Summary: As Paul went about preaching the gospel, there was a predictable reaction from the enemy of that gospel. This passage helps us understand why the gospel angers people, how they express that anger, and the way that anger is calmed.
Passage: Acts 19:23-41
Intro: Poewr Point picture of a tiger.
1. would you go up and twist the tail of this animal, or stick your finger in its eye?
2. if you did, you would expect a reaction.
3. most of us avoid doing things that make other people angry.
4. but as we are discovering in Acts, our call to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in the world is a twisting of Satan’s tail.
5. and here in this passage is the story of one such tail-twisting that caused a riot!
6. it is a fascinating portrait of unbelief, of the factors that cause people to prefer being left alone in the darkness.
7. we need to understand this if we are going to be Christ’s witnesses.
8. there is no doubt that this riot was in response to the effective proclamation of the gospel.
9. v23 “about the way”
10. so let’s look at why the gospel angers people, how they may express that anger, and how that anger is calmed.
I. Fear of Exposure
1. the effective proclamation of the gospel had impacted many people.
PP Acts 19:10
2. Demetrius was head of a guild that profited from the sale of small replicas of Artemis.
3. meteorite had fallen from the sky centuries earlier, people worshiped it as a goddess.
PP meteorite that came thru roof in NJ
4. but a whole cult had built up, and Ephesus was the center of it
5. it had economic, cultural, and religious connotations.
6. look at Demetrius’ statement in 25-27
7. first problem, economic. “We are going to lose money.”
Il) tobacco companies went ballistic when Surgeon General determined smoking related to lung cancer.
8. laid the blame right on Paul in 26, and correctly interpreted the Paul’s message.
9. follow the logic: if Paul says a man-made god is no god at all, we in trouble.
10. I find words Demetrius used in v27 very intriguing.
11. “trade will lose it’s good name”, Greek word means “exposure, rejection after examination, disrepute.”
12. In other words, we will be shown to have been perpetuating a lie, and people will stop buying it, (and our trinkets)
13. the gospel went to the very heart of this rotten system, and when the system falls, everything built on it is destroyed.
14. that would include the Temple, of Artemis, which drew people from all over.
PP Temple of Artemis, 425 ft long, 225 wide, 127 columns 60 feet high. Pliny said construction took 127 years.
Il) Artemis was to the economy of Ephesus like hi tech is to our city of Chandler.
15. preaching of the gospel exposing that whole thing was built on a lie.
16. and when that lie was exposed, the whole sordid mess would crash, and their fortunes with it. V27
Il) this is why the theory of evolution is so dear to those who believe in it. Their whole lives are based on its alleged truthfulness, and they refuse to consider alternatives.
II. Fear of Change.
1. when the foundations are exposed, things are going to change.
2. worship of Artemis provided the people of Ephesus three very powerful things:
3. provided a strong economy, now that the harbor had silted up.
4. it provided a culture of free sex, since Artemis was a fertility goddess.
5. and it filled that nagging spiritual void with an acceptable deity who was actually pretty fun!
6. these are very powerful forces in the flesh; money, sex, and religion.
Il) in Iraq, a civil war is raging over religion, but money is there for the winner as well.
7. Demetrius’ statement warned that the change brought by the gospel was unacceptable, and should be opposed.
8. it is very instructive that the logical question Paul raised, (can a man-made god be a god) was never discussed.
9. all that was discussed was the potential fallout, because fear is a powerful motivator to action.
10. and action was what Demetrius, (and Satan) were seeking.
11. and it is what they got.
12. friends, when you present the gospel and there is an illogical rejection of it, and even a refusal to discuss it logically, recognize the power of fear.
13. we are asking people to turn their back on their whole security system.
14. this has led to a watering down of the gospel so that it is less threatening.
Il) Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace”, an easy believism that cost nothing
15. but Demetrius was right to recognize the inherent danger of the gospel.
16. recognize we are twisting the tiger’s tail, and preach the truth!
Il) probably why easier to evangelize children. They have less to lose.
17. how is the fear expressed?
III. Fear Expresses Itself Illogically