Summary: Exposition of Acts 19:21-41 regarding the riot in Ephesus and its demonstration of the superiority of Christ in an experiential fashion
Text: Acts 19:21-41, Title: The Superiority of Christ, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/25/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Read the story of John Stam, missionary to China in 1934 from The Baptist Vision magazine current issue, MacArthur summary of Hebrews… “the letter begins with the general superiority of Christ to everyone and everything, a kind of summary of the whole epistle in the first three verses. Next comes the superiority of Christ to angels, then the superiority of Christ to Moses, then the superiority of Christ to Joshua, the superiority of Christ to Aaron and his priesthood, the superiority of Christ to the Old Covenant, the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice to the old sacrifices, the superiority of Christ’s faithful people to all the faithless, the superiority of Christ’s testimony to that of any other. This brief outline gives us the flow of the book, which above all else, teaches the total, complete, and absolute superiority of Jesus Christ.”
B. Background to passage: 3rd missionary journey, going on three years of ministry in Ephesus. Paul, led by the Spirit, determines that God is leading him to visit several churches over in Acacia and Macedonia on his way back to Jerusalem, and take up a collection for the church there which is suffering; then on to Rome, and eventually to Spain. Paul had a plan to reach known world at that time (BIG VISION). So he sends two disciples ahead of him, while he completes the last bit of his stay in Ephesus. And that is when the riot that normally ensues with Paul is preaching happened.
C. Main thought: In this text we are reminded of three truths as we labor for the Master in our world.
A. His superiority to other gods (v. 26)
1. The riot started by Demetrius was initiated because of financial concerns. But those financial concerns were driven by the fact that Paul had persuaded many that idols made with hands are not gods. So many Ephesians were turning from idolatry to Diana. The clear teaching of scripture is that other gods are false, non-entities created in our minds. These gods were fashioned after man’s idea of what God should be. And because of Paul’s persuasion of the reality of Jesus Christ, many were being saved. Demetrius was worried about the magnificence of Diana being depleted, which would bring economic and social depletion to the city of Ephesus, b/c everything was tied up in the wonder of the world and her god.
3. Illustration: speaking of the way that American Christians import western democratic assumptions into theology picking and choosing what to believe and not to believe based on their preference, “Eternal punishment in hell is not consistent with "the American experience" or "the American way." The God of the Bible, in other words, does not act in ways consistent with what many people consider to be American ideals. Sending people to hell is just not fair…The Holy One of Israel, the ruler of all and the sovereign of universe, is now to be judged by his own sinful creatures by the standard of fairness. Doctrines ruled to be "unfair" are cast aside and overridden by our cherished cultural assumptions.” – Al Mohler,
4. Jesus Christ, as revealed in the bible, has the Name above all other names, is the One with “King of kings and Lord of lords” on his thigh, is the One that has no comparison or one to liken him to, is the One by which everything was made and for whom everything was made. His grace, love, mercy, and beauty surpass all gods and all heavens ever dreamed of. He is not a wishy washy manipulative must-be-placated with good deeds and sacrifices kind of deity. There is none like Him! He is completely different, higher, and better than any other conception of God every thought up. And if Jesus is as he claimed the “one true God,” all other religions are false. To validate other religions is the first step on the landslide to apostasy and an insult to the value and worth of Christ. And let me assure you that Christ is never in any danger of losing His magnificence! He always has and always will reign supreme and the most glorious, matchless, uncompromising treasure of infinite worth! So the word of warning to us is to make sure that the God whom we worship is the God of the Bible in all His fullness. Make sure that you have not created a god of your own design that looks surprisingly like you and offers heaven to everyone with no strings attached, no moral standards (or at least none that offend you), and no power. Christ wants to be known as He really is, but we constantly reshape our concept of this god to fit our lifestyles and preferences. Do not worship at the altar of the god of “the way you like him,” but fall down in awe and wonder of a truly superior Jesus Christ, who is the greatest treasure and the only true and living God.