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  • Jun 01 / 2019
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

In Malta (Acts 28:1-10)

https://soundcloud.com/antioch-church-325593234/in-malta

Download Notes in a .MD file

Acts 28:1-10 (Pastor Heo)

1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.


The distance from Fair Havens to Malta = 720 km.

Malta became a British colony in 1815 – played a very important role in WWII. Got independence in 1964, joined the European Union later as well.

I say this things to emphasize that the Bible is not just a story, but all facts. Today’s story is “what happened during their stay at Malta”. They stayed there for three months.


Can you picture this? They survived but became beggars, losing all their things. The people of Malta were very kind and generous, showing hospitality to the shipwrecked survivors. It was raining and cold, but they were already wet. They were probably trembling with cold, so they needed heat.

The islanders built a fire for heat. Paul gathered a bundle of wood. We know he was a very good man, he was like a savior or hero to the survivors – but no task is too small for the man of God. Paul was not ashamed to be useful in the smallest thing – like Jesus.

Phil 2 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. In humility… our attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ.”

Paul gathered the bundle of wood – a very practical action. As he put it on the fire, a viper jumped from the bundle and bit him on his hand. Maybe that snake was hibernating.

The islanders knew how dangerous a viper bite was, so they thought he must have been a murderer – believing “karma” would not let him live. They thought something bad must happen to him – but nothing bad happened to him. So they changed their minds and called him “god.”

We remember in Lystra in chp 14, a similar thing happened. Paul and Barnabas healed a crippled man and the people called them gods. Paul tore his clothes and stopped them saying, “We too are men like you.” Then he preached the gospel of salvation in Christ.

In this way Paul became outstanding among them. Publius, the leader welcomed Paul and his team and entertained them. But his father was sick with fever and dysentery. Paul prayed for him and healed him – and immediately the whole island came to him for healing.

We know that Luke is a medical doctor. In this situation, Luke could use his medical skill and expertise – so they could work together in this ministry. In church history, this job is the first Medical Mission (Paul + Luke).

So, what was the problem with these people of Malta? Humanly speaking, they were very kind, warm, generous. They had morality, they were nice, but didn’t know who God was. They didn’t know how to be saved.

  • They first called Paul “murderer.”
  • Then they called Paul “god.”

From murderer to god – both were wrong. So, today, we also must be careful to not only understand who people are from their outward appearance.

They were nice, but they didn’t know who God was. Many people in this world don’t know who God is, nor how to be saved, rescued.

So, let me make clear:

  1. Who God is
  2. What God is like
  3. How to be saved

Are you clear on these matters?

If so, our mission / ministry is to help / serve / tell others.

Not only that time, but since the creation of the world, there are SO many wrong beliefs and opinions about God. This is one of the biggest problems in human history. There are 8-9 beliefs about God and they are all wrong – except ONE.

We must know that in your study and theory, there may be many opinions, but the “right” one is only one. Also in this matter, there is only one “right” one.

Let us make it very clear in this limited time and then help and serve others with this information. God bless you.

Wrong beliefs about God

1. Atheism – denies the existence of God.

“There is no god.”

But they are cheating their own spiritual conscience. “A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.'”

Heb 3:4 “All buildings have a builder. Like this, all creation has a creator.” Imagine someone looking at a building and saying, “Look at this amazing building with no builder!” How foolish! How can what has been made have been made by chance? This is foolish.

2. Agnosticism – Does not deny God, but denies the possibility of the knowledge of God.

“There may be a god, but we cannot know him.”

“I don’t know. How can we know?”

This is a comfortable refuge for intellectuals – but it means they escape / hide from any responsibility about God. Sooner or later, a seeker will FIND God. “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities have been made known, so that no one is without excuse.” (Romans 1)

3. Materialism – denies the existence of the spirit – all reality is only physical matter

Practical question: Is money god? NO. But practically, money can be a small god.

“You cannot serve both God and money” (Jesus) – money cannot be served / worshiped. (The love of money) is a root of all kinds of evil.

Our spirit knows this visible world is only preparation for eternity.

“A man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.” We must remember this crucial word of God.

4. Pantheism – (many / all gods) – “pan” (all) “theism” (god) – all is god, god is all

This is Hinduism (among other beliefs). Its highest hope is Nirvana (to desire less). But this is impossible because we are created to seek something, to fill ourselves with something. So the Bible says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”

5. Polytheism – “poly” (many) “theism” (god)

Many gods. Kitchen god, rain god, computer god, passion god. In Japan there are 8 million gods.

The Bible condemns this paganism as idolatry. The FIRST commandment of the 10 commandments = “You shall have no other gods before me.”

6. Deism (“dios”) God – believes in a transcendent but absent God.

He created the universe and LEFT it to sustain it by itself according to the natural laws.

They say with their mouths, “There is god”, but they live like there is no god. So, practically, they are like atheists.

7. Dualism – belief of 2 opposite gods who are fighting each other.

One god is god of spirit and light and life. The other is god of matter and darkness and death.

Some people may think this is true.

Yes, God is God, and Satan is the opposite god of God. He is called “god of this Age.”

The problem? The two gods are EQUAL in power and authority – so the conflict is neverending. This is totally unbiblical. Satan is a CREATED being who is limited in his power. He will be cast out by God and punished in hell. Satan has ZERO authority because Jesus proclaimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.”

He has temporary, limited power.

8. Monotheism – ONE God

One and only one God. We believe in God only – only one God who created the universe and is sustaining all things with his power and word. He is a person, with a personality, so it is possible to have a relationship with him. He is compassionate, but righteous and just.

“I’m a monotheist. I believe in monotheism.”

This is good. Up to now, no problem. But there is a practical problem. We must be very careful from this point in helping others.

Even Judaism believes in only one God. In a sense they are stronger than us in believing in only God.

Muslims also say they are monotheists – there is only one God.

Christians, Muslims, Jews, believe in only one God. The problem? The difference? Jesus.

What is the biblical belief about God.

Biblical monotheism = Triune monotheism (Trinity Monotheism)

Yes, there is only ONE God (in three persons):

  1. Father God
  2. Son Jesus Christ
  3. Holy Spirit

There is ONE God – one essence – one purpose – in three persons.

This is a big mystery, so here is a small illustration to help understand this.

I (pastor) am one person in three elements:

  1. Body,
  2. mind,
  3. soul (body, soul, spirit)

I am one intelligence in three areas:

  1. intelligence,
  2. willpower,
  3. knowledge

But this is NOT ENOUGH to explain the mystery of mysteries of the Trinity God, but it helps to shed SOME light on this complex problem.

God’s thought is higher than our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways. He is infinite / limitless in his power, wisdom, authority. But we are very limited in our understanding and wisdom.

So, if EVERYTHING is understandable to us, he is not God. If we understand ALL things about God, then he is not higher than us, and he is not God.

How can we apply these mysteries of God?

The second person God became man: John 1:14 “God became man; the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Nobody has ever seen God.

Jesus is full God and became full man. 1 Tim 2:5 “There is only one God and one mediator between God and man.”

“Jesus is full God and full man.”

Jesus is full God and full man = left hand (God), right hand (man) – as full God Jesus is the representation of the Trinity God facing man – so how we treat Jesus is exactly the same way we treat the Father God.

“To accept me is the accept the one who sent me. To hate me is to hate the one who sent me.”

  • Jesus (as God) is the representation of the Trinity God facing man.
  • Jesus (as man) is the representative of all human beings in approaching God.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no one comes to the father except through me.”

The Bible encourages us, “Fix your eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith.”

  • “Fix my eyes on Jesus Christ;
  • Focus my thought on Jesus Christ.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 06 / 2019
  • Comments Off on In 2019, let’s go to our Athens! (Acts 17:16-34)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

In 2019, let’s go to our Athens! (Acts 17:16-34)

https://soundcloud.com/antioch-church-325593234/in-2019-lets-go-to-our-athens

Download Notes in a .MD file

In 2019, Let’s go to our Athens!

Acts 17:16-34 (Pastor Heo)

In Athens

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 **’For in him we live and move and have our being.’** As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.


  • Hedonism : The chief end of man is pleasure.
  • Stoicism : Strong self-discipline, avoiding all kinds of self-indulgence and pleasure.

Athens was very proud of their philosophies and philosophers.

  • “Philea” = Love (agape, philia, …, eros) –
  • “Sophia” = Wisdom

So “philosophy” = “love of wisdom”

In the study of philosophy:

  • Who Am I?
  • Where am I from?
  • Where am I going?
  • How did this universe come to exist?

Yes, these questions are very important questions – if we are not clear about them, our lives will be frustrated without action – events without reason.

Only IN God and BY God can we get correct answers to these questions. Outside of God, human philosophy makes us more meaningless and frustrated. (It’s true, I studied it in college…)

The Athenians lived Romans 1:25:

“25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

  • The Jews want miraculous signs;
  • Greeks seek philosophy and wisdom;
  • we preach Jesus Christ resurrected –
  • a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks.

Based on this background, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom; the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

v. 16

“16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”

At that time there were more gods than men in Athens. So, Paul was greatly distressed.

Like Paul, we must feel anger and hatred against Satan who is holding him/her, and at the same time compassion for their soul. We must also have open (spiritual) eyes like Paul.

v. 17

“17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”

The Areopagus Sermon of Paul

  1. Opening: Jesus’ resurrection
  2. Closing: Jesus’ resurrection
  • Epicurean = believed everything happened by chance and death is the end, and God is far from the world – practically, they were materialists like today’s.
  • Stoics = everything that happened by the will of A god (pantheists = everything is god, god is everything) and must be accepted.

What is a babbler? Someone picking up trash – it’s a criticism about Paul – someone speaking something very strange and with unknown sounds. (because Paul was speaking of the resurrection).

To the Greeks, this was a fable; a myth; some silly story to give a moral lesson (like Aesop). So, they called Paul a babbler.

v. 19-23

“19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) [gossip] 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. *Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.* [wow]”

The Areopagus was just a hill – an open area, called “Mars Hill.”

These men sneered at Paul, but he was very wise and kind to them. We must learn from him about his outreach.

  • He didn’t say, “You SINNERS! You IDOLATERS!”
  • No, he said, “Wow, I see you are so religious!” (He gave them compliments and praise first)
  • He also saw the “Unknown God” and said, “You CAN know him!”
  • How? Because he is revealing himself through his Creation (also Romans 1).

Through this story (2,000 years ago), we can see that our world is another Athens.

“Our world is an(other) Athens.”

“In 2019, let’s go to our Athens!”

3 points about “our Athens”

#1 Athens is FULL of idols

Our world today is so full of idols (physical, spiritual) (idols “of the heart” Ezekiel)

Everybody has his/her own personal god. They think “this is my God” but really they often have another god.

Why? Man is not Creator, but created TO WORSHIP – so if you don’t have one, you will find one. Everybody has his own God:

  • Material
  • Money “You cannot serve both God and Money”
  • Family
  • Children
  • Popularity / reputation / YouTube fame
  • Health

Our world is FULL of idols. BE CLEAR about Who is your God in 2019. Who/what is the Driving Force in your life?

#2 They ALWAYS looked for “something new”

[Novelty seekers]

v. 19, 21

“19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “*May we know what this new teaching* is that you are presenting? … 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but *talking about and listening to the latest ideas*.) “

Are you addicted to your phone?

Facebook pull-down-to-refresh = always looking for something new – like a slot machine in a casino (it’s designed that way).

Everybody wants something new. But the Bible reminds us : “There is NOTHING NEW under the sun.” ONLY “in Christ there is a new Creation; the old is gone, the new has come.”

  • What is OLD in your life?
  • What is NEW in your life?

Remember, NEW is only possible IN CHRIST. Old is gone; New has come.

  • Old: Penalty, punishment, fear, worry, anxiety, has gone. Only in Christ – hatred, bitterness, all these evil things are gone.
  • New: Only in Christ – NEW has come: new hope, new vision, new mind, new start, new day. ONLY in Christ.

1 Cor 5:17? “If anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation. The old has gone; the new has come.”

#3 All citizens spent all their time sitting and talking (gossiping) with each other

Sounds like social media…

Our world likes an EASY life, a comfortable, convenient life. Our world does not like a dangerous, difficult, dirty, sacrificial job.

Remember, we are saved by faith in Christ PLUS nothing. Because Christ has done ALL things for our salvation.

We are SAVED TO SERVE others

The church is the body of Christ; it needs DOERS not talkers, it needs WORKERS not sitters, it needs HELPERS not on-lookers.

Christ shed his _blood_ to save us.

If this is true, we must shed our _sweat_ to serve others.

SHOW the evidence of your salvation with your hands, your feet, your sweat, your blood. If Christ has shed his blood for me, I should be READY to shed my blood for him.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are FEW.”

v. 24-31

“24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. **28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’** As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” “

How wonderful [how powerful] a sermon.

  • v. 18 = Jesus’ resurrection (opening)
  • v. 31 = Jesus’ resurrection (closing)

“God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice…” (The Areopagus was a court of justice, so they were very familiar with this concept) “…by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

By Paul’s sermon, God is:

  • Creator
  • Sustainer
  • Provider
  • Savior
  • Judge

We must be clear on WHO God is:

We do not believe atheism (no gods), nor pantheism (many gods), we believe monotheism (ONE God). We believe in ONE and only God – but remember, it is not enough to say “I am a monotheist. That God is my God.” This is not enough to reach salvation.

Even today,

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses also say this.
  • Mormons also say this.
  • Muslims say it;
  • Jews say it.

So, what is the BIGGEST difference between them and us?

The FUNDAMENTAL difference: We are the ones who say “JESUS is my God.”

Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ, but when he saw the resurrected Christ, he knelt immediately and confessed, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said, “You believe because you see; but more blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.”

One day we will stand before Christ to be judged and he will ask to each of us only TWO questions (remember them):

  1. What did you do with me on earth?
  2. What did you do with what I gave you on earth?

Your Time, Treasure, Talents: what did you do with it?

  1. answer = WHERE we will spend eternity
  2. answer = HOW we will spend eternity

May God bless all of us with his final reward and praise: “Well done, my good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things in this world, now I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness.”

v. 32-34

“32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council [Areopagus]. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. “

At this sermon of Paul, there were THREE reactions:

  1. Sneering
  2. Delay
  3. Accepting

Today, these same three reactions are possible to our own witness about the resurrection of Christ. Do not be surprised.

At our witness of Christ, some may sneer; others will say, “later”; others will accept and believe and kneel down and confess Christ as Savior and Lord.

Please remember, even today, God is happy to save those who believe in Christ through our witness: the story of the death and resurrection of Christ; which sounds FOOLISH to those who are perishing.

God gave us a NEW opportunity in 2019.

“Let’s go to our Athens!” (x5)

God bless you; your shouting; your mouth; your feet; your hands; your life.

Let’s pray.

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