Summary: Joint heirs with Jesus. A communion sermon.
Sons & Daughters, Acts 17:16-29
The following is from “History of Montgomery County, Kansas”: The Rev. Henry Surber, a Campbellite preacher and an early settler of the "Hoosier State." The latter took his family to Iowa in the early settlement of that state and he aided materially in shaping the moral sentiment of his community. He was a positive determined, vigorous-spoken man of the old school, to illustrate which qualities it is only necessary to present one conspicuous incident. During the early years of the progress of the Civil war Southern Iowa contained a small, but troublesome and outspoken secession sentiment. It became noised about that this element had planned to disturb the Rev. Surber in his effort at preaching on a certain evening, and finally break up his meeting. Mr. Surber learned of this design and took with him two good Colts pistols and, when he arose to begin service, laid them up in front of him, at the same time remarking what he had heard and stating that the first fellow that made a crooked move could expect to be taken care of by the blue-barreled six-shooters doing picket duty for the evening. The house was filled and the disturbing element was out in force and occupying front seats, and nobody seemed to enjoy the meeting more than they.
While I greatly suspect that none present have intention of disrupting the service this morning, surely all of us have brought into the house of worship disrupting concerns for the previous week’s toils; concerns too great and numerous to recount; which yet hold sway of our hearts and minds.
I want to invite you this morning to lay all of that aside as we enter into the Scripture and as we prepare our hearts to receive the sacrament of communion. Quiet all disrupting thoughts not for fear of man, but for love of God! Lay aside all that distracts not for the sake of human endeavor, but for the sake of Christ!
In today’s text are found many great and noteworthy themes, all of which are worthy of focus in their own right. (1) We see the biblical truth that it is right to engage the philosophies of the day with sound, rational, and biblical argument for the sake of the proclamation of the Gospel. We see that the truth of Jesus Christ holds up under the supposed tough scrutiny of human philosophy.
(2) We see that Paul too to the street in the spreading of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not content to speak only in the synagogues, though he did go there as well. Paul took the message of the Cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ where it was most needed.
During Jesus earthly ministry Jesus was attacked for teaching to the masses of people and He defended it well. Matthew 9:11-13 says, “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ’I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)
It is important that we lift up one another and sing praises to God each Sunday morning. It is important that we have Bible studies to edify the saints of God unto righteousness and every spiritual blessing. These are good things. But they are only as good as the measure to which they bring us close enough to God that we are filled His passion for lost souls!
The follower of Christ who is closest to God will sense the desperate need for people everywhere to receive the goodness of Jesus Christ and then participate in the spreading of that good news in whatever way they are able to do so. It is not enough to poses Christ; we must be possessed by Christ; apprehended by His love; captured by grace until our hearts are so full of Christ that it overflows.
This is what Jesus meant when said “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ’Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38 ESV) When we are filled with the Holy Spirit our hearts cannot contain the flood of His presence.
Filling our hearts with the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God, is like trying to pour Lake Michigan into a thimble. It will overflow. The Apostle Paul teaches us by his actions that it is right to engage the culture, the Gospel, if it is true, which it is, can withstand the pressure of cultural examination.
He teaches us further, again by the greatest of all teachers, example, that we must take the Gospel to the street; that is, where the people are. We can apply this practically by putting the grace of God on display in a transformed life and sharing Christ as we are given opportunity to do so; in so many ways.