God’s moving to Corinth!
Pastor Allan Kircher
As he arrived in the City of Corinth, he was weary.
And I don't suppose there's anybody at our service that doesn't get to that place.
I don't suppose there's any Christian who could say, "I've never been discouraged," or "I've never been disheartened."
We've all been there, and maybe we've all been weary in well doing.
I suppose all of us at some time or another get depressed, or want to give up and quit.
In the heat of a moment we’ll say, I’ll just leave this job, this church, or this family,
And they’ll miss me…they’ll wish they had treated me different!
Often we have some of these feelings:
• “There’s no use/harder I try, worse things get
• No one listens/just spinning wheels
• Keep trying/get people involved/church/nothing happens
• Daily stresses and problems are all vanity
• Ever find happiness? daily grind”
(Life is just mundane, repetitive, like Chinese water torture!)
The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction.
When prospective buyers assembled/one oddly shaped tool, which was labeled “Not for sale.”
• Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one.
• It is the most useful implement that I have.
• It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible.
• When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”
If there is one thing that is constant/we all are subject to discouragement.
• There is no shortage of discouragements to hinder the work of God.
• The Bible is full of men of God who at times became discouraged.
• And you and I get discouraged from time to time
Moses: The Greatest leader, handpicked by God!
Had God’s power on his life, but in Numbers 11:15 he said to God, “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
Joshua: Greatest General, handpicked by God to lead Israel into the Promised Land…
But in Joshua 7:7, he said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan (so this is what we get for serving God, he said, after a great defeat!)
He felt like quitting! He got over it, thankfully!
Elijah: Greatest prophet of OT
• willing to challenge the idolatry of his day
• called fire down from heaven
• Won a faceoff w/ prophets of Baal,
• But in I Kings 19:4 after it was all over, he requested for himself that he might die, and said, it is enough now, O Lord, take away my life!
Job: We talk about his patience and faith, and he was truly a great man…
He had a great beginning and a great ending
but in-between, when he lost everything, he wished he had not been born
Became suicidal, extremely depressed for a period of time!
Job 3:3 he said, let the day perish in which I was born!
He wanted God to kill him, and was spiritually depressed and not even happy for the all the souls that just got saved in Nineveh!
Paul: In Acts 18 we find Paul in his 2nd missionary journey, arriving from Athens to Corinth experiencing a low time in his life (of depression)
Now, when we saw him in Athens last time, in chapter 17
We saw him in the intellectual city.
in a city that is the university type city.
A city of culture. A city of information, of learning, of astuteness.
Had a sense of failure (not much success in Athens/called a “babbler” (bird brain)
And he's gone from Athens to Corinth.
And if Athens is the city of learning, Corinth is sin city.
At best, we could probably name it that.
It was the most debouched/debased city in that world of that day.
The reputation of Corinth from a moral standpoint was so bad at the time the Apostle Paul visited it that if a woman was conspicuously immoral, they said of her, “She is a Corinthian.”
If a man was unusually vile or wicked, they said, “He Corinthianizes.”
That in itself is enough to show what a wicked, ungodly city Corinth was. If you were from Corinth, you were drunk and immoral.
Paul arrived there, he was really discouraged.
He was at the point where he was weary.
I mean let's face it:
You get chased halfway around the world and hated by everybody, and hassled by everybody, and frustrated.
And you arrive at the next city, and it looks like the worst thing you've ever seen yet?
That could get a little old. And he was discouraged.
I Cor. 2:3 Paul says of that time in Acts: “I was w/ you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling” (could be translated: “I was far from strong, nervous, and rather shaky!”
Frustrated, leaving a city of idolatry and heading for the worst in the world for immorality! (Sin city! The Temple: Aphrodite, goddess of sex, and a thousand prostitutes sold their bodies in the temple in the name of religion!)
unappreciated…he later wrote to the people of Corinth:
2Co 12:15 - And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
o He was at a low point, a crossroads in his ministry, and he was just about to quit!
o But the Lord came to Paul on this day, and showed him that trying times are not the time to quit trying!
v. 11—he didn’t quit, he continued! Why? Because God told him in 9 and 10: “it’s too soon to quit!”
Now when Paul entered Corinth there was not a Christian in it;
When he left it, there were literally hundreds of Christians—earnest, devoted, faithful men and women
delivered from the sins that once bound them;
Who now sought to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, as they walked in purity and righteousness.
God is in the business of encouragement! Amen!
So what did he do, did he give up?
No, when Paul didn’t have success in the usual place
He changed course and went someplace different.
What is the lesson for us?
There are some people that we can preach to for years and never see fruit.
• Some people just aren’t going to respond to the gospel,
• Maybe they won’t respond to us, or the message itself.
• Some people just aren’t going to respond
• Our job isn’t to make them respond our job is/faithful/share.
And like Paul sometimes when we share our faith, they will say bad things about us.
Its ok it happens, maybe it means we share someplace else, but it doesn’t mean that we let it stop us.
Paul would say they’re just words, I don’t see any scars.
If we want to reach our world for Christ we can’t let words stop us either.
When we see a closed door we have to look for one that is open.
God’s moving in…
And it's at that point that God moves in to encourage him.
And it is from the Corinthian experience; he writes to the Thessalonians and says, "Brethren, be not weary in well doing."
Never be weary in the work of the Lord!!
God is god of encouragement
o Jesus said, "Be of good cheer."
o John 16:33 Jesus said, "In this world, you shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world."
o God has always, throughout all of Revelation, been concerned with the encouragement of his own.
Now, if you believe Philippians 4:19 is true:
o My God shall supply what? All your needs.
o And if a believer needs to be encouraged, what will God do?
o He’ll encourage them.
I don’t think there’s been a time when I’ve went whole long period of time without being discouraged.
I get discouraged all the time.
Discouragement/part of life
Because you have hopes/dreams/desires for people’s lives and they don’t come off.
Or maybe you spend yourself, and there’s an ungrateful heart or a criticism that’s unjust, which attempts to impugn your motives.
Or maybe you’re discouraged with your lot in life, or maybe things aren’t working out.
We all live with that, but God is a god of encouragement.
I am grateful that while the devil is active in discouraging us, God is at work to encourage us.
o While the devil is trying to drag us down
o God is working to lift us up.
o While the devil aims at getting us to quit
o God is working to encourage us to keep up the good fight.
1. “God’s Encouragements to Keep Going.”
a. God’s gift of friends- verses 2-3
What a treasure.
One of the greatest God given encouragements is friends.
It is always tougher if you have to bear it alone.
Remember Silas and Timothy are still in Macedonia.
God knew that Paul needed someone to help him shoulder the burdens of the work.
So what does God do? God stirs up a little trouble in Rome.
o God puts it on the heart of the Roman Emperor Claudius to expel all Jews from Rome.
o Given eviction papers Aquila and his wife Priscilla come to Corinth.
o It seems that Aquila and Priscilla had a tent making business that they set up in Corinth.
o Paul just so happened to be a tentmaker and so he began to work with Aquila and Priscilla in their business.
o This gave him the funds for his support so that he could go into the synagogue every Sabbath and reason with the Jews and Greeks for Jesus Christ.
o What a blessing Aquila and Priscilla were to Paul. They became his best and closest friends.
Then God sent Silas and Timothy from Macedonia to Corinth to reunite with Paul.
o So God has not only blessed Paul with two new friends but brought back to him two familiar friends.
o And their return must have greatly encouraged Paul
o The scriptures say that Paul was pressed in his spirit to testify to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
Thank God for friends who God puts in your path and in your life who will encourage you in the work of the Lord.
I thank God for those here at Shell Point who have not only been sheep but have been friends.
I am grateful because you don’t know how many times I have been discouraged and a word here and there have encouraged me to keep going forward.
Text from Scott while writing this sermon.
That was God speaking through Scott to me.
b. God places people in our lives.
We need to be looking at the people around us
God is waiting to open doors for us to share Him
To share Him with patience and love.
If we will all do just that, our world will change,
Corinth changed and so can Beaufort.
The first place that Paul made an impact wasn’t necessarily in the synagogue but in his work place.
How big a difference did that make, Aquila and Priscilla have been called the most famous couple in the NT church,
Paul found common ground and reached out to them, and they reached out to others and were used as absolute cornerstones of the church that was being created.
Can this happen at SPBC?
We can all expand our fellowship w/believers……
The God of all comfort met the need of his discouraged servant for companionship
2. A Vision of Assurance- verses 5b-8
Paul worked at his trade during the week, talked with people who came and went in the shop, and discussed the faith with the people on the street as he walked about.
o Every Sabbath/synagogue he argued/pleaded for the new way as revealed in Jesus Christ.
o When Silas/Timothy arrived/Macedonia, they found Paul completely absorbed in preaching the gospel (5-6).
o Other faithful followers in other places had gathered an offering for Paul (2 Cor. 11:8),
o Paul able to quit his job/tentmaker/devote full time to preaching/teaching.
But Paul was getting older and less patient with the Jews.
They not only refused to believe/saying but reviled him
He determined to tolerate them no longer.
In anger, he employed the ancient symbol of shaking out his garment against the unbelievers and informed them that no longer would he bear any responsibility for their souls’ salvation (7-8).
We can do our part in preaching, arguing doctrine, and by doing our best to love them.
Then there’s the point to let dead bones be dead.
And that’s what Paul did.
He left the synagogue to find another place in which to preach and teach.
He did not have to look far…and neither do we.
Paul simply went to the house next door…the house of Titius Justus.
An even more stinging blow was in store for the Corinthian Jewish community.
Not only/Paul move next door to them to do his preaching, but Crispus, one/elected leaders/synagogue found faith in Christ and joined Paul’s church.
Can you see how God continually works in people’s lives.
Paul didn’t quit in discouragement..
He kept plowing the field and God provided support and comfort to his grieving soul.
When you get this way remember God will never leave or forsake you.
o Through this vision, God urged Paul to persist, not to fear, because no physical harm could come to him.
o And Paul was assured that his labors would bear much fruit
o Many people in that city would turn in faith to Jesus Christ and become followers of the way.
o Paul gained new strength to keep up the battle.
If we want to reach a changing world for Christ, we have to be willing to change, not the message, because that is God’s but the way that we do it.
That is an uncomfortable path, not just for us, but for Paul.
The path of change is often dangerous and full of doubt.
Even for Paul.
Look at the vision that God has to send to him, verse 9, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
God doesn’t appear in vision’s often, when He does there’s a reason.
He appears in this vision and tells Paul not to be afraid.
Why does He have to do that?
Because Paul is afraid, he’s changed his approach,
He’s changed where he preaches,
He’s changed who he preaches to.
It’s a lot of change, and it has him nervous, but God says, do not be afraid.
Sometimes we have to change, we change the music, we bring in a new children’s program,
But if we are preaching the gospel of Christ and trying to reach our community for God and make disciples,
Then the message that God has for us is, “Do not be afraid.”
Paul changed, his world was full of doubt
but God spoke and told Paul to stay on the path. Change is not easy but if God is in it then we must do it.
For 18 months he labored for the Lord in the wicked city of Corinth, seeing hundreds come to faith in Jesus as the Christ.
And we will see that here too. Amen.
In 18 months I have seen our Wednesday and Sunday night attendance grow to almost 40.
My discouragement in the midst of those months was buffered by faith and patience.
o The Scripture which subdued and controlled my mind was this, ’The servant of the Lord must not strive.’
o It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the few--the core of SPBC, almost forsaken;
But I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend
There would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount.
This comforted me many, many times, when, without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden.”
We can either dwell on the negative and be discouraged or we can encourage ourselves on the positive results.
Look and see even though many don’t grow an inch, some have grown.
Many visitors did not come back, but some did.
Many lost people still remain lost, but some trusted in Jesus as their Savior.
The church may remain basically the same but then again it may take off like wildfire.
Don’t look at what God has not done but dwell on all that God has done.
And God has certainly doubly blessed those in attendance.
III. The Promises Of God- verses 9-11
Read Scripture verse.
While it is true that friends encourage us and positive results encourage us the greatest encouragement of all is the Lord himself.
• The Lord speaks to Paul and tells him, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
• God says, “Speak, and hold not thy peace.”
• Don’t stop, don’t quit, don’t let up, but speak.
a. Then the promise, I am with thee.
Aquila and Priscilla may not be there.
Silas and Timothy may not be there.
There may be no earthy presence there at all but don’t be afraid to speak up for I am with you.
Here is the promise of God’s presence.
Oh what encouragement it is to have God on your side.
b. Another promise is made, no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, and there is divine protection.
Not only will God be present but he will be there to protect.
c. Third promise. Not just of presence/protection
o But a promise of power.
o God says, “for I have much people in this city.”
o What did that mean?
o That those who were lost under the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of Paul would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
o Keep teaching the truth of the Gospel.
o Pray for God to open the door of their heart.
Friends are great encouragers and results are encouraging
But when God comes to you and promises his presence, protection, and power, you have every reason to keep on going forward.
And this is exactly what Paul did……
Acts 18:12-17 “Vindication”
If Paul thought that life would be a rose garden after God’s vision of assurance, he was wrong.
Instead of easing up, the Jews intensified their attacks.
The Lord had not promised ease, only freedom physical attack.
So the Jewish leaders hauled their attack before Gallio.
The proconsul of the province.
Describe “judgement seat” in Agora Marketplace.
More was at stake than meets the eye.
Judaism was officially tolerated by the Romans.
Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism.
If/proconsul ruled in favor of the Jews, Christianity could have been banned from Corinth and throughout Europe.
The Proconsul refused to meddle in the internal dispute of Judaism.
• Gallio ruled what /today court’s would call a summary judgment and threw the case out.
• Ruled no crime and the issue was merely one of semantics.
So the Jews said this isn’t going to work for us!
The angry Jews vented their frustration on Sosthenes.
o The successor to Crispus as ruler of the Corinthian synagogue.
o He was beaten and left in the courtroom.
Did irate Jews tear into their leader, making him a scapegoat for their humiliation at the hands of the governor?
Or did anti-Semitic Gentiles take out their prejudice on the hapless Jewish ruler?
No one knows …at least until we get to heaven. Isn’t going to be wonderful to hear all the “rest of the stories” when we get to heaven?
There’s one final lesson that we must look at in this passage though.
The man (Sosthenes) who led the mob to arrest Paul was turned on by the same mob when it failed.
This is the thing about hanging out with negative people and having negative conversations, the same people, who were willing to attack Paul turned on Paul’s accuser.
If you’re sitting around with a group of people speaking bad about someone else what makes you think they’re not speaking badly of you when you’re gone?
As followers of Christ we need to make sure that we have conversations that honor Him.
Here we see the grace of God for everyone
Sosthenes/leader of the synagogue
he was probably the reason God had to send Paul that vision
He probably made Paul’s life miserable for that year and a half.
But God got his attention.
It took a mob to do it, Why,
In Paul’s first Corinthian letter, he talked about a man named Sosthenes who became associated with him in the work of Christ in Corinth.
Indeed he did become a Christian along with Crispus, they left the closed synagogue for the open church.
Isn’t amazing how God works in all occasions?
God strengthened Paul through friends, converts, His own presence, and through the discomfiture of Paul’s enemies.
God was faithful to His promise recorded in Isaiah 40:29-31:
“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
That same comfort and encouragement is available to all who faithfully serve the Lord.