – no power, no fruit, no testimony to share with others.

Do you have your own Christian life story? Remember, without service, without work for God, there is no testimony.

After Paul was set aside for God, he confesses Gal X:15-16 “God set me apart from birth, he called me from my mother’s womb. He revealed his Son in me that I might preach his Son to the Gentiles.”

Romans “Set apart for the gospel of Christ.”

Eph 1:4-5 “God chose us [the children of God] before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. He predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ for his will and purpose.”

Fasting is always a mark of deep spiritual concern indicating that someone has set aside the demands of life to concentrate on what God wants.

Fasting is intense prayer without food for a specified period of time in order to focus on the Lord.

Yes, sometimes these days, some Christians are fasting for the solutions to individual problems. This is not bad, BUT fasting (biblically) should be done for commitment and sacrifice to the Lord, and for the benefit of the Christian community, and the salvation of others. Christ also fasted 40 days and nights before his ministry began.

v. 4-5

“13:4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.”

Let us bless the beginning of their ministry.

In chp 13 & 14 we will continue to follow their missionary tour, so today, let me just quickly summarize.

  • Chp 13-14 is Paul’s First Missionary Journey
  • Chp 15:36-18:22 is his Second
  • Chp 18:23-21:16 is his Third
  • Chp 21:17-28:31 (the end) is his Journey to Rome as a prisoner to be tried by Caesar

After finishing his First, he returned to the sending church (Antioch) and stayed for some time (like a sabbatical year)

After finishing his Second, he returned to the sending church (Antioch) and stayed some time again

After finishing his Third, he did not return to Antioch, but went to Jerusalem – to be arrested. He knew, if he went to Jerusalem that he would be arrested. The HS taught that to him through a vision – but he went to be arrested because he wanted to go to Rome.

His FINAL goal was to go to Spain, through Rome – because they thought this was the end of the earth at that time. That’s why he willingly was arrested. Can you also do that?

Yes, we can, if we are filled with the HS.

God bless you.

First mission field was Cyprus (island in the Mediterranean Sea). Remember, the first thing they did when they arrived at their mission field was preach the Word of God in the synagogues.

v. 5 “When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.”

In this sentence, there are at least two things we must remember.

1. Barnabas and Saul were sent by the HS (outwardly it looks like sent by Antioch church members) – this is also our story. Yes, we are here today being sent by somebody – our own choice / decision, but BEHIND this, we are sent here by the HS. Jesus, “As the Father sent me into this world, so I am sending you into this world.” (He repeated this two times – before his crucifixion and after his resurrection).

After this worship service, where will you be? Wherever you are, this is the very place GOD SENT YOU. This is your mission field.

CBNU? THAT is your mission field. You are SENT by Christ.

The HS is a spirit of mission, evangelism, witnessing about Jesus Christ – because his main ministry is to testify about Christ to human beings.

2. If we pray, “show me, tell me what to do” – God will say to you, “preach the Word of God in season and out of season”

Do you want to come closer to Christ? Closer to God? Before saying “Amen” you need to think about this. Because the nearer you come to the Lord, the more intensely “missionary evangelist” you must become.

Is this a blessing or a burden? Both!

God bless us with his peace and joy and assurance of mission.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 07 / 2018
  • Comments Off on God is in Control of Everything (Acts 12:1-11)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

God is in Control of Everything (Acts 12:1-11)

Download Notes in an .MD file

God is in Control of Everything

Acts 12:1-11 (Pastor Heo)

12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”


Chp 8:1 “On that day, a great persecution broke out…”

The rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem brought fierce persecution. The Jews launched a direct attack upon the Christian leaders beyond mere threats and warnings – this time Herod had James executed and Peter arrested. These were tense and traumatic times, but the church began to pray earnestly.

It is important to remember that God wasn’t finished with the Jewish church, nor Jewish Christianity – even though the emphasis soon shifted to Paul and Gentile outreach. But still, God was working.

In this chapter, we can see 3 events:

  1. Herod killed James (one of the 12, the brother of John)
  2. Herod tried to kill Peter – but he was rescued by an angel of the Lord
  3. This Herod was killed by the hand of the angel of the Lord (maybe the same that rescued Peter)

v. 1-6

“12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.”

Who is this Herod? This evil, wicked Herod. In the NT, we can see several Herods. This one is the grandson of Herod the Great who killed all babies under 2 years old in Bethlehem and its vicinity – to kill Jesus.

In the NT, at least 4 generations of Herods are mentioned:

  1. Herod the Great – when Jesus was born (killed all babies in Bethlehem) – he also killed his wife, son, and daughters
  2. Herod Antipus – took his brother Philip’s wife (Herodius) as his wife – had John the Baptist beheaded – and was involved in the trial of Christ (Jesus called him “fox”)
  3. Herod Agrippa I – killed James, tried to kill Peter
  4. Herod Agrippa II (chp 26) – one of Paul’s judges

Unfortunately, ALL Herods left behind an evil legacy.


Parents affect their Children

From this story, we can know that good or bad, parents have a powerful and lasting influence on their children. Traits of parents are passed on to their children and the next generation. Often the mistakes and sin of parents are repeated by their children.

So ask yourself, “What example am I setting for my children?”

What is important is not our words, but our actions – for children copy our actions, not our lectures.

“More is caught than taught.”


Herod arrested some Christians including James, whom he killed. So, James became the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred.

If we ponder the death of James in Matt 20, Jesus spoke to James and John (with their mother). They approached Jesus and asked for thrones of glory. He said, “Can you drink of the cup I must drink?” “Yes, we can.” they answered, though they didn’t understand what they were saying. But later on, ultimately, they discovered the high cost of winning the throne of glory.

Now, James is arrested and killed, and his brother John became an exile on the island of Patmos.

Indeed, they DID drink of the cup of Christ, and share in his baptism of suffering.

So, why did Herod try to kill Peter again? At that time, he was hated by the Jews – he was half-Jew, descended from Esau (brother of Jacob).

When he killed James, an important leader of the church, the Jewish leaders who were against the church (Pharisees, Sadducees) were happy. So, he thought that if he killed Peter, they would like him even more. But at that time, it was the Feast of Unleavened Bread – but killing during that time was not permitted. So, he arrested him to kill him AFTER the Feast.

This is Peter’s 3rd arrest.

  1. With John in chp 4?
  2. With other apostles later
  3. This experience

But this experience is totally different from other experiences.

In the other experiences,

  • he was arrested by the Sanhedrin –
  • with co-apostles –
  • and was not chained –
  • but he was given an opportunity to defend himself.

But in this prison now,

  • he was arrested by king Herod,
  • alone,
  • with at least 4X4 soldiers (16) guarding him (at least),
  • and bound with chains.
  • He had no chance to witness or defend himself.
  • This prison followed the death of James with the high possibility of his own death the next day.

In this situation, under these circumstances, what could you do? Even sleep? Peter was sleeping.

Peter’s Peace

Interesting, 16 soldiers who were watching him could not sleep, but he fell into a deep sleep. He was so sound asleep that an angel had to strike him on the side to get him up.

This is an important lesson for us. What is the secret? The mystery? What gave Peter such SOUND sleep in this moment before he should meet his own death?

1. Many believers were praying for him

(v. 12 also mentions this) – they prayed ALL night – night and day – this helped to bring Peter peace. Yes, true prayer under the guidance of the HS gives us true peace and rest of the soul.

Phil “Do not be anxious about anything, do not worry, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God in the name of Christ, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”

Prayer also reminds us of the PROMISES of God’s Word. Do you know how many verses in the whole Bible? More than 30,000 – and ALL verses are a promise. And when we pray, we remember these.

Isaiah “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I will strengthen and uphold you with my mighty right hand.”

The written Word of God = logos – if you apply this in your practical situation, the Word will be ALIVE and act – rama

So, logos (written) should become rama (applied)

2. Peter’s knowledge that Herod could not kill him

Yes, the situation looks very bad, but he knew that Herod could not kill him – because he was holding the promise of Christ given him in the gospel of John:

“Feed my sheep; feed my lambs. When you were younger, you dressed yourself, and went wherever you wanted to go – but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and he will lead you to where you do not want to go.”

Jesus had already predicted that Peter would live to be an old man, and crucified on a Roman cross – this was the prophecy given to him by Christ.

In this situation, we might ask,

  • WHY was James killed, but Peter rescued? Did he favor Peter?
  • Why was Stephen killed immediately just for his great sermon, but his co-evangelist was used for a long time?
  • Were Stephen and James failures and Peter and Philip successes? NO.

The only answer is:

The Sovereign Will of God

Yes, we agree that the heavens cannot contain all of God. His thinking and design is far beyond our own.

Heb 11 is the faith chapter.

Some conquered kingdoms by faith, some escaped death by faith, some quenched the fury of flames by faith, some shut the mouths of lions by faith.

Yes, these stories are very great.

But at the same time, the same chapter says,

Some were tortured and refused to give in by faith, some were put to death by faith, some were stoned by faith, some were jeered and imprisoned by faith, some were sawed in two by faith, some went around in sheepskins, persecuted and mistreated by faith.

Also these stories are great stories.

Those who live by faith can receive ANY situation because we believe Romans 8:28 “For we know that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.”

We may not always understand his ways, but we know that his sovereign will is always best. Remember that God is in control of everything.

God’s sovereign will is always GOOD and BEST (whether we understand it or not)

“If I live, I live for the Lord; if I die, I die for the Lord; whether I live or die, I do it for the Lord.” Yes, we can glorify God through our lives, but we can also glorify God through our deaths.

When Jesus told Peter this story about his death personally, the next verse says, “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.”

Physical death is the end of our bodies on earth, BUT death is NOT the end of ME. Death is not the end of your existence. Death is not your termination. It is just your “terminal” – your transition into eternity.

v. 7-11

“7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.””

Once again, we witness the ministry of angels in which they brought light into their prison cells.

In chp 5 also, “when they were in prison, during the night, an angel opened the gate and brought them out.”

This is the second time angels have come to get them out.

  • Who are angels?
  • Who is higher in position: you or angels? YOU
    • Angels = God’s servants (always) – in this world and in the world to come
    • We = God’s children

John 1:12 “To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Yes, angels have many ministries, but here is a summary of two:

  1. In Greek, angelos = “herald” = they deliver the message of God
  2. They also help the children of God (Heb 1:14 “Angels are the ministering spirits who will help those saved by God”)

In this situation, the angel did something extraordinary – he came and got Peter out. But, Peter also had his own job to do. He had to GET UP, GET DRESSED, and GET OUT.

  • The angel did something extraordinary,
  • Peter did something ordinary.

Even in miracles, Jesus is always practical.

  • God created all beasts, birds, and plants (extraordinary),
    • man had to name them (ordinary).
  • Jesus turned water into wine (extraordinary),
    • men had to put water into jars and take some to give to others (ordinary).
  • Jesus multiplied fish and bread to feed 5000 plus (extraordinary),
    • the disciples had to distribute and gather (ordinary).
  • Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead
    • man had to give her something to eat,
  • Jesus raised Lazarus (extraordinary),
    • man had to remove the stone from the tomb’s entrance and take off the grave clothes (ordinary).

This is a practical principle of Christ.

Jesus does EXTRAordinary, we do ordinary. Jesus does SUPERnatural, we do natural.

But when we do these things, Jesus calls us his co-workers, to share in his victory, in his glory.

Even today, what are you doing inside and outside the church? Yes, ministry in or out of the church looks small – it looks very ordinary. But even these small things, by our faith and expectations, Jesus does something EXTRAordinary, supernatural.

We are doing ordinary things, but through these ordinary things, God is doing extraordinary things.

Believe and expect something great from God.

God bless you.

Let us pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen