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Acts Ch 18: Gospel Ministry for Laymen

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Acts 18:1–23 ESV
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Acts 18 ESV
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Main Idea

The whole church engages in the work of Gospel ministry in various ways, directed and strengthened by the sovereign Lord.

Introduction

Last week: Paul in...
Thessalonica - Call to proclaim - even in the face of hostility
Berea - Call to Examine - even if it goes against long accepted traditions & religious beliefs
Athens - Universal Call - believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
Objections:
I’m not a preacher
I’m not a scholar
I already believe
Chapter 18 - Paul in Corinth
Unique chapter
Paul in one of the most corrupt cities on the planet
But still there is a successful gospel ministry there
We see the church engaging in different ways
Part time ministry
Full time ministry
Ministry in the home
Financial support of the ministry
But the report of ministry is also very real
Paul suffering burnout / despondency
But he and the church are encouraged and strengthened by the sovereign Lord for successful ministry
The whole church engages in the work of Gospel ministry in various ways, directed and strengthened by the sovereign Lord.

1. Part Time Gospel Ministry

Next stop - Corinth
Aquila and Priscilla
Not a particularly powerful couple
No titles in the church
A Jewish couple who had lived in Rome & forced to leave
Tentmakers by trade
But they were greatly used by God for the growth of the church!
Priscilla - influential woman
Paul calls them “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus”
Were they mighty evangelists? Preachers? Pastors? Apostles?
Simply a married couple who ran a tent making business
But...
Every time they are mentioned in Scripture… (, , , and here in )…
They are hosting people in their homes and holding church gatherings in their homes
Common - even
The work of Gospel ministry is not reserved for big name evangelists or recognised pastors… or even for theatres and church buildings…
Then we see Paul also taking on the role of part time minister of the gospel
- Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and worked for them
- he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath - not every day
Paul supported himself with a job
Also mentions in , , , that he supported himself so that...
He wouldn’t make himself a burden to the churches
He wouldn’t be a stumbling block
He would set an example for others to follow
What can we learn from these 3 people?
The work of Gospel ministry is not limited to full time professionals
Gospel ministry is the calling of every Christian, and can take the shape of…
Hosting church meetings in the home like Aquila & Priscilla
Working as a part time preacher while holding down a job to pay the bills
Neither is less important or impactful than a full time minister
Apostles mainly settled and preached in big cities - why?
Assumed that the disciples they make in the cities will go on and make more disciples
And more house churches will start as well as part time preaching
People sharing the gospel via their vocation is actually becoming a major way to get the gospel out
SBC International Mission Board calling for more business people and retired people to enter mission field
Paul could speak to customers about the gospel
English teachers in Libya and Kenya are sharing the gospel with students
Your job puts you in a unique position to share the gospel with certain people

Full Time Ministry

There is a place for full time ministry
- “When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.”
Occupied - fully engaged, engrossed
How was he able to do this without working?
Acts 18:5 ESV
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
Silas & Timothy probably brought aid & support from Macedonia (Thessalonica was the main city)
Acts 18:
“And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.”
“And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.”
The aid & financial support made it possible for Paul to go full time into gospel work in Corinth
2 Corinthians 11:9 ESV
And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
This shows that the whole church is involved in the work of gospel ministry
House churches
Part time ministers
Full time evangelists & pastors & missionaries
But those are never supposed to be out there on their own...
They are to be supported by and accountable to the local church
Local churches are called to support the work of evangelism
by sending people out to be full time (or part-time with aid) missionaries and gospel workers
and even when they don’t have the people to go...
they can still be involved by providing support - financial and spiritual
You’re either going down the well with a rope tied to your waste, with the church holding the rope...
Or you’re holding the rope
No church should ever be found standing by as a spectator!
Philippians 4:15–16 ESV
And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.
Jesus has called us ALL to engage
It will be tough
There will be seasons of success and seasons of frustration
There will be fruitful seasons...
After Paul leaves the synagogue, goes next door
The man who lived next door to the synagogue - Titius Justus - became a believer in the Lord through listening to Paul
The leader of the synagogue - Crispus - became a believer too and his household
Like imam of a mosque becoming a Christian
There will be frustrating seasons…
After all this time, the Jews in the synagogue still opposed and reviled Paul
In frustration Paul throws his hands up and shakes out his garments - “your blood is on your own hands. I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles”
Ref “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Paul had done everything he could. He was ready to give up.
Ezekiel 3:18–19 ESV
If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Eze 3:
I must admit - this is where I have been emotionally for a while of late.
Times when I have felt like quitting
Exhausting
frustrated with the
Frustrating - I wonder if you are grasping any of the significance of any of this to your own lives
Some are making excuses - I’m too busy, I don’t know how to do it
What are you doing to change that?
People don’t like theology
Everybody is a theologian
“Well all I need to know is that Jesus loves me and that’s all others need to know”
Really?
Firstly - that is a theological statement
Secondly - if that’s all you are telling people, you aren’t telling them the gospel
Frustrated with myself - because I am guilty of the same thing
Blood on hands
Two things have changed my heart’s thinking on this idea of giving up…
Reading this passage
The reminder (just like Paul was reminded) that we are not ultimately responsible for the results of our work...
and that removes all the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect gospel workers with fine-tuned, slick gospel performances
We are called to gospel ministry...
but we are just the messengers
We plant the seed...
But the Lord determines the harvest
Ultimately, as Paul is reminded, and us… Jesus is the sovereign Lord of the harvest - not us.

Jesus is Sovereign Lord of All Ministry

Paul is feeling despondent about the ministry...
In spite of many successes…
and having already endured so much...
Paul is feeling burned out, exhausted, frustrated, afraid… and he wants to give up.
And at this point, God speaks to him.
“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Firstly, be encouraged that even the great Paul who wrote most of the NT felt this way
Clearly Paul was feeling fearful, thinking of giving up - allowing his emotions to get the better of him
It happens
Secondly, be encouraged that God comes to encourage him
Don’t be afraid - go on speaking - nobody will attack you to harm you
Was it ok to be afraid?
Being afraid is a sign of unbelief
Its a sin
But this shows us how God treats his children
He is do gracious to His children - He loves us so much
Instead of coming at Paul with a hard rebuke and punishment, he comes to comfort and encourage
He reassures Paul by promising him that no bodily harm will come to him
Thirdly, be encouraged by God’s promises
God kept his promise to Paul
That doesn’t mean God is promising us we won’t be harmed
But it does remind us that God keeps His promises
He has promised us that all who believe in Him and put their trust in Him will be saved
Jesus said in , “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
That means two things:
We have God’s promise that when we repent and believe in Jesus, we will be saved
We have God’s promise that when we are saved, we are saved eternally. We cannot lose our salvation. Jesus will never cast us out.
So even when we have been acting in unbelief and sin -
like when we have not been answering his call to be his witnesses, or feeling like giving up
We are secure in Jesus Christ
Because He is the sovereign Lord of our salvation - not us
,
The only way Jesus can make a promise like saying he will never cast us out is if He is sovereign over our salvation and not us
and our salvation is not resting on whether WE have the sovereign ability to hang on to Jesus, but that Jesus has the sovereign and gracious will to hang onto us and keep His promise.
If our salvation rested on our ability, nobody would remain saved because we sin every day
But because our salvation wasn’t bought by our performance but by the blood of Jesus Christ...
Neither can we keep our salvation by our performance, but it is secure because the blood of Jesus paid for our sins once and for all...
And HE now is holding us firmly in His hand
Fourthly, be encouraged that God will produce the fruit of your work
Jesus said in “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
There are people whom the Father has given to the Son...
And when those people come to the Son, the Son will save them and never cast them out
In Jesus tells Paul again… “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.
Paul...
John 6:35–37 ESV
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
There are people whom the Father has given to the Son...
and when those people come to the Son, the Son is going to save them and keep them
Paul...
I have many in this city who are my people...
Paul...
Don’t be afraid… don’t be silent… go on speaking… go on proclaiming
Go on hosting people in your homes...
Go on talking to people as your day job gives opportunity...
Because...
When those in this city who are my people…
hear the gospel… and they hear of the Son…
hear the gospel… and they hear of the Son… they are going to come to Him… and He is going t
Acts 18:9–10 ESV
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
they are going to come to Him… and He is going to save them
Don’t avoid engaging in Gospel ministry because you think you are not cut out for it
Don’t avoid engaging in Gospel ministry because you think its not your calling
Don’t avoid engaging in Gospel ministry when God has both called you to be his witness and placed you in specific social circles and vocations so that you can be his witness there
And don’t give up on Gospel ministry...
because my friends you don’t have to be afraid
you don’t have to be afraid you will mess it up
or that people won’t come to Jesus because you fumbled the ball
or that you’re going to look stupid
The outcome is not up to you
You are not the sovereign lord of gospel ministry, of salvation or of building the Church
Jesus alone is the sovereign Lord
Do you believe that Jesus saved you?
If you are saved it is because God in is sovereign will and grace chose you from before the foundation of the world ()
And in due time He sent a messenger to you - maybe it was a few messengers over a period of time
And at the right time, you heard the messenger speak to you about Jesus Christ, and His love, and His cross, on which he bled and died for your sins
And his resurrection from the dead, showing the world that Jesus is Lord - even over life and death
And even though you had heard of Jesus many times and heard something about a cross...
for some reason, this time it was different and it really hit home for you...
In such a way that Jesus became suddenly irresistable to you
And overcome by the realisation of your sin against Him…
you repented of your sin and resolved to forever, from that day forward, turn from your sin and follow him.
Living a life devoted to him in gratitude for His love toward you
A messenger brought you that good news.
But Jesus saved you.
Now, there are many more in this city who are God’s people.
And you have the privilege of being God’s messenger.
Will you answer God’s call?
Will you believe His promises?
Paul responded to God and continued on
He ended up staying in Corinth a year and 6 months - one of his longest stays in any one city
A church was planted there - even though Corinth was one of the most immoral cities in the world
Churches
But a church was planted there
Because Jesus had people in that city, and sent Paul as his messenger.
Now he is sending you.
Acts 18
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