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  • Dec 16 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be Saved (Acts 16:16-31)

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Believe in Jesus, and be Saved

Acts 16:16-31 (Pastor Heo)

“Accept Jesus, and everything will be fine.”

  • Not true: in that even though we accept Jesus, some things will be NOT fine.
  • But TRUE: in that we know that “God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans)

Paul and Silas in Prison

16:16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”


Still, this last sentence is available to everybody at anytime “Believe and you will be saved – you and your household.”

  1. After Macedonia, Paul and his team set sail on the Aegean Sea and traveled to Philippi – a Roman colony (and Paul’s first mission field in Europe).
  2. After arriving on the Sabbath Day, they went outside to a place of prayer – where they met a small group of women.
  3. Paul shared the gospel with them, and one woman believed (Lydia) – and her whole household also believed and were all baptized immediately.
  4. She then opened her house to these apostles as their mission base in Europe. This is the story of the first Christians in Europe.

v. 16

“16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer,…

we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”

18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”

Why did this annoy Paul?

We should know that evil spirits can speak the truth partially, temporarily, but the end goal is destruction.

Imagine, if Paul accepted the witness of the evil spirit, he would be thought to be linking the gospel of Christ with the evil spirits – and also the slave girls’ owners were doing “prophecy for profit” which Paul would be accused of if he didn’t end it. Thus, he was upset and troubled.

Remember, Paul did not say this to the girl, he spoke to the evil spirit directly, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” (He did not cast the demon out by his own power, but by the power of Christ).

Yes, the Christian life is engaged in spiritual warfare. Eph 6 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Our struggle is against… spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.” Our fighting is not against other human beings, not against our spouses, nor children, nor our neighbors, nor other people. Rather, it is against Satan, against the sinful nature, against demons, against our old selves.

Immediately, the demon left her.

Good news or bad? GOOD!

She became free from the control of Satan’s evil spirit, but her owners were not happy and became very angry. They didn’t concern themselves with this poor girl, but only cared about $$$.

Paul was preaching eternal truth, but they had no care that this girl was healed. They exploited her misfortune for their fortune…

Even today, there are people around us whose only, first concern, is money. This is a clear sign of idolatry.

The men seized Paul and dragged him into the marketplace.

v. 19-21

“19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” “

By calling them “Jews” (accurate though it was), they were playing off natural “anti-Semitism” present in the area.

v. 22

“22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. “

Can you imagine this situation?

Paul and Silas stripped half-naked and beaten within an inch of their lives, so painful, put in prison, two feet fasten with chains, all doors shut up tight, a jailor watching over them day and night.

Actually, they’d committed no crime, but they were treated as one of the most dangerous criminals (maximum security prison) for doing good.

Consider this:

Yes, Paul and Silas are Christians, brothers in Christ with us.

IF you were Paul and Silas in this TERRIBLE situation, what should you do? How would you respond?

What did they do?

They did not complain; nor blame; nor cry out; call out for revenge; they did not curse anyone nor anything nor themselves.

They worshiped God in this dark place.

Let us give a big hand to them in heaven now.

Imagine in THIS situation, they worshiped God with prayer and songs (“It is well” perhaps? something similar). HOW is this possible?

They responded to their terrible circumstances so unnaturally, so supernaturally. They DECIDED to worship God in this situation (and yes, it was a DECISION). How is this possible?

Here are 4 grounds for WHY they had to worship God in this terrible situation:

WHY Paul & Silas worshiped God in their darkness

1. They knew they believed God WAS THERE

Yes, in body, they were in prison, but they KNEW God was there with them in spirit. Wherever we may be, God is there.

Wherever you may go, God is there with you. The presence of Christ is present wherever you may be.

“God is there; God is here.”

Even when you are fighting; you are in a bad, sad, or terrible situation. This is always true, whether you remember or not: God is THERE.

Psalm “If I go to the heavens, God is there; if I go to the depths of the sea, God is there.”

With God, there is FREEDOM even in prison, there is LIGHT even in darkness.

Tortulion? said, “If your heart is in heaven, your legs will feel nothing even in stocks.”

They chose to worship God because the knew he was THERE with them.

2. They believed GOD IS IN CONTROL

Yes, even today, God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, sovereign, and in control of all things.

Yes, Paul and Silas had no reason to expect a miracle. Yes, they knew that God had previously delivered Paul from prison, but they also remembered that Stephen and James had been martyred. So, they didn’t know what would happen to them.

Yet, they still sang praises to God because they believed that he COULD deliver them if he chose. This is reminiscent of the three friends in Daniel (Sadrach, Mishach, and Abednego), “Oh, king, we do not need to defend ourselves in this manner. If you throw us into the fire, our God is able to save us from the fire. But even if he does not, we shall never worship your gods nor the image of gold you have set up for yourself.”

Remember: God is in control of everything.

3. They believed Jesus (their Lord) would REWARD them

They were being persecuted for the sake of their Lord. So they knew without doubt that Jesus would reward them abundantly.

“Blessed are you when you are persecuted for me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. In this way, the people persecuted the prophets in the OT.” (Matthew)

Paul “I do not consider our present sufferings to be anything compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in heaven.”

Jesus “Behold, I am coming soon, and I will give to everyone as he has merit.”

4. They knew / believed without doubt that in the END (the very end), everything would be fine

This is strong faith.

Yes, we don’t know what will happen today, tomorrow, 10 years later, 100 years later, but we DO KNOW what will happen in the VERY END – and it’s gonna be fine.

Paul “We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans)

Paul “If I live, I belong to Christ; if I die, I belong to Christ. So whether I live or die, I belong to Christ.”

Paul’s attitude:

  • If I die, I get to be with Christ – WIN!
  • If I live, I get to preach about Christ – WIN!

How will we respond to sufferings and trials in our lives? And how will people react to our responses?

Remember: Prayer and praise are POWERFUL weapons in spiritual warfare.

v. 25

“25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” “

Please remember, prayer and praise are powerful weapons in spiritual warfare.

All of a sudden, God responded to their faithful attitude. He shook the foundations of the prison and opened all the doors widely and loosed all the chains.

All the prisoners could have fled if they had wanted, but they all stayed right there. The fear of God was upon them all, and God himself kept them there. The prisoners knew that the praying and singing of these two prisoners had caused this, and there must be something very special about them.

But the jailor thought they had run, so he almost committed suicide.

At that time, according to Roman law, if a prisoner escaped, the jailors should receive the penalty of the prisoners.

But at that time, Paul said to the jailor, “Don’t harm yourself; we are all here.” He ran out and knelt down before the prisoners. “What must I do to be saved?”

In this situation, suddenly the tables were turned:

  • the jailor became the prisoner (spiritually);
  • and the prisoners became the jailor. “What must I do to be free?” (This is the cry of the lost worldwide.)

This is the most relevant question in our lives. His question means he KNEW he was lost, a sinner, a prisoner, a captive. He knew he needed freedom and he asked, “What must I DO to be saved?”

Do you have a clear answer to this question? All the lost have this question in their hearts, in their spirits. Do you have a clear answer to this question?

  • Paul did not answer: “DO something…”
  • He answered: “BELIEVE in Christ.”

If we receive (or spread) the message that “you must DO something” to be saved, then this is NOT the gospel message. Just BELIEVE in Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will be saved, “for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 3?).

Jesus said, “It is FINISHED!”

He has DONE all things necessary for our salvation.

Romans 10:9-10 “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. For it is with your mouth you confess and with your heart you are justified…?”

Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace, through faith you have been saved. It is the gift of God so that no one can boast.”

Acts 3 “There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

What a powerful name.

John 3:16-17 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save the world… Whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed.”

What is the meaning of ‘believe’?

Believe = Be – Live

  • BE in Jesus
  • LIVE in Jesus

Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”

This does NOT mean that the jailor’s faith will automatically bring faith to his family – but rather, “they will be saved IF they also believe.”

We cannot be saved by proxy nor in a group – we are only saved individually, with a personal relationship with Christ.

Still today, all lost souls cry out from their spirits: “What must I DO to be saved?”

“Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved.”

Around us today, who knows if the one we share the gospel message with was not one who wanted to kill themselves just one minute ago. “Don’t kill yourself!”

Even around us today, there are so many people who are harming themselves on purpose or in spite of themselves.

What a glorious thing to offer salvation to those who are harming themselves simply by believing in Christ (plus nothing).

We must give this message to the lost:

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”

Let’s pray.

 

  • Dec 09 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Story of the First Christian in Europe (Acts 16:11-15)

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The story of the first Christian in Europe

Acts 16:11-15 (Pastor Heo)

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi

16:11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.


15:36-18:32 = Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

The original plan was to revisit the churches he’d previously established already in Asian Minor. But the area of his journey was unexpectedly widened.

First part: revisited Derbe, Lystra, Iconium – and tried to preach in neighboring areas. But he was prevented from preaching the gospel by the HS. So, he tried to go near the Black Sea, but he wasn’t allowed. God closed the door twice. So, he went to Troas – the west end of Asia Minor. Here, God opened the door through a vision.

Yes, God closes some doors and opens others. Even today, all our steps and all our stops should be led and guided by God.

In this story, God closed the familiar, easy, known doors, but opened the difficult, impossible, farther doors. We can see 4 wonderful openings in this chapter.

  1. Opened the doors for Europe mission
  2. Opened the heart of Lydia
  3. Opened the doors of the prison (earthquake) – next Sunday
  4. Opened the doors of the Philippian jailors – next Sunday

Practical lesson:

  • Some doors we want to be opened may be closed (job seeking, children’s education, dreams, ambitions, family, etc).
  • But what is important is that though some doors are closed DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED – because God can open unexpected doors.
  • Never give up expecting the unexpected guidance of God.

Chp 16 highlights 3 individuals who became believers by Paul’s ministry in Macedonia:

  1. Lydia – business woman
  2. Demon-possessed girl
  3. Philippian jailor

Even today, the gospel reaches old and young, rich and poor, male and female, because it is unchangeable and immutable. “The gospel is the POWER of God for everyone who believes.”

v. 11-12

“11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. “

We know Troas was the place where Paul saw the vision of the man of Macedonia. In response to this, Paul and his team immediately boarded the ship and sailed across the Aegean Sea. They traveled 10 miles inland to Philippi from there. This is a significant location for European mission.

The city name = named after Philip II of Macedon – the father of Alexander the Great. This city became a Roman colony in 42 BC. This place is the FIRST place the gospel was preached in Europe. It was Paul’s first mission in Europe as well. He wrote a letter called: “Philippians” to this church – it is very tender, showing his relationship with this first church he planted.

Remember: Philippi is the FIRST place the gospel was preached in Europe and the first mission of Paul in Europe.

v. 13

“13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. “

Are you also looking for a “place of prayer” in your life?

Remember, Paul always went to the synagogue first in a new city. This is where the truth-seekers went – the Jews and the Gentiles who liked the Jewish traditions.

Actually, there was no synagogue in Philippi – there were very few Jews. In Jewish traditions, at least 10 Jewish men needed to be present for their to be a synagogue. In this situation, the Jewish people would often go outside the city near the riverbank or seaside for prayer. That’s why Paul went out there – also to pray for guidance in his ministry and to find the people who were praying.

Paul knew personally that God had called him there – but he still needed to pray.

  • Yes, when we do NOT know God’s will, we must pray. We know this.
  • But, when we DO know God’s will, we ALSO must pray.

Someone said, “We don’t need to pray because ‘God knows your needs before you ask.'” But actually the OPPOSITE is true. If we believe this, then we absolutely MUST pray! Because God will meet our need through our prayer. It is not enough to know WHAT and WHERE God wants us to work, but we must also learn WHEN and HOW he wants us to work.

In this place, Paul’s first contact was with a group of women (even though he’d seen a man in his vision). He presented the gospel to these women.

God led Paul to a Roman colony and a Christian flag was “unfurled” in Rome that day. This area became the beginning of the mission.

v. 14

“14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”

One woman responded to his message – a woman from Thyatira (referenced in Revelation later) named Lydia.

This woman Lydia, like Cornelius, was very religious and sincere – a worshiper of God – a woman of high character, but not yet saved (so she needed salvation). She needed Christ. “Salvation is found in no one else.” (this is a basic pillar of Christianity).

We need to notice that God opened her heart to respond to the message of the gospel. God opened her heart. This woman listened earnestly, positively, attentively, to the Word of God. It is the Word of God that brings the hearer to Christ (Rom 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing”)

  • Phil 2:12 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith.”
  • Jesus: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and obeys them … has crossed over from death to life.”

Paul’s witness of Christ and Lydia’s attentive listening was opened and orchestrated by God. God is opening and closing the doors.

  • Proverbs 13:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his footsteps.”
  • “Trust in God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength; in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

v. 15

“15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. “

As Lydia placed her trust in Christ, she experienced the joy of all her sins being forgiven, and her joy overflowed into her whole household – and they were all saved and baptized together. This is “household salvation”. In Acts, there are at least 4 instances of this occurring.

  1. Chp 10: Cornelius and family
  2. Chp 16: Lydia and family
  3. Chp 16: Jailor and family (next week)
  4. Chp 18: Crispus and family

They were all converted together and baptized together (not necessary for salvation). Baptism is an OUTWARD sign of an INWARD reality – that you now belong to Christ.

She then invited the missionaries to use her house as their home base while in Philippi.

The fruit of her conversion: hospitality

Actually, this is so important: the ministry of hospitality.

  • Romans 12:13 “Share with those who are in need, practice hospitality.”
  • 1 Peter 4:9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Hospitality is related to “hospital” and “hospice.” We practice this when we generously and cordially throw open the doors of our house to care for, strengthen, edify, build up others.

The result? Others find emotional, mental, physical help – they leave us as healthier, happier, more whole people than when they came to us.

Is this your hospitality? Is this your practice?

Our house should be a hospital and hospice.

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone (plus nothing). But remember, salvation has POWER and generates FRUIT.

  • “Salvation has POWER”
  • “Salvation is new Life”
  • “Salvation is new Creation”

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation. Behold! The Old has gone, the New has come!”

So, if we are TRULY saved, then we will be changed, and there will be transformation in our lives as evidence of this change.

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 02 / 2018
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Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Are you hearing the cry of the Lost? (Acts 15:36-16:10)

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Are you hearing the cry of the Lost?

Acts 15:36-16:10 (Pastor Heo)

Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas

15:36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16:1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.


Antioch was not a parking lot for Paul, but a Launching Point. In Jerusalem, after his first missionary journey, there was a council that discussed whether a Gentile believer should be circumcised or not to be “saved.” Paul and Barnabas were there. After the conference, they returned to their home church at Antioch with wonderful news:

  • Gentiles are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing.
  • Gentiles do not need circumcision nor any other Jewish traditions to be saved.

But they were asked to restrain themselves from 4 things:

  1. sexual immorality
  2. food sacrificed to idols
  3. meat of strangled animals
  4. blood

This was for the purpose of unity in diversity and diversity in unity.

They were joyous about this and Paul suggested they revisit the same churches they had previously visited to deliver this wonderful news.

v. 36

“36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.””

Yes, Paul and Barnabas agreed on the importance of the next trip, but disagreed upon the selection of their team.

v. 37-41

“37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. “

Barnabas wanted to take John Mark (cousin or nephew) but Paul disagreed because he had left them in the middle of their first missionary journey (at Perga, Pamphylia).

They were both good, devoted Christians, but they were unable to solve their disagreement.

  • Paul focused on: God’s work – what can a man do for God’s work?
  • Barnabas focused on: God’s man – what can God’s work do for a man?

Yes, both of these are very important, but sometimes it is difficult to keep these things balanced.

[parak susmos] – parachism? (violent attack, conversion, eruption, explosion) 발작 (지랄)

Who was right? Who was wrong? BOTH were right in some things, BOTH were wrong in other things.

At this moment, they agreed to disagree.

We know their long-term personal relationship and story.

Long ago, when Paul first believed, the other Christians didn’t trust him, but Barnabas did and brought him with him to Tarsus to work together. They shared all things, victories, joys, abundant fruit, hardship, suffering.

They were soul brothers.

They may never have dreamed of being separated except by physical death, but now, they separated and each formed his own missionary team.

  • Barnabas + John Mark -> to Cyrus
  • Paul + Silas -> another place

The positive thing:

  1. Through man’s disagreement and failure, God made DOUBLE the missionary work.
  2. The purposes of God cannot be delayed or failed through man’s disagreements.
  3. If one man fails, another is put there in his place.

Even today, the BEST Christians do not always agreed. Even sometimes intensely disagree.

But what is important, is finally, our disagreements and differences should be forgiven, forgotten, reconciled someday.

These three, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark, sometime later, forgave each other. This is the nature of a true Christian.

But from now, in the book of Acts, it focuses on Paul and his companions and their missionary journey.

v. 1-3

“16:1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

Paul went through Syria and Silicia, then Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium – the reverse of his first journey. These last three are where he was persecuted at the second half of his journey. In Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead, and now, this is the third time he journeys here – and risks his life – to encourage the believers there. He found Timothy there – possibly an eye-witness to Paul’s stoning, deeply affected by it.

  • Timothy’s mother (Eunice) was a good Christian, as he was. And his grandmother (Lois) was also a good Christian.
  • Timothy is the FIRST third-generation Christian mentioned in the NT. The faithfulness of his mother and grandmother prevailed, so we can see a beautiful lesson here: we need to treat our children – in our homes, in our care, as a “future Timothy.” So that’s why in some churches, Sunday school is called “Timothy school.”

Paul wanted him to join this ministry, but there was a problem: Timothy’s mother was a Jew, and his father was a Greek. At that time, if this kind of international marriage occurred, the family considered the two of them “as good as dead.” This kind of marriage was not accepted. So, Timothy was “technically” an illegitimate child. So, Paul circumcised him – NOT as a matter of salvation – but as a matter of effectiveness in ministry. This would remove the biggest barrier in his ministry.

Also, we must go beyond minimum requirements in order to help our audience receive our testimony. What personal sacrifices would you be willing to make for the sake of the gospel?

So, now Timothy is added to the group with Paul and Silas.

v. 4-5

“4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. “

Remember, one of the new items on this missionary journey agenda was to share the message of the Jerusalem council: “You don’t need to adapt the Jewish lifestyle to be saved. You are saved by grace alone, through faith alone.” But a problem happened.

v. 6

“6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. “

There was a problem. For a time, all doors seemed closed to Paul. He wanted to preach the gospel, but God closed all the doors. Why? This seems very strange that Paul is prevented from preaching the gospel in Asia – by the Holy Spirit. WHY?

Phrygia and Galatia were part of much of Turkey. This “Asia” was what is now called “Asia Minor” (also Turkey).

Because he was blocked by the HS here, next he tried to go to another place: Mysia.

v. 7

“7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

Bithynia is very near the Black Sea today.

Because he was hindered in this area, he moved to another place, and another place. But the Holy Spirit again did not allow them to go there. The HS had shut the door now multiple times. Paul must have wondered: “Which geographic direction should I take?”

We don’t know how he was instructed to go to Asia, but God called them to Macedonia. Even today, it is very difficult to know the will of God for you. To know the will of God is the BEST knowledge we can get in this world. HOW can we know the will of God? This doesn’t mean we must hear an audible voice because God leads in various ways. We must be sure of these things:

  1. Your plan is in harmony with the Word of God
  2. Get help from mature Christians
  3. Check your motivation, hidden motives (“Am I seeking what Iwant or what God wants)
  4. Pray that God will open and close the doors as he desires
  5. The BASIC direction = the Bible

Basically, fundamentally, the Bible, the Word of God shows the will of God to us. It is very important for us to learn what God wants us to do and not do; where God wants us to go and not go. So, we need to pray to God in all our steps and all our stops.

“All your steps; all your stops.”

In this moment, Paul was not just sitting around waiting for a light or a voice. Before he began this work, he was plowing until God told him to stop – he was hindered here, and hindered there. Then he tried to go to another place (Troas) – and there God opened the door.

The next few verses are a very important turning point in Christian history.

v. 8-10

“8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. “

This passage is called “Paul’s Macedonian Vision at Troas.” This means: “go as far as Europe.”

Where is Macedonia today? Greece (the northern part).

Paul planned to go east in Asia, but God led him west to Europe. This means that Europe was crying for help – the people needed the gospel of Christ.

In church history, through Paul’s second missionary journey, the churches were planted and cultivated in Europe:

Phillip, Thesalonica, etc

Alexander had moved from west to east to conquer the world with everything Greek. Now, Paul is moving from east to west to conquer the world for Christ.

This is the first step of Christian missionaries into Europe.

Now, see here that the Trinity God is at work:

  1. The HS prevented them
  2. The Spirit of Jesus didn’t allow them
  3. God called them

The three-in-One called them.

This is a great turning point in church history.

v. 10 shows the first appearance of “we” in the book of Acts – this is a major turning point.

v. 10

“10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. “

This is the FIRST appearance of “us” here – this means the author (Luke) joined the missionary team here.

The team consisted now of 4 men:

  1. Paul
  2. Silas
  3. Timothy
  4. Luke

And they set out for Europe. They got ready “at once” – as soon as Paul saw the vision.

Paul saw a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and calling:

“Come over to us! Help us!”

The four men prepared immediately to head out.

How about you? Are you ready NOW, immediately, to do the vision God has for you?

All members of this missionary team agreed that God was calling them to Europe. Usually, nothing makes a person so strong as hearing a voice crying out, “Help me! Help us!”

Perhaps you’re walking along the road, so exhausted, ready for bed, but you hear a voice: “Help me! Someone is dying!” If you hear this voice, you will forget your tiredness in order to become strong to help others (actually, people have been able to lift CARS off of people in this kind of situation).

If you hear this miserable, desperate cry of the lost, you will go immediately as well. In this world, so many souls are crying out, “Help me!” If your spiritual ears are open, you will hear. God bless us all to hear this desperate cry.

If you can hear this cry, you are blessed in God’s plan of world evangelization.

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 11 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Be a Christian of Courage (Acts 14:1-20)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

Be a Christian of Courage

Acts 14:1-20 (Pastor Heo)

In Iconium

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

In Lystra and Derbe

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

v 1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, there are 10s of thousands:

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

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

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

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

v 6-7

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

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

Are you a realist? Optimist? Pessimist?

Some preachers say like this:

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

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

Four reactions to the gospel

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

1. A crippled man’s response

v 8-10

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

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

He reacted with faith

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

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

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

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

2. Crowd’s reaction

v 11-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many in Hindu? ALL

This is “pantheism” = ALL gods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHOM am I worshiping?

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

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

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

3. Apostles’ response to the crowd

v 14-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Mixed reactions

v. 19-20

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

They moved to the next small city the next day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, we need this kind of courage and bravery.

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

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

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

Be a Christian of Courage.

Challenge and encourage yourself.

We need this kind of courage in this world.

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

This is our big blessing, responsibility.

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

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 04 / 2018
  • 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)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!

Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 42-45

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

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

This is very interesting:

Before the same Word of God:

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

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

So the Jews were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light & Life

v. 46-48

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

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

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

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

Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”

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

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

This means:

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

This is a grand mystery in Christianity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s logic is beyond human logic.

Human logic:

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

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

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

Eternal life: The gift of God

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

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

Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.

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

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

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

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

Now and here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eternal life = knowledge

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

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

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

Another important point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is good news!

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

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

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

v. 47

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

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

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

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

v. 49-52

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

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

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

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

Four kinds of fields

There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:

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

Which field is your heart?

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

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

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

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

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

No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?

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

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

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

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

But, at the same time:

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

Preach = persecution = joy

Persecution is overcome by the joy.

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

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

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

The best is yet to come!

The best is coming soon!

God bless us, let’s pray.

  • Oct 28 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Paul’s First Sermon (Acts 13:6-41)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Paul’s First Sermon (Acts 13:6-41)

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Paul’s First Sermon

Acts 13:6-41 (Pastor Heo)

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

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

In Pisidian Antioch

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

<PaulsFirstSermon>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “

</PaulsFirstSermon>

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

1. Paul focused on BIG cities –

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

If Paul were in Korea, he would travel to

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

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

City Mission 도시선교

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m a Child of God!”

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

God bless us to be so.

v. 13

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

Before this verse:

v. 9

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

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

v. 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnabas took John, Paul took Silas.

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

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

Key point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35 So it is stated elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’ “”

Amen.

His first sermon has 3 parts:

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

Each part begins with an addressing word.

Part One v. 16

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

Part Two v. 26

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

Part Three v. 38

“”Therefore, my brothers, “

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

Part One

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

This was the Introduction (preparation)

Part Two (main body – declaration)

The main theme: The death and resurrection of Christ

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

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

v. 37 Why? Because Jesus is original God.

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

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

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

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

v. 38-39

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

Two key ideas in these two sentences:

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. Justification by faith

Forgiveness of Sin

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

v. 38 “I want you to know…”

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

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

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

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

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

Justification by Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 21 / 2018
  • Comments Off on For What were you Set Apart? (Acts 12:25-13:5)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

For what were you set apart?

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

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

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

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

On Cyprus

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


This chp 13 takes off where chp 12 ended.

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

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

Returned from where? From Antioch.

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

Chp 11

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

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

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

This is the story of chp 11.

Chp 12

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

This is chp 12.

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

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

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

This Antioch holds many FIRST records:

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

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

v. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Variety in unity;
unity in variety.

This is the heart of our Father God.

This is the heart of God.

v. 2-3

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

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

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

The HS came on them in worship.

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

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

“Worship and service go together.”

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

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

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

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

Romans “Set apart for the gospel of Christ.”

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

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

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

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

v. 4-5

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

Let us bless the beginning of their ministry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this a blessing or a burden? Both!

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

Let’s pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

If you are Christian, BE Christian!

Acts 11:19-30 (Pastor Heo)

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


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

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

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

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

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

Challenge:

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

v. 19-22

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

Chp 7 – Stephen was killed

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

Chp 8 – Philip preached to the Samaritans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am Antioch”

Our Antioch church is named after THIS Antioch church.

v. 23-26

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

(Tarsus is Saul’s hometown)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 26

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

v. 30

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

Chp 13:1

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

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

From Chp 13:43 we can see this change:

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

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

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

v. 11:27

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

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

There were many terms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a Christian? BE a Christian.

Personal experience

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

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

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

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

“I am CHRISTIAN.”

This should give so many meanings.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

“Are you named after me?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

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

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

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

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

“God bless you Christians.”

Let’s pray.

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

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

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What a Transformation! (2)

Acts 9:19-31

Galatians 1:15-21

Acts 9:19-31

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

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


Galatians 1:15-21

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


What a transformation!

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

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

v. 19-22

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

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

Galatians 1:15-21

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

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

We can see Paul began with 2 important things:

1. Immediately witnessed for Christ in Damascus.

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

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

“I’m a changed man!”

Those who know me / you best should know that.

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

2. Commune alone with God

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

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

  1. Guidance
  2. Strength

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

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

These are the very basic, fundamental questions.

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

#1: Who is Christ?

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

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

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

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

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

Do you know Christ?

#2 Who Am I?

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

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

Are your lips clean?

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

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

Actually, Saul had two names from the beginning.

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

False.

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

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

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

He was now yoked to Christ for his service.

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

Are you holding Jesus’ yoke on your shoulders?

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

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

But Paul learned who he was in Christ.

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

#3 What shall I do?

What should you do?

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

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

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

Also, today is the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember:

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

v. 23-25

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

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

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

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

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

A wolf will never attack a painted sheep.

What idea can you get from this sentence?

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

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

v. 26-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which side are you?

Do you think the best / worst of others?

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

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

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

Are you Christian?

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

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

v. 31

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

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

Acts 1:8

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

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

God changes his workmen.

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

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

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

Download Notes in a .MD file

What a Transformation!

Acts 9:1-19 (Pastor Heo)

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


This is the conversion story of Saul/Paul

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

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

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

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

As we know,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saul (origin)

v. 1-2

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

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

Saul (transformation)

v. 3-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a transformation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

v. 15

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

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

Saul didn’t choose Christ but Christ chose him.

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

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

This is the greatest conversion story in the church.

  • The greatest persecutor became the greatest preacher.

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

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

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

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

Ananias’ story

v. 10-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s perfect will is always best.

#3: God’s works are always balanced

This is a kind of miracle.

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

But God’s works are always balanced.

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

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

God bless you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m so important before God.”

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

God bless you.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 25 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Introduction of Acts (Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Introduction of Acts (Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3)

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The Introduction to Acts

Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3 (Pastor Heo)

Luke 1:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Acts 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.


Acts 1:8 = key verse

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

From today, we will study Acts.

Acts = actions = activity = mission.

God bless all of us to become “people of acts” / “people of action” more than before through the study of this book.

Who can say, “I’m too old to be more active…”

Nobody can say that.

God said to Abram (at age 99), “Be perfect before me.” This means = you must grow, learn, increase continually. There is MUCH room and space for you to grow.

I bless you in the name of Christ that we may become people of “acts” through the study of this book.

Introduction

Let me share 6 things.

  1. Intro, the background
  2. The human author (Luke)
  3. The receiver (Theophilus)
  4. The title
  5. The characteristics and importance
  6. The purpose of this book

In this book, two main characters are Peter (chp 1-12) and Paul (13-28).

Background

The reason we read the first part of Luke and Acts is to show that the two are written by the same person.

Acts is the 2nd volume of the gospel of Luke.

  • Luke 1:3 “..most excellent Theophilus..”
  • Acts 1:1 “In my former book, Theophilus…”

These are written in the same fashion, style, with the same language.

Yes, we know the gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus: his birth, life, miracles, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension.

  • Luke: The story of Jesus’ ministry on earth in a physical body
  • Acts: The story of Jesus’ ministry from heaven

Acts begins where Luke leaves off. The two sometimes overlap.

  • Luke closes with the story of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
    • Acts opens with the story of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
  • Luke 24:48 ends with a Great Commission: “you are witnesses of these things.”
    • Acts begins with a Great Commission: “You will receive power…”
  • Luke 24:49 ends with the promise of the Holy Spirit. “…stay in the city until you receive power from on high…”
    • Acts begins with the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is the background of Acts.

The author (Luke)

His name, Luke, appears only 3 times in the New Testament (in the letters of Paul).

  1. Colossians
  2. Phileman 24
  3. 2 Timothy 4:11

He was mentioned by Paul 3 times – introduced as his dear friend, a doctor.

What we know about Luke clearly is that he was a medical doctor, one of Paul’s most valued helpers and most loyal friends. (He was the only person who was with Paul in his last prison – Paul said, “Only Luke is with me…”) He is also the ONLY Gentile author of the New Testament.

The recipient (Theophilus)

These two books were written to “Theophilus”. We don’t know who this is exactly – and his name ONLY appears here at the beginning of Luke and Acts. We only know much about him from church tradition / history.

There are 3 possibilities:

  1. Perhaps not a real name, just a nickname – it might have been very dangerous (persecution) to become a Christian at that time. Actually, this name comes from 2 Greek words:
    • “Theo” = “God”,
    • “Philus” = “Love”
    • So, perhaps Luke wrote to “Love of God” instead of a real name.
  2. Perhaps this IS actually a real name. If so, he may have been a HIGH government official. Luke writes, “most excellent Theophilus” – and this is only reserved for high officials (governors, kings, etc). Perhaps Luke is trying to show him “Christians are nice people, please do not persecute them.”
  3. Third, is more “romantic”. This is based on the fact that Luke is a medical doctor. Doctors once were “low class” in Korea, and also at that time, they were also considered slaves. So, Luke may have been a personal “slave” doctor to Theophilus.
    1. Story goes: Theophilus was very sick, but thanks to Luke’s dedication, he regained health. Theophilus set him free in thanks, and Luke wanted to give him the MOST precious gift he knew: Eternal life in Christ.

Title of the Book

  • “Acts”
  • “Acts of the Apostles”

But this book does not claim to give an exhaustive account of the Acts of the apostles. Only 4 apostles appear in here.

  1. John – but he doesn’t speak.
  2. James – in one sentence was killed by Herod.
  3. Peter – one of the main characters (chp 1-12)
  4. Paul – the other main character (chp 13-28)

This book ACTUALLY should be called:

“The Acts of the Spirit of Christ working in and through his witnesses”

Peter and Paul were not used because they were apostles, but because they were witnesses. God today is not using apostles, but using his witnesses. That’s why Jesus did not say, “You will be my apostles…” rather he said, “You will be my witnesses…”

The importance and characteristics

This book is so important.

As we know, the New Testament has 27 books.

  • There are 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
  • And 1 historical book,
  • 21 epistles, and
  • 1 book of prophecy / revelation.

Jesus’ key concern in his ministry was:

To establish His church in this world.

Matt: “On this rock, I will build my church…” (the “rock” = the faith of his believers)

The church is called the “body of Christ.”

Acts is the ONLY book that gives us actual historical information about where and how the church began. If we did not have this book, we would not KNOW how the church began – we would only be able to guess through the reading of Paul’s letters. So, in a sense, this is the MOST IMPORTANT book in the New Testament.

There are two ways to write history:

  1. Day to day, week to week (journal)
  2. Giving glimpses into significant periods and events (this is the style of Acts)

This is the central book of transitions.

  • In history – from gospels to epistles.
  • From primarily Jews to predominantly Gentiles
  • From the program / kingdom of God to Church

So this book was written to show the development of the church – from primarily Jewish to predominantly Gentile membership.

The purpose

The key verse = Acts 1:8

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We may study this book EVERY week until we finish the study of this book. We will FOCUS on 1:8 until the conclusion.

At least, we can say 3 things about the purpose of this book:

  1. To commend Christianity to the Roman government at that time
  2. To show that Christianity is for ALL people of every country (not only for Jews – but also for Jews and Gentiles) –
    • At that time, Jews had their own belief that ONLY THEY were God’s chosen people and that God had no use for other nations – but this was a BIG misunderstanding.
      • In chp 7, Stephen made Christianity universal and was killed.
      • Chp 8, preached in Samaria,
      • Chp 10, Cornelius accepted into the church,
      • Chp 11, preached in Antioch,
      • Chp 15, the church made the great decision to receive Gentiles into the church on the same terms as the Jews, Finally, Paul went far and wide to win all kinds of people to Christ.
  3. Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Actually, with this ONE verse, there is MUCH to say. But this time, let me just say ONE point about this key verse.

This conjunction “and” is repeated 3x, and in Greek it means “kai.”

In Greek, this is not in order of procedure. It means: “happening at the same time” (concurrently, simultaneously). This does not mean “Jerusalem first, THEN Judea, THEN…” No, it means “ALL places at the same time.”

Imagine, if this were the last word of Christ on earth. If they had to try to go beyond Jerusalem AFTER they finished FULL evangelization, then they NEVER would have had an opportunity to leave Jerusalem even up to today.

You know in Korea, Western missionaries came over 100 years ago. Imagine, if they had tried to come to Korea AFTER they had finished the full evangelization of their own country, they never would have come.

You know, in Jerusalem today, there are a few Christians, but they still need missionaries to be sent – and we send some.

In Seoul, years ago, I saw a big banner in a church:

“Today Seoul, tomorrow Korea, the next day Asia, after that ALL the world!”

Sounds good? ONLY sounds good. Sounds ambitious, but in actuality, “today” will take forever. If they are faithful to this banner, they will never have an opportunity to go beyond Seoul.

Each day is ONLY today. We cannot meet tomorrow. We can only face today. The coming Monday is “tomorrow” but when we meet it, it becomes “today.”

Please remember, one day, our Lord Jesus will come again in his body to fulfill full redemption and salvation and reign over the world. Question: What will fill the gap between his ascension and second coming? Answer: The worldwide mission of the church. The evangelism activity of individual Christians.

Luke is the story of Jesus’ ministry on earth – the beginning.

3 Kinds of Immortality

  • There is the immortality of “fame” – Jesus has this. His name will never be forgotten.
  • Immortality of “influence” – Jesus (and some others) leave an effect on the world for a long time – Jesus’ influence can never die
  • Immortality of “presence and power” – Jesus left his fame and influence on this earth – but still he is alive and powerful and active on this earth.

Only Christ has immortality of “presence and power.” He is not the one who WAS once in the past. He is the one who IS always, all the time.

  • Therefore, in Matt he says, “And surely I am with you forever, to the very end of the age.”
  • Heb 10:13 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Are you a Christian? Just as this hand cannot be a real hand without being a part of this body, so a real Christian cannot be a real Christian without being a part of church – because “church” is the body of Christ.

Are you a member of the Church?

If you are a member of the body of Christ, then you are called “witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world.”

God bless you to become MORE active: people of “acts” through the study of Acts.

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 18 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Glory to God through the Gospel (Romans 16:25-27)
Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

Glory to God through the Gospel (Romans 16:25-27)

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Glory to God through the Gospel

Romans 16:25-27 (Pastor Heo)

16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him– 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.


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