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  • Oct 21 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Paul and Apollos (Acts 18:18-19:7)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Paul and Apollos (Acts 18:18-19:7)


Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

In the last study, Paul was granted permission to stay in Corinth. The Jews had accused him of teaching against their own law, but the Pro Consul was not influenced by the Jews. Galieo didn’t care about their law, said, “You take care of it yourself.” So, this gave a kind of precedent for Christianity to be accepted and at least tolerated.

v. 18 – He stayed for some time, then left with Priscilla, Aquila – until 52A.D. spring, when it was safe to sail.

Athens had been a pretty big disappointment, only a few converts.
Corinth, initially discouraged, Paul had a vision where God said, “Carry on” and many were saved there (in Sin City). God was patient, long-suffering, used Paul to correct the Corinthians.

Also in Corinth, most converts were from the lower classes. 1 Cor. 1:26 – “Not many of you were wise, influential, of noble birth” But God blessed the city with many converts.

Now, he was off – ultimately to Jerusalem, then Antioch. But on his way, he stopped over in Ephesus – Asia Minor.

Church in Cenchrea had grown.
2 Cor. Paul writes to Achaea? southern Greece.

Romans 16:1 – Paul mentions Phoebe as being a member of the Cenchrean church – helpful to him (she was a deaconess).
In Cenchrea, he made a vow and cut his hair.

Paul continued to be faithful to his Jewish traditions – taking a vow would underscore this. Who knows what kind of vow?
He was still clearly a Jew, unashamed and unopposed to keeping Jewish traditions, though a Christian, and he didn’t impose Jewish tradition upon Gentiles.

In Ephesus, he preached the gospel.
Here, they seemed interested in his teaching, wanted him to stay longer, but Paul declined. Seems a bit strange, he usually took advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel. His journey must have been important, and he gave a promise to return, which he did – and ministered there later for 2 years.

Priscilla and Aquila later returned to Rome after the death of Claudius the Emperor.
However, when Paul left, they stayed in Ephesus.

From here, Luke’s account is very compressed. Summarizes many events – sea voyage, journey south, etc in a few sentences.

Paul’s destination was Antioch, and from there he went on a journey to the other churches.

Luke mentions the stop to Jerusalem (out of his way 300 miles north), to imply that Paul was still loyal to the apostolic church and his Jewish heritage. This is important because later, people would accuse him of leaving his Jewish faith and encouraging others to do so.

Paul likely remained in Antioch for quite some time, then v. 23 he traveled place to place on a pastoral journey, strengthening the disciples. He likely revisited the towns from earlier Acts where he preached the gospel. He’d been there one proclaiming the gospel, a second time appointing elders, and now a third time.

Now, Apollos – a Jew, born in Egypt, came to Ephesus. He knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and destroyed the Jews in debate.
He became one of Paul’s trusted brothers in the faith, a great apologist (defender of the faith).
Later, some Christians would claim “I’m of Apollos” and “I’m of Paul” but Paul would say, “neither is anything, but God gives the increase” and “Paul and Apollos are one – in mind, unity, and each will receive his own reward in his work.”
1 Cor 6:12 – “Now concerning Apollos, I strongly urged him to come, but he was unwilling, but he will come when he has a convenient time.”

Paul has no authority over him, respects him.

Titus 3:13 “Send Zemas and Apollos with haste that they lack nothing.”

Luke has a good reason for including this story of Apollos. Some Corinthians were adopting a partisan spirit (I’m Apollos, I’m Paul), but that was wrong.

Apollos knew well of Jesus and the prophecies in the Scriptures of him, but didn’t know of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, only John’s.

The Jewish leaders had been responsible for the death of their Messiah that had been promised for thousands of years. Peter, with the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2?) preached, and the men were convicted – Peter said “He is risen!” “What shall we do?” they asked, “Repent! and be baptized in the name of Christ and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!” And thousands (2,000?) were added to their number that day.

So, it’s a bit strange that Apollos hadn’t heard of this. It may be that he had the Holy Spirit already since he taught of Jesus quite accurately. Sometimes, with the laying on of hands, or through preaching, some received the HS. There is a method, but also exceptions.

Apollos was humble enough to receive further instruction from Aquila and Priscilla. We thank God that he was humble enough to receive that.

Neil (commentator) “Luke’s vague and brief account doesn’t teach us much of Apollos. Perhaps he was a member of a John the Baptist sect (chapter 19))”

Apollos wanted to go on to Achaea. He met with unconverted Jews and proving that Jesus was the Christ. He went back to some places that Paul had been and was highly regarded by the churches there – great public speaker.

Apollos had become another important member of the team.

Also, Paul had not abandoned his missionary work for the Jews.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul came to Ephesus – rich in history. Paul had received a favorable response earlier, and promised to return – he has. Acts 18:19-21 (favorable acceptance) – but at that time, he carried on along his journey.

Now, the events of Ephesus. Curious story – Paul met some of John’s disciples, slightly defective in their knowledge of the Way of Life (Christianity). Eph 1:13 “In Him (Christ), you also trusted after you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel, and you trusted and believed and were sealed with the Holy Spirit.”

These disciples had not heard of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps “disciples” means “of John”. They were certainly Jews, and hadn’t heard of the Holy Spirit – it was a little puzzling.

Matt 3:11 – John, “I baptize with water, unto repentance, but he who comes after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Paul “Which have you received?” They “John’s”
Paul “You should receive the HS baptism.”

These may have been hardcore followers of John the Baptist.
Josephus – historian, writes that JB was highly praised and loved and influential to the Jewish people.

John was arrested in Matthew because he preached against Herod’s second marriage. He wanted to kill him, but was afraid of the crowds who loved him.

Influence of John – in the gospel of John – John always makes sure to keep the ministry of JB inferior to Jesus’ ministry – to be sure that those who read it would be clear – he is NOT the Messiah, NOT Elijah, NOT the Prophet (Moses). John says “NO, to all.” “Who are you then, what about you?” “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.”

John _:21-31 JB “Behold the Lamb of God, who was before me, yet after me. I did not know him, but that he would be revealed to Israel, so, I’ve baptized with water.” HS comes down in a dove.
“Now, I’ve seen and testify that THIS is the son of God.”

Luke was careful to define JB’s ministry.

This is the fifth time in Acts that JB’s role has been clarified.
Chp 1:5 “Wait for the promise of the Father, John baptized with water, you with the HS.”
Chp 11:16 Peter “As I spoke (to Cornelius), the HS fell upon them as upon us, who am I to deny them baptism?” Chp 13:25 Paul “As John finished, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? Not HE, but the one who comes after me, I’m not fit to untie his sandals.’”
Chp 18:25 Apollos “This man had been instructed in the ways of the Lord, though he knew ONLY the baptism of John.”
Chp 19:4 “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one who came after him.”

JB’s ministry may have grown opposite the Christian one – even in opposition to it perhaps. It was a sect.
Luke includes this to show that the Church believes in Jesus and follows Him, not John.

JB was a faithful servant who POINTED to the true King, Jesus.

Again here, the HS is given as Jesus is proclaimed Lord and they believe in Him.

The main things are explained.
1. Receiving the HS (born from above) – the MOST important thing we need to know.

Whitefield (great preacher) accused of saying “You must be born again.” WHY? Because “You must be born again!”

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 14 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Great Intercessory Prayer of Christ for All His Own! (John 17:1-26)
John: The Book of Life, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Great Intercessory Prayer of Christ for All His Own! (John 17:1-26)


Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

John 17 is an open conversation with God the Father for his own followers. In this prayer, Jesus expresses his deepest desire for his return to the Father and the destiny of his followers.

No matter what happens after this, Jesus is a “winner” not a “loser.” This prayer is the greatest prayer ever prayed, the greatest prayer in the Bible, the “Holy of Holies” in the Bible. So, we must enter it with thankfulness, praise, humility.
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  • Oct 07 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Christ in Corinth (Acts 18:1-18)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Christ in Corinth (Acts 18:1-18)



Sermon Notes

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Sometime after Paul’s defense before the council in Athens, he left and Luke doesn’t say how long he was there, but Luke was interested in his encounters with the pagan philosophers of the day. They’d evaluated, scorned, ridiculed, dismissed him.

On the whole, there was no consensus on whether or not Paul could/should continue preaching, so he moved on to Corinth.

These were trying times, he’d been prevented from preaching in Asia, he’d been directed by God to go to Macedonia – he had some successes, but many disappointments, including fleeing from the Jews.

If he wanted to go to Rome (many scholars think he did), he was prevented from doing so by political reasons.

He was often dismissed and ridiculed.
He was concerned about the converts (in danger from angry Jews) in Thessalonica.
1 Thess. 2:3-7 – here is his concern for them.

In the meantime he has received good news from Timothy and Silas who allay his concerns for the Thessalonian believers.

“When we were torn away from you (in person, not thought), we wanted to come to you, made every effort, but Satan stopped us. But what is our hope, joy, glory? Is it not you? Indeed, you are. So, when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to stay in Athens, we sent Timothy – our brother – to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so no one would be unsettled by these trials. In fact, we kept telling you we’d be persecuted, and we were. So, when I could stand it no longer, I wanted to find out about your faith, I feared Satan would tempt you beyond your control, but Timothy has told us of your faith and love, and how you long to see us as we also long to see you. So, we were encouraged about you because of your faith.”

Paul was encouraged by the good news Timothy brought back.

When Paul was there, there were riots, chaos, Jason was beaten, they had to make a quick escape.

Now, Paul is traveling to Corinth and doesn’t know what to expect. He was leaving the university city of Athens, for a fast-moving commercial district of Corinth.

It had been destroyed, but rebuilt by Rome. Became the capital of the Roman province Acea?

It was a very strategic, major commercial center – over 200,000 people, 2 ports, metropolis, and “Sin City” (as many port cities) – did a lot of trade in the pleasures of the flesh.

“Play the Corinthian” or “Corinthianize” = you are lustful and live on your lusts.

It had many cults throughout the years – Aphrodite – goddess of love (lust) – temple housed 1,000 prostitute priestesses.

It had a big, bad reputation for sexual sin.

That was reflected in the church that Paul started – shown in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“Neither lusters, theives, drunkards, men who have sex with men, etc, etc…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you. BUT, you’ve been justified, sanctified, washed, and cleansed and made pure and holy.”

Paul warned them that Christians can’t continue in immorality.

1 Cor. 5:1-2 “It is reported that there is sexual immorality and such that is not even named among the Gentiles. That a man has his father’s wife. And you are proud and have not mourned that he who has done this is not taken away from you.”

Even this terrible sin was present in the church in Corinth – pagans didn’t do that.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be controlled by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will destroy them both. The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

“All things are lawful” = an idiom of the time
(maybe like “freedom” in other nations)

These things aren’t “illegal” per se, but they aren’t helpful to other Christians.

Example: It isn’t illegal to say “I prefer THAT pastor” but it also isn’t helpful. One pastor planted, one pastor watered, but GOD made you grow. We want to point to Jesus, find our hope and life in him, build each other up.

Ex: not illegal to sue a Christian brother, but totally not helpful and didn’t do the Christian testimony any good. “Why not suffer wrong? Better that than bring the whole church under disrepute.”

Ex: Not illegal to eat meat, but if you do so in front of a vegetarian brother, you may tempt him, cause him to sin, hurt him – and it just isn’t helpful.

Ex: in Corinth, prostitutes, one-night-stands, etc probably wasn’t illegal, BUT it also wasn’t helpful.

The word for “lawful” and “power” had similar meanings.

Paul is saying “I have the power to do these things, but I will not be brought under the power of these things.”

“Your body is not your own! You were bought at a price! Therefore, honor God with your bodies!”

This isn’t easy, especially given the cultural background, and their many failures. But Paul emphasizes, “With God’s help, it is possible, and through repentance, cleansing is possible.”

And those who repented found favor with the Lord – “he who confesses his sins finds favor with the Lord” those who refuse to repent are chastened (disciplined) by the Lord.

2 Cor 12:20-21
In defense of his own apostleship – from the accusations of false teachers

“For I fear, when I come, I shall not find you as I wish, and you will find me as you don’t want. There may be selfishness, gossip, conceit, fights, etc. Or, when I come again, God will humble me among you, and you have not repented of your lewdness, lust, etc.”

Many problems in the church there.
But it was despite these problems, the gospel took root here, and in the majority, the HS triumphed over the lusts of the flesh.

Intellectual Athens showed much less interest in the message of salvation, than in the flesh-bought Corinth. It was here that God’s word worked mightily, and Paul rejoiced here in his greatest successes.

So, against this background, we can see Paul’s work and understand it better.

Aquila and Priscilla – had recently come (deported) from Rome (AD 49 – Claudius’ reign) – the Jews at that time had been in many riots because of the Christians (opposing them). So, the emperor tried to solve that problem, by banishing all the Jews from Rome.

Eventually, the Jews did return (possibly the edict was not enforced). It’s certain that Priscilla and Aquila did return.
Romans 16:3 – Paul sends greetings to them.
“Greet them, they risked their own necks for me, and the whole church rejoices for them.”

The couple did eventually return to Rome.
But Paul stayed with them in Corinth for a while because they (and he) were tent-makers (like leather work). So, Paul joined them.

But he also continued preaching in the synagogues on Sundays, and Timothy and Silas rejoined him, and they brought good news about the Thessalonians.

1 Thess 3:6-7 “But now that Timothy has come from you and that you always have faith and love and remember us and desire to see us, therefore, in all our distress we were comforted by your faith.”

Timothy also brought money from Philippi.
These two things greatly encouraged Paul, so he began to exclusively preach the gospel.

As usual, some Jews opposed him, so he couldn’t preach in the synagogue, and he shook out his clothes, and said “I will go to the Gentiles.”

Shaking off the dust = breaking fellowship.

Paul also shook the dust from his feet in Antioch (Acts 13:51).

And he used a Jewish phrase “your blood be on your own heads” showing he’d done his responsibility of preaching to them.

Paul was saying that he’d been a faithful messenger and was not accountable for their rejection of his message (Ezekiel 36).

In other places, Paul went to the synagogues, but because he was often rejected, he would go next door.

The next door was Justus, and Crispus was baptized and believed (v. 8).

Paul may have anticipated more opposition from the Jews, maybe he’s getting tired of this. So, the Lord appeared to him in a vision to encourage him “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent, for I am with you and no one will attack you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city.”

So, Paul remained for 18 months in the city.

There was further opposition, but Paul was protected. The Jews accused him before the government, but their plot failed, and the government protected the Christian church and set a precedent for Christian churches elsewhere.

The Jews probably thought they could influence him, test him, against Paul and his religion. But when the Jews brought him forward, Gallio wasn’t impressed.

As Paul was about to testify in his own defense, but Gallio said, “There’s no crime here. If it’s about words and names in your own holy books, I won’t judge.” So their plans backfired, and became an advantage to the church. So the people beat up the synagogue leader (Antisemitism), and Gallio ignored it.

Then he left.
At Cenchrea, Paul had his hair cut. He never held other Jews to do what he did himself.

The elite poo-pooed the gospel (in Athens).
But the fleshly pagans accepted the gospel readily.

Humble yourselves before God and he will lift you up.

Paul would be at home here today, there are many sexual problems in the culture (and in the church) today. And just as in that day, in Corinth, if we humble ourselves, God will give us grace, forgiveness, and lift us up.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 30 / 2012
  • Comments Off on In Christ Jesus VS. In This World (John 16:16-33)
John: The Book of Life, Pastor Heo, Sermons

In Christ Jesus VS. In This World (John 16:16-33)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

v. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This section we read is the conclusion of our Lord’s upper room discussion. In the conclusion, he deals with the emotions of the disciples.

At this time, they were frustrated, worried, afraid, grieved. They didn’t understand some of Jesus’ teachings. They were humans, very ordinary, not even that well educated – but later they were used greatly for God’s kingdom.

So, there is hope for each of us to be used greatly for God’s kingdom as well, though we are ordinary. So, don’t give up! We always have hope!

3 Lessons

#1 v. 16-22 Principle
#2 v. 23-28 Promise
#3 v. 29-33 Position to Proclaim

#1 v. 16-22 Principle (Standard) to understand and apply in our daily lives.

“In a little while”?
“See me”?
“Grief will turn to rejoicing”

Principle = Our God brings, gives in our hearts and lives JOY finally – not by substitution, but by transformation (change).

To explain this, Jesus uses the story of a mother delivering a baby.
HUGE pain! initially, but at the same time, receiving that baby = HUGE joy!
The baby caused the pain, but brought joy!

God doesn’t substitute something else to bring joy from the pain, but he transforms what is ALREADY THERE – pain that is already there, and changes it to joy.

Child with a broken toy.
Substitution = parents buy another toy, if broken, buy another toy, if broken, another toy, etc, etc. Whenever broken, buy a new toy. SO, that child grows up expecting EVERY problem to be solved by substitution.
Child-adult, adult-child – they grow up.

Another option = transform that experience to become joy for that unhappy child.

The way of substitution = immaturity.
The way of transformation = maturity.

If somebody replaces our broken toys ALL THE TIME, we will be immature.

The same baby that caused pain, caused great joy as well.

“So with you.” The same with Christian lives.

In the Bible, Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave to Egypt, and he went to prison. But God transformed that hopeless situation into joy.

Saul pursued David to kill him, but the pain and worry was transforming David into the man of God to write beautiful Psalms.

Jesus died on the UGLY cross – a symbol of death, but God transformed that cross into a symbol of life.

Today, many people may think “joy is an emotion depending on my circumstances.”
That is only HALF true. 

True joy is MORE than that. TRUE joy is will-power, determination, inner attitude.

Remember Paul? In prison, weak in body, sick, and he shouted in joy, “I WILL rejoice at all times in the Lord!!”

Habakkuk confessed, “the olive tree doesn’t produce fruit, no sheep, no cattle, no fruit, no harvest, YET I will rejoice all the time in my God and my Savior!”

Joy is NOT only a feeling, but a determination! If you choose joy, you can be joyful – regardless of circumstances.

Also, we must understand the words, “a little while.” repeated 7 times.

v. 16 – “In a little while….”
They were worried and frustrated because they didn’t understand the true meaning of “a little while”

Double meaning – at that time, Jesus was talking about his soon coming event, death and resurrection. When he died on the cross, during his burial, they could not see Him, but after a little while, they saw Him in his resurrected body.

The second meaning is FROM returning to Father God UNTIL his Second Coming, we cannot see him. So, this period (now) is “a little while” before God.

When Jesus comes back “soon” we will see him forever.

2 Peter 3:8 “With God even 1,000 years are like a day, and a day is like 1,000 years.”

In human history, no matter how long it is, ANY and EVERY period is “a little while.” (Imagine your history textbooks)

James 4:14 “What is your life, you are a mist, a fog that appears for a little while and then disappears.”

What is the longest period of human history?
From Creation to Jesus’ Second Coming.
Even this is “a little while” when compared with eternity.

Rev. “the first earth and heaven will disappear, and a new heaven and new earth will appear”
Even this is “a little while” when compared with eternity. 

Forever is kind of a long time.

Remember that the best is coming soon. 
If we remember that, we can be joyful under every circumstance.

#2 v. 23-28 Promise
“Ask in my name”
How beautiful this promise given to us.
It is a promise of prayer – ask “in my name”

The central theme here is prayer.

As his cross is coming nearer and nearer, he emphasizes the necessity and blessing of prayer.

Originally, John 14, 15, 16 was a single sermon – Jesus repeats 7 times “in my name”
John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask for anything in my name.”
John 14:26 “HS whom the Father will send in my name will teach and remind you of all I’ve said.”
John 15:16 “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name”
John 16:23 “In that day (age of Holy Spirit – now – we are absolutely free to approach God at anytime in the name of Jesus), you will no longer ask me anything, …in my name. 24 Until now, you have not asked…in my name…26 In that day, you will ask in my name…”

7 times “in my name”
Prayer is one of the most wonderful promises and great privileges we can have.
1 Corinthians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

Is this “pray continually” thing a burden? or a privilege? 
This means that I’m ALWAYS ready to listen to your voice to bless you, to walk with you, to help you (God says).

Parents love their children’s voices – if they talk for 3 hours, it’s great! But if they talk for 24-hours a day all day, every day….can you keep listening?…. “You said that before…Go to bed! Stop!”
Our God is never tired, never bored of our voices. 

This is a HUGE blessing, right, privilege.

Once, there was a dispute (debate) between Catholic Priests and the born-again Church on this matter.
Catholics argued, “this is a difficult job, we need many complicated processes – Jesus’ name PLUS Mary’s interceding PLUS saint’s interceding PLUS my good work” (the more help the better)
Pastor, “no, Jesus name is MORE than enough to approach God.”

Through the name of Jesus we have gained access to God’s grace.
Acts 4:12 “ There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved,…”

Priest interrupted – “Yes, Bible says this, but reality says… ‘When we want to meet a human President – like Obama, Lee MyungBak – we need many processes, gates, requirements, security, permission, appointment, wait’ …Imagine if a HUMAN President is so difficult to meet, how much more difficult to meet is GOD?”

Pastor, “Yes, humans are difficult, but, how about the CHILDREN of that President? I’m a child of God, how about you? I can walk into his office for no good reason whatsoever, just to say ‘Hi’ or ask for a candy.”

God has given each of us the right to become children of God (Romans?)

One of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit is to remind us that “you are a child of God” no matter how your (face) faith looks (ugly, or beautiful) – we are STILL children of God – that’s why we can always, anytime, approach God about anything – in the name of Jesus.

This is one of the greatest blessing we could receive. Please, enjoy it without measure.

#3 v. 29-33 Our Position to Proclaim
“You believe at last!”
“I have overcome the world!” (my favorite)

Through this passage, we can see it is possible to have faith, understanding, but fail to the Lord.

Unless we apply our faith, apply our understanding, we will fail when the testing comes.

Our Lord warned Peter that he would deny him three times – it happened.
Here, he warns that all the disciples would forsake him and leave him all alone – it will happen.

Even though I’m alone, the Father is with me.

Yet, ONE time, Jesus felt the absence of the Father – when God turned his back on his Son on the cross.

But Matthew – last verse “Surely I’m with you to the end of the age.”
Hebrews “never will I leave you, never forsake you, no one can snatch you out of my hand.”

But, when he became sin for us – in our place, God turned from him. He became alone so that we would never be alone. He became forsaken so we would never be forsaken.

Is there a time that you feel God is far? You are far from him.

Is there a time that you feel God is doing nothing? Then, you are doing nothing for him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In Jesus Christ, there is peace, but in this world there is trouble and tribulation.

In heaven, there is only joy.
In hell, only tribulation.
On this earth, joy and trouble go together.
Do you have peace or do you have trouble?

If you are a really true Christian, the correct answer is “both.” Jesus told us we would have trouble.

Many people think (incorrectly) that peace is the absence of trouble. But if you think that, then you will have no opportunity to have peace.

Everyone has trouble because we are in this world. Unbelievers have no peace because they are not in Christ. We have peace because we are in Christ. But, we still have trouble.

Experiencing peace WITH trouble is the power of the true Christian faith.

Which overcomes which?

Are you overcome? Or overcoming? Overcomer?

We have trouble in this world.
We have peace in Christ.

This world is not in me.
Christ is in me.

So, peace can OVERCOME the trouble – ANY trouble. We are of Christ Jesus, we are not of this world.

1 John 5:4 “Everyone born of God overcomes the world.” This is the victory of our faith.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!!!”

May God bless us with his Word.
Let’s pray.

  • Sep 23 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Unknown God Made Known (Acts 17:16-34)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Paul in Athens, waiting for Timothy and Silas to catch up with him.

He noticed idols all over, and his spirit was provoked.

Athens had a 1,000 year long history, the foundation of democracy – very famous place. Literary, artistic, philosophic center.

Socrates, Aristotle, and others…
A long heritage of philosophy.

Romans conquered Athens, but they were so impressed, they fostered Athens continued philosophy, education, etc.
But, before Paul, it had long since lost its wealth, reputation, etc.

Its population at that time was only 10,000, compared to Thessalonica at 200,000.

It’s proud of its pagan heritage, full of idols, tons of religion.

William Barclay “more statues of the gods in Athens than in all Greece put together – it was easier to meet a god than a man”

Paul enters the synagogue and begins to reason with them, as was his pattern.

On the weekdays, he went to the marketplace and reasoned with the Gentiles there. This was the center of Athenian social life, where goods were bought and sold, and philosophers exchanged their ideas.
Paul challenged them there, soon he encountered Epicurus “pleasure is the chief goal of life – freedom from pain, superstitions, etc” Different from Hedonism – “physical pleasure” Epicurus taught friendship and mind pleasure were the greatest.

The Epicureans had little motivation to seek God or fear him “gods are far off, they don’t care, let’s just live our lives as best we can”
Actually, Thomas Jefferson was an Epicurean – “all men are created equal…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Stoic school of Phil – founded by Xeno – emphasize human rational abilities, reason, logic (Spock – Star Trek)

The gods of popular mythology believed to be expressions of this kind of thought.

So, these two schools of thought were competing with each other, then Paul comes along with the gospel.

Thoughtful people want to cope with the world of suffering using one of these two schools of thought. So, the two schools tried to show them how to cope without God. But the gospel questions the usefulness of these two philosophies because it depends on God.

This from Paul sounded dangerous and upsetting to them. “Who is this babbler?” (bird pecking at food – scrap-peddlers – people who sold religious ideas without understanding them)

Paul is dismissed as ignorant, foolish.
1 Corinthians 1:23 – “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks, foolishness, but to us who are being saved, salvation”

Others, more polite, said they’d listen again.

He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods – because he preached on Jesus and the resurrection (maybe this was TWO gods? Jesus AND the resurrection god?)

They took him to the chief judicial body of the city – 30 members – they overlooked the religious, phil, moral, stuff of the day. Areopagus still means “judicial body” in Greece today.

There’s an implied threat here, though nothing formal – yet. Josephus talked about many who were executed by insulting the Greek gods. Paul might be in trouble here….

In Athens, the introduction of strange gods was a capital offense IF the state gods were denied.

So, here is Paul, before the council, giving answers to their questions – gotta be quick on his feet, speak to the culture.

Paul points out the weaknesses of idolatry, by relying on their OWN insights (from phil of their own). Some pagan phil have ideas of gods that contradict idols. Paul says it doesn’t go far enough, and then he presents the gospel.

Paul quickly takes the side of his hearers (flattering them, making him sound like one of them) – He said they are “religious” – could be devout or superstitious.

He saw an altar to an unknown god, (God’s providence), so that he was able to say “Let me explain this unknown god to you.”

In this way, we can also see how Paul “became all things to all people, so as to win some.” Paul became as one without the Jewish Law in order to win them over. He had to become like them, become like the culture, empathize with the culture, before he was able to preach the gospel to them.

He informs them that God is the Creator of all – not detached from the universe, but caring, loving – so loving, he sent his own son to die in their place for their sins. The world did not come about by chance, but by design, God himself is the designer.

William H. Williams – in reasoning from the natural world toward faith in God, Paul borders on natural theology as a forerunner to faith. How can one look up into the stars and deny something or someone created them? Yet, atheists still do – ALL THIS STUFF just “looks” cool, just “looks” designed, but “oops! coincidence!” But to those who know better, there is no coincidence in this intricacy.

First, Paul needed to establish WHO the one true God was – and that he could be glimpsed through nature. He had to break them away from their idolatry before they could fully understand God.

“God doesn’t live in temples built by human hands.” Even Stephen – the first martyr – said that in a Jewish context. “He lives in hearts that are open to him.”

Interesting, pagan AND Jewish temples are placed in the same category. Even churches are not where God lives. If the beautiful temples in Jerusalem could not contain the true God, how much less could lesser temples (and churches) contain him?

“God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, but he gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

Our common humanity has a single source. From one man, God made all the nations, he marked their appointed times and lands (Adam and the scattering during the Tower of Babel). Paul insists, God has a purpose in the rise and fall of nations and their geographical locations – WHY? so that men would seek Him, and reach out to Him, though He is not far.

Ps. 145:18 – the Lord is near to ALL who call out to Him in truth.

God is not far away, he wants to be found, he wants to be discovered. For IN God, “we live and move and have our being.”

He quotes one of their own poets:
“Phenomenon” – “let us begin with Zeus, let us never leave him unmentioned, the marketplace, harbors, everywhere has him. For everywhere and in everything we have our being in Him.” So, Paul uses their own understanding and culture in order to give them the gospel.

“Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold, or silver, or stone – in the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

This speech is not just a dream or philosophy, but the call to repentance is very serious, because God has set a day for judgment.

At the end, he focuses on Jesus’ his cross, and resurrection.

From the introduction (focusing on the culture), to the conclusion (focusing on Jesus), Paul speaks well.

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some sneered, some wanted to hear more. The idea of a person’s body being resurrected was absurd to Greek thoughts. They believed in the immortality of the soul, but not the body. But at least no charges were brought against him, and some became believers.

In some ways, Paul’s work in Athens ended in an anti-climactic note – no church was established there. But the next city, Corinth, had a large number of acceptance.

But for those few that believed, it was NOT anti-climactic. Jesus died for the ONE person, just as much as he died for the multitudes.

It’s important that Paul made known the living and true God.

A time is coming when each of us will appear before the one true God, and Jesus will have to say to some of us, “I never knew you…”

Do we know we’re saved? Examine our own hearts and know we’re saved.

I’m a sinner, I need salvation by grace, God is not far off, he forgives sin, he cleanses from unrighteousness, we need the Lord.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 16 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Holy Spirit Witnesses for Christ Through the Word of God from Your Mouth to the Lost World! (John 16:1-15)
John: The Book of Life, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Holy Spirit Witnesses for Christ Through the Word of God from Your Mouth to the Lost World! (John 16:1-15)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

John 15 = Jesus’ last teaching
John 16 = Jesus’ last sermon
John 17 = Jesus’ last prayer
John 18 = Arrested
John 19 = Crucified
John 20 = Resurrection
John 21 = Appearances

Even on the cross, Jesus asked God to “forgive them.”
How do you want to finish your earthly life with a prayer?

Last time, Jesus reminded them that the world would hate and persecute them because they (you) are not of this world.
Hating can be persecuting.
Persecuting can be killing.

From Jesus time up to now, there has been persecution of the children of God even in the name of God – they think they know God even when they don’t know God.

A clear example = Saul of Tarsus = he was a champion in persecuting God’s children. He thought that he was doing that for God, to glorify God, but after his sudden conversion on the way to Damascus, once again he became a champion for BEING persecuted for Christ.

He confessed, “I was once a blasphemer, violent man – I acted that way in unbelief.”

Jesus mentioned also his departure, and the Counselor, the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ substitute on earth for his continuing ministry for the salvation of the whole earth.

At that time, the disciples were so sorrowful because they thought that their hope would soon be gone – their Hope would depart.

But they didn’t understand that it would be a great blessing to all mankind. If Jesus’ did not depart, he would not be able to completely fulfill ALL prophecies about him, including his death (Isaiah 53), his resurrection (Psalms), his seating at the right hand of God, and his Second Coming.

If he didn’t depart, he also couldn’t send the Holy Spirit. This Age now is called the Church Age, the Age of the Holy Spirit. Now is the time of the HS.

v.8-15 = The ministry of the HS.
Since we are living in the Age of the HS, we must be careful to understand what the HS IS DOING through you and me and the church today.

There are many ministries of the HS today, but in these verses, the keyword is “convict”
This is one of the main ministries of the HS. At that time, convict = legal (court) term, which means, to bring to light, convince, reprove, announce, proclaim the verdict.

At times this world may think that they are judging the church, but actually it is the church that is passing judgment on the world. Believers are witnesses in this court. The HS is the prosecuting attorney. The lost world are criminals.
However, the purpose of this trial is not to condemn, but to save.

3 Areas in which the HS convicts:

#1 v.9 = sin
HS convicts in regard to sin. Which sin is the greatest sin? Actually the sin in Greek is hamatia = “missing the target”
In shooting, there is only ONE target.
Sin means, literally missing ONE target point.
For sin to be sin, there must be community, society. There must be mutual relationship, at least two parts – one part to judge, the other to be judged. Subject and Object.

Government vs. Civilian
To the govt, what is the greatest sin against govt? Rebellion, coup, denial of the govt.

Parents vs. Children
Which is the greatest sin from parents against children? Which is the greatest sin from children against parents?
I’m always father to my son – I do not want my son to sin, I want him to be perfect, if possible – but I’m ready to ALWAYS receive him as my son, even if he has grievous sin.

But, if he does not recognize me as his father, if he denies me as his father, does not believe me as father, says, “You are NOT my father!”

At that time, the relationship father and son is broken.

Similarly, God is our maker, our father, our creator. To God, the greatest sin is not to recognize him, not to believe in Jesus Christ, the image of God, the true God.

Do you agree?

If you agree from your hearts, the biggest sin is not to believe in Jesus Christ, then you are convicted and you are spiritual.
But, if you do not agree in your heart, “no, no there are greater sins than that” then you are not convicted by the HS and you are a natural person.

#2 v.10 = righteousness
Who’s righteousness? Jesus’!
When Jesus was here on this earth, he was often misunderstood, and accused by man as a law-breaker, blasphemer, demon.
But today the HS reveals the Savior of the World and glorifies Jesus in this way.

At the same time, the HS reveals Jesus as Savior in the lives of believers.

We know this world cannot receive, cannot see the HS. But this world CAN see the result of what the HS is doing in us, through us.
The world CAN see the work of the HS through the lives of dedicated believers.

We must be right, righteous enough to have a right relationship with God. We must be good to have a good relationship with a good God. We must be holy, we must be right, to have this kind of relationship with God because he is righteous all the time. 
However, we can NEVER reach the standard of God’s righteousness. Romans 3 “No one will be declared righteous by good works. But a new righteousness from God – by which the Law and Prophets testify, has been made known and comes through belief in Jesus Christ.”

Before his earthly ministry, Jesus came to John to be baptized – John said, “no, no let me be baptized by you.” But Jesus said, “no, no, do this for me to fulfill all righteousness.”

After returning to the Father, through his death, suffering, resurrection, teaching, preaching, healing, proves he IS righteousness, the righteousness of God, OUR righteousness.

So the HS empowers us to proclaim that he is the only way to God, and the HS makes us righteous before God.

#3 v.11 = judgment
The HS is convicting, the judgment of the prince of this world (Satan).
Genesis 3:15 is the first curse in the Bible – cursing the serpent – emnity between your offspring and hers (the woman) and he will crush your head and you will strike his heal.

In this verse, the offspring of woman = Jesus Christ Messiah. 
“When the time had come fully, God sent his Son, born of a woman”
serpent = Satan (Revelation)
“That ancient dragon was cast down who leads the whole world astray”

Jesus crushed his head on the cross. That’s why Jesus said, “It is finished.” GAME OVER

Finally (Revelation), Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, Satan and his followers will be troubled and tormented day and night forever and ever.

Have you ever crushed the head of a serpent?
What happens?
At the same time, the body and tail continue to flip and shake, writhe and wriggle. It looks dangerous, scary, but it is DEAD.
Likewise, the activity of Satan from the cross until the Second Coming is like this!
Satan knows his time is very short!

Satan’s ministry = 2 parts
1. Holding the lost to remain the lost
2. Attacking God’s children to NOT preach the word to the lost.

2 Cor. 4:4 “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they cannot see the glory of God in Jesus Christ.”

Satan’s purpose = this
Jesus’ purpose = to destroy the works of Satan (1 John)
Therefore, OUR own purpose to remain in this world for a short time is to destroy the work of Satan.

So, we must be convicted, convinced, by the HS in us, the best way to experience the best, most blessed life = to live a life of witnessing to the lost.

Very serious verse…
Witnessing is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.

Ezekiel 3:17-19
“Son of Man, I’ve made you a watchman, so hear the word I speak and heed me. When I say, ‘you will surely die’ and you do not warn him, and he dies, I will hold you accountable for his sin. But if you warn him and he does not turn from his sin and he dies, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.”

If you do not warn your neighbor for his sin – and he goes to hell for his sin, YOU are responsible for his sin.

But if you warn him, and he goes to hell for his sin, you are NOT responsible.

Very serious verse = warn the lost of their sin

With great privilege comes great responsibility.

I have MUCH to say.

Listen carefully.
Jesus = The Truth
The Word of God = The Truth
The HS = the Spirit of Truth
The HS works, ministers for Christ through the Word of God ALL THE TIME.
The HS does not speak to the lost world directly. But he DOES speak to US through the Word, so that WE can speak to the world.

In Chapter 2, Acts, after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, and the HS came down to Jerusalem, and so many people from other countries gathered together who needed salvation. But the HS did not speak directly. The HS empowered the previously timid Peter to preach the Word, and the HS convicted them and made something wonderful happen among them.

The HS witnesses for Christ through the Word of God from your (my) mouth to the lost world.

The HS is very active in saving the lost world, but if we keep silent, if we do not open our mouths to speak the gospel, then the HS has NOTHING to do with us in saving the lost world.

Please do not make the HS in you jobless.
Make the HS active through your mouth in your witness to the lost world!

God bless us, and especially our mouths!

As long as we are in this world, we have mouths, not only to eat (second priority), but also to preach (first priority).

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 09 / 2012
  • Comments Off on On the Run Again! (Acts 17:1-15)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

On the Run Again! (Acts 17:1-15)



Sermon Notes

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Paul, Silas and Timothy continuing their missionary journeys. Spread the good news of the gospel.

At this point, on the run from Philippi, went through some smaller towns, Luke writes more of Thessalonica – capital of the province of Macedonia – biggest and most prosperous city – pop. 200,000

In Luke’s day, this was an important link between the rich interior and sea trade routes. Paul sees this as a strategic place to preach the gospel (he won’t have to preach in every town – the believers themselves will spread the word in the neighboring towns).

1 Thessalonians 1:5 – Your faith in God has become known everywhere (they evangelized the other towns).

Paul’s strategy was to teach in the largest cities of the Roman world – Corinth, Ephesus, etc, many sea ports on busy trade routes – word would carry fast.

As was Paul’s custom, he went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews for 3 Sabbaths. This was a wonderful teaching opportunity for Paul – the devout would gather to read and interpret the Scriptures (OT), and hope for the Messiah. Paul taught that Jesus was the Messiah – the one they were waiting for.

The 3 Sabbaths was just a portion of a larger campaign in Thessalonica.
1 Thess. (Laboring night and day, we taught you the word of God)
Paul was also a tent-maker – to help support himself. Sometimes churches supported him, but other times he labored and supported himself.

Later, after the first 3 Sabbaths – people started believing – success! After the first 3, he likely wasn’t allowed to teach anymore. So, as his custom was he likely went to the Gentiles next. His first converts were likely pagans and idol worshipers.

1 Thess 1:9 – they declare what manner of entry we have to you and how you turned from idols to serve the living and true God.

This is in contrast to Paul’s experience in the synagogues – background in theology and God study. In synagogues, he opened the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit enlightened them, and he taught Jesus was the Messiah and MUST rise from the dead.

He reasons, persuades, IF they would be persuaded. Many Jews would not believe that the Messiah must suffer – “he must be a glorious king and conqueror!”

There was a belief among some Jews that ONE Messiah must suffer, and the OTHER Messiah would conquer. They failed to realize that Jesus was the same one – suffered in his first coming, conquering in his second coming.

v.4 – Some were persuaded, many devout Greeks, etc.
v.5 – Unbelieving Jews grew envious! That church is stealing members from OUR church! So, they acted in a hostile manner toward Paul and his group. So, they got some low-lifes to stir up trouble, riot, and attacked Jason (a convert)’s house.

They didn’t find Paul, so they dragged Jason out and accused him. “They caused trouble ALL OVER the WHOLE world!!!” Jason harbored them, and this is in opposition to the decrees of Caesar that there is another king – Jesus – pah!

That kind of thing COULD result in execution – and the Thessalonica leaders were likely aware of the trouble that had recently taken place in Rome.
There was continuous tumult when Claudius rules – edict of 49-50 – sought to exile ALL the Jews from Rome.

So, these Jews are obviously playing on the fear of similar riots taking place in that city. They also put a political twist on it “another king” – not literally, but technically. The Jews were just trying to put a political slant on this so that they would have more leverage.

The leaders are thrown into confusion, they don’t want riots – like in Rome – but they likely also see through the plot of the Jews (probably recognize the trouble-makers, and the “leaders” Paul and Silas aren’t anywhere to be seen).

So, they gave a moderate punishment – just made them post bond. Paul and Silas should leave, and not come back during the term of those magistrates.

After that, at night, the disciples hurry Paul out to Berea. Hasty and humiliating departure.
Damascus, Jerusalem, …, Listra (Acts 9-13)

Takes Paul 3 days to reach the town.
Berea is an “out-of-the-way” place, no real politic significance.
But this time, when teaching, he receives an unusually warm reception. They were of noble character, they received the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Double checking the minister’s preaching)

Many Jews in Berea believed the gospel. The converted Gentiles were prominent, high-class, not rabble. But guess what? Those same Jews from before, came back, stirring up crowds in a different city. Awesome.

So, Paul headed out to the coast. He ended up in Athens. Silas and Timothy remain in Berea – Paul gives instructions that they should rejoin him ASAP.

Paul 1 Thess 3:1 – Therefore, when we could no longer endure it (absence, lack of communication), we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and send Timothy, our brother, minister, believer, to establish and encourage you concerning your faith. (Remember Timothy is a half-Jew).

Important to read 1, 2 Thess along with this portion of Acts in order to see Paul’s love and concern for the Thessalonians.

The thing that got him in trouble was the idea that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise from the dead. That Jesus, a “common criminal” was crucified in an ugly way – was supposed to be their Messiah, was a scandal to the Jews.

Remember Paul WAS of that same mindset before he MET Jesus.

So, what were some Scriptures that Paul used as he reasoned with the synagogue?
“This Jesus is the Christ.”

Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 – prophecies about the death. Psalm 22, predicts numerous SEPARATE elements – written 1000 years earlier
22:16 – hands and feet pierced
John 20:25 – Jesus has appeared, explaining to Thomas about the Messiah – hands and feet – holes and imprints

Ps.22:17, 34:20 – his bones will not be broken
Usually, someone’s bones would be broken (legs) to speed up his death
John 19:32-33 – soldiers broke ALL the legs EXCEPT Jesus’ – hmmm… curious

Numbers 9:12 – Passover, leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it
Prophecy, and foreshadowing of Jesus
Because of the death of the lamb (Lamb of God) God’s judgment would pass over those who believed

Ps. 22:18 – they would cast lots for his clothes
Matt. 27:5 – when they crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots

Isa.53 – CLASSIC Messianic prophecy – the suffering servant – details his death for his people
Isa. 53:3 – despised and rejected by men, we hid our faces from Him
Luke 13:34 – Jesus, laments the fact that he was not well received – “Oh, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets, how often I wanted to gather your children together, but you wouldn’t have it. Your house is desolate and you won’t see me again until the second coming.”

Isa. 53:5-9: He was wounded, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our sins, the punishment of ours fell on his and by his stripes we are healed.
He is the substitute for us, he bore our sin, our punishment so that we could be forgiven

Paul “He made Jesus, who knew no sin, to BE sin, so that when God sees us he sees us IN Jesus – we are included in him”

The Messiah will be silent in front of his accusers.
Isa 53 – “Like a lamb led to slaughter, and a sheep that is silent before is shearers, he didn’t utter a sound
1 Peter – While being reviled, he did not revile, while suffered, he uttered no threat, but TRUSTED himself to the one who judges justly.

Ps. “You will not abandon me to the grave or allow your Holy One to see decay”
In Peter’s first sermon, he boldly (quite a transition from his earlier timidity) proclaimed that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Acts 2

Acts 16:10 – referencing “Holy One = no corruption” – Paul

Isa 53:10 – Lord was pleased to crush him, putting himself to grief,…prolong his days, see his offspring (resurrection)
Hebrews 12:2 – why go through the suffering? “Who for the JOY set before him, despising the shame, set down at the right hand of God.” He is continuing His ministry as our great High Priest. The resurrection makes ALL the difference between a mere martyr dying for a cause and the God man, dying for his people’s eternal life.

Have we accepted Jesus as the Messiah?

Illustration: Ediborough? in Scotland – many windows display art paintings attracting the eye of people passing by. Gazed extensively at a crucifixion picture – he hadn’t thought thoughts like that in a VERY long time, but the artist’s portrayal brought back the long forgotten truths.

Suddenly, he became aware of a small boy by his side
Boy “That’s Jesus, they nailed him with thorns, killed him, he was good, died for us, that’s his mother, looking at what they did to him…Died for our sins, buried him yonder.”

Man – it was too real, turned away.
Boy followed him, “I forgot to tell you!! He ROSE AGAIN!”


Maybe you haven’t come to know that REAL hope, maybe some things in life have rendered that hope vain. But the gospel is good news for everyone, backsliders, sinners, devout holy men.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was built on a site of an earlier cathedral that was burned in the great fire of London
As the architect wandered among the debris, he found a stone that said in Latin “I will rise again.”

If we fail, God gives us the opportunity to rise again.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 02 / 2012
  • Comments Off on You Also Must Testify (John 15:18-27)
John: The Book of Life, Pastor Heo, Sermons

You Also Must Testify (John 15:18-27)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Last time, we knew that Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, God is the gardener, and Jesus is our best friend.

In the previous part of this chapter, Jesus has talked about love. (v.12 – My command is “love each other as I have loved you” v.17 – “Love each other” – Love is the greatest command).

Today, Jesus is talking about hatred – the opposite of love.

Do you like hatred?

In this passage, the word “hate” is found 7 times, and “persecute” is found 2 times.

v. 18 – the world hates you? hated me first.
v. 19 – I have chosen you, so it hates you
v. 23 – hate me? Then you hate my Father
v. 25 – why? no reason. “To fulfill the scriptures”

In John, many times we see the word “world” – Greek cosmo

It is used in 3 different ways:
1. The creation, created things, (John 1:10)
2. Humanity, world of humans (John 3:16)
3. Worldly pattern, earthly system, culture, standard, organizations, apart from God, opposed to God, run by Satan the (small letter) god of this age.

1 John 2
Friendship with the world = hatred to this world
Do not love the world, or anything in this world. Everything in this world, cravings, lusts, boasting comes from the world, NOT God – this world and desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lasts forever.

Romans 12:1 – Don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you can test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Remember: This world HATES us.
The more we love the objects (Jesus) we should love, the more hated we are.
The less we love the objects we should love, the more accepted by the world we are.

Matthew – to us, all believers, all men will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.

2 Timothy – anyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.

If Black/White = World/Church
There are two great entities – there is no fellowship between them. A man is either of the world, or of Christ.

Perhaps this is why some Christians are hesitant to act like Christians – because they are afraid of being hated, persecuted.

“If anyone would follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

v. 25 – “they hated me without reason”

Jesus did nothing wrong, but from the beginning, he was hated, even as a BABY – he was hated – King Herod hated him and tried to kill him – so he escaped to Egypt until Herod died.

He was hated as he grew, by his own brothers, the crowds he fed and healed, the religious leaders.

On this earth, totally, Jesus was HATED for no reason – for nothing.

Think, imagine, Jesus is the Lord, our Savior, our King, our Best Friend, the Vine, the Head – we are the extension of Jesus Christ (the branches, the body) – therefore, we must be treated the same way by the same people.

Imagine, someone says, “I love your head, but I hate your body. I love your left hand, but I hate your right hand.”
Unthinkable, no?

If he is the vine and we are the branches, then we must be treated in the same way by the same people. So, if we confess Jesus and we are embraced openly by this world, we must reexamine our lifestyles and attitudes.

If we are accepted and loved by this world, we are making cowardly compromises, bad negotiations with this world.

May God bless all of us.
We can do it, because the Holy Spirit is in us, enabling us, encouraging us, empowering us, to withstand the power and the persecution of this world.

v. 26 – When the Counselor comes, he will testify about me (the Spirit of Truth)

Jesus also mentioned the HS in chp 14:26
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

In chp 14:26, Jesus mentioned HS
In chp 15:26, Jesus mentioned HS again

14:26 – Father God will send the HS
15:26 – I will send the HS

In church history, there was a time when they debated about “who sent the HS?”
One group said “God the Father”
One group said “Jesus the Son”
Who is right? BOTH are right. There is no contradiction, they compliment each other.
Through these two verses, we can see that Father and Son God sent the third person of the Trinity, HS God. HS is a person, has a mind, will.

The HS testifies with us that we are God’s children, he intercedes for the saints in accordance with the will of God, helps us in our weakness – many times we don’t know what we pray for, but the HS intercedes with groans we cannot express (Abba Prayer like this)

We can stand and withstand the middle of the hatred and persecution of this world because of the ministries of the HS.

Still now, the HS testifies about Jesus Christ, so the first ministry of the HS is testifying about Jesus in us.

The doctrine of the Trinity God is the mystery of mysteries: “He who would try to understand fully the doctrine of the Trinity would lose his mind, but he who would deny the doctrine of the Trinity would lose his soul.”

Even though we don’t understand fully the doctrine of the HS and Trinity, we can get many principles.

HS enables eternal love – love needs an object – love is flowing in the persons of the Trinity God – love was from everlasting to everlasting – He is teaching us, leading us, guiding us to put his word into practice. 
If he testifies for us, he also enables us to testify. (Acts 1:8 – When the HS comes upon you, you will receive power and by my witnesses to all the ends of the earth.)

v. 27 – As the HS testifies about Jesus, so we must also testify. Why? “Because you have been with me from the beginning.”

How long have you been with Jesus as your Lord?
Usually we say, “10 years, 20 years”
Sometimes, “When I was 5 years old, etc”
If we are really with God, saved by God, ALL of us have been with Jesus from the beginning – “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear much fruit” – “I have chosen you out of the world” – Eph 5:1? – “God chose us from before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight – predestined us to be adopted as his sons in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

So, no matter how you became Christian, or when, you became Christians BEFORE the Creation of the World in God’s mind, redemptive project.

So, we can testify.

In closing – 3 points:
1. Our witness of Christ comes from a LONG fellowship with Christ, because we have been with him for a LONG time. A witness says, “Oh, this is true, I know this.”
Without personal experience, being a witness is wrong. Also, WITH personal experience, NOT to be a witness is wrong – a sin, cowardly conduct – if we hesitate to witness, he will be ashamed of us.

2. Our witness comes from inner conviction, power. If we REALLY believe in Hell/Kingdom – why can we not talk about that? If we REALLY believe Jesus is our Lord, why can we not say that to those who are controlled by Satan? If we REALLY believe that Jesus is “the Answer to the Question” – every question, why can we not say that to others?

3. A witness is prepared to say the truth. Likewise, we WANT others to know the truth – it is our privilege and holy duty to be a witness for Christ in this evil world.

We cannot be a witness without:
1. relationship, personal experience
2. inner conviction
3. outward testimony, expression

Every single Christian IS already a witness for Christ. Question is: are you a good witness or bad witness? Are you cowardly, fearful, or convicted and passionate?

That is why we stay in this world only a short time, even though our citizenship is in heaven.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 26 / 2012
  • Comments Off on What Must I Do to Be Saved? (Acts 16:16-34)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

What Must I Do to Be Saved? (Acts 16:16-34)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

When it was daylight…the jailer told Paul “The magistrate ordered the jailer to release Paul and Silas…”when they heard Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed…after they came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house where they met and encouraged the brothers. Then they left.

At this point in history, the group has arrived in Europe, they had been in Troas, now onward to Macedonia (Europe). Paul = apostle, Silas = prophet, Timothy = Paul’s mentee, Luke = physician.

This is one of the “we” sections of Acts.

Phillippi was a Roman colony, usually there was a synagogue, but perhaps there wasn’t one here, so they went to the place of prayer by the riverside. Paul preached to them, and Lydia’s heart was opened. She became a Christian. She asked the group to lodge at her place, and they did (she was fairly well-off, a seller of expensive purple cloth).
Now, here we are.

Acts 16:16 – Luke says, “when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a (python) spirit.” Apollo spirit – python was slain by Apollo in mythology.

She had a spirit of divination, fortune-telling, and made a LOT of money for her masters. She followed them around prophesying about them “they preach THE way to salvation.” Even so, she wasn’t condoning or encouraging them, likely mocking them.
Same thing happened to Jesus in Capernaum – a spirit cried out, “We know who you are, the holy one of God.” Jesus rebuked it and it came out.

Paul tolerated it for a few days, but eventually, cast it out. Oops…angry masters…

The HS (Holy Spirit) was working through Paul as the enemy tried to destroy this spreading of the gospel.

Interesting – the Occult, any form, is emnity against God and his will.
Fortune telling is forbidden in Deuteronomy 8:13?
Any Israelite who sacrifices his son to pagan gods must be killed, no one can be a wizard, do black magic, etc – it’s disgusting to God.

Isaiah 8:19, “so why are you trying to find out the future by consulting wizards…can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God.”

Warnings of the Occult.
Perhaps even we have read horoscopes, played with a Ouiji Board – it seems harmless, but God says, “it’s not.” It may be a stumbling block to grow in grace with the Lord – maybe it’s time to renounce the works of the enemy, even if you haven’t done it for years – renounce the works of the enemy.

So, now the demon was gone, and so was all the MONEY! So, the masters were upset, grabbed the two and took them to the authorities.

Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphiara,
Acts 8
Also, BarJesus, Paul gets involved with spiritual warfare and exorcises demons, and claims more territory for the Lord.

Many MANY instances in which people were interested in financial gain, but their motives were uncovered by the truth of the gospel. Luke uses the same word for “leaving” when the spirit leaves the girl, and as the girl leaves her master.

But why only grab Paul and Silas? Probably pretty obvious who were Jews. Timothy was half-Jew (on his mother’s side), and Luke was a Gentile doctor.

So the slave masters are using anti-Semitism to get Paul and Silas in prison. There was already some anger toward the Jews, general prejudices.

Acts 16:10
“We know what kind of trouble makers these are because of what’s been going on in Rome.”

So, they appeal to the anti-Semitism and patriotism in Phillippi, so the mob rises against them and beat them with rods, then throw them into prison. The magistrates instruct the jailer to guard the prison securely. So, he put them in the back room, with ankle shackles – solitary confinement in the deepest part of the dungeon.

Luke emphasizes this imprisonment to show how miraculous the rescue will be.

Then, at midnight, through prayers and singing, despite physical discomfort, their souls were at peace, even joyful – likely this had a profound effect upon the other prisoners. This is similar to Acts 5, when Peter is imprisoned and an angel rescues him.

Gamaliel – a Pharisee, Paul had studied at his feet. He had said, “You know, other religions have come up before. If this is of man, it will come to nothing. But, if it’s from God, it will succeed anyway, and we will be fighting against God.” So, he said, just let them be.
Then, the apostles were beaten and told to leave. And they rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to be persecuted for his name.

Here is a similar situation, their spirits were free, though their bodies were imprisoned.

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood?” Charles Wesley
“my chains fell off, my heart went free, I went and followed Thee.”

Acts 16:26, The Lord’s response to their prayers and praises, an earthquake shakes all the locks open – doors and chains. The jailer awakes, and thinks they’ve all fled.

In Roman law, if a guard lost his prisoner, he would be subject to the punishment of his lost prisoners. He thought he would die.

“We are all here.”

So, why didn’t the other prisoners run off? Perhaps there was a sense of the presence of God. Perhaps they were awestruck by Paul and Silas thinking they were magicians.

The jailer came, brought a light, brought them out. “What must I do to be saved?”

His physical life had already been saved because Paul prevented his suicide. So, what did he mean, and what prompted this question? Had the presence and power of the Holy Spirit simply convicted the man of his sins? Jesus said, “When the HS comes, he will convict man of sin and unrighteousness and judgment.” Where the HS is, there is a conviction of the need of a Savior.

This is a question everyone needs to ask.

Our, and everyone’s eternal destiny hinges on the correct answer. Paul has the correct answer.

“Believe in JESUS – and you and your household will be saved (a personal decision from each person in the house, not just the head of the household can save everyone).”

Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to his whole household, and they believed.

It was customary for Roman prison guards to be veterans of the Roman army – they were non-Jews, Gentiles, pagans. So, Paul would have directed his teaching to reveal God as the Creator of all, and Jesus as his son and the way to salvation. He couldn’t preach ONLY the Old Testament, because the man couldn’t relate. Preach to them where they are at. Address an atheist from an atheist’s point of view. Address a Buddhist from that direction, and so on. Not everyone is familiar with Christian doctrine.

So then God gives a change of heart in this Roman veteran, and he wants to demonstrate that, so he got baptized, he and his whole family. He set food before them in his house, and rejoiced. He was a new creation.

It’s important to see that ALL the members made their own decisions to believe in God.

God’s design is household salvation.
Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, also he and his whole family were saved.

This is encouraging to note. If there are members of our own families who are not saved, or not following closely, we should continue to hold them up in prayer and trust that God ALSO desires for them to be saved.

Later, Paul said, “no no, you can’t just let us go sneakily – we’re Romans.”
“Please…Please….just go….”
Paul, “we’ll go, on our own time.”
So, they went back to Lydia’s house to encourage the brothers there and they went on about their own time.

We can look to the Lord for our own salvation and the salvation of the members of our families.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 19 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Union and Communion with Christ (John 15:1-17)
John: The Book of Life, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Union and Communion with Christ (John 15:1-17)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Book of John is simple in sentences, vocabulary, and grammar. But, very profound in meaning, truth, practice.

Today’s story is like that.

2 Times Jesus repeats, “I Am the Vine.”

These are the 10th and last statements of Jesus’ “I AM” statements in the book of John.

(bread of life, resurrection, life, way, truth, etc).
Now, “I AM the vine.”
We are his branches and friends (v 1-11)
We are his branches (1-11)
We are his friends (12-17)

Branches and friends reveal our union and communion with Christ.
We have the privilege of sharing his life, but the responsibility of remaining in him.
We have the privilege of knowing his will, but the responsibility of obeying.

“I am a branch.”
“Jesus is my vine.”

We can see 4 elements (helpful) for us to get many blessings from his teaching.
1. The vine
2. The branches
3. The gardener
4. The fruit

#1 The Vine
“I AM the vine.” (v 1,5)
In the Bible, there are 3 vines. Past, future, present vines.
Past = the nation of Israel (OT – Psalm, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea – Israel is pictured as a vine – Hosea 10:1 – Israel was a spreading vine – God transplanted them into Canaan, and gave them all kinds of blessings – but, they produced bad fruit, wild grapes, not righteousness but wickedness – so God had to deal with the past vine, and chasten/discipline them – they did not produce a lasting result. Finally, when Jesus came into the vineyard, they cast him out and killed him).

Future vine (Revelation 14:14-20)
Vine of the Earth – the unsaved people – the pagan, Gentile world system, ripening for God’s final wrath and judgment. The believers are the branches in the vine of heaven, but the unsaved people are the branches in the vine of the Earth. So, the unsaved will be cut down, and destroyed finally when Jesus returns. They depend on this world for their sustainance and satisfaction, but we depend on Jesus.)

Present vine – Jesus Christ, v.1 = “I AM the TRUE vine” (all other vines are just copies).

The symbolism of the vine and branches is similar to that of the head and the body. This is our union and communion. – Living relationship with Christ who is our vine, and we belong to him, we can share his life. It is also loving union, so we can enjoy him. It is lasting union so we do not need to fear.

#2 The branches
v.5 What ideas can you get from the statement that you are the branches?
Branches by themselves are powerless, useless, worthless.

Branches are only useful for bearing (fruit) or burning (in the fire). Branches cannot produce their own life, they must draw it from the source, the vine.

The many images of Christ and us in the Bible emphasize this important concept of union and communion with Christ.
Head and body, husband and wife, shepherd and sheep, body and members, bride and bridegroom.

Marriage creates union, but it takes daily love and devotion to maintain communion (true that).

Even though the sheep bring the sheep into the flock (union), the sheep must follow the shepherd to maintain protection (communion).

A member in the body must remain connected to the body, or die – if you cut off your arm, it dies immediately.

Key word: REMAIN (in Christ)
The sooner we discover we are only branches, the better we will relate to our Savior.

As a vine, the key word is REMAIN, ABIDE, cling to, stick to. If separated from the vine, immediately death.

Remain is repeated 11 times (so it’s pretty important) in this passage.

What does it mean to remain? To keep fellowship with Jesus, continually, in our whole lives – believing in Christ as God, accepting him as personal Savior and Lord, doing what he says, continually believing the power of the gospel, remaining in love in the community of believers.

Each of these activities begins at some point in our lives, but long-term practice = “remaining”

Union and communion, relating and remaining, natural and essential to the branches and the vine. But this remaining relationship must be CULTIVATED – not automatic, we must PAY something to keep this relationship. We need worship, prayer, dedication, the Word of God, sacrifice, service, continual witnessing of Christ to the lost. What a joyful experience it is.

Once we’ve begun to cultivate this kind of life, we have no desire to return to the careless life of careless Christians.

#3 The Gardener
Vine dresser, (v 1-2) – “My Father”
Do you bear fruit? He PRUNES those who do, so that they will be even more fruitful. 
He CUTS OFF those who don’t…

Around us today, there are many Christians who pray for more growth, more fruit, but don’t enjoy pruning (pruning also means cutting, cleaning – it can be painful).

The gardener cuts off branches in 3 ways.
1. Cut off the dead parts – may be diseased or contain bugs.
2. Cut off some living parts for better growth.
3. Cut off the WHOLE fruit, to produce a better crop.

If the branches could speak, branches would admit, “pruning is painful!”

The greatest wrath that God could ever bring to a believer would be to just let him alone. If God just let a believer go his own way and didn’t prune or correct him, that is the greatest wrath that God could express.

Sometimes even God comes off the good part – even the better part – so that we may enjoy the BEST.

Gardeners must be specially trained or they could destroy the entire crop. Gardeners know where, when, how much, what angle to cut for the BEST fruit. God is the same. Sometimes he uses the Word to change us, but sometimes he uses painful ways.

If your own son and a stranger do something bad, who do you first correct?
If your own son and a stranger do something wonderful, who do you first encourage?

Hebrews 12:5b – “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves and He punishes everyone he accepts as a son…God is treating you as sons, for what son is not disciplined by his father?…Everyone undergoes discipline, if not you, you are illegitimate children…Our fathers disciplined us for evil as they thought best, but God disciplines us for good…No discipline feels good at the time, but produces a harvest of righteousness and peace…”

Pruning may be painful, but it helps.
We may not enjoy it, but we need it for growth.

Do you want to grow? Produce fruit? Pruning is essential. God bless all of us with his holy pruning, because God loves us.

#4 The Fruit
Key word: REMAIN (11 times)
Key word 2: FRUIT (9 times)

Yes, we know a machine can produce a product, or outcome, but only living organisms can produce more life. Fruit is essential to show that we have life. Good branches bear good fruit, bad bear bad fruit, weak branches bear no fruit, apple branches bear apples, cats bear cats, dogs bear dogs. So, what fruit should we produce?

Producing fruit needs time, cultivation, it does not come overnight. Also, quality and quantity are important.

Also, the branches that bear fruit do not eat their own fruit. Other people eat those fruits. We are producing fruit not to please ourselves, but to please and serve others.

The more we remain in Christ, the more we bear fruit, the more fruit, the more we are pruned, so that the more quality and quantity we produce, so that God is glorified by what we produce.

Finally, Jesus accepts us not only as branches but also as friends. (v 12-17)

Command: Love each other as I have loved you.
Command: Love each other.

We may have many acquaintances in our lives, but how many friends do we have? True friends? Friends should be friendly. Unfriendly friends are a contradiction in terms, but many of us have unfriendly friends around us. 

“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Jesus gives his life when we are in need of life. He gives his peace when we are in need of peace. He gives his joy when we are in need of joy. That’s why Jesus is individually, personally, the best friend to each of us.

Ephesians 1:4-5 “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

If Jesus is the best friend to each of us, then we each should be best friends among us. There are no secrets, no hidden things among true friends.

“Love each other”
How can we show best love to this world? The best love we can show to the lost is to introduce Jesus, because only in Him, eternal life is found. Love is called the greatest command. Evangelism is the greatest commission.

Finally, we are totally pessimistic in that we can do nothing apart from Christ, the vine.
Finally, we are totally optimistic in that we can do anything through Jesus our Lord, the vine.

May God bless all of us in our union and communion with our vine and our best friend.

  • Aug 12 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:1-15)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:1-15)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Previously, there was a split between Paul and Barnabas.

Paul wanted them to return to previously evangelized churches and strengthen them.
Barnabas wanted to take Mark, but Paul didn’t. Paul thought he had abandoned them earlier. The disagreement became so heated, that the two split.

Paul took Silas.
So, rather than one missionary journey, there were two. God made the best of the bad situation. (lemonade from lemons)

Later, Paul changed his attitude toward Mark and they did eventually minister together again. There was no bitter root that took hold, they did eventually reconcile.

So, Paul and Silas visited Syria and Silicia, then Derbe (on the first journey – with Barnabas – they’d won many converts). Luke doesn’t give details about their activities there, but in Lystra (where Paul had healed a man lame from birth) all the men treated the two as gods – but they insisted they were men, not gods.

Jews came from other cities and stoned Paul and dragged him out, but then Paul rose up, returned, and went on to Derbe (the first time).

Now, Paul is coming back to Derbe and Lystra – and this is the first mention of Timothy in the NT. Son of Eunice – woman, father was probably Greek. Paul saw good potential in him, but there was a problem. Timothy was not circumcised…

The father had not allowed circumcision, but had allowed his mother to teach the Jewish Scriptures. So, in the eyes of the Jews, he would be considered a Jew by birth (mother), but an apostate (someone who has turned from the faith) because he was uncircumcised.

So to overcome this dilemma, Paul had Timothy circumcised, not for salvation purposes, but for expediency. Circumcision is of no matter to Paul (he writes elsewhere in Romans, it is circumcision of the heart that matters), but this will allow Timothy to join Paul without tons of disputes from the orthodox Jews.

Paul calls Timothy, “my son, whom I love” and recognizes that Timothy’s thinking is very much like his own. “I have no one else like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”

Eventually, Timothy is ordained in the ministry, he has a special spiritual gift, given through divine revelation and in 1 Timothy 4 he says “do not neglect your gift.”

Timothy remains close to Paul, as a successor, up to his death (almost his adopted son).

Having Timothy circumcised was a simple public relations ploy to force the Jews to accept him.

Paul accepted and brought Greeks, uncircumcised people, and anyone into the temple to worship. So, the Jews – the legalistic or non-Christian ones – hated him and spoke against him and prayed against him.

So, he circumcised Timothy to avoid problems with the others.

Now, the two of them travel from town to town delivering decrees that say “you need not be circumcised.” Ironic that Timothy was circumcised and now delivering these messages. But, if Timothy had not been circumcised, he could not have had access to the towns and people.

Previously, the 4 provisions, no strangled meat, no blood, no idol meat, no sexual immorality, were imposed upon the new believers (instead of circumcision). These were the messages they were delivering.

The towns they traveled to were all along a long highway. Perhaps Paul intended to continue along to Ephesus, the capital of Rome in Asia. However, in verse 6, they were prevented from continuing along.

Paul’s missionary journeys were coupled with keen planning and sensitivity to the Spirit of God. At that time, they were moved to not go on.

God has his own timing and his own ways of dealing with these towns, spreading the gospel and so on. So, the next logical decision was to head to the coast – Troas – an important port, connecting Europe and Asia Minor.

Paul has a vision, “Come to Macedonia and help us.” Now, the prompting of the Spirit makes sense, God was directing them this way.

This is the first of the “we” sections of Acts – Luke writes “We got ready at once… concluding that God had called us…”

Luke apparently joined Paul there at Troas, as they prepared to set out.

There’s no indication that Paul preached anywhere along the way, but Luke writes next of Philippi – named after Philip II of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great). It became part of Rome in 167 BC. When Mark Anthony defeated Brutus and Cassius (Shakespeare – based on history), many Roman veterans were settled in Philippi – so it became a Roman colony.

Luke writes of the conversion of Lydia.

Paul usually went to a synagogue and preached and taught there, but today, they went to a river where they thought there would be a prayer meeting. Perhaps there was no synagogue in town, needed at least 10 Jewish men – heads of the family – to establish a synagogue.

Here is Lydia, a trader of purple clothes.
She might have been a Jew, or might have been a proselyte (convert).

Luke 16:19, there was a certain rich man clothed in purple.

Likely, Lydia herself was rich. Either single, or a widow. She owns her own home, provides hospitality to the travelers, indicates that she is well off (rich).

God opened her heart to receive their message. Luke 24:31, Luke writes of God opening other hearts on the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ death and resurrection. “Their eyes” were opened – and they recognized Jesus as he broke bread with them – and he vanished.
Luke 24:32 – “Were not our hearts burning…as he OPENED up the Scriptures…”

Luke 24:44-45 “These are my words which I spoke to you…that all things which are written about me (in the Bible) must be fulfilled, then He opened their minds to understand.”

Jesus enlightens their understanding of the Scriptures. Everything points to Jesus.

Every Story Whispers His Name (Jesus Storybook Bible)

Jesus opens minds to understand.
Luke follows Paul and says “People cannot understand the gospel because the devil blinds their eyes.”
Interesting. People CANNOT believe or understand the gospel because they are blinded – by Satan. Only Jesus can bring understanding and enlightening. The Holy Spirit works through the preaching, the testimony of the word of God, to open eyes and minds. Yet, still, even after understanding, there must be a response.

We must confess, repent, forsake our sins. Turn from our old lives, our evils, our sins, turn to Jesus for salvation, forgiveness, and cleansing. There is no other way to salvation.

Lydia’s baptism takes place quickly afterward. She and her household become the first converts in Europe – as far as we know.

Verse 15 – This was a favorable beginning to their ministry in Philippi, but later they run into problems…

The Philippi church generously supported Paul in his ministry – he writes in Philippians that that church was the most generous and even gave when no others gave.

“He who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 05 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Verse 1 – some men came from Judea to Antioch – teaching circumcision is necessary to salvation.

Gentiles would have to obey circumcision and other aspects of Jewish law (i.e. basically convert to Judaism) in order to be considered part of the church.

Different cultural backgrounds.

Some traditional Jews continue to obey all the laws (or try to) and worship at the temple as they had since Moses. Some of these things (circumcision) identified them as the people of God and set them apart.

God said, “This is my covenant you shall keep for your generations – circumcision.”

So, Abraham took Ishmael, and all his servants and everyone in his estate and circumcised them all in the same day.

Later on, Moses reinforced circumcision – Exodus 12:33-34 – “This is the ordinance of the Passover – no foreigner may eat of it, but all your slaves – after circumcision – may eat.”
Joshua also reinforced it – all those born in the wilderness – a new generation of Israelites – hadn’t been circumcised. So, God commanded them to be circumcised with flint knives.

This was an important mark of the covenant with God.

On the other hand, ex-pagans were continually becoming saved and entering the church.

They had been worshiping idols, they had no desire for circumcision since there was no cultural value for them.

The Jews were afraid that the ex-pagans would change the nature of the church. They weren’t so concerned with some who kept the Jewish laws, worshiped at the temple, and so on. But, IF ex-pagans entered the church and DIDN’T keep the Jewish laws, it might encourage Jews to not be so zealous about keeping the laws themselves.

Something had to be done.

So, Paul and company traveled around and preached about how the Gentiles were turning to God – and accepting Jesus as the Way, Truth, Life.

At Jerusalem, they are welcomed by the elders and reported everything that God had done through them (verse 4).

But then, some with a legalistic background (Pharisee-order Christians), decided that circumcision must be enforced even upon the Gentiles.
They are leaders, teachers, a powerful force (and legalistic). They said Gentiles must basically convert to Judaism before they can be called Christians.

MUCH discussion took place…

Genesis 17 likely referenced to make the case for circumcision.

Then Peter stood up and gave a strong testimony to accept the Gentiles into the church on the basis of “faith alone” and according to the basic Christian creed.

God had already (possibly 10 years earlier – Acts 9) made an example of bringing Gentiles into the church by faith alone.

Peter: “God, who knows the heart, showed he accepted them, he purified their hearts by faith, and gave them the Holy Spirit.”

Peter said that the Pharisee Christians were testing God, placing a yoke around the neck of the Gentiles that Jews themselves had been unable to fully bear.

Yoke – metaphor for political, social oppression (1 Timothy 1? – yoke on slaves)

The gospel came at a time when slavery was rampant. It took many, many years before God – through many Christian men – helped change the world’s views of slavery.

When Jews (or anyone) set up rules to prevent others from entering the body, they are testing God and burdening others.

Jesus himself said, “my yoke is easy, my burden is light…come to me all you who are burdened and heavy-laden and I will give you rest…take my yoke and find rest.”

Peter ends the speech by echoing the thoughts of Paul, “We believe it is by grace we are saved, just as they are.”

Next, Barnabas and Paul rise to defend their views on circumcision – the whole assembly became silent.

Barnabas spoke first, they trusted him, he was originally from Jerusalem, sent to Antioch. So, he and Paul both told the story of the Gentile conversion as it happened. Told of how they went to Cyprus, and how God through Paul had stricken the sorcerer with blindness because He wouldn’t put up with the obstruction to his gospel. Told of other miracles and wonders they witnessed.

This shows that God is blessing their work.

The next person to speak is James, the leader (head pastor) of the church in Jerusalem. He was highly respected all around, probably because he keeps all the Jewish laws.

He agrees with Peter and Paul that faith is the basis for salvation, but the Judaism-advocates misunderstand him. He said that “Just because I keep these laws doesn’t obligate Gentiles to do so.”

Amos 9:11-12 is quoted – prophecy.
He verifies and vindicates the Word of God. By quoting this, he is saying that the Gentile mission is the method by which the Gentiles are becoming part of David’s new tent (the new Israel) – verse 16)

He says, don’t obligate the Gentiles to follow our laws.

However, he has a public relations problem, he doesn’t want to alienate pious Jews – so he sets up 4 prohibitions.

3 of them are about food –
idolatrous worship foods – especially meat (but later Paul in 1 Corinthians says “eat” so long as it doesn’t cause another to sin),
flesh of animals that are improperly killed,
don’t eat blood – an extension on the previous one

The final prohibition = pornea (pornography origin)

No sexual immorality – 1 Corinthians – “He who sins sexually sins against his own body (all other sins are outside his own body)….each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband….I will be grieved over many who have sinned and not repented over their sexual sins in which they have indulged.”

Corinth was very perverse (Vegas?) and known for sexual immorality – in fact, immoral people were often referred to as “Corinthians”

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, prostitutes, homosexual offenders, drunkards, swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. AND that is what some of you WERE. BUT, you were purified, sanctified, washed, cleansed, made righteous.

But thank God for his grace.”

1 Corinthians – Paul recommended marriage BECAUSE of rampant immorality. If he were alive today, he would definitely encourage it.

Today, taboo things of the past have become commonplace. The Internet can bring any of these things with the click of a mouse.

Paul says “FLEE”
Many do struggle with sexual sin and temptation.

Porn, wine, cigarettes, finances, diet, homosexuality, etc.


Billy Graham? Do you know him?
Ruth Graham (his daughter) had been through 3 broken marriages.
First husband brought porn in, messed her up, divorced, raped before second marriage, second marriage broke up, third marriage.

Book “There’s a Broken Heart in Every Pew”

Everyone comes to church smiling, dressed in their best. “How are you?” “Fine!…..” She wasn’t, she was abused by first and second husbands. She finally found peace in her third.

God brought her through that, now she can minister to others with the same struggles. All these other online ministries are similar.

C.S. Lewis – The Great Divorce
Slay Sexual Sin in our own lives.

“Busload of people who travel to heaven on a tour before getting to their new home – heaven. Once in heaven, many flee back to the comfort of their bus. One ghost, with a talkative Lust Demon pestering him, wanders out and meets an angel. The angel asks, “Would you like me to make him quiet?” “Of course” “then I will kill him” “Oh, ouch!…You’re burning me.” “Don’t you want him killed?” “Nothing so drastic please” “It’s the only way, shall I kill it?” “no, no, he’s asleep now.” “May I kill it?” “no, no, some other day?” “No other day. You’ll kill me!” “Not kill you” “You’ll hurt me” “I never said it wouldn’t hurt you, just it wouldn’t kill you.”
Lizard, “I promise I’ll be good”
Angel “May I?” Man “You’re right, it would be better to be dead than live with this. God, help me”

The man screamed in agony, the angel squeezed the lizard, killed it and threw it.

Then the man (ghost) became solid – not a ghost anymore but a man.

The lizard grew bigger and bigger and changed. It became a stallion (horse), beautiful golden hair.

The man (not ghost) climbed upon his stallion that had been his sin and rode toward his Savior.

The only remedy for sexual sin is DEATH to that sin. But after that death, there is a beauty to the new creation life.

Let us prepare for communion, and if there are any lizards in our lives, let’s kill them.


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