2019-01-27 – Acts 18:1-17 – Whom Shall I Fear
Bible Text: Acts 18:1-17 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts | 2019-01-27 – Acts 18:1-17 – Whom Shall I Fear
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Well most of you know I am going to Israel at the end of this month for 10 days. I will be leaving on Tuesday and getting back on Thursday of the following week. Thank you all for allowing me the time to go. Adeline’s teacher, Dr. Muck, will be bringing the message in my absence, and I am certain you will enjoy it. Jeremy Bullock will be leading Sunday School next week as well. Thank you Jeremy J
Speaking of Jeremy, He once had a friend that had an inflated opinion of himself. As a friend should, Jeremy decided to help his friend lose this quirk. Subtly, Jeremy mentioned that he knew George Clooney. His friend said, “Oh yeah? Prove it.” In a few minutes they were in front of a large house near the beach. They knocked and out came George Clooney saying, “Come on in Jeremy and bring your friend.” On the way home the friend said, “Okay, so you know George Clooney”.. obviously it wasn’t enough, so Jeremy said, “Yes, he and I and the president are well acquainted.” The friend cried out, “that’s too much! let’s go to D.C. and see.” Well the same thing happened there, the president opened the door and said, Jeremy how are ya, come on in and and bring your friend. After leaving there the friend said, Well, okay, you do know the president.” Jeremy sensed he needed one more example and remarked, “Yeah, but you know the Pope has a nicer office.” What! yelled his friend, “if you know the pope I will pay for us to go visit.” In a few days they were in Rome. Jeremy knocked on the door and a Cardinal came out extending his hand, but he wouldn’t let Jeremy’s friend attend, so he stayed outside. After an hour Jeremy came out of the Vatican and apologized to his friend. The friend shook his head, said that it was okay, and then pointed to the crowd, they all were asking, “who is the guy with Jeremy?”
We all need friends like Jeremy don’t we, lol
In Today’s message we are going to see true friendship in action. We are going to walk with the Apostle Paul from Athens to Corinth where he stayed a year and a half around 52-53 AD, about 20 years after Jesus was crucified and then ascended into heaven.
Please turn now to Acts 18, verse 1, page 985 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
You might recall last week we read how Paul, through circumstances beyond his control, was brought before a huge audience in Athens Greece.
Paul gave a masterful sermon that he preached to scholars and officials who loved to debate and talk about religious matters. Paul was so wise at introducing them to Jesus, while at the same time not insulting their intelligence. He capitalized on the fact that they worshiped many gods, as was obvious by the number of Greek god sculptures all about town. I wish I could have been there to hear him and watch him evangelize the citizens of Athens. I bet it was amazing.
The big take-away for us was that we should be so bold, but we learned also the understanding that Jesus didn’t come to be served, but instead to serve. And that He did most masterfully. I hope you enjoyed that message, I sure did J
And that is where our verses kick off with here today in Chapter 18, verse 1.
1 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, 2 where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, 3 and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. 4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.
The city of Corinth is connected to the books of first and second Corinthians where Paul later wrote letters the church members there. Paul had a lot of work to do in Corinth, as it was kind of known to be like a party town. And just like apply the nick-name of “sin city” for Las Vegas, Corinth was so bad that the Jews back then even had a standard insult they would use by calling someone a Corinthian. That is where Paul finds himself now in the company of some very sinful people. Kind of like a Sodom and Gamora kind of environment. Paul knew that even in the darkest places are in the world, the light of Christ can still shine.
Paul meets for the first time Aquila and his wife Priscilla. This wonderful couple became instrumental for Paul as he continued his missions. Like Paul they were actual Tentmakers. Interesting that missionaries and ministers are commonly referred to as tentmakers, as most live as a working-servant in a way. Paul, besides spreading the Gospel and starting churches, also worked as a Tentmaker because he didn’t want to be a burden to anyone as he served the Lord. He later wrote a letter to the Thessalonian church and said, “You remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you while we preached to you the gospel of God”. Like Paul, ministers endeavor to support their families any way they can. Only a small percentage of them can support the family on a pastor’s wage, thus we are tentmakers. I am very thankful for this church. You all, in faith, are giving me a small salary, but I wouldn’t be able to make it if it wasn’t for the added monies I am now pulling from my retirement funds. That is the life of a minister. Paul set a great example for us in his ministry.
Aquila and Pricilla are first mentioned here in the New Testament. Again, they too were actually Tentmakers. They supported the ministry with what they earned. They also represented Christ as they were in the world doing their work. Most of you also are kind of like Aquila and Pricilla, in that God has provided most of you occupations, for which you now earn your livings. Work is good and God wants you to earn your keep (1 Peter 2:13) but He wants your goals and focus for being at work to be different from those around you. Colossians 3:24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”. God wants you to show you are Christian by the excellence of your products or services, the standards of your integrity, the love you show to people, and even the way your spend your salary. All these actions show people the God you love, more than mere words could ever convey.
And when they see that, then maybe they will then care enough to listen to your testimony. We should all have the mindset of a godly tentmaker.
It is also interesting in these verses that Aquila and his wife Priscilla are always mentioned in scripture together in ministry. One of the most destructive tools satan frequently employs is causing division within the marriage. God wants married couples to work as one-flesh, and I am here to tell ya that it is a glorious thing when we can. As a church family, we have to protect, maintain and even celebrate the marriage relationships. We should continually strive to be obedient to God’s word, and then be submissive to each other. Pricilla and Aquila are mentioned six times in the New Testament and each time they are mentioned, we also see them kind of ministering to Paul and taking care of him. They were Paul’s friends, and they were fellow workers in both tentmaking and in ministry. They believed and enjoyed supporting the work that God had ordained Paul to be doing. Paul expresses well his love for them in Romans 16, where he says, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their lives for me. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house”. You can see how much they cared for each other. That is the way church ministry is supposed to be.
Like Prisca and Aquila, I know that I am blessed that Amy and I work so well together. And you, our church family have elected to come aside us in this Godly work and mission. We thank you all, as it makes all the difference. We need each others encouragement and blessings. Ministry is tough work. We need to minister together for His glory and purpose.
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 So he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.
Silas and Timothy are also great supporters of Paul’s work. Before, Paul was having to make tents to survive as he served. Now that Silas and Timothy are there helping, Paul can devote more of himself to preaching and evangelism. This again shows that we need each other in this work. Thank you all for all that you do. Our purpose is to reach the lost, that is serious and difficult work, and I couldn’t do it without your continual support.
In this last section of verses, Paul ran into some resistance and it says they blasphemed. Blaspheme means to speak with contempt about God, to speak badly of Him or use His name in vein. Somebody commits blasphemy also when they belittle God, or say that all He is equal to the false gods. The fact is, every time we do or say something that gives others a false representation of the glory, holiness, authority, and character of God, we commit blasphemy. Fortunately, Jesus forgives even the sin of blasphemy. It is not the unpardonable sin. And like how Paul shook out his clothes, which means he was finished with them, we too should not make company with people who blaspheme God.
And like Paul, we too should expect to occasionally run into people who ridicule and scorn us as well. We need to be in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in these situations. Paul moved on, and then he found two others who were interested to hear what Paul had to say. If Paul would have stayed and agued, then he may not have been able to present the Gospel to these others. You see God prepares the hearts of those who will receive. If you are presenting Jesus to folks, and their heart has not yet been prepared, then they will probably not be able to receive. Sometimes it is best to move on and let God work on them for now, but continue to pray for them as you go.
9 The Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 He stayed there a year and a half, teaching the word of God among them.
When I think of the Apostle Paul, I don’t see him as being a person with much fear. But the truth is we all will experience fear on occasion. This wouldn’t have been written and the Lord wouldn’t have spoken it if wasn’t the case. Paul needed to hear these words from God at this time. I too have been blessed to hear that same type of holy message once while I was in the Army. One time I was scared, I was thinking that my world was falling apart. You ever been there? And in the middle of all that I heard a voice, weather audio or in my mind I do not know, but I heard a voice and it said, do not worry, it will be okay. I was like, woah! I couldn’t even explain it to myself, but I headed that message, and you know what, it was okay, I was okay, and to that all I can say is praise the Lord.
We all will struggle at times, but as Christians we know that God is with us, and He will never forsake us. This is God’s word, and we need to believe it. It is freeing and brings true comfort to those that have faith. It is all about faith, do you believe God’s word? Remember what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received.“ God gives comfort so you can in turn give.. comfort.
12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the tribunal. 13 “This man,” they said, “is persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” 14 As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or of a serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews. 15 But if these are questions about words, names, and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal, but none of these things mattered to Gallio.
These folks were complaining to the Roman governor that Paul was trying to have them do something that was against the law. But Gallio was smarter than that, and he knew it was not Roman law that Paul was challenging, it was Jewish law, so Gallio threw them out. They were so mad that they grabbed this poor guy Sosthenes and they beat him up. These Jewish guys were religious bullies. Have you ever run into any of them? I hate bullies. But I also pray for bullies. We find out later that this poor fellow Sosthenes became a Christian despite his suffering.. We know that because Paul says so later in the letter to the Corinthians to greet Sosthenes, so he even became one of Paul’s fellow workers.
So, several things come out in these verses. In summary: Paul continues to spread the gospel; he partners with his friends Aquila and Priscilla, he was comforted by God, told “do not fear”, and was tried and released much to the chagrin of the Jews. People were saved but some were persecuted.
The main take away I would like you to have this morning is that as a Christian, we all have a ministry of some kind. And ministry is tough, but God is with you. Your Christian friends and family are here to support you and serve along side you. Like Paul, we should continue to look for opportunities to partner up with each other in this life’s journey. And in that godly work we need to have faith, and not fear. Again, fear is satan’s most effective weapon. It is such a debilitating emotion. What God said to Paul, he now says to us, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent, For I am with you”
One of my most precious verses in scripture is Isaiah 41:10,”Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand”
The song we played during the offertory from Chris Tomlin has some wonderful suggestions maybe we should head:
You hear me when I call, You are my morning song. Though darkness fills the night, It cannot hide the light. Whom shall I fear.
You crush the enemy, underneath my feet. You are my sword and shield, though troubles linger still. Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies, Is always by my side. The one who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine.
The God of angel armies, Is always by my side
Can I get an Amen?
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”