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Acts 18- Remain Humble

And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. Acts 18:23-26

Here we see Paul beginning his 3rd mission trip. We see many of the Churches mentioned that Paul has written letters to Ephesus, Corinth, and Galatia. At Ephesus, Paul met a man named Apollos of Alexandria. He was described as an eloquent and well trained disciple of the scriptures. He preached the gospel of Christ accurately but he still had doctrines he was not aware of. Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and taught him further doctrine about Christ, as Apollos was only aware of the baptism of water, I imagine they taught him about the baptism of the Holy Spirit

This is a good lesson for all of us, even though Apollos was well trained in the scriptures and well respected, he still had more to learn. We all have alot more to learn about God, no matter how long you have been studying the scriptures or whatever your title or status is within the Church. We need to humble ourselves and be teachable. God resists the proud and gives grace to the Humble!

And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. Acts 18:27-28

So what was the result of Apollos humbling himself and learning more about Christ through Aquila and Priscilla? He was highly respected among the Church and went on to preach Christ to the Jews and convinced many that Jesus is the Messiah. What would have happened if Apollos ego got in the way of him learning from Aquila and Priscilla? Apollos ministry may have gone in a whole different direction and many may have not heard the gospel. 

We need to learn to remain humble in all circumstances! Don’t allow your flesh to build your ego because God has blessed you! Just as God gave Pau a “thorn in his side” to keep him humble, we need to remain humble also. God’s grace is sufficient enough, we must decrease and Jesus must increase Amen!

Acts 18- Church of Corinth

After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:1-4

In this Chapter we see when Paul established the Church of Corinth, this is where we get the Epistles of 1rst and 2nd Corinthians. Again we see another large Jewish population because they were kicked out of Rome. We also see a large Greek pagan population, so Paul has his work cut out for him. 

Another thing we notice is Paul is a tentmaker for an occupation, this is how he bonded with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul worked this occupation so he didnt burden the Churches with financially supporting him, although some of the Churches did financially support him when possible. Brings up the topic, should Pastors be bi-vocational? Regardless Paul was very busy working his ministry and occupation as a tentmaker, not much time for feeling sorry for himself

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. Acts 18:5-7

Paul preached to the Orthodox Jews every Sabbath, showing to them in the scriptures that Jesus Is the Messiah. However the Jews rejected Christ and Paul had enough he said “Your blood be upon your own heads” The Jews received the gospel of Christ yet rejected it, as Jesus said “Shake the dust off your feet and move on”. Paul declared he is now going to the Gentiles to preach the gospel

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Acts 18:8-11

Paul labored in Corinth for a year and a half, and Jesus gave Paul some words of encouragement “Be not afraid, keep on preaching, don’t be silent” These words should be great encouragement for us also! After toiling Paul had success and many people came to Christ

Remember the words of our Lord, Don’t be afraid, Keep preaching the gospel in Jesus name Amen!

Acts 17- The Birth of Apologetics

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. Acts 17:16-20

Apologetics has become a popular tool for ministry today, but Apologetics is not a new strategy or concept, in fact Paul used the same strategy in his ministry. While evangelizing to Greek philosophers and Jewish religious leaders, Paul used logic and reasoning based on their worldview. This is exactly what Apologetics is, using logic and reasoning to show God exists and that Christianity is true

Notice these philosophers heard of Jesus and the resurrection, but they didn’t understand how this fit into their worldview. Often Apologetics, when done correctly, creates a pathway to the gospel of Christ. And we are going to see how Paul accomplished this by explaining there is one true God and the resurrection of Christ is the evidence that Christianity is true

(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Acts 17:21-24

The Greeks worshipped many gods, including an unknown god , in case they accidently missed one. Paul pointed out their error as there is only one true living God. And the true living God does not live in temples or statues made by human hands. Next you will see how Paul builds a bridge to the gospel through this strategy

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31

Paul explained God has commanded everyone to come to repentance and affirmed He is the true living God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Remember the resurrection is the central theme of Christianity and our faith, if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless

Good Apologetics should always lead to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Build a case for God then lead them to Jesus Amen!

Acts 17- Paul preaches at Thessalonica

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.  Acts 17:1-4

Here we see Paul and Silas preaching in the city of Thessalonica, you might be familiar with this Church from the books of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, this is where it all began. Its very cool to be able to read the fruits of Paul and Silas labor in these books from the mission trip. What did they preach to Thessalonica, simply the gospel, Christ died, Christ is Risen, and Christ will come again

The city of Thessalonica had a large Jewish population as well as Greek. Paul reasoned with them through the Messianic scriptures in the Old Testament. The Church of Thessalonica was composed of Jew and Gentile including some prominent women of the city. 

But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.  Acts 17:5-7

Of course anywhere the gospel is preached, there is going to be resistance. The Orthodox Jews created an uprising against Paul and Silas. Its interesting , even though the Jews were persecuted by Caesar, they used Caesar to persecute the Christians. Of course Paul and Silas declared Jesus Is Lord and not Caesar! As we know the persecution of this Church only makes it grow!

And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. Acts 17:8-9

As we’ve seen throughout Paul’s ministry, just when it seems like its the end, God delivers him again. Jason and others bail Paul and Silas out of jail and rescue them. Of course this is God’s sovereignty as he has bigger plans for Paul yet and the Church!

Doesn’t matter who is president , king , or ruler of your country, Jesus is always King of Kings! Stay faithful to God, because He will never leave or forsake us, Amen!

Acts 16- The Jailer

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Acts 16:27-30

We always hear the term “God will use what was meant for our harm, and use it for our good” (Romans 8:28) Here we see this happen, as Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned for preaching the gospel. But God delivered Paul and Silas from prison with a great earthquake, this turned into a great testimony for non believers

The jailer who was in charge of watching Paul and Silas, was ready to kill himself for letting them escape. However Paul revealed to the jailer that he was alive and well, the jailer had a “Come to Jesus moment” when he realized God was in control. The jailer then asked “What must I do to be saved”? This is a great question, would you know how to answer the jailer? 

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. Acts 16:31-34

You want to be saved? Simple, believe Jesus is your Lord! Many people throughout history try to earn their salvation by good works or religion, but its only Christ alone that can save you! Jesus paid it all for you on the cross, put your faith in Christ! Notice Paul then preached the gospel to the entire household and they all believed and were baptized

So notice Paul and Silas’ suffering resulted in an entire family being saved by Christ. Sometimes we ask “Why would God allow this”? But then we see situations like this where what was meant for our harm actually was used for our good. Many people became saved due to Paul and Silas suffering

And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. Acts 16:35-36

God was with Paul and Silas, even when Satan thought he had them defeated, God is in complete control. Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in Jesus Name Amen!

Acts 16- Rebuking Demons

And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour Acts 16:16-18

Here we see a story of a demon possessed woman who was tormenting Paul and Silas day after day. Finally Paul got tired of it and rebuked the demon in the name of Jesus , and the demon immediately fled. How many of us are tormented by demons on a daily basis? Do you rebuke your demons? Instead of allowing these demons to torment you daily, put them in their place. You as a Born Again Child of God have the power and authority of demons. Jesus said “He gives us power and authority over power of Satan, and all demons will submit to you” (Luke 10:18-19) 

Now some will say Jesus only gave this power to the Apostles, however if you start with verse 1 in Luke 10, Jesus is sending out 72 disciples with this authority, this authority was given to his disciples not just Apostles. Remember the Bible says “The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of You “ (Romans 8:11) The Holy Spirit , the power of the Living God, is inside of you. Rebuke the demons in Jesus name!

And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. Acts 16:19-22

Now we see the wickedness of people, some would say “Look Paul and Silas are being persecuted, we dont have authority over demons” Jesus never promised we would have an easy life, in fact he taught us the opposite, Jesus said “Those who endure to the end, will be saved “ (Matthew 24:13) Why? Because many will fall away from the faith during hard times. Endure to the end, Jesus has already death and Satan!

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. Acts 16:23-26

Paul and Silas were being persecuted, beaten and thrown in prison, what was their response? They were singing hymns and praising God. Paul and Silas had unshakable faith, they knew Jesus is Lord and in complete control. Whatever Satan or evil is coming against you , rebuke it in Jesus name!

Notice then God delivered Paul and Silas with a great earthquake, Satan thought he had Paul defeated then God stepped in. Put your faith and trust in Jesus, he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus is in complete control, sitting at the right hand of God The Father Amen!

Acts 16- Let God lead You

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. Acts 16:1-4

As we know in the BIble, Paul wrote two letters to a man named Timothy, well we see him here in the book of Acts. The people spoke favorably of Timothy as a disciple, so Paul mentored him to preach the gospel. I think the relationship between Paul and Timothy should be well noted by pastors and all Christians. It’s important to mentor and train people, to make disciples as Jesus commanded us. Paul became like a “Spiritual Father” to Timothy

Now notice, even though from the Council of Jerusalem it was decided that circumcision was not required for the New Covenant, Paul had Timothy circumcised anyway to be accepted by the orthodox Jewish community. This was a matter of making the Gentile Timothy more appealing to the Jewish people so he could preach the gospel of Christ to them. This is also an important note to preachers and Christians, don’t just preach the word , build relationships with the community you’re in. It’s not about winning arguments , it’s about winning souls

And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. Acts 16:5-8

Paul and Timothy were establishing new Churches, we notice Galtia, where we get the Epistle of the Galatians. However, Paul went to preach in certain regions and was forbidden by the Holy Spirit. It’s important while we are doing God’s work we stay in the will of God. Its not about us, its all about Christ, let God lead You to where you are called to be!

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.  Acts 16:9-10

God eventually gave Paul a vision where he was to go next, notice it wasnt Paul’s decision or choice where to go, it was Gods. How many ministries and Churches would be more successful if we followed God’s will instead of our own?

Whatever we do , we are to do it for the glory of God, listen to the Holy Spirit and allow God to lead you in Jesus name Amen!

Acts 15- Council of Jerusalem Part 2

Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15:12-18

 We continue to look at the event known as the “Council of Jerusalem” . This is an important event to the Church, why? Because the Apostles answered some major questions and doctrines that are still disputed today. We noticed that the Apostle Peter originally spoke , followed by the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. Now we are hearing the knowledge of the Apostle James. Anyone who disputes the verdict of the Council of Jerusalem, is disputing the Apostles and the New Testament

One of the main points of the Council of Jerusalem is the New Covenant. That salvation has been given to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. Many Jews had a hard time accepting this, even many Jews today still can’t comprehend this, that Gentiles are now Children of God through Christ

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: Acts 15:19-22

The Apostle James went on to teach that we are not to trouble the Gentiles with holding The Law. Then James went on to list the expectations of the Gentiles who are grafted into the family of God. Abstain from Idolatry, sexual immorality, and from false gods. There is still much confusion today among Christians about what is expected from them , remember Jesus said Love God and Love your Neighbor, (Matthew 22:37) this is the fulfillment of the Law. 

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. Acts 15:28-31

The news of this Council was then sent out to a letter to all the Churches, notice the list, it was the same one I mentioned previously. Also notice who authorized this, the Holy Spirit. There are many today who argue about this Council of Jerusalem, but you would be arguing against the Holy Spirit. 

Instead of arguing, the Churches of the first century rejoiced! Because Jesus has set us free from the Law and delivered us under grace by his blood Amen!

Acts 15- The Council of Jerusalem Part 1

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. Acts 15:1-4

Acts Chapter 15 has turned into one of the important chapters in the New Testament, why? Because of the Council of Jerusalem, as we see from the opening scripture “certain men were teaching unless you are circumcised , you can’t be saved” This is the beginning of heretical teachings within the Church and the removal of Gods grace through Jesus Christ

Unfortunately we still see this alot today, many teaching you must perform certain “works” in order to obtain salvation. As we know its not by our works we are saved, but by grace through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) This setup the meeting of the Council of Jerusalem, so the Apostles can correct these false teachings based on the true teaching of Jesus Christ

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; Acts 15:5-8

The religious leaders stated “the Gentiles must be circumcised to obtain salvation” This was quickly refuted by the Apostles, however sadly there are still some who believe this today. Ask yourself, are those who are circumcised and reject Christ still saved? Absolutely not, circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant but it doesn’t obtain salvation for you. It’s only through Christ that you can be saved, period

And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Acts 15:9-11

Peter rebuked this teaching of the Pharisees and said “Why put the yoke of The Law on the neck of the Gentiles? The same yoke that the Jews were unable to carry”? Why do some Christians today still want to put themselves under The Law when we are under Grace?

As Peter stated “Its the Grace of The Lord Jesus that we are saved” its not our works, its not circumcision, its not keeping The Law, which nobody has been able to do. Its only through Christ alone we can be saved Amen!