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

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

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What a Transformation!

Acts 9:1-19 (Pastor Heo)

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


This is the conversion story of Saul/Paul

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

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

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

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

As we know,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saul (origin)

v. 1-2

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

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

Saul (transformation)

v. 3-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a transformation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 15

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

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

Saul didn’t choose Christ but Christ chose him.

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

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

This is the greatest conversion story in the church.

  • The greatest persecutor became the greatest preacher.

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

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

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

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

Ananias’ story

v. 10-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s perfect will is always best.

#3: God’s works are always balanced

This is a kind of miracle.

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

But God’s works are always balanced.

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

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

God bless you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m so important before God.”

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

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

Everyday Evangelism (Acts 8:14-40)

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Everyday Evangelism

Acts 8:14-40 (Pastor Heo)

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

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


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

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

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

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

You may wonder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John

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

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

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

Simon

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

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

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

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

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

No amount of money can buy this.

So what is wrong with Simon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philip’s evangelism to the Ethiopian eunuch

v. 26-40

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


Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Messiah)

(Summary of Jesus’ life from birth to resurrection)

Jesus’ birth

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

Jesus’ life and ministry

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

Jesus’ substitutionary death

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

Jesus’ victorious resurrection

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can learn principles of evangelism from this story:

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

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

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

Principles of effective evangelism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

HT: Could not answer this penetrating question.

We can also ask ourselves today.

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

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

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

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

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

Is this true for you?

Let’s pray.

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

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

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The Church Reaching Out!

Acts 8:1-13 (Pastor Heo)

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

#1 Crown for Stephen

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

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

The death of Stephen and Jesus are similar.

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

#2 Judgment for Israel

This was the third murder of the people of Israel.

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

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

#3 Liberation for the early church

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

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

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

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

#4 Salvation for Saul

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

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

#5 Living Sacrifices as Christians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

v. 1-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 5-13

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

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

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

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

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

Background:

In history, Israel was one country.

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

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

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

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

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

Since then, there was bad blood between the two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts is the Book of Mission.

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

Can you enjoy Joy with Persecution? Ask yourself honestly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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Be faithful to the point of death…

Acts 7:1-60 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

He is the first non-apostle:

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

In this sermon, he

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

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

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

Let’s look at each individually (briefly).

Abraham

v. 2-8

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

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

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

Abram is a picture of Jesus Christ.

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

Joseph

v. 9-17

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

[Read to here]

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

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

Jesus is the eternal Savior and forgiver of all sins.

Moses

v. 18-44

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

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

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

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

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

Moses prophesied Jesus’ coming:

Deuteronomy 18:15 quoted in this passage:

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua

v. 45

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

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

David & Solomon

v. 46-50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climax (all OT prophets and Jesus Messiah)

v. 51-52

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

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

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

His sermon vindicated himself and convicted his hearers.

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

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

Conclusion

v. 59-60

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

The lesson given to us:

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

Here are 2 points.

#1 For Stephen himself = coronation (crown)

the meaning of his name actually is “crown”

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen had 5 holy qualities:

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

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

#2 For Israel = condemnation (judgment)

This was Israel’s 3rd murder.

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

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

Bible promised in Rev 2:10:

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

Can you?

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

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 15 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Your Countenance is Your Living Testimony (Acts 6:1-15)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Your Countenance is Your Living Testimony (Acts 6:1-15)

https://soundcloud.com/antioch-church-325593234/your-countenance-is-your-living-testimony

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Your Countenance is your Living Testimony

Acts 6:1-15 (Pastor Heo)

6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.


In Greek, angel = “angelos” = messenger

Have you ever seen the face of an angel?

If you become a full messenger of God, your face will be like the face of an angel.

Two parts

  1. v. 1-7 Selection of 7 men
  2. v. 8-15 Arrest of Stephen before the Sanhedrin

When we read of the early church, the fellowship, breaking of bread, ministry, etc, we think they were perfect. But NO. The early church had problems just as we do today. Know that there is no perfect church. No church has ever been, nor will be perfect until Christ returns.

Today, some Christians are wandering from church to church looking for a “perfect” church. If a church were “perfect” – then it should not accept you and me as members in order to remain “perfect.” But if a church did not accept imperfect members, it would not be a biblical church.

A church does not have to be “perfect” to be a powerful witness for Christ.

Early church grew 120 -> 3,000 -> 5,000 – more and more added each day. “So the Word of God spread and ” (v. 7)

“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

This growth created logistical problems that would have consumed all the apostles’ time. So, in order to take care of this, they commissioned 7 men who would spend their whole lives to take care of this (deacons of the early church). In the Korean Bible, Philip is mentioned as an evangelist and one of the 7 deacons.

v. 1

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”

At that time, almost all the early church members were Jews. There were two kinds:

  1. Hebraic Jews = Hebrew speaking (native, local) Jews (spoke Aramaic – the Semitic language)
  2. Grecian Jews = Spoke Greek, couldn’t speak Aramaic because they lived outside Israel

At that time, there was a long tradition of care for the poor in the synagogue – and the early church continued this practice. The Greek speaking Jews complained that their widows were being discriminated against.

At that time, there were many MORE widows than usual because many Jews from Greek-speaking nations had returned home to be buried with their ancestors. But, all their money was gone – because property was passed on from father to son. So widows often needed help. They had no property of their own.

In my parents’ generation, in Korea, they said, “Whole life depends on man – father in childhood, husband in marriage, son in old age.” But today is not exactly like that. But 2,000 years ago in that society, widows were totally dependent on others. But discrimination occurred because of language and class barriers.

v. 2-7

“6:2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

So the 12 apostles called a meeting of the church and suggested the selection of 7 delegates. They chose 7 workers for this ministry of distribution and management. But there is no record about HOW they did it – but they solved this issue and the church grew, became more mature, and they experienced revival once more (growth in quality and quantity).

From this story, we can apply 3 lessons to our daily lives.

#1 Grow from problems

There is no “perfect” church – there is no “perfect” Christian

Jesus: “In this world, you will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (Matthew?)

In this earth, we live with problems – so many. But what is important is our ATTITUDE when confronting problems.

  • If we receive problems negatively, then that problem will be negative to us.
  • If we receive problems positively, then it will be positive for us and help us to grow and mature.

Met a problem? “Good.” Grow.

From Exodus, on the way to the land of promise, Moses’ father-in-law was a Gentile priest named Jethro. He’d heard of all the news that God had done for Moses and the people of Israel – so he visited them. He saw Moses doing all things alone for all the people – from early morning until evening.

Jethro said, “What are you doing? Why are you alone as judge? Why all the people come to you from early morning to evening? You will be burned out soon. You cannot handle this job alone. Choose capable men who fear God and do not like dishonest gain, to delegate this job to, and appoint them as leaders over 1000s, 100s, 50s, and 10s.”

Yes, Moses had a big problem, but Moses received that problem with an open mind and solved it positively – so the nation grew in maturity and unity.

  • If we receive problems negatively, those problems will be negative to us.
  • If we receive problems positively, those problems will be positive to us.
  1. In school, a student can grow and learn through many problems.
  2. Also a church, or a Christian can grow through many problems.

Met a problem? “Good.” Grow.

#2 Be clear in your priorities

In your life, in your home, in church, what is your priority?

We must be careful not to miss our priority #1 because of secondary jobs.

Both spiritual and physical needs are important and must be met. But, church’s priority #1 is spiritual needs. Jesus, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Administrative burdens (like the distribution of food for widows) is very important, but is NOT the #1 priority for the apostles.

v. 4

“[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

In the local church, pastors are called to focus on the preaching of the Word. “I cannot do all things in AICF. I need your hands to help me. Please pray for me to pray for you. We need to pray for each other.”

So, in this story we must be very clear in our priorities – in ALL our jobs and lives.

#3 Every believer can be a minister

  • Are you a member of AICF?
  • Are you a believer in Christ?
  • Then, are you a minister of Christ in this church?

God wants every member to be a believer, and every believer to be a minister.

Requirements:

  • Believer: Believe in Christ as Savior and Lord
  • Minister: (3 things)
    1. Good reputation (integrity, faithfulness, obedience)
    2. Full of the Holy Spirit (no matter what we are doing in the local church, the guidance of the HS is essential – a Spirit-led life, focusing on Christ)
    3. Full of wisdom (“The fear of God is the foundation of wisdom” – Wisdom in Greek = “sophias” – demonstrating
      • the ability to apply God’s truth appropriately to life situations
      • the ability to get to the best ends through the best means
      • ability to put our knowledge into practice for the best outcome)

To be a minister of the local church:

  1. Good reputation
  2. Full of the HS
  3. Full of wisdom

Here are the 7 who were chosen:

v. 5

“5This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.”

  1. Stephen
  2. Philip
  3. Procorus
  4. Nicanor
  5. Timon
  6. Parmenas
  7. Nicolas

From these 7, we can learn at least 2 things.

  1. ALL 7 of their names are Greek (they are Grecian Jews) – this would lay a good foundation for the future spread of the gospel to the Greek world
  2. Stephen and Philip’s names are put first because their ministries will be explained later (Stephen in chp 7 – the longest chapter in this book, Philip in chp 8) – even though they were chosen as ministers inside the local church, outside they were also very powerful evangelists.

Remember, no matter what ministry you’re chosen to do inside the church, you are also an evangelist outside the church.

In this record, we can see, there is NO record of what they did INSIDE the church – there is only the record of what they did OUTSIDE the church.

At that time, the Word of God spread like ripples on a pond, wider and farther over time. Like this, the Word of God spreads today. So, you do not have to change the world single-handedly. It is enough to be a part of this wave, touching the next person, until ALL have felt this wave. How important is your part.

Next, we see Stephen’s arrest.

v. 8-15

“6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”

Stephen is one of the 7 deacons of the early church. He is said to be “full of” 5 qualities:

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

Stephen provides an ideal model for us to develop in our lives and ministry. It is not Peter (apostle) but Stephen for today’s Christian to develop in our character and ministry.

He was also a skilled debater, minister, and preacher. He is a record holder.

  • In church history, since the resurrection of Christ, Stephen is the first non-apostle to whom miracles are ascribed.
  • The first non-apostle who was arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin.
  • The first non-apostle whose sermon is recorded in the Bible (the longest in the NT).
  • The first martyr in church history.

They could not match Stephen’s wisdom and power – so their only choice was to destroy him. The Sanhedrin’s treatment of him parallels the way they treated Jesus.

  1. Hired false witnesses
  2. Stirred up the people saying he was attacking Moses, the Law, the temple
  3. Executed Stephen

As he stood before the Sanhedrin, his face glowed like the face of an angel. In Exodus, when Moses talked to God on Mt. Sinai, his face shone. Also, Jesus’ face shone at the Transfiguration. And here, Stephen’s face shone.

Very important lesson:

We face this lost world (and others) with our face. Our face is a living testimony – our countenance – should exude rightness and warmth. Our face should reflect unearthly peace and joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Are you a walking advertisement for Christ? Can others look at your face and see something different? Something attractive?

This is a big challenge from Stephen.

  • God bless our face.
  • God bless our countenance – because we can be witnesses to the lost world through our word, breathing, character, face, and faith.

We can be strong witnesses to the lost world through our countenance. Shining?

“My face is evangelizing. My countenance is evangelizing.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 08 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Nothing can stop a true Christian (Acts 5:17-42)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Nothing can stop a true Christian (Acts 5:17-42)

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Nothing can stop a true Christian

Acts 5:17-42 (Pastor Heo)

5:17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. 22 When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.


This is round 2 of persecution. Round 1 was in chp 3 & 4 – after Peter and John healed the crippled man in the name of Christ. The Sanhedrin put them in jail and threatened them, but ultimately released them.

They never stopped preaching in the name of Christ, so the second round of persecution was inevitable.

An angel initially freed them from jail and sent them back to the temple to preach more. They brought the apostles before the Sanhedrin again and had them questioned before the High Priest (chairman).

He said, “We already told you not to preach in the name of Christ. Then why did you do so?”

Answer: “We must obey God rather than men. You killed Christ, but God raised him from the dead – we are witnesses of this.”

All the members of the Council were furious at this point and wanted to kill them, but Gamaliel reminded them of previous uprisings that were put down.

He said, “If this is from men, it will end, but if it is from God, you will only be fighting against God.” So, they beat them and ordered them not to preach in the name of Christ again.

The apostles left sadly…? no – happily – because they were considered worthy to be persecuted in the Name of Christ. They never stopped preaching (soon we will see the third persecution).

Here’s one question: Are you holding onto the living truth of God, or a dead tradition?

This is the serious question given to us by this story. And there are 4 reactions to the living truth of God.

  1. Attacking the truth
  2. Affirming the truth
  3. Avoiding the truth
  4. Announcing the truth

Please check yourself and your reaction to the living truth of God.

#1 Sanhedrin attacks the truth

v. 17-28

“5:17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people *the full message of this new life*.”

21At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. 22 When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”

24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.””

The Sanhedrin is attacking the living truth of God here – there are three reasons why they arrested the apostles and put them in jail.

  1. They didn’t obey the first order to stop preaching
  2. They hated Jesus and killed Jesus – their message was, “Jesus is now alive”. Also key members of the Sanhedrin were Saduccees – and they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead – but this is the KEY message of the apostles
  3. They were jealous of the success of these untrained, simple men (v. 17). The angel of the Lord freed them and sent them to the temple courts to preach

That’s why they couldn’t stand their preaching.

What a contrast between the Sanhedrin and the apostles.

  • They were trained, ordained, high class, but had no ministry of power
    • The apostles were unskilled laborers, laymen, but the power of God was in their message
  • The Sanhedrin were trying to protect their old traditions
    • The apostles were risking their lives to preach the new message of God

The dynamic Christian is enjoying the NEW, but the dead religion is holding onto the old.

We can see many emotions here:

  1. jealousy (v. 17)
  2. puzzled / perplexed (v. 24)
  3. fear (v. 26)
  4. fury / furious (v. 33)
  5. murderous intent (v. 33)

Jealousy is murdering my own character.

v. 20 “”Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.””

This is holistic life – and can be found ONLY in Jesus Christ.

  • “I am the Bread of Life” he says. (there’s a large church in Manila with this name), “he who comes to me, will never go hungry.”
  • “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
  • “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
  • “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

John 5:11-12 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

Only this kind of life can be found in Christ.

#2 Apostles affirm the truth

v. 29-32

“5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.””

Usually, we can obey God by obeying man, because (Romans) all authorities have been established by God. (Also, “do your best to live at peace with everybody”). But in the matter of worship, our position must be exclusive, uncompromising, inflexible. There is a good example in the OT.

Daniel’s three friends, in Daniel chp 3. Nebuchadnezzar made a large image of gold and said all people must bow before it, or be thrown into the fire. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow. The king gave them one more chance to worship this idol. What was their answer? Very clearly they said, “Oh, king, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown to the burning furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from that fire. He will deliver us from your hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will NEVER worship your gods, nor the image of gold you have set up.”

This is the true Christian’s position.

In this story, the apostles also could not change their position because they could not serve 2 masters.

We also are ambassadors of Christ, not diplomats (as witnesses) – so there is no compromise. Also, the apostles did not change their message. Their message from 2,000 years ago should be our message as well:

  • Jesus Christ died for your sins (my sins), and was raised again for our eternal life.

“Only Jesus” is the eternal Savior from death, hell, the penalty of sin, etc.

#3 Gamaliel Avoided the truth

v. 33-39

“5:33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.””

To the reaction of the apostles, the Sanhedrin were furious and wanted to kill them. They were probably almost about to kill them, but a Pharisee named Gamaliel persuaded them not to – he was highly respected by all the people. Paul also was trained by this man before his conversion. So, he was a very famous man.

Using two examples, he offered advice: “Don’t kill them yourselves now, if this is from man, they will die someday. But if this is from God, they will succeed and we will be fighting God.”

Because Gamaliel was so famous, they received his advice and let the apostles go with a beating. Yes, God used Gamaliel’s advice to save the apostles from death.

Outwardly, this looks “nice” – but spiritually, this response is unwise, unbiblical, wrong, and dangerous. Why?

  • Gamaliel classified Christ with ordinary men – “just another zealot” trying to free Israel from Rome. But, we must understand that in human history, there is no one who is comparable to Christ. His birth, life, death, and resurrection is a one time event – so none of it can be compared to any other. His coming into the world is God coming into human history and saving this world.
  • Gamaliel was only avoiding the truth – this is another method for rejecting the truth. Avoiding = another form of rejecting. His motive is important. He encouraged neutrality when the Sanhedrin was needing a definite decision. He was voting “No” to their death by advising “someday.”

Is Christ your Savior and Lord?

This is a simple and short question. To this simple question, our individual answer must be very clear. “Yes” or “No” – our answer cannot be neutral – it cannot by “maybe” or “almost” or “hopefully” – only “Yes” or “No.” Our answer must be very clear.

ALL answers that are not “Yes” are simply “No” – do not be deceived.

Gamaliel’s suggestion is “be neutral” – not “yes” nor “no.”

But, Christ made it very clear that it is impossible to be neutral. Matt 12:30 “He who is not with me, is against me. He who does not gather with me, scatters.”

You cannot be neutral about Christ. If our answer is “Yes”, then we are to ANNOUNCE the living truth of God.

#4 Finally, the apostles Announce the truth

v. 40-42

“5:40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

Can you imagine this picture? Can you follow this example in your practical life?

  • In the first persecution, the Sanhedrin released Peter and John with : THREATS
  • In the second persecution, they released them with : THREATS + BEATING

Maybe each apostle received 39 lashes (40 was considered to kill a person) and released. And they left the Sanhedrin not unhappily, but rejoicing. Why? There are two reasons:

  1. Persecution was the opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty to Christ
  2. It was also an opportunity to share in the experience of Christ “Those who share the cross bearing, will share the crown wearing.”

Jesus says, “Blessed are the persecuted – when people insult you and say all kinds of false evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. They also persecuted the prophets in this way.”

Last verse is an excellent model to follow. If we are witnesses of Christ, remember this last verse is an excellent pattern to follow.

v. 42

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

They received 39 lashes, but NEVER stopped. In this one verse, this is an excellent pattern we should follow. Here are five points to practice.

  1. “Day after day” – witness is a daily job, not a special event / performance – just like our eating, drinking, sleeping. This should be our lifestyle
  2. “In the temple courts” – witness should be PUBLIC, official, before a crowd – in your class, school, government, office, etc
  3. “From house to house” – witness can be private job – individual, door to door, man to man, to our family members and relatives, co-workers, strangers on the street, in the market, etc
  4. “Teaching and proclaiming” (teaching and preaching) – witnessing = teaching and preaching (not only preaching) Teaching = instruction, growth, Preaching = evangelism, conversion – so the two of them together gives us the full process of salvation. Do you have somebody as your student whom you are teaching for his spiritual growth?
  5. “Good news that Jesus is the Christ” – our teaching / preaching must be focused and centered on Christ – the author and perfector of our faith

2 Cor 4:5 “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord and ourselves as your servant for Jesus’ sake.” Whether we teach or preach, our witness should be focused on Jesus Christ alone.

Let us pray together.

  • Jul 01 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Church must be kept Pure and Holy (Acts 5:1-16)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Church must be kept Pure and Holy (Acts 5:1-16)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Church must be kept pure and holy

Acts 5:1-16 (Pastor Heo)

5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.


Satan is our enemy – and we must understand that he is alive. He had failed completely in his attempt to silence the witness of the church in chp 3-4, but he never gives up, he just changes his tactics.

As we know, according to chp 3, his first approach was to attack the church from outside – hoping that the threats would frighten the leaders and apostles. But when that failed, Satan attacked from the inside – using people who belonged to the fellowship of the church. Yes, we must know that Satan is very clever. He is a murderer and a liar. When he doesn’t succeed as a liar, he attacks as a deceiving serpent or an angel of light.

  • “Be self controlled and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around looking for someone to devour.” (Peter)
  • “Our enemy masquerades as an angel of light…”
  • John “You belong to your father the devil, he is a murderer from the beginning. When he lies, he speaks his native language.”

We also have our own native languages – what is yours? But remember, when you speak a lie, you are speaking Satan’s native language.

Today’s story is a very heavy one to accept.

Ananias & Sapphira

Ananias + Sapphira – sold a piece of their own property, and kept some of the money for themselves, but LIED and said, “This is the FULL amount of money we received for this property” when they presented the money to the church (Peter).

Ananias lied to Peter about offering the FULL money, and he fell down and died.

Sapphira came three hours later, lied about the FULL amount of the money they offered, and she also fell down and died.

v. 1-11

“5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.”

Yes, this is terrible and terrifying, but we must accept it. We can learn 3 lessons from this story.

Background

v. 1

“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, **also** sold a piece of property.”

“Also” is connected with some happening in the church at that time. We can look to the last verse of the previous chapter about Barnabas to see what this was about.

4:36-37

“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

This act apparently filled Ananias and Sapphira with envy and they wanted to get praise and glory before the church by doing a similar thing.

#1 God hates hypocrisy

  • Hypocrisy = “wearing a mask and playing an actor”
  • Hypocrisy = deliberate deception – trying to make others think we are more spiritual, more generous than we really are

This sin, hypocrisy was the sin of this couple.

Ananias means “God is gracious” – good name – but he learned “God is holy”

Sapphira means “Beautiful” but her heart was “ugly” with sin

Yes, no doubt, some people are shocked because they read that some people lied about a business transaction and their church giving.

But, when we read further into this, we can see that God was justified and right in judging them. All throughout the Bible, especially at the beginning of a NEW period of salvation, God judges sin severely.

  • Ex: In Exodus, after the temple was built, God killed the sons of the priest because they tried to give God false fire.
  • Ex: In the land of Canaan, after a battle, God killed Achan because of his disobedience regarding money.

These examples were warnings to God’s people – and also to us.

“These things happened as examples for us… so, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall.”

Even today, Satan never gives up in his attacking and attempt to push us – his main purpose in coming is to lie, steal, and kill (destroy).

This is the first lesson we can get from this terrible story.

To begin with the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was energized by Satan (v. 3) “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?”

If Satan cannot defeat the church from attacks outside, then he will attempt to go INSIDE and use the members of the church – even generous Christians. So, remember that we are always very close to the attack of Satan – always enduring spiritual warfare.

Eph “Be strong in the Lord’s mighty power and put on the full armor of God – because our struggling is not against physical powers, but against the powers of the spiritual realm. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that in the day of evil you may be able to stand your ground, and when you have done everything, to stand.”

This warning is given to Christians, not non-Christians – so we must remember that we are who Satan wants to use to attack the church from the inside. Satan knows how to lie well – and he spoke a lie to Ananias and Sapphira and that lie led to death. So, when God judged Ananias and Sapphira, he was judging Satan.

#2 Their actions were motivated by the sin of Pride

God hates Pride and judges it.

Pr 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil… God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud.”

Yes, already Christ made it very clear that we must be very careful about how we give lest the glory to be given to God is given to us.

“Be careful not to do your giving before man… Do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do. They have received their reward in full. When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” How is this possible? We must be filled with the HS. “Then you Father, who sees what is done in heaven will reward you.”

The Pharisees were adept at giving in public so that they might receive the praises of man. But, that is ALL they received.

Remember, we are merely STEWARDS of what God has given us, so we must use what he has given us for his glory. How can we remember God if we seek praise from man? If we seek praise from man, it is very difficult to believe in God. But we should not apply glory and praise to ourselves. We only praise our Father God, and not expect praise from men.

This is the second lesson from this story. Yes, pride is also always very near us. Are you riding pride?

Pride is the sin that opens the door to all other sins – it is the original, the gateway sin. So, if we are only interested in our own character, then their is no limit to what we might do to look good in the eyes of others.

#3 God loves the church and the sin was directed against the church

We cannot know how much God loves the church. The church was purchased by the blood of God’s only Son.

Imagine, if you bought something with the blood of your son, how much could you love that thing?

So, God loves the church so much. But at the same time, Satan wants to destroy the church all the time. So, he seeks to use those who are INSIDE the church to destroy it.

Imagine, if Peter had not been discerning, then Ananias and Sapphira would have become influential people in the early church and Satan would have been using them to do his own work from within.

  • Church is God’s temple in which God dwells, but Satan also wants to move in and dwell there with us.
  • Church is also God’s army, and Satan seeks to get as many spies and traitors into its ranks as possible.

So, church is VERY SAFE when Satan is attacking from OUTSIDE, but it is in danger when Satan can get inside and attack from within.

So, at this moment, we need to examine ourselves. Do we really mean everything we pray about in public? Do we sing hymns and gospel songs faithfully and sincerely, or routinely?

“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” (Jesus)

Imagine, if God still killed religious deceivers today, how many church members would be left?

In this story, Ananias was dead and buried, but his wife did not know what had happened. This also shows that:

  • Satan keeps his servants always in the dark, but
  • Jesus guides his servants in the light.

Their sin was NOT in holding some money back, but rather it was in lying to the church, to the HS. They were not required to give all the money, but their evil desire and lust to receive praise from men led to their downfall.

James 1:15 “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and the sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

What is the result of this event? GREAT FEAR (x2) – this means “godly fear” or the “fear of God”. Actually, the “fear of God” is the secret to be free from ALL other fears in this world.

Yes, in the previous chapter, we saw there was great power and great grace. Now, there is great fear. All of these should be present in the church:

  1. Godly power
  2. Godly grace
  3. Godly fear

“God is a consuming fire.”

Remember 3 lessons:

  1. No hypocrisy
  2. No pride
  3. Not against the church

Opposites (we must do these things):

  1. Honesty, integrity, sincerity
  2. Humility
  3. For the church

We must do our best to keep the church pure and holy.

#Conclusion

v. 12-16

“And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.”

We can be encouraged by the last words: “all of them were healed.”

  • Yes, our enemy Satan always wants to divide the church, disgrace, decrease, destroy the church.
  • But the church filled with the HS is unified, magnified, multiplied.
  1. Yes, the early church began with only 120 in the upper room, and
  2. in the second stage to 3,000,
  3. in the third stage to 5,000 (excluding women and children).
  4. “Nevertheless, more and more people believed and were added to their number.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This means that miracles are still possible. If you believe, miracles are possible. The problem is whether or not you believe.

This is especially possible for the miracle of healing – not only physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual, psychological. Remember, only eternal, everlasting healing can be found in Jesus Christ our Lord – because only by believing in him, we are to live in heaven completely freed from all kinds of diseases and sickness.

The greatest miracle of all is the transformation (complete change) of a lost sinner into a child of God based on the power of the resurrection of Christ. That is the greatest miracle, the greatest need of all humans, lasts the longest, and cost the greatest price (the blood of Christ). This is one (the greatest) miracle that we can all participate in as members of the church.

We can share this miracle when we share the message of the gospel.

God bless us all.

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 24 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Power of the Resurrection of Christ (Romans 4:23-37)
Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Power of the Resurrection of Christ (Romans 4:23-37)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The power of the resurrection

Acts 4:23-37 (Pastor Heo)

4:23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ” ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.


Peter and John were arrested and put in prison one night. The next day, the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) questioned them – just because they healed a beggar in the name of Christ and preached the resurrection of Christ. The Sanhedrin wanted to punish Peter and John but could not because so many people were praising God – so instead, they commanded them not to preach of Christ (especially not his resurrection) any longer. Then, they released them with a strong warning.

Upon their release, Peter and John immediately returned to their group and reported to them the persecutions and sufferings they’d received from the Sanhedrin.

At the report of Peter and John,

  • the church did not complain against God –
  • they didn’t condemn nor judge the Sanhedrin,
  • nor fall down into deep depression and disappointment.

No, their first reaction to this difficult situation was … to pray to God. This is a very important principle that we should apply in our own lives.

How about your own reaction with your difficulties? Your first reaction should be prayer / talking with God. Prayer is our strength – this is our practical strength. This is our first strategy, our first weapon.

Let us see their prayer – and how they prayed.

How the disciples prayed

v. 23-31 (First reaction to the bad situation and prayer)

“4:23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ” ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘ [Messiah] 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Looks like the Pentecost in chp 2 again. The earth was shaken and they were filled with the HS.

5 Points we can apply in our lives

#1 They addressed God as “Sovereign Lord”

Yes, we are talking to God personally and individually. Usually we start “Our Father in Heaven…”

This means they had strong conviction of the power and authority of God. (“You are Creator and Sustainer of all things – there is nothing impossible with you”).

You are omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent.

One day, someone threatened Martin Luther: “If you continue to go on in your course against us, you will be excommunicated, kicked out, deserted by all your supporters. Then, where will you be?”

Martin Luther: “Then, I’ll be in the hands of God.”

God is “Sovereign Lord”

Strong conviction of the power and authority of God

#2 Conviction of the uselessness of man’s rebellion against God

Acts 4:25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ” ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘

This is quoted from Psalm 2:1-2

“Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed,”

They applied the Psalm here in their situation. Their hearts and minds turned for comfort to the Scriptures. The parallel is perfect.

In these two verses, we see:

  • kings
  • rulers
  • Gentiles (unbelivers)
  • Israelites (believers)

This is the story of the crucifixion of Christ. “Anointed One” = Christ

The members of the Sanhedrin – arrested Peter and John – and had also arrested Christ. They decided to kill Christ, but had no right to carry it out according to Roman Law. So, they handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate – ruler over Judea at that time. But, he also did not want to execute Jesus because he could find nothing guilty in Christ. He heard that Christ was from Galilee – so he sent him to Herod (ruler of Galilee at that time). He received Christ, but did not judge him – he only ridiculed and mocked him – then sent him back.

So, Pilate had no choice against the crowd, “Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar!” So, he handed Christ over to be crucified by the soldiers.

What does this mean?

  • kings
  • rulers
  • Gentiles
  • Israelites

Altogether banded together to crucify Christ. ALL humans defy God, but in the end “God must prevail.”

The prayer is based solidly on the Word of God

Psalm 2:1-2

Like this, the Word of God and our prayer must go together.

John 15:7 “If you remain in me, and my Word remains in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”

  • In his Word, God speaks to us and tells us what he wants us to do.
  • In our prayer, we speak to God and make ourselves available to accomplish his will.
    • The true prayer is NOT telling God what to do, but asking God to do his will through us.
    • It means getting God’s will done on earth through us, not getting our will done in heaven through God.

#3 The set the remembrance of Christ before them

And remembered his suffering and triumph – and they found strong conviction.

Jesus is your Lord? Then this is (more than) enough.

“Jesus is my Lord!~”

#4 For what did they pray?

For what shall we pray in a hard and difficult situation?

They prayed for courage.

v. 29

“29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

They did not think they could face this situation in their own strength, but they prayed for God’s strength – to empower them and make the best use of their circumstances to accomplish their mission.

  • They did not pray for protection, but power.
  • Not fire from heaven, but power from heaven to preach and heal.

How about in our application? Do you pray?

  • If you pray, please do not pray for an EASY life, but pray for STRENGTH.
  • Do not pray for tasks equal to your power, but pray for power equal to your tasks.

#5 Through this prayer, we can see the result – again the gift of the HS.

v. 31

“31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

This is a similar event to Pentecost – they were filled with the HS again. They found the courage and strength they needed to witness about Christ.

Today we need to be filled with the HS again – yesterday is yesterday’s story. We need to be filled again and again and again until we see Christ face-to-face.

“Again!”

Christian community

v. 32-37

“32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

Especially in the community of the church, prayer is supremely important. Yes, the witness of Christ is also supremely important, but the highest culmination is LOVE.

They had an intense love for each other – and a desire to share all they had with one another. Why? Because they are brothers and sisters in Christ – they are one family.

This kind of lifestyle is not the result of regulation, but it is spontaneous. The Law does not compel us to share, but the love in our hearts compels us to share – that is true Christian community.

Joseph (nicknamed “Barnabas”)

He is introduced here for several reasons:

  • he was a generous giver
  • he illustrated the things Luke was describing
  • had the most important ministry in the church (mentioned 25 times in Acts, and 5 times in the epistles)
  • he encouraged Paul in his early ministry and service to the Lord
  • he was Paul’s partner in his first missionary journey
  • he was HS filled – a good man because he was a big encouragement to the church

Also today, we need Barnabas. We need many Barnabusses? Barnabi?

v. 33 (KEY VERSE)

“33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”

Great power + great grace = Great Christian / church

If you were in this situation, could you do like this?

They “continued” to testify of the resurrection of Christ.

Situation:

The real reason the Sanhedrin arrested, jailed, and persecuted the early church was NOT because of the healing of the beggar, but because of the gospel message – the preaching of the resurrection of Christ.

If this news spread widely, it would mean that the Sanhedrin (elders, priests, etc) were TERRIBLY wrong. When Christ rose again from the dead, they met together and created a plan. They bribed the soldiers to spread a rumor that the disciples stole his body away. If the news of this spread, they would lose their position and status. So, they did their best to stop the spreading of the news of the resurrection of Christ.

They commanded Peter and John NOT to preach of the resurrection any longer.

But… they “continued”

How about our story? Is there a warning? Is their a threat from the Korean government? Is there persecution?

WITH THIS persecution, they “continued” preaching. But we have no such strong warning from the government. So, then, why don’t we preach the resurrection of Christ? We have freedom to do so. So, if we don’t, we commit a double fault.

What does the resurrection mean to you and me? What does this say to us practically, really?

Yes, about the resurrection, I can preach ALL day. But if I do so, you will be angry, hungry, etc.

So, let me share 2 points quickly.

What the resurrection of Christ says to us

#1 Jesus is God

Do you believe this?

Romans 1:4-6 “and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are *called* to belong to Jesus Christ.”

If you are not called, there is no relationship.

We can call Jesus “Lord” – more than 1,000 things “hope, love, peace, purpose, rock, shepherd, friend, brother, etc”

Jesus can be all positions we need – how is it possible? Because he is God – so all positions we need are possible.

He is God through his resurrection – this is the evidence.

#2 The guarantee of our resurrection

This is the “first fruits” of those who believe and belong to him.

Jesus “I am the Resurrection and the Life and whoever believes in me will not die.”

Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

Yes, we experience death all the time, all around us. Somebody dies every day. Death is very near us. We experience death indirectly continually – and one day we will all experience death directly.

Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, so he who believes in me will rise again even though he dies.”

Our physical death is literal, tangible, so our resurrection body will also be real, literal, tangible. That’s why Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life… do you believe this?”

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 17 / 2018
  • Comments Off on I cannot stop speaking of what I should speak (Acts 4:13-22)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

I cannot stop speaking of what I should speak (Acts 4:13-22)

Download Notes in a .MD file

I cannot stop speaking of what I should speak

Acts 4:13-22 (Pastor Heo)

4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.


Persecution starts. The Sanhedrin had put Peter and John in jail, and the next day questioned them. The Sanhedrin was like the Supreme Court of that day.

  • And they questioned them, “By what name do you do what you did?”
  • Peter and John said, “by the name of Jesus whom you crucified.”
  • Then the Sanhedrin conferred together to decide what to do with them. They came to them again and said, “Anyway, do not preach or perform miracles in this name again.”
  • Peter, “If you are judges, judge for yourselves. Which is right? To obey you or to obey God?”

In everything, we are judges – we must choose one of two ways.

  • Peter said, “We cannot stop preaching what we have heard, what we have seen.”

Actually, the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Peter and John, but they couldn’t do anything to them – because outside (over 5,000) people were praising God because of their work and preaching.

  • They threatened them again, “If you do this again, you will be killed.”

Last verse says the man’s age was over 40. Let’s read once more.


v. 13

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were *astonished* and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Peter and John had great courage. Do you? Even today, we need courage. Yes, we know how cowardly Peter was only a few months before, but now he’s become such a courageous and fearless man. They were shocked.

This courage is possible because they were filled with the HS. Today to be powerful and effective witnesses for Christ, we need courage. Even in the secular world, to be successful, we need courage.

There are 3 kinds of courage.

1. Reckless courage –

we don’t know what will happen, we are unaware of the consequences.

2. Fearless courage (convinced) –

Yes, we are aware of the possible difficulties and dangers, but we also know there is something else beyond those dangers.

3. Decisive courage (resolute) –

Sometimes, courage does not mean “fearlessness” – actually, it may include GREAT fear, but a decision to DO what must be done and do it.

The courage of Peter and John now was “fearless courage”. How can we have courage? Do you want to be powerful effective witnesses for Christ? Then we need courage.

The best courage is fearless courage because we know there is something greater, beyond earth, heavenly reward. So, to have this courage, we need 4 things.

4 Necessities for courage

1. Pray – and your courage will increase

Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.”

2. Proclaim God’s promises to yourself

“Whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge, whoever disowns me, I will disown.” Jesus

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear. I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I will strengthen you, I will uplift you with my righteous right hand.”

Yes, we need to proclaim the Word of God to others, but we also need to apply it and proclaim it to ourselves.

3. Fear God

Fear God to fear nothing.

If you fear God fully, you will never fear anything in this world.

“The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.” – Proverbs

“Do not fear those who can kill the body, but not the soul. Rather, fear the one who can throw both soul and body into hell.”

The secret to be free from fears is to fear God – because he is maker and creator of all things.

4. Believe what Jesus has been doing and that there will be a reward from him

If we believe what he has been doing, past, present, future, then we will be free from all kinds of fears.

Yes, he died for our sins and was raised for our justification.

“God demonstrated his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“… Christ died for the ungodly”

Romans “Therefore, there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (in Christ theology)

If we are Christians, children of God, then we are heirs with God and co-heirs with Christ. If we share in his sufferings, we may share in his glory. The present sufferings are nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed.

Rev “Behold I am coming soon.” – Jesus said 3 times. “My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

If it is true that Jesus is God become man and died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our salvation and justification, then, no matter how much we do for him, we cannot do too much for him.

In this story, we can see Enemies attack, Christians defend. We also experience this in spiritual war. In this case, we should have our defense. What kind of defense?

Enemies’ attack: 2 characteristics

1. Contempt

v. 13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and **realized that they were unschooled [ignorant], ordinary men [laymen without special professional qualifications], they were astonished** and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

They had no learning in the regulation of the Law.

i.e. The Sanhedrin regarded Peter and John with contempt: as ignorant and non-professional – no certifications or fancy letters at the end of their names.

But “in Christ” provides a certain (real and holy) dignity that no special qualifications or titles can give.

2. Threats

v. 21 “After **further threats** they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.”

We must remember that what men do to us are only temporal – but the things of God are eternal.

The things of Man are temporal, but the things of God are eternal.

In the face of these attacks from the enemies, Peter and John had 3 defenses.

3 Defenses against enemy attacks

1. The defense of unanswerable fact

The man who was lame was healed. They couldn’t deny it.

The most unanswerable fact of Christianity is a Christian man or woman – the changed life of a Christian.

2. Total loyalty to Christ

If they had to choose between obeying man or God, Peter and John would have no question which path to take.

“The trouble with so many people today is that the voice of their neighbor sounds so much louder than the voice of God.”

Yes, we have 2-3 voices in our lives:

  1. The voice of God
  2. The voice of Satan

[also, the voice of neighbors – and our own voice]

  • The voice of God in Genesis: “If you eat this fruit, you will surely die.”
  • The voice of Satan in Genesis: “God is a liar. If you eat this, you will be like God. God wants you to be unhappy.”

Yes, even today, the voice of God (or Satan) can come through the voice of our neighbors. That’s why we need to be wise, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  • Satan: “Do what seems safe, easy, comfortable, gives glory to yourself.”
  • God: “Do what is right, true, good, glorious to Christ.”

3. (Greatest defense): Personal experience of Jesus Christ

Peter and John’s story of Christ: they knew first hand that it was true and sure – and they were willing to stake their lives on it.

5 Points as real lessons for application in our lives

1. God is LONG-suffering with lost sinners

The religious leaders had rejected:

  1. John the Baptist
  2. Jesus

So, God gave them another opportunity to repent and be saved. So, we must also give thanks to God for his patience and long-suffering with us. We need patience when we witness to this world.

2. True witness involves bad news of sin and guilt as well as the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ

Remember, there can be no true faith in Christ if there is not first repentance of sin. We are preaching the good news of salvation, but when we preach this wonderful good news, we must also preach the bad news of sin and guilt so that they may truly receive the good news.

Without the bad news, they cannot truly experience the good news.

3. Whenever God blesses, Satan appears.

Are you blessed? Satan appears to oppose the work, to silence the witness. Even today, sometimes Satan uses religious people to do his job.

In this story, the same crowd who opposed the ministry of Christ is also opposing the ministry of the apostles, and Satan today is trying to oppose our own ministry. Expect the attack of Satan, but do not let it stop your ministry.

The important thing is not that we’re comfortable, but that the name of Christ is glorified through our message.

4. God has also promised to bless and use his Word,

so let us be faithful continuously. Even today, Christ is praying earnestly for us so that our witness may be successful. So, we have every reason to be encouraged because there is power in the name of Christ. We need not fear witnessing and calling others to repent.

5. The name of Christ has power and authority.

Even today, we can give somebody a cup of cold / hot water, or receive a child / baby in the name of Christ. Still these ministries are important. We can ask in the name of Christ – and when we do it is as though Christ himself is asking it.

Do you know what “In Jesus’ name” means? “In the name of Jesus Christ”

This means: It is like Jesus himself is asking what we are asking. If we remember this, it will help us ask only something worthy of the name of Christ.

Let us go forth in the name of Christ as conquerors – he gave his life for our salvation and justification.

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 10 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Jesus Christ is the only way to Salvation (Acts 4:1-12)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Jesus Christ is the only way to Salvation (Acts 4:1-12)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Jesus Christ is the only way

Acts 4:1-12 (Pastor Heo)

4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ **12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”**


Today we see Peter’s 3rd sermon.

Peter’s 1st sermon: chpt 2: filled with the HS, focused on the resurrection of Christ and 3,000 people were added to the church.

Peter’s 2nd sermon: they met a crippled beggar at the temple gate – during the time of prayer, and they healed him, through the power of Christ. So many people gathered around them: his message was filled with the HS, and focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The total believers totaled up to 5,000 at that time – not counting women and children. But, persecution began.

Historic Context

At that time, 25,000 to 85,000 people lived in Jerusalem. There were 6,000 Pharisees in Palestine at that time. There were 5,000 Christian men at that time – this was a high percentage of the population at that time. So, the current religious leaders (Pharisees, etc) were greatly disturbed. They came to Peter and John and arrested them and questioned them.

But, now it was already evening – late to assemble the necessary leaders to hold the inquiry. So, they put them in jail until the following morning.

v. 1-5

“4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. *4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of **men** grew to about five thousand.* 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.”

In this situation, persecution began. Jesus had already won his followers.

Spiritually, what is persecution? This is proof that the gates of hell are being stormed and that spiritual captives are being set free.

This same group who had tried and crucified Christ now sought to intimidate, threaten, and silence Jesus’ witnesses again. Peter and John shared the gospel but ended up in jail.

Even today, there can be risks in trying to win others to Christ:

  • being rejected,
  • whispered about,
  • misunderstood, etc.

Yes, we might be willing to face jail for one night if it would bring 5,000 to Christ. But at the same time, we must be willing to suffer for only one lost soul.

  • How about all of us today?
  • What do you risk in witnessing?

This is a practical question.

Whatever the risks, we must realize that nothing done for Christ is ever wasted. No matter how great the risk, the reward is surely greater. Jesus, “Blessed are you when people insult, persecute you, and say all kinds of false evil about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad – for your reward in heaven will be great. They did the same to the prophets.”

  • Romans: “Our present suffering cannot compare to eternal glory…”
  • Jesus, “On my account you will be brought to kings and leaders – at that time you will be given what to say. It will not be you speaking, but the HS speaking through you.”

Still persecution is alive around us if we are really witnesses of Christ.

v. 5-12 is Peter’s 3rd sermon. It’s very short but powerful and effective.

v. 6-7

“6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?””

At that time, the priests, teachers of the Law, etc, made up a Sanhedrin (Council) – like a Supreme Court. They gathered together and it was the HIGHEST ruling government of Israel. They handled local problems. It consisted of 70 members + the current high priest = 71 total members.

v. 6 – Annas and Caiaphas = high priests together (but actually, there was only one high priest at a time).

Annas was the original high priest, but the Roman government deposed him, and appointed Caiaphas in his place (his son-in-law). But the Jews thought of the high priest as a lifetime position – so they continued to call him “high priest” and give him respect in this council.

They both had played a significant role in Jesus’ trial. They were at the front place of condemning Christ.

v. 7-11 (Peter’s answer and sermon)

“7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ‘”

Imagine this situation, this picture. This is the Supreme Court – the highest class, wealthiest, most powerful, most intellectual in Israel. They crucified Christ. They did not like his teaching, nor any new movement, nor any campaign. They only wanted to maintain the status quo to keep their wealth, privilege, status, etc. Also, the majority of the members were Saducceesthey were the richest, and very worldly, materialistic. They did not believe in angels, nor the resurrection of the dead.

So, Peter and John were arrested because they preached the resurrection of Christ. They were fishermen, ordinary people. Yet they stood here to be questioned.

And to the question, Peter answered: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom YOU crucified!” (pointing) “whom God raised – whom you rejected. He has become the cornerstone.” By THAT name the man was healed.

How is this boldness, fearlessness possible?

The HS made this attitude possible.

v. 8

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”

I said already,

  • The baptism of the HS is a one-time event in our lives – this is at our conversion.
  • But the FILLING of the HS is a continual event if we are to be powerful witnesses of Christ.

His message is again focused on the death and resurrection of Christ.

Peter and John were arrested and there to be judged as the accused. Yet Peter is proclaiming judgment over them.

“Know this!”

The heart of the message of the gospel is always the death and resurrection of Christ. Do you have a heart? Without a heart, we cannot live nor breath. The death and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the gospel message.

If in your preaching, unless you tell the story of the death and resurrection of Christ, there is no heart in your message.

Other religions base their claims on recognition to the teaching of their founders. But Christianity is distinguished from all other religions based on the significance it places on the death and resurrection of Christ – because this is THE most significant teaching.

The death of Christ

  • Without the death and resurrection of Christ, our faith, our repentance is groundless, useless.
  • Our God is a righteous and just and right God.
  • He cannot forgive sin nor sinners merely on the grounds of a sinner’s repentance.
  • God can pardon sin only when the penalty is first paid.
  • So, in order to pardon a sinner and also to remain as a righteous God at all times, Jesus Christ paid the penalty FOR us on the cross.
  • “He is the propitiation for our sins.” (atoning sacrifice)

The resurrection of Christ

  • The resurrection proves he is the Son of God –
  • that his sacrifice for our sins was acceptable to God –
  • so our salvation is perfectly finished and we can be forgiven.
  • And because of these proofs, we can believe in all the things he said as truth.
  • We also belong to Christ – are called “Christians” – and we know he still lives on.
  • We also understand that because of HIS resurrection, we also will experience a resurrection in Christ one day.

All this evidence is based on the death and resurrection of Christ.

So, when you share your faith with others, do not forget the HEART of the gospel message.

If Christ is REAL to you, IN you, NEAR you, important to you, Number One in your heart and life and mind, then you will speak about Christ at any and every opportunity. Why? Because we are to speak what is filled in our hearts.

Luke “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Something comes out through your mouth that is overflowing in your heart.

Climax/conclusion:

memorize this verse and keep it in your hearts.

v. 12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

This verse is both a big encouragement and a big challenge.

Today, we must make our reactions very clear to this verse.

Is this verse a blessing or a burden to you?

“no one else”

no other religion, philosophy, doctrine, principle, person, man – except for Jesus Christ – for salvation

What is your reaction, answer, response?

It can be “good news” or “heavy news” to you.

Good News!

  • There is salvation! Salvation can be found!

Heavy News…

  • No one else?…

Some react very negatively. Why not anything else? Other religions are not wrong. There are many great men and heroes in history. Why only Jesus? Why so exclusive? Why so narrow minded?

Some react praising God. Thank God! There’s a way! We can be forgiven! This is called the narrow way – the narrow door – the narrow path. It is narrow, yes, but it is a way. The only way.

What is your reaction to this?

Sinking ship

Imagine you are in a cruise ship, and it is broken and sinking. Sewol or Titanic.

Then somebody says, “There’s a life boat! It’s very near!”

In this situation, what will you do? You can choose your action.

Will you throw yourself into that life boat and be secured with thankfulness? Or will you remain on that sinking ship complaining, “Why only one lifeboat? Where are all the others?” You can choose.

Burning building

We are in this building. This building is burning on fire. We are locked completely inside. We have no choice but to die.

But someone outside the building makes a single, small hole to the outside. “Hey! Is there anyone inside? Come out and be rescued!”

What shall you do?

Will you rush out through the way out and thank God? Or will you remain inside the burning building and complain: “Why only one way out? What about the doors? Why not another way out?”

Reality

These are just stories. But they are illustrations of our lives. All humans are spiritually dead (Eph “As for you, you were dead in your sins and transgressions”). “All humans are destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.”

God has provided only ONE way to salvation: Christ.

This is a REAL situation. It’s not a story. In this situation, what shall you do?

Will you be saved through that only way – Jesus Christ – by believing in him and accepting him as your personal Savior and Lord?

Or will you remain unsaved complaining and criticizing, “Why only one way? There are many religions. Why only this way?”

So, you must make your action before this sentence very clear. Your reaction to this one short sentence will decide your eternal destiny.

v. 12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Let us shout this sentence together.

Today, repeat this sentence 100 times.

Let’s pray.

  • Jun 03 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Power of the Name of Jesus Christ (2) (Acts 3:12-26)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Power of the Name of Jesus Christ (2) (Acts 3:12-26)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Power of the name of Jesus Christ (2)

Acts 3:12-26 (Pastor Heo)

12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’

24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”


In this book Acts, there are 14 sermons by 4 preachers.

  • 6 from Peter,
  • 6 from Paul,
  • 1 from Stephen,
  • 1 from James.

Last Sunday, we saw Pentecost. So many people gathered in Jerusalem at that time, and the HS came down. And about 3,000 people were added to the church that day.

At this time, during the time of prayer, at the temple, Peter and John healed a lame man. So many people saw it and rushed to them to see how this was possible. This setting gave Peter another opportunity to preach the gospel.

Just like the first sermon, this one is:

  1. Full of the HS
  2. Full of the Word of God
  3. Focused on Jesus

v. 12-16

“12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 *By faith in the name of Jesus*, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”

First, the final purpose of this miracle = to bring glory to Christ. v.13 makes this clear. The final purpose was not to heal this man and make him strong, but to bring glory to Christ.

Also, the crucifixion is not only for the sins of the whole world, but also the greatest crime in human history. This is the meeting of God’s absolute justice and unconditional love. This is also the meeting place of God’s mercy and man’s rebellion.

The resurrection is proof that Jesus is indestructible and Lord of life and death. This is ironic – he gave life, they killed the author of life. But this – the resurrection – is final proof that Jesus is God.

We have no power – but we may be a channel of the power of the risen Christ. As long as we think only of what we can do and be, there is only failure and fear. But when we think of “not I but Christ in me” (Gal 2:20) there is the power of Christ in me.

So, how can we be channels of this power of Christ? By believing and using the name of Christ.

Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ” in his first sermon. In this sermon also, “silver and gold I have not, but I will give what I have – in the name of Christ, stand up and walk.”

What does a name mean / carry with it? It carries with it the full authority of the one to whom it belongs.

Matt 1:21 “He will save his people from his sins.”

Let me introduce some of the names of Christ. (The Bible is full of names of Christ.)

  • Matt 1:21 “He will save his people from his sins.”
  • “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there am I with them.”
  • Luke “Forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations in the name of Christ.”
  • John “To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
  • Jesus “I will do whatever you ask in my name.” (in the book of John 4 times)
  • “The Father will send the Counselor (Holy Spirit) in my name.”
  • John: The Bible is written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we may have life in his name.
  • Acts: “Repent and be baptized every one of you and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Peter “Repentance and forgiveness will be given to you in his name… There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
  • Joel, Acts, Romans: “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  • Phil 2:9-10 “Therefore, God super-exalted Jesus Christ and gave him the name that is above every name – that at his name every knee should bow, in / on / under the earth.”
  • Col 3:17 “Whatever you do, whether word or deed, eat or drink, do it all in the name of Christ – giving thanks to God through him.”
  • 1 John 3:15 “I write this book so that you may know that you have eternal life in the name of Christ.”

Last Sunday, I encouraged / challenged you: we cannot give what we do not have. We can give only what we have. If you have the name of Christ really in you, you can give to this world – healing to those who need it, salvation to those who need it, peace to those who need it, life solutions to those who need them. This is the power of the name of Christ.

God bless us so that we may believe and enjoy and use this name.

v. 17

“”Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

They crucified the Author of Life in ignorance (they didn’t realize what they were doing).

In the history of Israel, the Jews had NEVER expected a “suffering Messiah” – but had anticipated a “super hero Messiah” – politically, physically, etc strong. So, when Christ came as a carpenter and died on the cross, they missed it.

In the OT, there is a difference between deliberate and unintentional sins.

  • If someone sinned deliberately, he was cut off from the tribe / God, etc.
  • But if it was unintentional, he was given an opportunity to repent.

Intentionality does not mitigate guilt, but changes the circumstances.

In this case, the people committed sin unintentionally – so there was not immediate condemnation, but rather the Holy Spirit was sent to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, judgment, etc and call all men to repentance.

Remember, nowadays in our times, because the HS came and is convicting us of sin, we have no more opportunity to say, “I rejected Christ in ignorance.” – The HS is witnessing, convicting, testifying about Christ.

Romans 1:18-20 “We have no more excuse…”

Like Peter’s 1st sermon, this second one is full of the Word of God (OT).

Peter’s 1st sermon: quoted Joel and Psalms

v. 18-24

“18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ 24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.”

The point: even the OT is full of Jesus’ story. From Genesis to Malachi – 39 books – are full of Jesus’ story.

Ex: introduces Moses, Samuel, and all the prophets. Next verse we will read v. 25: Abraham as well

Moses

v. 22 ” ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'”

This is foreshadowing Christ and quoted from Deuteronomy 18:15, 18:18 (word-for-word quotations).

Moses prophesied the Messiah.

Jesus says in John, “If you believed in Moses, you would believe in me, because Moses wrote about me.”

Moses wrote the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible).

When Philip found Nathaniel he said, “We have found the one Moses wrote about.”

Also, Hebrews 11:26 (the faith chapter) – in the human calendar, Moses lived 1500 years before Christ. But in Hebrews it says, “Moses considered all this pain, suffering, etc for Christ more than all the treasures in Egypt.”

Samuel

v. 24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.”

Samuel was the first in the succession of the prophets – he anointed David as king and spoke clearly of the establishment of David’s kingdom. “God will establish the throne of David FOREVER.” (2 Samuel)

Is there actually the physical, human throne of David today? No. But the king is Christ. This was a prophecy of the Messiah to come. “All the prophets” testified about this. “That everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

v. 19 “Repent, then, and turn to God,”

Peter also mentioned repentance in his first sermon. This is a change of mind about sin and reorientation of the self toward God.

John the Baptist also prepared the way for Christ by preaching the message of repentance. This is acknowledging person sin and turning from it TO God.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

When we repent, God promises to wipe out our sins and also to bring spiritual refreshment.

Yes, at first, repentance seems painful – because it is hard to give up some sins – but God will give us a better way. Do you feel a need to be refreshed? Forgiveness is available for everybody today at the foot of the cross.

1 John 1:7 “The blood of Christ purifies us from all sin.”

v. 22

“‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; [we] must listen to everything he tells you.”

This is a very serious question. Are you listening to everything Jesus is telling you? Even at the Transfiguration (mountain), God pointed at Christ and said, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased, LISTEN to him.”

Question: What is your posture when the Word of God is preached?

  • Do you HEAR it only? Coming in one ear and out the other?
  • Or do you listen with INTENTION of being a DOER of the Word of God.

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” – and change the way you live.

Please listen (and obey) every word in the Word of God.

v. 25

“And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring [seed] all peoples on earth will be blessed.'”

“offspring” = “seed”

There is another amazing story:

Yes, Abraham lived 2,000 years before Christ – he lived FOR Christ and testified about Christ through his life and story.

  • One day (Genesis 12:2-3), God called Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation – and I will bless you. You will be a blessing, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you – and ALL peoples on earth will be blessed (saved) through you.”
  • Genesis 22:18, 26:4 “Through your seed, all nations on earth will be blessed.”

The point is: seed (singular – not plural). There is only ONE seed.

Gal 3:14-16 makes it clear: This seed is Jesus Christ.

This is very important.

Gal 3:14-16

“14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. … 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”

  • “Who is Christ!”
  • “The conclusion is Christ!”

v. 26

“When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.””

God sent Christ to bless us, not curse us. God is good all the time, but Satan tempts us all the time about God’s goodness and faithfulness. Please do not allow Satan to tempt us of this.

  • John 3:16.
  • John 3:17 “God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

God is the same yesterday, today, forever. He is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

Let’s pray.

  • May 27 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Power of the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Power of the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16)

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The power of the name of Jesus Christ

Acts 3:1-16 (Pastor Heo)

3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.


The Jews had 3 times to pray (set times).

Daniel prayed 3 times per day – even in Babylon, opening his windows toward Jerusalem.

Do you also have your own fixed time(s) to pray during the day?

Our lives should be one long and running conversation with Christ through prayer. Eph 6:8-10 “Pray in the HS in all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Be alert and pray for all the saints.”

1 Thess “Pray unceasingly.”

The secret to success for endless prayer = to set times during the day to practice it.

Today’s story is a miracle: the healing of a lame man (crippled man).

There was a crippled man lying down by the temple gate and he asked Peter and John for some money. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” He looked straight at him with John. Usually when we help a beggar, we just give a coin and he doesn’t look at us.

Peter said, “Look at us!” – so maybe he expected big money. But Peter said, “Sorry, no money.” He was probably disappointed / angry. “BUT what I have, I’ll give you.” Peter said, “Rise up and walk” and immediately, his feet and ankles became strong. He stood – walking, jumping, leaping, praising God and he entered the temple with Peter and John and worshiped God. He praised God.

What is important is that he didn’t praise Peter, but he praised God. He knew that the source of the healing power was from God. Even in this exciting and emotional moment, he praised God who’d given him a new lease on life.

Yes, we should also thank our neighbors. “Thank you very much.” But we must praise and worship only God – because he is behind every “good and perfect gift” (James 1:17).

Yes, this miracle is our story today as well. Don’t you know that we have already experienced such a miracle as this? Stand up please. Wow! You can stand! You can walk! You can jump!

Please know that if you can stand, walk, jump, then you have reason enough to praise God.

Yes, today, our standing, walking, jumping is a miracle. We should praise God MORE than this guy – because he began all these things at age 40. But we began all these things at the age of 1 or 2.

If I say, “Stand up please” and you are the only one who is able – you will feel this is a miracle – a special grace from God. But you don’t think this because all of us can do it.

Please remember, miracles are ABSOLUTE experiences, not RELATIVE experiences.

If my salvation is a miracle, it is a miracle regardless of other people’s salvation. If you can stand and walk and jump, it is a miracle regardless of other people’s ability to do so.

  • The wrong question: Why is this a miracle?
  • No, we must know what a miracle is.

Yes, a doctor or surgeon today can do the things that were understood as miracles long ago. It means that God has revealed new truths about medicine. One doctor has said, “I bandaged the wound, but God healed it.” Even today, miracles are available in the hands of many people – because God is alive and unchangeable in his power and attributes – and he is the one who performs miracles through our hands.

The question is “What can we give to this world?” We can give only what we have, not what we do not have. We cannot give what we pretend to have. We can only give what we HAVE.

This man’s crippled condition is a picture of the powerless, hopeless condition of the sinner. Romans “While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”

What God can do for this man is an illustration of what God can do in our lives today.

Are you saved?

Yes, salvation is very basic. The first step in the Christian life. So my first prayer request for all AICF members is that all members have Assurance of Salvation. This is the miracle of miracles. If we have this, we have all we need.

Let me share 8 points (similarities) between this man’s story of healing and our own salvation.

8 similarities between the Beggar and Ourselves

#1 Born Lame

  • This man was born like this.
  • We also were born unable – even unable to walk – but unable to please God.

Adam passed on his lameness (inability to please God) to all his descendants (including us).

#2 Beggar

  • This man was a beggar.
  • We also were beggars before God – unable to pay the tremendous debt we owed God.

#3 Separated from God

  • He was also outside the temple gate (he was put there every day).

At that time, there were 9 gates that led from the Court of Gentiles to the temple itself.

This gate, Gate Beautiful, was probably the western gate.

  • Like this, all sinners are separated (outside) from God – no matter how good they look, nor how near to the gate they may be.

#4 Wholly Healed by the Grace of God through the Power of the Name of Christ

Next time, we also will study MORE about how powerful the name of Christ is. Is this name in you? Are you using it practically in your daily lives?

He was saved by the grace of God through the name of Christ.

We also are saved like this.

Eph “You are saved by grace, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

#5 Instant Healing

v. 7

“Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

How long do YOU need to be saved? One month, year, day?

No, our salvation is also IMMEDIATE.

This is instant healing because HE did nothing to be healed. It is only by the grace of God that he was healed.

Also, we can do nothing to be saved. If we try, we need almost an infinite number of years to do so. But, our salvation happened immediately – because Christ did all things necessary for our salvation, justification, glorification. How amazing!

#6 Evidence

Are you saved? Let me see the evidence.

This man showed the evidence of what God had done for him – by standing, jumping, walking, praising God. He showed the evidence of what God had done in public, in the sight of many eyes.

If we are really saved, we can show the evidence of what Jesus has done by saying, “Jesus is my Lord” and witnessing before others in public. This is our witness (evidence) before others. Are you showing this evidence every day in public? That is why there is always persecution found in the Christian life – because our witness should be done in public.

In the book of Acts (Mission), all witnessing and preaching is done in public.

#7 People could see the change

The change in this man’s life was amazing and gave people wonder and amazement. Actually, it is natural that the Christian life is wonderful – full of wonder.

Even today, Jesus is the same – he has changed our lives totally. He can, has, is, changing us physically, mentally, relationally, spiritually. Remember – the internal changes are just as miraculous as external healings.

Important question: The people who knew you before you became Christian must be able to see amazing changes in your life. They must be able to recognize the difference between your “how I was” and “how I am.” They must also see that we are continually growing and changing.

Tim “Let the see / know your progress.”

In what ways has God changed your life? Can others see changes in your life? Can outsiders see changes in my life? “yes”

We can worship God, praise God for all he has done in our lives.

#8 He didn’t get what he asked for, but what he needed

  • He asked for money, but God gave him something MUCH better – the use of his legs.
  • In our own lives, we often ask God to solve our small problems – but God wants to give us a NEW life and help ALL the problems.

Yes, you may ask God for what you WANT.

But do not be surprised when God gives you what you really NEED.

We do not know what we really need – we do not know what to pray – we do not know what is best for our future. Our wisdom and knowledge is not perfect, but God’s is. That’s why the HS helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray – but the HS intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

  • Eph “Our God is able to do immeasurably more than we think or imagine.”
  • Romans 8:28 “In all these things, God works all things together for good, for those who love him.”

The outside world is looking and waiting earnestly for a solution to their problems. Our task is to give – only what you HAVE – not what you pretend to have.

Let’s pray.

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