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Sincerity is not Enough

Acts: Christ Builds His Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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AG: Sincere but wrong! We all know the dilemma of dealing with this interesting—but utterly crucial—topic!
This is what we mean. A man named John loudly proclaims his good health. He tells his wife, “Honey, I don’t need to eat all of that rabbit food. I feel fit as a fiddle!” But his wife knows better. She may remember the last time her husband was in for a physical exam and the doctor warned him of his high cholesterol, his high blood pressure, and his high pulse. Still, John maintains his “good health” regardless of the warnings.  Six months later he suffers a major heart attack and dies before he can reach the emergency room. John believed that he was right, but sadly his wife discovered that he was wrong!
TS: Today, we find Paul in Ephesus. This is the beginning of a 2 year extended ministry there. Acts gives us some details, and from his other writings we get a more complete picture of those years. He builds deep relationships in Ephesus.
Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor, modern day Turkey). Ephesus was at the mouth of the Cayster River, on the east side of the Aegean sea. The temple of Artemis (aka Diana) was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and was located in Ephesus. It was also known as an important center of politics, education, and commerce.
Paul encountered sincere discsiples of John the Baptist. If he did like many today, and said, “Hey, as long as you are sincere in what you believe that is fine.” he would be keeping them in their sins through his lack of concern for them. Instead, he proclaims the gospel, they believe and are born again, and then they follow-through with baptism.
RS: In matters of faith, like many realities in life, sincerity isn’t enough. We must be sincere in our belief, but the object of the faith is much more important. If we are sincere in believing in anything other than the gracious provision of salvation by God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are not heaven bound.
Acts 19:1–10 ESV
1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Acts 19:-

Sincere, but Wrong

EX: Paul encounters John’s Disciples
Disciples, followers, of John the Baptist, were found as late as the 2nd century
John MacArthur calls them “OT seekers”
Like Apollos, they had heard of John the Baptist and followed his teaching
“repent, the Kingdom of heaven as at hand.”
Turn from sins
Be ready for the Messiah
They had believed Messiah was immanent and had been baptized.
John’s Baptism
Forerunner of Christian baptism
Sign of the change of lifestyle which came through repentance.
Matthew 3:8 ESV
8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
He called on them to live a changed life.
They clearly had changed, but they were still short of the mark.
They didn’t have the whole message
They had the OT message of living holy for Messiah was coming.
They didn’t have the gospel that Jesus had already come, was crucified and rose again.
Paul gets to the heart of the matter by asking:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
This question reveals 2 things:
Paul understood the Spirit indwells people at the moment they believe.
Receiving the Spirit is a 100% sure sign of genuine faith.
You can pretend to be godly.
You can fill your life with seemingly righteous acts.
You CANNOT receive the Holy Spirit through those efforts!
He had doubts about their spiritual condition.
Paul concluded that since they didn’t have the Spirit, they had not been born again.
They were sincere, but wrong
Romans 8:9 ESV
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
romans 8:9
AP: Many today are sincere, but wrong like John’s disciples.
In fact, some have believed the lie that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.
You can have a set of beliefs.
You can be 100% sure of them
You can be 100% wrong!
Many attend church and consider themselves Christians because their families are Christian.
“We have always gone here”
Often they are the very faithful to attend every Christmas and Easter
They are sincere about carrying on their family tradition, but tradition doesn’t save.
False Teachers
They have learned from and followed false teachers.
Whatever the type of error, they are still sincerely wrong.
They need the same thing these men Paul found did: The gospel

Proclaiming the Gospel

EX: Paul proclaims Jesus
Having diagnosed the issue, the disciples lost condition, Paul proclaimed the gospel.
He started at John and gave them the rest of the story.
That the one whom John proclaimed had completed His work on earth.
Luke 3:16 ESV
16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John 1:29–30 ESV
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’
Although Paul used the Spirit as a test of their faith, he did not instruct them on receiving the Spirit.
This was no program on getting the Spirit.
The Spirit enters our lives at the moment of conversion.
Paul proclaimed the whole gospel to them.
1 Corinthians 15:1–3 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1–5 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
Notice again vs. 1-2
1 Corinthians 15:1–2 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
Paul proclaimed the gospel
They received the gospel
They had stood in the gospel
Being saved- (sanctified)
They were steadily growing in the gospel to be more like Christ.
AP: We proclaim the same gospel today!
Our message has not nor will it ever change.
We still preach Christ and Him crucified.
Romans 10:11–14 ESV
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Our job is to proclaim God’s word to a lost and dying world.
Jesus is still the answer people need

Follow Through

IL: Golf Swing
The Follow-Through is often overlooked, but I feel it is an extremely important component of a properly swung golf club. The Follow-Through is the finishing indicator that the club swung through on its proper path and arrived at the final destination in balance and rhythm. The backswing creates power by turning the body (shoulders and hips), swinging the arms back to top of the swing, shifting the weight, and cocking the wrists. The downswing is an acceleration and unloading of the stored power that was created on the backswing that reaches its maximum at the ball. But what happens then? There has to be a place for all this energy to dissipate and slowdown. Simply put - The Follow-Through is getting the body out of the way so the club has a path to slow down naturally!
EX: They followed Christ in baptism.
Now that they were saved, they were baptized.
Notice, I didn’t say re-baptized.
They had never received Christian baptism.
Baptism is for believers.
Baptism is by immersion
It is a picture of 2 things:
Romans 6:1–5 ESV
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 newness of life. 5 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.
Death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
Death & burial of our old self, and the new life Christ gave us at salvation.
Paul welcomed them into the church, and these 12 became the core of the new church plant at Ephesus through laying his hands on them.
God emphasized the unity of the believers that although they were separated into local churches, they were part of 1 kingdom and would be in the final united congregation in eternity.
This is the 4th time the Spirit appeared so dramatically.
a. Day of Pentecost ,
much like God breathing into Adam at Creation, the Spirit entered the body, the church, Jesus built while on earth.
b. When the gospel went to Samaritans Ch 8
even though they were 1/2 Jewish and faced prejudice from others, God showed no partiality.
c. Gentiles in ch 10
Once again, God dramatically demonstrated that there is no racial superiority and division in Christ.
Jew, Samaritan, Gentile all received the same Spirit and thus the same salvation
d. Here in ch 19
God gave them tangible evidence.
They had not even known there was such a happening as the indwelling of the Spirit
God graciously gave salvation and the Spirit and a new church was planted.
Paul preached in the synagogue and then after 3 months, moved to the school of Tyrannus
He either owned the lecture hall or was a philosopher who taught there.
God provided a place for the church to continue meeting and grow
AP: We still need follow through today.
Being baptized doesn’t make you anymore saved than before.
Joining the church doesn’t earn any merit with God
HOWEVER, both are acts of obedience!
Baptism is a public proclamation of the inward change
In baptism, we identify with Christ, and our brothers and sisters through the ages.
Getting active in a church is also beneficial
It provides an incubator for the baby in Christ to Grow.
It is a support system:
Follow through is also when a disciple makes new disciples.


Are you a true follower of Jesus?
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