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  • Nov 11 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)

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Be a Christian of Courage

Acts 14:1-20 (Pastor Heo)

In Iconium

1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.

In Lystra and Derbe

8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.


  • Chp 13 = first half of first missionary journey
  • Chp 14 = second half of first missionary journey

In Paul’s early ministry, he went to large cities and planted churches, hoping to reach out to smaller cities from the central locations. He moved along the line of least resistance – through the open gates – and went to his own countrymen first. But when rejected, he turned to the Gentiles.

Chp 13, first half, Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus, to Pamphilia, to Pisidia Antioch. Here, there were filled with joy and the HS, but they still encountered hardships and persecution. They also expelled Paul and Barnabas from their region – so the two shook the dust form their feet and moved to another place: Iconium (in chp 14 here) – about 90 miles east of Antioch.

v 1-5

“1 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.”

v 1: “Paul and Barnabas went as usual…”

They went into the Jewish synagogues (Jewish churches). Israel was ruled by Rome at that time, and the Jews were scattered all over the world (the Diaspora), and when they scattered, they built “sune – goge” (synagogues) wherever they went.

Greek “sune” = “together”; “goge” = “bring”

This was a religious, social, public building specifically set aside for the Jewish people.

The first thing Paul did was look for a synagogue because he knew he could meet many people there.

Today, there are 10s of thousands:

  • about 10,000 synagogues in Israel,
  • 4,000 in North America,
  • 3,500 in Europe and Asia

Paul and Barnabas began preaching there, but they ran into difficulties – more serious than at Antioch. Greeks and Jews were plotting to stone them, so they had to move on.

In Corinthians, Paul writes, “I have been constantly on the move…”

2 Cor. 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life maybe expressed through ours.”

v 6-7

“6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the good news.”

Whatever happened to them, whatever circumstances / surroundings, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel. Paul was a realist but also an optimist.

Are you a realist? Optimist? Pessimist?

Some preachers say like this:

  • Optimist: “85 year old man who married a 35-year old woman and moved to a 12 room house near an elementary school”
  • Optimist does not allow the facts surrounding him to take away his faith, vision, etc that something great can happen.

Remember Paul’s declaration from prison: “I know what it is to be in need, or to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in all circumstances: well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13)

Four reactions to the gospel

How are you showing your reaction to the word of God?

1. A crippled man’s response

v 8-10

“8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.”

As usual, Paul preached the gospel message – and among the audience was a crippled man.

He reacted with faith

The Word of God produces faith and by faith, he was healed.

This also should be applied in our own reaction to the Word of God. At least every Sunday, we receive the Word of God and we should react by faith.

Rom 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of God.”

Heb 12:2 “Fix your eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith.”

2. Crowd’s reaction

v 11-13

“11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.”

The crowd tried to worship them as though they were the visual representation of gods.

Yes, miracles happen. Our lives are miracles. Salvation is the miracle of miracles.

But we know that miracles by themselves do not produce confession nor faith. Miracles must be accompanied by the Word of God.

This shows the crowd was superstitious and interpreted these things through their own mythology.

  • Zeus = Jupiter = Barnabas = chief of gods
  • Hermes = Mercury = Paul

Do you know how many gods in Japan? 8,000,000

How many in Hindu? ALL

This is “pantheism” = ALL gods

Barnabas evidently looked older, had a more noble appearance. Paul spoke for the two – and Hermes was the messenger of all gods, so that was Paul’s “unofficial” title.

What lesson can we get? Even today, Jesus is made a captive of man’s presuppositions – they do not REALLY understand Christ.

What they think, what they want him to be like, they create him as such.

  • Long ago, in the room in the inn in Bethlehem, there was no room –
    • but today, we have mansions, but no room. To many people, just is just a hero, a teacher, a priest, a culture, but not the Lord of their lives.
  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, so many people were delirious shouting “Hosannah! The King to come!”
    • But when Jesus spoke of his coming death, they became full because this did not fit their preconceived notion about him. Only days later, the SAME crowd shouted “crucify him!”

This is the same in this adulterous, unbelieving world today.

  • Yes, almost everyone will receive Christ as the greatest man who ever lived – he is the supreme psychologist of history – the most important man of all time. He is safe, and soft, and mild, and gentle.
    • But they reject him as personal Savior, Lord, God.

How about us today? We Christians often wear blinders as we read the Bible. We only see what we seek. We find our own preconceived ideas.

It is only with God’s help and the illuminating power of the HS that we can see the truth.

Another thing we can get from this attitude: (this is a basic weakness in our attitude): We often exalt the messenger instead of the message itself.

Check yourself, when you receive the sermon every Sunday, do you receive the messenger or the Message? This is a serious and important point.

We have a tendency to make human beings (rather than God) our security. We have a tendency to have our own Christian pantheism. Yes, we “know” God hates idol worship the most and we “try” to go away from idols. But we can also have “Christian idols.” So with God’s help, we must examine our hearts to see:

WHOM am I worshiping?

Are we worshiping ourselves? Our favorite Internet preacher? A Christian author? Entertainer? Or do you worship and serve Christ himself?

In the next response, P&B make it very clear whom we should serve.

How about this? If you do something great in public and the people exalt you and honor you, what attitude should you have?

3. Apostles’ response to the crowd

v 14-18

“14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they *tore their clothes*[expression of repentance, sorrow, anger] and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. “

If somebody glorifies you, tear your clothes and run away. ….

Yes, we must desire that one day God will glorify us – this is our final hope – that we share in the glory of Christ. But we should reject any kind of glory in this world from human beings.

What a great temptation this must have been for them – even Satan knew it.

How easy it would be to accept this kind of worship. They could rationalize it by saying, “Well, OK, we will accommodate them and THEN point them to the true God.” They could say, “We will use this honor to teach them the truth.” But this is not the way of God.

It is to their credit that they did not receive any kind of glory from men. They boldly told them that the gods of this area were nothing. “All kinds of gods made by men are nothing / worthless.” They cannot speak, hear, see, – they are just ideas out of man’s head.

Paul challenged them: “Turn away from your fake gods to the TRUE God.”

This is true / basic / fundamental repentance that should happen once for all in our lives.

This God is the Living God. Do you believe in a living or dead god? Living, Sustaining, Supporting, Forgiving, Self-revealing God.

Also we should follow and worship this God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

4. Mixed reactions

v. 19-20

“19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

They moved to the next small city the next day.

P&B tried to calm the crowd, but some trouble-making Jews came from Iconium and Pisidia Antioch to stir up the crowd.

  • At Antioch, they expelled P&B.
  • At Iconium, they TRIED to stone P&B, so they fled.
  • Now, in Lystra, maybe the same people came and DID stone Paul.

They thought he was dead (so he was almost dead – he was not a pretender). When they realized what they had done, they were afraid. Iconium was a Roman colony, and Lystra was an outpost. But stoning a Roman citizen (Paul) without trial was terribly illegal. They were afraid, thought he was dead, and they dragged his half-dead body out of the city and threw it away in order to escape the consequences of their riot.

A stoning is a terrible, bloody thing. Have you ever been stoned?

Jesus was crucified. This is a historical fact. Jesus was crucified to give us eternal life. Have you ever received even a single stone for Jesus Christ?

“Jesus was crucified for me. Have I ever been stoned for Jesus?”

Maybe at this time, Paul’s mind flashed back to the stoning of Stephen. At that time, Paul was there, approving of the stoning of Stephen.

In this case, they did the same to Paul. Paul was lying in a lonely place with blood, dust, dirt, his clothes torn, he was motionless.

At this time, the Christians came and stood around him, likely crying, weeping, praying. “How can we give him a funeral, a burial?” But suddenly, one eye “popped” open and he said, “It’s alright.” They said, “Paul, how are you?” “Fine, thank you. And you?” And he got up.

When he came to his senses, the FIRST THING he did was go right back into the city in which we was almost murdered. What bravery! What an act! This much pain and blood must have been quite a spectacle. This was more effective than 1,000 sermons. No one could stop P&B from preaching about Christ – because they KNEW that Jesus died “for me.”

  • Do you have this kind of courage?
  • Do you have bravery to preach the gospel?
  • Do you have courage to share the gospel message?

Today, we need this kind of courage and bravery.

  • Courage = “not the absence of fear, but the ability to be VERY afraid, and still do the right and good thing anyway”
  • Courage and “fearlessness” are not synonyms
  • Courage = doing the right thing in spite of GREAT fear

Even Christ encourages us to “be courageous” – “You will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

OT and NT, God encourages us to be “strong and courageous.” (Joshua in the OT)

Be a Christian of Courage.

Challenge and encourage yourself.

We need this kind of courage in this world.

Remember Jesus was historically, truly crucified – have you ever received a stone for him?

This is our big blessing, responsibility.

God bless us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 04 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)

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Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.


Chp 13 & 14 are one package = they cover the First Missionary Journey of Paul & Barnabas. Chp 13 = the first half.

In chp 13, P&B&(John Mark) started from Antioch church in Syria, sailed to Cyprus – their first mission field. The began in the east end and went to the west end (Salamos -> Pathos) – like from NYC to LA if it were the US.

From the west end, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There, John Mark left them, but the other two continued on to the other Antioch. Then, Paul preached (last week) and his sermon is the same as my sermon:

  1. Jesus died for our sins
  2. On the third day, he rose again for our justification
  3. He is alive today and sitting in heaven on the right hand of God and interceding for us
  4. The justification of sins (declaration of righteousness) is based entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus

Today’s sermon = the response of the people to this message.

Also today, we are showing our reaction / response to the Word of God.

v. 42-45

“42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

  • some are filled with jealousy
  • others are filled with joy in the HS

When they heard this sermon of Paul, the people wanted to hear more. So the news spread throughout the whole city of Antioch in Pisidia. So, on the next Sabbath, almost the WHOLE city gathered to hear the Word of God – most of them were Gentiles.

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy

Jealousy, you know, is a dangerous sin – it can consist of one or more emotions: helplessness, spite, rivalry, disgust, etc… It is a consuming desire for the other person to be a loser / failure / unhappy “like me.”

When I’m jealous of somebody, look at myself – I’m already a failure, miserable, and ruined. Jealousy is one of the strong weapons that Satan is using to destroy our Christian character.

Ask yourself, when you see SOMEONE ELSE benefiting, or winning, or succeeding, where I cannot, can I rejoice with them?

Actually, jealousy is a more common reaction – but how tragic this is when our emotions cause us to stop God’s work. So, IF that person is impacting someone’s life for Christ, REJOICE! no matter who is in the spotlight.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or in vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

“I’m free from jealousy ~ I’m free from envy~”

Light & Life

v. 46-48

“46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of **eternal life**, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

” ‘I have made you a **light** for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were *appointed* for **eternal life** believed.”

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

“Appointed” is a military word – chosen, arranged, predestined (theologically)

  • v. 46: They reject eternal life because they do not like it
  • v. 48: They receive eternal life because they were chosen / ordained / elected for eternal life

This means:

  • If we are saved, we are saved because **GOD** elected us before the Creation of the world.
  • But, if not, then it is because **WE** reject the grace of God.

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

God’s logic is not the same as man’s, it is higher.

Isaiah 59:5 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts are higher than yours.”

Yes, we must believe in predestination – we believe in the sovereign will of God.

Romans 8:30 “Those he knew, he predestined; those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified.”

“God knew us before the Creation of the world… in his love, he predestined us to be called children of God.”

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved… not by works, this is the gift of God, so that nobody can boast of his salvation.”

But, nowhere does it say that God predestined anybody to be destroyed. Rather, he wants ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. He does not want ANYONE to perish. He is not happy with the destruction of any sinner.

Yes, we must believe the doctrine of predestination – but we must also know that this doctrine is ONLY applied to the “elect” – only to the saved.

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

  • There are two sides to every coin:
    • if this, then that;
    • if not this, then not that

But God’s logic is NOT limited to two sides of a coin.

Now about “eternal life.” Let me make it more clear. What is it? What are its characteristics? How can we get it? How can we know we’ve got it?

Eternal life: The gift of God

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This means, this life is a gift of God. Also, this gift is in contrast to death that is the natural result of sin. This gift comes only through Jesus Christ. This gift comes only to those who believe in Christ – the Resurrection and the Life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

But also, we must understand that life in Hell has NO END. There is no finish to it.

But, it is a mistake to understand this “Eternal life” as an unending sequence of years.

Greek “eternal life”: aionia zoi (αιώνια ζωή)

Eternal life is independent of time – it can function beyond the boundaries of time as well as within the boundaries of time. Therefore, eternal life is something we Christians experience NOW! Now and here!

Now and here!

We receive eternal life AS SOON AS we believe in Christ!

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ *has* eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes in him who sent me *has* eternal life – he *has* crossed over from death to life.” (Present perfect tense)

John 6:47? “Truly, he who believes *has* everlasting life.” (present tense)

The focus of eternal life is NOT on our future – but on our CURRENT standing in Jesus Christ. This pertains to the present.

Why? Because the purpose of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification was to provide eternal life to human beings. The Bible definitely mentions this as in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”

Eternal life = knowledge

There is no knowledge of God without the Son. He came as the visual revelation of the invisible God.

Jesus says, “He who sees me, sees God.”

It is through Jesus that God reveals himself to the elect.

Another important point:

This eternal life (knowledge about God and the Son) is relational knowledge – this is not just an intelligence briefing.

On the final judgment day, there will be some who claim to have followed Christ – but never had any relationship with him. To those false claimers, he will say, “I never knew you! Away from me!”

This experiential, relational knowledge of Christ = so important. This is why it was Paul’s FINAL goal.

Of course, Paul knew Christ more than me, more than you, but this was still his ultimate goal.

Phil 3:10-11 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

This is good news (gospel) – Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Believe and accept this good news!

This is good news!

Imagine, if good news is very difficult, many people could not understand it. But this news is good for ALL people – short, simple, easy to understand. Old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, all can understand.

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

1 John 5:10-11 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

v. 47

“47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” “

If you have eternal life, then you are the light of the world.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor can a lamp be hidden – rather it is put on a stand. Therefore, let your light SHINE before men.”

“You are a chosen people; a royal priesthood; a holy nation; a people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.”

v. 49-52

“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God is like seed – it is scattered and spread.

Our hearts that receive it are like soil – the earth that receives it.

The seed is always the same, but the field is often different.

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

  1. Hard field – birds come and eat the seed away
  2. Rocky field – seed can’t take root
  3. Thorny field – seed takes root, but the thorns choke it to death
  4. Good field – seed takes root and can produce a harvest of 100 times that which was planted

Which field is your heart?

In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul, this seed is spreading – the same seed – but the fields are all different.

Also, in Antioch here, the same word, the same seed, was preached by Paul – but the reception was so different.

  • one group received it with joy
  • the other group rejected it, persecuted them, and expelled them from the region

Remember, P&B were set apart by the HS, sent by the HS, filled with the HS, but they encountered hardships, sufferings, persecution (v. 50). Yes, even those set apart, sent, filled with the HS, can encounter these hardships. Why? Because they preach the gospel.

Some Christians may say, “There was only persecution at that time – but not in Korea, in America, there isn’t that kind of thing any longer.”

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

Preaching the gospel = persecution (literally like two sides of the same coin)

Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me – rejoice and be glad because great will be your reward in heaven.”

The last verse: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the HS.”

Imagine – if you give money, clothes, etc, things the people want, they will not persecute you. Only preaching the gospel = followed by persecution.

But, at the same time:

Preaching the gospel = great joy (like a three-sided coin)

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

You know, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. If you believe this, why are you not willing to taste a SMALL suffering for his glory, for the benefit of others?

If we really believe that Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life, we should preach the gospel.

If you are children of God, you are coheirs with Christ. If you share in his sufferings, you share in his glory. But our present sufferings are incomparable with the glory that is to be revealed. The best is yet to come!

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

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

Paul’s First Sermon (Acts 13:6-41)

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Paul’s First Sermon

Acts 13:6-41 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

In Pisidian Antioch

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

<PaulsFirstSermon>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “

</PaulsFirstSermon>

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

1. Paul focused on BIG cities –

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

If Paul were in Korea, he would travel to

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

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

City Mission 도시선교

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m a Child of God!”

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

God bless us to be so.

v. 13

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

Before this verse:

v. 9

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

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

v. 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnabas took John, Paul took Silas.

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

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

Key point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “”

Amen.

His first sermon has 3 parts:

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

Each part begins with an addressing word.

Part One v. 16

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

Part Two v. 26

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

Part Three v. 38

“”Therefore, my brothers, “

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

Part One

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

This was the Introduction (preparation)

Part Two (main body – declaration)

The main theme: The death and resurrection of Christ

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

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

v. 37 Why? Because Jesus is original God.

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

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

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

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

v. 38-39

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

Two key ideas in these two sentences:

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. Justification by faith

Forgiveness of Sin

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

v. 38 “I want you to know…”

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

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

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

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

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

Justification by Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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For what were you set apart?

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

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

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

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

On Cyprus

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


This chp 13 takes off where chp 12 ended.

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

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

Returned from where? From Antioch.

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

Chp 11

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

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

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

This is the story of chp 11.

Chp 12

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

This is chp 12.

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

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

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

This Antioch holds many FIRST records:

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

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

v. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Variety in unity;
unity in variety.

This is the heart of our Father God.

This is the heart of God.

v. 2-3

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

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

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

The HS came on them in worship.

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

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

“Worship and service go together.”

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

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

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

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

Romans “Set apart for the gospel of Christ.”

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

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

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

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

v. 4-5

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

Let us bless the beginning of their ministry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this a blessing or a burden? Both!

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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God is in Control of Everything

Acts 12:1-11 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

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

In this chapter, we can see 3 events:

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

v. 1-6

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, ALL Herods left behind an evil legacy.


Parents affect their Children

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

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

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

“More is caught than taught.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Peter’s 3rd arrest.

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

But this experience is totally different from other experiences.

In the other experiences,

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

But in this prison now,

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

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

Peter’s Peace

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

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

1. Many believers were praying for him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this situation, we might ask,

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

The only answer is:

The Sovereign Will of God

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

Heb 11 is the faith chapter.

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

Yes, these stories are very great.

But at the same time, the same chapter says,

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

Also these stories are great stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 7-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even in miracles, Jesus is always practical.

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

This is a practical principle of Christ.

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

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

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

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

Believe and expect something great from God.

God bless you.

Let us pray.

  • Sep 30 / 2018
  • Comments Off on If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

If you are Christian, BE Christian!

Acts 11:19-30 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

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

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

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

Challenge:

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

v. 19-22

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

Chp 7 – Stephen was killed

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

Chp 8 – Philip preached to the Samaritans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am Antioch”

Our Antioch church is named after THIS Antioch church.

v. 23-26

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

(Tarsus is Saul’s hometown)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 26

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

v. 30

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

Chp 13:1

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

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

From Chp 13:43 we can see this change:

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

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

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

v. 11:27

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

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

There were many terms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a Christian? BE a Christian.

Personal experience

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

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

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

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

“I am CHRISTIAN.”

This should give so many meanings.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

“Are you named after me?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

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

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

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

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

“God bless you Christians.”

Let’s pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

Two crucial questions

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

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

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


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

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

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

Do you know the key ministry of the HS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 44

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

What are “these words”? The gospel message:

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

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

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

v. 47-48

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

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

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

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

Let’s clear up Water Baptism

This is NOT essential for salvation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter’s Journey (Jerusalem -> Jerusalem)

chp 11:1-3

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

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

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

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

We must be careful:

  • Critics criticize first, and gather information later.

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

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

v. 4-17

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

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

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

v. 18

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

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

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

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

v. 2

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, …”

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

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

This is our spiritual journey in this world

We begin and end with God.

Our lives on earth are only spiritual preparation for eternity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you calculate how long eternity is?

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

“My citizenship is in heaven.”

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

We need the gospel every day

Acts 10:34-43 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

In this story, there are two main human characters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question:

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

This is a serious question today.

Peter was still trying to understand what this vision meant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 34-35

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

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

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

If you believe in Christ, you are saved.

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

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

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

v. 36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 37-42

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know show SOME of the verses for this.

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

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

Only in Christ can salvation be found.

v. 43 (Memorize)

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

Amazing! Wow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Dimensions of Sin

1. Behavioral sin

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

2. Attitudinal sin (invisible)

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

  1. actions and
  2. motivations / attitudes.

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

3. Relational sin

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

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

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

4. Ontological sin

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

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

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

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

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

All these sins:

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

Can ALL be forgiven through Christ.

If you believe, shall we proclaim together:

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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You are an usher of Christ

Acts 10:1-33 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

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

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


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

Peter was holding the keys to faith.

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

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

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

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

v. 1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must remember that this is very important.

It is very possible to be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 3

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

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

v. 4-6

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

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

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

v. 9-12

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

v. 13-16

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

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

Question:

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

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

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

v. 17-20

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

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

v. 25-33

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus is our peace.”

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

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

Concluding story

(True story in human history)

Mahatma Gandhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must be careful.

“We are all ONE in Christ Jesus.

Let’s pray.

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

The Greatest Miracle (Acts 9:32-43)

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The Greatest Miracle~!

Acts 9:32-43 (Pastor Heo)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two stories:

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

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

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

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

So, how did the message come to them?

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

Peter came to visit them in Lydda.

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

#1 Miracle: Healing a paralytic

v. 33-34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Ministry Work

v. 35

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

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

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

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

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

#2 Miracle: Raising the Dead

v. 36-37

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

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


Jonah’s story

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


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

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

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

v. 38-41

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we know, the dead certainly cannot exercise faith.

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

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

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

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

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

The source of our life / faith is only Christ.

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

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

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

Are you believers? Saints?

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

Conclusion

v. 42-43

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

Remember the conclusion of the first miracle?

v. 35

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

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

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

v. 43

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

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

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

We can see “saints” two times here.

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

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

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

“I’m saved to serve others.”

“I’m saved for greater service.”

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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What a Transformation! (2)

Acts 9:19-31

Galatians 1:15-21

Acts 9:19-31

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

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


Galatians 1:15-21

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


What a transformation!

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

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

v. 19-22

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

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

Galatians 1:15-21

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

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

We can see Paul began with 2 important things:

1. Immediately witnessed for Christ in Damascus.

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

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

“I’m a changed man!”

Those who know me / you best should know that.

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

2. Commune alone with God

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

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

  1. Guidance
  2. Strength

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

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

These are the very basic, fundamental questions.

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

#1: Who is Christ?

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

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

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

#2 Who Am I?

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

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

Are your lips clean?

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

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

Actually, Saul had two names from the beginning.

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

False.

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

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

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

He was now yoked to Christ for his service.

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

Are you holding Jesus’ yoke on your shoulders?

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

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

But Paul learned who he was in Christ.

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

#3 What shall I do?

What should you do?

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

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

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

Also, today is the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

v. 23-25

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

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

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

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

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

A wolf will never attack a painted sheep.

What idea can you get from this sentence?

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

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

v. 26-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which side are you?

Do you think the best / worst of others?

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

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

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

Are you Christian?

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

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

v. 31

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

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

Acts 1:8

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

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

God changes his workmen.

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

What a Transformation!

Acts 9:1-19 (Pastor Heo)

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


This is the conversion story of Saul/Paul

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

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

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

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

As we know,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saul (origin)

v. 1-2

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

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

Saul (transformation)

v. 3-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a transformation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 15

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

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

Saul didn’t choose Christ but Christ chose him.

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

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

This is the greatest conversion story in the church.

  • The greatest persecutor became the greatest preacher.

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

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

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

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

Ananias’ story

v. 10-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s perfect will is always best.

#3: God’s works are always balanced

This is a kind of miracle.

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

But God’s works are always balanced.

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

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

God bless you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m so important before God.”

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

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