TO SEE HIS GLORY

[SW308] 12/15/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

To See His Glory

How wonderful that the Lord SHALL reveal His glory (kabod) — His very weightiness and power and presence! He shall, to you, in you and through you!

And how wonderful that He would send someone to His people to tell them what they must do, in order to see it! Isaiah, then John the Baptist, then Jesus Christ, and then apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers!

Last time, I spoke of the light of the Lord’s glory coming to those who were in absolute darkness.

Why should you care? Maybe you want nothing to do with Jesus, like I did. But in the Lord’s great kindness, you will find yourself in a place where there is nowhere to look but up. Oh dear one, when you do, you will see His salvation, and His glory will be revealed, just as it was to me!

Text:  Isaiah 40:3-5 (King James Version)

Isaiah 40:3  A voice is calling,

“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;

Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”

OUR God!

Who are those who hear a voice calling? God’s people! They are far away from their God, but a voice is calling, to tell them how to draw near again!

They are in the wilderness, in the desert, symbolic of absence from the presence of God. They are in a spiritually parched place, with no supply of the Lord’s living water. But the Lord will bring good from it. How can that be?

In order for His people to understand their spiritual condition and turn to Him, the Lord places them in deserts and wildernesses, where they have no help but Him! And that is the key!

So what must they do, according to the voice that is calling?

Prepare ye the way, in the King James Version! Make straight the way for our God! Our God! Prepare, make straight! He is speaking to His people in their deserts!

Those were the words of Isaiah, the words of John the Baptist, the words of Jesus, and the words of all who serve Him with a pure heart!

I am calling today, just as John the Baptist called in the days when Jesus walked the earth (Matthew 3:3, 8 & 11) —

Matthew 3:3  John the Baptist said, “For this (Jesus) is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!’”

He is coming! He will come when you least expect Him. He says to His disciples, “Be ready!” (See Matthew 24:44.)

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up at the proper time (1Peter 5:6)! Then He will reveal His glory to you, in you and through you, just as He did with me!

Matthew 3:8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance . . .”

Repent from your sin! Repentance does not mean, “I’m sorry, God,” but it means turning from your sin, and bearing the fruit of repentance — a sudden change in the way you live.

The fruit of repentance  must be evident in you, as with Zaccheus in Luke 19:8, who promised to pay back fourfold those whom he had cheated, and give half of what he owned to the poor!

When you bear the fruit of repentance, you are on the path to see His glory, just as I was, when I repented and bore its fruit!

Matthew 3:11   “As for me, I baptize you  with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals;  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Ask Jesus Christ to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, and He will burn away the sin nature in you, the nature that put you in your wilderness, in your desert! Then you will see His glory, just as I did! He will fill you with His Spirit, His divine nature (character), and you will no longer rebel against Him.

Prepare ye the way! These words are a gift to those with ears to hear!

What happens when you humble yourself by repenting (turning away) from your sin that put you in your parched spiritual desert)?

Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain . . .

By you? My NASB reads, “Let every valley . . . but the word “let” might mislead you into thinking you can do it. But it is impossible for any human being to do! Your part is to repent and humble yourself. If you do, you SHALL be exalted! The Lord Himself will lift you up!

And when you repent and humble yourself, every mountain and hill, every high place in your heart, all your pride SHALL be made low, sinking to nothingness. The Lord will do it!

And when you repent and humble yourself, the crooked in your heart SHALL be made straight. Everything crooked in you will be straightened by the Lord!

Remember that I said the Word of God is like a plumb line, used by builders to determine if something is crooked or straight? May this word be your plumb line, and if you find you are crooked, may you repent and humble yourself, for surely, He will make you straight!

Then you SHALL see the glory of the Lord! He will do it! What a gift!

I keep saying “humble yourself.” Why? It is the state of heart that the Lord will not despise (scorn). Listen to King David’s prayer of repentance, when he repented from the depths of his heart and humbled himself before the Lord, after the seer Nathan called him out on his sin with Bathsheba and his complicit murder of her husband, Uriah —

Psalm 51:16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

You are not pleased with burnt offering . . . (outward acts of contrition).

17  The sacrifices of God are a broken (shattered, crushed) spirit;

A broken and a contrite (crouching) heart, O God, You will not despise (He will not scorn those who repent from the heart).

Do as David did, and you SHALL experience the glory of the Lord! He will do it!

The Lord searches the heart and examines the mind —

Jeremiah 17:10     “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (NIV 1984)

Hebrews 4:13 And  there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are  open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

And if you have done these things, what will happen?

Isaiah 40:5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Because the LORD has spoken it, the glory of the Lord be revealed, and all flesh see it? When He speaks, it will be done!

This is a prophecy brought to pass many times, for His glory will surely be revealed to you and in you and through you, if you repent and humble yourself.

Jesus has already revealed His glory (John 1:14).

Peter, John and James saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2).

The 120 in the upper room were filled with His glory when they were filled with His Holy Spirit  (Acts 2).

Paul saw His glory on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

And even today, for all believers who repent and humble themselves, God’s purpose is that you see His glory NOW!

But on the last day, all flesh SHALL see His glory, His kabod, His weighty presence. You may ask, then, who cares about repentance and humbling, since everyone will see His glory anyway?

Because that last day will be the day of judgment for those who have refused to repent and humble themselves before Him. They will see His glory, and then they will be judged for rejecting Him.

But if you have prepared the way in your heart by repenting and humbling yourself, the last day will be a day for righteousness to be revealed — God’s righteousness in saving you from His wrath, and His righteousness with which He has filled you!

It will be revealed to the whole earth, on that day, that the Lord has made the crooked straight in you, and that His glory is in you —

1Peter 1:5 who are  protected by the power of God through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Romans 8:23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

When He reveals His glory to the whole earth, your salvation will be seen, your adoption as sons and daughters, your redemption will be revealed to the world! It is so easy, and yet so hard for us to give ourselves up to the Lord. I know from my own experience. But do it, and you will see and be filled with His glory!

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SESSION 32 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 20:1-16

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Dead Are Raised!”

Verse 1 — After the riot in Ephesus had ceased, Paul sent for the Ephesian disciples. He greeted them — that is, he enfolded them, took them into his arms and embraced them. (NOTE: I have no idea why the NASB indicates that he exhorted them.) Then he left and went to Macedonia, as noted in 19:21.

Verses 2-3— Paul greatly exhorted (beseeched, implored, appealed to, and earnestly urged) the churches in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and the rest). What did he say? You will see it in his epistles!

When he finished there, he came to Greece (which was part of the Roman province of Achaia in those days). He stayed three months, and then the Jews began persecuting him. A plot was formed as he was about to sail for Syria, so he returned again through Macedonia.

Why did the Jews hate Paul with such intensity? First of all, he had been one of them, persecuting the church, arresting Christians and jailing them, and, in doing so, sending them to their deaths.

Philippians 3:4  . . . although  I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5  circumcised the eighth day, of the  nation of Israel, of the  tribe of Benjamin, a  Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law,  a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal,  a persecutor of the church; as to the  righteousness which is in the Law, found  blameless.

And he did as the Jews wanted, as he testifies before King Agrippa —

Acts 26:9   “So then,  I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to  the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 “And this is  just what I  did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the  saints in prisons, having  received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I  cast my vote against them. 11 “And  as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being  furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them  even to  foreign cities.

But what does Paul now say???

Philippians 3:7   But  whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss  in view of the surpassing value of   knowing  Christ Jesus my Lord,  for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having  a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ,  the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may  know Him and  the power of His resurrection and   the fellowship of His sufferings, being  conformed to His death; 11  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

And so, as he testifies to King Agrippa —

Acts 26:4   “So then, all Jews know  my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as Pharisee  according to the strictest  sect of our religion. 6 “And now I am  standing trial  for the hope of  the promise made by God to our fathers; 7 the promise  to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this  hope, O King, I am being  accused by Jews.

He was an especially great threat to the Jews, because he knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards, and on the Road to Damascus, saw Jesus in a vision, and knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. And so he proclaimed Jesus Christ with great power and fervor, suffering just as Christ told him he would suffer —

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him (Ananias), “Go, for  he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and  kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for  I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Verses 4-6 — Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundas, Gaius Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus accompanied Paul on his journey to Jerusalem. They were his representatives from all the areas where he had ministered. They went ahead and were waiting for Paul and Luke at Troas. Luke was with him, also (note the “us” and “we” in Verses 5 and 6).

Paul wasn’t able to get to Jerusalem before the Passover, so he celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread at Philippi. But now, he was determined to get to Jersualem before Pentecost (see Verse 16). So he and Sopater and the rest sailed from Philippi. Five days later, they arrived at Troas, and stayed there seven days.

Verses 7-8 — On Sunday, at Troas, they all gathered in an upper room to break bread (the Lord’s Supper). And Paul spoke to them, intending to leave the next day. It was a long message — he was still speaking at midnight! So, many lamps were lit in the upper room where they all had gathered.

Verse 9 — Because of the late hour, a young man named Eutycus, who was sitting on the window sill, sank into a deep sleep and fell down from the third floor. He was picked up dead (literally, as a corpse). Three stories is a deadly fall!

Verse 10 — So did Paul go down and mourn for him? No! Paul went down and fell upon the dead young man (literally, he seized him, or laid down on him). And he embraced the corpse. And he said, Do not be troubled for his life is in him. Glory!

NOTE: Many misinterpret this passage, saying it was a sexual encounter (!!!) or that Paul performed CPR on the young man (!!!). Those who teach such things do not have the light of dawn, beloved (see Isaiah 8:20)!

You must know that resurrection from the dead was done in this way by both Elijah and Elisha —

1Kings 17:19 He (Elijah) said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. 20 He called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am  staying, by causing her son to die?”

21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return  to him.” 22 The Lord heard the voice of Elijah,  and the life of the child returned  to him and he revived.

2Kings 4:32   When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33 So he entered and  shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. 34 And  he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and  stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.

Verse 11 — Then he went back to the upper room and broke bread and ate (this would be the Lord’s Supper), he talked with them some more — even until daybreak — and then left! He knew he would not see the church at Troas again, for he knew he was going to Jerusalem, and must go to Rome.

Verse 12 — And they took away the boy alive, and ALL were greatly comforted!

One commentator says, “There is no hint that Paul took the incident as a rebuke for long-windedness. Nor were the people troubled by the meeting’s length. They were eager to learn and only had Paul with them a short time. It was an evening of great significance for the church at Troas: Paul had taught them, they had had fellowship in the Lord’s Supper, and they had witnessed a dramatic sign of God’s presence and power.” (SOURCE: Expositor’s Bible Commentary.)

Verses 13-15 — Now, Paul traveled on toward Jerusalem. Sopater, Luke, and the others set sail on a vessel that traveled the coastline. They were headed for Assos, where they planned to pick up Paul. He had arranged to meet them there, intending to go by land until he reached Assos. And when he met them at Assos, they took him on board the ship, and they traveled to Mitylene. They sailed on to Chios, crossed over to Samos, and on the following day, they all arrived at Miletus.

Verse 16 — Paul decided to sail past Ephesus (he called the elders of the church to him upon arriving in Miletus, per Verse 17). Why? He did not want to spend time in Asia Minor because he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. They still had to sail across the Mediterranean Sea and then travel by land from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Why did Paul want to hurry to Jerusalem by Pentecost? Certainly, it was a Jewish feast that all Jews were required to attend. But the Old Testament Pentecost speaks of the new —

Exodus 23:16 “Also you shall observe  the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year  when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field.

Truly, at the Pentecost celebrated in Acts 2, fifty days after the Passover feast, the promise of the Father came, and the harvest has been mighty, ever since —

Romans 8:23  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having  the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves  groan within ourselves,  waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons,  the redemption of our body.

And so, Pentecost had become an important time of celebration and remembrance in the church. It was a holy day for the church, a reminder that God sent the first fruits of His Holy Spirit on that day, solving the heart condition of all of us, purifying the hearts of each one who stays and waits, and empowering us to walk as Jesus walked, doing His works and being examples of His heart work!

Acts 1:8 “. . . but you will receive power  when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be  My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and  Samaria, and even to  the remotest part of the earth.”

Those who are filled are sent out as workers in His harvest fields for this spiritual harvest  —

Matthew 9:37 Then He said to His disciples, “ The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Amen! Let it be so, Lord Jesus!

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

[SW307] 12/08/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

Out of the Darkness

In the midst of great, absolute darkness, Isaiah prophesied that people who were nothing would become something, when they saw a great Light that was coming.

It was not a light they could produce or conjure up. But the Light they would see would be Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!

Text: Isaiah 9:1-2

But there will be no more gloom, no distress, no absolute darkness. Something was coming!

For whom?

For her who was in anguish, in extreme distress, Zebulun and Naphtali of Israel’s northern kingdom, who He treated with contempt (affliction).

Why did He afflict them?

Because they worshiped golden calves, and the false god Baal, and offered their children as sacrifices to the false god, Molech. As their children burned alive, they beat drums loudly, so their children’s screams could not be heard.

They were the people of God, but they were in absolute, deep darkness!

How did the Lord afflict idolatrous Zebulun and Naphtali?

He made them the first of Northern Israel’s kingdom to go in to exile, when the Assyrians overran them in B.C. 734  —

2Kings 15:29   In the days of Pekah king of Israel,   Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and  captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and  he carried them captive to Assyria.

Zebulun, just east of Galilee, was also taken at that time.

But the word of the Lord through Isaiah says there will be no more gloom, no more distress for those who were in absolute darkness.

Why will there be no more distress for God’s exiled people who were in absolute darkness and in misery?

Later on, a Light is coming!

That Light is Christ! He sheds His light for all to see, shining on every man —

John 1:9   There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

Oh, here is the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ! No matter what absolute darkness you are presently living in, His Light is here, now!

He shall make glorious those who have been in darkness.

What does “make glorious” mean?

This word “glorious” is from the word kabod — God’s glory! Jesus Christ will be born in Bethlehem, but will grow up and begin His ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles, the place Assyria seeded with non-Jews, as was their custom when they took a nation into exile.

So, being the first to see His light will be an honor for them. And  His twelve disciples were from Galilee of the Gentiles, and they were made glorious!

When will the people be made glorious?

In Acts 2, at Pentecost! The Lord will fill many who live in Galilee of the Gentiles with His glory, when the people of Galilee have their own personal Pentecost!

How will all of this come to pass?

Verse 2 — His idolatrous people who dwell in absolute darkness and misery and the shadow of death — so close to death that it casts a shadow upon them — will see something.

What will they see?

A great — a never-before-seen — Light!

God’s people and the Gentiles of Galilee will see Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!

This light will shine on those who live in absolute darkness, in misery, in destruction, in death’s shadow, in ignorance, in sorrow, in wickedness!

Jesus Christ’s light shined on them when He walked the earth, and they either turned away, or came into His light, —

John 3:19 (Jesus said) “This is the judgment, that  the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for  their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

 

But many have run toward Him! I was in absolute darkness, in misery, in destruction, in death, in ignorance, in sorrow, in wickedness, and He shined on even me! And I ran toward Him, glory to God, eighteen years ago! Then, sixteen years ago, I stayed and waited, so His light would be in me.

Have you stayed and waited so His light is in you?

Do you see that the source of His light is the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son, who come to permanently dwell in you when you ask your Father in heaven to fill you with His Spirit?

Then those in absolute darkness — even God’s people —see!

And do you see that today, the whole world is in extreme distress, absolute darkness, in gloom, because just like Zebulun and Naphtali and all of the kingdom of Northern Israel? Do you see it is because they worship false gods with which Satan has tempted them, playing on their sensuality and greed?

Today, there are those who worship a god who tells them to offer their children as prostitutes to be used their temples, as part of worship. And there are those who worship a god who tells them they will have many virgins in heaven, if they become suicide bombers.

Where is the church, in the midst of today’s darkness?

In America and across the earth, the church has become a place for you to “get your blessing?” The church is no longer a place where people come into Christ’s light and are saved, and then seek to be filled with His light and His glory so they are lights in the absolute darkness.

Within the past year, the Lord spoke to me when I was in the prayer room of a particular church. He said, “I will bring My light into this place, and the people will say, ‘What is this light? We have not seen it!’ And they will fall down and worship Me.”

Jesus asks this of His church — when He comes again, will He find faith in the earth (Luke 18:8)?

He wants all who were nothing to become something — to become His — when they see His Light!

O church, O believer, if there is no Light in you, those in absolute darkness will come and eat the food and wear the clothes and stay in the shelters your church provides. But they will remain in absolute darkness, in misery of soul, in destruction, in death, in ignorance, in sorrow, in wickedness, for they see no light in you, and therefore, remain without God in the world!

Oh, Church! Many churches teach that being filled with Christ’s light is not “for today,” but ended after all of the Apostles had been martyred or, like the Apostle John, died of old age.

Paul warned Timothy that fierce times were coming, where many would have a form of godliness (holiness as an outward attitude), but disavow, reject, and abnegate its power to transform a human heart and fill that heart with His Light, the very glory of God (2Timothy 3:5).

And so, much of Christianity today is just another religion. It is just one of many systems of beliefs.

There is no light of Christ in much of the church, in those whom He has called to be filled with His light so they are lights of the world  —

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a  hill cannot be hidden; 15  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works [that is, works that only God can do and which He does through you], and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus is preparing for Himself a church glorious, filled with His kabod — 

Ephesians 5:27 . . . that He might  present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be  holy and blameless.

“In all her glory,” is really “glorious,” that is, filled with His glory! Then she is able to shine with His Light!

Oh, beloved, only then will nations come to our Light, and kings to the radiance of our shining (Isaiah 60:3), for they will see that it comes not from us, but from the One who has filled us and will deliver them!

I believe that today’s church rejects the truth because is concerned that the world may reject her or think her to be intolerant.

I tell you the truth, some in the world surely will reject His light in you, just as He promised, but kings! Nations! There will be and have been many who run toward the Light of Jesus Christ that shines out from His servants!

In this season of lights and earthly joys, O church, I call you to repent from your unbelief.  If you run to His Light, He will gladly receive you back, just as He did Zebulun and Naphtali!

I pray individual believers will see His light through this message, come out of their darkness, and seek to be filled with the Light of Jesus Christ. Amen!

SESSION 31 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 19:21-41

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Profiteers Will Persecute.”

Verse 21 — After his miraculous work at Ephesus, Paul purposed (set as his intention, committed) in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he passed through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to Rome.

So this was not just Paul’s idea, but the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Is it possible to confirm that?

In 20:22, he speaks of it again —

Acts 20:22 “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit,  I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that  the Holy Spirit solemnly  testifies to me in every city, saying that  bonds and afflictions await me.”

How has the Holy Spirit solemnly testified? Through Christian prophets!

A prophet, Agabus, came down from Judea to Caesarea —

Acts 21:11 And coming to us, he  took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This  is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will  bind the man who owns this belt and  deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

And Jesus confirms for us that this was His plan for Paul, after Paul’s persecution was in full swing in Jerusalem, and he had just been brought before the angry Sanhedrin—

Acts 23:11   But on  the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “ Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”

Verses 22-23 — So Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia. He stayed in Asia Minor for a while, in Ephesus. During that time, there was an uprising, not from the Jews, but from greedy profiteers who fashioned idols and were losing their customers because many had believed into Jesus Christ!

Verses 24-25 — Demetrius was one of the leaders of these craftsmen. He was a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis (a.k.a. Diana), a goddess to whom a great temple had been built in Ephesus. Demetrius himself brought a great deal of business to the craftsmen. So he gathered them together with the workmen of similar trades.

Then, he stirred them up. Our prosperity depends upon this business, he said!

Beware of  those who turn any religion — even Christianity — into a money-making scheme. When your proclamation of the gospel turns people away from the profiteers and to Jesus Christ, they will surely persecute you, for you are affecting their wallets!

Jesus said this of the Jewish leaders and priests, when He had cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem —

Matthew 21:13 “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”

The high priest and the rest of the leaders levied fees and taxes on all the people, and used weights that weighed in their favor — all to line their own pockets!

And they did the same in the Old Testament, says the Lord through Jeremiah —

Jeremiah 7:11 “Has  this house, which is called by My name, become a  den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the Lord.”

Verse 26 — Demetrius continued, You have seen and heard that throughout Asia Minor, and not just in Ephesus, this Paul has stolen many Artemis followers from us and said gods made with hands are no gods at all.

Indeed, that was part of Paul’s teaching —

1Corinthians 8:4   Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God,  the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

Verse 27 — Demetrius continued, Our reputations and our trade are in danger and may be in disrepute (held in contempt and refuted), if this continues. And the temple of Artemis (so large and ornate that it was considered one of the seven wonders of the world at that time) may be considered worthless (nothing) — even she whom the whole world worships will be dethroned from her magnificence.

Indeed, if the Ephesians believe the gospel Paul preaches,

— they will no longer call Artemis great because they will know she is false,

— they will see that these idol makers are contemptible because they deceive the people,

— and they will magnify the one true God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, just as we have seen in Acts 19:17!

Verse 28 — So when the tradesmen heard the words of Demetrius, they were filled with rage! And they began magnifying the name of Artemis — Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, they cried!

Verse 29 — As a result, confusion reigned in Ephesus, and everyone rushed to the theater, together and of one mind. They dragged along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s companions from Macedonia.

Verses 30-31 — Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. And some of the religious and political officials of Asia Minor, who were friends of Paul’s, urged him not to go into (literally, give himself) to the theater.

Verse 32 — At the theater, there was much shouting and confusion, and most did not know why they had come to the theater in the first place. It is an example of the phenomenon called “mob (or herd) mentality.” People are influenced by their peers to protest and riot, even if they don’t know what they are really protesting.

Verse 33 — Some of the crowd decided Alexander was the Christian they should persecute, since the Jews who were against Paul had presented him before the crowds. Alexander motioned with his hand (for quiet), and was about to make a defense to them.

Verse 34 — But when the people recognized that Alexander, who was a believer, was a Jew, they spent the next two hours shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” They shouted Alexander down. Mob mentality was in full swing!

It reminds me of Jesus before Pilate, and the crowd being stirred up by the chief priests so that they cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (See Mark 15:13.)

Verse 35 — The town clerk (considered as a chief executive officer of the affairs of Ephesus) then quieted the crowd. He spoke of the city of Ephesus being the guardian (servant) of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven (literally, “the sky”).

Their superstition was that Artemis and her image had come to them by this means. Of course, her image was made by men’s hands, and she was a false goddess.

But who else fell from the sky? Ezekiel prophesies about the anointed cherub whom God cast down, who is Satan, also known as Lucifer  —

Ezekiel 28:17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;

You  corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.

I cast you to the ground;

I put you before  kings,

That they may see you.

And Jesus saw it, from long ago, as he tells his disciples who have come back to report their success after casting out demons by His authority —

Luke 10:18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”

AND . . .

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole  world; he was  thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
God throws down deceivers, beloved, including the greatest liar of them all, and the father of lies, the devil (see John 8:44)!

Hallelujah!

Verse 36 — Well, said the clerk, Artemis falling from the sky was an undeniable fact to worshipers of Artemis. So, he said, Keep calm and don’t do anything rash. These men have not robbed temples or blasphemed our goddess.

Verse 38 — The clerk continued, If Demetrius and the rest of the craftsmen have a complaint against anyone, they should go to the courts. They are in session, and Roman proconsuls are available. Let them bring charges against one another there.

Verses 39-40 — Anything else must be settled in the lawful assembly. The gathering had become a riot, which was illegal under Roman law. And neither he nor the people wanted to be thrown in jail, did they?

After all, he reasoned, there was no real cause for the riot, and the town clerk and other leaders wouldn’t be able to vouch for those who had been part of this disorderly gathering.

Verse 40 — Then he dismissed the assembly. The threat of jail was sufficient to diffuse the riot.

So . . .

What caused the riot at Ephesus? People were coming to faith in the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and that angered the greedy craftsmen who made silver idols of Artemis, and lined their pockets with the proceeds, at the expense of others.

What caused the riot at the time of Jesus? People were coming to faith in the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and that angered the greedy religious leaders who wanted to continue to line their own pockets at the expense of others, through unfair temple taxes and other means.

False teachers and idolators profit at their followers’ expense. And when you expose them by teaching the truth which is in Christ, you will be persecuted, because Profiteers Will Persecute!

May the Holy Spirit convict leaders in the church today who preach a prosperity or success gospel and constantly plead for money from the poor and widows so they can have expensive houses and private planes!

And may He convict those poor people who do not know the Word of God and are thus deceived into thinking they will become rich through these false teachers! It is an ear-tickling message that plays on their own greed!

2Timothy 4:3 For  the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and  will turn away their ears from the truth and  will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things,  endure hardship, do the work of an  evangelist, fulfill your  ministry.

Lord, may this word rescue many from entering through the wide, broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13)! Amen!

HIS EYES ARE ON YOU!

[SW306] 12/01/2017 message notes by

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017

His Eyes Are On You!

Do you know that the eyes of the Lord are on you? Some will rejoice to be reminded of this truth, and others will recoil at it because they do not want the Lord to see their hearts. But He sees such hearts for a good purpose — to lead you to repentance!

Texts:  2Chronicles 16:9, etc.

The seer, Chanani, spoke this to King Asah —

2Chronicles 16:9 “For  the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those  whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”

The first part, in the original Hebrew-to-English, with my emphasis, is —

For the eyes of Yahweh RUN to and fro in ALL the earth IN ORDER TO BE STRONG for those with their HEARTS PERFECT toward Him.

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro! They run, they are quick, they see everything, everywhere. He looks from the height of heaven, and His eyes continually move quickly.

In ALL the earth! His eyes scan everywhere, quickly!

Why do His eyes run back and forth? So He may show Himself strong! That is, in order for Him to fasten upon you; to strengthen you, cure you, help you, repair you, fortify you, and to be mighty toward you. Ah! And through this, He is glorified! Look! God is with that one!

To whom does He show Himself strong? Those with their hearts perfect toward Him. Perfect? Completely His, wholly His, fully His!

His eyes RUN back and forth in order to do this, even across the whole earth, if you are one whose heart is completely His! And He shows Himself to be strong, on your behalf! And He is glorified through it!

PRAISE BREAK!

This is His promise, and it is His very nature to show His strength as He defends those whose hearts are perfect toward Him. Hallelujah!

And in the New Testament, the promise is repeated —

1John 5:18  We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him (guards by keeping His eye upon and watching over him), and the evil one does not touch him (he does not fasten upon and light him on fire).

He guards us by keeping His eyes upon us, He watches over us! Glory to God! His eyes are on you!

BUT . . .

Note that this promise is not for those who sin. That is the first part of 1John 5:18. And it is confirmed by Peter in 1Peter 3:12, as he quotes from Psalm 33:18 and 34:15 —

Psalms 33:18  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear (worship and revere) Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness . . .

Psalms 34:15  The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

The righteous! Those who worship and revere Him!

He does not show His strength to the unrighteous, to those who do not worship and revere Him, or who are foolish (playing the fool), as the prophet said King Asah was, per the second half of 2Chronicles 16:9.

It is an abuse of the Word of God to take just part of a passage and use it to claim something God must do for you. He is God and you are not! It is especially foolish to make such a claim regardless of how you are living.We must look at the whole of the truth that the Holy Spirit is showing us!

Again, the promise in 1John 5:18, as with 2Chronicles 16:9, is for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him, the ones in whose hearts His love has been perfected, the ones who are filled with His perfect love.

These are not touched by the evil one, and are watched over by the Lord. These are the ones for whom the Lord shows His strength, the ones He fastens upon to strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify, and to be mighty toward!

What is it to have a perfect heart toward the Lord? What is it to be foolish? I will briefly review Asah’s reign as King of Judah. You will see and either rejoice, or if you see that you have played the fool, I sincerely pray you will repent.

In 2Chronicles 14:2, you see that King Asah did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God. How?

In Verse 3, he removed the foreign altars and high places (those of false gods) in Judah, tore down the pillars to false gods, and cut down the Asherim (wooden images to a female false god). He cleansed Jerusalem.

In Verse 4, He commanded the people to seek God and observe the law and the commandment.

In Verse 5, He also removed the high places and incense altars from all the cities of Judah, cleansing his whole kingdom.

Why did the people build these strongholds, these high things? Because they believed that they should trust in the world’s ways and the world’s wisdom, observing that the world (the pagan nations around them), who worshiped false idols — seemed to be successful and prosperous.

That is the same reason some of God’s people build high places today.

You see, even today, there are still those across the earth, who worship literal idols.

And there are those who worship themselves at high places in their hearts, where the Lord is not allowed nor will He come, until they ask Him to change their hearts and fill them with His Holy Spirit.

These are fortifications, strongholds they have built, personal opinions that conflict with God’s Word, high things, lofty things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God —

2Corinthians 10:4 . . . for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but  divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . .

In 2Chronicles 14, Verse 9, when Zerah and his million-man army from Ethiopia came against Judah, King Asah called to the Lord his God, per Verse 11. Here is what he prayed —

“Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God,  for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”

Oh, the Lord showed His strength on behalf of King Asah. Why? Because Asah was obedient to the Lord, cleansing the land of high things that the people of Judah had built. And when the enemy threatened, he called upon the Lord, and did not try to fight in his own strength.

In Verse 12, the Lord routed (struck) the Ethiopians before King Asah and before all of Judah, and the Ethiopians fled! Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee, beloved (James 4:7)!

In 2Chronicles 15, the Holy Spirit came upon Azaryahu, and he went out and stood before King Asah, saying —

“Listen to me, Asah, and all Judah and Benjamin:  the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And  if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

And he encouraged Asah there was reward for the work Asah was doing. Glory to God! The Lord was with Asah because Asah was with the Lord!

But the prophet also warned that if Asah forsook the Lord, then the Lord would forsake Asah. As much good as Asah had done, he was still required to remain true to the Lord. It was a warning from the Lord through the prophet, of what was to come.

The Lord warns the church today, the church that has forsaken Him and sought the world’s ways and means to be prosperous, and believers who have not only set up idolatry of self in their hearts, but make a great deal of money teaching others to do the same. His warning is His mercy to the church, if she will repent.

In 2Chronicles 15:8-9, we find that Asah was encouraged by the prophet’s words and restored the altar of the Lord. And many Jews defected from northern Israel, where King Jeroboam had made golden calves for the people to worship, and where he commanded that children should be offered as sacrifices to false gods. Why did they defect? They saw that the Lord, Asah’s God, was with him.

It is true today. People will defect from the false gods, including the god of self, that the world system worships and come to the one true God, when they see that the eyes of the Lord shows Himself strong on your behalf. They will glorify the Lord! PRAISE BREAK!

In 2 Chronicles 15:16, King Asah even removed his mother, Maacah, who had made an idol, from her position as queen mother. What? Aren’t we supposed to honor (glorify) our father and mother, that our days may be prolonged on the earth (Exodus 20:12)?

Asah did not allow his mother to be glorified by her position as queen mother because she was worshiping a false idol that was an abomination to the Lord, thereby putting all of Judah in jeopardy because of her disobedience to the Lord.

So King Asah did right in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord showed Himself strong on Asah’s behalf.

But in the thirty-sixth year of King Asah’s reign, Baasha, who was king of northern Israel, came against Judah. And Asah was foolish.

Rather than cry out to the Lord, as he had in 2Chronicles 14:11, King Asah paid silver and gold to Ben-hadad, king of Aram (Syria), and made a treaty with him to conquer Baasha. Ben-hadad broke his treaty with Baasha and conquered northern Israel’s army. Sound OK? Not before the Lord!

The Arameans were a perennial thorn in Israel’s side from the days of King Solomon onward. The eventual fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Babylon was aided by the Arameans (2 Kings 24:2). Asah had made a treaty with an enemy of Israel! How foolish!

It is the same today. Many Christians make treaties with the world, hoping they may increase the numbers in their churches. They do not want to offend the world, but want to use the world’s ways to attract people to their churches and do not speak any truth of God’s Word that might make the world feel bad about itself. How foolish!

Jesus says those who are friends of the world do not belong to Him, but to the world (John 15:18, echoed in James 4:4). And so they have forsaken Jesus, and Jesus has forsaken them. They have become like the church at Laodicea —

Revelation 3:17  Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me  gold refined by fire (I advise you to ask me to purify your heart) so that you may become rich . . .”

After the treaty was made and the money was paid to Ben-Hadad, Chanani the prophet delivers the same message to King Asah —

2Chronicles 16:7  . . . “ Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. 8 “Were not  the Ethiopians and the Lubim  an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. 9 “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”

In 2Chronicles 16:10-14, King Asah was enraged at this word from the prophet. He did not submit to the word of the Lord. He did not repent.

Instead, he rebelled and punished Chanani, and began to oppress the people of Judah. Even when he was stricken with a severe disease in his feet, he did not seek the Lord, but went directly to the physicians. He reigned forty-one years, and the people honored him with a great fire when he died of his illness.

The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and is here today to judge the thoughts and attitudes of your heart, so you may repent, if you have been foolish.

Hebrews 4:13 . . . there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are  open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Oh, beloved! If you now see that the Lord’s eyes are upon you, and that all is opened and laid bare to him, do not be enraged by these words from the Lord, like King Asah!

Submit to them and repent, and ask Him to make your heart perfect toward Him so that you will be right in God’s eyes, and He will hear your cry, and His eyes will run to and fro across the whole earth, to show His strength on your behalf, and Jesus Christ will guard you with his eyes so Satan cannot fasten himself to you!

Amen!

SESSION 30 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 19:1-20

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Power of God.” You’ll see why, as we look at these verses!

Verse 1 — Here we see the first instance of the power of God, in this chapter. We have seen many, from Acts 2 onward. It has something to do with Pentecost, you know!

So, Apollos is now in Corinth, and Paul — again ministering alone — passed through the upper regions of Achaia. He came to Ephesus, and found some disciples there. So what did Paul immediately do?

Verse 2 — He asked them if they received the Holy Spirit (that is, the baptism and infilling with the Holy Spirit) when they believed. Literally, it is, “Believing, did you receive the Holy Spirit?”

Why did he ask? There are many theories, but Paul continually sought to empower every believer, to lead them to be filled so their hearts would be purified (Acts 15:9) and so they would be free from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36)!

“When you believed,” asked Paul. So these disciples were believers. They were saved. They were Christians. But they lacked something, as is revealed in their answer.

They said, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Why would that be?

Christianity was in its infancy. Many had been baptized in water to reflect their repentance. They believed into Jesus Christ, the One who came, just as John the Baptist commanded them. But some had not heard of the baptism of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Spirit and fire.

Paul’s ministry was not only to call all people to belief into Jesus, but to exhort them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so they could be the church! Then and only then would heir hearts be purified (Acts 15:9) and only then would they receive power from on high (Luke 24:49).

Verse 3 — So Paul said, “With what baptism were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Verse 4 — Paul responded by teaching them that John the Baptist’s baptism was a sign of repentance. John exhorted people to repent and believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, into the Christ, Jesus . . . the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29 & 36), for all in the world who believe into Him (John 3:16).  And if they do not repent, they remain under the wrath of God (John 3:36).

Verse 5 — The moment these Ephesians heard, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. There is no suggestion that water was used.

In my searching for understanding of this particular act, I have learned that this was not a “rebaptism,” but an outward sign of the faith these believers had in Jesus Christ. John’s was a baptism of preparation, and this baptism of  believers was a baptism of fulfillment. And in the instances where this is done in the Book of Acts, it was followed, immediately or shortly thereafter, by baptism in the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.

John the Baptist clearly states that Jesus Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire (to purify hearts) —

Matthew 3:11   “As for me, I baptize you  with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals;  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

It is the baptism the Father and Jesus promised —

Acts 1:4  Gathering them together, He commanded them  not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for   what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for  John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Verses 6-7 — When Paul laid his hands on these twelve men, they immediately began to speak in tongues and prophesy. They were filled with the Holy Spirit!

Now, according to the Scriptures, baptism in the Spirit can happen with or without the laying on of hands, but generally, it is by laying on of hands —

Acts 8:15 (Peter and John) who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been  baptized  in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they  began laying their hands on them, and they were  receiving the Holy Spirit.

Again, these in Acts 8:15-17 were already believers into Jesus Christ. They had publicly confessed Jesus, and now, with the laying on of Peter and John’s hands, they were filled with the Spirit.

In the case of Cornelius in Acts 10, when Peter began to speak, he and his household were saved, and immediately, they were filled with the Holy Spirit without the laying on of hands. I am sure Peter was surprised! Then Peter called for them to baptized in water, because it was proper for them to publicly demonstrate their repentance.

Jeff and I were the same — three years after we believed into Jesus Christ, we were filled with the Spirit by the laying on of hands. Then we sought to be baptized in water, to publicly demonstrate our repentance. And it was the same for Paul, in Acts 9!

God works these things in many ways. Let us not limit Him to just one way!

Unfortunately, in today’s church, some teach that you must be baptized in water to be saved, and when you come up out of the water, you have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Others teach that you are not saved unless you are baptized into the name of Jesus. But baptism, however you do it, is simply an outward sign of an inward work done by God who saves you and fills you!

Here is what is most important for you to see — the command of Jesus Christ for every believer to be baptized in the Holy Spirit! Peter, John, and Paul continually called believers to this baptism. So let us obey the Lord!

Verse 8 — Paul then entered the synagogue at Ephesus and continued speaking out boldly (frankly and bluntly) for three months, reasoning with and persuading many of his listeners about the kingdom of God. Remember how Paul said he would return to Ephesus, “if God wills” (Acts 18:21)? Well, God willed!

Verse 9 — As we have so often seen, some in the synagogue were becoming hardened (stubborn) and disobedient (disbelieving). These publicly spoke evil of (reviled and cursed) the Way (the gospel of Jesus Christ).

So Paul withdrew from them, along with the disciples who had believed, and moved to the school of Tyrannus, a lecture hall. It may well have been the same place Priscilla and Aquila had been teaching.

Paul continued there for two more years! The result? Everyone who lived in Asia (the western coast of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey and Armenia).

Verse 11-12 — The power and presence of God was profound in Ephesus! God was performing extraordinary miracles (not of the usual kind), at Paul’s hands!

Even handkerchiefs (literally, sweat cloths) and workmen’s half-aprons carried from Paul’s body to the sick and demon-possessed caused them to be healed and the evil spirits left them! Was it the handkerchief or the apron? No, it was the power of God, and the faith of those who carried them to the sick and demon-possessed.

Three points I’ll make here —

First, the power of God FREES! Look at Isaiah 61:1-3 with me! PRAISE BREAK!

Second, it is the Lord who performs the miracles, at our hands. The Spirit distributes gifts according to His will, the Son determines how they will be administered, and the Father is the One who does the works themselves (1Corinthians 12:4-6).

Third, I have to tell you that today, much of the church does not believe demons exist. How strange! They haven’t read the Gospels and the Book of Acts lately! Not only that, but some in the church believe there is no such thing as the devil. Then to whom was Jesus speaking in Matthew 4? Repent, O church, for your unbelief!

Verse 13— In those days, there were traveling Jews who performed exorcisms. When they saw Paul’s success, they decided to mimic him. So they used Jesus’ name, to try to drive evil spirits out. They said, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

They didn’t understand that to speak in Jesus’ name means you are a believer in Jesus Christ and because you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, His nature and character are in you!

Beloved, Jesus’ name is not a talisman or incantation, like with the black art of magic. But in today’s church, some use it without having His nature and character, and fail, just like the men we are about to meet.

Verse 14-16 — The seven sons of Sceva, who was a Jewish priest, had entered a house where there was a person possessed by an evil spirit. So they also tried to mimic Paul.

And what happened? The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know (recognize and know absolutely), Paul I know (ditto), but who are you?”

The result? The evil spirit leaped on them, subdued all seven, overpowered them, and they fled, naked and wounded.

An evil spirit will say the same to you, unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit and the Father and Son indwell you! If God fills you, though, evil spirits WILL absolutely recognize you, and WILL flee!

Verse 17 — I tell you this, beloved. When word gets around that there is a power greater than that of demons and Satan, you had better believe that the people will take notice, both Jews and Gentiles! And they will believe you have been sent by that One, and will believe the gospel of Jesus Christ that you bring! And so it was in Ephesus, which was a pagan city.

The result of the evil spirit’s words, and the extreme miracles performed through Paul caused fear to fall upon them all (literally, they were put in fear, alarm, terror). Why? The people of Ephesus realized there was a God greater and more powerful than their idols and gods and demons and spells, and that Paul had been sent by that God!

And the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was being magnified (declared great)! That’s what happens when the church is being the church!

Verse 18 — Besides glorifying Jesus Christ, what else happened? People kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. What practices?

Magic! It is a black art, it is not of God. And it is practiced everywhere today!

Many — even in the church — celebrate magicians in this country, making them famous.

Many — even in the church — are fans of Harry Potter. Many people — even in the church — love TV shows that feature vampires and the living dead.

Many — even in the church — seek the counsel of sorcerers and mediums!

And so, many are led down the broad path to destruction (Matthew 7:13). I say this to the church’s shame!

Verse 19 — Those who disclosed their practices didn’t just confess. They repented, which was evidenced by their actions! Those who practiced magic brought their books and began burning them in the sight of everyone — public book-burning! Perish the thought, we say in today’s society! But do not miss the fact that the book-burning was not done by church leaders, but by people who were repenting of their sins! The price of all these books, in today’s currency, would be $4 million!

Oh, but even in the church, we will keep these things on our shelves, and teach them to our children! God help us!

Verse 20 — The result of all these things was that the word of the Lord — the Gospel of Jesus Christ — was growing mightily and prevailing. In the Greek-to-English, it had force and strength — God’s force and strength!

There are many big churches in the U.S. who are successful in the world’s eyes, beloved. But they are ministering according to the world’s standards and wisdom, not God’s, or they would not preach what they preach and do what they do!

Some big churches even practice forms of magic, under the guise of Christianity! Some of these big, beautiful churches are like the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:17), wretched and poor and blind and naked, said Jesus.

A missionary from the underground church in China came to visit America. He was shown the biggest churches we have. Before he left, the leaders asked him what impressed him the most. He said, “How much you can do without God!”

Jesus called the churches at Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis, and Laodicea to repent.

He calls the church to repent today, to be purified by the Purifier and empowered with the power of God which is greater than diseases and demons! Lord, may the church heed your call, and be clothed with power from on high, going forth in God’s force and strength and purity and nature, and not man’s or the devil’s! Amen!

SESSION 29 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.

A review of our sessions thus far can be found in my previous posts on my blog, fromdeathtolife.wordpress.com.

Acts 18

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Knowing the Way of God More Accurately.” What a difference it makes!

Verses 1-3 — After Paul spoke at the Areopagus, he left Athens and went to Corinth. He was still ministering alone.

And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus in Turkey, and his wife, Priscilla. He had been living in Rome, but the Jews had just been forced to leave, by the Edict of Claudius. So Paul came to them.

They were tentmakers, and that was Paul’s trade, so he stayed and worked with them.

Verse 4 — As usual, Paul reasoned from the scriptures in the synagogue every Sabbath, persuading the Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. My NASB says, “trying to persuade,” but that is not in the original Greek. He was more successful than the NASB editors were willing to agree upon. Hmmm!

Verse 5 — Paul had to work for wages, in order to live. But now, here came Silas and Timothy, from Macedonia. And suddenly, Paul was able to devote himself completely to the word (the Gospel and its proclamation), testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

Why was he suddenly able?

Silas and Timothy brought offerings! Look at what he writes later, to the church he planted at Corinth —

2Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches by  taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was  not a burden to anyone; for when  the brethren came from  Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from  being a burden to you,  and will continue to do so.

So, now Paul no longer needed to work at tent-making, and was able to devote himself full-time to spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Oh, beloved, that is why we need to give to missions, and properly supply our pastors financially —

1Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11  If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

Verse 6 — Some of the Jews to whom Paul testified resisted and blasphemed. So he shook out his garments (for their rejection of the Gospel) and said, Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.

What did Paul mean about blood on their own heads? This —

Ezekiel 33:7   “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a  message from My mouth and give them  warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.

Verse 7 — Then he left and went to Titius Justus’ home, which was right next door to the synagogue. He was a worshiper of God (a Roman convert to Judaism). His personal name, given by his parents, was Gaius. You can read more about him in Romans 16:23.

Verse 8 — Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with his whole household. Because he was so well known, many of the Corinthians, were believing and being baptized, when they heard of Crispus’ had become a believer into Jesus Christ!

Beloved, believing into Christ creates such an immediate and visible change in us that simply converting to Christianity is enough to convince others that Jesus is the Christ, and they repent of their sins and believe! Have you experienced that immediate and visible change?

Verses 9-10 — And the Lord encouraged Paul! In a night vision, He said, Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.

How wonderful those words must have been to Paul! The synagogue leader was converted, as were many others. And THEN Jesus spoke these words to Paul, to encourage him to continue. There are no sweeter words to a missionary, whether our field is the Internet or we are sent out to another country. Jesus always has many people, wherever He sends you!

Verse 11 — Paul remained in Corinth for 1-1/2 years. It was a chief city of what was called the “Achaian League” of city/states. People from many nations traveled through nearby ports on the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. Many smaller ships were moved by wooden rollers across the isthmus on which Corinth was situated. What a great place to preach the gospel!

Verses 12-13 — But trouble was brewing, during the time Gallio was proconsul of Achaia! The Jews, with one accord, rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat of the proconsul. They said, Paul persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.

[Not so, for Christ is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17)!]

Verses 14-16 — When Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews that if Paul had done wrong or had done a vicious crime, he would have to bear with the Jews. But they were accusing Paul about words and names and their own law.

Therefore, he was unwilling to judge Paul, and said they needed to attend to the matter themselves. Then he drove them away from the judgment seat!

Verse 17 — So the Jews took hold of Sosthenes, who very likely co-led the synagogue with Crispus. They beat him in front of the judgment seat. But Gallio paid no attention.

Verse 18 — Many days later, Paul took leave of the brethren in Corinth, and sailed to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.

In Cenchrea he had his hair cut in order to keep a vow. This would refer to a Nazirite-like vow he had taken earlier, which was now complete. Nazirites did not take a razor to their hair until the Lord showed them their vow was completed (Numbers 6:2 and forward). At the end of that time, they would present their cut hair as a sacrifice to God.

Why would Paul have done this very Jewish act? He was Jewish! It was simply an outward sign of what he had vowed in his heart. What did he vow? Probably that he would not stop speaking of what he had seen and heard, regardless of persecution.

Verses 19-22— They came to Ephesus, and he parted from Priscilla and Aquila there. He entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, as usual. But when they asked him to stay longer, he did not consent, but left, saying, I will return to you again if God wills.

Then he set sail from Ephesus to Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.

Verse 23 — After he spent time in Antioch, he went through the Galatian and Phyrgian regions, strengthening the disciples. As usual, they were fiercely persecuted, and Paul’s presence and words encouraged and strengthened them.

Verse 24 — These last few verses are especially good stuff! Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria. He was an eloquent man — a fluent orator. He came to Ephesus. Apollos was mighty (powerful, capable) in the scriptures.

Verse 25 — He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. He was a well-taught Christian. He was fervent (hot) in spirit. And he spoke and taught accurately (perfectly) about Jesus and the Gospel. But he was only acquainted (he only (comprehended, understood) the baptism of John. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, as Paul explained to the Ephesians he met on his travels, who had been baptized with John’s baptism —

Acts 19:3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “ Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “ John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people  to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were  baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and  prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.

What did this powerful, fluent orator, well taught, on fire, and accurate teacher lack? The same as the men from Ephesus!

Verse 26 — He began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they knew what he needed! They took him aside, and “explained  (declared and expounded) to him the way of God more accurately (exactly, perfectly).”

Ah! They could tell by listening to him that he had not been filled with the Spirit. So, they told him about the baptism of the Holy Spirit — Jesus’ baptism! And though it is not stated in this passage, it becomes obvious in the next two verses that something wonderful happened in Apollos!

Verse 27 — When he wanted to go to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples in Achaia to welcome him. Prior to this change in Apollos, they had not encouraged him to set out on a missionary journey.

And when he arrived in Achaia, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace (the divine influence on the heart and the reflection in the life)!

How did he help? By powerfully (intensely and mightily) refuting the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Apollos had something he didn’t have before! Now he not only knew about Jesus, but Jesus and the Father were in him, and He was filled! The result? He was able to powerfully reason in the Scriptures, just as the Spirit-filled Paul and Peter and John and the rest had done. And he surely was shining with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son, who dwelled in Him!

Beloved, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you go to a meeting, and hear a preacher, you can tell if that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Though they may be silver-tongued, powerful in speech, on fire for Jesus and extremely accurate, it is impossible to teach the things of God in the power of God and with authenticity, unless God has filled you with His Holy Spirit!

When you are filled, the Spirit teaches you all things (John 16:13-15), and you preach it as one who has experienced what you’re preaching. It is authentic and unmistakable.

And that is what is needed in today’s church. If we are to be the church, we must have men and women in the pulpit who have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they will be able to greatly help in the harvest.

The fields are white, the hour is late! So if you are filled with the Spirit, speak kindly to your pastor of this more accurate way of God. If they are like Apollos, they will jump at the opportunity to obtain God’s power!

And so will you! Beloved, you yourself need this power! Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)!

You may not be called to the pulpit, but you are called to speak the Gospel wherever you go. By your words and by His divine nature in you and by the authenticity of your words, they will know you have been with Jesus! And they will be drawn to Him! That’s what it is to be the church!