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  • 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
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

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

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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.

  • Sep 30 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)

Download Notes in a .MD file

If you are Christian, BE Christian!

Acts 11:19-30 (Pastor Heo)

11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.


There were at least three steps on the ladder to preach to the Gentiles.

  1. Chp 8: Philip preached to the Samaritans (half-Jews)
  2. Chp 10: Peter preached to the Gentiles (Cornelius + family and friends) – but it was Cornelius who took the initiative – he sought the church and was ALREADY a God-fearer – ready to be saved.
  3. Chp 11: In Antioch, the gospel was preached openly and publicly to Gentiles. The gospel is finally launched on its worldwide mission.

Christianity took the most important turning point in church mission history in these three – Philip, Peter, Antioch.

We don’t know the names of the people from Antioch who took the gospel to the Gentiles – they go down in history as nameless pioneers of Christ. Nobody remembered this courageous act – but God does.

Their names may not be written in human history, but their names are written in God’s book of life.

Challenge:

When you do something at church or for church, do not do it to be recognized by man – do it to be recognized by God – because his memory lasts for eternity, but man’s memory lasts but a short while.

v. 19-22

“11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.”

Chp 7 – Stephen was killed

  • As a result, great persecution broke out
  • Because of this, only the apostles and a few leaders remained in Jerusalem
  • All the others scattered – mostly throughout Palestine

Chp 8 – Philip preached to the Samaritans

  • The mother church heard, and sent Peter and John there
  • At the same time, the gospel spread throughout the land to many other places
  • At first, they preached only to Jews.

But later, some from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and preached to the Greeks.

  • God was so happy with them, he worked through them, and a great number of people turned to the Lord.
  • The mother church heard this news
  • So, they sent Barnabas to confirm the news and witness this new work.

The most important place in this story is Antioch. At that time in history, there were at least 16 Antiochs – and even in the Bible there are 2.

  1. Antioch in Syria (this one)
  2. Antioch in Pisidia

The Antioch of Syria was the capital of Syria, 300 miles north of Jerusalem – beyond Palestine and 50 miles in from the Mediterranean.

At that time, the biggest three cities in the world:

  1. Rome
  2. Alexandria
  3. Antioch (this one)
    • Metropolitan – but corrupt
    • It was famous for chariot racing and deliberate pursuit of pleasure (like Las Vegas today) – luxurious immorality.
    • It was most famous for Daphene (a god with whom a mortal fell in love) idol worship.

But in this dark place, the gospel began to shine. We must understand that there is nowhere in the world that the gospel cannot shine. No stronghold of Satan that the gospel cannot destroy.

So in church history, Antioch is very meaningful. There are at least 4 “world records” here:

  1. The FIRST place the gospel was preached to the Gentiles openly and deliberately
  2. The FIRST place the believers were called “Christians” (nickname)
    • At first, this was a contemptuous nickname
  3. The FIRST local church which collected special offerings to help Jewish believers in Judea in time of famine
  4. The FIRST local church which dispatched missionaries to the Gentiles (Barnabas and Saul)

“I am Antioch”

Our Antioch church is named after THIS Antioch church.

v. 23-26

“11:23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

(Tarsus is Saul’s hometown)

Remember, when the Jerusalem church heard about Antioch, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate it and confirm the new converts.

The mother church did not send one of the 12 apostles, but it is by the providence and grace of God that Barnabas was sent – he was the most suitable choice. (v. 24)

Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement” (open-minded), native of Cyprus – he was a blend of Roman, Greek, Jewish culture. And when he arrived he rejoiced to see the grace of God in this Gentile city. He was so happy to welcome new believers into the church.

Actually, he had TOO MUCH to do – so he needed help. At this moment, Barnabas could have asked to the mother church to send somebody to him to help him – or he could have sent a messenger to Jerusalem to get someone. But he didn’t, he himself went personally to Tarsus to bring Saul specifically.

Several years earlier, Barnabas had stood up for Saul and supported him when the other believers doubted him. Some time later, men tried to kill Saul, so he escaped to his hometown, Tarsus. And up to now, several years have passed – and there is no real record of what he did. But we can be sure he must have preached the gospel in his hometown faithfully and Barnabas remembered him in his mind.

The right mind has the ability to see the right person at the right time for the right purpose.

Barnabas must have realized that if he worked with Saul he would sink into the place of secondary importance.

v. 26

“26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Barnabas is first)

v. 30

“30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” (Barnabas is first – the leader)

Chp 13:1

“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.” (Barnabas first, Saul last)

But Barnabas’ name disappears in chp 16, and Paul’s name goes on to the last sentence of this book.

From Chp 13:43 we can see this change:

“43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.”

Barnabas to Paul was like John the Baptist to Jesus: “He must become greater and I must become less.”

Actually, I HOPE that you also will do likewise to ME. And Children to your parents as well. We must raise up people / leaders greater than we are.

v. 11:27

“27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.”

Interestingly, this title was not given in Jerusalem or Samaria. This title was given by non-Christians.

There were many terms:

  • Brother & sisters,
  • saints,
  • disciples,
  • the church, etc

The believers had no idea to call themselves “Christians” – this is mixed “Christ” + “ian”

  • “Christ” (Greek) = “Messiah” (Hebrew)
  • “ian” (Latin suffix) = belonging to the party of

To them, the believers could not apply the divine name to themselves. At that time, the term “Messiah” was a term of divinity – so if they took it for themselves, it would be considered very blasphemous.

So the outsiders nicknamed them “Christians” because at that time, this was a name of ridicule, contempt, etc.

To outsiders, the lifestyle of Christians was too high – they could not understand their moral standards. It was too high to follow. Even in poverty, persecution, they responded with joy, thanksgiving, blessings. Why? Because they always focused on heaven, not this world. So, many people called them “crazy.”

Even in Korean, sometimes outsiders call you, “예수쟁이”. Who can be called a “Christian” by outsiders?

Paul said, “If I live, I live to Christ. If I die, I die to Christ. Whether I live or die, I belong to Christ.” He MUST be called a “Christian” by outsiders.

Are you a Christian? BE a Christian.

Personal experience

About 15 years ago (in Turkey?), I had trouble in a mission conference. I went shopping and the seller tried to explain something to me, but his words were strange.

  • I said, “Truly?”
  • He looked at me very solemnly and said, “I AM MUSLIM.”

This short sentence gave me much meaning. “Muslims NEVER tell lies, etc”.

He was SO proud of being Muslim. Our pride in being Christian must be higher.

“I am CHRISTIAN.”

This should give so many meanings.

“I am honest, don’t lie, bless when cursed, etc.”

  • George Folks and his followers trembled whenever they opened the Bible. They were called “Quakers” 퀘이커 교도?
    • At that time, there were so many Puritans, these were called Quakers.
  • Methodists also – due to their very strict pursuit of holiness – became “Methodists”

Conclusion

Alexander the Great: one day in his army there was another “Alexander.” (Like we have many Aarons, Davids, Johns, Pauls, etc). He was famous for his timidity.

But we know Alexander the Great conquered the world at age 23. He called the soldier to himself,

“Are you named after me?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“If you’re named Alexander, BE an Alexander! Or change your name!”

Fortunately, our Lord Christ, full of mercy, love, compassion, does not say this to us. But he does challenge, encourage, and empower us to BE who we are.

If you are Christian~ BE Christian~ let others KNOW who you are through your lifestyle!

Because “Christian” lifestyle is the visible representation of Christ to those who cannot see.

“God bless you Christians.”

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 23 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Two Crucial Questions (Acts 10:44-11:18)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Two Crucial Questions (Acts 10:44-11:18)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Two crucial questions

Acts 10:44-11:18 (Pastor Heo)

10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. 47 Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

11:1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”


The term centurion = title for Roman soldier (captain of few 100 soldiers).

In the NT, there are 4 centurion stories – ALL of them are “good men” in faith or human character:

  1. Gospel of Matthew chp 8: Centurion came to Jesus to ask help for his paralyzed servant.
    • Jesus said, “I’ll go.”
    • Centurion said, “No, I don’t deserve this. Just say the word and it will be done.”
    • Jesus was surprised: “I have never found in Israel such a great faith. Go and it will be done as you’ve said.”
  2. Gospel of Matthew chp 27: Jesus’ crucifixion – this centurion was in charge of the soldiers to crucify Jesus. When he saw the earthquake, and all, he exclaimed, “Surely, this man was the Son of God.” He testified that this was the real Messiah to come.
  3. Acts 27: Julius the centurion was guarding Paul and other prisoners on the boat to Rome. He was very kind to Paul on that ship, but the ship was wrecked, broken on the rocks. At this situation, the soldiers planned to kill all the prisoners to prevent them from swimming away. But the centurion wanted to save Paul – so he saved them all.
  4. [This story] Acts 10: Cornelius, a man of devotion, prayer, true seeker, but not yet saved. He received a vision from the angel of God and invited Peter to his house to speak the message of salvation. So Peter went and spoke to the first Gentile Christian community in the NT. When he spoke, the HS touched their hearts and they responded in faith, receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.

Do you know the key ministry of the HS?

The KEY ministry of the HS is to “testify / witness about Christ” in people whenever the message of the gospel is spoken. Thus, the Word of God = the Sword of the HS.

“No one can confess, ‘Jesus is Lord’ without the power of the HS.”

“Faith comes from hearing – and this Word is the Word of God.”

If you want the HS to work in and through you, preach the gospel of salvation. Please remember – whenever you preach the message of salvation in Christ, the HS works so powerfully, so effectively. This is the basic principle of the Bible – a timeless truth.

A Christian is a witness of the resurrection of Christ – so to us, Jesus is not just a historical nor fictional figure. He is a LIVING PRESENCE.

“Jesus Christ is a living presence” whom we meet every day, every moment.

v. 44

“44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.”

What are “these words”? The gospel message:

  1. Jesus’ life
  2. His ministry
  3. His crucifixion
  4. His resurrection
  5. His lordship

“These words” are the core message of the gospel.

As soon as they received Jesus as Lord and Savior, all of them received water baptism as well. Have you also received this? Do you know the meaning of this? What is the spiritual meaning of this?

v. 47-48

“47 Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”

In the NT, immediate water baptism followed confession of faith in Christ.

  • Acts 8: Philip preached to a Samaritan and many believed and all of them received water baptism.
  • Also in the same chapter, the same man preached to an Ethiopian eunuch (high position – financial minister) in his chariot on the desert. He also accepted Christ and confessed his faith and immediately, as they traveled, they found some water (maybe an oasis) by the side of the road and he was baptized.
  • Chp 9: Saul’s (Jewish name) conversion story – as soon as he was converted, he was also baptized.
  • Chp 16: Paul (Greek name) – preached, but was put in prison. He praised God even in this terrible situation and all of a sudden, there was a violent earthquake and all the prison doors flew open. All the chains were loosed. The jailer drew his sword to commit suicide because he assumed everyone had escaped.
    • Paul shouted: “Do not harm yourself! We are all here!”
    • He rushed in and trembled before Paul and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
    • Paul shouted: “Believe in Jesus as Lord, and you will be saved – you and all your household.”
    • Immediately, he accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. They were saved immediately – because salvation is a kind of birth (not gradual growth).

Salvation is “born again” – and immediately they received water baptism.

Let’s clear up Water Baptism

This is NOT essential for salvation.

The condition for salvation is ONLY FAITH in Christ. But after salvation, water baptism is essential for several things commanded:

  1. To fulfill the Great Commission: Matt 28 (“make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”)
  2. To show our ID publicly in this world: just as we WERE Id’ed with Adam in our first birth, now we choose to show we are Id’ed with Christ in our second (spiritual) birth. It shows our own death, burial, and resurrection with Christ.
  3. To declare and show our allegiance to Christ publicly: we are his slaves (dulos) – he is our Lord (curios) – We have no rights of our own, only duty to him who saved us. “You are Lord” = “I’m your slave”
  4. To join our ID with the Christian community

God put these two together in doing his spiritual job. Maybe this is a mosaic of God. Cornelius and Peter are VERY different in human background:

  1. Cornelius: Roman, military, rich, centurion
  2. Peter: Jewish, fisherman, poor, preacher

In that day, a “new chapter” in church history was written (chp 10). As a Jewish leader, and a Gentile convert, both discovered something very meaningful about God in the other person.

  • Cornelius NEEDED Peter and his preaching to find the way to God and salvation.
  • Peter NEEDED Cornelius and his conversion experience to know that God’s plan included Gentiles for world salvation.

So, today, you and another believer, even unbeliever NEED each other to see how God works.

Peter’s Journey (Jerusalem -> Jerusalem)

chp 11:1-3

“11:1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.””

  • After finishing his great task of preaching the gospel, he returned to Jerusalem.
  • Before arriving, the report had already reached them there.
  • The Gentiles had received the Word of God (news is faster than our walking)

They SHOULD HAVE praised God – giving thanks “Even Gentiles!”

But instead of rejoicing, they criticized Peter, “Even Gentiles?”

We must be careful:

  • Critics criticize first, and gather information later.

Please, do not criticize fellow Christians’ great job without first hearing the FULL story.

Because of this, Peter began to explain his story (v. 4-17)

v. 4-17

“11:4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:

17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?””

He said, “I’m nothing. I have no right to say ‘no’ to God.” And the conclusion was praising God. We also will conclude our journeys with praising God.

v. 18

“18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.””

From this story of Peter, there is a very important lesson we can apply in our daily lives.

Peter’s journey as an itinerant preacher from / to Jerusalem:

  • He was like a senior pastor of the Jerusalem church (the first local church, his mother church)
  • This story began in chp 8 – the church grew greatly and persecution broke out
  • Only Peter and other apostles remained in Jerusalem, the others scattered
  • Philip (deacon) preached in Samaria, and many believed
  • Apostles heard that news, so they sent Peter and John to Samaria to help
  • Peter and John came and they prayed for them, placing their hands on them and they became filled with the HS
  • Afterward, they returned to Jerusalem
  • Peter did not go DIRECTLY to Jerusalem. On his way back, he preached the gospel here and there (all over the place) – nearly all the villages in Samaria
  • He arrived at Lyda and found a sick (paralyzed) man whom he healed in the name of Christ
  • There he stayed for a while
  • In Joppa (nearby), Tabitha (woman) died, and they had heard of Peter, so they sent for him. He raised her to life and many people believed
  • There he stayed for a (longer) while
  • During his stay, Cornelius from Caesarea sent for him and he went – he preached to them there
  • He stayed there a while longer as well (education, etc)
  • And he FINALLY made it back to his “home church” in Jerusalem

v. 2

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, …”

Our journeys on earth are ALSO like this – we are also itinerant preachers.

  • From God -> God
  • From heaven -> heaven

This is our spiritual journey in this world

We begin and end with God.

Our lives on earth are only spiritual preparation for eternity.

One day our hearts will stop, but that will not be the end of us. “Physical death is not the end of me.” This is just a transition into eternity – so there are eternal consequences to everything you do in this world.

To make the most of your life, keep the vision of eternity forever in your heart.

Measured against eternity, our times in this world are the blink of an eye, but the consequences will last forever. So, we must never forget TWO things:

This life is very short, earth is a temporary residence. Thus the Bible calls us, “pilgrims, aliens, travelers, visitors, foreigners” – we are IN this world, but not OF this world. Hebrews 11 is the Faith chapter with the intro of those who lived by faith. One common thing = they admitted they were aliens, strangers, pilgrims on earth and they were all LONGING for a better (heavenly) country.

Thus, God was not ashamed to be called their “Father”. We are not put here on earth to impress men but to prepare to stand before God our Father. One day we will all stand before him, and we cannot escape this place. One day, we will stand before God and he will do an audit of our lives. This is our “Final Exam” just before we enter eternity.

In this final Judgment Seat, he will ask us only TWO questions.

  1. “What did you do WITH Jesus Christ?”
  2. “What did you do FOR Jesus Christ?”

He will not ask us about our denomination or background, our doctrine or views. He will not ask how long you lived, how much you made, your educational / business background. Only: Jesus

  1. 1st: “Did you accept Christ, what he did for you, and love him?”
    • Because “no one comes to God except by me.”
  2. 2nd: What did you do FOR God with what he gave you?

What did you do with your relationships, money, time, talents, treasure, etc. Do you use them on yourself? Or did you use them for him?

  1. Will determine WHERE you spend eternity.
  2. Will determine WHAT you will do in eternity.

Can you calculate how long eternity is?

Phil 3:20 “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

“My citizenship is in heaven.”

If you believe this, say it! If you don’t believe, don’t say it!

We are Christ’s ambassadors on earth, sent by him from our country, heaven.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 16 / 2018
  • Comments Off on We need the gospel every day (Acts 10:34-43)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

We need the gospel every day (Acts 10:34-43)

Download Notes in a .MD file

We need the gospel every day

Acts 10:34-43 (Pastor Heo)

10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”


Chapter 10 is the story of the conversion of the Gentiles.

Through the ministry of the HS, Peter was used for these things. This is a turning point for the church. This is when God reveals his salvation plan for the WHOLE WORLD. There is no longer Jew nor Gentile, black nor white, slave nor free. We are all ONE in Christ.

In this story, there are two main human characters:

  1. Gentile: Cornelius (Roman soldier)
  2. Jew: Peter

Humanly speaking, Cornelius was a man of devotion, high quality, generosity, regular prayer, but not yet saved – simply because he didn’t yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He did not yet accept Christ as his Savior and Lord.

As a truth-seeker, one day he was praying earnestly – and one day an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Send for Peter in Joppa.” Immediately, he sent his three servants to Joppa.

The next day, Peter was praying at noon. During his prayer, suddenly, something huge like a sheet from heaven came down to earth in front of Peter. It contained all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles. It was unclean to Peter’s eyes.

  • But a voice from heaven said, “Peter, get up, kill and eat.”
  • Peter: “No! I’ve never eaten anything unclean.”
  • God: “Do not call anything unclean that I’ve made clean.”

According to Jewish law, clean becomes unclean by contact with the unclean. If a clean thing touches an unclean thing, ALL become unclean.

This happened three times (the sheet dropping and voice from heaven).

Are you Christian? You/we have contact with non-Christians in our daily lives.

Question:

  • Are you influencing or being influenced by them?
  • Are you affecting them or being affected by them?

This is a serious question today.

Peter was still trying to understand what this vision meant.

At that moment, three men from Cornelius arrived for Peter, and the voice said, “I have sent men, do not hesitate to go with them.”

Maybe they talked much that night, and the next morning they started out for Caesarea to meet Cornelius.

Cornelius was waiting for Peter with his household and friends. We don’t know how many gathered – maybe AICF size? But we can say that this was the FIRST non-Jewish church, the first Gentile church, in church history. Thus, this is the turning point in church history.

Cornelius received him by bowing down before him. Peter said, “No, I’m a man as well!” Then Peter said, “You Gentiles know that we Jews do not associate with Gentiles, but my Lord said, ‘Do not call any unclean that I have made clean.’ Why did you send for me?” Cornelius explained his vision and said, “We are all here to listen to God’s voice through you.”

Are you also ready to listen to the Word of God through my poor English? Look to God.

Whenever the sermon is spoken, focus on Jesus Christ, not my English.

The text we read today is Peter’s 4th sermon in the book of Acts. Actually, Peter speaks 6 sermons:

  1. chp 2: Crowd at Pentecost
  2. chp 3: Crowd at temple
  3. chp 4: Sanhedrin
  4. chp 10: Cornelius and family

v. 34-35

“10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

God is no respecter of persons as far as nationality and race are. All men have the SAME Creator. All men are sinners. All men need the same ONE Savior. In these facts, we are all ONE. Thus, we believe in the universality of salvation. But, we must not believe in the Universalism of salvation.

  • Universalism: Everybody will be saved at last whether or not they trust Christ – because God is TOO good to allow anyone to perish. (This is a tool of Satan to blind people’s eyes to the message of the gospel.) Evangelical Christians reject this doctrine.
  • Universality: God does not show any favoritism nor partiality to anyone who believes in Christ. The only determinant factor is ONLY faith in Christ.

If you believe in Christ, you are saved.

The universal application of Christ’s work on the cross and universal offer of the gospel and salvation are inclusive.

Also we need to be optimistic about what the gospel will do. But we also must (occasionally) be aggressive in preaching the gospel of Christ.

“I’m not ashamed of the gospel, for the gospel is the power of God for EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES in Jesus Christ.”

v. 36

“10:36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

The gospel is the message of peace. It is “good news” of “great joy” – “peace” for all the people – eternally, at the same time. This news is news of peace.

Only in Christ can this kind of peace be found. That’s why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace – this means “Future King” of Peace. Already 700 years before his coming, he was prophesied to be born.

When he was born in this world, the first sign and expression of his birth was this telling of the angels, “Glory to God and Peace on Earth to men~”

Jesus says, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as this world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled…”

True peace cannot be found in this world. We cannot find true peace through riches, popularity, possessions, etc.

The Bible says, ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. ‘

Christ has made the TWO, ONE. Jesus’ coming in this world was to create a NEW people out of the two – through his crucifixion. By his crucifixion, Christ killed all hostility between human beings. He preached peace to those who were far away (Gentiles) and those who are near (Jews). There is now no longer any division between Jews and Gentiles in Christ.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by Christ, we have peace with God. Through him we gain access to his grace in which we now stand.”

“I rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

The main message we must be familiar with is the contents of the gospel. The message of the gospel is JESUS CHRIST.

Jesus’ life, His Word, His work, His death, His resurrection, His coming again as judge of living and dead.

From v. 37-42 is the message of the gospel that Peter preached to Cornelius. “We are witnesses of this gospel message.”

v. 37-42

“10:37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”

This is the core message – the heart of the gospel.

  1. v. 37-38, Jesus’ life
  2. v. 39 Crucifixion
  3. v. 40 Resurrection
  4. v. 41-42 Coming again – and we are witnesses of this message.

We are commanded / ordered to preach this message – because salvation can be found in no one else.

This is very clear. It is very evident that Jesus did not die for his own sins. From Genesis to Revelation, it is said that Christ died for the sins of others – not the sins of a friend, but as a substitutionary offering (propitiation) for the sins of the whole world.

Let me know show SOME of the verses for this.

  • Romans 5:8 “God showed his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • 1 Cor “Jesus died, and rose again according to the Scriptures.”
  • 2 Cor “God made him who had no sin, become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • 1 Peter “He bore our sins on the tree so that by his wounds we have been healed.”
  • 1 Peter 3:18 “Jesus Christ died for sins, once for ALL.”
  • Jesus himself says, “I did not come to BE served, but to serve.” – not to be ministered to but to minister and “to give my life as a ransom.”
  • Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

Only Christ can say this. “and the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

Only in Christ can salvation be found.

v. 43 (Memorize)

“10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.””

Amazing! Wow!

This is an amazing declaration. ALL the prophets (including the OT, Moses, Adam, Elijah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Malachi, ) testify about Christ.

Yes, not only the preachers of the NT, but also all the prophets of the OT focus on Jesus Christ. Their message is “everyone who believes in Christ receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Forgiveness of sin can only be obtained in Jesus’ name.

You know “SIN” is the root of all human problems – “for the wages of sin is death.”

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is not one righteous, not even one.”

To repent and believe in Christ are the same thing – with a different expression. You cannot repent without believing in Christ and you cannot believe in Christ without repenting.

Of course, nobody is happy if I say “You’re a sinner” – but we must be very clear in solving the matter of SIN.

Fundamentally, there are FOUR dimensions regarding sin. I hope all of us are very clear in the matter of sin. To be healed, we must know our own secrets. Here are the FOUR dimensions: (worldly judges can only see the first dimension)

Four Dimensions of Sin

1. Behavioral sin

(humans can see and judge this sin) – outward sin – in action – this is related to human morality and ethics: murder, rape, breaking a law, doing something illegal (VISIBLE SIN IN ACTION)

2. Attitudinal sin (invisible)

This is in our hearts, minds, motives. This world cannot judge this kind of sin. We don’t go to prison for our selfishness and pride, greed, envy, jealousy. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” God judges according to our

  1. actions and
  2. motivations / attitudes.

This motivation is very important: Before God, hate is like killing, lust is like adultery (in your heart).

3. Relational sin

This is more crucial – more important than the other two kinds. For example, there are many relationships –

  • Creator / Created,
  • Parent / Child,
  • Boss / Employee,
  • Teacher / Student,
  • Landlord / Tenant,
  • Father / Son –

For me, as father, the BIGGEST sin my son can commit is to DENY me as his father. Likewise, the biggest sin toward God is to deny Christ – God’s one and only Son for us in whom to believe. John 16:9 (in regard to sin) “They do not believe in me.” Do you agree, not to believe in Christ is the BIGGEST sin in this world? If you do not agree, you are wondering if you are saved. If you are really saved, we have no choice but to totally agree. This is indeed the BIGGEST sin before the eyes of God in relational sins.

4. Ontological sin

Existential sin – (Original Sin) – we were BORN as sinners – we’ve inherited it. Since WHEN was I a sinner? From BIRTH. We were born sinners.

I’m Korean. I did nothing to be Korean. I did not choose this. I was born this way simply because my father and mother are Korean. We were born sinners simply because our first physical parents were sinners. This is ontological (original) sin.

How can we solve this matter of original sin? There is only ONE way to resolve it. We must be BORN AGAIN. We should die to our first birth and be regenerated. Jesus, “Do not be surprised by my saying, ‘You must be born again.'” Birth from below is original birth, birth from above is from God. Romans: “Just as death came into the world through one man…”

How can we be born again? Regenerated? ONLY ONE WAY – believing in Christ.

1 Cor “As in Adam, all die, so in one man, Christ, all live.”

All these sins:

  1. Behavioral
  2. Attitudinal
  3. Relational
  4. Ontological

Can ALL be forgiven through Christ.

If you believe, shall we proclaim together:

“The blood of Jesus Christ purifies me from ALL kinds of sins: Past, Present, even Future.”

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 02 / 2018
  • Comments Off on You are an Usher of Christ to the World (Acts 10:1-33)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

You are an Usher of Christ to the World (Acts 10:1-33)

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You are an usher of Christ

Acts 10:1-33 (Pastor Heo)

10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. 5 The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. 9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.

13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

24 The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”


The first part of chp 10 is the story of the conversion of Gentiles – Cornelius and his relatives. This is a pivotal chapter – a turning point in the history of the church. The one true God, the God of the Hebrews was about to unveil his plan – hidden throughout the ages. There was no Jew or Gentile – all are united in Christ.

Peter was holding the keys to faith.

  • Chp 2 – He opened the door of faith to the Jews.
  • Chp 8 – To the Samaritans
  • Chp 10 – To the Gentiles

This chp 10 happened about 10 years after the Pentecost. God is expanding the growth of the church founded on the crucifixion of Christ on the cross.

Cornelius and his family are the first Gentile converts – they are the beginning of the expansion of the church. This is starting to fulfill the prophecy of Christ (Acts 1:8)

“When the HS comes on you, you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

v. 1-2

“10:1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”

This Caesarea was located on the coast of the Mediterranean – 100 km NW of Jerusalem. It was the largest and most important port city of the sea. It was the capital of its province and the first to have non-Jewish converts and a non-Jewish Christian church.

Cornelius was a centurion (cent = 100) = commander of 100 soldiers (but actually the regiment had 300-600 soldiers). They were the backbone of the Roman legion, doing most of the work – intermediate ranking.

  1. He was a man of devotion – pious, sincere
  2. He was “God-fearing” (In NT times, it is a technical term for Gentiles who were weary of small Roman gods and had attached themselves to the Jewish religion. They studied the Word of God and attended synagogues.)
  3. He was an alms (tithe) giver – so respected even among the Jews
  4. He was a man of prayer (Jews had 3x prayers per day, morning, noon, afternoon (3pm))
  5. He was noble, a man of character, generous giver, a man of prayer
  6. He WAS NOT YET saved

This is the point – he needed to be saved. Later he and his family would be saved through the ministry of Peter.

Why not saved? Because he was a Gentile? No. Because he did not yet believe and receive Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. He did not yet recognize in his heart and with his mouth that “Jesus is Lord.”

We must remember that this is very important.

It is very possible to be:

  1. Nice
  2. Holy
  3. Devout
  4. Pious
  5. A generous giver
  6. A man or prayer
  7. NOT be saved

He was a good example of a very religious person – but the difference between himself and others was that he KNEW his religion enough was not enough to save him. But some “religious” people still think that their good character and behavior will warrant them into heaven.

Please remember, “Salvation is a transformational event that happens immediately to a believer.” That’s why it’s called “rebirth” – “born again.”

Salvation is NOT a step-by-step thing (that is sanctification AFTER salvation).

We know today there are many sects, cults, religions, etc who say, “Yes, we believe in God.” But salvation is found in NO ONE else – except Jesus Christ.

“If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with your mouth that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

v. 3

“3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!””

He was diligently seeking the truth. So God sent an angel to him. The main job of an angel is to deliver the message of God – angel = “herald.” Angels may deliver God’s message, but they are not able to preach the gospel. This is the responsibility God has given to Man.

v. 4-6

“4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. 5 The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.””

Joppa is 50km from Caesarea. But Cornelius obeyed immediately (he’s a soldier). So, when they arrived at Joppa, they had almost arrived at Simon the tanner’s house, and at noon, Peter was praying on the (flat) roof of the house. (Houses were usually small and crowded with many members – so people went to the roof for privacy.)

Peter was hungry and in a trance, a vision. In this vision, he saw a sheet being lowered from heaven with ALL kinds of animals, birds, and fish.

v. 9-12

“9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.”

v. 13-16

“13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.”

  • This happened exactly THREE times.
  • (Look at very 19, THREE men came for him.)

Question:

  • Can you say “No” to your boss? No, you may be fired.
  • So, how can you say “No” to God?

2 Cor 1 “All things can be ‘yes’ in God – to the glory of God.”

  • If God is really your Lord, you cannot say “No”.
  • If you can say “No”, then he is not (yet) really your Lord.

v. 17-20

“17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.””

Next time we will see the message of Peter and their salvation story.

v. 25-33

“25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.””

At the end of last Sunday’s sermon, I said Peter was staying in Joppa after he raised Tabitha to life. Then MANY people turned to the Lord after that – but they needed Christian education, so Peter stayed with Simon the tanner for a considerable time.

Actually, this was an “unclean” job according to Jewish standards. So, this was beginning to break down his prejudice against people who were not like him. Why is this important? In the gospel, all barriers are broken down.

In the Bible, “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile.”

  • Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Greek, slave nor free, we are all one in Christ.”
  • Romans “This righteousness from God comes from faith in Christ.”
  • Romans 10:12-13 “There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles. There is one God who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The Mosaic Law was a barrier between Jews and Gentiles. But this barrier was broken down by Christ’s death on the cross. At the moment of his death, the veil that separated the temple into the Holiest Place and the Holy Place was torn – this was a spiritual symbol.

“Jesus is our peace.”

He has destroyed all barriers between us. His purpose was to create ONE people from the two. He put to death their hostility. He preached peace to the Gentiles and to the Jews. Thus, through Christ we all have access to God through one Holy Spirit.

Do you have any prejudice? “That person is not my style, not my type, not like me.”

Concluding story

(True story in human history)

Mahatma Gandhi

He was a peaceable leader of the resistance against the British Empire’s occupation of India. In his autobiography, he wrote:

In England, he read the Bible very much in his time as a student there. He was very moved, very touched by reading the gospels – especially the Sermon on the Mount (“if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him your left as well”).

He seriously considered becoming a Christian – away from his Hinduism. He thought this might provide a solution to the caste system that divided India.

One Sunday, he went to church and afterward wanted to ask the pastor about salvation. When he arrived, he approached a beautiful sanctuary. But at the gate, an usher stopped him and did not allow Gandhi to enter the sanctuary. “Please go somewhere else – suitable for you.”

After that, he left the church and NEVER came back for his whole life.

Yes, Gandhi liked the teaching of Christ, so he wanted to meet Christ personally. But it was the Christians themselves, not atheists, Hindus, etc, who stopped him from coming to Christ.

Imagine if Gandhi had become a Christian – how much different history would be. We cannot imagine.

Lesson: An usher often has much more authority than a pastor – because if the usher does not let someone in, then they will never hear the message of the pastor.

We often hear the message: “All religions are equal.” No. This is false. Christ alone is the Lord of all humanity and all human beings. Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ.

Remember, whenever we preach the gospel to ANYONE – Jesus confronts them with his strong command and demand to throw away their old values and replace them with himself.

This powerful encounter is indispensable and cannot be avoided – because only Christ Jesus can save.

“Salvation is found in no one else – there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

“I’m an usher of Christ in this world.”

Many churches have made BIG mistakes like this. Even the Korean church – had once separated the church into “men’s side” and “women’s side.”

We must be careful.

“We are all ONE in Christ Jesus.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 26 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Greatest Miracle (Acts 9:32-43)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Greatest Miracle (Acts 9:32-43)

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The Greatest Miracle~!

Acts 9:32-43 (Pastor Heo)

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.


Basic question: what is the greatest miracle God can do for us?

  • Healing the body? Of course, it’s pretty great.
  • Raising the dead? That’s amazing.

But the GREATEST miracle is the salvation of a lost sinner. Winning lost sinners is the greatest miracle that God can do for us – in this or the next world.

  1. Because salvation cost the most expensive price (the blood of Christ).
  2. Because salvation produces the greatest result (eternal life).
  3. Because salvation brings the greatest glory to God (by acknowledging Christ’s kingship, lordship, divinity).

Have you experienced this greatest miracle in your life? Praise the Lord.

Today we are continuing in the study of the book of Acts. After Paul’s amazing conversion story, today the ministry of Peter appears again – specifically the performing of miraculous signs.

There are two stories:

  1. Healing Aeneas (a paralytic)
  2. Raising Dorcas back to life
  3. There is also mention of him staying in Lydda with Simon the tanner

This passage really follows after chp 8:25 “25 When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”

Peter began an itinerant ministry intended to encourage and strengthen the Christians scattered throughout the land. Lydda is Lod today (modern day) – at the site of the Tel Aviv airport.

Peter continually preached and encouraged the believers at that time. But Lydda was primarily a Gentile city.

So, how did the message come to them?

  • Mass conversion at Pentecost?
  • Those who fled persecution in chp 8?

Peter came to visit them in Lydda.

In this place, he came and healed a crippled man named Aeneas.

#1 Miracle: Healing a paralytic

v. 33-34

“33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up.”

This man’s name appears only here in the whole Bible. We don’t know much about him (Jew or Gentile?) but what we know is that he was paralyzed for eight years. He was bedridden and crippled. He was helpless, hopeless, powerless, a burden for himself and others, no prospect for his recovery.

But Peter healed him by the power of Christ. (This was also Peter’s first miracle in chp 3 – healing a crippled man. Also in John 5, Jesus healed a crippled man – paralyzed for 38 years.)

  • In John 5, Jesus said, “Take up your mat and walk.” Immediately, he walked.
  • In chp 3, Peter said, “Silver or gold I have not, but what I have I give you. In the name of Christ, walk.” Immediately, he walked.
  • In chp 9, Peter says, “Jesus Christ heals you.” Immediately he got up and walked.

The authority of Jesus’ name brought full soundness, wholeness to this man.

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

Col 2:3 “In Christ are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

This power, raising physically, spiritually, healing, is possible only by the power of Jesus Christ.

Do you believe Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever?

Do you experience this same power that is working in your life?

Additional Ministry Work

v. 35

“35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”

This miracle was not an end in itself, but just a confirmation of the gospel. He did much more than just healing Aeneas, he continually preached and taught and encouraged.

Remember, the “greatest” miracle we can experience is salvation of a lost sinner. There was great salvation in that area.

Salvation = eternal, glorious, heavenly life – in salvation, all we need is there already – spiritually and physically. Salvation = life eternally.

Think about it. Is it possible to live eternally without being healthy? Impossible. Salvation = perfect health, physical / spiritual. We should be in perfect health to live eternally.

#2 Miracle: Raising the Dead

v. 36-37

“36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.”

Today Joppa is called Jaffa – about 16km from Lydda, which is 60km from Jerusalem. Jaffa is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This place is very important in Bible history as the place from where the prophet Jonah embarked when he tried to flee from God.


Jonah’s story

God called and said, “Go and preach to the sinful city of Ninevah.” He fled. He went to Joppa to take a ship to Tarsis?


Tabitha = “little girl / young deer / gazelle” – her name was Dorcas

She made a great difference in her community – by helping the poor, spiritually and physically. She made robes and other clothing for the poor. She became sick and died and the room was filled with mourners – most probably received big help from Tabitha.

Yes, God uses the Pauls and Peters of the church, but he also uses those who show kindness and helpfulness like this woman, Dorcas.

v. 38-41

“38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.”

The believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in nearby Lydda. To go and find Peter and bring him back would take several hours by two young men. Peter got up and went with them to Joppa. This text indicates the haste with which he moved, {…immediately} – when he arrived, he met the mourners – especially widows who had received much help from Tabitha.

This scene bears a striking resemblance to Jesus’ raising of the daughter of Darius (ruler of the synagogue) in Mark chp 5. Jesus raised 3 people during his ministry.

They called Jesus to their home. Immediately he went, and when he arrived, he met many mourners. He put everyone outside except Peter, James, and John. And he said to her, “Talitha, koum.” Peter was an eyewitness of THAT miracle. So, in this case he followed that example.

  • In Aramaic, “Talitha, koum” = “little deer, get up.”
  • Peter said, “Tabitha, koum” = “little dear, get up.”

There is only ONE difference, the letter “l” or “b”. This means, in both instances, the power of the raising of the dead came from the power of Christ.

As we know, the dead certainly cannot exercise faith.

  • We received salvation by faith,
  • we receive answers to prayer by faith,
  • we experience miracles by faith,
  • we can be healed by faith.

But the dead person cannot exercise faith – they cannot react to Jesus by faith. This means that our salvation is entirely by the grace of God – even our own faith that is working in our salvation is a gift of God.

Eph 2 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, raised us from the dead in Christ. He raised us in Christ and seated us with him in heaven. It is by grace through faith we have been saved, not by works… so that no one can boast.”

Yes, in the healing of Aeneas, we found that the source of the power of healing is only in Jesus.

And in this story, we find that the source of faith, the source of life is also only Christ.

The source of our life / faith is only Christ.

  • Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith.”
  • Jesus, “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son will have eternal life and I will raise him up at the Last Day.”

We may often think of the many things we can do, but the little that Christ can do.

We ought to do the opposite. Think very little of what we can do ourselves, but think much of what we can do through Christ.

Are you believers? Saints?

If we are really born-again Christians, we must think little of what we can do, but much more of what Christ can do in us, because “apart from [him], we can do nothing.”

Conclusion

v. 42-43

“42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.”

Remember the conclusion of the first miracle?

v. 35

“35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.”

Many new believers were added to the church. But the problem – they were new believers. They needed follow-up, discipleship, maturity. So, Peter stayed “for some time” (a considerable time).

Read again the last verse, it’s very meaningful.

v. 43

“43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some [considerable] time with a tanner named Simon.”

It is very significant that Peter stayed with Simon. His job was as a tanner (making leather). This job has contact with dead animals – so this job was very smelly, not honorable by Jewish tradition (unclean). So, a tanner had to live some distance out of the town. According to traditional law at that time, if an engaged woman discovered that her finance was involved with tanning, she could break the engagement. But Peter stayed for a long time with this tanner.

This means, Peter is already beginning to break down his prejudice against those who are not of his kind, traditions, customs.

We can see “saints” two times here.

  • “Saints” = “holy” – this means “different” or “set apart for a purpose”

We are different, set apart for a purpose. But for what purpose?

Yes, we are different, but not for greater honor in this world. We are different for greater service in this world. We are saved for service – to glorify God by preaching for the salvation of others.

“I’m saved to serve others.”

“I’m saved for greater service.”

Can you approach the tanner of today (the social outcast) for the benefit of his salvation? If we are truly saved, there is no one we cannot approach to serve and preach salvation to.

Remember, the GREATEST miracle we can experience in this world is the salvation of a lost sinner.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 19 / 2018
  • Comments Off on What a Transformation! (2) (Acts 9:19-31)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What a Transformation! (2) (Acts 9:19-31)

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What a Transformation! (2)

Acts 9:19-31

Galatians 1:15-21

Acts 9:19-31

18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. 20 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.


Galatians 1:15-21

15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.


What a transformation!

  • The leader became a follower.
  • Persecutor became persecuted.
  • He was a hunter of the saved, but became a hunter of the lost.
  • His physical eyes were closed for three days, but spiritual eyes were opened for eternity.
  • He was a wild bull, but became like a docile lamb to preach the gospel as far as possible.
  • He started to Damascus breathing out murderous threats, but surrendered in humility in Damascus.
  • Paul’s mindset / belief set were turned completely 180 degrees upside-down.
  • Up to then he had been doing what he wanted, what his own will commanded. But from then on, he must do what Christ commanded.

We must understand, if we’re living a Christian life, it means doing what Christ wants us to do. A Christian is a man who stops doing what he wants and does what Christ wants.

v. 19-22

“19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. 20 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.”

If we want to know the chronology of the whole period of Paul’s whole conversion, we must also read Paul’s own account of the matter.

Galatians 1:15-21

When we put these two accounts together, the chain of events runs like this:

  1. Paul is converted on the Damascus road.
  2. He preaches immediately in Damascus.
  3. He goes away to Arabia, the desert.
  4. He returns to Damascus and preaches there again.
  5. After three years, he goes to Jerusalem.
  6. He escapes to Caesarea.
  7. He returns to Syria and Cilicia. (southern Turkey)

We can see Paul began with 2 important things:

1. Immediately witnessed for Christ in Damascus.

At that time, there were many Jews in Damascus – so many synagogues there. It was in those very synagogues where Paul raised up his voice for Christ.

This was boldness, fearless, moral courage. The same synagogues he preached the gospel – were the same synagogues where he had been going to persecute the believers. It would have been much easier to start his Christian life somewhere he wasn’t well known.

“I’m a changed man!”

Those who know me / you best should know that.

“I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

2. Commune alone with God

Not mentioned in Acts, but let me share with you. We can get a hint from Galatians. After that, he went to Arabia (the lonely, isolated desert).

Into Paul’s life had come a life-shattering change, so he had to be alone with God for a time. Before him stretched a new life, so he needed:

  1. Guidance
  2. Strength

For these things, he went to Arabia to be alone with God. Also, he needed time to know three things (we can check ourselves on these as well – are we clear on these?)

  1. Who is Jesus Christ?
  2. Who am I?
  3. What shall I do then?

These are the very basic, fundamental questions.

  1. Who is Christ (to me)?
  2. Who am I (in Christ)?
  3. What shall I do about it then?

#1: Who is Christ?

Remember, on the way to Damascus, Saul heard a voice and saw a bright light:

  • “Saul, why do you persecute me?”
    • “Who are you, Lord?”
  • “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
    • “What shall I do?”
  • “You will be told what to do.”

So, Paul went to Arabia to learn these three things.

Do you know Christ?

  • Jesus says, “This is eternal life, that you may know God and Jesus whom he sent.”
  • Jesus asked two disciples: “Who am I to you?”
  • Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • Jesus: “You are very blessed, but this was revealed to you by my Father in heaven. On this confession, I’ll build my church.”

Those who know Christ have power to open the gates of heaven – to salvation, and also power to bind the workers of Satan.

Phil 3 “Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything in this world a loss for the sake of Christ. I consider everything as rubbish so that I may be found in Christ and know Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.”

Remember, if you know Christ, you will want to know him more.

Do you know Christ?

#2 Who Am I?

Whenever we see Christ truly, we truly see ourselves. This is like when we see our reflection in a mirror.

Isaiah did when he saw the Holy God (chp 6): “Holy, holy, holy, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. The train of his robe filled with the temple.” Immediately he cried in response: “Woe to me, I’m ruined for I’m a man of unclean lips!”

Are your lips clean?

He saw himself as he was – as God saw him.

Paul also needed this same experience – he needed to get over being Saul.

Actually, Saul had two names from the beginning.

Some people think he was Saul in the beginning, then converted, and he changed his name to Paul.

False.

  • Saul is a Hebrew name – after Israel’s first king, Saul.
  • Paul is his Roman name.

Until his conversion, he preferred the name Saul – after Israel’s first king. He was very proud of being a Benjamite (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) – these went into battle in the front lines in history. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee of Pharisees.

  • “Saul” means “asked” – it’s very high.
  • But after his conversion, he preferred the name “Paul” – which means “small.”

He was now yoked to Christ for his service.

Jesus: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, I’m gentle and humble in heart.”

Are you holding Jesus’ yoke on your shoulders?

When God wants us to do an impossible task, God asks an impossible man and crushes him.

God always uses, takes, ourselves to the end of ourselves before he uses us.

But Paul learned who he was in Christ.

Not knowing who Jesus is makes it impossible to know who I am.

#3 What shall I do?

What should you do?

He was chosen – a chosen instrument of God to be a mighty hunter, missionary, apologist. But – he would not only climb mountains, but also endure pain. When Christ called him, he said to him (through Ananias), “I will show you how much you must suffer for my name.”

  • When Jesus called Paul, he did not say, “You must know how blessed you are.”
  • Rather, he said, “I will show you how much you must suffer for my name.”

Paul was prepared for powerful, effective service through the time he spent alone with God in Arabia.

Also, today is the same.

If we want to serve Christ, we need some time to be alone with him. God may not ask us to seclude ourselves for several years, nor even several months, but we need time with Christ – one on one.

Moses also spent 40 years learning to think he was “somebody” – but then spent another 40 years learning who he REALLY was. Only after that, could he serve Christ effectively.

Even Christ spent at least 18 years preparing for the 3 years of his ministry.

  • Also, at the beginning of his ministry, he spent 40 days and nights alone in the desert with God.
  • Moses was also alone with God in the desert.
  • Paul also went to the desert to be with God.

We need to retreat to be with God daily – to have communication with him, to be prepared by him, to have his purposes in us.

We can, yes, immediately be saved, but preparation for ministry never happens overnight. God is never in a hurry. He is building us for eternity.

Remember:

  1. Damascus
  2. Desert (Arabia)
  3. Damascus (3 years) – but the response of the Jews was not good

v. 23-25

“23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”

The Jews even set a guard on the gate lest Paul should escape them. At that time, the Asian cities were walled cities. Those walls were open wide enough for chariots to be driven around the top of them. On the walls there were houses whose windows opened over the walls. And in the dead of night, Paul was taken into one of those houses and let down with a rope in a basket – and smuggled out of Damascus. Then, he began his journey to Jerusalem.

This is only the gateway of his adventures for Christ – but he is already escaping by the skin of his teeth. This is a witness of his courage.

He must have seen the great gatherings against him in the synagogues. He had also seen what had happened to Stephen years ago. And he knew what he himself had intended to do to the Christians. So, he knew well that the Christian life is not a “safe” life in this world.

He knew through his own observations and experiences that a Christian’s life is not easy, not “safe.”

A wolf will never attack a painted sheep.

What idea can you get from this sentence?

Don’t be fake. Counterfeit Christianity is always “safe” in this world, but real Christianity is in danger in this world.

To suffer for Christ is certain proof that others think we really matter.

v. 26-31

“26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

From Damascus, he went to Jerusalem. When he arrived, he found himself regarded with grave doubt and suspicion. How could it be otherwise? They did not believe that Paul became a real Christian. This is natural – from a human perspective.

In this same city, several years ago, Saul had dragged men and women from the church here to prison.

But, we can see how certain people help Paul at certain points in his ministry.

Yes, we also were saved by grace through faith in Christ, but through our faith journey, whether we know it or not, there were several people who helped us grow in faith. Also, we can help others grow in faith.

  1. Stephen helped Paul grow in faith. When Saul was an enemy of the church, Stephen helped with his message and loving, interceding prayer, and death. He gave a great impact to Saul.
  2. Ananias also helped Paul very much when he was in great confusion and bewilderment. He came kindly and said, “Brother Paul, the Lord has sent me to you.”
  3. Barnabas helped with encouragement and confidence. When everyone else was afraid of Paul – doubting him – Barnabas took him by the hand and stood before the apostles with him. How beautiful is the ministry of Barnabas?
    • Giving a word of encouragement,
    • reconciling believers with other believers,
    • taking a risk for Christ in relationships,
    • promoting the ministry of others,
    • giving encouragement,
    • rejoicing in others’ successes.

Even today, God mightily uses men and women like you, like us. We need men and women like Barnabas today.

Barnabas insisted on believing the best of others. When others suspected Paul of being a spy, Barnabas insisted on believing he was a real Christian. Even today, there are two kinds of men.

  1. Those who think the best of others
  2. Those who think the worst of others

Which side are you?

Do you think the best / worst of others?

1 Cor 13 “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Nobody is perfect. Yes, including me, we have failed, made mistakes, sinned. If God held our past against us, nobody could come to God. Who could come to God.

“If you confess you sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Are you Christian?

Please, do not condemn others – NEVER condemn others due to their past failures or mistakes.

God receives us as we are today. We can approach him at any time due to what Christ has done for us on the cross.

v. 31

“31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

This was a time of peace, not complacency. They grew spiritually and numerically.

Acts 1:8

  • The door of faith opened to the Jews in chp 2,
  • opened to Samaritans in chp 8, and
  • will open to the Gentiles in chp 10.

Saul has moved out of the scene, and in chp 10, 15, Peter will appear again. Then, Paul will fill the rest of the pages of Acts.

God changes his workmen.

20 years ago, I was not a pastor in AICF. God changes his workmen, but his work goes on and on continually. Today, you and I are blessed and privileged to be a part of that work.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 12 / 2018
  • Comments Off on What a Transformation! (Acts 9:1-19)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What a Transformation! (Acts 9:1-19)

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What a Transformation!

Acts 9:1-19 (Pastor Heo)

9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. 6 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


This is the conversion story of Saul/Paul

This story is one of the greatest events in church history – after

  1. the coming of the HS at Pentecost, and
  2. the conversion of the Gentiles in chp 10, this –
  3. Paul will become a great apostle to the Gentiles.

This is an event of supreme importance. In world history, both secular and church history. The conversion of Paul is mentioned 3 times in Acts: chp 9, 22, 26.

There is no one else whose conversion story is repeated 3 times – only Saul’s.

As we know,

  • in chp 7, when Stephen was stoned to death, Saul was there, giving approval to his death. And
  • in chp 8, he began to persecute the Christians, dragging them from their houses and putting them in prison.

Actually, Saul’s conversion is not “sudden conversion” – but a “sudden acceptance.”

Saul was there when Stephen died, he heard him and saw him – what he said and how he died. Perhaps something about this stayed with him for the rest of his life. “How could a bad man die like this?” maybe he asked himself. So, he plunged into the most violent action possible in chp 8 – putting Christians into prison. But this only made it worse.

He had to ask himself: “What secret gives them this boldness, peace, joy, etc in the face of suffering, persecution, and even death.”

He went on to the Sanhedrin and asked for a letter of credit to go to Damascus and kill all the Christians to destroy the church. It was about 175 miles northeast from Jerusalem. It was a key commercial city – one of the largest at that time, and it had a large Jewish population. This journey would be taken by foot, for about one week.

The only companions he had were officers of the Sanhedrin. But because he was a Pharisee, he could have nothing to do with them. So, he could only walk and think.

Saul (origin)

v. 1-2

“9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”

When he almost arrived at Damascus, suddenly a light flashed around him – at noontime. It was brighter than the sunlight. Because of this light, he fell to the ground and the voice from the light said, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord.” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” “What should I do?” “Get up and go into the city and you will hear what you should do.” He went and fasted in the city for 3 days.

Saul (transformation)

v. 3-9

“9:3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. 6 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. “

  • Jesus knew Saul by his personal name. Likewise, Jesus also calls us by name.
  • Jesus didn’t say, “Why do you persecute my believers?” but rather, “Why do you persecute me?” Anyone who persecutes the church – even today – is guilty of persecuting Christ – because believers are the body of Christ.

Here, Saul’s experience is no mere hallucination, vision, he saw the actual, risen Lord. Later, he continually insisted that he looked upon the risen Lord just as the disciples did in the Upper Room on the first Easter. Saul continually insists that he saw the risen Lord – and he based his apostleship on this reality.

  • Before, he saw Jesus dead (crucified) but now he saw him alive.
  • He thought he was a bad man, but discovered he was the Messiah, prophesied by the OT. If Jesus is alive, then Paul would have to change his mind about his message.
  • He thought he was God’s man, but discovered that he was persecuting God.
  • He thought he was righteous, but discovered he was a lost sinner – in need of repentance and forgiveness and salvation.

Remember, true conversion comes from a personal encounter with Jesus and gives new life in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Have you ever experienced this true conversion by having a personal meeting with Christ?

In this event, Saul entered Damascus a changed man. What a transformation! What a changed man! (Remember v. 1-2?)

  • He started to go to Damascus to arrest all Christians and take them to Jerusalem. But he arrived totally changed.
  • The persecutor changed into the persecuted.
  • The leader became the follower. And his physical eyes closed, but his spiritual eyes opened.
  • He was like a wild animal, a bull, but became like a lamb – a vessel of honor, the instrument of Christ – to preach the gospel to the ends of the world.
  • He started his journey with murderous threats, but ended with humility and obedience.

What a transformation!

This is the biggest change in his whole life – also in Christian history.

Up to this time, Saul had been doing what he liked and what he wanted – what his will dictated – what he thought best and righteous. But from this time on, he would do what God wants him to do. This is the life of a real Christian. So, let me ask, “what do you do?”

The Christian is the one who has stopped doing what he wants to do and has started doing what God wants him to do.

  • Do you do what you want to do?
  • Or do you do what God wants you to do?

Are you sure that what you’re doing recently is what Christ wants you to do? Or is it just what you want to do?

Also from this story, we can know, “yes” Saul was saved completely by believing in the risen Christ. Saul didn’t choose him, but Christ chose him.

v. 15

“15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.””

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace we are saved, not by works. It is the gift of God, so that no one can boast.”

Saul didn’t choose Christ but Christ chose him.

Eph 1:4-5 “God chose us before the Creation of the world and predestined us to be his sons and daughters through Christ in accordance with his will.”

Jesus “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit.”

This is the greatest conversion story in the church.

  • The greatest persecutor became the greatest preacher.

So, we must not limit God. God can reach anybody and everybody for salvation.

Saul confesses later he is the “chief of sinners” : 1 Tim 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: that Christ died to save sinners, of whom I’m the worst.”

We should never think in our minds: “That person is too strong, impossible to be saved.”

Actually, God “wants all people to be saved – he desires that no one perish.” He can save anyone by his grace through faith in Christ.

Ananias’ story

v. 10-19

“9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.”

Without a doubt, Ananias is one of the forgotten heroes of the Christian church. But God remembers. We can only find his story here – only once.

Yes, Ananias knew the reputation of Saul – he knew Saul’s purpose to come to Damascus. Humanly speaking, he was probably very afraid. But in a vision, God said, “Go, that man is my chosen instrument.”

This mission of Ananias was scary, dangerous, etc. But his first words to Saul were, “Brother Saul…” These men had been the bitterest enemies but they became brothers in Christ. This is one of the strongest examples of Christian love.

From this story of Ananias, we can get 3 lessons.

#1: God can use the most unknown servant in doing something great

Ananias was an obscure and unknown saint at that time – but God used him. Behind many well-known servants of the Lord were many less-known servants. But God keeps a record, and rewards all according to his ministry, service, sacrifice.

What is important is not “faith” before men, but faithfulness before God.

#2: We shouldn’t be afraid to obey God’s command/will

At first, Ananias argued and gave many good reasons not to visit Saul. But we should remember that God had everything under control, and Ananias obeyed. We must remember that God is always working – at first and last.

At the same time that God gave a vision to Ananias, he also gave a vision to Saul.

God’s perfect will is always best.

#3: God’s works are always balanced

This is a kind of miracle.

Anyone among us experienced a “light” from heaven? This is a miracle.

But God’s works are always balanced.

  • He balanced a great, public miracle with a quiet, private meeting with Saul and Ananias.
  • The light and voice were loud, bright, dramatic. But the visit with Ananias was a very ordinary thing.
  • The hand of God pushed Saul from pride to the ground of humility. But he used Ananias’ hand to bring Saul up to where he needed.
  • God spoke directly from heaven, but also spoke through the voice of Ananias.

Today, God is the same. He is doing something great, extraordinary, marvelous, beautiful – but he can use our small-looking obedience in doing his great miracles. He can use ordinary people like you and me in doing his extraordinary miracles.

God bless you.

Still, God is doing his job behind us and ahead of us.

  • Peter preached before several thousand.
  • But Ananias was sent to preach to only one person – Saul – but what a person!

He would become the great apostle for the Gentiles. Even secular historians agree that Paul is one of the great figures in secular world history.

It means that God is doing something great in the invisible world.

  • We know in church history – Billy Graham – he did great things in church history. But who knows who led Billy Graham to Christ?
  • We know Martin Luther, William Carrey, did great jobs in Christian history. But who knows who led them all to Christ? Only God knows.

In our situation, if you preach just to one person, who knows if that person will touch thousands, millions, etc. We do not know. Only God knows. So every person is important before God.

“I’m so important before God.”

All the time, expecting, – when you evangelize one person, maybe that person will touch millions and millions. Through this story, we can know that God does great things through us, around us, and in us.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 05 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Everyday Evangelism (Acts 8:14-40)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Everyday Evangelism (Acts 8:14-40)

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Everyday Evangelism

Acts 8:14-40 (Pastor Heo)

8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road– that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture [Isaiah 53:7-8]: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.


After the death of Stephen, a great persecution broke out against all the church – so they all (except the apostles) were scattered like seed.

Philip went to Samaria and preached there. There was a sorcerer named Simon – he drew attention to himself with his magic skill.

When Philip arrived in Samaria, it was filled with something bad spiritually. He preached powerfully and effectively. So many people were healed spiritually and physically. “There was great joy” in that city.

The apostles in Jerusalem heard this report and sent two apostles to Samaria – Peter and John. They came and prayed for them and laid their hands on the believers there and they received the HS. (v. 16 “because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”)

You may wonder.

  1. They received the Word of God,
  2. they had believed in Christ,
  3. they had been baptized into his name –
  4. but WHY didn’t the HS come?

Actually, without the HS, nobody can believe in Christ. So in this text, receiving the HS was receiving the “gift” of the HS – in some visible phenomenon.

God wanted to unite the Samaritan believers with the church in Jerusalem. God did not want a division of two churches.

We are given the keys of the kingdom of heaven if we believe in Christ. But Peter is the initial person who received these keys.

  • Jesus asked, “How about you? Who do you say I am?”
  • Peter: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
  • Jesus was pleased and said, “You are blessed, this information was not given you by man – but by my Father in heaven. On this rock [your confession of faith], I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

In church history, Peter had the privilege of opening the door of faith to:

  • Jews (chp 3 in Jerusalem),
  • Samaritans (chp 8 here), and
  • Gentiles (chp 10 later).

John

We can see the change in John’s life here also. During his earthly ministry, one day, Jesus had to go to Jerusalem, and had to pass through Samaria. But they didn’t welcome them. John (with his brother) asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?”

  • Just a few years ago, John wanted Samaria to be consumed by fire.
  • But now, a few years later, after the resurrection of Christ, John is laying his hands on the believers to give a different kind of fire (the HS).

Look how differently Christ can change our minds and hearts about others.

Simon

Also we can see the story of Simon (v. 18-19)

“8:18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.””

  • Simony = (term) = from this person
    • Just like Sodomy came from Sodom
  • Simony = “unworthy selling or buying of church offices” (성직매매)

This term came from THIS Simon. He thought he could buy the power of the HS with money. But Peter rebuked him sharply. We must know that the only way to receive the power of the HS is to:

  1. repent from our sins,
  2. turn from them,
  3. ask God for forgiveness,
  4. accept Christ as Savior and Lord, and
  5. be filled with the HS.

No amount of money can buy this.

So what is wrong with Simon?

v. 13 “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”

Simon believed and followed Philip wherever he went. What does this mean, “Simon believed”?

We can answer this with another question. What was the basis of Simon’s faith? Do you believe? In the case of Simon, his faith was not based on the Word of God but on miracles he saw Philip perform. He followed Philip, not to believe in Christ, but to learn the skill for making miracles like Philip had. His faith was not saving faith.

Thus, we must check ourselves to see what kind of faith we have. God is not mocked, not deceived.

In John 2, almost the same thing happened. Many people saw the miracles Jesus was performing, and believed in his name, but he would not entrust himself to them. Their believing was not saving faith.

Of course, they believed SOMETHING about Christ, but did not believe IN Christ. “Even demons believe about Christ” – but there believing is not saving faith.

This event of Simon only shows how close a person can come to salvation without being converted. This Simon heard the message of the gospel, saw the miracles, gave a profession of faith, was baptized, but he was never saved, never born again.

Please, do not be just a church comer / goer. Do not be an “almost” Christian (this is a “non”- Christian). But we must be genuine Christians by believing in Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Philip’s evangelism to the Ethiopian eunuch

v. 26-40

“8:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road– that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”


Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Messiah)

(Summary of Jesus’ life from birth to resurrection)

Jesus’ birth

53: 1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Jesus’ life and ministry

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus’ substitutionary death

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Jesus’ victorious resurrection

10 Yet it was the Lord ‘s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


The angel of the Lord said to Philip in a vision, “go to the desert road on the way to Gaza.” There, he saw a chariot, and inside an Ethiopian eunuch. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was on his way home. He was in charge of the treasury of “Candace” (the public title – not personal name) of the queen of Ethiopia.

God told Philip to approach the chariot. The eunuch was reading out loud.

Can you imagine this picture? The chariot was running and Philip was running beside it.

  • “Hey, do you understand that?”
  • “How can I unless someone explains it? Get in.”
  • He got in.
  • “Who is this prophet talking about? Himself or someone else?”
  • Philip preached Christ from this very passage. (v. 35 “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”)

v. 25 “When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”

Yes, there was still persecution in Jerusalem, but they returned – even knowing there was persecution. This means that evangelism was a lifestyle to them.

v. 40 “Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”

20 years later, Philip was still there preaching the gospel.

The idea of substitutionary death of Christ is one that is found throughout the entire Bible.

  • Genesis 3 – God killed animals to clothe Adam and Eve
  • Genesis 22 – God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice for Isaac
  • Exodus – So many animals died for the people at Passover

All the sacrifices of the OT symbolize the death of Christ. These are substitutionary deaths for the sins of the people.

So, John the Baptist proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of his people.”

This eunuch became a full man in Christ – and wanted everyone to know what happened to his life – when he became baptized.

We can learn principles of evangelism from this story:

The angel of the Lord sent Philip to preach to somebody – angels are wiser than us – they could guide Philip, but angels do not have this great commission for evangelism. This commission is given to God’s people.

This Ethiopian man was so religious and sincere – he was a seeker of the truth and reading the Scriptures, but he was lost and not saved. So, he needed somebody to show the Way to him.

Jesus, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Principles of effective evangelism:

  1. Be where God wants you. God set up the appointment and time with this man
  2. Be watching the people around you. See carefully the people around you and God will help us to perceive who will be receptive and responsive to the message of the gospel.
  3. Be ready to adapt yourself to where others are. In this story, Philip began where that person was, and immediately, clearly, took him where he needed to go.
    • Listening first
    • Meeting the person there and taking him where he needs to go.
  4. Be bold in preaching the gospel.

Let me tell a final story in evangelism history. It is simple, but meaningful to us.

In October 1857, Hudson Taylor (English missionary to China) began his ministry in Ningpo village. He preached the gospel in that village and won many souls to Christ. One of them, Mr. Ni received the message of the gospel was saved and overjoyed and wanted to share his faith with others.

One day, he asked Hudson Taylor, “How long have you had this wonderful news of great joy in England?”

HT: “England has known this message for centuries.”

Ni: “Why didn’t you come sooner? My father died seeking the truth.”

HT: Could not answer this penetrating question.

We can also ask ourselves today.

  • How long have you had / known this gospel? In your personal life.
  • How far have you shared it with others?
  • Up to now, with how many people have you shared this gospel?

This is a serious question given to us in v. 25 “When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”

v. 40 “Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”

Peter, John, and Philip eagerly shared the message of the gospel with others wherever they went. They did not see evangelism as a “scheduled” event to do only at scheduled times and carefully designated places. Why? Because Jesus was LIFE to them. Their personal lives completely changed after being filled with the HS.

Evangelism is a lifestyle to them – because Jesus is life to them.

Is this true for you?

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 29 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Church Reaching Out! (Acts 8:1-13)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Church Reaching Out! (Acts 8:1-13)

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The Church Reaching Out!

Acts 8:1-13 (Pastor Heo)

Let me finish last week’s story about Stephen – the meaning of his death. Here are 5 results of the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

#1 Crown for Stephen

Rev 3:22 “Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Only here at the death of Stephen is Jesus said to be “standing” at the right hand of God. He could not remain sitting, so he stood up to receive the first Christian martyr into heaven.

The death of Stephen and Jesus are similar.

  • They both finished their earthly lives by praying forgiveness for those who were killing them. “Lord, do not hold these sins against them.” Jesus, looking at Stephen at his moment of death, gave Stephen super grace so that he could pray for forgiveness for those who murdered him.

#2 Judgment for Israel

This was the third murder of the people of Israel.

  1. John the Baptist = permitted to be murdered (sin against God the Father who sent him)
  2. Jesus = requested death (sin against God the Son)
  3. Stephen = stoned him (sinned against God the HS, working through the witnesses including Stephen)

Jesus says, “Sin against the ministry of the HS cannot be forgiven.” So, finally, when Titus and the Roman armies invaded and burned the city and the temple in AD 70? the judgment was realized.

#3 Liberation for the early church

The early church had been witnessing first to Jews ever since Pentecost – but now would be directed to take the gospel to other areas – including Judea and Samaria (chp 8).

Yes, they preached at the risk of their lives, but they never went beyond Jerusalem – but the Great Commission says,

  • “You will receive power when the HS comes on you and you will by my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
  • Also Matthew: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
  • Also Mark: “Preach this message to all nations.”

So, the death of Stephen is the turning point / starting point for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

#4 Salvation for Saul

He was the champion for persecuting the church, but he saw and heard Stephen’s message and prayer and glorious, beautiful death. This death was used by God in preparing his meeting with the Lord later – because God never wastes the blood of his saints.

Some time later, Saul would behold the same glory of God that Stephen saw and see him and hear him speak to him.

#5 Living Sacrifices as Christians

A Christian’s death is not death. If we open our spiritual eyes, we will realize that this is just sleeping. When Christians die, they “fall asleep” from God’s perspective.

The body sleeps and the spirit goes into heaven to be with the Lord. Then, when he returns into this world, he will bring the spirits of those who have died, and their bodies will be raised and glorified and their bodies and spirits will be reunited to be with him in glory forever and ever.

God does not call all of us to be martyrs, but we must know that God does call us to be living sacrifices.

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you brothers, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.”

In some ways, living for Christ may be more difficult than to die for him. But if we continually live for him, then we will be prepared to die for him if he calls us to.

As children of God, what is really important is not HOW we die, but for what we die; not HOW LONG we live, but for what we live.

Jesus (Rev) says, “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.”


8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip [one of the 7 deacons, not one of the 12 apostles] and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.


This chp (chp 8) is a very important chapter in the history of the church. The church began as a Jewish institution, but Philip had a mind beyond national limitations and boundaries. So here we can see the church reaching out.

In the beginning of this chapter, we see a “Great Persecution” but wherever they were scattered, they preached the gospel.

The Samaritans formed a bridge between the Jews and Gentiles because they were half-Jew and half-Gentile by descent.

v. 1-4

“8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

The death of Stephen is a signal for the outbreak of Great Persecution that caused all Christians to scatter and seek safety in a remote area of the country. The most dangerous place for Christians was Jerusalem.

Yet, in this most dangerous place, the 12 apostles remained to maintain the local church. But, except these, the rest scattered. Yet, even still, they did not hide in the shadows – but preached the gospel wherever they went.

Also, we can see the zealous Saul, persecutor of the church. He was:

  • born in modern day Turkey,
  • a Pharisee of the Pharisees,
  • a Hebrew of the Hebrews,
  • trained by Gamaliel, and
  • his life seemed blameless,
  • one of the most promising young Pharisees,
  • his ambition for the Law was shown most vividly in his persecution of the church.

At that time, he really thought that persecuting the Christians was one way to serve God.

  • He spent his time arresting Christians, but was soon to be arrested by Christ.
  • He did his best to arrest all Christians up to Damascus, but on the way, he will be arrested by Christ.

v. 5-13

“8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”

Remember, in church history, persecution does to the church what the wind does to seeds. Wind scatters seeds and produces a greater harvest. The Word “scatter” means to “scatter seed.” So, persecution is like scattering seeds. God used this to spread them out and plant seeds to bear more fruit.

  • Some went to Judea and Samaria,
  • others went much farther (the ends of the earth).

Philip at this point, came to Samaria to preach the Word. This was a BIG turning point – a BIG deal – because the Jews, up to now, had no dealings with the Samaritans.

Background:

In history, Israel was one country.

It was divided into 2 countries in BC 915 – southern and northern kingdoms – after Solomon.

In the 8th century, Assyria conquered the Northern kingdom (Samaria) and they put their people in that area.

Later in the 7th century, the Southern kingdom was conquered by Babylon and many were carried away – but they stubbornly remained Jewish – refusing to give up their national identity.

In the 5th century BC, those who were left in Palestine and the Northern kingdom, had intermarried with the Assyrians and other Gentiles.

When the Jews returned to the Southern kingdom to rebuild the temple and the city walls, the Northern kingdom offered their help, but were refused because the Southern kingdom thought they were “dirty” and no longer Jews.

Since then, there was bad blood between the two.

But here, Philip taking the gospel to the Samaritans is a BIG step – helping the Christians to realize that the gospel is truly for ALL people.

Simon, the sorcerer, was there, practicing magic. He made money and drew attention to himself by performing magic. The people exclaimed, “This man [Simon] is the divine power known as the Great Power.” And in this situation, Philip preached the gospel to the people and many miracles and signs and wonders were performed by Philip. And the people believed in Jesus as Savior and they were baptized.

  • When Philip arrived in this area, the people were amazed by Simon.
  • But after the ministry of Philip, that same Simon was amazed by the power of God through Philip.

This is a good reminder that no human power, nor Satanic, demonic, or even angelic power, is any match for the power of the gospel.

So, when we allow the gospel to touch us and change our lives, others around us will be astonished by the transformative effects it has on us.

  • v. 1 – starts with Great Persecution
  • v. 8 – continues with Great Joy in the city of Samaria

The people in that city were afflicted with demonic presences, and sins, so no wonder there was great joy after seeing these things.

Remember that the Samaritans are half-Jew and half-Gentile, but this experience shows that God built a bridge between the two.

Even today, we need people to carry the gospel to new places and challenge ancient ideas because the message of the gospel is “the power of God to all who believe.” It sets spiritual prisoners free, giving us real and powerful freedom.

Acts is the Book of Mission.

  • Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles (The Book of Mission)
  • But we can also say that Acts is the Book of Persecution.

Can you enjoy Joy with Persecution? Ask yourself honestly.

Can I experience REAL joy within persecution? Is it possible?

Acts is a book of persecution. Let me briefly explain how full of persecution it is. If we read first to last:

  • chp 4: Peter and John imprisoned and threatened for preaching and healing in the name of Christ
  • chp 5: apostles in prison and flogged
  • chp 7: Stephen is killed (stoned)
  • chp 8: Great persecution
  • chp 9: Saul is breathing out murderous threats to arrest all Christians up to Damascus
  • chp 10: James killed, Peter in prison
  • chp 11: Paul stoned, threw his body outside the city thinking he was dead
  • chp 16: Paul and Silas in prison, stripped naked, and beaten
  • chp 21: Paul arrested in Jerusalem – and continually tried before the Sanhedrin, the governor, the king, and sent to Rome to be tried by Caesar

This is the book of persecution. Yet, amazingly, there is no atmosphere of depression, darkness, shadows, gloominess, disappointment. There is no phenomenon of darkness.

The Book of Persecution is also the Book of Joy. There is no time to show ALL the verses that have the word “joy”, but let me show 5.

  • chp 2: The ate together in joy
  • chp 5: Left the Sanhedrin rejoicing
  • chp 8: Great joy in that city
  • chp 13: Joy in the HS
  • chp 14: God filled their hearts with joy.

This is the power of real Christians in this world. What is the real meaning of the “gospel” (evangelion) “Good news of Great Joy for All the People”

This is the message of Christ – regardless of the problems, persecution, etc, around us.

“Be joyful always; pray unceasingly; give thanks in all circumstance, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 22 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of Life (Acts 7:1-60)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of Life (Acts 7:1-60)

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Be faithful to the point of death…

Acts 7:1-60 (Pastor Heo)

7:1 Then the high priest asked him, “Arethese charges true?”

2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’

4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. 18 Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt. 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.

20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

35 “This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.

37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: ” ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? 43 You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

44 “Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him.

48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:

49 ” ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’

51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him– 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.


This is my first time to deliver a sermon with 60 verses at one time. I’m challenged to finish this story – but if not this time, I will finish next time.

Humanly speaking, let us honor and respect Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Last Sunday, we saw a story about him (in chp 6) – he was full of 5 holy qualities.

  1. Holy Spirit
  2. wisdom
  3. faith
  4. grace
  5. power

He is the first non-apostle:

  1. to whom miracles were ascribed,
  2. who was questioned before the Sanhedrin,
  3. whose sermon was recorded in the Bible,
  4. the first Christian martyr.

In this sermon, he

  • began with the God of glory and
  • finished with the glory of God –

giving a full panoramic view of the history of Israel. He summarized the whole story of the OT – beginning with Abraham (they were very proud of Abraham and thought he was their first father). They despised Gentiles, but we must remember that Abram was called from Mesopotamia – the land of idol-worship – so he himself was a Gentile when called and saved by the grace of God alone.

He continued to Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and the prophets – and showed how EACH of them pointed to Jesus.

Let’s look at each individually (briefly).

Abraham

v. 2-8

“2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ [Genesis 12:1-3 – this is the turning point for world evangelism] 4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.”

This first calling of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), “through your Seed, all nations on earth will be blessed” – this “Seed” is SINGULAR, not plural – and refers to Jesus.

Gal 3:16 “This Seed is Jesus Christ.” – this is very clear.

Abram is a picture of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “Your father, Abram, rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day.” (He was the father 2,000 years earlier.) “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus IS before Creation – from eternity to eternity.

Joseph

v. 9-17

“9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

[Read to here]

11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money. 17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.”

  • Joseph was hated and sold by his brothers because of jealousy.
    • Also Jesus was hated and sold for thirty pieces of silver because of jealousy.
  • Joseph became the savior of Egypt and those who came to him in the famine.
    • Jesus, likewise, is the Savior of the world to those who come to him.
  • In the brothers’ second visit, Joseph revealed himself “I’m Joseph! Your brother! You sold me!” They must have been trembling and thought they would be killed. But he said, “Do not be afraid, it was God who sent me ahead of you to save many lives. God made me Lord over all Egypt.” And Joseph forgave his brothers.
    • Like this, Jesus forgave those who crucified him.
  • Joseph could save all who came to him from famine.
    • Likewise, Jesus can save all who come to him by faith.

Jesus is the eternal Savior and forgiver of all sins.

Moses

v. 18-44

“18 Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt. 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die. 20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. 23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’ 27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons. 30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. 33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’ 35 “This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. 39 “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: ” ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? 43 You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon. 44 “Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.”

These two (Moses and Jesus) experienced the same thing at their birth.

  • Pharaoh ordered all babies to be killed, so Moses was put outside.
    • Herod also ordered all babies to be killed, so Jesus was put outside of Israel (his parents fled with him to Egypt).
  • Moses was sent by God to them as leader and ruler, but they did not recognize him as such.
    • Jesus also was sent by God as Messiah and they did not recognize him, nor receive him.

John 1 “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And we have seen his glory. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things have been made, and nothing has been made without him. He gives light and life to all. Even though this world was made by Christ, it did not recognize him, it did not receive him…”

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

Moses prophesied Jesus’ coming:

Deuteronomy 18:15 quoted in this passage:

“15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. “

Hebrews 11:26 “26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

Yet, Moses lived 1500 years BC (before Christ).

John 5:46 “If you believed Moses, you would believe me.” (Jesus said) because Moses testified about Jesus.

“46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

Joshua

v. 45

“Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,”

  • Joshua showed the people the Way into the Promised Land. This was his main mission.
    • Jesus himself is the Way into the Promised Land (heaven). “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • Joshua was conqueror of all nations.
    • Jesus also is conqueror of all.
  1. 1 John 3:8
  2. Romans 8:33
  • Joshua shared and distributed all land to the 12 tribes of Israel.
    • Jesus also shares and distributes his glory to his children – “If we are children, we are heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we share in his sufferings, we also will share in his glory.”

David & Solomon

v. 46-50

“46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him. 48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 ” ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?'”

David is referred to as the father of Christ (lineage), but David confessed that Christ was his Lord.

“The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

2 Samuel 6:17 “Your house (David) will last forever.” But where is David’s house today? The king of Israel? “Your kingdom will know no end. Your throne will last forever.”

We cannot see the house, kingdom, throne of David today. Therefore, this is only a picture of Jesus’ house, Jesus’ throne – because he is sitting (now) at the right hand of God.

What was David’s FIRST desire? Not fighting his enemies – he was filled with a burning passion to build the house of God.

  • So he gathered all the materials to do so. But God said, “No, because your hands have shed too much blood.” Then, his son Solomon built the Temple with the materials that David gathered.
  • Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.” (pointing at himself) – the real ministry of the Temple is the ministry of Christ.

Climax (all OT prophets and Jesus Messiah)

v. 51-52

“51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! [because of this verse, the audience was so angry, they covered their ears and gnashed their teeth, and dragged him outside to stone him to death] 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? [OT – 20? or so prophets – ALL the real prophets in the OT were persecuted] They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him–” [Jesus]

Remember and know that all prophets predicted and prophesied Jesus’ coming. This was their main ministry. (Acts 10:43 “43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”)

Just as Jesus was accused falsely, and false witnesses were hired to condemn him, also Stephen had false witnesses brought against him.

His sermon vindicated himself and convicted his hearers.

Their choices were clear: repent, or kill their accuser. Their response was a maddening and murderous stoning.

Someone once said, they stoned him because his sermon was too long…. well….

Conclusion

v. 59-60

“59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

The lesson given to us:

  • What does the death of Stephen mean to us?
  • What was the result of this?
  • What lesson or message can we get?

Here are 2 points.

#1 For Stephen himself = coronation (crown)

the meaning of his name actually is “crown”

Rev 2:10 “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.”

For himself, this was his crown. He saw the glory of God and the Son of God standing at the right hand of God to receive him into heaven. Usually, Jesus is said to be sitting at the right hand of God, but only HERE, he is standing. Of course, he could not stay sitting at this sight. He had to stand up to welcome the first Christian martyr. This is the Final time the “Son of Man” title is used in the Bible. (v. 56)

This title “Son of Man” is not used any longer in the remainder of the Bible. This is definitely a Messianic title – and Stephen’s use of it is one more witness that Christ is the Messiah.

Stephen was tried, killed, and prayed his final words in a similar manner as Christ.

  • Christ’s prayer, “Father, receive my spirit and do not hold this sin against them.”
  • Stephen, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and do not hold this sin against them.”

Stephen had 5 holy qualities:

  1. Holy Spirit
  2. wisdom
  3. faith
  4. grace
  5. power

And at the end, he was super-empowered with extra grace to forgive his murderers.

#2 For Israel = condemnation (judgment)

This was Israel’s 3rd murder.

  1. John the Baptist – permitted –
    • sin against God the Father who’d sent him
  2. Jesus – requested –
    • sin against God the Son who came to save them
  3. Stephen – enacted themselves –
    • sin against God the Holy Spirit who was working in and through the witnesses of Christ – including Stephen

Christ once said, “Sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.” This judgment came in AD 70 when Titus and the Roman generals destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Bible promised in Rev 2:10:

“Be faithful even to the point of death,
and I will give you the crown of life.”

Can you?

The Bible says, “If we die, we die to/for the Lord, if we live, we to/for the Lord. Whether we live or die, we do so to the Lord.”

Let’s pray.

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