Summary: How can the church impact our communities for Christ. Luke explains how in Acts 19:21-41.
Impacting Our Community
September 3, 2017
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 19, starting at verse 21.
Illus. – If you’re a student of church history, you’ve heard of the great Welsh revival or 1904, a revival in which some 100,000 people came to Christ in a 5-month period, which for a country that small in 1904 was huge. The equivalent of what that would be in the U.S. today would be twelve-and-a-half million conversions in a five-month period.
The social impact of the Welsh revival was astonishing. Judges came to court, but had no cases to try. Robberies, murders, burglaries, rapes or embezzlements dropped dramatically, even to zero in some areas! The District Council in one city held an emergency meeting to discuss what to do with the police now that they were inactive.
The Welsh revival later spread to America, though in a more limited fashion. Listen to an article in the Denver Post, dated January 20, 1905.
“For two hours at midday all Denver was held in a spell…the markets of trade were deserted between noon and two o’clock this afternoon, and all worldly affairs were forgotten. Going to and coming from the great prayer meetings, thousands of men and women radiated this Spirit which filled them. Seldom has such a remarkable sight been witnessed—an entire great city, in the middle of a busy weekday, bowing before the throne of heaven and asking the blessing of the King of the Universe.”
When Paul came to Ephesus in Acts 19, the city was locked in a stronghold of pagan superstition. But within two years of ministry in Ephesus, Satan’s stronghold was crumbling. The result was that they had a big bonfire in verse 19, as we saw last week. Christians brought their books on magic and their astrological charts and horoscopes and occult charms and burned them in a public square of the city.
So let’s study this passage and see two things about them that enabled them to have such a remarkable impact on their society for Christ, and two things they didn’t do that protected them from ruining their impact:
I. FIRST, NOTE THAT THEIR LIVES CHANGED SO DRAMATICALLY THAT IT AFFECTED THE LOCAL COMMERCE
Verses 24-28 – “For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”
The patron goddess of Ephesus was Diana, known as Artemis to the Greeks. Diana was the goddess of earth and nature, or as we would say today—ecology, as well as the mother of birthing, or the “mother goddess.” As I told you last week, the temple to her glory was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens.
The religion of Diana was not an isolated little cult; it extended throughout the Roman Empire with more than 30 shrines to her—and Ephesus was the capital city of this religion. Every year, during a week in spring, Diana’s followers made a pilgrimage to Ephesus for a week of immorality and debauchery in her name. As they did, they would purchase silver replicas of Diana and the temple made by local silversmiths to take home and place on their family altars.
If you wanted to see what it’s like to be immersed in a false system of worship—worship surrounding the cult of a goddess—Ephesus provides that example. This religion was so perverse, so degrading that it affected the entire city. Another fact about Ephesus is that the temple of Diana superseded Roman law. The Temple was so powerful that, if any criminal in the Roman Empire could make it to the temple of Diana, he would be granted immediate asylum.
Ephesus was not only crawling with exorcists, sorcerers and prostitutes, but felons who had escaped the law by becoming worshipers of Diana. So Ephesus was a morass of sin—a stronghold of Satan.
Unfortunately, it increasingly sounds a lot like our culture where every form of depravity is portrayed and glorified in movies, on TV, over the Internet, in books and in music.