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  • Dec 02 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Are you hearing the cry of the Lost? (Acts 15:36-16:10)
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.

  • Oct 22 / 2017
  • Comments Off on Hold on Mission (2 Timothy 4:1-8)
Guest Speaker, Sermons

Hold on Mission (2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Hold on Mission!

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Pastor Jack Tan)

A Final Charge to Timothy

1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Nice to meet you. We are family in Christ. It’s the first time to meet you, but I’m happy to go home after meeting others.

I will share a Scripture from Paul. This is the last letter of Paul. And also it’s very important – what Paul said to others. It is Paul’s response to God’s calling to finish his mission.

The purpose of this letter: to ask Timothy whatever the situation is, you have to hold onto the mission.

Do not be affected by the situation. He hopes that Timothy will also experience God like Paul has experienced him.

This time, I will share what Paul writes.

Today’s topic is “Hold on Mission” – this is the mission that EVERY Christian should have.

I think this letter is not only sent to Timothy, but also to all Christians. I’m privileged to come here to see your church – it’s a missionary church. It’s really doing the “Mission” – Thank God.

The Mission must continue. There are many pastors who do God’s mission. They have the mission and testimony. This should be continued.

So, how to “Hold on Mission”?

1: Keep the Faith

Paul says, 4:7

“7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

This is Paul’s experience. He doesn’t only do it, but at first he was chosen by God and he will continue to the end until death. Why can he continue on this, God’s mission? Because it is God’s mission.

He said this when he was about to die, he already finished the mission. If we hold onto what we believe (about God) we can finish the mission.

To fight for God, God’s Word is the best weapon. Through it, we can stand firm during the test. We will not waver in uncertain circumstances.

Why it is important to keep God’s Word? Because we easily go the wrong way in a spiritual path if not. At first, Paul obeyed God’s Word, but then he didn’t listen to God’s Word – so it is very important to listen to God’s Word and take it seriously. We must hold onto God’s Word as a Mission and hold onto that Mission. Then we can finish God’s will in our lives and communities.

Only if we keep God’s Word can we continue God’s Will and not go the wrong way. If we go the wrong way, everything is in vain. The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches the city, the guardsmen guard it in vain.”

When you do everything, in the end, what is the price you will pay? Should you continue? Not on your own strength. So, we can see it is very important to hold onto God’s Word, and God’s Mission.

If we want to fight the good fight, we must obey God’s Word. So, let us learn from Paul.

2: Through the Power of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8 “8 But 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.””

This word comes from after Jesus appeared to the disciples 3 times. At that time, Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples. They went back to fish – they had already given up their mission.

So Peter’s witness is a powerful witness. Before, he was a man who was frightened, scared of death, disowned Jesus 3 times. But after Peter was touched by the HS, he stood again, even to be killed for Christ. Where does that bravery, faith, strength come from? It’s from the HS.

So, today, we have no excuse.

With the HS, we can hold on to the Mission. Thank God.

We can see your church’s background is touched by the HS.

Depending on the HS, our lives can be changed.

I will give my testimony to you.

I became a Christian from 1978. At that time, I was caught and put in jail. At that time, I turned to God from 1979 to today. I thank God. The HS works in me. So I encourage those who have a similar background as me. My life was totally changed. This is because I have the will to repent. I had been addicted to drugs. But, from 1979 until now, I never used drugs again. God gave me the chance to experience the HS.

Because of the drugs I had been caught. So, thank God for this difference. Because I received Christ as my Savior and the power of the HS, today there are many testimonies like this.

There are many like this in Singapore and also Malaysia. It is very important to receive the HS.

Peter was afraid of being caught at first, but after he received the HS, he was afraid of nothing – even death for Christ.

This is because Jesus said, “You will receive power when the HS comes on you.” And then, they were to share the Mission with the Gentiles.

At that time, Peter responded to God’s mission again. And we can see how powerfully Peter was used by God. He overcame his weakness by the power of the HS.

We can see from his mission – 3,000 people believed in God, in Jerusalem, on a single day, from his testimony. They asked Peter what they should do to respond to God and Peter said, “You must repent and be baptized.” At that meeting, 3,000 people believed in Christ (in the same city that crucified him I believe.)

“You are no longer controlled by the sinful nature, but by the HS.”

We can see this in the early Antioch Church. Thank God your church’s name is ALSO Antioch Church. You are worthy to have this name. Give a hand to God. Your church is a missionary church.

The missionary church is what God wants.

At that time, Antioch Church sought God.

Acts 13:1-2 “1 Now 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.””

At that time, they had to do mission work. The HS told them to send Paul and Barnabas to evangelize. So, after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

We can see the power of Antioch Church – touched by the HS. Today, the power of the church is touched by the HS.

After Jesus finished his work and ascended into heaven, he sits (now) at the right hand of God the Father. At that time, he sent the disciples. And we know that the HS still works in our church today. He helps us finish the mission, and helps us to love Jesus and love God, and he prepares for the Last Day when Jesus will come. So, this Age is the Work of the HS.

Now, we believe in the same God as today.

  • The heavenly Father is the same God as the one who did Creation.
  • Jesus is Salvation.
  • And through 3 years, he trained the disciples to do God’s work – to continue his own work.

We ask God to work in our hearts and lives. We want to do God’s work – if we want to see God’s reward, we must ask for the power of the HS.

Mission work (and the power to do it) is given by the HS. So, it is very important to respond to the calling of the HS.

Many churches were given the HS – and Paul visited many churches and many believers who loved God. This is very important. Respond to the HS.

Now, we are in the spiritual world. This spiritual world cannot fight with the physical world.

Let us see 2 Corinthians 10:4 “4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

At that time, many people became Christians. Peter and John were called by God. Because of P&J, many people trusted God. So, they were caught – later set free on the condition that they don’t share the gospel. But they went back to church and reported all that the Chief Priest and elders had done. At this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.

Acts 4:22-30 They preached with great boldness. At first, they could not share the gospel at that time, but with the power of the HS, they were able to. So, we can see that the best weapon of spiritual warfare is the Word of God.

Acts 4:31 “31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We can see that spiritual warfare is a serious business. Continuing in chapter 4, we can see the heart of the early church:

4:32-37 “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

So, we can see that we need the power of the HS to teach us the right way to behave, how to love one another.

In Malaysia, I opened one church, and one brother was a tutor there. Evil took control of him at one time, and he couldn’t teach any longer. He was originally a very handsome fellow, like Pastor Heo, but when evil took hold of him, when we had a service, we tried to cast out the evil, but could not. Afterward, we prayed “In Jesus Name” and when we did that, he fell prostate – laid down. This is spiritual war.

We can see, if we fight by the power of the HS, evil cannot resist – it will flee.

So, we must fight by the power of the HS.

Many things may threaten us, so let us ask for help from God. We need to hold on to the mission, and trust what we believe. And in the power of the HS, he will help us overcome our weakness, and fight.

If we do this, we can fight the good fight for God. At this, we can work hard for God. So, thank God.

I hope everyone can learn from this sermon.

At this time, we have many needs. I hope and pray that we will all hold to the mission and do missionary work from this generation to the next and next and next generation.

Thanks everyone for giving me the opportunity to preach this sermon.

  • Say to yourself, “I’m a missionary.”
  • Beat your heart and say it, “I’m a missionary.”

Today’s sermon title is very suitable. “Hold on Mission.” (Catch, possess, continually, without stop).

Actually, if you “Hold on Mission”, you are a missionary before God in this world. Missionary = “Mission holder” – so we are all missionaries in this world.

Let’s give a hand and praise to God.

Let’s pray.

  • Aug 03 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Good Examples (Philippians 2)
Pastor Brian, Philippians: A Study in Contentment, Sermons

Good Examples (Philippians 2)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Good Examples

Philippians 2 (Pastor Brian)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Shining as Stars

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.


Paul is writing to the believers in Philippi from house-arrest in Rome (chained to the guards). He still teaches and preaches to those that come. He continually looks on the bright side of things regardless of his situation. He realized that the guards and the others around him were hearing and understanding his situation and story.

Philippi – named after Philip (the father of Alexander the Great). He founded the city of Philippi 356 BC. Also the site of (after Julius Caesar’s assassination) where Cassius and Brutus and Octavius and Marc Anthony met and fought. Octavius and Marc Anthony won, then they fought, and Marc Anthony won, and he became Caesar Augustus. The Lord moved on Augustus to make the decree to send all men back to their hometowns – and this allowed Jesus to be born in Bethlehem according to prophecy.

Philippi was a Roman colony (they were Roman citizens) – so they didn’t need to pay taxes. They likely had pride in their status as citizens. Paul likely felt the need to remind them of their place through the example of Jesus.

Paul also exhorts for speediness of forgiveness. We should be quick to be reconciled. There is need for that in the church here as well.

There is a very friendly relationship between Paul and the Philippian believers. Even when Paul was in Rome, they sent money AND a helper to care for him.

So, Paul continues his letter to them by reminding them of the blessings of Christ.

“Be like-minded” = to be like Christ, not to try to be more and more like each other. This is the sure way to be united with one another. The more united with Christ they are, the more united with one another they will be.

The bottom line: “Do nothing out of self ambition, or vain conceit, or pride – they destroy unity and are the essence of sin.” (Remember Satan in the beginning was PROUD – the first sin – and that led him to fight against God and be thrown from heaven).

Christian unity should be about considering others as better and more important than ourselves. This is the way of Christ. “He, the best of humans, didn’t put himself first, but considered others better.” Even Christ said, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for the many.” (Remember he washed their feet: “I’ve done this as an example, so that you will do likewise.”)

Your attitude/disposition should be the same as that of Christ. “He didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

“Being God” = not the normal “being” but expresses the “essence” – the “very nature” or “exact representation/form”

Morphe, Schema

  1. Morphe = essence – we are all humans – this is morphe
  2. Schema = we are all babies, then adolescents, then old, – the outward appearance

Jesus’ Schema changed as he grew, but his Morphe/essence/nature WAS God.

He still didn’t consider this “something to be grasped.”

Careful Jehovah’s Witnesses… this doesn’t mean “Jesus didn’t want to be God.” It means rather, that “Jesus in his humility, didn’t exercise his power and privilege AS God.”

Knowing who he was and where he came from, he took a towel and bathed and dried the feet of his disciples.

This is the self-forgetting, self-forsaking, humble essence of God. We, humans, were created in God’s image, but that image has been marred and broken through sin, so he came to redeem and save us.

Actually, this humility of God is not reducing his awesomeness, but rather increasing and emphasizing his power and awesomeness.

All the hymns we’ve sung this morning are praise for Christ – similar to what Paul is using here to call the Philippian church to follow and obey and be humble as Jesus was.

Jesus willingly set his rights aside to serve our needs and humbled himself to death for us.

The 7-fold humbling of Jesus

  1. Nothing
  2. Servant
  3. Human likeness
  4. As a man
  5. Humbled himself
  6. Obedient to death
  7. Death of the cross

The 7-fold exhalation of Jesus

  1. Exalted him
  2. Gave him a name
  3. On earth will bow
  4. In heaven will bow
  5. Under the earth will bow
  6. Every tongue confess
  7. To the glory of God
  • 7-downward steps from God to death.

  • 7-upward steps from death to glory.

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” APPLY the humility of Christ to your relationships with one another.

We all need forgiveness (quickly) – especially in marriages and friendships.

You don’t need to work to GET IN to salvation.

But rather work OUT the implications of salvation in your own lives so that you may become blameless and pure in this wicked and crooked generation.

Conduct (cultivating character) needs to go together with your assurance of salvation.

Timothy (for example) looks to the interests of others. “You know he’s proved himself – as a son and father – he’s served the gospel with me. I look forward to sending him as soon as I find out what happens with me.”

Paul sent this letter on with Epaphroditus – a leader in Philippi who’d come to visit Paul in prison. “He longs for all of you, and is distressed because you’d heard he was ill.” He doesn’t want you to worry – he was ill and almost died – but God had mercy on us all to spare us all greater sorrow.

“Honor men like them.” If you honor people like this, more people will follow their example and serve.

The believers in Philippi couldn’t be there with Paul, so they sent a representative who Paul is now sending back.

3 examples of humility and service

  1. Jesus
  2. Timothy
  3. Epaphroditus

Let’s all follow these examples so that we can grow in humility and service to one another, and grow in greater unity with Christ and each other.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 17 / 2013
  • Comments Off on The Temple and the Turmoil (Acts 21:20-40)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Temple and the Turmoil (Acts 21:20-40)


02.17.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Previously, the Christians had heard that the Christians here (in Jerusalem) were in dire straits and needed money, so he’d gone to the churches and collected an offering for them. Now, they’ve returned with the money.

Paul had been received by the Christians in other cities with joy, he’d given his testimony of God’s grace and guidance, he’d told them of the signs and wonders and Holy Spirit working during the Gentiles, and they were amazed.

While Paul had been away from Jerusalem, there arose a public relations problem. The Jews accepted that God had blessed Paul in his ministry, but there arose many rumors (that most believed) that Paul was preaching against the Jews and their heritage. So, a solution was agreed upon to help Paul “keep face” in front of the Jews. There were 4 Christians who had taken a Nazarite vow (described in the OT). So, to make things easier to be received by the Jews and the Christians, they asked Paul to partake in a “cleansing ceremony.” Since, he’d been living with the Gentiles, he was technically considered “dirty.” Also, he would pay the expenses of these 4 Christians who’d taken the Nazarite vow. This was supposed to prove and demonstrate that he hadn’t turned from his Jewish faith.

He hadn’t preached against circumsicion (for example), he’d had Timothy circumcised in order to let him enter the temples they went to (Timothy was a half-Jew). Paul was not against keeping the Jewish feasts, he’d also taken a Nazarite vow. He’d kept all the laws of the Jews, but did not impose them on the Gentiles. He understood that all this “ceremony” and “religiosity” was not enough to save you – it’s what’s in the heart that matters. So, he didn’t want to impose these things against the Gentiles.

Previously in Acts 15, the Jews had agreed (as a public relations thing) to hold the Gentiles to only 5 requirements – including no sexual immorality, not eating meat with blood in it, etc. If the Gentiles followed these things, the Jews were free to have fellowship with them. And now here, they are trying to reinforce these things in Jerusalem to show that Paul is remaining consistent with his vows and heritage.

Here also, they want to affirm a connection with Paul and the mission to the Gentiles, and they want to show that Paul is still 100% Jew. So, they began the process and Paul headed off to the temple to take care of all these things. But…it backfired.

The Jews from Asia (up for Pentecost) saw Paul in the temple (they were probably from Ephesus) – where he’d received a negative reaction to his teaching. And they said, “Hey, this is the dude who’s hating on us!” And they accused him of (even *gasp*) bringing a Gentile into the inner temple – super un-holy and sinful action. This was punishable by death. And this is one of the things the Romans allowed the Sanhedrin to carry out on anyone who did it.

So, here they accuse Paul of doing that.

“He’s a hater! He’s defiled the temple!”

The police (temple) shut the door and put him out. He was an apostle, now considered an apostate (someone who turns from sound doctrine of faith). And they started beating him.

But, word came to the Roman centurion who was stationed near there – the Romans had set this up on purpose because there were TONS of riots there, especially during their holy feasts (ironic isn’t it?). So, immediately the commander went down and arrested the obvious center of attention.

They bound him with two chains, he was spared from being beaten to death (but was probably bloodied and black-eyed). Now, though, they wonder why he’s been beaten.

The commander thought he was an Egyptian terrorist (who led 4,000 revolutionaries into the desert – the revolution had been put down, but the leader had escaped). So, he was surprised to hear him speak in Greek (a “smart-guy” language) and not in Egyptian (a lower language). Now, Paul tells where he’s from (a reputable city) and that he’s a reputable citizen. Then, he asks permission to address the raving mob that tried to kill him.

So, in order to prevent the mob from killing him, they lift him up and carry him to the stairs. Now, he will address the crowd in Aramaic (the common tongue). Wow! Surprising! This guy’s smart!

Now, he gets his chance to explain why he is a missionary to the Jews and Gentiles (next time).

But, here we can see how God has kept his hand on Paul, throughout.

When we think about the roots of our own (Gentile) Christianity, we can only thank God for his provision. This man had originally fought against the Christians, but through his encounter with Jesus, he realized that the LAW was only a tool to point to Jesus and the LAW doesn’t save ultimately. Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of the LAW.

We can only be very thankful for Paul and his beatings, sufferings, willingness to suffer for Christ

Next, in Acts 22, the commander will command that Paul be beaten (similar to Jesus’ experience it seems) because that was just “the thing to do” to calm the crowd.

Paul asks, “Are you sure you want to do that? I’m one of you guys! A Roman!”
“Whaaaaaaa? Really?”

They send word to the commander about it.

Paul’s father had been a Roman citizen, so he’d inherited Roman citizenship naturally. And actually, the commander himself was probably originally Greek – he had NOT gained citizenship through heritage…

The lesson there:
While in England, there was a terrible tragedy in India – there was a time of feast, and 1000s of people had gone to the river Gangez to be cleansed of their sins – but there were so many that went, they trampled others. These people were trying to “buy” salvation – these false teachings from the Hindu leaders were leading them into a frenzy and leading them astray. There are many others who try to “buy” or “earn” their ways into salvation (as this Roman commander had “bought” his citizenship). But, ultimately, we must all be “BORN” into our citizenship and salvation (as Paul was “born” into his Roman citizenship). As Jesus says, “You must be born again.”

Q: Have you been born again? As a citizen of heaven?

How can we? We hear the gospel. John 3:16 – Faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans) – and then we look to Jesus (not to our works and deeds, not to the River Gangez).

Have you been born again?

Here’s a short prayer – not sure? Examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith. In sincerity, repent of your sins, ask Jesus to come and live in your life and heart. And strive to follow him wholeheartedly and obey his commands “Whoever loves me keeps my commands.” And all heaven rejoices.


I repent, cleanse me, come into my life, I receive you, hold me until eternity, justify me, sanctify me. Amen.

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