2020-07-26 – Acts 18:1-17 – Whom Shall I Fear
Bible Text: Acts 18:1-17 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts | 2020-07-26 – 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.
We are going to start out on a new journey together in scripture through the book of First Corinthians. The books of First and Second Corinthians are actually letters from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. We will hear the introduction of that First Corinthian letter next week. But I thought it prudent to take you back in time a few years before to where the Apostle Paul first plants that church in Corinth towards the end of his second missionary journey. That account is found in scripture in Acts chapter 18. [Map]
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..
For those that might not know, after Jesus rose from the grave and then ascended into heaven, the apostles took on the Great Commission that Jesus gave them to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. That is what Paul was about doing when he planted that church in Corinth.
In Today’s message we are going to see the start of that Corinthian church. 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. Starting at verse 1, it reads:
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.
Again, the city of Corinth is connected to the books of first and second Corinthians for which Paul later wrote the 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 the apply nick-named the place we call “sin city” for Las Vegas, Corinth also was a “sin city” in its own rights. It 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 today, 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, in our world today, ministers, pastors, evangelists and missionaries endeavor to support their families any way they can. Only a small percentage of them can actually support their family on the wages from ministry, thus they generally need to have some side hustle of a sort. Please pray for me and pray for them as we continue to serve the Lord.
Again, Aquila and Pricilla are first mentioned here in this book of Acts. I find it interesting that Aquila and his wife Priscilla are always mentioned in scripture together. They are mentioned six-times in the New Testament and each time we also see them kind of ministering to Paul and taking care of him. They were some of Paul’s closest friends, and they were fellow workers in both tentmaking and in ministry. Paul expresses well his love for them in Romans 16, where he says, “Greet Priscilla 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”. Isn’t that a cool caring relationship. That is the way church ministry is supposed to be. Amen?
Our verse 5 continues:
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.
So, like Aquila and Priscilla, Silas and Timothy are also 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 now devote more of himself to preaching and evangelism. This shows that we need each other in this work of ministry.
Likewise, I thank you all for all that you do with me for God’s purpose and glory. Reaching out to the lost and to our community is serious and difficult work, and I couldn’t do it without your continual support.
In this section of verses, we see that Paul ran into some resistance, it says the Jewish people he was attempting to reach blasphemed God. The word blaspheme means to speak with contempt about God, or use His name in vein. Somebody commits blasphemy also when they belittle God, or say something that gives others a false representation of His glory, holiness, authority, and character.
The sin of blasphemy is not the unpardonable sin, however like Paul, when somebody starts using God’s name in vein, we should not be a part of their company. Like Paul shook out his clothes, which means he was finished with them, we too should not make company with people who blaspheme God.
Unfortunately, we too should expect to occasionally run into people who ridicule and scorn God and us as well. We need to be in prayer about this, 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 he had to say. So you see 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 the Gospel to folks, and their heart has not yet been prepared, then they will probably not be able to receive it. Sometimes it is best to move on and let God work on them for a while, 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 still 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 needed that message, and then 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 will all 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 you comfort so you can in turn give.. comfort.
12 While Gallio [Ga-Leo] 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, [Ga-Leo] 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. So these Jewish men were really just religious bullies. Have you ever run into one of those? They can take the air out of a room for sure. I pray that you never become a religious bully. If you ever find yourself so bent on a particular religious issue that you are filled with hate for others, please know that God is not in that. Yes we are supposed to support and defend God’s word and will but not at the expense of our love for one another. We find out later in the Corinthian letter that this poor fellow Sosthenes survived and continued to serve despite his suffering.
So, I will suggest there are 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 then he was tried and released much to the chagrin of the Jews. Many soles were saved but some as we see here were also persecuted.
The main take away I have for you 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, not fear. Again, fear is satan’s most effective weapon. It is such a debilitating emotion. And 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 treasured 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 earlier this morning from Chris Tomlin has some wonderful suggestions maybe we should head. He sings:
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?
So you now see how this church in Corinth started. It was a church planter called Paul who was willing to put up with persecution and hardship for the sake of Christ. We will learn much more about that church in the coming months. We will see their successes and their failures. We will all learn together more about how we should do the things that we do as a church, and what we should not be doing as well. So buckle up and join me on this journey through First Corinthians.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”