The Power of the Word; Acts 17:10-15

Main Point: The word forms the church

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).

The sacred writings are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).

Ajith Fernando writes, “This is the heart of Christian faith: an attitude that makes people continue to go to the Scriptures in order to learn more and to grow. Just as salvation is through faith, so is growth in the Christian life. When we study the Bible, it is not some meritorious act through which we can claim to have grown spiritually. Bible study that pleases God is an expression of faith. It is an attitude that says, ‘I am needy. You alone can satisfy my need. You have spoken a message and is recorded in the Bible. I will go to that book as a hungry baby seeks her mother for milk” (469, 1 Pet 2:2).

God is glorified and Jesus receives the reward for his sacrifice when the word is preached and believed. Let’s turn our attention now to the preaching of God’s word and may we stir up in one another a desire to obey God’s word. Read Acts 17:10-16.

I. The word of God is proclaimed (10, 13)

If you were given the task of evangelizing, discipling, and planting churches in Hood and Somervell counties how would you do it? What would be your priority in each city? This missionary team in Acts 17 had a clear strategy: proclaim the word of God.

  • Paul proclaimed the word of God in Berea

The team set to work to make the word of God known wherever they went. They were constantly and consistently preaching and explaining the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Look again at Acts 17:13. What did Paul get in trouble for? “When the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.”

Remember what we saw last week in Acts 17:2 and 3. Give reasons for repentance and faith. Explain and prove the necessity of the Messiah’s death and resurrection. Proclaim that Jesus is that Messiah who died and now lives. We are a people of the word, reading it and sharing it with others.

Have you embraced Jesus’ command to make disciples and plant churches? Are you talking with your neighbors and coworkers about Jesus in general and his resurrection in particular? Am I talking with my neighbors about Jesus in general and his resurrection in particular? Jesus’ command to go make disciples must include a faithful proclamation and defense of the word of God.

Is your neighbor into violence? Start with an invitation to read the book of Judges together. Is your coworker into poetry? Pick some Psalms to discuss. Is your neighbor into suspense? Read 1st and 2nd Kings. The word of God is wonderful, and it all moves toward Jesus. Get to know your neighbor and make an appropriate invitation to read and consider the word of God. Set a time to get together for dinner or coffee and talk about what you are reading.

We see in these three missionaries a faithful example worthy of imitation. We must fill our conversations with the resurrection of Jesus. In these verses we also see other faithful brothers worthy of imitation. Alongside proclaiming the gospel, we need to work so that others can proclaim the gospel.

Not everyone of us should be a church planter. Look again at verse 14, “Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.”

Who were these faithful brothers who covered these one hundred miles down and then back from Berea to Athens? They were men committed to the necessity of planting churches through proclaiming the word of God. And they were men who put their lives at risk to help a missionary on the run from persistent persecution. They were men who likely helped pay the way.

Ephesians 4:28, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” In the church there were former thieves and women of high standing all united in Jesus and working together for the cause of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus and making disciples.

Are we together? Are we supporting gospel advance? Are we proclaiming the word of God in our community? In order to see people saved and churches planted, we must proclaim the word of God. It is for the believers to proclaim the word and it is for unbelievers to receive the word

II. The word of God is received (11)

What did the Jews in Berea do with the word of God? Verse 11, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

It has been a while, so it bears repeating again here. Jews are not saved because they are Jews. A Jew is saved because he/she repents and believes in Jesus. Salvation is by faith and not by family. Dig into Ephesians 2. God’s people are no longer a biological group descended from Abraham. God’s people, his household, is a spiritual body made up of Jews and Gentiles who are united by faith to Jesus, Jesus is the true offspring of Abraham. The believing church, not the unbelieving Jews, are the people of God. Will there be a future conversion of many Jews? I believe so; before Jesus returns there will be a massive engrafting of Jews into the new covenant. They will return to God through repentance and faith in Jesus. The apostle Paul understood this; it is necessary for both Jew and Gentile to be born again through faith in Jesus the resurrected Messiah.

So, let’s ask three questions. What does it look like to be noble? What does it look like to eagerly receive the word? And what does it look like to examine the Scriptures? First,

  • What does it look like to be noble?

Get this, the noble are not necessarily the wealthy. I am wrong, but when I think of nobility I often think of the Lords and Ladies of Europe. Doing a quick and dangerous internet search, it appears that during the Middle Ages after a soldier accomplished some great feat, let’s call it a noble feat, he would be rewarded with a large piece of land. Rewarded for his nobility, he now begins to acquire more wealth. Fast forward through the centuries and nobility became attached to land and wealth and not to noble deeds.[1] 

This European idea of nobility is not what is celebrated in Acts 17:11. Instead, to be noble is to eagerly receive the word of God and examine the Scriptures to see if the things proclaimed are true. To be noble is to be neither naïve nor cynical. To be noble is to commit to the pursuit of what is true. To be noble is to work hard, because let’s be honest, the easiest intellectual positions are being naïve or being cynical. It takes no effort to believe everything or believe nothing. It takes great effort to test everything and hold fast to what is true.

Regardless of your family tree you can be nobility but not if you are lazy. The noble feat you must complete is receive the word of God, examine the word of God, and believe the word of God. So,

  • What does it look like to eagerly receive the word?

Look again at verses 10 and 11. Who are these people who eagerly receive the word and where are they? They are Jews in a synagogue. Every Sabbath they gathered together to pray and hear God’s word. So, when Paul came preaching the word of God, they eagerly received it. Remember Paul is reasoning with them from the Scriptures. These unconverted not-yet-born-again Jews have an appreciation for the word of God, so they listened and tried to understand what was being proclaimed from God’s word.

This eagerness to receive the word is giving your attention to preaching because the word of God is being preached. The opposite of eagerly receiving the word is seen in people who will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim 4:3). One group wants the word of God, and the other group wants to be entertained.

Parents, look at your children who want to be baptized. Is there an eagerness to hear the word of God? Is there a desire to read and understand the word? A soldier who cares nothing for the letters from his girlfriend should not marry her when he returns home. In the same sense, a person who cares nothing for the word of God should not be baptized. But let’s be careful and not confuse an eagerness to hear the word of God with salvation. This eagerness leads to belief. But before belief, let’s consider our next question

  • What does it look like to examine the Scriptures?

These noble Jews who eagerly received the preached word committed themselves to studying the word of God daily to test what was being preached. Here is a people engaged with the message and committed to testing the message. It plays out like this, just because I claim I am preaching the bible does not mean I am preaching the bible. Just because I want to preach the bible does not mean I am preaching the bible. I must faithfully reason from and explain the bible. I must prove what I am preaching is bound up with the bible. It is not enough for me to say it; I must show you from the word why it is so. Preach the word! Preach Christ!

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” This commitment is why I am careful not to tell a lot of stories about me or about other people for that matter. My calling is to preach Christ and prove what I am preaching by showing you the word of God. It’s then your job to listen to what I am preaching and check it against the word. I am not infallible, but the word of God is infallible. I will err but the word of God cannot err.

As we listen, there is a fine line between being suspicious and being discerning. The suspicious listener always expects a trap, while the discerning listener is always looking for the truth. The noble among us are those who are always looking for the truth.

And let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about evangelism and church planting. It is the word of God that forms the church. It is the word of God preached, examined, and believed that forms the church. Buildings and programs can be helpful trellises on which the vine of spiritual life grows. But buildings and programs must never replace the clear and consistent preaching of the word of God to people eager to receive it, test it, and believe it.

III. The word of God is believed (12)

Here, at the point of belief, is conversion. So,

  • What is the difference between receiving, examining, and believing the word of God?

The simple answer is the difference between receiving, examining, and believing the word of God is conversion. Like in Berea, receiving and examining can be done by unbelievers. Believing the word is what makes a believer. Last week we used the word persuaded.

You could give me a cup of water. I could receive the cup eagerly, I could then study it’s claims and best uses, but not until I drink do I believe.

You could give me bread. I could receive the bread eagerly, I could study its golden crust and delight in its aroma, but not until I eat it do I believe.

So, how do you know if you are believing the word of God? One way to judge is if the Holy Spirit would call you noble. Are you like these noble Bereans? Do you eagerly receive the word? Do you examine the Scriptures to see if the word of God proclaimed matches the word of God written?

Listen, I’m not saying only those who are giddy about a 4am Bible study are saved. What I am saying is if there is no hunger for the word of God why do you think you will ever be filled? If there is no thirst for the word of God, why do think you will be satisfied?

Jesus cries out to us, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David” (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:35; 7:37-39).

Search the Scriptures and see if these things are so. Did Jesus say these things? Is he capable of delivering these promises? Answer these questions from the word and follow the glorious answers to eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Salvation demonstrates itself in the pursuit of Jesus for life. Salvation demonstrates itself in the pursuit of Jesus for safety and satisfaction. Salvation demonstrates itself in returning to Christ after the foolishness of spending your money on that which is not bread and laboring for that which does not satisfy. The prodigal demonstrates his sonship through his returning to the Father.

What I mean is do not consider yourself a lost soul beyond repair because you have wandered from the fold and your appetite for Christ has grown dull. Instead, consider that you are a lost sheep and believe he is the Good Shepherd who seeks and saves that which is lost. Search the Scriptures and see if it is so. Believing demonstrates itself in returning. Would you return to him? Would you repent of the sins of shallowness and laboring for what cannot satisfy? You have gone the wrong way. Now it is time to return to the shepherd and overseer of your soul. He died and rose again for you. He will take you in.

What then is the difference between receiving, examining, and believing the word of God? Believers depend on Jesus, believers hunger and thirst for Jesus, and believers return to Jesus. Those who merely receive and examine are those who love truth for the sake of truth, but they do not rejoice over Jesus crucified, raised, and coming again. Those who merely receive and examine are those who rejoice over logic and beauty, but they do not fast yearning for the bridegroom’s return. We are thankful for all those in Berea who believed. There were men and women who believed. There were Jews and Gentiles who believed. There were high standing women as well as men who believed.

The gospel was preached. The word of God was proclaimed. The people eagerly received the word, they tested the word, and some believed the word. As we seek to make disciples and plant churches, we must commit ourselves to the clear and consistent preaching of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. To the glory of God, a church is formed in Berea. Now, don’t you wish that Paul, Silas, and Timothy could enjoy heaven on earth? Don’t you wish that for a time there would be nothing difficult and only conversions and deep fellowship? Well, snap out of it.

IV. The word of God is opposed (13)

Read along with me in verse 13, “But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.” Here is the truth of the matter, examine the Scripture to see if it is so,

  • You are going to be hated

The Jesus who troubles the world is the Jesus who is hated by the world. Jesus says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Why did these Jews hate Paul? It is because Paul preached the resurrection of Jesus as the only means by which Jew and Gentile can receive the life of God. Stop preaching Christ crucified and the Jews will love you. Stop preaching Jesus as Lord and the Gentiles will love you. Preach the necessity of repentance and faith and you will be hated.

Here now is our question: Is Jesus worth it? This is a very pointed question. Is Jesus worthy of the worship of your neighbors? Do you love your neighbors such that you would die to give them the life you have found in Jesus? Do you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? A Jesus worthy of half-hearted worship only on Sundays is a Jesus who will be snuffed out in a generation by persecution. But a Jesus who is the life and light of men, a Jesus who is eternal life, a Jesus who is true bread and true drink is a Jesus worth believing in and preaching to all our neighbors and all the nations. Search the Scriptures and see if these things are so.

How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If Jesus has been raised from the dead, then follow him. But if he has not been raised form the dead then let’s eat and drink for life is meaningless and tomorrow we die (1 Kings 18:21; 1 Corinthians 15:32).

God has promised us in his word that all who believe in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus will keep us, feed us, and give us abundant life. Will you receive that word eagerly, examine it to see if it is so, and will you believe it? Let us be a people who stand on every promise of his word. Let us be a church built by the word of God.


[1] https://www.ranker.com/list/what-counts-as-nobility-in-europe/ella-talkin

Discuss Acts 17:10-15

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. If you were given the task of evangelizing the people of Hood County, discipling believers, and planting churches how would you do it?
  3. How do earning a pay check and planting churches go together? See Ephesians 4:28 for help. Does your current way of working and spending allow for supporting church planting?
  4. Our commitment is every day read and pray. What attitude do you generally have when you sit down to read the Bible? How do you want your attitude toward Bible reading to change?
  5. Use Acts 17:11 to define nobility. Would your friends and family call you noble (testing everything), naïve (believing everything), or cynical (trusting no one)?
  6. Read 2 Timothy 4:3. Where do you see this temptation in your own life?
  7. What is the difference between receiving, examining, and believing the word of God?
  8. Explain why an eagerness to receive the word and examining the Scriptures daily lead many to believe the gospel.
  9. Where are you on the journey from ignoring the word to receiving the word to examining the word to believing the word?
  10. Read 2 Corinthians 4:5. What is one mark of a faithful pastor established by this verse? Why is this commitment important to your spiritual growth?
  11. What habits and beliefs are essential to following Jesus and preaching Jesus when doing so gets you in trouble?

Acts 17:1-9 How to Evangelize

Main Point: Evangelism is the explanation of Christ’s suffering and resurrection which calls for a response.

As Christians, our purpose for remaining on this earth is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. As we go, we are to make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded. We want to make disciples.

Let’s take a moment and fill out your most wanted list. Write out the names of at least 5 people you are working to win to Jesus. Think of your neighbors, your family, your friends, your classmates and coworkers. Take a moment to fill out the list.

Your most wanted list

  1.  

We’re starting the sermon with these people in mind because I want this time to be more than just understanding how Paul and Silas did evangelism. I want to equip you to go and evangelize your most wanted. Post this list and these notes somewhere as a regular reminder to pray and work for the salvation of these souls. How to evangelize. Here we go. Let’s read Acts 17:1-9.

In order for evangelism to take place, you must

I. Proclaim Jesus the Christ (1-4)

The gospel is a message we proclaim. The gospel is good news that must be preached, explained, and believed. When you preach the gospel, it is necessary to use words. So, let’s learn how. First,

  • Go to the people

Look back at Acts 17:1-2 with me (read it).

After being unlawfully beaten, Paul and Silas were escorted out of Philippi with bruises on their backs. It was about 30 miles to Amphipolis, about 30 miles to Apollonia, and then about 30 more miles to Thessalonica. Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia with a population of anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people.  

When they arrive in Thessalonica, where do they go? According to their pattern, Paul and Silas went to the Jewish synagogue. And on three Sabbath days Paul reasoned with them from the Scriptures. We will unpack the details of this preaching in a moment. For now, I want to state the obvious. If you are going to share the gospel with people you will have to be with the people. Either go to where you can have the conversation or invite people over to your house so you can have the conversation. As you are going, make disciples.

Now, it is not a synagogue of the Jews, but you are invited to come with us to a lunch of the college students. We are going to the Granbury Campus of Weatherford College on October 5 and November 2 for the express purpose of sitting down with the people who are there so we can reason with them from the Scriptures about the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. Be praying and join us as we seek to share the gospel on October 5 and November 2.

In order to evangelize we must go to the people and

  • Speak the gospel to people

Look at verse 2, what was Paul doing on these three Sabbath days? He was reasoning with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise form the dead. Paul was preaching the gospel to the people.

Here’s an example of how Paul’s preaching may have gone. This is from Darrel Bock. There is a syllogism here, a rational argument. The Scriptures tell us it is necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead. Jesus suffered and rose from the dead. Therefore, Jesus is the Messiah.

Often, when we think about sharing the gospel, we think about sharing the simple message that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day to reconcile us to God. And this is exactly right. But generally, with this message comes lots of questions. So, we must speak the gospel, there must be proclamation, and there must be explanation. Go to them, share the gospel with them, and

  • Explain the gospel to people

Let’s consider those two words, explaining and proving. To explain the death and resurrection of Jesus is to open it up; we often use the idea of unpacking all the pieces. Evangelism is unpacking the gospel. To prove something is to give evidence for it. This is what we claim (explain the resurrection) and this is why we claim it (prove the resurrection).

Think about your 5 most wanted. How will you respond when they say, “I don’t get it, why did Jesus have to die and rise again? I didn’t ask Jesus to suffer for me.” Can you explain why Jesus had to suffer? Can you open the Bible and prove the necessity of Jesus’ cross and resurrection? Here our evangelism becomes very conversational as we answer questions and address objections. Oftentimes, evangelism includes apologetics. Apologetics is that area of theology where we give a defense for our beliefs. Through apologetics we seek to defend the claims we are making. This is what Paul is doing on the Sabbath, he is reasoning, explaining, and proving the necessity of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When you explain and prove the gospel be sure you

  • Establish the necessity of the gospel

Preaching in a Jewish synagogue, the apostle Paul did not have establish the glory of God, the reality of sin, or the trustworthiness of Scripture. Since the Jews already affirmed God as the greatest good and sin as that which separates us from God, Paul could go straight to the Scriptures to show the Messiah must suffer and rise. Since Jesus suffered and rose, Jesus is the Messiah. If you can wait a few weeks, later in Acts 17 we get an example of how to share the gospel with a person who does not already affirm the glory of God, the reality of sin, and the trustworthiness of Scripture. So, imagine today that you are talking to one of those people on your list who can tell the story of Jesus’ death on the cross and has some idea about heaven and hell.

Where would you go in the Bible to reason, explain, and prove the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and death? I.H. Marshall says, “We can be reasonably sure that the Scriptures [Paul] used would include Psalms 2, 16, 110; Isaiah 53; and possibly Deuteronomy 21:23” (Acts, 277). Let’s go to Isaiah 53.

Remember, in the Jewish synagogue we all agree that we want to get to God, but our sin separates us from him. Therefore, payment must be made. All these Jews have goats and bulls for sacrifice, why do they need Jesus? And why did the Messiah have to suffer and die? Can’t the Messiah just liberate us from Roman rule, and we keep offering animal sacrifices? The Jews would surely disagree with the claim that Messiah must suffer and die. They wanted a political leader, not an atoning sacrifice. Let’s look at Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:3 talks about this despised and rejected man who repulsed people. Jesus fits that description. The Jews rejected him. They cried out, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). Isaiah 53:4 tells us that this man was smitten by God and afflicted. That’s the Deuteronomy 21:23 cursed is anyone hanged on the tree. The people assumed God judged Jesus for lying about being God and Messiah. But! Isaiah 53:5, why did Jesus suffer? He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 53:10 tells us that he is making an offering for guilt. Look at verse 11, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53 establishes what they felt in their consciences, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). We need a better sacrifice. And the Jews rightly understood that the Messiah, from the line of King David, would rule over God’s people. Jesus will rule, Jesus is ruling, but his rule comes through suffering and resurrection. What needed explaining and proving was that the Messiah would rule over God’s redeemed people; redeemed through the sacrifice of his own pure life. Our good works are insufficient to pay for our sins. The blood of animals is insufficient to pay for our sins. Only the pure and perfect sacrifice of Christ can make us pure and perfect. A sinner like me cannot atone for a sinner like you. Our sin is why we need Jesus!

Think for a moment about the resurrection; why is it necessary for Jesus to rise? Atonement or payment is clear, our sin cries out for justice, but why does Jesus need to rise? One good answer, from Psalm 16:10, is that God will not abandon David’s Son to death or allow God’s holy one to see corruption. There is no such thing as a dead Messiah; Messiah must rise! Consider if Jesus did not rise then he is not the Messiah. A dead Jesus conquered by our sin, the Father’s wrath, and the grave cannot be the messiah redeemer. A resurrected Jesus is the grave conquering Messiah who will restore all who believe in him. Jesus is greater than your sin, the resurrection proves it.

I wonder if those on your list know why Jesus had to die and rise again. I wonder if you have embraced the glorious and terrible truth that the Messiah suffered and rose to pay for your sin and give you his righteousness so you can be restored to life with God. Once you have established the necessity of Jesus

  • Persuade people to believe

Back to Acts 17 for this one. The response we are after comes in 17:4, “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas.” Some devout Greeks and leading women in the community were convinced of their need to believe Jesus is the Messiah who died and rose again. This is more than agreeing with the story. This persuasion involves acting upon the truth that you believe.

So, we are going after more than getting people to agree with the idea that Jesus died and rose to pay for sins. It’s the difference between being convinced concerning the benefits of exercise and actually going to the gym. Persuasion involves acting upon what you believe. Our goal is for these 5 people to depend on Jesus for life. This conversion starts with repentance and faith, moves straight to baptism, and works out in a life spent listening to and obeying Jesus.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” To believe, to be persuaded, is to grow as an obedient disciple. Think about your five, and the need to persuade them to believe. Do not force them to believe or manipulate them so that they believe. Pray and proclaim so each one gladly submits to King Jesus and joins his church.

  • Bring disciples into the church

Who do we baptize? Who do we bring into the church? We baptize disciples. This baptizing marks joining. Acts 17:4 tells us that those who were persuaded joined Paul and Silas. These believers became associated with Paul and Silas. I spoke to a man last week who said he was a Christian but did not associate with a church. My challenge to him was to consider the idea that you could love someone’s head but reject their body. That’s a bit crazy, to draw near to a person’s head is to draw near to his body. To believe in Jesus and unite with him is to be joined to his body the church. Repentance and faith are the subjective or inward marks of the Christian. Baptism and joining the church are the objective or public marks of the Christian. So, let’s be clear that our goal is not to increase our numbers. Our goal is to see these five people believing in Jesus and connected to Jesus’ church.

We must proclaim King Jesus and we must

II. Follow Jesus the King (5-9)

In verses five through nine, we see the war between two kingdoms. The domain of darkness pushes back against the advance of Jesus’ kingdom. We see this same pushback today against Jesus’ ethic concerning the sanctity of life and sexuality. In our day, it is okay to believe in Jesus, you just can’t follow him. Our culture tells us the individual’s body belongs to the individual for whatever ends he/she desires. The only sin in the domain of darkness is not doing what you want. The world uses “My body my choice” to defend the murder of another body growing inside a woman’s womb. The world uses “My body my choice” to defend a self-serving view of gender and sexuality. Consider with me that

  • King Jesus demands ultimate allegiance

In Thessalonica, the Jews become jealous as the church grows, so they recruit some scoundrels to form a mob, stir up the city, and attack the house of Jason. Apparently, Jason is the host to the missionaries, possibly a recent convert himself. Paul and Silas are not home so the mob settles for Jason and some of the brothers. They drag the men before the authorities and say, down at the end of verse 7, “they are acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

Evangelism is a battle of allegiances. Those who are committed to Caesar should obey his commands and follow his ethic. Those who are persuaded about the Christ should obey his commands and follow his ethic. You can’t follow Jesus and be a friend of the world; they are fundamentally opposed. And the lines between the domain of darkness and the kingdom of God’s beloved Son are getting clearer; clear like they were in Thessalonica. To be one of Jesus’ people is to act differently than the world.

So, I ask you, who has your allegiance? Is it the financial world? Is it the political world? Is it the entertainment world? Have you pledged your allegiance to your desires? Remember Christian, you have been bought with a price. The death and resurrection of Jesus gives him rights of ownership. Jesus says concerning your body, ‘My body my choice.” You are not your own. Your allegiance, our allegiance as the church, belongs to King Jesus and

  • King Jesus troubles the world

The Jesus who rules the world is the Jesus who troubles the world because the world hates his rule. Look at Acts 17:6, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” We would say Jesus turns the world right side up. He turns the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6). But not all submit to King Jesus and herein is the trouble.

Listen to Matthew 10:34-39. Jesus tells us, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The world can’t stand for men to love and lead their families. The world tells us to go find meaning and purpose and joy outside of the home. The world says if you protect yourself and do what you want then you will find life. Jesus tells us that if we sacrifice ourselves, loving and investing in others, then we will find life. The world tells us to follow our desires. Jesus commands us to deny ourselves.

To follow Jesus is to oppose the world. To say yes to Jesus is to say no to the world. To say Jesus is correct is to say the world is wrong. To say the world is correct is to say Jesus is wrong. King Jesus troubles the world and

  • King Jesus has overcome the world

Listen to King Jesus, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In days of darkness and trouble take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus, the resurrection and the life, is our conquering King; he defeats all challengers. Jesus has risen from the dead. Jesus rules over all things and is bringing all things into submission. The world cannot defeat its Creator-King. The omnipotent One has not aged or decreased. The loving One has not forgotten his suffering children. Yes, we have trouble, and we will have more trouble. Granbury, Glen Rose, and Tolar will look more and more like Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

But in our trouble and triumph let’s remember that King Jesus did not overcome the world so that he could crush us and make us his slaves. King Jesus suffered and rose, overcoming the world, so that he can redeem us and give us his rights as sons.

So, no matter how big Caesar becomes, he will never be big enough to oust King Jesus. This is a call to believe. Are you persuaded? Do you understand and rejoice over Jesus’ necessary death and resurrection? Trust him, submit to him, and follow him. He calls you today to give up your life so that you can find life. He calls you to go and make disciples. This once suffering, once dead, now reigning King is worthy of our allegiance and worship. Let’s worship him and go make disciples.

Discuss Acts 17:1-9

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. Who are the 5 people you are seeking to win to Christ? Pause and pray for boldness and conversions.
  3. What can you do to make your home more open for hospitality and evangelism?
  4. Tell the story of the last time you shared the gospel. What did you learn about evangelism through this experience?
  5. What are your biggest fears or hang-ups when it comes to sharing the gospel with your friends?
  6. What are the necessary pieces of the gospel message? What must be shared and believed for a person to be saved?
  7. Use Psalms 2, 16, 110; or Deuteronomy 21:23 to explain why it is necessary for Jesus the Messiah to suffer and rise again.
  8. How were you persuaded to repent and believe in Jesus? What convinced you?
  9. When it comes to belief in Jesus, what are the differences between persuading a person, forcing a person, and manipulating a person?
  10. What convinced you to join the church? If you haven’t joined the church, why not?
  11. What in your life is contrary to Jesus and his ways? Where are you disobeying King Jesus? If you changed, how would you start to put that sin off?
  12. How can you prepare yourself, your family, and the church for the trouble coming from the world? Where do you feel that trouble already?
  13. Where are you seeing Matthew 10:34-39 working out in your life?

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Baptism

I want to take a few minutes to prepare us and Cassie for baptism. We need to ask these questions: What is baptism? What should we be doing when we baptize? What should we be thinking? And you are hearing me correctly when you hear all the “we statements.” Baptism is a team sport. Baptism is something we do together as the church. Baptism is an act of obedience by which the church worships God. Let’s start there

I. Baptism is an act of worship

You may have picked up on the pattern we follow each week when we gather for worship. We follow a pattern of praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession. Intercession is a fancy word for praying for others. I want you to think about how baptism is an act of worship that includes praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession. When we baptize, we

  • Praise the God who raises the dead

Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Let’s pause for a moment and marvel over the fact that our God raises the dead. Joe Biden can’t raise the dead. Donald Trump can’t raise the dead. I can’t raise the dead. We can’t raise the dead. Our God raises the dead.

And God’s resurrection power is put on display in baptism. In a moment, we are to look upon Cassie’s baptism understanding that she was dead in her trespasses and sins, but God raises the dead. She could not obey God or love God but now she can. God made Cassie alive with Christ Jesus. When she comes up out of the water, showing that by faith she has received the life of Christ, we are to think/say/shout “Praise God!”

Praise the God who raises the dead and

  • Thank God who forgives and reconciles

Colossians 2:13 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”

The way to life is through the forgiveness of sins. The way to God is through the forgiveness of sins. And our sins are forgiven because they have been paid for fully at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Let’s pause for a moment and marvel over the fact that God forgives us. God forgives sinners. Thank God, our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ. Our failures have been erased from our accounts.

In baptism, we will put Cassie under the waters of God’s wrath for sin. In baptism, we remember the wrath of God poured out on Jesus 2000 years ago. Cassie is united to Jesus’ death and burial through faith. But like every other burial, we won’t walk away from the graveyard with the body in the grave. Cassie will come up out of that water-judgment because her sins are forgiven in Jesus. Life comes through forgiveness with Jesus. So,

  • Confess your sin and Jesus as Lord

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

The reason Cassie is submitting to baptism is because she is confessing her sin to God and trusting Jesus to cleanse her. It sounds a bit funny, but it needs to be said, we only baptize sinners. And in baptism, we give more than our sins to Jesus. In baptism, we give ourselves to Jesus. The confession of Jesus as Lord is the public rejection of the rule of sin. Cassie is renouncing her place in the domain of darkness because she now belongs to King Jesus. Cassie is making it known that she belongs to Jesus. The confession of Jesus as Lord marks leaving one kingdom and entering a new kingdom. All those who confess Jesus as Lord belong to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. And we, the church, are the physical and tangible expression of that spiritual kingdom.

We have the keys of the kingdom, and we are bringing Cassie in and binding her to us through our act of baptism. So, in baptism we must commit to

  • Intercede for our brothers and sisters

Baptism establishes the church relationship. Baptism is the only mechanism recorded in the Bible by which a person joined the church. We want to strengthen that bond with Cassie today by praying for her as she is baptized.

Write one or two of these prayers down and pray for Cassie. Pray for Cassie to experience the freedom of a clean conscience. Pray for Cassie to be filled with the Holy Spirit so she can fulfill God’s will in her family, this church, and our community. Pray for her to be a godly wife and a faithful mom. Pray that God will continue to raise up women to disciple and encourage Cassie according to Titus 2. Pray for Nate to love her like Christ loves the church. Pray for baby Samuel to know the Scriptures and be saved.

We worship God through baptism as we praise God, give him thanks, confess our sin, confess Jesus as Lord, and as we pray for one another according to God’s will. Baptism is worship and

II. Baptism celebrates union with Christ

Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

In a few moments, Cassie will confess,

  • I belong to Jesus

To use the language of Matthew 28:18-20, Cassie is going public with the fact that she is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Cassie was redeemed by Jesus. Through faith, by believing it is true, Cassie joins Jesus in Jesus’ death, Jesus’ burial and Jesus’ resurrection, so that Cassie can live a new life with Jesus. It is union with Christ, it is the disciple’s life, that is proclaimed. Cassie is united to Christ and is making that fact known to all.

But Cassie won’t baptize herself. We will baptize her. You see, I don’t baptize Cassie. We baptize Cassie. We bind her to us, to the body of Christ, because we believe she is a true confessor of Christ. We have heard her confession and we agree to her baptism. We confess

  • This one belongs to Jesus

We will disciple her. We will love her. We will encourage her. In our church covenant we commit to exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully build up, encourage, rebuke, admonish, and discipline one another as the case shall require. Cassie commits to do the same for us. She will work and love in such a way that we are built up and protected. In baptism, our union with Christ and therefore with one another is made public. Baptism celebrates union with Christ and

III. Baptism celebrates repentance and faith

1 Peter 3:21 says, “Baptism, which corresponds to [Noah’s ark], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” So, let’s remember

  • It is good to repent

The means to life with God, the means to a guilt-free conscience, is through repentance and faith. Jesus will set you free from sin, guilt and shame, but you must remember and think about and depend upon who he is and what he has done instead of who you are and what you have done. We dwell on Jesus, but we first admit what we have done. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are both calls to repent for the purpose of reconciliation and renewal. Through repentance we move toward one another and through repentance we move toward God. It is good to repent and

  • It is good to believe

Baptism is an appeal to God for a clear conscience through Jesus Christ. The Christian life, salvation, and baptism are all wonderfully and necessarily focused on Jesus. As Cassie is baptized, her mind must be on Jesus and asking for forgiveness through his work. As we witness Cassie’s baptism, our minds must be on Jesus and forgiveness through his name. “God forgive because of Jesus” starts at baptism and continues every day of the Christian life. Our repentance, focused on Jesus, exalts the great worth of Jesus. Repentance and faith are worship. Let’s pray and let’s baptize.

The Lord’s Supper

I. The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship

  • Eat and drink to the glory of God

1 Corinthians 10 and 11 are an extended treatment on the church and the Lord’s Supper. In the middle, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, we find this command, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything we do must glorify God. Everything we do and say and think must be done depending on Jesus and as a display of the goodness of God. Everything we do should display the worth and weightiness of God.

There are hundreds of ways to eat the Lord’s Supper to the glory of God. Here are two: fly to Jesus and gather around Jesus.

II. The Lord’s Supper calls the church away from idols and to Jesus

1 Corinthians 10:14 tells us, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” We glorify God when we

  • Flee from idolatry

A couple of weeks ago, Rex and I were chased by a pitbull in our neighborhood. Our fear and flight is my new definition of what it looks like to flee from idolatry; we must run away from idols.

And what is an idol? An idol is anything or anyone that we depend on for safety or identity. When you convince yourself that you need something or someone then you have set up an idol. The respect of your wife can be an idol. The love of your husband can be an idol. Money can be an idol. Pornography, rest, work, and ministry can be idols. More than a wood, stone, or metal image, we are tempted to depend upon people, places, and things to make us feel safe and happy.

We glorify God when, before we take the Lord’s Supper, we consider idolatry. What has your heart and your mind? We glorify God when we identify where idols are creeping in and repent. Repentance means turning from idols to Jesus.

  • Fly to Jesus

We glorify God when we cry out to Jesus for help. Are you concerned with what people think about you? Are you wrapped up in some TV show or some sport? Are you frustrated or sad? There is your idol; fly to Jesus by confessing your sin and asking for his help.

Here’s how that could look. “Jesus, I have been angry this week with my wife because she hasn’t done what I wanted her to do. I have been harsh and resentful towards her. I have made the way she acts more important than your command to love her. Forgive me and reset my heart and mind. Use the celebration of your body and blood to move me back to dependence on you. Make me like Jesus so that I want to give to her more than I want to get from her.

Repentance is turning to Jesus. Consider your idol and flee from it by flying to Jesus. The Lord’s Supper calls us to Jesus and

III. The Lord’s Supper calls us together

A repeated theme in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Corinthians 14 is the theme of when you come together. Just as playing on a football team is an essential part of being a football player, so coming together as the church is an essential part of what it means to be the church. The church is Jesus’ gathering. He calls us out of the world, and he calls us to gather together. So,

  • We must come together

Look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 with me (read it).

Look at 1 Corinthians 11:33-34 with me (read it).

Look at 1 Corinthians 14:20-26 with me (read it).

The church is not a place where each of us does our own thing with Jesus. We must not eat, sing, pray, or serve as individuals. The church is a gathering where each of us contributes to the growth and godliness of our brothers and sisters. Hearing from God’s word is not the only reason we meet. We gather together to help one another. So, who have you helped today? Who have you built up today? What have you contributed? We come together so that we have access to one another so that we can build one another up. This coming together as the church to do one another good is the reason divisions and selfishness destroy the Lord’s Supper. We must come together; we must meet together. And,

  • We must come together around Jesus

Jesus is the head, and we are his body. Ephesians 4:15 and 16 say, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Looking at Jesus and depending on Jesus, we are led and empowered to do good to one another. As we depend on Jesus and do good to one another, the church begins to look more and more like Jesus. When one of us stays away or holds back then we collectively fall short of what Jesus wants for his church.

So, what can you do to help the people around you trust Jesus? How can you pray? What word of encouragement can you share? What loving correction can you offer? What song, hymn, or spiritual song can you sing that teaches and encourages us? Looking to Jesus and depending on Jesus, we help one another look more and more like Jesus. We must come together around Jesus.

This is the invitation to the Supper. This is the invitation to come together as the church and celebrate Jesus. And just as baptism came before the supper today, so also in the Christian life baptism comes before the supper. If you haven’t been baptized, then do not take the supper. Baptism marks the beginning of the Christian life and the Lord’s Supper marks continuing in the Christian life. Let’s come together because of Jesus and let’s help one another become more like Jesus.

Discuss Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. What is the difference between seeing baptism as an individual sport and seeing baptism as a team sport? What did you contribute to the team this week?
  3. How did you worship God during the baptism? How can you be more engaged in worship during the next baptism?
  4. Christian, you were once dead in your trespasses and sins. Describe how you came to life with Jesus and how that relates to baptism.
  5. Why does forgiveness require repentance to God and faith in Jesus? Why do we need both repentance and faith for forgiveness?
  6. What was your experience praying for Cassie as she was baptized? How can you be more effective in your prayers for your brothers and sisters?
  7. How are baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church discipline related to one another?
  8. Looking back at the Lord’s Supper, did you eat and drink to the glory of God? What do you plan to do differently next month when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
  9. What idols did you identify before you celebrated the Lord’s Supper? How can your discipleship group pray for you and help you?
  10. Why does being baptized come before celebrating the Lord’s Supper?
  11. What do you consistently contribute to the church each week? Are you coming early enough and staying late enough so you have time to use your gift?

What About My Rights?!?!

Text: Acts 16:35-40

Main Point: Hold fast to love and justice.

What about my rights? When we do seek justice and when do we show mercy?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is our pattern and our power. The gospel establishes the pattern of radical self-sacrifice for the good of others. Jesus came here as a man, obeyed the law, submitted to cruelty, suffered greatly, and died when he had done nothing wrong. The gospel displays redeeming love, mercy, patience, and kindness.

The gospel also establishes the pattern of justice. Through the gospel, sins are publicly and swiftly addressed. Wrongs are wrongs and must be punished. Also, in the gospel we are called to repent. There must be the acknowledgment and confession of sin.

In the gospel, God holds faith to love and justice (Hosea 12:6). In the gospel, God does justice and loves kindness (Micah 6:8). In the gospel, steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other (Psalm 85:10).

All those who believe the gospel are called to walk according to the gospel. So, what about my rights? Let’s answer the call to hold fast to love and justice. Let’s pick up our crosses and follow Jesus.

Turn with me to Acts 16. There is a lesson for us here as we seek to bring together love and justice. Read Acts 16:16-40

Here is a way to think through the decision to use your rights

I. What is good for you may not be good for others (35-36)

When we look at verses 35-37 there are three different perspectives on what is good. The magistrates, the jailer, and the missionaries all had their opinion about what should happen. Let’s start with the magistrates.

  • The magistrates were doing what they thought was good

Look at verse 35 with me, “But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go.’”

What was their perspective? The magistrates understood that the peace of the city had been disturbed. The crowd and the slave owners had all pointed to Paul and Silas as the cause of the disturbance. The magistrates’ solution, like Pilate with Jesus, was we will punish them and release them (Luke 23:16). This is a worldly and common way of thinking. These two outsiders are causing me trouble. I’ll teach them a lesson and send them straight out of town. The missionaries will shut up and get out, the townspeople will be appeased, and the magistrates can get back to life as usual. The magistrates thought the beat and release method was the best approach to the trouble.

Now the jailer,

  • The jailer understood that their release was good

Put yourself in the jailer’s shoes. The night had been eventful to say the least. The jailer receives these new praying and singing prisoners who he tortures in the stocks. An earthquake hits, the cells open, and the jailer is ready to commit suicide because he assumes the prisoners have all escaped. Paul stops him and Paul preaches the gospel to him and to all in the jailer’s house. After washing Paul and Silas’ wounds, the whole family believes and everyone is baptized. Then they have a happy-meal (everyone rejoiced and ate), and return to the jail.

The jailer and his family have their sins forgiven and their consciences cleaned. The jailer and his family are united to Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life. This whole family is converted. There was a lot of joy in the house and I’m sure a lot of sorrow over the mistreatment of Paul and Silas. So, when the police come from the magistrates and tell the jailer to release Paul and Silas, I’m sure the jailer was overjoyed.

Look at verse 36, “And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.’” I can see the jailer passing the news on to Paul and Silas with a huge smile on his face. His newfound brothers are free to go. Go in peace. But Paul and Silas are not willing to go in peace. Before we take up the missionaries’ perspective, let’s make some application

  • Christian, consider others

The magistrates are a terrible example of what it looks like when a person in authority looks out only for himself. This can be an appointed official, like a magistrate, or a boss, a husband, a parent, or a pastor. The only consideration when trouble comes is how to get back to peace as quickly and easily as possible. There is no concern for justice or for love (unless we’re talking about the sinful love of self). There is no willingness to sacrifice.

As leaders with authority, we must do the work to understand. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Mom and Dad, don’t be like the magistrates. Don’t take the path of least resistance. Don’t assume the first child to talk is right. And we must strive to go beyond the good and simple that we see. There is often more going on than meets the eye.

Before jumping into that good thing, consider the cost your neighbors will pay. Consider the hidden cost your family and church will pay when you commit to one more thing. What looks good to you may be terrible for those around you. The truth here is that what is good for you may not be good for others. We must consider others, and when wronged

II. Seek justice, not revenge (37-39)

Justice is often a payment that restores, whereas revenge is a payment that goes beyond what restores into what humiliates or exceeds fair restitution. When someone wrongs you, like the magistrates have wronged Paul and Silas, what do you think on? I’m going to get her fired! I’m going to have his license revoked! I’m going to take them out! Let’s follow the story as it develops.

Look back at verse 37, “But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.’”

  • Paul and Silas sought justice

Now, we must pause and ask if Paul and Silas are right to do this. Remember, Jesus made it clear, “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5:38). Paul and Silas seem to be resisting the one who is evil. Instead of going quietly, Paul and Silas demand an acknowledgement of the wrong that has been done.

We think of Jesus, clothed in a purple robe, crown of thorns piercing his skull, reed in his right hand, beaten with a rod, spat upon, mocked, and saying nothing (Mt 27:27-31). We also need to think of Jesus, when struck at his trial, saying, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23). Must a Christian always and only turn the other cheek? When do we demand just treatment? Jesus upheld both. It appears that Paul and Silas upheld both.

The list in Acts 16:37 establishes the injustices committed. Look again at verse 37. Uncondemned means no trial. Roman citizens, protected by Roman law from public beatings and imprisonment without a trial, have been beaten publicly and imprisoned against the law of the land. Paul and Silas demand justice, they do no seek revenge. Revenge would be to see the magistrates beaten and thrown in stocks. Justice is seeing the magistrates publicly acknowledge their crime so that the other citizens are protected from similar treatment. Notice this next,

  • The magistrates understood they had done wrong

Verse 38, “The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.”

Several scholars trace the history of Roman law at work here. Darrell Bock explains, “This detail about the release is important because it is against Roman law to cane a Roman citizen, and so Paul is owed an apology at the least. Paul’s rights established by ancient law codes, have been violated. The Valerian (509 BC), Porcian (248 BC), and Julian law codes (ca. 23 BC) affirmed such protections” (544).

NT Wright recounts the story of a young lawyer named Cicero bringing charges against a magistrate in Sicily named Verres. The year was 70 BC. What ultimately brought Verres down was the fact that he had flogged and crucified a Roman citizen without a trial. The man had repeatedly claimed, “I am a Roman citizen” but Verres ignored the claim. Verres went into voluntary exile because of his crimes as a magistrate and was later executed by Mark Antony (71).

Wright explains the significance, “That story, of course, went round the world of Roman politics and governance as a stinging cautionary tale. I am a Roman citizen! It was the ace up the sleeve, the card to play when you really needed to win the game. Whatever else magistrates knew about running their local towns or districts, they knew they shouldn’t do what Verres had done. If news of such a thing got back to Rome…it didn’t bear thinking about” (71).

The magistrates knew they had done wrong. The magistrates were afraid. So,

  • The magistrates made amends for their wrong

Verse 39, “So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.” The magistrates came appealing to Paul and Silas (NASB). The magistrates came to appease Paul and Silas (NIV).

Track the way the words change from back in verse 35. It is simple there, “Let those men go.” Down to verse 37, “do they now throw us out secretly?” Then in verse 39, “they took them out and asked them to leave the city.” The magistrates went from sending them out, which Paul understood as being thrown out, to personally and apologetically taking Paul and Silas out and asking them politely to leave. The magistrates’ tone has changed because of new information about Paul and Silas’ citizenship.

Now, while we are grateful for the protection Roman citizenship brought to many, we grieve over the unjust value system often created throughout history and across nations. These people are of value because of the gps coordinates on which their mother gave birth. Those people are not of value because of the gps coordinates on which their mother gave birth. Now, I do not touch on immigration policy here, though that is a worthy topic for Christians to consider. What I am pointing to is the absolute and intrinsic value of every human based on the image of God.

Genesis 1:27 establishes that all humans are God’s image bearers. Genesis 9:6 directs us to use capital punishment because murder is an attack on God’s image in the person. Nationality should not establish worth. The image of God in every human establishes worth and rights, no matter the person’s nationality.

So, while we are grateful for the relief given to the missionaries and the church in Philippi, we grieve over the millions of people mistreated or murdered simply because of their weak status among the nations.

What then should we do in response to injustice?

  • Christian, reject revenge but seek justice

Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

This means, “I’m going to get you,” is incompatible with the Christ. Beloved, never avenge yourselves. Revenge does not redeem or restore. Revenge destroys both parties. Sacrificing self for justice, for the good, that is the path on which good can travel.

Revenge is found in the nursery when a child who has been bitten, bites back. Revenge is found online when fake accounts and cyber bullying are employed to tear a person down. Revenge is found in our homes when a spouse withholds some good or refuses some act of service to get back at the other. Revenge is found among friends when one who was left out seeks to return the pain. Revenge is found in the church when we oppose a brother because he previously opposed us. Instead of doing nothing and instead of seeking revenge, we are called to actively seek to overcome evil with good. The gospel ethic calls us to sacrifice self and seek justice while rejecting revenge. The gospel ethic is

III. Through love serve one another (40)

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” The rights and freedoms we know as US citizens are a tiny reflection of the rights and freedoms we know as sons and daughters of the living God. What then do we do with these rights and freedoms?

  • Paul and Silas sought what was good for others

What was good for these magistrates in Philippi? Without seeking revenge, Paul and Silas needed to call out the illegal and unjust crimes being committed by the magistrates. The magistrates needed to be called to repent. Similarly, we Christians should be in the public square calling out illegal and unjust crimes when our officials commit them. When those invested with power misuse that power then Christians must oppose those who are in the wrong. It was good for the magistrates to be held accountable for their illegal actions.

What about the Christians in Philippi? What was good for these Christians? Many of them would have lacked the protection of Roman citizenship. If the magistrates arrested, beat, and confiscated the property of Romans citizens then there was little recourse especially for those who lacked physical, financial, or political power. For the future safety of Christians in Philippi, Paul and Silas needed to pursue just treatment. These magistrates would think twice before arresting, beating, and imprisoning a Christian without a fair trial.

What about the church in Philippi? What good did the church need? The church needed to be encouraged. Acts 16:40 tells us that upon their release, Paul and Silas “visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.”

It is likely the case that the church met in Lydia’s house. So Paul and Silas gathered the church and encouraged the people. This sounds a lot like Hebrews 10:24 and 25, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

We live in an evil day. Many of us are confronted constantly by evil and injustice. We are tempted to fight fire with fire; we want to repay evil with evil. We need the encouragement of the church if we are going to engage evil, seek justice, and reject revenge.

  • Christian, what can you do?

Christian, what can you do? Acts 20:35, help the weak. Galatians 5:13 tells us do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Sure, you could use your American citizenship to go home and insulate yourself and your family from the brokenness and evil that are running rampant in our day. Use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; protect yourself and provide for yourself. Not my circus; not my monkeys. We could do that, but we would be wasting our freedoms.

Instead, use your freedom to serve one another with love. What would that look like in Hood and Somervell  counties? It looks like working to ensure minorities and immigrants are treated fairly when it comes to access to schools, housing, and health care. It looks like Christians running for office to ensure the just and fair treatment of all citizens and not just a powerful demographic. It looks like Christians becoming law enforcement officers and jailers to ensure the just and fair treatment of all people. It looks like Christians becoming lawyers and judges in order to uphold justice and oppose injustice. It looks like Christians helping their neighbors who are caught up in sin.

God’s people must be the most loving, merciful, and kind people inhabiting the most loving, merciful, and kind institutions. Our marriages, families, churches, and businesses must be marked by love, mercy, and kindness.

God’s people must be the most just, fair, and righteous people inhabiting the most just, fair, and righteous kind of institutions. Our marriages, families, churches, and businesses must be marked by justice, fairness, and righteousness.

What should you do? Hold fast to love and justice. May we, like Jesus, be radical in our holiness and rich in mercy. God help us.

Discuss Acts 16:35-40

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. Do you lean more heavily toward showing mercy or pursuing justice? How can you work to balance the two?
  3. When you are a in a dangerous situation, do you think of yourself first as a child of God under God’s sovereign care or as a US citizen with certain rights?
  4. Compare Hosea 12:6 to Micah 6:8. How are these verses similar and how are they different?
  5. Describe a time when you chose what was good for you but it ended up being bad for your family, coworkers, or church? What did you learn from this?
  6. How do you understand Matthew 5:38 and how do you seek to live it out in your home, church, and work?
  7. Were Paul and Silas right to demand the magistrates come and walk them out? Should Paul and Silas have turned the other cheek and quietly left town?
  8. What is the difference between justice and revenge?
  9. Imagine a fellow church member does minor damage to your car when leaving church one Sunday but refuses to pay for the damages. What should you do?
  10. What rights should be given to all humans and what rights should be given to only Americans?
  11. When have you seen revenge do damage to others and when have you seen self sacrifice do good to others?
  12. How can you encourage church members to overcome evil with good?

One Good Master; Acts 16:19-25

Main Point: God is the only glorious and good master.

            In our daily Bible reading today, Acts 26, Paul is preaching for the conversion of King Agrippa. Paul desperately wants to see Agrippa repent and believe in Jesus. To Agrippa, Paul recounts how Jesus gave him specific orders to open people’s eyes so they will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18). To be saved is to move from darkness to light and from blindness to sight.

            In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul again describes conversion as moving from blindness to sight. The god of this world (that’s Satan) blinds the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4).

            What exactly then is this power of darkness? By what means does Satan blind people to keep them from seeing the glory and goodness of Jesus? How does Satan work?

            Consider with me that sin is slavery. When the blinding work starts, no one just signs up to be a slave. Satan doesn’t sit down with a powerpoint presentation to illustrate how this thing we look at and love will slowly but surely gain control of our hearts and minds so that eventually we become slaves. No, Satan only gives enough to gain an audience and ultimately destroy a soul. It is the sweetness of sin that blinds us and eventually binds us.

Satan knows, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Mt 6:24). Satan wants to blind you and me and our neighbors and our children by tempting us to love any master other than God. We must resist him through worship.

The easiest wins for Satan are money and pleasure. Money is a necessary part of life that can easily take control of us. Sex is a good gift given to marriage, but it can easily take control of us and own us. Other idols that blind are one’s nationality and the desire for ease. As we walk through Satan’s blinding work in Acts 16, I hope you see that God is the only good master. God is the only good and faithful king. Let’s worship the king.

Read Acts 16:11-24

I. Beware of the money-master (19)

Jesus made it plain, “You cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6:24). Think about these men who own this girl and are profiting off the fact that she has a demon. And remember, having a demon is not like having super-hero type powers. Having a demon means being controlled by what is absolute evil. The girl is being controlled by evil and exploited by men. And what is the master of these men? Money is their master.

  • The slave owners love their money not their neighbor

Look again at Acts 16:19, “But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market-place before the rulers.”

Luke has a word play here. When the demon came out, the men’s hope of profit came out with it. These men were looking forward to the money they could gain off this demon possessed girl. They cared nothing for the girl, and they cared nothing for the people who were paying to have their fortunes told. These men cared only for the business, and more specifically only for the profit they gained by the business. True, these men were not doing anything illegal, but they were doing something evil. They were not doing good. Exploiting the weak for financial gain is wrong.

Think about your business; think about your work. Why do you work? Where is the glory of God in your work (Col 3:23; 1 Cor 10:31)? Where is the good of others in your work (Prov 3:27; Gal 6:10; Mt 22:29)? If the glory of God and the good of others are not your number 1 and number 2 priorities in your work, then something else is and that something else is most likely profit. She works hard for the money is no joke and it is slavery to a master that is neither good nor glorious.

What is the better way?

  • The gospel calls us to love our neighbors

The greatest commandment, the ruling commandment, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Mt 22:37). God alone is worthy of and capable of your ultimate allegiance. It is knowing the strength and tasting the sweetness of God that empowers our sacrificial love for others. God must be first because God alone is fit as our first love. All other masters will eventually enslave and ruin. The infinitely happy God who needs nothing from us is the only one who can be trusted with our first love. The Triune and perfect God has no reason to exploit us. Every other master has good reason and strong temptation to exploit us. God alone is worthy of all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the call to love God.

And a second commandment is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:39). Now, I think most of us (I hope) would say we love our neighbors meaning we wish them well and don’t want their harm. But is that love? Consider Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” This means loving your neighbor means actively looking after their interests. Loving your neighbor is actively seeking their good.

Three questions: 1) Do you know your neighbors? 2) Do you have an idea about their interests; what would be good for them? 3) Are you actively seeking their good?

We follow a Savior who laid aside his rights as God in order to suffer so you and I could be restored to God. Neighbor love is giving up self so that others can find the same life and hope in God through Christ that you have found. Neighbor love is costly. Do you see the Jesus who is worthy of sacrifice and praise? Beware of the love of money and

II. Beware of the nation-master (20-21)

The next stop is Thessalonica in Acts 17 and the charge there is “they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (17:7). Darrel Bock explains that “The Roman pride of Philippi is a point of focus here, as Artemis will be for Ephesus in Acts 19” (538). They love their country above all. The idol of one’s country is nothing new. Here is the warning

  • A person’s nation or culture can become a god

Look at these warning signs in verse 20, “And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.’”

There is pride and prejudice, there is division, and there is a call to allegiance. The prejudice comes in verse 20. Do you see it? “These men are Jews.” Back in that day, Jews were tolerated by the Romans, but they were looked down upon. To say, “They are Jews” is to say, “They are not Romans. We reject your gospel because we are Romans.” You will likely confront this kind of thinking as you share the gospel. Some will reject the gospel claiming it comes from white men. Some will reject the gospel claiming it is for weak women. “We won’t hear you because you are Jews. We won’t hear you because you’re white. We won’t hear you because you’re a woman.” It is common to struggle with the idol of ethnicity, culture, or nationality. The blind love this part of who they are and see Jesus as a poor substitute.

And remember, Philippi was a Roman colony settled mainly by veterans, by Roman soldiers. In verse 12 we see that being Roman was a big deal. Being Roman was the ruling characteristic of these people and retaining their status as Romans determined their decisions. “We can not think like you or believe like you because we are Romans!”

Look back at verse 20. The charge leveled against those Jews is they were disturbing the city. Darrel Bock uses the familiar phrase of disturbing the peace. Here we want to interject, “No, they are disturbing your bank account.” But, if Phillipi is anything like Pisidia Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, or Ephesus, then the gospel was disturbing the city. How much had Lydia’s conversion effected business? How much had casting out the demon effected the way people sought advice from the gods? How much had their preaching stirred up guilt over sin?

Living lives of holiness, calling people to repent, celebrating God’s grace in Jesus Christ, opposing evil, and advancing good will disturb a city. There is no indication that the missionaries were picketing a feast offered to an idol. There is no indication that they are boycotting the local Roman-mart. Through hospitality, faithful preaching, and seeking the salvation of souls they disturbed a city. Pickets, protests, and boycotts have their place, but they must never replace everyday generosity and clear preaching to our neighbors and coworkers.

Back to verse 21, “They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” Do you hear it? Us Romans, we Romans, we can’t endorse or do what Jesus says to do. We can’t accept these things and we cannot do these things. Being Roman and following the law of Rome is the only acceptable practice. This allegiance problem becomes clear in Acts 17:7. The Thessalonians say, “[the Christians] are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Know this,

  • A Christian’s ruling loyalty is to Christ above all

To be a Christian is to submit to Jesus as Lord, and you cannot serve two masters. To be a Christian is to worship the king because of his glory. Jesus calls the shots. These Romans in Philippi had a good understanding of Christianity; to be a Christian is to give your allegiance to Jesus. This submission necessarily means you are no longer ruled by Rome, and you no longer worship the Caesar as god. But to be Roman was to be safe, to have a city, and to live with respect. They had to worship Caesar to hold on to the safety of Rome.

To be a Christian is to take up the reproach that the world puts on Christ. To be a Christian is to understand Hebrews 13:14, “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” When we see his beauty, we will seek his city.

So, who has your allegiance? Who has the authority and worth and power to call the shots in your life? Is it your country or is it the Christ? Are your desires leading you or is Jesus? It is necessary when we gather each week and when we encourage one another every day that we give one another the true and worthy Jesus. Our country, with increasing force, is telling us what is right and what is good. Our country wants to dictate what is acceptable and what is not as we follow Jesus. Our sinful desires, with increasing force, are telling us what is right and what is good. And our glorious King, with love and sovereignty, is telling us what is right and what is good. Who do you see as worthy of your allegiance? What do you see as worthy of your allegiance?

Do you see a future with Christ that causes you to joyfully accept the plundering of your home and your retirement because you know that you have a better and an abiding one (Heb 10:34)? Let us give our allegiance to Jesus and let us give one another a Jesus who is worthy of our allegiance.

Beware of the money-master, the nation-master, and the comfort-master

III. Beware of the comfort-master (22-25)

The comfort-master tempts us away from suffering and sacrifice. The comfort-master commands me to do only what brings me ease. And we see the idol of comfort in Acts 16 by seeing its rejection. Whereas the slave owners serve the money-master and the citizens of Philippi serve the nation-master, Paul and Silas reject the idol of comfort. Let’s track what happens next

  • Paul and Silas get mobbed

Paul and Silas preached the gospel and the Christian ethic so they got canceled. Look again at Acts 16:22, “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.” Imagine a crowd surrounding Paul and Silas yelling at them, accusing them, and hating them. Imagine a crowd at school or at work surrounding you and yelling at you. Is Jesus and the advance of the gospel worth the pain? And the attack doesn’t stop with angry words. We are told in the end of verse 22

  • Paul and Silas receive a severe beating

What are Paul and Silas beaten with? They are beaten with rods. The magistrates were typically two rulers or judges, and it was these men who handed down the sentence to beat Paul and Silas with rods. The magistrates had assistance, a group we refer to as the police, and it was these men who were charged with beating Paul and Silas. The police carried bundles of sticks to symbolize their office but also to deliver punishment.

Because Paul and Silas loved Jesus and their neighbors so they preached the gospel and were beaten for it. Verse 22 tells us they were striped then beaten. Humiliation and pain were the results of preaching. Angry words turn into a severe beating which turns into harsh imprisonment

  • Paul and Silas receive a harsh imprisonment

Read verse 23 again, “And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

This is a maximum security and maximum pain situation. The security came from being in the inner prison, what we would call the dungeon, and the pain came from the stocks. Stocks were often two pieces of wood with holes for the prisoner’s feet. There were different holes which could be used to put the prisoner’s legs at painful angles to bring on muscle cramps. The prisoner couldn’t turn over or stand but was forced to sit and suffer. Paul and Silas were suffering from many blows, and they were suffering from the harsh imprisonment. What Paul and Silas did was nothing short of miraculous.

  • Paul and Silas pray and sing

Let’s go on and read verse 25, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

Now it is not difficult for us to imagine Paul and Silas praying for relief and release. Their backs were bleeding, and their legs were cramping. God get me out of here!

But singing is a different matter. After the last supper and before Jesus’ arrest, we are told that they sang a hymn and then went out to the Mount of Olives (Mt 26:30). In Acts 5, after the apostles are attacked, arrested, beaten, and freed we are told, “Then thy left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). How is it that going beaten and bruised from a trial brings about the same response as going with Jesus from a meal to a time of prayer?

  • We need the eyes of our hearts enlightened

Think about it, all you have to do is be silent and no one gets hurt. All you have to do is be silent and no one gets saved. It is our love for comfort and ease that keeps us silent and at home. It is our love for money that keeps us running and sacrificing so we can go and make dollars. It is our love for our culture or our country that leads us to look at Jesus and say, “No I can’t follow him. Following Jesus would mean giving up the land that I love.”

In the men’s Bible study last Thursday morning Daniel Piatt was leading us through Ephesians 1 and we looked at the prayer in Ephesians 1:16-19. The prayer is for the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe.

What do we need to see? We need to see where we are being lured into slavery. What tempts you? Is it a life of ease? Is it love for country? Is it a desire for money and profit? Consider the blinding effects of these idols. Looking at them and longing for them necessarily means you are not looking at and longing for Jesus.

Christian, God has called you to a living hope, to a pulsing vibrant hope precisely because God has raised Jesus from the grave. You have a future, an inheritance, that is defined by the presence of God and the fullness of joy. The end of this path of pain is pleasure forevermore (Ps 16:11). There is a God at your right hand with power such that you can sacrifice and suffer and sing. Seeing God, seeing the end, gives us reason to sing today. What are you looking at?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you in your suffering. Do you see it? Do you see him? God is the only good and glorious master. He alone can be trust with our love and devotion.

Like Moses in the wilderness, our prayer must be that God shows us his glory and goes with us. Money and country and ease promise much and deliver only slavery. Christ promises us eternal life and delivers joy unspeakable and full of glory. God gives us eyes to see.