NTB-5-ACTS-5 - The Gospel to the World (part 2)
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“Acts: Lesson 5”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
The apostle Paul said," God now commands all men everywhere to repent"
We welcome you to our study of Acts chapter 17 through 19, and we hope
you'll stay tuned as we study about the gospel going to Thessalonica,
Corinth, and Ephesus.
In Acts chapter 17, the apostle Paul is now going to be taking the gospel in
his missionary journeys to the region of Thessalonica. The gospel is
here met with persecution, because as Paul begins to preach the
gospel, as people begin to obey that, and as lives begin to change,
there is a natural reverberation to that among society and its immoral
I want you to notice in Acts 17:5-6 that Christians in the first century, just
like Christians today do, did receive persecution at times. Notice
Acts17:5. "But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious,
took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering the
mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason,
and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find
them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city,
crying out, 'Those who have turned the world upside down have
come here also.’"
Friend, one thing that you consistently see in the preaching of the gospel
and its change to lives and society is: it's always met with persecution
by evil people. Jason and his house and those who they thought were
there are going to be persecuted. They dragged them out. They're
going to do great harm or tried to them. As we try to live the Christian
life, let's realize that from time to time in our opposition to evil immoral
governments and ungodliness, persecution will come. This ought not
to come as a surprise to us, because the Bible promised that
persecution would come.
Do you remember the words of 2 Timothy 3:12? The Bible says “All,” not
some, not a few, not little bit, "All who desire to live godly in Christ
Jesus will suffer persecution." Persecution is going to come. It is
sometimes a response to people who do not love Christ, want to
continue in immorality, and need to do God's will. Thus, it's our
response to an opposition to the preaching of the gospel. Paul said in
Acts 14:22, after he'd been dragged out of the city, left for dead, and
been let thought they'd stoned him. He rose up and said, "We must
through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Friend, when
we face persecution, let's also realize that we don't have to face it
alone. God has promised us. "I'll never leave you nor forsake you",
Hebrews 13:5-6. Let's realize that we're fighting, we're working, for
the best cause in the world: the salvation of souls.
As you think about this context in Thessalonica where these men are going
to be persecuted, I want you listen to what the opposition says about
the preaching of the gospel. Listen again Acts 17:6, "They brought
these people out and they said to the mob ‘these are the men who
have turned the world upside down for Jesus, or for Christianity.’"
You know really, they had that statement backward.
The Christians were not trying to turn the world upside down. They were
trying to put the world right side up. They were trying to get things
back in the proper order of the way God wanted it. They're trying to
set God's morals, God's teaching, and the gospel in its proper place.
But to these people, it looked like it was upside down. Things are
drastically changing. People who used to be a part of this, no longer
want to do that. Why? Because the gospel has now changed their
life. The gospel ought to make a great change. It ought to look like
there's been upheaval in people's life, a drastic change.
Listen to Matthew 5:16. Jesus said, "Let your light, the gospel light, so
shine among men, that they may see your good works and glorify
your Father who is in heaven." As we try to live for Christ, there ought
to be an amazing change that is visible to people, and it ought to
make drastic changes in our lives and the lives of others. Christianity
really ought to turn the world right side up. That's the most motivation
in the preaching of the gospel: to change people's lives.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:12 to the young evangelist Timothy "Be an
example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, and in
faith, and purity." Our life ought to serve, as an example to those, are
trying to live and do right, and no wonder it brought persecution.
Anytime there is up a drastic change, people don't adapt to that too
well sometimes. When that change, especially as you'll see in Acts
19 hits people in their pocketbook, people began to make opposition
to that in a very rapid way.
In Acts chapter 17 we also learn up a powerful lesson about the Bereans
who are now going to hear the gospel and their noble heart. This is
one of the magnificent blockbuster passages in the New Testament.
Notice Acts 17 what is said in verse number 11. The Bible records:
"These were more fair-minded the Bereans were more fair-minded
than those in Thessalonica,” Why? “In that they received the word
with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out
whether these things were so."
Now, you imagine the scenario: Paul comes to the region of Berea. He
knocks on the door. They open the door, and they realize it's Paul,
who used to be Saul, who is doing harm to the church. They say,
"Paul, we heard about you." Paul says, ‘Wait a minute now. I've
changed and I want to tell you about Christ. I want to tell you about
the gospel.’ What did they do the moment they opened that door and
saw it was Saul, now Paul, standing there? Did they slam the door in
his face? Did they say, ‘No, we don't hear about it'. No. They said,
‘Paul come on in and sit down,’ in essence. Paul sat down. They sat
down. Paul began to preach the gospel, no doubt from the Old
Testament showing Jesus is the Messiah. What did they do next
when Paul began to preach about Jesus? Did they, did they
immediately accept it? Did they right then just say, ‘Well you said it,
so it must be true.’ No. They said, 'Paul, we've heard what you had to
say. We've taken notes of that. Now we're going to check you.'
“They searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things.” What things?
The things Paul was saying. The things Paul was claiming. The
things Paul was pointing out from the Scriptures. “They searched the
Scriptures daily,” to see if these things he was saying were according
to the word of God.
Friend listen carefully, one of the things that every person, who is seeking
truth, must do is let this book be our final guide. There are a whole lot
of problems that are occurring today. One of the biggest ones are
people believe what they're told hook line and sinker. They think just
because somebody who claims to be speaking the word of God says
it, means it must be true.
There are a host of false teachers, whose motives are not what they ought
to be. They are teaching things that are not according to this book. If
I'm going to have a good and noble heart, I've got to search the
Scriptures. That's what God wants me to do. Listen carefully; this is
not opposed to God's will. This is in harmony with the will of God. 2
Timothy 2:15 Paul encourages the young evangelist Timothy, "Study
to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need
to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Peter said, "Be
ready always to give an answer", 1 Peter 3:15. “The heart of the
righteous studies how to answer,” Proverbs 15:26.
Here's the practical application: Friend, just because somebody stands up,
maybe behind the pulpit, or presents himself as a spokesman of God
and says, ‘Oh, this is what God wants you to do,’ friend you're not
obligated at that point alone to believe it. Here's what we are
obligated to do: we're obligated to search the Scriptures. If it's true
because God said it, then our obligation is to God. We obey God, not
men Acts 5:26-29. Don't just believe what people tell you. A whole
host of people are going to be in are headed down the wrong
direction today because somebody who had a suave look and a
smooth voice said ‘This is from God, and this is what God says you
need to do.’ Every person who speaks on behalf of God needs to be
checked by the Bible.
Isn't that why God gave us the Bible? Jesus said, "You can know the truth
and the truth will make you free", John 8:32. ‘I can search and seek
and prove all things,’ 1 Thessalonians 5:21. When I've done that, I
obey it because God said it. That's the backbone and the security of
what we know to be truth. We want to be like the Bereans. We want
to search the Scriptures and make sure these things are true to the
will of God.
Now friend, let's realize another point that we learn from Acts chapter 17
and that is Paul is in a very an area that is very religious we might
say. Idolatry and false religion is popular in that day, and there are
people who are religious in a sense. But friend, just because
somebody's religious, don't equate that with that person being right
Let me illustrate: I want you to look in Acts chapter 17, and I want you to
notice what Paul says to the idolaters on Mars Hill. Notice these
words. Paul says in verse 22 of Acts chapter 17. “Then Paul stood in
the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that
in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and
considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this
inscription: To the Unknown God.’"
There was no doubt these people were religious-minded; but friend just
because somebody is religious-minded, doesn't mean automatically
mean they're right with God. They had a host of idols, even an idol ‘to
the unknown God.’ Paul takes that point. He preaches Christ to
them. But friend, there are a lot of people who want to be religious.
There a lot of people no doubt who are even sincere. Paul said in
Romans 10:1-2, you know you have "a zeal for God but not according
to knowledge". You know, we can think of people, who even in our
own lives, we may think are religious people. Let's not be persuaded
by those who seem to be religious, those who even have that desire,
but let's let the word of God be our guide in all things. It's one thing to
be religious. It's another thing to be religious and follow the teaching
of the Scriptures according to the word of God.
Here are a couple of practical lessons: Friend, let's not let face just on the
surface appearance is that which persuades us. Secondly, you
remember the Jews. Jesus said, you know, of the Jews a ‘You
appear to men to be these great a people of religious nature.’ Jesus
said ‘In reality you're nothing but whitewashed tombs beautiful and
ornate on the outside on the inside full of dead men's bones,’ Jesus
said that in Matthew chapter 23. Then secondly, let's not let emotion,
and even emotion toward religion is that which guides us. There are a
lot of people who mow be, may be emotional, about religion. But
emotion alone and desire alone does not make one right with
Almighty God. Those things have to be aligned with truth. Again, the
truth is what makes us free, John 8:32. The truth is God's word, John
17:17. And we must obey and live by the truth and worship by the
truth each and every day, John 4:24.
Now, as part of Paul's message to these idolaters in Athens, he begins to
preach Christ to them. These people again are caught up in idolatry.
Here's what Paul will say: Paul will say, "I want to tell you about the
unknown God, the one whom you worship without knowing". And he
goes on from creation. He goes on from the proofs around them, and
he begins to preach Christ. He preaches the message of how God
created, through one man, all nations to serve Him. That was His
ultimate desire. He brings that to a climax in Acts 17:30-31. Notice
what the apostle Paul says here by inspiration. The Scripture records,
"Truly, these times of ignorance God once overlooked, but now
commands all men everywhere to repent, because He's appointed a
day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man
whom He has ordained and He's given assurance of this to all by
raising Him from the dead." What's Paul's main emphasis here?
There's a day coming when God's going to judge the world. He
proved that by the resurrection of His Son from the dead which
nobody in that age could deny. And because of that, God now
commands all men everywhere to repent.
Friend, we're living on that side of the cross and the resurrection. There is
no excuse. Today, men are without excuse. Today, God has given
ample evidence. You can look around and know there's a God. We
can look at the changing of the seasons, Acts 14, Romans 1:19-21.
And we can see by the evidence, there's a God. What does that
evidence and the evidence of the resurrection- what does that
demand? God still commands all men everywhere to repent and turn
to Him. Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
Now, we turn our attention to Acts chapter 18. In Acts chapter 18 Paul is
going to be going to the region of Corinth. Much of the information we
need to learn about the books of 1 and 1 Corinthians is found in Acts
chapter 18. Here are some of those things we learn. Paul, in Acts
18:8, to Crispus and others of the synagogue, preaches the gospel.
He says in Acts 18:8, "Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and
were baptized." You know, you kind of have the gospel in a nutshell.
They heard the word. They believed in Jesus, and they were
baptized. That's God's plan of salvation in a nutshell.
As you think about Paul and his preaching the gospel, there one of the
things that your view can be sure of is, Paul was never ashamed of
the gospel and we must never be ashamed of the gospel today. That
gospel is still what saves men and women souls, and we never need
to be ashamed even of correcting someone who may be in error. You
look in Acts 18:24-26 and you got a man by the name of Apollos.
Apollos is a good man a very eloquent man, but all he knows is the
former baptism of John. He doesn't know anything about the baptism
of Christ and the Holy Spirit. And so Priscilla and Aquila, they pulled
him aside. And they teach him the gospel.
Look in Acts chapter 18. I want you to notice what the word of God records
in verse number 26. The Bible says, "So he began to speak boldly in
the synagogue (that's Apollos). When Aquila and Priscilla heard him,
they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more
accurately." Now, how did Apollos respond? He didn't get mad. He
didn't get upset. He listened. When he saw it was truth, he's ready to
obey that because now he knows more fully, more accurately, the
way of God.
A couple of very important principles that we mention or learn here:
Number one: We always need to stand up for, teach, the truth and
even in the right attitude try to correct those are in error. The Bible
says, "Speak the truth in love", Ephesians 4:15. And then secondly:
We need to realize that a lot of people need to, we need to have, and
a lot of people in this world, need to have the heart and the attitude of
Apollos. They pull him aside. Stop what he's doing. He's preaching
the gospel, preaching what he thinks is truth. They realize that's not
complete, isn't everything he needs to know. They pull him aside.
They teach him. They show him more accurately. He learns that.
Apollos goes on to be a great worker for the Lord. It's possible for
each of us to grow, to develop, to be corrected, and to learn more
and more each and every day of our life. There is a great example
here from Apollos and from Priscilla and Aquila.
Then the gospel goes, in Acts chapter 19, to the idolatrous region of
Ephesus where there was the temple Diana, where there was
Demetrius, a goldsmith, a seal of a man who worked with metal and
who made many statues and had a great living made off of that. Now,
the gospel's going to go there again. There's going to be resistance to
that. But first of all, I want you to notice what is said in Acts 19:3-5
about John's baptism. The Bible says, “And he said to them into,” this
is all Apollos and he's here speaking to the area, "And he said to
them, ‘Into what were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's
baptism", or Paul speaking, and Paul said, "John indeed baptized
with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should
believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on the Christ."
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Here you've got people coming out of one system into another. You've got
the, of course, the Old Testament system. You've got John preaching
a preparatory baptism, and then when Christ comes, now we have
what Acts 2:38 shows baptism into Christ for the remission of sins.
Paul's in this area, some aren't teaching the full gospel and Paul
shows the more perfectly the way of the Lord as well. They're
baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, what is the import of this
Friend, it's all about learning the truth, about God's plan of salvation in the
New Testament. They were authorized and commanded to do exactly
what God wanted them to do. No doubt John's baptism was
preparatory. Matthew 3:2-3. His Way was to prepare people for the
Lord. There was even a sense in which it was for the forgiveness of
sins predicated on the blood of Jesus, Luke 3:3. But friend, let's also
realize this was not the final and permanent baptism. Luke 3:16, "One
comes after me", John would say, "It’s His baptism that would be
significant." And friend, that is baptism into the Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins.
I want you to notice another principle that we learn from Acts chapter 19
and this is really important about Christianity being the way today.
Look in Acts chapter 19 and notice what the Scripture records in
verse number 9. The Bible says, "But when some who were
hardened and did not believe, spoke evil of the Way before the
multitude, he goes on to depart from them, withdrew the disciples,
reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus."
Now when we think about Christianity, these words are probably used in a
negative sense about some of the people of that day.
But friend, what a great application there is, no doubt. Christianity is the
way. Think about this: it is the way to God, John 14:6 Jesus said, "I
am the way", one and only, unique in all, it's the only way to get to
God, "I'm the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father
except by Me." It is the way of salvation, 1 John 2:25, "This is the
promise He's promised us - eternal life." It Christianity is the best way
to live, John 10:10. Jesus said, "I came that you may have life and
that you may have it more abundantly."
Now friend, it's the way to real happiness. Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man
who walks not in the council of the ungodly, stands in the path of
sinners, sits in the seat of the scornful, but blessed is the man whose
delight is in the law of the Lord." What way of life can bring us
ultimate happiness, salvation, a home with God, and joy in this life?
Christianity is the way of life that can do exactly that.
As we think today about God's plan of salvation, as we think today about
the power of the gospel, look at what happened in Thessalonica.
Turned the world upside down. Look what happened in Acts chapter
18 as the gospel goes to Corinth and leaders of the synagogue,
rulers there, sorcerers, obey the gospel. And then in Acts chapter 19,
they sell their magic books. They obey the gospel. A great number of
people, Acts 19:20, in that city obey the Lord. Look at the changes
that occurred then!
The gospel still has that power today. Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul said,
"I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Why? “For it, the gospel of
Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, to the
Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, in the gospel, the
righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written,
‘The just shall live by faith.’"
Friend, we ask you today, has the gospel had the opportunity to change
your life? Has it had the opportunity to turn your life right side up?
People viewed as upside down, but in reality the gospel turns life the
right way, the way God wants it to be. Have you obeyed the gospel of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
If not, we're begging you to do that today. Would you hear the word of
God? Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by
the word of God." Having heard that message, would you believe in
Jesus as the Son of God? Jesus said, "Unless you believe that I'm
He, you'll surely die in your sins." Having believed, would you be
willing to change your life and repent? "Unless you repent, you will all
likewise perish", Luke 13:3. Would you confess the beautiful name of
Jesus before men? "With the heart one believes unto righteousness,
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation", Romans
10:10. Would you, to have your sins washed away, to get into Christ,
the Way, would you be immersed in water?
On that great day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, the apostle Peter stood up with
the 11 and proclaimed, "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know
assuredly God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, Lord and
Christ." And he said, to obey the gospel, they needed to repent and
be baptized every one of them in the name of the Lord Jesus for the
remission of their sins.
Have you done that? If not friend, we're encouraging you today - let the
gospel and its power work in your life so that you can have the hope
Study Questions for: “Acts: Lesson 5”
1. According to Acts17:30, what does God command of all men?
2. According to 2 Timothy 3:12, who will suffer persecution?
3. According to Acts 14:22, thru many what-enter the kingdom of heaven?
4. What does God promise us in Hebrews 13:5-6?
5. Why should our light shine according to Matthew 5:16?
6. How should we be an example according to 1 Timothy 4:12?
7. Why were the Bereans known as more fair-minded in Acts 17:11?
8. According to 2 Timothy 2:15, what should we do to show ourselves
approved unto God?
9. According to 1 Peter 3:5, we should always be ready to what?
10. What does 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tell us to do?