Summary: Easter 7(C) - Our gracious God guides and gives Gospel growth from one place and going into many places.
OUR GOD GUIDES/GIVES GOSPEL GROWTH
May 28, 2006 - EASTER 7 - Acts 16:6-10
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Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Today we continue with Paul on another missionary journey. We have looked at the fact that the gospel message brings great joy and rejoicing for believers. We have also looked at the fact in the past few weeks, that God’s gospel was meant not just for the Jews but also the Gentiles. Today, we add to those great truths the fact that God’s word is powerful. This is underlying in every sermon. This fact is the underlying power in our Christian faith that our faith and our Christian living are founded on the power of God’s word. That power is there, because God says it is there.
Our first Bible quotation is from Isaiah 55:11; but in verse 10 says: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making in bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater." That is a mystery, isn’t it? Even scientists today really cannot fully explain the fact that a seed is put into the ground; it dies; and yet produces crops--more seeds abundantly. Oh, they have some technical terms for certain processes that take place. This is a mystery, and we know that as we plant a garden or our crops. How amazing it is year after year from much is produced from just one seed that is put into the ground. That is power, the power not of nature, the power of not a mystery; but it is the power of God as he provides for us in this world. Then he carries over that comparison of a seed to the power of his word. Isaiah 55:11: "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). We will see once again that this morning God’s word and its power achieves the purpose for which he sent it. We are going to study that fact with the theme:
OUR GOD GUIDES GOSPEL GROWTH/OUR GOD GIVES GOSPEL GROWTH
I. From one place
II. Into many places
I. FROM ONE PLACE
Now where is that one place when God’s gospel began to grow? We are on the Sunday after Ascension. In between this Sunday after Ascension and the Sundays before, we have the Sundays of Easter. During that time we get to hear over and over again the preciousness of the fact that Christ lived, died and was buried, and rose again. As we hear that message and read the accounts of Scripture, we see really that gospel began to grow from Jerusalem. When Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples stood there looking and wondering. The angel had to come and say, "Your Savior has gone to heaven, but will return in the same way. Go back to Jerusalem and wait for the gift that he has promised you." Of course, that gift was the Holy Spirit. (We are going to talk about that next Sunday on Pentecost.)
Jesus also told his disciples, "Wait for that gift in Jerusalem where the gospel will begin and then be spread to the ends of the earth. God guided the growth of the gospel, and God gave growth to the gospel. It began in this time of history with Jesus who came here to preach the message of salvation. Jesus was put to death. His enemies, the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the church, thought that was the end of that rebellious radical; but Jesus came back to life.
God gave growth to the gospel. That one man Jesus came back to life and appeared to his disciples in the upper room, and God gave growth to the gospel among his twelve disciples. God gave growth to the gospel as it spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. God gave growth to the gospel in this one man Paul who on his way to Damascus found out that God wanted him to proclaim Christ and not persecute Christ. God gave growth to the gospel. God guides that growth of the gospel with the power of his word, nothing more, nothing less. They put Jesus to death, but this didn’t stop the gospel. During Paul’s first missionary journey, which we talked about the last few weeks, he was expelled him from the cities. The early disciples were driven out. Enemies of the cross of Christ stoned Paul but could not extinguish the gospel.
The reality is the Gospel begins in that one place that is most important of all--the heart of a human being. It is the Lord God Almighty. As Ezekiel says, "God changes our hearts of stones into hearts of flesh by the power of his word." It is in that one place that the gospel of God and Christ is planted. Then it takes root and springs up and bears abundant fruit. Peter writes in his letter: "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). There is the one place that the gospel is planted, and there is the one place that the gospel then comes forward.