Summary: I would like to thank Pastor Jerry Shirley for sharing this series on Acts. It has been a blessing as well as a great help. I have used these for our church, as I spend my days caring for my dying father.
Tearing Down the Strongholds of Hell Acts 19:8-27
[2Co 10:4 NIV] “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 full years because there was much work to be done there. He was operating in the power that could bring down, even the strongholds of hell.
I want us to look at three things the Apostle Paul experienced while he was there. Maybe it will help us as we strive to become a better witness for Christ in our community. The first thing we’ll see is that:
1. Paul was given an awesome opportunity
[1Co 16:8-9 NKJV] “8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and [there are] many adversaries.”
This door is a door of opportunity and Paul couldn’t pass it up.
Elim Bible has been given the same kind of opportunity here in Florence, SC.
Ephesus was a wicked city and a place of spiritual darkness. Paul brought the light of the gospel to that place because he saw this place of darkness as a place of opportunity.
Paul had the opposite philosophy of many Christians today. Christians today don’t want to be in a dark place…they are afraid of the dark. They only want to be in the well-lit areas. I hear people say things like, “There’s so many lost people where I work…I’ve got to get out of there!” I’ve said the very same thing, in the past, about places I’ve worked. I was complaining to Pastor Jim Crooks, years ago and he ask me, “Did it ever occur to you that’s why God put you there?”
God puts you in those dark places and He expects you to light up the dark places of this world. The Bible says that you, as a child of God, are the light of the world so what better place to put a light than in a dark room. Who knows… there may very well be others just like you, who are themselves, afraid of the dark and all it will take is for one believer to turn their light on and you’d be surprised what light does to dark.
What if light bulbs could talk: and you told the bulb you were going to put it in a room where there was no light. It might say, “You can put me anywhere but that dark room. Please don’t put me in the dark! I’m afraid of the dark!”
What good is a lightbulb that refuses to shine in a dark room?
What good are we if we refuse to be the light of the gospel in a dark world?
Now, we shouldn’t want to go to places that will drag us down, or places where we will be tempted to sin but God doesn’t want us to hide under our beds or in our closets either. As people who have received the light of the gospel, we are to be IN the darkness of the world, shining God’s light. BUT we’re not to be OF the darkness of the world. There must be a difference between you/me and the world.
So, God has placed, right in front of us a door of opportunity and our question this morning is this: will we walk through it?
The truth is that the darker the room, the more your light will be seen.
Your light cannot stand out in this sanctuary. Why is that?
Because this place is filled with other lights. When you go to your workplace or other places then your light has the potential of removing the darkness.
Paul wanted to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost because he knew it was about time for the Artemesian Games and the whole Roman Empire would be coming to town. Paul saw a city filled to the brim as an opportunity.
Now if you ask my family they will tell you that I don’t like crowds too much. One year we took the kids to Dollywood and I had them in the parking lot before the gates opened. By noon I was ready to leave because the crowd was getting too large for me. The truth is that you/I should love crowds because we have so many opportunities to share Jesus!
Look at verse 10 and you see what happened in just 2 short years.
Every single person heard the Word. Not all experienced salvation, but all had the same opportunity. The reason that all the people heard was the fact that Paul saw a door of opportunity open before him and he walked through it!
The second thing we’ll notice is:
2. Paul faced tremendous opposition.
Remember the verses I read earlier? [1Co 16:8-9 NKJV] “8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and [there are] many adversaries.” There were many who opposed Paul and his teachings