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Giving Jesus in Spite

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Samuel Valencia, B.A. Biblical Studies

Sermon

November 15, 2008

Good Shepherd Church of El Cajon

TITTLE

Giving Jesus in spite

MAIN PASSAGE

Acts 16:11-21

INTRODUCTION

            We have been talking about the importance of reaching others with the message of the Gospel. We have utilized the phrase “Give Jesus” as a simple statement that encapsulates the responsibility we have to fulfill the Great Commission.

Throughout history the primary activity of the church has been to give Jesus... The church has always involved itself in an array of ministries e.g. social programs, education programs and so on… But the underlying purpose of it all is to give Jesus. That is the bottom line. The day the church stops giving Jesus, it stops being a church and turns into just another social group.

Why is giving Jesus the main goal? The answer is simple. Every person has many issues to deal with, but there is one fundamental problem that cannot be repaired through human effort. That problem is sin. Jesus is the only answer to that problem.

The Bible teaches us that we were created by God to fulfill His purposes (the "meaning of life", Genesis 1:26-28). However, because of sin we all have failed (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23, 6:23). Sin separates us from God. Sin is our fundamental problem. We have focused on ourselves and ignored God. Nevertheless God loves us (John 3:16).

God has provided the Ultimate Solution for the sin that separates us from Him. Because of his love for us Jesus died on the cross, was buried in a grave and on the third day He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). All we have to do is trust completely in Him (John 1:12; Romans 10:9).

In Jesus we find forgiveness for our sin (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:5). Forgiveness from sin means being able to re-establish our broken relationship with God... Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the only solution for our fundamental problem. For this reason giving Jesus is the main goal.

However, giving Jesus at times involves grave challenges, strong opposition and for some death (martyrdom)… In spite of all that the effort to give Jesus should not weaken nor the reputation of the Gospel tarnished (to damage somebody's reputation or good name, or become damaged). In the book of Acts chapter 16 there is an interesting story that illustrates this.

Paul and Silas experienced a dramatic episode for preaching the Gospel (i.e. giving Jesus) during a missionary journey (Paul made several missionary journeys)... In the city of Philippi Paul and Silas met adversity but their passion to give Jesus did not diminish and their righteous actions (testimony) in the face of this difficulty opened the door for them to bring many people to Jesus. Today as we look into this story we will see that when Jesus is given opposition rises, hardships occur, but in the final analysis the victory belongs to Jesus.

I.                  THE OPPOSTION WHEN GIVING JESUS (Acts 16:22-24)

As a side note (Bible Study Observation) an interesting thing about this narrative is that the writer uses the word “we”. The reason is that Luke wrote the book of Acts and in this account he includes himself in the narrative. THE BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY states

Note the pronoun we in Acts 16:10, for Dr. Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, joined Paul and his party at Troas. There are three “we sections” in Acts: 16:10–17; 20:5–15; and 27:1–28:16. Luke changed from “we” to “they” in Acts 17:1, which suggests that he may have remained in Philippi to pastor the church after Paul left… [1]

A.    The Gospel Welcomed

1.      Lydia accepts Jesus

When Paul and his team arrived in Philippi they immediately set out on the task to preach the Gospel (Give Jesus). They did this out on a river. There is good reason for that. THE BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY states that “The Jewish population at Philippi must have been limited, for there was no synagogue there; 10 Jewish males were required for a synagogue…” [2] Those that worshiped God did it by the river. This is where Paul began to preach and people started to come to Jesus.  

B.     The Gospel Rejected

1.      A possessed girl

After people began to response positively to the Gospel, opposition arose. A possessed girl sets off a tidal wave of opposition. THE BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY states,

No sooner are lost people saved than Satan begins to hinder the work. In this case, he used a demonized girl who had made her masters wealthy by telling fortunes. As Paul and his “team” went regularly to the place of prayer, still witnessing to the lost, this girl repeatedly shouted after them, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who show us the way of salvation!” Paul did not want either the Gospel or the name of God to be “promoted” by [this possessed girl]… After all, Satan may speak the truth one minute and the next minute tell a lie… [3]

THE NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY makes these interesting observation in regards to the girl’s pronouncements.

Like the demoniacs during Jesus’ ministry, the possessed girl was evidently able to see into the true nature of Paul’s preaching, particularly into the reality of the God he proclaimed (cf. Luke 4:34; Mark 1:24). She constantly followed the missionaries about, shouting that they were servants of the “Most High God” and proclaimers of “[the] way of salvation” …

None of this would have been very clear to Gentiles. The term “God most high” was a common Old Testament term for God, but the same term was equally common in the Gentile world and was particularly applied to Zeus. Neither would “way of salvation” be immediately clear to a Gentile. The Greco-Roman world was full of “saviors.” Savior/deliverer, salvation/deliverance were favorite terms. The emperor dubbed himself “savior” of the people. All of which is to show why Paul finally became irritated with the girl’s constant acclamations.

These acclamations may have been true enough, but they were open to too much misunderstanding for pagan hearers. The truth could not be so easily condensed for those from a polytheistic background. Jesus might be seen as just another savior in the bulging pantheon of Greek gods… [4]

2.      Spirit possession

Spirit possession (demon possession) is a very delicate topic. It is a subject much ignored today, but the Bible is very open about it… However that is not our main topic today. That being said we are just going to consider what the NELSON’S NEW ILLUSTRATED BIBLE COMMENTARY says regarding this possessed girl.

Luke’s description of the slave girl in Greek indicates that she had a “spirit of Python.” The python was a mythical serpent killed by Apollo, who took both the serpent’s gift of predictions and sometimes its form. Apollo became known as Pythian Apollo. When it was said that one had a “spirit of Python,” it meant that the person was controlled by an evil force. Apparently those who knew the girl did not regard her as insane or fraudulent. Rather they viewed her ability to foretell events as genuine. People paid the girl for her divination services, earning her masters a lot of money. This particular cult was popular in Greece, especially in Corinth. The chief shrine to Apollo was at Delphi across the isthmus from Corinth. [5]

3.      The possessed girl delivered

            The end result of it all is that Paul exorcised the girl… The NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY states, “So Paul, in a form reminiscent of Jesus’ exorcisms, commanded the spirit to exit the girl. The spirit did so immediately.” [6]

4.      The girl’s masters anger

You would think that setting this girl free was an event for celebration, but not for the owners of this girl (remember she was a slave…). THE BIBLE EXPOSITION COMMENTARY states “The owners had no concern for the girl; they were interested only in the income she provided, and now that income was gone…” [7]

II.               THE HARDSHIP WHEN GIVING JESUS (Acts 16:25-36)

A.    The Rejection of the Gospel

1.      Paul and Silas are beaten and jailed

The event with the possessed girl set off the opposition for Paul. The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes this observation, “What a reception in the first European city where they preached the gospel! The jailer with his strict orders was not going to take any chances so he put them in the inner cell (possibly a dungeon, at least the most secure cell) and fastened their feet in stocks.” [8]

B.     The Rejection of the Gospel Throughout History

As you study church history you will clearly see that taking the Gospel to the lost (Giving Jesus) has not been a piece of cake. There is always a price… and for some the price has been their lives. Someone said “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”.

C.     The Rejection of the Gospel in our Day

Look around the world in our day and you will see that the message of the Gospel is not welcomed in many places. This is specifically true of China and the Middle East… Even so there are individuals there working through every type of hardship to bring the message of the Gospel (Give Jesus).

It is also sad to note that we don’t have to look into foreign places to see the rejection of the Gospel. Here in our own country everyday we see how the message of the Gospel is slowly being brushed aside… The Gospel is becoming politically incorrect.

III.           THE VICTORY WHEN GIVING JESUS (Acts 16:25-36)

A.    Paul and Silas Attitude

This is perhaps one of the most incredible things about this story. Paul and Silas were praising God after everything that had happened to them... About their singing The KJV COMMENTARY states “We thus have here the first ‘sacred concert’ ever held in Europe and one that eventually ‘brought down the house’!” [9] Only a true godly person could have done this. Paul and Silas actions in this horrible situation served to back up what the Gospel is all about. Their actions did not contradict what they preached…

B.     God’s Intervention

God used an earthquake to deliver Paul and Silas and to bring salvation to the jailer…

C.     The Righteous Acts of Paul and Silas

After this incredible even the reaction of the average person would have been to run. But this was not the case with Paul and Silas. They stayed and took the opportunity to evangelize more (Give Jesus).

D.    The Conversion of the Jailer…

The jailer took note of everything that took place here. There is no doubt that the tipping point for him to accept Jesus was Paul’s actions after the earthquake. The jailer himself asks Paul how to accept Jesus! The Bible Knowledge Commentary states,

He must have understood what he was asking. Undoubtedly he had heard the story of the slave girl and how she had announced these men to be servants of God with the message of salvation (v. 17). Possibly also the prayers and singing of Paul and Silas (v. 25) had reached his ears. The awesome earthquake with the subsequent opportunity for the prisoners to escape and Paul’s reassuring words all moved him to ask for the way of salvation. [10]

A NOTE ON A PHRASE THAT IS SOMETIMES TAKEN FOR WHAT IT DOES NOT MEAN…

The phrase “and thy house” does not mean that the faith of the jailer would automatically bring salvation to his family. Each sinner must trust Christ personally in order to be born again, for we cannot be saved “by proxy.” The phrase means “and your household will be saved if they will also believe.” [11]

MAIN POINTS REVIEW

I. THE OPPOSTION WHEN GIVING JESUS

II. THE HARDSHIP WHEN GIVING JESUS

III. THE VICTORY WHEN GIVING JESUS

CONCLUSION

Indeed Paul and Silas experienced a dramatic episode for preaching the Gospel (i.e. giving Jesus). They met adversity but their passion to give Jesus did not diminish and their righteous actions (testimony) in the face of this difficulty opened the door for them to bring many people to Jesus.

The discussion today was not to discourage you from giving Jesus. It was to point out the reality that at times when you give Jesus you will meet up with challenges, and opposition… . . In spite of it your effort to give Jesus should not weaken. God is no your side. Also you have to pray to God that He will help you keep composure in the face of opposition for the purpose of not tarnishing the message of the Gospel.

As we have seen in this story with Paul and Silas when Jesus is given opposition rises, hardships occur, but in the final analysis the victory belongs to Jesus.


----

[1]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ac 16:6

[2]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:399

[3]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ac 16:6

[4] For this view that the girl’s acclamation was open to serious misunderstanding by pagans, see P. R. Trebilco, “Paul and Silas—‘Servants of the Most High God’ (Acts 16, 16–18),” JSNT 36 (1989): 51–73.

[5]Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Ac 16:16

[6]Polhill, John B.: Acts. electronic ed. Nashville : Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 26), S. 351

[7]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ac 16:6

[8]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:400

[9] KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994, S. 2172

[10]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:400

[11]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Ac 16:6

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