Summary: The Lord Jesus & the Early Church well knew their mission: to plunder the devil of his human captives! We must play catch up and get busy to populate heaven before the King comes! Come on!
PLUNDERING HELL TO POPULATE HEAVEN
Acts 17:1-17, NKJV
1. How many of you know, that when you send a messenger, you want them to tell the correct message!
2. Juan Carlos was a famous pirate. He was notorious for his thievery, and it was rumored that he had a very large amount of plunder buried.
3. One day he was in Mexico and a man came up to him, pushed him to the ground and said in English, “Juan Carlos tell me where all your money is buried or I will shoot you right here.”
4. Juan Carlos didn’t speak a word of English, so he signaled to a young boy to act as interpreter. The boy relayed the message to Juan Carlos, and fearing for his life Juan Carlos answered;
5. “Tell him that I don’t want to die. All my money is located 30 paces north of the city water tower under a large rock.”
6. So the boy, with a gleam in his eye, turned to the man and said, “Juan Carlos says he is an honorable man and will never tell you where the money is. He says you might as well kill him now.”
They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded…gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar, 6 “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too 7 ….acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 10 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed…13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away… 15 to Athens. 17 There he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”
1. The Devil doesn’t like it when we decide to make an impact for God. He doesn’t want you to get a burden for reaching the Lost.
2. He doesn’t like it when we decide to work in the church, or to change things through prayer, or to make new commitments!
3. My title this morning is “Plundering Hell to Populate Heaven.” The definition of “plunder” is a). To steal goods using force, usually in a time of war or civil disorder. b). the violent acquisition of property.
4. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” Mt. 11:12, NIV, 1984.
5. Our Lord Jesus came to plunder Hell of her prisoners!
Think how Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” Mt. 10:8.
6. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” 1 Jn. 3:8. He came to take captivity captive, & give gifts to men!
7. The Early Church joined in that mission. What made them so successful spiritually? They did 3 things we too must do if we would impact the world:
I. THEY ASSUMED EVERYONE WAS LOST
A. THE EARLY CHURCH ASSUMED ALL WERE LOST
1. One of the secrets of the early church was that they witnessed to everyone they met. They did this because assumed everyone needed salvation. This very assumption makes things easier.
2. We foolishly think that because people are in the U.S. that they’re probably saved. Barna polls say only 10% are really living as Christians, thus 90% are really lost!
3. Our conviction must be that all men/women are lost and must be saved, or they will go to hell.
a. A minister who was very fond of pure, hot horseradish always kept a bottle of it on his dining room table.
b. He was trying to win a neighbor to the Lord, and over dinner he had brought up the reality of Hell.