From PHILIPPI, where THE JAILOR’S FAMILY had all turned to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Paul and Silas in Acts 17 go to Thessalonica, a Greek city! In fact, it is the second largest city in modern Greece. The Apostle Paul preached in the synagogue there, as was their custom wherever possible! So we read from Acts 17:2-3,
“FOR THREE DAYS, explaining HOW CHRIST MUST HAVE SUFFERED, ROSE AGAIN, AND THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH.”
-There was A RIOT AGAIN! Wherever THEY WENT, there was either a REVIVAL, OR A RIOT, OR BOTH. Christianity in action, Pauline style! Moving with God down God’s highway of life. Gobs of religious people want peace at any price. They do not want to rub anyone the wrong way. That is a false Christianity! There WAS AN INSTANT MOB SCENE. The Gentiles turn TO THE LORD JESUS, and enter INTO THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
“OUR LORD AND SAVIOR WAS PUNISHED WITH ONE CROWN BEFORE HE WAS
AWARDED WITH ANOTHER, AND WAS DISCIPLINED WITH SHAME AND
SUFFERING ON HIS WAY TO THE GLORIES OF HIS KINGDOM. IN
PRINCIPLE IT WILL BE NO DIFFERENT WITH HIS FOLLOWERS.”
-The Jews then get jealous, turn against Paul and Silas, took them to the rulers of the city, and said in Acts 17:6,
“THESE THAT HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN ARE
COME HERE ALSO.”
In other words:
“THESE CHRISTIAN RADICALS ARE UPSETTING EVERYTHING
-God, how we need so many more world-upsetting Christians. Since the beginning of creation, one has TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, and his name is Satan. The CRAZY MIXED-UP WORLD has been used to LIVING UPSIDE DOWN SO LONG! Then when SOMEONE COMES TO SET IT RIGHT-SIDE UP, they think that it is ABNORMAL!
-The very same thing is happening today in the United States of America. Christians for two centuries had been turning sinners and America right-side up, and as usual, satanic forces are accusing those radical and extremist Christians of turning the country upside down. There is an obvious move now on the part of the anti-God, anti-Christ forces to silence Christians. It will increase and intensify to the end of the age.
-A HANDFUL OF SPIRIT-FILLED MEN had turned THE WORLD RIGHT-SIDE UP! The JEWISH LEADERS DRIVE THEM OUT OF THE CITY! True Christianity in action! Authentic Christianity on the move!
I. DRIVEN TO VICTORY
-PAUL AND SILAS IN Acts 17:10ff GO TO BEREA ON THE COAST!
1. In Berea, in the synagogue, there were devout STUDENTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES! It is the Word of God read and preached that gets the job done every time. True belief was not easy then, and it is not easy now, even though we live in a time of SEEKER FRIENDLY – EASY BELIEVISM.
Faith is not easy, simply because:
“SINNERS MUST PART WITH THE BAD WHICH FOR THE PRESENT
LOOKS AND TASTES ENJOYABLE, AND JOIN WITH THE
GOOD WHICH IS INVISIBLE AND UNSEEN.”
The power for that hell-to-heaven CONVERSION is not in us, not in Paul, not in any preacher, but in the Word and by the Power of the Spirit of God.
Let’s face it:
“OUR NATURAL SENSES ALWAYS OVERRULE OUR SPIRITS, AND NEVER
DO OUR SPIRITS OVERRULE OUR SENSES, EXCEPT BY THE
HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WORD.”
2. The Bereans examined EVERY WORD PAUL SAID, checking every preached word in the light of THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD, and they BELIEVED! If we ever needed Berean devotion to the Word of God, it is now. Hear it:
“TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD, AND TO HEAR GOD SPEAKING IN HIS WORD,
ARE THINGS VERY DIFFERENT. THE BEREANS HEARD GOD SPEAKING
IN HIS WORD, AND BECAUSE OF THAT THEY DISCERNED WHEN
ANY VOICE WAS NOT IN HARMONY WITH THE VOICE
“WITHOUT HEARING GOD SPEAKING IN HIS WORD, OUR HEARTS WILL
NEVER BE REACHED BY THE PREACHIING OF THE WORD OF GOD.”
–John 6:45 states,
“Everyone that hath heard, AND HATH LEARNED OF THE FATHER,
cometh unto me.”
3. Many of the Bereans believed, along with a good number of prominent Greek women and men! Interesting, for I have found this to be the most general order, first the women and then the men, first the wives and then the husbands! God the Holy Spirit knows what he is doing and how to do it. How often I have seen the Holy Spirit melt the hearts of wives in order to crack open the hard-headed husbands.
4. The Jews in THESSOLONICA heard about it, came down to BEREA, and caused TROUBLE! It is the old syndrome of THESIS and ANTI-THESIS. The problem in this end time apostasy is that the apostate church is trying to satisfy the ANTI-THESIS crowd with HERETICAL SYNTHESIS to make Christianity more palatable. This is taking place massively today in both THEOLOGY and MORALITY. That was not the case in Berea, where the Word of God was absolute, and there was no synthesizing allowed.
5. Another RIOT takes place, and Paul goes down the coast to Athens! Paul leaves SILAS AND TIMOTHY in Berea to look after THE GROWING WORK there!
II. THE HILLTOP UNKNOWN GOD
In ATHENS, modern Greece’s Capital and Largest City:
-Paul finds ALL THOSE IDOLS, a most IDOLATROUS PLACE, and his spirit was deeply troubled! The Bible tells us in Acts 17:16,
“…his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding
a city full of idols.”
Rank idolatry! Sounds like the idol capital of Paul’s day. It was so full of idols that it looked like a modern graveyard. Which meant the city was also full of IDOLATERS. Here an idol, there an idol, and everywhere idols and idolaters. It all sickened Paul’s spirit.
-It never ceases to amaze me:
“HOW CAN THE HEATHEN, WHOSE TRAIT HAS ALWAYS BEEN IDOLATRY, CONCEIVE
THAT TO BE A GOD AND ETERNAL, WHICH BEFORE HAD BEEN A ROCK, A TREE,
OR A CRUDE TRUNK, AND THEN TRANSFORMED INTO A GOD IN
A WORKMAN’S SHOP?”
And so we read in Romans 1:23,
“and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an IMAGE
in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed
animals and crawling creatures.”
The heathen have always derided Christians for their faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, even though they themselves press for and even require faith in an assortment of gods. But because the tenets of their faith are so messed up, the gods that they believe in are even more absurd.
-There is NO REST FOR SPIRIT-FILLED FOLKS IN THE WORLD. Paul then went INTO THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUE THERE AND DISPUTED with them about JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION, as well as in THE MARKET PLACE, wherever he could! The Jews wanted a deliverer to free them from Rome, not a Savior to deliver them from sin.
-DISPUTE! Don’t run from it! It is the evidence that you are speaking the truth of the Gospel. That is the lot of the witness for Jesus Christ anywhere at any time. DISPUTE! Do not shrink from it! To speak and to be spoken against, to write and be written against! Of course, we could compromise our message so as to be accepted, but then:
“WHEN WE LIE ABOUT OUR RELIGION, OUR RELIGION
BECOMES A LIE.”
-Then Paul went to Mars Hill where the philosophers gathered all day, and talked about NOTHING! Another word for PHILOSOPHY is CONJECTURE, so that Mars Hill was crawling with CONJECTURERS who are never able to come to truthful conclusions. Sounds like most modern universities and colleges in America today.
-The CONJECTURERS laughed at Paul, because he had preached as Acts 17:18 states,
“JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION!”
They called him a Babbler, (someone WHO PICKS UP SCRAPS FROM GARBAGE HEAP). J.B. Phillips translates it:
“WHAT WILL THIS SPARROW HAVE TO SAY?” (Picks up crumbs)
They felt, these pagan PHILOSOPHERS did, that Paul didn’t have MUCH TO SAY AT ALL!
-PAUL SEES ON MARS HILL ALTARS TO PAGAN GODS. Idolatry is the hallmark of paganism! These weren’t Jews, so Paul couldn’t USE THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES with them, as he did with Jews! Paul here deals with PAGANS, pagans WHO HAD EVERY KIND OF GOD IMAGINABLE! Yet, with all THOSE GODS, they still were NOT SATISFIED, and they felt that there must be another ONE! Paul preached:
“I KNOW THE UNKNOWN GOD, THE FINAL ONE, WHO
IS THE GOD!”
More exactly he says to them in Acts 17:23,
“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of
your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO
AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship
In ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”
-In case they missed a god, which apparently they felt strongly that they had. Why would you build an altar to nothing or to no one? Listen:
“NO MAN WILL BE FULFILLED UNTIL HE FINDS THE TRUE GOD, AND HIM
WHO HE HAS SENT, HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. BUT UNTIL THEN, HE
CAN PILE UP GODS TO HIS EVER DISCONTENTED HEART, AND
YET BE TOTALLY UNFULFILLED AND NOT KNOW WHY –
BECAUSE HE HAS NOT MET THE UNKNOWN GOD.”
“FOR ANY MAN TO EXPECT TO BE FULFILLED WITHOUT THE SAVING
KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IS AS IMPOSSIBLE
AS SEEING WITHOUT EYES.”
“WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE AND ONLY GOD, MEN AND
THEIR IDOLS ONLY ADD DARKNESS TO DARKNESS, IGNORANCE TO
IGNORANCE, AND LENGTHEN THE SHADOW OF DEATH.”
-Or as Saint Augustine wrote:
“OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS O LORD, UNTIL THEY REST IN THEE.”
-But when Paul got TO THE RESURRECTION OF Jesus again, they laughed-sneered at him. YOU SEE, MEN GAIN RESPECT BY BELIEVING IN GOD…ALMOST EVERYONE, EXCEPT A FEW, LIKE THE IDEA OF GOD, BUT WE LOSE RESPECT WHEN WE ADD THE TRUTH OF THE LIVING JESUS! (Too close, too personal, too real.)
-Certain ONES BELIEVED, as we read in Acts 17:34,
“DIONYSIUS, AREOPAGITE, a woman named DAMARIS, and
OTHERS WITH THEM.”
Such great trophies of God’s grace were they, that Paul mentions a few even by name. With God, it is never about numbers and mega-churches, but about individual persons with real names and eternal souls. One soul that needs to be saved from sin by the blood of Christ is more important to God than a hundred mega-churches filled with people who are already saved.
Dionysius, Areopagite, and Damaris were saved and delivered from that PAGAN PHILOSOPHICAL THINK- TANK CALLED ATHENS. While Mars Hill reached to Heaven, its foundation was in Hell. Just a few of them escaped with their lives from the polytheistic and idolatrous culture that surrounded them and had drawn them in. Jesus led them out and drew them unto Himself. We shall see them in Heaven under a brand new name. Glory be to God!
III. LET’S CORINTHIANIZE OURSELVES
-Corinth was a great GREEK CENTER, and the original OLYMPICS TOOK PLACE THERE EVERY FOUR YEARS! It was also the HEADQUARTERS OF VENUS WORSHIP:
1. VENUS WORSHIP was nothing else but “LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION!”
2. It was worshiping an idol IN THE NAME OF IMMORALITY AND SEX!
3. It had so PERMEATED THE CITY OF CORINTH, that if you wanted A FLING:
a. Today we say: “PAINT THE TOWN RED”, go out “AND HAVE A NIGHT ON THE TOWN.”
b. If they wanted to do that then, they had an EXPRESSION:
“LET’S GO AND CORINTHIANIZE OURSELVES.”
c. If YOU CORINTHIANIZED YOURSELVES, you would THROW ALL MORALS TO THE WIND! It was the Las Vegas and Amsterdam of the 1st century. Everything rotten was legal! You know, what’s done there stays there! For Paul, coming from Athens to Corinth, to be honest, it was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. True Christianity in action! Some like to live near church and chapel bell, Paul lived and worked next to the gate of hell.
-CORINTH THEN WAS A BY-WORD FOR IMMORALITY:
a. If you really wanted a SENSE OF WHAT CORINTH WAS LIKE, read Romans 1.
b. Because Paul wrote Romans, looking out of HIS WINDOW ON CORINTH! That was his setting.
c. There you will find DEBAUCHERY/ PERVERSION/ CARNALITY at its worst. As Romans 1:25 says,
“THEY WORSHIPED THE CREATURE, RATHER THAN THE CREATOR.”
-Today, the world IS CORINTH REVISITED, never a day as today, WHEN THE HUMAN FORM IS SO WORSHIPED. “LET’S GET PHYSICAL” is today’s cry! HUMAN CENTEREDNESS, FLESHLY APPETITES, AND CARNAL PLEASURES are what’s happening in our world!
Today, on a worldwide Corinthian scale,
“WE WORSHIP THE CREATURE, RATHER THAN THE CREATOR.”
Therefore, as Romans 1:24 states,
“GOD GAVE THEM UP TO UNCLEANNESS THROUGH THE LUSTS
OF THEIR OWN HEARTS.”
-Paul’s Corinth then is what we face ON A WORLD-WIDE SCALE TODAY, as never before! Paul’s Corinth surrounds EVERY SPIRIT-FILLED BELIEVER TODAY!
-When Paul came to Corinth, it was most beautiful city between two seaports, but it was like a GARDEN OVERGROWN WITH WEEDS. Its moral atmosphere was noxious. The air was spiritually and morally poisonous. It was filled with a PESTILENCE of sexual rot and perversion. Their teachers were PERVERTERS OF TRUTH. Sounded and looked like a microcosm of modern America.
A California school district NOW has public school students “BOWING TO THE SUN GOD” and participating in “liturgical/ritual religious practices” aimed at having them “become one with god,” according to a brief filed with an appeals court. THERE IS A SPIRIT OF NATIONAL DECEPTION AND DELUSION SPREADING ACROSS THE LAND IN ALL MATTERS OF GREATEST IMPORTANCE. And Satan has only one purpose in it all, and that is to bring our children into eternal damnation.
Or again, if you want to know what it was like to live in Corinth in Paul’s day, just live in the United States today. In the recent NFL draft, a homosexual collegiate football player was drafted by the Saint Louis Rams. The powers that be said that they were HONORED to have this gay player on their team. Hear it:
“WHAT GOD DECLARES TO BE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DISHONORABLE,
1ST CENTURY CORINTH AND 20TH CENTURY, AMERICA DECLARES TO
BE AT THE TOP OF THE HONOR ROLL.”
If you will:
“THE MOST MISSAPPLIED WORD TODAY IS THE WORD HONOR,
AND NOW THE GAY SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF SHAME ARE
BEING CALLED HONORABLE.”
WELCOME TO CORINTHIANZED AMERICA! We are living now in a land and an age of the blaspheming of all that is sacred, and honoring of all that is sinful.
-AS USUAL, THE JEWS THERE REJECT PAUL. We read in Acts 18:5 that Paul gets FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, AND DEPRESSED, hard to imagine Paul depressed! We read,
“But when they RESISTED and BLASPHEMED, he shook out his
garments and said to them, ‘YOUR BLOOD BE UPON YOUR
OWN HEADS! I AM CLEAN. FROM NOW ON I SHALL
GO TO THE GENTILES.’”
-Rejected by Jews, surrounded by WEALTH AND HEATHENDOM, he writes his THESSALONIAN LETTERS! Silas and Timothy had now joined him from Thessalonica, reporting the happiness there! He was moved by the Holy Spirit to WRITE his THESSALONICAN CORRESPONDENCE, which we have in the New Testament letters! In that DEPRESSED STATE, he writes in II Thessalonians 3:1-2,
“FINALLY BRETHREN, PRAY FOR US, THAT THE WORD OF THE LORD MAY
HAVE FREE COURSE, AND BE GLORIFIED EVEN AS IT IS WITH YOU,
AND THAT WE MAY BE DELIVERED FROM UNREASONABLE AND
WICKED MEN: FOR IT APPEARS THAT NOBODY BELIEVES.”
-Yes indeed, the more a city or a nation becomes accustomed to sin, the more the custom of sinning takes away all sense of sin, and the more the community conscience is cast into a deep sleep. Jeremiah 13:23 talks about the iron, invincible force of a wicked custom, when Jeremiah says,
“Can the Ethopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then you
also can do good, who are ACCUSTOMED TO EVIL.”
-Paul was in the dumps. He was ready to write off the entire CITY OF CORINTH and everyone in it. He was fixen to leave, and was tottering on the EDGE OF THE GOOD RIDDANCE SYNDROME. SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR! Paul had had it up to here!
-OH HOW OFTEN we who labor in GOD’S KINGDOM as CALLED BY GOD, yet, WE DISTRUST THAT SAME GOD TO SUPPORT AND BLESS US. Hear me:
“WHEN IT COMES TO THAT MOMENT WHEN WE ARE ABOUT
TO GIVE UP, IT IS THEN THAT WE ARE TO LITERALLY
THROW OURSELVES UPON THE GRACE AND
GOODNESS OF OUR GOD.”
-There are those times when all we can do is heed the words of Moses in Exodus 14:13,
“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord….”
Quit striving, for it is often true that we are our own worst enemy, and we must rest in the arms of the Lord, and prevail upon ourselves to do nothing. Easier said than done! Yes, a spectator and not a contender! It is not easy for us to stay within the lines of God’s all sufficiency. In our minds and our emotions we want to jump over them. Stand still, be quiet, rest in the Lord, and see what the Lord will do!
-Things then begin to happen! It is darkest just before dawn:
1. CRISPUS, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord! His whole family too!
2. And, many OF THE CORINTHIANS BELIEVED AND WERE BAPTIZED!
3. And, then, the Lord Himself encouraged PAUL IN A VISION IN THE NIGHT and SAID in Acts 18:9-10,
“BE NOT AFRAID, BUT SPEAK, AND HOLD NOT THY PEACE, FOR I AM
WITH THEE, FOR I HAVE MUCH PEOPLE IN THIS CITY.”
a. So, Paul stayed on in CORINTH for another 18 months!
b. And if you really want to hear what Corinth was like, and what happened in Corinth, listen to I Corinthians 6:9-11,
“KNOW YE NOT THAT THE UNRIGHTEOUS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
BE NOT DECEIVED, NEITHER FORNICATORS, IDOLATORS, NOR ADULTERERS,
NOR EFFEMINATE, NOR ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND,”
“NOR THIEVES, NOR COVETOUS, NOR DRUNKARDS, NOR REVILERS, NOR EXTORTIONERS,
SHALL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
[It is a nauseating sight to see those sins that have saturated man’s nature, and see them listed in several kinds and all displayed in their filthy colors. It is one thing to see one nation or city branded for one sin, and another nation or city branded for another sin. But CORINTH WAS SATURATED WITH THEM ALL.]
“AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, BUT YE ARE WASHED, SANCTIFIED, JUSTIFIED
IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, AND BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.”
a. You see, there came eventually THIS TREMENDOUS CHANGE OVER THE CITY.
b. And there in THE MIDST OF THAT WICKED CITY, A GREAT CHURCH WAS BUILT UP BY THE LORD! Satan had got ahold of their hearts, and sin raged in their lives. And Jesus Christ came into Corinth by the power of the Holy Spirit through Paul the Apostle, and set them free and cleansed them from the muck and mire of this world. It WAS A GLORIOUS REVIVAL IN THE CITY OF CORINTH, AS THE CORINTHIANIZED SINNERS BECAME CHRISITIANIZED SAINTS. GLORY BE TO JESUS!
FOOTNOTE ON CORINTH:
1. Remember, the Bible tells us in Acts 18:11 that Paul stayed on 1 year/6 months – about 12 years altogether.
2. God said that HE HAD “MUCH” PEOPLE in that city! (Acts 18:10)
3. And, through the SEEDS PAUL SOWED, and long after he was gone, HISTORIANS ESTIMATE BY THE END OF THE FIRST CENTURY, 60,000 CONVERTS IN CORINTH!
4. When GOD SAYS GO, you had better go! But, when God says stay, “YOU BETTER STAY, STAY NO MATTER HOW IMPOSSIBLE THE AREA MAY LOOK!”
Paul LEAVES CORINTH, and now follow the action a bit, by way of interlude! And in Acts 18:19, he goes to Ephesus:
1. Straight across the Water from Corinth to EPHESUS! From Greece to Asia Minor.
2. That was the regular route! Think of all these SHIPS PAUL TAKES on the Greyhounds of the Mediterranean.
3. These SHIP ROUTES were set up by the Romans, and all roads led to ROME, where else?
4. And when THESE ROUTES ENDED, there was A SHIP WAITING FOR YOU, to get you across.
5. So, you could pick up your next ROAD ON THE WAY! Very fast way of traveling!
-Goes from Ephesus back to Antioch, where it all had started in the first place.
-Paul stays in Antioch with the brethren for a while; and leaves ON HIS THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY!
-Paul, a Missionary, HOME ON LEAVE, FURLOUGH, now prepares “TO GO INTO ALL THE WORLD.”
“PAUL THE APOSTLE IS CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION. WITNESSING FOR CHRIST
TURNS CHRISTIANITY FROM A BARE NOTION INTO REAL CONVICTION, FROM
AN IDEA IN THE BRAIN INTO REALITY IN LIFE. TRY IT AND FIND OUT!
NO ONE HAS REALLY LIVED THE CHRISTAIN LIFE UNTIL THEY
WITNESS FOR CHRIST TO THE LOST.”
“BEING A MISSIONARY IS WHAT MAKES A CHRISTIAN, AND KEEPS HIM GOING.
CHRISTIANITY, IF CONFINED WITHIN OUR HEARTS, IS NOT SO MUCH LIVED
AS IT IS IMPRISONED. TRUE, OUR HEARTS ARE TO BE THE FOUNTAIN,
BUT NOT THE DESTINATION OF OUR FAITH. WATER RISES IN
ONE PLACE TO BRING LIFE TO ANOTHER.”
-Christianity in action! A river is no good without a channel to others!
IV. THE MISSING HOLY SPIRIT IN EPHESUS
-Interesting, before, THE HOLY SPIRIT DIDN’T TELL HIM TO STAY, but now Paul comes and stays in Ephesus! We find ourselves now in Acts 19:
1. And there, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul finds CERTAIN DISCIPLES – Acts 19:7-12.
2. And, being DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ, yet, somehow PAUL COULD TELL SOMETHING WAS MISSING. Pentecost had not yet come to and upon the believers in Ephesus. The PROMISE OF THE FATHER – THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE POWER TO WITNESS FOR JESUS – HAD NOT YET COME UPON THEM AND FILLED THEM.
-I don’t think it was anything BAD ABOUT THEM! Not that they were IMMORAL, or that they were doing WEIRD THINGS! Paul could tell that while they were already disciples of Jesus Christ, THEY STILL WERE NOT IN THE AGE OF THE SPIRIT! Not yet! They were SAVED, but as yet, they were not HOLY SPIRIT FILLED AND EMPOWERED. It was obvious and immediately observable. There is something huge missing. Hear me:
“IF A CHRISTIAN IS NOT BAPTIZED IN AND FILLED WITH THE
HOLY SPIRIT, IT WILL BE THE GLARING MINUS IN THE
MIDST OF THE SAVED PLUS.”
-It is shocking and disastrous what so much of Christendom over the ages has done to passages like this. They HAVE MADE SALVATION AND PENTECOST mean the same thing. It is crazy! Nuts! Tragic! Falsehood! Paul doesn’t ask them if THEY ARE SAVED. Rather, Paul asks them something else in Acts 19:2,
“HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT SINCE YOU BELIEVED?”
“SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN REGENERATED BY THE HOLY
SPIRIT, HAVE YOU BEEN FILLED WITH THE
Obviously they are SAVED, they don’t talk and act LIKE THE REST OF THE JEWS IN THE SYNAGOGUE. But, there is something wrong, they don’t APPEAR TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. So Paul ZERO’S RIGHT IN ON IT AND ASKS,
“HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT?”
And they RESPOND in Acts 19:2,
“WE HAVE NOT SO MUCH AS HEARD WHETHER THERE BE
ANY HOLY SPIRIT.”
God have mercy! My goodness, there is something terribly wrong here! Not only didn’t THEY HAVE THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, they had never heard of it. This tells ME THAT THE EARLY CHURCH expected as normal THAT EVERY BELIEVER RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! Is that what is wrong with the modern church, and all of the apostate church today? YES INDEED! You got it! Hear me:
“TRADITIONAL DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES HAVE ALWAYS TREATED THE
HOLY SPIRIT AS A TEMPORARY APOSTOLIC TREAT, AND THE MODERN
SEEKER-FRIENDLY CHARISMANIACS HAVE SILENCED THE HOLY
SPIRIT AND HIS GIFTS, AND ARE COMMITTING
-This is exactly what is wrong today. Christianity has mushroomed into the millions, and churches into the tens of thousands, but it all cannot be compared to the handful of on-fire charter members in Acts 2. In much of the giants of complex denominations and mega-church independents, the WHITE HOT ECSTASY AND POWER OF PENTECOST has COOLED TO A MYTH. At best, they have changed Acts 2 and 19 into metaphors, and they have grown spiritually senile and sterile.
-So Paul goes right to THE BEGINNING of their Christian experience! Paul asks THEM ABOUT THEIR BAPTISM. I mean, in the early church, when YOU WERE A BELIEVER, YOU WERE BAPTIZED BY IMMERSION. And when you were baptized in water, YOU RECEIVED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! That’s THE MIND OF THE EARLY CHURCH, that’s what Peter had said at Pentecost in Acts 2:38,
“REPENT, BE BAPTIZED EVERYONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR
THE REMISSION OF SINS, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
-Then Paul inquires about THEIR BEGINNING, their BAPTISM, and found that they didn’t start out right! Somehow, they could only say THEY HAD RECEIVED JOHN THE BAPTIST’S BAPTISM. No, No, he says, YOU’VE GOT IT ALL WRONG! They were hung UP ON A MAN! He tells them that John POINTED TOWARD TO JESUS, he instructs THEM ABOUT JESUS!
-Then, Paul REBAPTIZES THEM INTO JESUS CHRIST, they had not understood their baptism! AND THEN WE READ IN Acts 19:6,
“PAUL LAID HIS HANDS UPON THEM, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON THEM,
AND THEY SPOKE WITH TONGUES, AND THEY PROPHESIED.”
Bwam! Now what was MISSING IS THERE! Hear it:
“TONGUES AND PROPHECY, IN THAT ORDER, ARE ALWAYS THE SENSIBLE
CONVEYANCES AND NOTICES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S INFILLING
IN THE BIBLE.”
-This is one of the CLEAREST PASSAGES IN ACTS, as to WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH EXPECTED IN BELIEVERS! No, not THE TONGUES AND PROPHESY first of all, that is always stated as THE EVIDENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THEIR NEWLY-FILLED LIVES. They RECEIVED THE POWERFUL HOLY SPIRIT, through CHRIST THEY ENTERED INTO THE DUNAMIS/DYNAMITE POWERFUL AGE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! THE HOLY SPIRIT, through THE LAYING ON OF HANDS, came UPON THEM in a way “THEY HAD NEVER KNOWN BEFORE.” NOW THEY COULD NOT KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, WITH SIGNS AND WONDER FOLLOWING.
-And here, we have as it were THE SECOND 12, for Acts 19:7 says,
“AND ALL MEN WERE ABOUT 12.”
PAUL GOES INTO THE SYNAGOGUE IN EPHESUS:
-Paul speaks BOLDLY THERE FOR 3 months about THE KINGDOM OF GOD. There is A BIG REVOLT AND RIOT AS USUAL! So Paul takes THESE DISCIPLES, and goes into A CERTAIN SCHOOL OF TYRANNUS! Paul for 2 years, every day, day after day, TAUGHT IN THAT SCHOOL! THE DISCIPLES HE TOOK WITH THEM THERE WERE THOSE 12 SPIRIT-FILLED BROTHERS!
-We read in Acts 19:10 that this continued for 2 years! (In the school) We read in Acts 19:10 the result:
“SO THEN, ALL THEY THAT DWELT IN ASIA HEAR THE WORD OF THE
LORD JESUS, BOTH JEWS AND GREEKS!”
12 men and TWO YEARS LATER ALL OF ASIA HEARD THE WORD OF THE LORD! All because, Paul LAID HANDS ON THEM, JESUS BAPTIZED THEM IN THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, and TAUGHT THESE SPIRIT-FILLED BROTHERS THE WORD IN A SCHOOL ROOM. All of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard THE WORD OF THE LORD!
-Remember all THESE CHURCHES:
-Ephesus, Laodicea, Thyatira, Smyrna, Sardis, Pergamum, Philadelphia, all in Asia Minor! All mentioned in Revelation, just up the coast THERE FROM EPHESUS! One might say: “ALL CHURCHES FOUNDED BY THE APOSTLE PAUL”, and be only partly accurate! Rather, DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, LISTENING TO HIM IN THAT SCHOOL OF TYRANNUS for 2 years, going forth from Paul, taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and all of Asia comes under the power of the Lord Jesus and those 7 churches were established!
YOU SEE PEOPLE, AND I REPEAT IT AGAIN:
-I have heard people talk about Acts 19:1-7:
a. About THE NEED OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!
b. And if YOU RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT, YOU WILL SPEAK IN TONGUES AND PROPHECY, AND THAT IS TRUE. But I have not heard them go on to talk about Acts 19:8-10.
c.. That THESE SAME MEN, EMPOWERED AND TAUGHT, conquered Asia for Jesus!
d. The supreme PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
-All THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK OF ACTS, through ALL THE HISTORY OF THE SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH.
-Is NOT FOR CHARISMATICS just to GET TOGETHER IN LITTLE BLESS ME CLUBS.
-To HEAR TONGUES, SEE MIRACLES, and come back and do the SAME NEXT WEEK.
e. Rather, THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM:
-Is TO ENABLE THE BELIEVER TO TELL THE LOST WHAT JESUS MEANS TO THEM – TO YOU.
-Jesus said in Acts 1:8,
“AND YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS COME UPON
YOU, AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME.”
-A witness is:
“ONE WHO BEARS TESTIMONY TO WHAT HE HAS WITNESSED, SEEN,
-YOU ARE THE NUMBER ONE EXPERT of your own experience in Jesus!
-When it COMES TO WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN, HEARD, EXPERIENCED IN JESUS, YOU ARE THE GREATEST EXPERT ANYWHERE.
-It is your NUMBER ONE RESPONSIBILITY, to tell OTHERS WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU!
-It is THE NUMBER ONE RESPONSIBILITY of the HOLY SPIRIT TO EMPOWER YOU TO DO JUST THAT!
-YOU NEED A DYNAMIC EXPERIENCE WITH JESUS CHRIST, TO HAVE SOMETHING TO WITNESS ABOUT!
-YOU NEED A DYNAMIC EXPERIENCE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, TO HAVE THE POWER TO BE EFFECTIVE! THE HOLY SPIRIT WON’T JUST MAKE WITNESSING YOUR OCCUPATION, RATHER YOUR PRE-OCCUPATION
“THE POWER OF HEAVEN MUST FIRST COME INTO YOU, BEFORE YOU CAN
BRINGS OTHERS TO HEAVEN.”
V. THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, AND SPECIAL MIRACLES!
-While Paul stayed in Ephesus:
1. He preached THE THINGS CONCERNING THE KINGDOM, and when YOU AFFIRM JESUS AS LORD AND KING!
2. Jesus will CONFIRM THAT WITH AUTHORITATIVE VOUCHERS, SIGNS AND WONDERS!
-We read about Paul in Ephesus, Acts 19:11-12,
“AND GOD WROUGHT SPECIAL MIRACLES BY THE HANDS OF PAUL, SO THAT
FROM HIS BODY WERE BROUGHT UNTO THE SICK HANDKERCHIEFS
OR APRONS, AND THE DISEASES DEPARTED FROM THEM, AND
THE EVIL SPIRITS WENT OUT OF THEM.”
1. I want YOU TO NOTE THE WORD “SPECIAL MIRACLES”:
-That WORD SPECIAL means “NOT ORDINARY,” “NOT COMMON,” doesn’t happen every day.
-These AREN’T YOUR NATURAL SUPERNATURALS, these aren’t YOUR ORDINARY EXTRA-ORDINARIES!
-Paul was A TENT MAKER, by trade, he often did that, when SUPPORT WAS LOW! He kept HIMSELF GOING AS HE TAUGHT IN THE SCHOOL, was doing THAT IN EPHESUS! HE’S WORKING THERE:
a. It’s hot in Ephesus, working with all THAT HEAVY CANVAS AND MATERIAL.
b. And, HE HAD BIG HANDKERCHIEFS, really like APRONS, to WIPE HIS HANDS WITH.
c. Really, SWEAT RAGS, nothing like EMBROIDERED DOILIES, or “LACY LITTLE JOBS.”
d. AND SOMEONE COMES RUSHING IN AND SAYS:
-So and So is sick, Paul, go with me and PRAY FOR THAT PERSON!
-Paul says, no, I don’t have time, here take THIS APRON I’VE BEEN WORKING WITH.
-I mean, it’s got PAUL ALL OVER IT, ON IT, IN IT, it’s Paul’s SWEAT-HAND RAG.
-They take it, and in THE PRESENCE OF THE RAG, that person was healed and delivered!
3. A COUPLE OF THINGS ABOUT THIS:
-Special miracles, meaning it doesn’t happen often!
-They were Paul’s aprons, not DOILYS THAT HAD BEEN PRAYED OVER AND BOXED!
-Paul didn’t pray over them, he grabbed a RAG AND SAID,
“HERE, TAKE THIS!”
-He didn’t pray over them, and start a PRAYER CLOTH BUSINESS; it is not IN SCRIPTURE.
-And as far as I know, or read, IT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN, SPECIAL MIRACLES!
-MY PEOPLE, YOU CANNOT MANUFACTURE MIRACLES, THEY ARE UNDER THE SPIRIT’S SOVEREIGN CONTROL.
-If God chose to do it again, He jolly well can do it through YOUR SNOT RAG OR SWEATY HEAD BAND.
-I mean, WHAT’S BENNY HINN’S HANKY GOT THAT YOURS DOESN’T?
-As Romans 8:11 states:
“THAT SAME SPIRIT THAT RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD DWELLS
IN YOUR MORTAL BODIES.”
-And AN APRON THAT TOUCHES YOUR BODY CAN BE EMPOWERED JUST LIKE PAUL’S!
-But unless the Holy Spirit tells you, just CONTINUE TO BLOW YOUR NOSE IN IT. And for God’s sake, don’t start an anointed hanky business on line to make money. God may do more than blow His nose in it, He may blow you away for sharking the wounded and dying.
-Ephesus, and this is MOST IMPORTANT, WAS THE HEADQUARTERS OF MYSTERY RELIGIONS! Every form of ASTROLOGY was there, and God broke INTO A CITY PREDISPOSED TO MAGIC, AND BLEW THEM AWAY WITH SPECIAL MIRACLES IN THE NAME OF JESUS!
-In fact, so POWERFUL WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT IN EPHESUS:
a. That such A COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD CAME TO EPHESUS!
b. So that those who were INVOLVED IN MAGIC, WITCHCRAFT, AND ASTROLOGY!
c. They brought ALL THEIR BOOKS ON WITCHCRAFT AND ASTROLOGY, WHICH TODAY WOULD INCLUDE ALL HARRY POTTER BOOKS AND DVDS, AND ACTS 1.9:19 says,
“MANY OF THOSE WHICH USED CURIOUS ARTS BROUGHT THEIR BOOKS
TOGETHER, AND BURNED THEM BEFORE ALL MEN.”
d. In fact, so GREAT WAS THE BURNING, so massive was THE DELIVERANCE IN CHRIST!
e. That the amount of dollar value of the books burned was “50 THOUSAND PIECES OF SILVER!”
f. That’s A LOT OF BOOKS MY FRIEND, for that day, it was enormous!
g. That translates into between $12,000 and 15,000 in our day, still a lot of books and bucks!
1. My friend, Jesus just doesn’t “WANT YOU TO BE SAVED WHEN YOU DIE.” (And then go to heaven)
2. Rather, Jesus “WANTS YOU TOTALLY DELIVERED FROM THE HANDS OF THEEVIL ONE” while you are on earth.
3. God wants HIS LORDSHIP, HIS KINGDOM, to come TO PASS ON EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, IN YOU AND IN ME.
4. And BROTHER AND SISTER:
-When YOU YIELD TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST, WHEN YOU GIVE UP ALL SELF RIGHTS TO CHRIST.
-By the way, that is BEING BORN AGAIN, not a GUSHY FEELING IN A PAST MOMENT OF TIME.
-But, DYING TO SELF, what you want, you THINK, YOU FEEL, AND CHRIST’S WANTS, THOUGHTS, AND FEELINGS ARE ENTHRONED IN YOU! (That’s being born again!)
-Then, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TOTALLY ESCAPE THE PAST, AND TOTALLY “BURN” ALL THE BRIDGES BEHIND YOU!
-And walk in TOTAL NEWNESS OF LIFE! The old life just a pile of ashes, and all of Ephesus will see it!
NOW, something else incredible happens! As a result of THE POWER OF THE KINGDOM IN EPHESUS:
1. All of THE IDOL MAKERS, AND ALL THE STORES THAT MADE AND SOLD IDOLS IN Ephesus.
2. And made ALL THE IDOLATROUS BRIC-A-BRAC that goes along with Idols!
3. Begin to LOSE BUSINESS, FOR ALL OF ASIA IS TURNING TO THE LORD!
-IT USED TO BE:
1. That all of Asia would come to Ephesus to BUY IDOLS AND SUPPLIES OF MAGIC!
2. Now, all of Asia, Ephesus included, is TURNING TO THE LORD JESUS!
3. And, IDOL STORES AND MAGIC SHOPS ARE ALL BEGINNING TO CLOSE THEIR DOORS!
-AND AS A RESULT:
1. The TRADE UNION IN EPHESUS THAT CONTROLLED IDOL MAKING won’t take any more!
2. They had a meeting and said:
“IT’S ALL PAUL, THIS PAUL IS LITERALLY PUTTING US OUT OF BUSINESS”.
3. But of course, they weren’t going TO MAKE THAT THEIR CHIEF COMPLAINT:
a. Rather, they said, in so doing, he is putting a SLUR ON THE GREAT NAME OF DIANA, THE GODDESS OF THE EPHESIANS.
b. And all the people get into a frenzy, and they scream and shout in Acts 19:28,
“GREAT IS DIANA OF THE EPHESIANS.”
-WOULD YOU BELIEVE:
a. That Paul wanted to go into that theatre and talk to them about THE LORD JESUS.
b. They are READY TO LYNCH PAUL by this time, if they can get THEIR HANDS ON HIM.
c. If he ever got inside, THEY WOULD HAVE TORN HIM FROM LIMB TO LIMB!
d. And SPIRIT-FILLED PAUL wants to go in there, and win them to the Lord!
4. BUT IT SAYS IN Acts 19:30-31,
“AND WHEN PAUL WOULD HAVE ENTERED IN UNTO THE PEOPLE, THE DISCIPLES
THERE WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM TO.”
“AND CERTAIN OF THE RULERS OF ASIA, WHICH WERE PAUL’S FRIENDS, SENT
UNTO HIM, DESIRING HIM THAT HE WOULD NOT VENTURE HIMSELF
INTO THE THEATER.”
a. Right now, I believe THERE IS A MOOD OF HOLY BOLDNESS SPREADING ACROSS THE TRUE CHURCH.
b. Hear it:
“A SPIRIT-FILLED MAN OR WOMAN IS AN AWESOME WEAPON IN
THE HANDS OF JESUS CHRIST.”
c. SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE:
-Who are NOT SEEKING A MOVE OF GOD, for they know He’s ALWAYS MOVING.
-They JUST WANT TO FOLLOW CHRIST RIGHT INTO THE TEETH OF HELL TO WIN THE LOST TO CHRIST.
-I know that the greatest adventure is yet coming for US…TO BE THE SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE GOD HAS CALLED US TO BE.
-That is the CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN ACTION. Amen!