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  • Apr 14 / 2019
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Righteousness, Self-control, and the Judgment to Come (Acts 24:1-27)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Acts 24:1-27 (Pastor Heo)

The Trial Before Felix

1 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

9 The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.

10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin– 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ”

22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.

24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.


In Jerusalem, 40 men? took a vow to never eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Paul’s nephew heard of this and told the commander. The commander sent him to his higher-up Felix, the governor, guided by 470 soldiers. Felix received Paul and said, “I will hear you when your accusers come here” and put him under guard. Five days later, the accusers (the high priest and some elders) arrived. This is the same high priest who ordered Paul to be stricken on the mouth in the Sanhedrin. They also employed a professional lawyer (Tertullus).

Three parts in today’s sermon:

  1. Paul’s accusers’ (false) accusations (v. 1-9)
  2. Paul’s (faithful) answers to his charges (v. 10-21)
  3. The governor Felix’s (foolish) response to this case (v. 22-27)

Tertullus begins (v. 2-3) with nauseating flattery.

v. 2-3

“2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude.”

This is untrue – blatant flattery.

v. 4-9 = Accusations

“4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.

5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

9 The Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true. “

Tertullus declared Paul a man of evil character, guilty of three things:

  1. Troublemaker (sedition)
  2. Ringleader of the Nazarene sect (heresy)
  3. Desecrate the temple

v. 10-21 Paul’s answer

“10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that *no more than twelve days ago* [Paul had been in Jerusalem less than 7 days] I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin– 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ” “

In his speech, Paul did not flattery Felix, he merely recognized his experience and knowledge. Then he began his defense in the order in which the charges had been made.

  1. Troublemaker (sedition)
    • “I had been there less than 7 days. I gathered no assembly nor crowd.”
  2. Ringleader of a cult (heresy)
    • “I believe in the same God they do. I’m a Christian, but accept the whole Old Testament. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I worship a different God. I worship the same God in a new, living, acceptable way (through Christ).”
  3. Desecrator / defiler of the temple
    • “I came to Jerusalem with 2 purposes: to bring alms to the poor; to offer sacrifices in the temple (to honor my Nazarite vow).”

In the temple, he was performing this Nazarite offering to God, but he was falsely arrested and accused by the crowd. But no one from that crowd is present now. So those who are there now had no right / privilege to accuse Paul now. None of them were there at that moment.

After listening to Paul’s answer, his accusers could not refute Paul anymore, so court was adjourned.

v. 22-23

“22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. “

Felix said he would wait for the commander who sent him to come. But the commander never came – so Paul remained in prison for 2 years.

v. 24

“24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.”

  • Druscilla was Felix’s 3rd wife.
  • She was Herod’s daughter
  • Her grandfather tried to kill Jesus in Bethlehem);
  • her great uncle killed John the Baptist;
  • her father Herod Agrippa I killed the apostle James.

Now we can see the foolish attitude of this couple.

v. 25-27

“25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. 27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. “

In the next chapter, 25, Paul will stand before Festus.

Felix put Paul in prison for at least 2 years until he finished his governorship, then handed Paul over to his successor.

There are two reasons for this:

(Felix knew Paul was not guilty – he should have been set free)

  1. To get a bribe from Paul (wait, he’s rich enough – but he still wants dirty money from the poor prisoner)
  2. To gain popularity from the Jews

He was a judge, but his concern was not justice, it was fame and popularity and money. So, Paul preached the gospel to this couple in three points – and it made them uncomfortable:

  1. Righteousness
  2. Self-control
  3. Judgment to come

These three points are so relevant to this couple. Not only to them, but also to us today in this church building – these three topics are so important and necessary.

Today’s sermon topic:

Righteousness, Self-control, the Judgment to Come

Let us ponder these things again under the guidance and illumination of the HS.

Righteousness

  • We must do something about yesterday’s sin.

God is righteous and holy. Because he is, he demands righteousness / holiness from us.

“Be holy; be righteous” – the Bible commands this. But it is impossible. But the good news: the same God who demands this provides his own righteousness for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.

  • Romans 3 “Therefore, no one will become declared righteous through observing the Law. Rather, we will become aware of sin. But a new righteousness has been made known and comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe in him.” There is no different “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  • “God gave his one and only Son as a sacrifice of atonement to give his own blood as atonement.” (John) We are only made righteous through his righteousness.
  • “There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

We are not sinless, but we are free from the power of sin when we trust Christ as personal Savior and Lord. This is good news!

Self-Control

  • We must do something about today’s temptation / challenge.

Mankind can control almost EVERYTHING in nature – except themselves.

Christian messages are not merely platitudes, but they contain hard-hitting behaviors. That’s why one of the fruit of the HS is self-control.

  • Others: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control – against these things there is no Law. (Gal 5)

The Christian life is not an easy life – it is a fighting life against temptation and against the sinful nature. You (me) are fighting against our old selves.

  • Gal 5:24-26 “Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Self-control is so important in the Christian life.

Judgment

  • We must do something about the future’s judgment.
  • 2 Cor 5:1 “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, not built by human hands.”

Our physical lives in this world are like tents – so our lives after this world are like buildings. While in our earthly lives, we are offered so many choices (jobs, careers, hobbies, countries); but eternity offers only two options (heaven, hell).

In this earth, so many countries, but in eternity, only two. Our relationship with God on earth will determine our relationship with him in eternity.

So we must live in light of eternity.

When we live like this, so many of our problems and worries will appear small and trivial; our values will change; our priorities will be rearranged. The more precious Jesus becomes to us, the less precious everything else becomes.

  • Paul “I consider everything LOSS compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. I consider all things rubbish so that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

“Hosanna” = “You are my Savior”

Is Jesus your Savior? Even kindergarteners can answer. But we must remember –

  • He MUST be our Savior,
    • otherwise he will be our Judge.
  • He must be Lord and King,
    • otherwise we will become slaves to something that will become nothing.
  • He must be our God,
    • otherwise we will worship something else as god = idolatry.

v. 25

“25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, *Felix was afraid* [Holy Spirit conviction – but he rejected / delayed] and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient [delay], I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently [with wrong motives] and talked with him.

27 When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison. “

Yes, we know Paul was a champion in sharing the message of the gospel. Felix had 2 years opportunity to be saved through the message of Paul – but he missed it because he continuously delayed. “When I find it convenient…”

Procrastination = a thief of time / our souls

  • Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow because you do not know what a day may bring forth…”

Past is past; present is present (gift); tomorrow is not ours – it belongs to God.

— Story —

One day in Hell, there was a meeting of Satan and his living demons. He commanded them to think up a good lie to bring more souls to Hell. (Satan is the Father of Lies). The demons gathered and tried to create lies to bring more souls to Hell.

  1. “People of earth! There’s no God!” Satan said, “It will never work – everyone will look around at Creation and know there is a God.”
  2. “There’s no heaven!” – Satan “No good. Everybody knows there is life after physical death. And they all want to go to heaven.”
  3. “There’s no Hell!” – Satan “No good. Their conscience knows their sins will be judged. Their spirits already know there is Hell, that’s why they are afraid of death.”
  4. “There’s no hurry!” – Satan “Good idea!”
  • Prov “Do not boast about tomorrow”
  • 2 Cor 2:6 “NOW (x5) is the time of God’s grace! Now is the day of salvation!”
  • The best time to believe in Christ is NOW!
  • The best time to trust him is NOW!
  • The best time to confess him as King and Savior and Lord is NOW!
  • The best time to tell others the gospel message is NOW!

NOW is the time of God’s favor / grace / mercy / salvation.

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 07 / 2019
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What Did you Lose and Gain for Christ? (Acts 23:11-35)

Download Notes in a .MD file

11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

The Plot to Kill Paul

12 The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”

16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him to the commander.

The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

20 He said: “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

22 The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”

Paul Transferred to Caesarea

23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
25 He wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.

31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

[Background to Paul's story]

Paul confessed that he would go to Jerusalem, and that the Holy Spirit told him he would face many trials and hardships there.

Chp 21, he arrived – and they seized him immediately and tried to kill him. The Roman commander came and bound Paul in chains – and tried to torture Paul to know the truth. But Paul revealed his Roman citizenship. So, the commander put him before the Sanhedrin – and even they were divided by his confession in the resurrection.

The commander then took Paul out and put him in the barracks. Paul was staying in the barracks that night. There may be no record, but we can guess at his emotion – tired, humiliated, lonely, depressed – but the fact was, he was not alone. Jesus was with him and said, “Take heart – take courage. You shall go to Rome. You shall not die until you testify in Rome.” The story from the beginning to the end of this section of Acts is a set of circumstances that brought Paul from Jerusalem to Rome.

[/Background of Paul's story]

23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

The Plot to Kill Paul

12 The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”

16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18So he took him to the commander.

The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

20 He said: “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

22 The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”

Paul Transferred to Caesarea

23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”

25 He wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.

31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.


Jesus said to Paul, “take courage” – but this does not mean “easy life”. Also he said, “you will go to Rome” – but this does not mean “with nothing to do”. There would be hardships and sufferings yet. He must overcome and prevail.

Paul was in the barracks and heard the voice of Christ, but almost at the same time, more than 40 men took an oath to kill him.

How foolish! They should eat and drink WELL to kill Paul! But actually at that time, people would vow with “May God curse me if I fail” – yet God had promised Paul to deliver him to Rome. So, these men could NEVER kill Paul. They went to the chief priests and elders and asked them to request Paul at the council chambers again – they would ambush him along the way.

v. 12-15

“12 The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.” “

Please, when you decide to do some thing – be careful to do the WILL of God. Actually if we decide to do something against the will of God, it will be like a curse to me. Their plan was laid bare to the nephew of Paul.

v. 16-22

“16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him to the commander.

The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

20 He said: “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

22 The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.” ”

Their evil plan was revealed to the nephew of Paul. This was the first (and last) biblical record of Paul’s family (Paul’s sister’s son). We know nothing about him – name, age, job, nor how he heard about this plan. Anyway, he found out the plan and came to Paul in the barracks (he was able to visit him) – because at that time, Roman prisoners were accessible by their families – to bring food or clothes, etc.

Immediately, Paul heard the bad news, and called the centurion to bring the commander. He brought him to the commander and relayed his story. The commander took him by the hand (maybe he is very young, like a teenager). The nephew then told of the plan of the Jews.

The commander heard this and sent him away (“Do not tell anyone you have said this to me.”) The commander then prepared an amazing thing – 470 soldiers to escort this ONE man. God is so interesting.

v. 23-24

“23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.””

(Paul even got a horse)

The commander knew that if Paul was killed by the assassins, it was his responsibility – so he wanted to get him OUT of Jerusalem and send him to a higher office (the governor).

Can you imagine this picture?

  • 200 soldiers
  • 70 horsemen
  • 200 spearmen

vs.

  • 40 would-be assassins

At that time, Caesarea was the Roman headquarters for that area even though Jerusalem was under Roman control. Felix was the governor of the Jewish people at that time – the same position as Pontius Pilate.

The commander wrote a letter to send:

v. 25-30

“25 He wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him. “

The commander’s full name is here for the first time: Claudius Lysias. (Lysias was a Greek name – maybe he was born Greek. Claudius was probably added to his name when he purchased his Roman citizenship – Claudius was the emperor at that time.)

In his letter, he rearranged the order of events, omitting his own fault in these things – bound Paul and tried to beat him.

Paul left Jerusalem for Caesarea:

v. 31-35

31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

In his career, again and again Paul was smuggled out of towns under the cover of night

  • chp 9, Damascus – they waited day and night at the gates to kill Paul, but his followers lowered him from the wall in a basket.
  • chp 17 – Thessalonica – they tried to seize Paul, but his followers sent him away at night.
  • chp 23 – Paul left town at night – like a king – on a horse, surrounded by 470 soldiers, not like a prisoner)
  • From Jerusalem to Antipatris – 470 soldiers – to avoid ambush
  • From Antipatris to Caesarea – only 70 horsemen for speed.

Practical lessons

  • Q: not happy, but serious and important:
    • 1. What did you LOSE / give up for Jesus?

This is a serious but important and practical question.

  • What did *I* give up for Christ? – who gave *all* things for me?

If Jesus is really your Lord, Savior, God, King, continually ask yourself, “What did *I* give up for Christ?”

Phi 3:7-9

“Whatever I gained I consider as loss for the sake of Christ … for whose sake I have lost all things – I consider these things rubbish so I may gain and be found in Christ alone.”

“I want to *know* Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering!”

Are you disciples of Christ?

If you are really disciples, be very careful to listen to his voice.

Matthew, Mark, Luke

  • “Anyone who loves his father/mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who does not take up his cross daily and follow me is not worthy of me. If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. “ – not once a week, not once a year – daily
  • Jesus gave us his life – “I give you eternal life; you shall never perish; no one can snatch you out of my hand. My father is greater than all, so no one can snatch you out of my hand.”

Yes, God is so dramatic in handling these things. Be encouraged by the fact that God is there, Jesus is THERE – not only in the case of Paul, but even today.

  • “I will never leave you, nor forsake you; I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In our darkest dungeon, Jesus is there.

Is is a scary hospital? Hardworking factory? Lonely kitchen? Jesus is THERE – he is spirit.

  • Psalm “Where can I go to flee from your Spirit? If I go to the heaven, you are there; if I go to the depths, you are there; if I rise on the wings of dawn, you are there; if I settle on the far side of the sea, you are there.”

Recognize and proclaim this: fact is fact: God is here and now with me.

Our ways are so very limited. Our ideas are limited, desires, place, etc. But God’s ways, designs, source, are limitless. Don’t you agree? Then don’t limit God yourself by asking God to do things YOUR way.

When God intervenes, things can happen so much MORE and BETTER than we can anticipate! Let God surprise you.

“Let God surprise me!~”

  • Isaiah 55 “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.”

God is present anytime, anyplace. He is providing, preserving, preparing, prevailing.

Conclusion:

“God prevails”

Preach the Word in season and out of season. God prevails. God overcomes. Are you ready?

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 31 / 2019
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Take Courage!

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Acts 22:21-23:11 (Pastor Heo)

[Review last week]

The crowd was angry at Paul and mobbed him.

A Roman commander came and arrested him and started to take him away to calm the mob.

Paul asked to speak to the crowd, so the commander let him.

He spoke in Aramaic, so the commander didn’t understand – except that he riled up the crowd again.

He commanded Paul be taken and flogged.

“Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen?”

Surprised, the commander said, “I paid lots of money for my citizenship.”

Paul, “I was born one.”

Eventually, the commander handed him over to the Sanhedrin to deal with this.

[/Review]

21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

Paul the Roman Citizen

22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”

27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

29 Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

Before the Sanhedrin

30 The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.

23:1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”

5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'”

6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

**11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” **


Now we see the picture:

Paul is standing before the Sanhedrin – much as Jesus once did. Jesus’ apostles Peter, James, and John were also there, and now here is Paul.

Look at how many great opportunities they had to be saved, but they missed them all.

v. 1

“Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.'”

“Conscience” is one of Paul’s favorite words. (here and 24:16 “I did my best to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”) – He also mentioned this word 20 times in his epistles.

Conscience is the inner witness that approves when we do right and disapproves when we do wrong. It does not make the standards, it only applies the standards of any person – right or wrong, good or bad.

Conscience can be related to a window. God’s Word is the light. The cleaner the window, the more light shines in.

  • Good / pure consciences are those that let God’s light in so that we are properly convicted when we do wrong and encouraged when we do right.
  • Defiled consciences are those that have been sinned against so much, they become unreliable. These consciences become evil, seared consciences.

Imagine this situation with Paul. This is the Supreme Court.

Usually, when addressing the court, they will bow, and address, “Rulers of the people, and elders of the nation…” But Paul said, “My brothers…” – he put himself on equal footing with the court.

Due to this initial address, they were so angry. The High Priest ordered he be struck!

Paul said, “God will strike you! You sit in the seat of the Law, but violate that Law!”

Others, “He’s the High Priest.”

Paul, “Ooops, sorry, didn’t know that.” (is this truth or a lie? we don’t actually know)

Then, in THIS situation, he began his defense again.


To the crowd, he shared with his personal experience.

Now, to the court, he shared with his faith, in the resurrection of the dead.

  • According to their doctrine, Sadducees were “sad, you see” and didn’t believe in spiritual things – they only believed in the visible, secular world.
  • But the Pharisees believed in spirits, and angels, and the resurrection of the dead.

So, there became an uproar in the court over this, and Paul was again in the middle of it. He was taken out by the guards and thrown again into the dark barracks.

Imagine how Paul would feel in this situation. This was one of the darkest nights in Paul’s life. Paul was emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted and humiliated – he was completely alone and disheartened.

In this situation (we also can become like this) Jesus himself stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!”

v. 11

“11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” “

This story is similar to the story in the OT with Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. When these three spoke BOLDLY and the king threatened to throw them into the fire, the three said to him, “King! We do not defend ourselves before you only. God is able to rescue us from this fire! But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will never serve your gods, nor bow to the image of gold you have made!”

They were thrown into the fire, and the guards who took them close died from the heat. The king looked in, and saw FOUR! men. He’s an unbeliever, but he saw four men walking through the fire, unbound, unharmed. The fourth man looked like a Son of God.

(This is another pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ in human history.)

John 1:14 – We know that Jesus was incarnated as a baby.

But here, in the OT, we also see the incarnation of God.

And again, Jesus – the same yesterday, today, and forever – stood beside Paul and said, “Take courage!”

This same sentence is still being spoken by Christ to us today~ but some hear and others don’t here.

There are 5 times in the NT this encouragement is spoken by Christ. In all situations, it is ONLY Jesus Christ who said, “Take heart, take courage.” Only Jesus has the right to say this to us.

  1. To the bedridden paralytic – “Take heart! Your sins are forgiven.”
  2. A woman, subjected to bleeding for 12 years – touched his cloak (he knew who) – “My daughter, take heart! Your faith has healed you.”
  3. To his terrified disciples, on the stormy sea, Jesus approached by walking on the water (they thought it was a ghost) – “Take courage! It is I!”
  4. On the night before his crucifixion, in the upper room – “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in me.” (Also in John – “Take heart! For I have overcome the world!”)
  5. Here in Acts – to Paul

All of these are only said by Jesus.

If I say to you, ‘Take courage’ it will have a minor impact. But if CHRIST says this to you – directly, strongly – it will have a MAJOR impact on your life – because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

  1. So, HOW can we listen to his living voice today, now and here?
  2. A: Through his Word.
  • John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word… we have seen his glory…”
  • Romans 10 “Do not say in your hearts, who will ascend or descend to bring Christ to you? The Word is near you – in your mouth, in your heart.”

We can hear his Word through the Bible.

Also, in the OT, God said to Joshua this same message – multiple times, “Be strong and VERY courageous!”

  • Joshua “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
  • Psalm 1:2 “Blessed is the man who meditates on the word of the Lord day and night…”

HOW can we meditate on the Word of God?

We already know (in our hearts).

Do you know how to worry? You think about it all the time, all the ins-and-outs, all the bad possibilities. You are meditating on your worry…

If you think about something over and over in your mind – this is meditation.

  • If you think negatively over and over in your mind, this is worry. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.
  • If you think about the Word of God over and over in your mind, this is meditation.

Merely shift your attention from your PROBLEM -> The WORD of God. The MORE you meditation on the Word of God, the less you will worry. (Your mind cannot think about both things at once. Whichever you meditate on will fill your thoughts.)

Romans 8:34 “Who is it that condemns us? Jesus Christ is sitting on the right hand of God and interceding for us.”

TAKE COURAGE!

There are three messages here:

  1. Message of Courage (encouragement)
  2. Message of Commendation (praise) – “As *you have* testified about me in Jerusalem” – Jesus did not rebuke him for no (obvious) fruit, but Jesus praised him for his ministry. Remember, there is NO failure in our preaching the gospel to this world – because preaching the gospel ITSELF is success.
  3. Message of Confidence – “You *will go* to Rome.” (You will not die before you finish your mission)

Are you servants of Christ? Then you have a mission – given to you by Christ. And the servants of Christ are immortal until your task is DONE. No servant of Christ dies until his / her task is done – that which is given by Christ.

“Take courage” has so many messages

  • …because I’m with you.
  • …because I care for you,
  • I’m responsible for you, your life,
  • I will do my job through you,

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 24 / 2019
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Same and Different

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Acts 22:1-21 (Pastor Heo)

[Background from last week (chp 21). After Paul was arrested and being carried to the barracks, he decided: NOW was the time to share his story.]

1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.” 2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

3 Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’

8 ” ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

9 ” ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10 ” ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.

11 ” ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking. ‘Quick!’ he said to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’

19 ” ‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”


In the Bible, Paul is the only person whose conversion experience is repeated more than once. (Here, chp 22, and chp 26).

Paul is calling the people who arrested him, beat him, and tried to kill him as, “brothers and fathers.” How is this possible? He was filled with the HS. The HS makes us gentle, kind, meek, etc.

“Listen to my defense” – in Greek (apollo gia) – from this Greek word “apologize / apologetics.” In seminary, there is the “study of reasonable, logical Christian faith and doctrine” – Apologetics – and we are all apologists (defenders of the Christian doctrine).

Paul’s defense is paradoxical. It emphasizes two different things.

1. Stresses his Identification

(and commonality with those he wishes to evangelize)

v. 2-5 (He identifies himself with the crowd)

For example: “Yes, my practical language is Aramaic, I’m a Jew, I grew up here, I was educated under Gamaliel – whom you all respect (one of the greatest scholars of that time), and I was once zealous for God as you are today – but wrongly. I persecuted Christians once as you are now persecuting me. I arrested them, as you are arresting me. I was like you at one time.”

2. Emphasized the difference between himself and the crowd

“I met Jesus. I was converted and the conversion was not an issue of defection, but divine intervention. I met Christ, the God of the Jews and the Gentiles, the God of all people.”

“Even though I’m in this world, Jesus has set me apart and consecrated me for a special purpose.”

I’m the same as you, but I’m different from you.

  • This is also our identification
    • without loss of our identity.
  • Also Christ was identified with us
    • without loss of his identity.

This is the key point, main idea, given to us in this text.

“Jesus is like me” – born as a full man, lived in a particular part of history, with a birthday and birth place – born as a boy baby in a real time, way, through a real human mother. He grew up in wisdom and stature as human beings do. He was subject to the ordinary laws of human development in body and soul. He possessed a human nature, was subject to human weakness and infirmaries (he had to eat, sleep, rest – experienced hunger, sickness, pain, etc). He exposed himself to all kinds of temptations we experience today.

  • Hebrews 2:18 “Jesus suffered when he was tempted, so he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
  • “We do not have a High Priest with is unable to sympathize with us – he was tempted as we are in every way, yet was without sin.”

That’s why he can empathize with us fully because he experienced these things.

  • “Jesus is different from me.” – fully God.
  • “Jesus is God.”
  • “Jesus is full God.”

There are 5 things to share as evidence of Jesus’ divinity.

1. Divine titles are given to Christ

He’s called “Son of God”, Savior, Lord, Alpha and Omega, First and Last. But more importantly, he is called directly “God.”

The English word “Lord” is translated from Greek “cureos” is translated from Hebrew “adonai” which means “God.”

“Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

2. Divine worship is ascribed to him

Who are you worshiping now?

Jesus himself says, “Worship belongs to God alone.”

  • In the temptation of Christ, Satan tempted him, “If you bow down and worship me, I’ll give you all these things.”
  • Jesus refused and quoted Scripture: “Go away from me, it is written, ‘Worship God alone.'”

“At the name of Christ, all knees should bow and all tongues confess that Christ is Lord.”

All creation, all angels, spiritual beings, all humans will worship Christ. This means, he is “God.”

3. He possesses qualities and properties of divinity

1. Pre-existence

Before Creation of the world, he IS. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Before the foundation of the universe, I AM.

John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

2. He has self-existence and life-giving power

John 1:1 “In him was Light and the light was life giving.”

Jesus says, “I’m Life.” – this means he is self-existent outside our life. All life has its source in Christ.

3. He possesses immutability

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

All Creation changes – the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, you and me. Only God is unchangeable, immutable in his character, power, wisdom, etc. Only God is unchangeable. And Jesus is unchangeable. “He is…” God.

The fullness of diety dwells in Christ

The very essence and nature of God are in Christ.

4. Divine jobs are ascribed to Christ

  • What is your job? Everybody has a job.
  • Man has man’s job, God has God’s job.
  • What is the business of God?
    • Creating

Can you create something out of nothing? No. Only God is creator. Jesus is Creator of the universe.

John “Through Christ, all things were created. All that has been made has been made through him and finds its being in him.”

The Creation is the revelation of Christ’s mind, wisdom, power, and might.

He is sustainer of all things, keeper of all things, before all Creation, and in him, all things hold together.

Hebrews: “Christ is the exact representation of God’s glory and sustaining all things through his powerful word.”

Jesus’ powerful word causes all things to hold together.

The pulse (in your heart) of life is regulated and controlled by the throbbing of the mighty heart of Christ – creator, sustainer, forgiver.

He alone has the right and authority to forgive sins. But forgiveness of sin is the right of only God.

He does not merely say, “You’re forgiven” but he actually, actively forgives our sins.

“The blood of Christ purifies our sins.”

5. He raises the dead

This is the job of God. But Jesus repeats this several times in the book of John, “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live though he die… And I will raise them up in the final day.”

6. He is the judge over all Creation

These are the jobs of God:

  1. Creator
  2. Sustainer
  3. Forgiver
  4. Raiser of the Dead
  5. Judge

Through these jobs, we can know that Jesus is God.

Divine Attributes

1. Omnipotent (All powerful)

“All authority, all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” – Jesus

We know the storm (typhoon) obeyed Christ. All Creation obeys Christ – this means he has all power and authority on earth – also in heaven, and also in hell – even Satan obeys Christ.

2. Omniscience (all-knowing)

He knows all and sees all – past, present, and future.

He does not learn this knowledge by study – he simply knows everything through immediate perception.

Jesus knows all realities, possibilities, all potential, all happenings, all motives, all thoughts, all secrets, all mysteries. He knows what you are thinking – he knows our hidden motives. He knows, and we have nothing to hide from the sight of God.

3. Omnipresence (everywhere at once)

He fills all things at all times – he is in all men, all evangelists, all missionaries, all Creation.

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, so go and make disciples of all nations. And behold, I am with you always until the end of the Age.” (Great Commission)

Jesus is the same as us, but also different.

Also, Paul is explaining this to the men in Jerusalem.

Also, we are the same as this.

We have certain similarities with others, non-believers – membership cards, skills, passions, workplaces, age, children, life status, life situation. Take these things and use them as a springboard for the gospel.

Jesus also did this for the Samaritan woman at the well.

What was her immediate concern? Water.

She came to the well for water. So, Jesus approached her through the matter of water. “Will you also give me something to drink?” Because her first concern was water, Jesus approached her with water.

But soon, Jesus shifted from physical water to spiritual water. “Whoever drinks this water, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. The water I give them will be a spring of water welling up in them to eternal life.”

Soon, she was evangelized by Christ and immediately she also became a powerful evangelist (running into the town to tell everyone).

Her life up to that point had been very shameful – she’d had 5 husbands up to that time, and she didn’t like to speak in public. But in leaving her water, she ran into town, shouting and proclaiming, “Come and see!”

Question:

Is Jesus your Lord?

IF Jesus is really really your Lord (my Lord), we should say to him (every day, every moment), “What shall I do, Lord?”

If he is your Lord, this means, you are his servant / slave. So, you must be ready ALL THE TIME to obey the command of the Lord.

Paul saw Jesus as Lord, and his FIRST response was, “What shall I do, Lord?”

This means he was READY to obey the command of Christ.

So, if Jesus is really your Lord, you should be prepared ALL THE TIME to say, “Lord, what shall I do?”

Then, when we ask this, we must LISTEN.

LISTEN….

If you do like this, “Lord, what must I do?” and immediately go do your own thing, then this sentence is useless. You must be ready to LISTEN.

Jesus spoke to Saul from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Jesus spoke to Paul through Ananias.

He spoke to Paul through his friends, and through circumstances, and through visions / dreams.

Jesus spoke to Paul in several ways.

Like this, today, because Jesus is alive and the same yesterday, today, and forever, IF we ask, “Lord, what shall I do?”, then he will speak to us in various ways – but most of all through:

Bible, meditation, circumstances, friends, prayer,

And we must make it our goal to LISTEN to what he’s saying to us.

  • The right question is NOT: “Is Christ speaking to me?” (He IS)
  • The right question is rather: “Am I listening to Christ?” (Are you?)

Last verse: “Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”

Here there is a very strong commandment.

  • v. 10: “get up!”
  • v. 16 “get up!”
  • v. 18 “quick!”
  • v. 21 “go!”

Jesus calling today is the same, in only two words:

  1. “COME” (to me)
  2. “GO” (into the world)

Get up! Get up! Quick! Go!

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 17 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Paul was Arrested but God Overruled!
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Paul was Arrested but God Overruled!

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Acts 21:17-40 (Pastor Heo)

Paul’s Arrival at Jerusalem

17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” [From the Jerusalem council in chp 15]

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.


At long last, Paul was welcomed by the church, and reported thoroughly what God had done among them. They praised and glorified God. This meeting is very important in Jerusalem. “All the elders…” (including James – the leader of the Jerusalem church – the senior pastor). This James was Jesus’ half brother.

He was not one of the original 12 who had followed Jesus, but he was still called an Apostle. Peter, James, and John – were Jesus’ closest friends, but at this time, James was already martyred. And Peter and John were elsewhere on other missions. So, this James was left in charge of the church at Jerusalem.

The church at Jerusalem was a horribly persecuted church (after the death of Stephen) and was undergoing hardship and famine.

There were reports among Jewish believers in Jerusalem about Paul. Even though they became Christians, they loved their Jewish culture and law (circumcision, etc). The rumor was that Paul compelled Jewish believers in foreign countries to abandon Mosaic Law and Jewish customs and traditions – including not circumcising their children. This rumor spread all over the world – but it was untrue.

We know that salvation is found only through the grace of God by faith in Jesus – and not through customs. Also, Paul never told anyone NOT to be circumcised, in fact, he instructed Timothy (half-Jewish) to be circumcised to avoid rumors. Paul practiced Jewish customs and traditions himself as a Jewish man.

The OT laws prepare for the coming of Christ. Jesus came, and released the people from the burden of guilt by the Law. Paul was not keeping the Law in order to be saved, but was keeping the Law to avoid offending those he wished to reach for the gospel.

As a result of these rumors, the elders suggested to Paul that he join the four people who were taking a Nazarite vow at that time. They suggested he join in the purification right and the vow.

At that time, this vow was a symbol to set oneself apart as fully devoted to God. The taker of the Nazarite vow had to abstain from meat, alcohol, wine, dead bodies, cutting hair – for at least 30 days (and sometimes at the last 7 days, he had to stay exclusively at the temple courts). He also had to prepare many kinds of offerings.

  1. One year old lamb for sin offering
  2. Ram for peace offering
  3. Basket of unleavened bread
  4. Cakes of fine flour mingled with oil
  5. Drink and meat offering
  6. Cut his hair and burn it at the altar with these sacrifices

This was obviously a costly business. Poor people were unable to do it. This is what Paul was asked to do – his own expense, and also pay for the 4 companions.

This suggestion may be unacceptable to Paul – because he had no obligation to do it. He was an apostle, a great missionary. But even though he was a man of strong conviction, he submitted to this suggestion, and did it (paid for himself and the 4 others). Why?

We should apply this lesson in our own lives today. Why would Paul do this? Here are 3-4 reasons.

1. To follow his mission policy

To be flexible in non-essentials. His mission policy:

1 Cor 9:19-23 “Even though I’m free and do not belong to anybody – to God alone, but I make myself a slave to everybody to save as many as possible. To the Jews, I became a Jew. To those under the law, I became under the Law to save them. To those without the Law, I became like one with no Law, though I’m under the Law of Christ. To the weak, I became weak. I became all things to all men so that by all possible means, I might save some. I do this all for the sake of the gospel.”

This is our mission policy. If we are really true, born again Christians, yes, we must be faithful to the Word of God, but flexible to this world.

2. To show his love for his lost nation

To avoid offending the Jews. Romans “I speak the truth in Christ. I’m not telling a lie. My conscience confirms it in the HS. I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. I wish that I were cut of from Christ for the sake of my people Israel.”

Even though he was a missionary to the Gentiles, he loved his lost country more than his own life.

That’s why he accepted this suggestion.

3. To keep solidarity (unity) between the Gentile and Jewish church

Even today, this is a major issue in the church. But Paul had a big vision for union between the Jews and Gentiles in the church. He longed for the unifying power of God in uniting the church.

“Live in harmony with one another. If it is possible, as long as it depends on you, live at peace with EVERYBODY.” (including upstairs and downstairs people)

Eph 3:5..? “Keep the unity of the Spirit of the bond of peace”

So sometimes, we must also submit to worldly authority, especially when the unity of the church is at stake.

We Christians must be careful not to spread bad rumors.

Eph 4:29 “Do not let bad words (unwholesome talk) come out of your mouths, but only that which is helpful to edify (build up) others.”

Do you have a mouth? This is given as a special gift from God for:

  1. To confess Christ as Lord
  2. To preach the gospel
  3. To encourage others

You should have no spare time to spread bad rumors about your neighbors.

— Story

There’s a man who repeated a bit of gossip about a neighbor. One day soon, all the townspeople knew the story. Because of this gossip, the slandered person was deeply hurt and most unhappy. This person who spread the gossip knew it was untrue. So he went to a wise teacher to get some good advice. How could he take it back, solve the problem, pay the damage.

The teacher said, “At the market, buy a hen, kill it. On the way home, pluck the feathers and drop them one-by-one on the way home.” Strange suggestion, but he did it and told the teacher he had done it.

Teacher, “Good job. Go back the same way and collect all the feathers you dropped and bring them all back to me.”

He followed the same path, but all the feathers were gone due to the wind. Searching the whole day, he returned with only a few.

Teacher, “It is very easy to drop them (gossip) but it is impossible to collect them again (repair).”

It is easy to spread a bad report, but you can never again completely undo or take back what you’ve said.

Mouth: given to you to:

  1. Confess Christ
  2. Praise his name
  3. Preach to others
  4. Edify others

Where is your free time to slander others? You should have none.

“God bless my mouth.”


2 misunderstandings about Paul

Great men / women are often misunderstood. Are you misunderstood? Perhaps you are great~

Jesus was misunderstood, Paul was misunderstood. If you are also misunderstood, you are following in the footsteps of Paul and Christ.


Paul Arrested

27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia [Ephesus] saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)

30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”

38 “Do you speak Greek?” he replied. “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?”

39 Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”

40 Having received the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic [common language of Palestine Jews at that time – half-Hebrews]:


The season at this time was Pentecost, so as we saw in chp 2, we can know that many, many Jews came here from all over the world – from Asia, Macedonia, etc.

As we know, before coming, Paul worked at Ephesus for 3 years. And many Jews came from Ephesus, so knew him from there, and they knew how effective his ministry had been there. They also knew his Gentile friend from there. So they thought he had taken his Gentile friend into the temple (like a tourist maybe).

They thought, “Everywhere Paul goes, his Gentile buddies go too.” They saw him in the temple, and thought, “OMG – the Gentile buddies came here too???”

But he had been in the temple due to his Nazarite vow – and had been seen many times in the temple by the Jews. So they assumed he was destroying their customs and defiling the holy temple.

At that time, Gentiles entering the temple was an absolutely unacceptable thing. There was a specific court for the Gentiles and for women. Between these two, there was a fence, with a big signboard: “No man of an alien race shall pass beyond this barrier. If anyone goes beyond this barrier, he will be guilty to death.”

Even Rome took this so seriously, they allowed the Jews to carry out this penalty of death for this crime. That’s why they seized Paul and lynched him and tried to kill him.

At that moment, the news reached the commander of the Roman troops – who came with his officers and soldiers. When they saw the officer, they stopped beating Paul. They asked, “What’s wrong? What has he done?”

They had a mob mindset and just shouted various things to get him out of there (almost like with Jesus, “Crucify him!”).

The officer ordered Paul be bound with two chains (for his own safety) and be carried to the barracks. In the middle of this picture, he was bound, black and blue, bloody, and being carried. On the steps, all of a sudden, these stairs became Paul’s excellent pulpit (stage) from which to preach the gospel to them all.

He asked to speak to the crowd (v. 37). He spoke to the soldier in Greek, “May I speak to the crowd?” At that time, speaking Greek proved that someone was international, cultured, educated. “Are you Egyptian?” “No, I’m from Tarsus.”

At that time, there were three MOST famous cities in that world for philosophy, literature, and education.

  1. Athens, Greece
  2. Alexandria, Egypt
  3. Tarsus, Asia

This commander gave him permission to speak.

When he turned to speak, he somehow motioned for silence in the plaza below. Almost miraculously, silence arrested this uproaring, crazy mob.

“When they were all silent…”

How is this possible? The power of God overflowed through Paul at that moment.

Lesson / Insight:

  • Paul spoke Greek to the commander.
  • He spoke Aramaic to his fellow countrymen.

We should learn this:

For our ministry, language is an essential tool for communication. Effective ministry requires that we speak the language of those we want to impact. Effective communication requires that we expend effort to build the bridge of understanding to others.

Including me, I want to bless all of us that God bless our tongues for his kingdom and glory.

  • I wish Korean brothers and sisters may get great development in your English so that you may communicate the gospel story with English speakers in English.
  • I wish English-speakers in AICF would get great development in your Korean so that you may communicate the gospel message to Koreans in Korean.

God bless our tongues. This is not only glory to God, but also very exciting. This will make our lives much more energetic, purposeful, and meaningful.

Conclusion

In this horrible situation: God was overruling.

God is overruling today as well.

God wants to use our tongues, our hearts, our attitudes, our decisions, our courage to spread the gospel of salvation. When we decide to preach the gospel, God will give us his power, his wisdom, his insight, his joy, his peace. God bless our tongues and our whole beings.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 10 / 2019
  • Comments Off on The Lord’s Will Be Done (Acts 21:1-16)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Lord’s Will Be Done (Acts 21:1-16)

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On to Jerusalem

1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”

12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

15 After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.


[Explanation of Missionary Journey map]

To Paul, God’s will was more important than anything else. From this story we see:

  1. Paul’s friends’ affection for him
  2. Paul’s courage to face the trials before him

He has sheer determination to go on to Jerusalem. And there is the wonderful fact that wherever Paul went, he found a Christian community waiting to welcome him. He was welcomed wherever he went. If this were true in Paul’s time, it is even more true today.

This is very true. One of the greatest privileges of belonging to the family of the church, wherever one goes, he / she can find a community of like-minded people into which he / she is welcomed. You have friends ALL over the world if you are really a believer and witness of Jesus Christ. At the same time, you can encounter your enemies wherever you go.

v. 3-6

3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

Paul and his team stayed with the believers at Tyre for seven days to unload and load cargo. At that time, Tyre was a major port and the trans-Mediterranean routes and ships often delivered and received cargo.

So Paul went out from the ship, seeking Christian brothers and sisters to encourage. Immediately, they spoke the language of the heart and had quick bonding. They became part of each others lives almost immediately – with hardly a word spoken.

  • v. 4 “Through the Spirit, they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.”
  • But, earlier, Paul had told them, “Compelled by the Holy Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem.”

We should not be confused by this. We should not think that the same Holy Spirit who told Paul to go would also tell them to urge him not to go. It was through their conversation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that they came to realize that he must suffer. So, they urged him – out of human compassion – not to go.

He stayed with them for only seven days. And then all their wives and children escorted him out of the city. See how deep this fellowship they built in a short time is!

v. 7-14

7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”

12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

The Lord’s will be done. x3

Whenever we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray like this. “Our Father in heaven…. your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” Do you believe God has a wonderful, special will for you?

At Caesarea, he stayed with Philip. Philip was the first to go to Samaria to preach the gospel. Another prophet named Agabus came also. About 15 years earlier, he had predicted the famine at Jerusalem, so he’d worked closely with Paul for famine relief. They were not strangers. Agabus delivered his prophetic message to Paul in a dramatic way – by binding his own hands and feet with the belt of Paul: “The owner of this belt will end up like this.”

  • He did not say, “Don’t go.”
  • He just said, “If you go, this will happen.”

So, like at Tyre, the believers there also encouraged Paul not to go. Paul said, “Stop weeping and breaking my heart – I’m going.”

Are you ready? Ready to go to heaven? We don’t know the time, so we must be ready all the time.

Paul said, “I’m ready – to die – for the name of Jesus Christ.”

Remember chp 9? Once, as Saul, Paul was a champion in persecuting Christ. Yet, Jesus saved him by his grace and chose him to be used. He showed Ananias a vision and said, “I will show him [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name.”

Once Saul was a persecutor, then Jesus saved him to be a champion in BEING persecuted.

Please, do not persecute Jesus Christ.

In fact, Paul’s going to Jerusalem is remarkably similar to Jesus’ going to Jerusalem. There are 5 similarities (at least).

Similarities: Paul & Jesus’ Journeys to Jerusalem

  1. Jesus knew he would be arrested, suffer many things, and be condemned (Luke 15?)
    • Paul also knew this
  2. Jesus’ close friends (Peter, etc) urged him not to go to Jerusalem – Peter even rebuked him “This shall not happen to you!”
    • Paul’s close friends also urged Paul not to go
  3. Jews arrested Jesus, bound, and condemned him – then handed him over to the Gentiles.
    • Paul likewise, arrested by Jews, handed over to Gentiles
  4. Jesus’ top priority was God’s will. He prayed, “Father, take this cup from me, but not as I will, your will be done.”
    • Paul said, Acts 20:24 “I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish my race and complete the task the Lord has given me – testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
  5. Jesus trusted in the sovereignty of God completely – he knew he would be raised again on the third day
    • Paul also believed in this – even though he died for Christ, he would be raised again and live eternally with Christ. He believed Jesus’ word, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

One more question:

What is your #1 priority in your life?

Among all your jobs.

Yes, we know God is a good Father. He wants us to be happy, but we must know that God’s will is higher than our happiness.

We must preach the gospel, serve others, help foreigners in Jeonju, not because we always enjoy it, but because it is the will of God. We cannot emphasize knowing the will of God too much.

Knowing the will of God is the BEST knowledge we can get in this world.

Here are 3 reasons why we MUST know the will of God.

3 Reasons WHY we should Know the Will of God

1. God alone holds the future – knows tomorrow.

Do you know? Only God knows.

Prov 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what will happen to you tomorrow.”

Only God knows – only he can lead us through the uncertainties of tomorrow. God knows, he cares, he can lead us through the storms in this life.

We need to know the will of God because only he holds the future.

2. Only God knows what is BEST for your life.

If you go out from this building, there are many ways to go. In front of us, there are so many options and choices, but we can choose only one way.

Most of us know what we like, and what we want, but we are often completely mistaken as to what is BEST – and what is leading us to the greatest peace and fulfillment.

We do not know always what is best, and what will bring the greatest peace and satisfaction. Only God knows. God knows us (infinitely) better than we know ourselves. So, he is not interested in putting his stamp (sanction) on our own actions – he wants to guide us into his eternal purpose and plan.

3. God has a plan of blessing for us.

Do you believe this? God has a particular plan of blessing for each of us. Is your life all that you want it to be? Are you enjoying the abundant life that Jesus came to bring? You can – because we are created in the image of God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made – not meaningless accidents thrust into time and space. We are meaningful creations of God – which means that he has a plan of blessing in our lives.

Romans 8:28 “We know in ALL things (whatever is happening to you), God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose (will).”

How can we know the will of God? Three Councils.

3 Ways HOW to know the will of God

  1. The Word of God
  2. The Conviction of the Holy Spirit
  3. (Saved) Faith Conscience
  4. Circumstances (personal experiences)

Augustine advised:

“Love God and do whatever you want.”

Yes, if we (truly) love God, we cannot do what God hates.

If we are truly saved and Holy Spirit filled and committed to God fully, it is not difficult to know the will of God.

Finally, most importantly: if we KNOW the will of God… DO IT!

“I must do it!”

For many of us, the problem is not “knowing the will of God” but “obeying it.”

Matt 7 (Sermon on the Mount) “Therefore, whoever hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock… But, if you hear my words and do not put them into practice, you’re like a foolish man who built his house on the sand…”

James 4:14 “Anyone who knows the good he should do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

As we saw the map – this historical fact – like this, Fact is Fact.

  • God became man (Jesus Christ)
  • He died on the cross for my sin
  • He rose again from the dead
  • He will come again soon

Fact is Fact – there is no difference in fact whether you understand, agree, accept or not. There is no difference in fact.

What is the difference? If you do not believe, you cannot enjoy the fruit and effect of this historical fact. But if you accept Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, then this fruit can be enjoyed by you: salvation, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life.

All the time, we must decide. We saw Paul’s absolute resolution each time. We also must make our own resolution.

What is your resolution? Your commitment?

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 10 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:13-38)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:13-38)

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Acts 20:13-38 (Pastor Heo)

Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders

13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.

17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.


We said goodbye to our Ugandan friends last week. We must continually say goodbye throughout this life. And sometimes, this may discourage us, thinking, “Frequent goodbyes prevent the church from growing in numbers and strength.”

From one point of view, this is correct. But we must be able to see the other side of the story as well.

The church is very important to God. It is important to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, the church is called the House of God, the body of Christ, temple of the Holy Spirit.

So at the same time, goodbyes can encourage us to spread our ministry beyond our building – as part of the universal church.

  • Yes, in any job, starting well is very important, but finishing well is more important.
  • In church, meeting well is important, but good farewells are more important.

So, we must be careful not to fall into mannerism. We must remain brand new in our hearts in serving God and serving others.

Today’s sermon is about Paul’s farewell to the church in Ephesus. Goodbyes are an regular thing in the church and also occupy much of history.

Paul set out to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem, but in Corinth (on the way), there was a plot to kill him, so he had to stay there for a few weeks.

  • His first plan was to arrive before Passover.
  • His second plan was to arrive before Pentecost (50 days later).

He had to return through Philippi, then Troas (where he’d had his vision of the Man of Macedonia) – and he had a farewell service with the believers there. One man, Eutychus fell asleep and fell down to his death – but Paul raised him to life.

The next early morning, Paul and his team started out for Assos – Paul, Luke, Timothy and other members. They sailed from Europe to Asia (30km+).

From Troas to Assos, other team members went by ship, but only Paul went on foot. Can you imagine this?

At Assos they joined together again. We have no reason written down as to why. He probably walked more than 10 hours. We can only guess.

  • To be alone with God?
  • To meet more non-Christians on the road?

Probably, he prepared his farewell sermon and pondered his ministry at Ephesus – because he was to give his farewell address there very soon. Another possibility – he wanted time alone to talk with the Lord about going to Jerusalem.

His resolution to go there was similar with that of Christ’s – in a sense.

In the case of Christ, he said several times, strongly, I must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be killed, and raised to life. “For the time for him to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely started for Jerusalem.”

Like this, Paul felt strongly that something difficult was waiting for him in Jerusalem.

  • v. 16 “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.”
  • v. 22 “”And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” (no matter what happens – hard or difficult).
  • v. 23 “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

In the next chapter, a prophet prophesied that Paul would be arrested in Jerusalem. His team plead with him NOT to go – but he resolutely said, “Why are you breaking my heart? I’m ready to die for the Lord Jesus Christ!”

Act 21:12-13 “When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” “

Are you ready?

From Assos, they went to Miletus. (v 15)

There were not many days left for the feast, so Paul did not go to Ephesus, but to Miletus – a port where the ships loaded and unloaded cargo and people. Paul invited the Ephesian elders to come there to meet him. This was also about 30 miles away.

The elders came there, and had a goodbye meeting – where Paul shared his message.

Paul’s Goodbye Message (v. 18-35)

“18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” “

There are three parts: Past (18-21), Present (22-27), Future (28-35)

Past

v. 20-21

“20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must **turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.**”

We need this kind of boldness today to tell others. We have one message to tell others – the gospel message. “Faith in Christ, following repentance from sin, turning to God.”

  1. Repent from sin
  2. Turn to God
  3. Believe in Christ

Great summary of the gospel message.

In this day of growing complexity, sometimes the church falls into the temptation to be “sophisticated” and “complicated” to fit in the world’s culture. But we must never let our gospel message get lost in our busy-ness – calendars, events, classes, seminars, etc.

This message must not be exclusive, not optional, not overly complicated. There is only one message we should declare in this world.

  1. Repent
  2. Turn
  3. Believe

That’s all – 2,000 years ago – and today.

Repent! Turn to God! Believe in Christ!

Confess with your mouth Christ is Lord and Savior.

Present

v. 24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. “

As workers of Christ – are you workers / ministers today? If we are, we must know 3 points about our identities.

  1. We are runners
  2. We are witnesses
  3. We are heralds

Runners

Our lives are a race that should be finished some day. Our single-minded desire should be to finish this race well. Our most important goal should be to tell others about Christ – this is the message of freedom, salvation, eternal life.

Witnesses

The main job of a witness is to testify (tell) about what has happened to him / her. Tell what you saw / heard / experienced. Witnessing is not “teaching” any skill or knowledge. This is simply testifying.

We must be clear about what is the #1 priority in our lives. This is Paul’s. “I consider my life worth *nothing* to me…”

Life is important – we cannot exchange it for anything else in this universe.

“…if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. “

Paul’s mission is “Mission”.

Are you clear about your #1 priority in your life? We have so many jobs to do, but what is #1?

Also, we are not only witnesses, we are also heralds.

Heralds

Heralds tell what the king tells him to tell. Heralds convey the message of the king – they are sent.

As Heralds, we should not change that message in any way. Whenever you preach the gospel in this world, you are SENT by the King. That’s why we are called ambassadors – from heaven to earth.

As workers in Christ, we must increase humility, passion, compassion, tenderness, empathy, sympathy, affection with tears – Paul showed this.

As workers we must avoid bad attitudes against Christ – covetousness, laziness, shallowness, carelessness, (most of all) selfishness.

Paul’s Last Sentence

v. 35

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “”

This is very meaningful. His last sentence is a quotation from Christ. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Remember, our ministry is basically GIVING – not Getting – this means following the example of Christ.

Somebody calls this verse a supreme beatitude. “Blessed are the meek…” (8 blessings). Unlike the other verses in Matthew 5, this verse instructs us how to be MORE blessed.

This however, does not mean that those who receive are LESS blessed. Blessing does not come from accumulating wealth but from sharing with others.

But, this sentence itself is not found in any of the 4 gospels. Obviously, not ALL of Jesus’ words were written in the gospels. This sentence must have been passed on orally through the apostles. The theology of this sentence is the HEART of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus himself says, “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for the many.”

Also, Paul’s life and ministry was giving. He gave his life, his work, his everything to the preaching of the Word.

Remember, selfish people can of course be saved – Jesus died for ALL people – but selfish people cannot be Christian workers. Thus, Paul summarizes everything Jesus and he himself did and said in this last sentence.

Farewell message finished.

How did they part?

v. 36-38

“When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. “

Paul closed this memorable occasion by kneeling down and praying – with and for them – and they all wept and embraced. What a beautiful Christian fellowship. Also, what a sorrowful scene. But at the same time, what a wonderful Christian farewell and meeting – because they were united in the same God and faith in Christ and hope that they’d see each other again in heaven.

Yes, it is difficult to say “goodbye” when we know we will never see our Christian friends again, but we have blessed assurance that we WILL see them again in heaven when Christ returns.

No doubt all of them stood without moving when they accompanied him to the ship. They likely cried, waving hands until the ship disappeared over the horizon. Only then would they return to Ephesus with great resolution to give themselves to the service of Christ – with the zeal they saw in Paul.

Like this, all believers can build a fellowship with others by sharing, and caring. There is no exception to this.

One day, we must say “goodbye” to each other – even parents and children, husband and wife. But we don’t know when and where. So, as long as the opportunity is given to us in this life, let us encourage, edify, and bless each other.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 24 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Don’t Worry, Wake Up! (Acts 20:1-12)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Don’t Worry, Wake Up! (Acts 20:1-12)

Through Macedonia and Greece

1 When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5 These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

Eutychus Raised From the Dead at Troas

7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

Acts 20:1-12

Because of the riot (we saw last week), the whole city was in an uproar – and they rushed as one man into the theater and shouted, “Great is Artemis!” for two hours. Conclusion? Dismissed by the City Clerk.

  • The name of Demitrius (who dishonored God) is forgotten today.
  • The name of Paul (who honored God) is remembered today.

Paul was to go on from here to conclude his Third Missionary Journey. He shed tears with the elders before he was to go.

v. 1-4

1 When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.

After finishing his ministry at Ephesus, his plan was to go on and collect offerings from Gentile believers at his previous churches and share that with the poor in Jerusalem. Then, he was to go on to Rome.

After this, he went to Macedonia to encourage the struggling believers there and he continued down to Corinth. But there, his original plan had to be delayed / postponed – because there was a plot to kill him. He had to stay at Corinth for at least 3 months, then go back through Macedonia again. Looks like his original plan failed.

But what happened during this stay at Corinth for three months? He wrote the book of Romans – one of the greatest books in this world. (So we can see that God was in control of his circumstances).

The first chapter conveyed his deep desire to go to Rome, but God’s sovereign hand in control of his situation. Romans 1:10 “I pray now… I long to see you…”

Romans 1:10 “I pray that by God’s sovereign will, the way will be opened to me, and I may come to you. I have desired to go many times but have been unable to until now.”

Romans 1:10 “I pray that by God’s sovereign will, the way will be opened to me, and I may come to you. I have desired to go many times but have been unable to until now.”

  • Paul’s deep desire to go to Rome, and
  • God’s “not yet”
  • caused him to sit down and write this great Magna Carta of the Christian faith.

The same is true for us. Sometimes, our deep desires and God’s “not yet” can cause us to do something differently. Sometimes, we must not see (worry) about what lies far in tomorrow, but just do clearly what you can see in front of you today. The reason some people miss opportunities is because it is disguised as “hard work.”

1 Tim 4:4 “Nothing is to be…”

Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has its own trouble. Worrying about today is enough business for us.

  • Lesson #1: Do not worry about this world
  • Lesson #2: Wake up in this church!

Part 2: HOW can we not worry about this world? Wake up in this church. If you fall asleep in the church, you will worry about tomorrow in the world.

v. 5-12

5 These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

The first person pronoun in v. 5-7, “we” – this means, the author, Luke, was again a part of this ministry. He probably met Paul in Philippi for the last leg of the journey.

Paul must have rejoiced to have these coworkers at his side again. We can see Troas as well. Do you remember this place? This is the very place where Paul saw the vision of Macedonia – several years ago.

The man of Macedonia stood and called, “Come over and help us!”

With this vision, in Troas, Paul, Luke, and Timothy started out for Philippi in Macedonia. Now, again, in the same Troas, Paul and the same coworkers had a reunion. Imagine how happy they were!

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is related to the Passover, but not the same.

  • Passover: one day (24 hours) remembering the day the Israelites were saved in Egypt and the Angel of Death “passed over” their houses
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread: seven days – the evening after the Passover. They were to remove yeast from their bread to remember their [time in the desert and] continual striving for holiness. (1 Cor 5:7 “Remove all yeast…”)

Jesus willingly came down from heaven and took the form of a man and willingly died for you and me. Even though he was rejected by all men at that time, he endured so that he could become a complete sacrifice and reconcile us to God.

From v. 6-12, in Troas, there was a worship service. Here we can see HOW they met and worshiped God. There are 5 worship essentials.

5 Worship Essentials

#1 The Lord’s Day

We worship on the first day of the week because:

  • Christ was raised on the first day of the week
  • The church was born on the first day of the week (at Pentecost)

#2 The Lord’s People

If the church building is empty, there is no worship. They met in the evening because Sunday was not a holiday at that time. Some undoubtedly were slaves – unable to attend service until the day’s work was done.

They met in an upstairs room – possibly a private home of one of the believers. This was a cosmopolitan, mixed group. But these racial, societal differences made no difference.

  • Gal 3:28: There is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile, …
  • Eph: There is ONE God, one faith, one hope, one baptism.

They shared a feast – a “potluck”. I’m sure God is very happy when we share a potluck (an “agape love feast”) together. After this, they observed the Lord’s Supper.

#3 The Lord’s Supper

  • v. 7 “to break bread” = the Lord’s Supper
  • v. 11 “broke bread” = regular meal

By sharing and eating with one another, they could fellowship and give testimony of their unity in Christ. Yes, we are equal in our value and price for his kingdom and glory.

#4 The Lord’s Word

For worship to be authentic, the Word of God is essential. (Are you bored or excited during the Message?) The Word of God was preached continually in the churches.

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him, all things were made. …. This Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:1

Romans: “Do not say in your hearts, ‘Who will ascend to heaven to bring Christ down? Who will descend into the deep to bring Christ up?'”

The Word of God is in your heart, in your hand, in your head. We worship God by meeting him through his Word. How can we meet with Jesus personally? By meeting with his Word.

So the Word of God is very important for our growth and education – it is our “spiritual food.” Without food, we cannot grow.

The Word of God is compared to a “seed.” Seeds have life, future, development, abundant fruit, power, potential.

#5 The Lord’s Power

“There is Power of the Lord in Worship!” (There’s Power in the Blood)

Eutychus was sitting at a window (dangerous place).

  • In Greek, pi = “young man” (maybe teenager or early twenties)
  • Also pi = “slave” (so he may have worked all day)

He tried very hard to stay awake, but humanly speaking, this is an easy situation to fall asleep. This room was packed, full of people, and time was late (midnight) – and he was also likely very tired from working all day.

There were many lamps (torches) – so light was probably dim. The atmosphere was probably stuffy. The air was warm, humid, lacking oxygen. Paul was giving a long sermon (that’s why I try to shorten mine).

I’m sure Paul’s sermon was not boring, but also not done.

And Eutychus fell out of the window, and died. Paul ran outside and put his arms around him. Paul put his arms around him and said, “Don’t worry! He’s alive!”

(This is reminiscent of what the angels said when Christ was resurrected – and this is what the angels will say also when we are resurrected in Christ’s coming kingdom. Do you want to hear this voice? Believe in Christ!)

Can you imagine the impact that would have on the congregation, on Eutychus’ mother and father, the believers, and other people of Troas?

This is the power of the resurrection of Christ. This power is still available to us today.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me shall never die.”

We should keep awake in church.

“Remember if you fall asleep and die in church, there is no apostle today to raise you again from the dead.”

Charles Spurgeon

How can we remain “awake” in church?

#1 Confess our sins

“If we say we have not sinned, the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

#2 Confess our faith in Christ

#3 Daily turn to Christ

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Let us remove the deeds of darkness and put on the deeds of light.” Romans 13:11-12

Eph 5:14 “He is the light that makes everything visible.”

Wake up, o sleeper! Rise from the dead!

Our Lord Jesus will shine upon you.

May Christ fill you with joy and the power of the resurrection of Christ.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 17 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Will what you are doing die or remain 2,000 years later? (Acts 19:26-41)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Will what you are doing die or remain 2,000 years later? (Acts 19:26-41)

The Riot in Ephesus

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Acts 19:26-41

Today’s story = there was a huge rally / riot / demonstration / strike against God – but in the end it came to nothing.

At that time, Ephesus was the center for the occult, superstition, exorcism, etc. Even some exorcists used the name of Jesus – without knowing him – for their own evil purposes. But they were found out, and many eventually believed in Christ and turned from their sins. They brought their magic books (last Sunday) and burned them in a public bonfire. The value of those books was 50,000 drachmas (several million dollars). So, the fear of the Lord and the Word of God came to that area and grew in power. Such success filled Paul with passion for a wider experience – and he set his eyes on Rome.

At the same time, with this great success in ministry, we must remember that Satan is not lazy in his mission. We have our mission, as does Satan.

Be self-controlled and alert, because your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

So, whenever you get great success in your ministry or work, you must be even more self-controlled, because this is when Satan wants to attack.

v. 23-27

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

Artemis: Goddess of hunting, production, fertility (daughter of Zeus, sister of Apollo) Roman name: Diana
Still today, it is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. It has 127 marble pillars (each was 6 stories tall). Festival of Artemis was wild orgies and parties.

Thus, making a miniature statue of Artemis (an idol) was a big business.

But wherever the gospel is preached, it will be strongly opposed by those who make much money from idolatry and sin. Paul did not even say, “No idols! Destroy this temple!” Actually, the gospel message itself has life-given and life-changing and lifestyle-changing power.

When travelers came to Ephesus, they often bought shrines – images of Artemis (so it was a huge business). But it is impossible to live in Christ AND live in sin continuously. So, consequently, the gospel came under scrutiny and doubt, attack and persecution. It became offensive and intolerable to the makers of money who sold idols.

v. 24

24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen.

Demetrius was the leader of the guild and he called the makers and traders in this business together and he appealed to their love of money – but he encouraged them to hide their greed behind the mask of patriotism and religious devotion… He made patriotism and religious devotion mixed together.

Still today there are many religions made by man – and whenever we preach the gospel, Jesus confronts them to replace whatever has secured their devotion with himself. The Lord of every person and culture is Christ. This challenge and confrontation cannot be avoided. There is a ripple effect as hearts are touched – and it eventually results in lifestyle change.

Disciples of Christ = followers, imitators

The disciples of Christ no longer find in themselves the desire for worldly things.

You are the light of the world; the salt of the earth.

Jesus

What does this mean? We should pray and ask God to help us have an impact on this world.

God, use me to change others; to change lives – on a wide scale (world-wide).

Prayer

But, we must be changed first. Once I am changed, then I can have power to change others.

v. 28-34

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

At first, Demetrius – gathered just a few people related with the trade of Artemis idols – but the people grew in number continuously.

  • For good things, people often join very slowly
  • But for bad things, people often join very quickly and easily

v. 29 “Soon the whole city was in an uproar.”

It started with just a few workers, but soon the whole city was rioting. And they seized two men (maybe they couldn’t find Paul) who were Paul’s helpers, and marched on the street shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (This was standard worship for pagan gods at that time.) “Great is XYZ god!”

They rushed as one accord into the theater. (v. 29) But this theater is not like a movie theater. Actually, more like the open air auditorium / stadium behind Sori Cultural Center in Jeonju. This stadium could seat 25,000 people – like a basketball gymnasium. And they shouted “Great is Artemis!” for two hours.

Can you feel God’s feeling at this moment?

“Most of them did not know why they were shouting / rioting.” (v. 32) This is just falling into a group and feeding off of the rage of the group. This “Mob Psychology” is a worldly pattern that is still used by Satan to cause many people to fall into sin together.

Remember Christ’s crucifixion? Those who wanted to kill Jesus were actually very small. The rest of the people, as a mob, chanted together.

  • Exodus 23:2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
  • Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is; his good, pleasing, perfect will.”

Especially today, when your blood is boiling, or your passions are hot, take a step BACK, and consider how Jesus would have you act.

I wonder if Paul had stepped into this situation, what would have happened? What an opportunity! (he may think) To preach the gospel to such a huge crowd. (But other believers would not allow him to venture into the theater – for his own safety and for the fear of the possibility of an accident.)

But, this crowd was AGAINST God and anything that is against God will end as NOTHING.

v. 35-41

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

We don’t know the name of the City Clerk, but he stepped into this chaos. We usually think that a clerk has a low position, but at that time, he was the highest ranking civic official – keeping the public records.

Ephesus at that time was under the rule of the Roman Empire. So, the main responsibility of the local city officials was simply to keep public peace. If they failed to do so, Rome would remove the appointed officials from office (and the whole city may have been put under martial law).

That is why the City Clerk entered the theater and appealed to their civic pride and religious devotion. Then, he discussed the facts:

  • no robbery
  • no cursing / blasphemy

He suggested that the idol makers take up this matter through legal channels. Then, he dismissed the sinful assembly.

Practical Lessons

v. 41 ” After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.”

This event ended as NOTHING because they fought against God.

This event happened 2,000 years ago – and now, what remains?

2,000 years later:

  • Ephesus is gone
  • Artemis is gone
  • Worldwide worship of Artemis is gone
  • the Temple is gone
  • the worker’s guild is gone
  • the theater is gone
  • Ephesus is the only place visited primarily by archaeologists and religious tourists
  • But, the gospel and the church of Christ remain
  • The Word of God written TO Ephesus (Ephesians) remains

Think about yourself.

Now, at this moment, you are worshiping God. Will this act be gone and dead or remain alive 2,000 years later? This is the challenge given to us through this story.

  • We minister by persuasion.
  • Our motive is love (not rage).
  • Our purpose is the glory of God (not the praise of men).

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my word will never pass away.” – Jesus

“This world will pass away soon, but the person who does the will of God will live forever.” – Bible

The will of God?

  1. believe in Christ – enjoy joy and peace in him

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 10 / 2019
  • Comments Off on No Retiring from Ministry! (Acts 19:13-22)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

No Retiring from Ministry! (Acts 19:13-22)

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

Acts 19:13-22

Exorcism used to be a more common practice. Even in Korea, we once could see this happening on the street.

Some people tried to call on the name of a stronger demon to cast out a weaker demon. (Often this meant “more money”).

But when these people saw extraordinary miracles happening with Paul’s aprons and handkerchiefs, they thought “Wow, this Jesus must be the most powerful evil spirit!” So they started to use his name in their own exorcisms.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

Acts 19:13

These people thought that they could use God’s power (Christ’s power) for bad practices. They realized they couldn’t use his name like a magic charm – they were calling on his name without knowing him personally.

Even today, we must be careful not to misuse this name. This is the most powerful, strongest, purest, holiest name.

One of the 10 Commandments says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” (Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain).

Jesus says, “Many will come to me and say, ‘Lord, did we not drive out demons, perform miracles, preach in your name?’ But I will tell them, ‘I never knew you! Away from me evil doers!'”

Yes, we may use his name, but we must not misuse his name.

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

Acts 4:12

15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Acts 19:15-16

These men were overpowered and received a beating.

  • The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent.
  • Satan is NOT everywhere, all-knowing, all-powerful. But he KNOWS Jesus.

In the gospels (Luke 4:34), when a man encountered Jesus he cried out, “What do you want from me Jesus? Have you come to destroy me?” Yes, demons KNOW about Jesus, but they don’t KNOW him.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life: that they know God and him he sent.”

Knowing about Jesus is totally different from knowing him personally. This includes having a personal relationship, fellowship with him.

Do you know the US President? I know about him, but since he doesn’t know about me, then I can’t say I know him. Knowing Jesus saves us – not knowing about him.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

Acts 19:17

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:8-11

Please remember, God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave him the name that is above all names that all would bow and worship him.

18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

Acts 19:18-19

The lesson from this story is: we should do our best to avoid all kinds of evil.

1 Thes 5:22 “Avoid every kind of evil.”

  • sorcery
  • black magic
  • magic arts
  • fortune telling
  • idolatry

These are all Satanic, demonic, evil jobs. We must keep ourselves clean from these things. You know, making a clean break from sin can be costly. How much was the cost here? 50,000 drachmas – consisting of fortune telling scrolls and books. They burned them publicly.

NLT (New Living Translation) says, 50,000 drachmas = several million dollars. (Drachmas were silver coins at that time).

This means that a person CANNOT believe in Christ and hold onto the magic, demonic arts. It is too easy to become obsessed with these things. Satan is VERY powerful, but God’s power is even greater. That’s why we have hope.

1 John 4:4 “You, children of God, can overcome all these things because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in this world.”

Satan’s nickname is “god of this Age.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Remember that one of the main purposes of Jesus’ appearance in this world was to destroy the work of the devil.

  • save us
  • make us children of God
  • give us eternal life
  • destroy the works of the devil

1 John 1:8 “Whoever does what is sinful belongs to the devil for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The purpose of the Son of God in this world is to destroy the works of the devil.”

Yes, we know the Holy Spirit has many ministries, but the KEY ministry is to “testify about Christ.” To encourage us that we have eternal life. If we know this ministry, then we can also understand the ministry of demons. Also, they have many jobs, but their key job is to “prevent us from believing in Christ.”

2 Cor “Satan has blinded the eyes so they cannot see the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

One of Jesus’ main purposes: remove sin + undo the work of Satan

His coming brought defeat to Satan (already). So, do not be afraid, for Satan is already a vanquished foe. He has lost his hold on his subjects. Someday (soon), he will be cast out into the lake of fire, and all things he has worked through sin will be undone.

If this is true, Jesus’ purpose is to remove sin, then we must also NOT compromise with sin in the purposes of the devil – or we will find ourselves fighting against Christ! Do you prefer to serve Christ or fight Christ? If you sin, you fight Christ. We should not fight him, but worship him.

20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Acts 19:20

This is another progress report in Ephesus. Events demonstrate that the gospel was spreading. Christ was building his church (“I will build my church,” he says, “On this rock [this confession of faith], I will build my church, and the power of hell cannot overcome it. I give you the keys to heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Did you know you were so powerful, holding these keys? So, we have a mission.

Paul’s final resolution

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

Acts 19:21-22

Paul’s resolution: to visit Rome

Do you have also New Year’s resolutions?

Let us follow Paul’s resolution – he is a good example, a good martyr. His resolution: to go to Jerusalem, and then to Rome. Why?

  • Why go to Jerusalem?
  • Why go to Rome?

Jerusalem

It was very poor financially, materially. So, he wanted to take a collection through all the churches he planted in Macedonia – as a contribution to the Jerusalem church. The references to these collections are in his epistles: Corinthians, Romans

25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:25-26

His first purpose for going to Jerusalem was to collect money for the church – he had two reasons:

  1. To emphasize the unity of the church, the ONE body of Christ
  2. Also to take them away from a single church focus and give them a vision of a universal church

You know, Antioch church is a complete unit, a church, but itself is also just a part of the universal body of Christ.

“Let us love not only in our words, but also in action and truth.”

Rome

This was his final mission place. Where is your Rome?

“I must visit Rome also.” He had a sense of divine conviction to go. Everywhere he looked, he could see the influence of Rome. So, he wanted to take the eternal truth of God to the “eternal city” of Rome – the center of influence at that time. How old was he at that time? Mid 50s (older than me). At that time, this was very old.

We know that Paul had already finished his two fruitful, but difficult missionary journeys. And now, he was at the end of the third missionary journey. But, he never thought of retiring from ministry.

When he wrote Romans, he wrote, “God, whom I serve with my whole heart, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers. I pray, now, at last, the door may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you to give you a spiritual gift to make you strong. I planned to come to you so many times. I’m a debtor to the gospel, to the Jews and Greeks, and all, that’s why I’m so eager to preach the gospel to you in Rome.” This is not the eagerness of a sightseer, but an evangelist.

“I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of salvation for all who believe.”

Yes, after this, we also must go OUT into this world.

Jesus says, “As my Father sent me into this world, so I’m sending you out to the world.” (not into the church) – even twice he repeated this.

We cannot sit back. That is the example we have in Christ. Before man came to Christ, Christ came to man. This is the story throughout the Bible. Before we called him “Lord, Lord” he called us. Before we chose him, he chose us (even before the foundation of the world) to be holy and blameless in his sight – to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Christ.

Do you want to be happy? (Raise your hand)

Also I want to be happy. Our Lord Jesus says, “He who wants to save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.” What does this mean practically?

In our application – to be happy – do not live for happiness. That is the secret. I know this secret, so I am standing here.

  • If you want to be happy, do not live for happiness.
  • If you want to be happy, live for the mission given you from God, then you will be happy as a bonus.

If I want to be happy, do not live for happiness.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 03 / 2019
  • Comments Off on God Wants to Use what is in your Hands (Acts 19:6-12)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

God Wants to Use what is in your Hands (Acts 19:6-12)

19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Acts 19:6-12

When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he asked the 12 men he met, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” “No, we have received only John’s baptism.” Paul realized they needed the good news of salvation – so he told them about Jesus’ death, resurrection, saving power of the Holy Spirit in his name, and so they believed and were baptized. Then the Holy Spirit came upon them. They spoke in tongues and preached the gospel message in other languages.

For by one Spirit we were baptized…

1 Cor 12:13

This event was a mini-Pentecost.

In Acts, this is the final event of tongue speaking recorded. So, in order to remember the work of the Holy Spirit, we must remember several things.

  1. The book of transitions
  2. The starting of the New Covenant age
  3. The new History book

So, about speaking in tongues, we must remember, these instances are erratic, not very often.

Yes, this is ONE of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but is NOT evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not evidence of the fullness of the Spirit.

“Do all speak in tongues?” No.

So, remember, the key point of the book of Acts = the Spread of the Gospel and its inclusiveness. The key verse is Acts 1:8:

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

Acts 1:8

We must seek to share our faith through the power of the Holy Spirit in this way. Nowhere are we admonished to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit nor to speak in tongues, but we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s ministry lasted 3 years and was marked by the movement of the Holy Spirit. “The name of Christ was held in high honor through transformed lives…”

6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.

Acts 19:6-8

Paul was asked to stay in Ephesus on his first missionary journey, but he declined their offer. Still, he promised to return later if God allowed. Now, he’s kept his promise by entering the same synagogue and speaking boldly about Christ for three months – until encountering opposition.

In Christian life, keeping your word is very important. This is not just for good intentions. One of the commonest promises we Christians make to each other is: “I’ll pray for you.”

I will….

I’ll pray for you.

This promise, from a Christian mouth is a VERY serious promise – with God as witness before you. So, whenever we make this promise, we must keep this promise at least more than one time. This is a promise we make not only before the other person, but also before God – because we pray TO God.

9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Acts 19:9-10

This means that the whole province of Asia Minor was evangelized.

When the door of the synagogue was closed, God opened the Way much wider through the whole province of Asia.

At that time, synagogues were usually schools for Jews. But this lecture hall of Tyrannus was larger and more available for Gentiles.

Tyrannus may have been a Greek philosopher or just the owner of that building at that time. Such buildings were often used in the mornings to teach Greek philosophy, but they were often empty during the middle of the day – due to the heat (the hot part of the day).

In Ephesus, the work day ran:

  • From at 7am,
  • Break at 11am – 4pm.
  • Work again until 9:30pm

Paul worked all morning and evening at his secular job. But during the break period, he preached the gospel daily for two years. Can you calculate how many hours he preached the gospel? 10,000+ hours?

  • 5 hours * 2 years =
  • 3, 120 hours of lecturing =
  • 130 days of lecturing without stop at 24 hours per day

Paul kept a “killer” schedule. Why? Because at that time, religion was a “big business” in Ephesus. So, he WORKED hard to keep himself free from appearing that he was “in” this “business” for money.

You remember my toil and hardship, working night and day, to not be a burden to anyone while I preached the gospel of God to you.

1 Thess 2:9

10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Acts 19:10

It was during this time of year that the churches mentioned in Revelation came into being.

  • Paul taught and preached,
  • admonished the believers,
  • went and evangelized house to house,
  • planted many churches,
  • directed a great missionary enterprise.

In today’s age of “meism” and selfishness, “hedonism” and self-pleasure, we need “tough” Christians like Paul.

We can learn three lessons we can apply to our own lives today.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Acts 19:11-12

It was not Paul who did miracles, but God. They had a three-fold purpose:

  1. To demonstrate God’s power and authority
  2. To authenticate Paul as the spokesman for the true God
  3. To demonstrate God’s compassion, mercy, and grace to those in great need

From these miracles, we can find three lessons for our own Christian lives today.

3 Lessons

#1 God wants us to be holy

As our Father is holy, we must be holy. You know, at that time, aprons and handkerchiefs were dirty, sweatbands, used from making tents, they were not special.

But the ultimate purpose of Paul’s tentmaking was to preach the gospel more effectively. That’s why God blessed his secular job.

How about us?

God does not want us to do sometimes what is holy and sometimes what is not holy. He doesn’t want holiness only in the church, and unholiness out of the church. He wants holiness everywhere.

Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Cor 10:31

In your office, your hagwon, your school, are you doing a “holy” job or a “secular” job? At the time of Noah: “They were eating, drinking, giving in marriage” – but it was unholy, secular, because their motivation for doing so was only for their own physical pleasure.

Even though we are eating, drinking, making money – if we do this for his glory, it will be accepted as holy. Thus, this is our mission field given by God. He wants us to do what is holy all the time, not just sometimes.

#2 God wants to use what is in your hand

In serving and saving others, God wants to use what you’ve got in your hands.

  • God used what was in Moses’ hands to save Israel from Egypt.
  • He used the sling in David’s hand to kill the giant and save Israel.
  • He used the loaves and fishes in the boy’s hand to feed 5,000.
  • He used the clothes in Paul’s hand to save and heal others.

These things were merely symbols of dignity of heart, sincerity, humility, and God used them to release his power.

Yes, today, we may not be able to do these kinds of miracles, but we are able to give him our hands – and through our hands, he is able.

#3 Healing is still possible and available today

Physical, bodily, spiritual, mental, psychological healing, all are possible through Jehovah Rafar.

He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our sins. By his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

He himself bore our sins on the cross so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his death, we have been healed.

1 Peter 2:24

He took up our iniquities; he carried our diseases.

Matthew 8:17

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This kind of miracle is still available for those who have faith and trust in Christ.

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 27 / 2019
  • Comments Off on Whose Disciple are you? (Acts 19:1-7)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Whose Disciple are you? (Acts 19:1-7)

Whose Disciple are You? (Acts 19:1-7)

Paul at Ephesus

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

Paul’s 3rd missionary journey took 4 years. We saw what happened before that last week. Apollos came to Ephesus and ministered there before Paul arrived. And when Paul arrived, he had already gone on to Corinth to continue the ministry.

1 Cor “I planted; Apollos watered; God made it grow.”

Review

Apollos was bold, sincere, but his message was incomplete because he knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla heard his message and realized that it was incomplete. So, they invited him to their home and shared with him the complete message. Through this sharing, he became a “complete” Christian, and was able to move on in ministry.

Paul later met some people who had the same problem that Apollos had.

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.

Acts 19:1-3

These men were disciples, but the question was: whose disciples? Their answer to this question was vague and unclear, and so was their discipleship. They had not heard of the Holy Spirit, so they would have been unable to be Jesus’ disciples because the MAIN ministry of the HS is to testify about Jesus.

If they were disciples of John, they should have heard of the HS, because he also spoke of the HS in his preaching.

“I baptize you with water, but one is coming who is more powerful than I. He will baptize you with fire.”

We also must be very clear about whose disciples we are.

At that time, some people were confused about who Jesus and John the Baptist were – and what the difference was. Many called Jesus “John the Baptist” and many challenged John and said, “Who are you?” He said of himself, “I’m the voice of one calling in the desert, make straight the way for the Lord.”

Are you clear about whose disciple you are?

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 19:4-5

What is the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism into the name of Christ?

  • John’s: repentance
  • Jesus’: forgiveness of sin

The message of John was a threat and a warning. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you of the coming wrath? Do not think Abraham is your father, because God can create children from these roots. Any tree that is not good will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Jesus’ message was a consolation. “Peace I give to you. Do not be afraid. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in me.” (This means: I will be responsible for you, your life, your future. I will care for you and keep you.) Jesus is our KEEPER.

  • John’s: looked forward to the appearance of the Messiah. This was good until the Messiah appeared. He has come! And finished all jobs that are needed for our victory through his death and resurrection. Thus, he proclaimed:
    • “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He must increase; I must decrease.”

The preaching of John was a stage on the road to Jesus. He knew this clearly.

  • Jesus: looks back to Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

This means, yes, even today in the church building, there may be somebody who needs salvation. Here, there were 12 men in all who needed this.

Through verse 5, they became truly born-again Christians. There is no record of the “between” verses 4 and 5, but it is sure that Paul preached the good news of the gospel of Christ, the news of his death and resurrection, and they called on the name of the Lord and were saved and baptized into his name.

Today: if we call all people in the church “Christians” there may be 4 kinds.

4 kinds of Christians inside the church

  1. Nominal Christians: (not really Christians) – they don’t believe in their hearts in Jesus Christ. To them, Christianity is just “a” religion out of many and they say, “it is my religion.”
  2. Incomplete Christians: (at one time, Apollos also was one) – They have abundant knowledge about the Scriptures, smart, gentlemen. They believe Jesus died, they believe his death and resurrection is necessary for our salvation. BUT, in their heart of hearts they still believe, “But it’s not enough. I must do something I more to achieve my salvation.” How about you? Do you believe his death and resurrection ARE enough?
  3. Uncertain / ignorant Christians: They believe that Jesus is their Savior, but they are unsure about their salvation – unclear about what they believe. Sometimes they are doubtful about their salvation, often depending on their situation.
    1. When they feel “good” about their spiritual lives, they feel, “Yes, I am saved!”
    2. But when they feel “bad”, they feel, “I’m not sure of my salvation…”
  4. Assured Christians: (this must come from the Holy Spirit) – They believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. They believe his death and resurrection are not only necessary but also enough for our salvation and forgiveness of sins. They have absolute overjoyed assurance of salvation – based on WHAT Christ has done, not what we have done.

I’m a pastor, but I cannot give you the Assurance of Salvation. Only the Holy Spirit can do so: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Story

John Wesley – the founder of the Methodist church

At one time, he was like Apollos. He was a born Christian (“born into a Christian family”). He studied at Oxford and he was a leader of a “holy club” – called so because they attempted to cultivate their spiritual lives.

He became a pastor and missionary to Native Americans in Georgia. He was more accurate and knowledgeable in the Scriptures than most Christians at that time. But he had no joy. He had no assurance of salvation. One day he wrote in his diary:

I went to America to convert the Indians, but who shall convert me?

May 24, 1738

His problem was solved – at ONE time – by putting his faith in Christ wholly.

In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society … where one was reading Luther’s writing on Romans. About 8:45, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ; Christ alone. An assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from death.

The fruit of his absolute assurance of salvation was the great Wesleyan Revival that swept the nation of England very powerfully.

  • If you are Christian, are you saved?
  • What kind of Christian are you?

I hope we all can have the Assurance of Salvation.

Assurance of Salvation verses:

  • John 1:12 “To all those who believed in him and called on his name, he gave the right to be called ‘children of God.'”
    • How long does a child-parent relationship last? Our whole lives.
    • How long does salvation last? Eternity
    • soteria = “deliverance” (Greek) – moving from one place to another – a ONE WAY deliverance from death to life
  • John 5:24 “Whoever believes in me … has crossed over from death to life.”
    • Salvation is an absolute promise and guarantee of Christ. If we believe in him, we can trust in his promise.
  • John 10:28-29 “I give you eternal life. You shall never perish and no one can snatch you out of my hand.”
    • Our salvation does not depend on us holding his hand, but his holding our hand
    • His personality and character is so great to keep his promise. He guarantees us eternal life.
    • Salvation can also be like the HIGHEST Judicial verdict. God is the highest judge – higher than any human judge in history.
  • Romans 8:1~ “There is now no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
    • This is the highest declaration. Who shall bring any charge against those whom God has declared righteous? Who or what shall separate us from the love of God? (Romans 8:28-39)

God bless all of us to be clear in our Assurance of Salvation.

Let’s pray.

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