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

Take Courage!

Download Notes in a .MD file

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

[Review last week]

The crowd was angry at Paul and mobbed him.

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

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

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

He commanded Paul be taken and flogged.

“Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen?”

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

Paul, “I was born one.”

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

[/Review]

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

Paul the Roman Citizen

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

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

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

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

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

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

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

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

Before the Sanhedrin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Now we see the picture:

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

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

v. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others, “He’s the High Priest.”

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

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


To the crowd, he shared with his personal experience.

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

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

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

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

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

v. 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of these are only said by Jesus.

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

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

We can hear his Word through the Bible.

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

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

HOW can we meditate on the Word of God?

We already know (in our hearts).

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE COURAGE!

There are three messages here:

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

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

“Take courage” has so many messages

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

Let’s pray.

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

Same and Different

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Acts 22:1-21 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

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

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

8 ” ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

1. Stresses his Identification

(and commonality with those he wishes to evangelize)

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

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

2. Emphasized the difference between himself and the crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Divine titles are given to Christ

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

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

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

2. Divine worship is ascribed to him

Who are you worshiping now?

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

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

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

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

3. He possesses qualities and properties of divinity

1. Pre-existence

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

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

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

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

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

3. He possesses immutability

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

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

The fullness of diety dwells in Christ

The very essence and nature of God are in Christ.

4. Divine jobs are ascribed to Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ powerful word causes all things to hold together.

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

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

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

“The blood of Christ purifies our sins.”

5. He raises the dead

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

6. He is the judge over all Creation

These are the jobs of God:

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

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

Divine Attributes

1. Omnipotent (All powerful)

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

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

2. Omniscience (all-knowing)

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

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

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

3. Omnipresence (everywhere at once)

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

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

Jesus is the same as us, but also different.

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

Also, we are the same as this.

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

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

What was her immediate concern? Water.

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

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

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

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

Question:

Is Jesus your Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

Then, when we ask this, we must LISTEN.

LISTEN….

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

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

Jesus spoke to Paul through Ananias.

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

Jesus spoke to Paul in several ways.

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

Bible, meditation, circumstances, friends, prayer,

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

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

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

Here there is a very strong commandment.

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

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

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

Get up! Get up! Quick! Go!

Let’s pray.

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

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

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On to Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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


[Explanation of Missionary Journey map]

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

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

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

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

v. 3-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 7-14

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

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

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

The Lord’s will be done. x3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please, do not persecute Jesus Christ.

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

Similarities: Paul & Jesus’ Journeys to Jerusalem

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

One more question:

What is your #1 priority in your life?

Among all your jobs.

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

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

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

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

3 Reasons WHY we should Know the Will of God

1. God alone holds the future – knows tomorrow.

Do you know? Only God knows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. God has a plan of blessing for us.

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

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

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

3 Ways HOW to know the will of God

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

Augustine advised:

“Love God and do whatever you want.”

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

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

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

“I must do it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your resolution? Your commitment?

Let’s pray.

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

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

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Acts 20:13-38 (Pastor Heo)

Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready?

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

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

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

Paul’s Goodbye Message (v. 18-35)

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

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

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

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

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

Past

v. 20-21

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

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

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

Great summary of the gospel message.

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

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

  1. Repent
  2. Turn
  3. Believe

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

Repent! Turn to God! Believe in Christ!

Confess with your mouth Christ is Lord and Savior.

Present

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

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

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

Runners

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

Witnesses

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

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

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

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

Paul’s mission is “Mission”.

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

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

Heralds

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

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

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

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

Paul’s Last Sentence

v. 35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farewell message finished.

How did they part?

v. 36-38

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 19:13-22

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

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

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

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

Acts 19:13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 4:12

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

Acts 19:15-16

These men were overpowered and received a beating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 19:17

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

Philippians 2:8-11

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

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

Acts 19:18-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 19:20

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

Paul’s final resolution

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

Acts 19:21-22

Paul’s resolution: to visit Rome

Do you have also New Year’s resolutions?

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

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

Jerusalem

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

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

Romans 15:25-26

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

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

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

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

Rome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 23 / 2018
  • Comments Off on What’s your reaction to Jesus’ Coming? (Matthew 2:1-11)
Christmas, Pastor Heo, Sermons

What’s your reaction to Jesus’ Coming? (Matthew 2:1-11)

Download Notes in a .MD file

What’s your reaction to Jesus’ Coming?

Matthew 2:1-11 (Pastor Heo)

The Visit of the Magi

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ “

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were **overjoyed**. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.


Merry Christmas!

I wish you a Merry Christmas, yes, but I also want to ask you a question: to whom can Christmas become really Christmas? Is Christmas really a merry Christmas to you?

We know the spelling of “Christmas” = “Christ” + “mass”

  1. “Christ” = Greek christos (The Anointed One, the Promised Messiah, the offices of King, Prophet, Priest)
  2. “Mass” = Latin? mas or mista? (this means “worship”)
  • So, “Christmas” = “worship Christ”
  • “Merry Christmas” = “worship Christ merrily”

So, when you greet others, please let them know the REAL meaning of Christmas. Please, bless your neighbor with “Merry Christmas” from your deep heart.

Based on this story, not only at THAT time, but even today, there are 3 reactions of man toward Jesus’ coming.

When hearing these, consider: which is mine?

# 3 Reactions to Jesus’ Coming

1. Reaction of Herod

Hatred / anger / fear

He was a temporary king, and was so afraid of a “real” king that he gave orders to kill ALL the baby boys in that area under 2 years old. He was afraid that this little baby would interfere with his power, position, influence, etc. So, he wanted to kill the baby Jesus.

Even today, there are those who want to (spiritually) kill Jesus – even in their attitudes – because they wish to do whatever they like / want to do. But Jesus will not allow them to.

The man who only wants to do whatever he wants has no use for Jesus Christ.

The coming of Christ is the greatest challenge in this world.

Imagine if I say: “Change your job / hobby / health / hairstyle / weight / etc” – this may be a big challenge and he will be angry at me.

But Jesus’ coming can be the GREATEST challenge and attack to his life. This means: “Change your Lord / Savior / Master / life purpose / priorities / etc”

Please remember, the Christian in the one who has STOPPED doing only what he likes and has committed himself to doing what CHRIST likes and wants.

This is the true identity of a Christian in front of Christ.

2. Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law

Indifference / apathy

At that time, they were so engrossed in their own temple actions and rituals that they completely disregarded Jesus Christ. Jesus meant NOTHING to them.

This is a strange story.

The chief priests were the MOST religious leaders, so their FIRST concern should be God. But when God became man, they missed it.

The teachers of the Law were doctors and masters and professors in the matter of Scripture. The theme of the Scriptures is the Messiah to come – but when the Messiah himself CAME, they did not recognize it. How sad!

Imagine:

  • they spend their WHOLE lives studying Scripture and
  • the WHOLE topic of Scripture is Jesus Christ,
  • but they MISSED Christ.

This is also possible today:

Someone spends his WHOLE life and activity attending church, but he missed Christ.

Thus, a Christian’s FIRST concern must be Christ. Please, do not forget: A Christian’s FIRST concern must be Christ.

A believer’s first purpose, first interest should be Jesus Christ.

3. Reaction of the Magi

(wise men from the East)

Adoring worship = the purpose of the journey of the Magi

God bless you to be wise men.

  • Say, “I’m wise…”
  • Tell your neighbor, “You look so wise!”

Jesus says in the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7) “Anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the rains come and the winds blow, the house remains standing because it is built on the rock – with a firm foundation…”

Adoring worship = the purpose of the journey of the Magi

Yes, our life in this world is a journey. On coming to the house (3 or more? because there are 3 kinds of gifts), they saw Mary and Jesus (maybe Joseph as well) – but they worshiped Jesus ONLY.

Joseph and Mary are NOT the objects of our worship. Worship belongs to God alone – this means that we recognize that Jesus is God – the very nature God.

When we recognize the love of God IN Jesus Christ, we also should be lost in wonder and praise.

  • They came to worship Christ as their best gifts.
  • We must know that for our worship to be true worship, we must give Jesus our best gifts as well.

Gifts of the Magi

They knelt down and worshiped him with their BEST gifts. These are very symbolic gifts: characteristic of his ministry and person:

1. Gold = for a KING

Jesus was born to be King of the world

Whether he or she knows it or not, EVERYONE has their own king.

Jesus is to rule over our whole hearts and lives – he is our personal king. Before we can be best friends with Jesus Christ, we must submit to him. When we say, “Jesus is my King” it means we are totally ready to give our complete submission to him and to kneel down before him.

What is the gold you will give Jesus today?

2. Incense (frankincense) = for PRIESTS

This perfume was used in the temple.

We know the main job of the priest was to open the way for God to man. “Pontifax” = bridge builder = between God and man.

Because of sin, there is a big gap between God and man. This is what Jesus did. Jesus opened the way to God for us. But he did not say, “I made the way to God for you.” But rather he said, “I AM the way.”

“No one comes to the Father except by me.” He is:

  • Wonderful Counselor,
  • Mighty God,
  • Everlasting Father,
  • Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

3. Myrrh = to embalm the one who was to die (PROPHECY)

Jesus came into the world to live for us and then to die for us. He came to give his best for us, and his death for us.

He gave us his BEST gift, so it is only natural (our privilege) to also give OUR best gift to him. Isn’t that just logical?

Jesus: “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for all people.”

Remember, since the creation of the heavens and earth, Jesus is the ONLY person whose ancestry, birth time, place, manner, reception, rejection, suffering, persecution, crucifixion, resurrection was ALL prophesied – even hundreds of years before he was born.

This means that Jesus is the CENTER of the world’s desire, the keystone, the foundation, the cornerstone of ALL prophecy from the creation of the world.

So, the WISEST man is the one who gives his BEST to Jesus.

There is hope.

The WISEST gives Jesus his BEST.

To give to Jesus is the BEST investment, the best insurance, the best savings, the best deposit in eternity and for eternity.

How and for what do you spend your

  • Time,
  • Treasures, and
  • Talents?

Merry Christmas! (Really?)

Yes, I wish a Merry Christmas to all of us until we stand before Christ as Lord and God.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 04 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here! (Acts 13:42-52)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

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

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Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 42-45

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

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

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

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

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

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light & Life

v. 46-48

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

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

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

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

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

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

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

This means:

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

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

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

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

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

Eternal life: The gift of God

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

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

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

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

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

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

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

Now and here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eternal life = knowledge

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

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

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

Another important point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is good news!

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

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

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

v. 47

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

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

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

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

v. 49-52

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

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

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

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

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

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

Which field is your heart?

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

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

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

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

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

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

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

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

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

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

But, at the same time:

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

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

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

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

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

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

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

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

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God is in Control of Everything

Acts 12:1-11 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

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

In this chapter, we can see 3 events:

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

v. 1-6

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, ALL Herods left behind an evil legacy.


Parents affect their Children

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

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

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

“More is caught than taught.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Peter’s 3rd arrest.

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

But this experience is totally different from other experiences.

In the other experiences,

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

But in this prison now,

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

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

Peter’s Peace

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

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

1. Many believers were praying for him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this situation, we might ask,

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

The only answer is:

The Sovereign Will of God

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

Heb 11 is the faith chapter.

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

Yes, these stories are very great.

But at the same time, the same chapter says,

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

Also these stories are great stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 7-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even in miracles, Jesus is always practical.

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

This is a practical principle of Christ.

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

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

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

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

Believe and expect something great from God.

God bless you.

Let us pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

We need the gospel every day

Acts 10:34-43 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

In this story, there are two main human characters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question:

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

This is a serious question today.

Peter was still trying to understand what this vision meant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 34-35

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

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

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

If you believe in Christ, you are saved.

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

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

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

v. 36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 37-42

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know show SOME of the verses for this.

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

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

Only in Christ can salvation be found.

v. 43 (Memorize)

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

Amazing! Wow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Dimensions of Sin

1. Behavioral sin

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

2. Attitudinal sin (invisible)

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

  1. actions and
  2. motivations / attitudes.

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

3. Relational sin

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

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

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

4. Ontological sin

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

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

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

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

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

All these sins:

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

Can ALL be forgiven through Christ.

If you believe, shall we proclaim together:

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

Let’s pray.

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

The Greatest Miracle (Acts 9:32-43)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Greatest Miracle~!

Acts 9:32-43 (Pastor Heo)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two stories:

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

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

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

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

So, how did the message come to them?

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

Peter came to visit them in Lydda.

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

#1 Miracle: Healing a paralytic

v. 33-34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Ministry Work

v. 35

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

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

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

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

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

#2 Miracle: Raising the Dead

v. 36-37

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

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


Jonah’s story

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


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

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

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

v. 38-41

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we know, the dead certainly cannot exercise faith.

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

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

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

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

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

The source of our life / faith is only Christ.

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

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

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

Are you believers? Saints?

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

Conclusion

v. 42-43

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

Remember the conclusion of the first miracle?

v. 35

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

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

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

v. 43

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

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

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

We can see “saints” two times here.

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

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

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

“I’m saved to serve others.”

“I’m saved for greater service.”

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

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

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What a Transformation! (2)

Acts 9:19-31

Galatians 1:15-21

Acts 9:19-31

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

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


Galatians 1:15-21

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


What a transformation!

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

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

v. 19-22

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

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

Galatians 1:15-21

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

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

We can see Paul began with 2 important things:

1. Immediately witnessed for Christ in Damascus.

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

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

“I’m a changed man!”

Those who know me / you best should know that.

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

2. Commune alone with God

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

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

  1. Guidance
  2. Strength

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

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

These are the very basic, fundamental questions.

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

#1: Who is Christ?

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

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

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

#2 Who Am I?

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

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

Are your lips clean?

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

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

Actually, Saul had two names from the beginning.

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

False.

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

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

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

He was now yoked to Christ for his service.

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

Are you holding Jesus’ yoke on your shoulders?

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

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

But Paul learned who he was in Christ.

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

#3 What shall I do?

What should you do?

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

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

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

Also, today is the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

v. 23-25

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

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

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

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

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

A wolf will never attack a painted sheep.

What idea can you get from this sentence?

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

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

v. 26-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which side are you?

Do you think the best / worst of others?

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

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

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

Are you Christian?

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

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

v. 31

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

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

Acts 1:8

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

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

God changes his workmen.

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 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.

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