Summary: Exposition of Acts 19:8-20 regarding the church in Ephesus and Paul’s 3 year ministry there that reached an entire region
Text: Acts 19:8-20, Title: A Church Awaiting God, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/18/09, AM
A. Remember this is Sanctity of Life Sunday!
B. Opening illustration: funny church names like Corinth Baptist Church… Devils Lake United Methodist Church, Devils Lake, North Dakota, Crooksville First United Methodist Church, Western Ohio conf. Smackover First United Methodist Church, Smackover, AR, Boring United Methodist Church, Boring, MD, So Help Me God Church of Christ, C.R.A.C.K. House Ministries, Weedville United Methodist Church, PA, Splitwell Baptist Church, The Flippin Church of God, Located in Flippin, AR. Hooker Baptist...on Hooker Road in Greenville, NC,
C. Background to passage: Paul is now on his third missionary journey in the city of Ephesus. And we see pretty amazing things in Ephesus, which was one of the religious centers of the Eastern Roman Empire. They had three temples to Caesar, and one big one for Diana, a Greek goddess that we will find out more about later. We first met the church there in Acts 18, but only briefly, as they wanted Paul to stay and he didn’t, but promised to return, Lord willing. And now he is there with the church, and God is doing extraordinary things.
D. Main thought: I think the church in Ephesus is highlighted by the work done among them in this text, and therefore is held forth as an example—three points, Why? And Keys!
A. Why Them?
1. v. 10-They reached a whole region, an area twice the size of state of Georgia.
2. v. 17-Because of them fear and awe gripped a whole city, 250,000 people
3. v. 17-The accomplished the goal of every church: the magnification of the name of Jesus!
4. v. 20-They encountered spectacular growth, and the church did not cease there completely until 1923.
5. And they did all of this in a span of time less than three years!
B. Committed to Discipleship
1. The text indicates that this church was hungry to grow closer in their walk with Christ from the first time they met Paul. They want him to stay and teach. And they wanted and desired leadership, and were willing to follow. They understood well that they were men and women under authority. They were also committed to ridding their lives of things that were part of their old life. They were officially making the break from the world and its practices and values. Explain what a big deal it was to reveal the spells and burn the books. Luke also describes their faith here in v. 18 with a perfect tense verb (we miss it in the English) that shows the enduring quality of genuine faith. And finally, they were willing to sacrifice financially to do it. This amount of money would have been equal to about $5-6 million. They did not let materialism stand in their way of knowing Christ and doing his work in the kingdom. They evaluated things with a kingdom mindset.
2. Psa 42:1, 143:6, 63:1-3, 8, Mark 12:30
3. Illustration: “To have found Him and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionist, but justified in the happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. the story of the lobsterman who cut off his arm to preserve life, God’s conviction about secular music and about racial slurs about the Jews, this amount of money would have been equal to one worker’s daily pay for 137 years without a day off, John Smoltz
4. Very few times in my life have I ever been asked to stay and teach. Very few times have I been in meetings where people ask the speaker to stay longer and teach more. This was a hungry church. My prayer is that we would be hungry for the Word and for the teaching of great truth. One of the things that holds us back, maybe the main thing, is our lack of hunger. Pray that God will created within you a spiritual hunger for truth. Pray that God will help you follow your leaders and submit to their authority. Many of us hold on to things from our old life. Many of our lives do not look different from our non-Christian neighbors. We listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows, manage our money the same, have the same hobbies. But we also don’t want to present the Christian faith as some list of good things to pursue and bad things to avoid. Genuine faith is not temporary, but enduring. We must continually reexamine our love affair with money and possessions. Maybe we need to examine our stewardship as well, as we spend much on unnecessary things. Mine and Craig’s house church talk.
C. Committed to Evangelism