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One Way?

His Old House; Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Skin a Cat?

“More than one way to skin a cat”
What does that mean? Where did that come from?
It’s insulting to tell an adult that there’s only 1 way to do something and they are doing it wrong.
It stirs emotion in you, doesn’t it.
Like helping your grandchildren w/ their math homework.
I could help my kids up to middle school.
Now, I probably couldn’t help my granddaughter in 1st grade.
B/C, they have to do it one way and show their work for full credit.

Math

62
+26
The old way: 6+2=8 and 2+6=8. So, 88.
Common core:
60 + 2
20 + 6
= 80 + 8 = 88.
14
x13
The old way:
3 x 4 =12 write down 2, carry the 1.
3 x 1 = 3 (+ the carried 1) = 4
42
1 x 4 = 4 and 1 x 1 = 1 Set the answer under the 1
42
+14
182
Common core:
10 x 10 = 100
10 x 4 = 40
10 x 3 = 30
3 x 4 = 12
Add vertically: 182
There is only 1 answer even if these are 2 different ways to get to it. The old, traditional way and the new, common core way.
1 + 1 will always and only = 2.
There is security in knowing that the answer will always be the same only answer no matter how many times or how many ways we ask the question.
What about worship? Is there only one way?
To say that there is only one way to worship God
No.
But, there is only one Object.

Worshiping God

I talked about this a few weeks ago. The church in Jerusalem met were committed to sensitivity to those who had been Jewish but became Christian and wanted to continue some of their same worship practices. And, still allow new Christians from different cultures to worship God in different ways.
As long as you are worshiping only God, no idols. And, as long as you have faith in the gracious work of Jesus, and only the gracious work of Jesus to be saved, then you can worship in any way your conscience allows under the leadership of the HS.
The catholics can hold a mass
The charismatics can practice the sign gifts
The liturgicals can recite the liturgies
The methodists can stick to their methods
And, we can do what we do.
More casual and contemporary on Saturdays
More formal and traditional on Sundays
As long as our worship is based only on faith in the gracious work of Jesus and no one or nothing else.
So, what about only faith and only in Jesus?
If you tell adults there is only 1 way to do something you are going to get a reaction.
Especially, if it’s something as important as what to believe about God and heaven.
The truth is there is only one way to get to heaven and only 2 ways to react to it.
Either receive it or reject it. There are no variations.
To not receive it in its entirety is to reject it wholly.
For those who receive it, rest in the security of the facts and your faith.
No one should be afraid to engage their brain or anybody else on the facts of our faith.
To reject only a part of this truth is to reject it entirely.
But, the message for the faithful is both factual and powerful.
One day it will be proved that there is only one way to get to heaven and we are on that way.
The single greatest proven fact of our faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Even atheist historians agree that Jesus was tortured and killed. Their question is about the resurrection.
But, the same facts that support His death also support his resurrection.
So, arguing against his resurrection is no longer an intellectual argument, but an emotional one.
This issue goes back to the very beginning of the church.
It’s what Paul and his group faced as they traveled and planted churches.
is part of Paul’s second journey. And, records his experiences in Thessalonica and Berea.
First, in Thessalonica

Thessalonica

Acts 17:1–9 NIV
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
Acts 17:1

Paul’s case

In Thessalonica. Alex the Great came from this area and conquered it all 400 years earlier establishing the Greek Empire.
Very loyal to Rome.
As usual, Paul started in the synagogue among the Jews making the case that Jesus is the Messiah.
Some, would have been Greeks who became Jewish. And, what he shared with them would have spread out into the city to their friends and family.
His case based 2 predictions of several OT prophets.
The OT prophets predicted that the Messiah would
The Messiah would both suffer and be raised from the dead.
The Jewish leadership would not argue these points.
Then, he connected the dots to Jesus.
Jesus is the only One in history to fulfill both.
Many suffered for their faith and otherwise.
There are 10 cases written about in the bible of people raised from the dead.
One related to Elijah and 2 to Elisha
But, Jesus is the only one that did both. He suffered terribly and was raised on the 3rd day.
There are 7 that had already occured and are written about in the NT.
Jesus, He raised 3 people, Peter and Paul raised 1 each, and when Jesus was raised many be
So, Paul made his case, and like always, when you tell adults there is only 1 way to get to God then you’re going to get a reaction.
And, he did.
First reaction: Reception. A small group of Jews and a large group of Greeks received his message and received Jesus as their Savior

Reception

Just a few Jews.
But, many Greeks, including prominent women.
The message runs across all social barriers. These were wealthy, educated, and powerful people who believed and received Jesus and the message.
Greek education was based on asking tough questions and seeking accurate, factual answers.
They would have applied this to their examination of Paul’s evidence.
Paul spoke to women like few others in the culture. He elevated their status. He respected them by speaking to them as equals and giving them to chance to decide on their own.
And, they did.
Many Greek women and men did. Still, just a few Jews.
A majority of the Jews did not.
The second reaction: Rejection. Most of the Jewish group in Thessalonica rejected Jesus and what Paul had to say.

Rejection

The opposition who rejected Jesus did so on the basis of emotion, not fact.
They were jealous. They were losing influence, control, numbers and money.
B/C they couldn’t argue facts they made people mad.
They recruited low-lifes in the marketplace to start a riot.
Much like gangs who hang out at malls, groups like this were common.
They blamed the riot on Paul and his group.
In connection w/ the frame job on Paul the mob ran to Jason’s house where Paul and the group were staying.
They weren’t there so they dragged Jason out and to trial instead.
The Jewish leaders further incited the crowd to build emotional support for their feeble case against the Christians.
They presented 2 charges to the judges.
First, promoting instability. Greek culture was known for its civility. So, anyone who was responsible for inciting a riot was severely punished.
Second charge, a potential coup. In the 2 letters Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church he included a lot of material about the end times and Jesus being installed as King over all Creation.
In Roman territory there is already a king, Caesar. So, to promote another as king is to instigate a coup attempts.
Ironic and only partially true. Jesus is King. But he also promoted obedience to earthly authority. His reign will be eternal.
There was no effort to overthrow. All, misinformation.
Fake news.
The local authorities heard the case and had to make a ruling. They could shut the church down or do nothing or something in between.
They chose a more moderate position.
Not a religious issue, but a civil issue.
They chose a more moderate position hoping to restore peace and allow everyone to practice their faith.

Ruling

The case stirred turmoil even among the judges. They couldn’t decide for sure one way or the other.
So, a moderate position was to force Jason to pay a security bond that would be reimbursed after a time of peace and on the condition that none of them would break Roman law again. Like probation.
Jason paid his bond. He would have to forfeit his money if another riot broke out even if it was not his fault, like the first one.
Jason paid his bond. He would have to forfeit his money if another riot broke out even if it was not his fault, like the first one.
So, to avoid any more trouble, they snuck Paul out under the cover of darkness.
The opposition didn’t know so they couldn’t stir up any more trouble in hopes of shutting the church down.
From Thessalonica Paul headed on to Berea.

Berea

Acts 17:10–15 NIV
As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

Same case, same place

Under the cover of darkness so the opposition can’t cause more problems for him.
He heads to the synagogue in Berea and makes the same case to the same make-up of people.
In Berea, he received a different reaction from the Jewish community.
Along w/ many Greek men a women, this time a large number of Jews reacted and responded positively.
Here, the first reaction of reception included a large number of Jews.

Receception

They were described as noble in character.
They took the time to examine the OT for themselves. Weighed the factual evidence w/out prejudice.
Examination is a legal term. Examining the evidence to see where it points.
They were eager to discover the truth and believe it.
Then, in an amazing shift to the prevailing wind of the Jewish culture, were not afraid to admit they had made a mistake when they rejected Jesus before.
Now, they received Him as their Messiah.
A noble person is not afraid to admit they were wrong and change the course of their life.
Again, many Greeks, including prominent women received Jesus and the message.
But, this time, many Jews did, too.
There is no mention of anyone from Berea who rejected the message from Paul.
But, there was opposition that led to rejection.
Those opposed were old foes.

Rejection

When the opposition in Thessalonica realized what had happened they followed him to Berea. They could not afford to lose more ground and momentum to this new movement.
But, really, there was nothing they could do. Their argument still was emotional, not factual.
Their tactics were the same. They stirred up a riot and blamed it on Paul and his group.
The ruling in Thessalonica did not apply in Berea so they had to go to trial again.
Rather than go thru a trial and wait for a ruling they hustled Paul out of town and on to Athens.
The church in Berea survived, as did the church in Thessalonica, w/out Paul; at least in that day.
Timothy and Silas stayed behind to continue the work.
Paul was the flashpoint. Remove him and things settled down.
Once again, in order to avoid unnecessary trouble Paul snuck out w/out detection of those trying to undermine his ministry.
He was important but not irreplaceable. Others had to step up, and they did.
By now, both of those churches are long gone. But, the house continues to grow thru the powerful and truthful work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the faithful.
The same message that established the churches in these cities established churches all over the world since, including this one.
The message for the faithful is both factual and powerful.
God doesn’t need us, He chooses to include us. We can stand strong w/out apology or fear of the house collapsing under the scrutiny of the intelligent.
There is only 1 way. And, the only logical reaction is to accept it and receive it by faith.

Applications

Facts and faith

Take whatever time necessary to consider the facts in the bible.
Be eager to search the bible for yourself, don’t just take my word for it. It’s all there for you to see.
Historically, everything will be proved true. There is concrete evidence to prove everything the bible says happened actually happened. Floods, famines, everything.
If you need facts to have faith, don’t be afraid to examine the evidence.
The facts won’t prove everything. If they could there would be no need for faith.
The facts prove Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. But, you’ll have to accept it by faith that you’ll be raised, too.

Nobody else!

There are as many ways to get to heaven as there are Saviors to get us there.
Who else had done what Jesus has done?
Suffered, died, and was raised from the dead. Even as an innocent man and Son of God.
As you get ready for winter, maybe to head down the hill, don’t let another day go by w/out giving serious consideration to what Jesus did for you.
If you have not, yet, accepted the gracious work Jesus did for by faith, why not?

Noble

To be of noble character includes the courage to admit when you’re wrong.
Don’t be afraid to admit it and apologize whenever necessary.
In little things and big things, as you examine your words and works, you will be thought of in greater terms if you will own it and apologize when you’re wrong.
For the faithful, the message is factual and powerful.
The Holy Spirit has preserved the message and the movement.
We can stand strong and secure that our faith will prove there is only 1 way to get to heaven and we are on that way.
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