Sermon on Acts 18:1-11
Text: After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Have you ever had a young child tell you about an exciting experience that they just had? For example, they might have just gone to the zoo. They want to tell you everything that they saw. They proceed to tell you about every animal. They tell you about the food that they ate. You get to hear about the train that they rode. The recounting goes on and on. At first, you are as excited as they were about the trip. However, if the telling goes on and on and you hear about every little detail, there may be a part of you that would like to tell them to wrap it up. This is especially true if you’re trying to get something done. It may sound mean, but you kind of would like them to stop. It’s hard for them to do so, because they are excited to tell you everything. This morning, we hear a different encouragement and that is KEEP ON TALKING! 1. The Message Is Sure. 2. It Will Produce Results. 3. Jesus Promises To Be With Us.
In this section of Acts, we are following along with Paul on his Second Missionary Journey. Paul traveled 45 miles east of Athens to Corinth. Corinth was a large city with a population of about 200,000 people. It was an important city with a lot of commerce. In addition, in a world where sexual immorality was the rule, Corinth was notorious for its immorality. As a matter of fact, to “corinthianize” meant to live a life of debauchery. This was a city that was in desperate need of hearing about a Savior.
When Paul arrived, he did just that. We read in verse 4, “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Paul took advantage of the fact that there was a synagogue in the city and used the opportunities afforded him to speak. Later, in verse 5, it says, “Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.” Paul came to these people who had heard all of those Old Testament prophecies about a coming Messiah and told them that he had come. There is little doubt that he went through many of those prophecies and showed how Jesus had fulfilled them. In all likelihood, he also told them about his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He devoted himself to telling them that Jesus was who they were looking for.
By God’s grace, we have also heard this message. Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. Our greatest need was a Savior from sin. Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, all people have been born sinful. This is the inheritance that we have received from our first parents. Just like Adam and Eve, we have listened to the lies that the devil has spoken to us. We have done what we wanted to, rather than what God has told us to do. We have felt that God was trying to keep something good from us, so we pursued that instead. Just as God told Adam and Eve that, the day that ate from the forbidden tree, they would die, we also deserved to hear that death sentence spoken to us. This is more than the end of our physical life. This is eternal death, an eternal separation from God.
However, someone told us about Jesus. He is the one who came in fulfillment of the first promise of a Savior, back in the Garden of Eden. He is the one who has fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy. Jesus came to be our Rescuer. In the fulfilling of the prophecies, Jesus lived a perfect life for us. The Old Testament pointed ahead to the fact that Jesus would be sacrificed on the altar of the cross in order to pay for the sins of the world, including our sins. Jesus’ resurrection was even prophesied. Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies and, through the faith created in us, we receive the blessings of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. There has never been more exciting news to our ears.
Now, we have the privilege of sharing this wondrous news with others. This is the exciting news we get to share. There are many people in our lives that need to hear this. Though the people we are telling are not living in such gross sins as the people of the city of Corinth were, they are still caught in their sins. Some of them may have listened to the call of the sinful world around them and are not aware of what they are doing. Some may feel the weight of their sins pressing down on them. Either way, they need to hear about the freedom that is found in Jesus. He is the answer to the death sentence of sin. Being in a relationship with Jesus will also help them with the other problems and difficulties that they are going through. We live in a world that tells us that we find our freedom and happiness in this or that. Though they promise, they never fulfill. The promises that Jesus offers will never disappoint. His promises of always being with us and eternal happiness are sure.
We also know that this message will produce results. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Holy Spirit worked through you to bring a person to faith! You have the joy of knowing that this person who was doomed to eternal punishment will one day be enjoying eternal blessings. Paul enjoyed that success in Corinth. Luke records the names of some of the people who were brought to faith. In verse 7, we read, “Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God.” Titius was a Gentile who had been a worshiper at the synagogue. He offered his home for the fledgling church to meet in. His faith prompted this action. We also read, “Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord.” Crispus would have been the one who was in charge of the synagogue, with reading the Scriptures to the assembly being part of his duties. Imagine what the others must have thought! Here was someone who was a leader in the Jewish community. He would have been well-respected. Now, he was following Christ. In summary, it says in verse 7, “Many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.” Paul enjoyed success as he proclaimed the name of Jesus in Corinth.
Unfortunately, there were also those who refused to listen to Paul’s words. As Paul spoke in the synagogue, “They opposed Paul and became abusive.” (Verse 6) Of all the people on earth, the Jews should have been the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. However, they refused to believe this to be true. Instead, they heaped abuse on Paul. They spoke badly about him and, more importantly, the message that he was proclaiming. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus. As a result, “[Paul] shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” (Verse 6) Shaking out the clothes was a way of showing a complete break from them. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:14, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” This was a gesture of Paul’s innocence. He had done his duty to them, telling them about Jesus. From here on out they would have to take the full responsibility for their refusal to believe in Jesus.
The fact is that not everyone will be brought to faith when we tell them about Jesus. When we point out sin, they may try and turn the tables around on us, pointing out that we are not so perfect. There will be some who will make fun of us for believing such a thing. How could one man who lived so long ago really save us from our sins? The fact that some may challenge us or make fun of us or ostracize us because of our faith may make us hesitant, if not afraid, to tell others about what Jesus has done for them.
Do you want to know a secret? Paul was afraid, too. That may come as a shock to us. When we think of Paul, we think of this missionary who was bold in proclaiming Jesus wherever he went. However, he admits to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3) In his love for him, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’” (Verses 9&10) We could translate the Lord’s words, “Stop being afraid; keep on speaking; don’t begin to be silent.” The Lord knew that Paul was afraid, so he came to him to encourage him to keep on proclaiming the truth about Jesus. He gives him the source of his strength. It was not through Paul’s persuasive speech or his dynamic personality. The Lord said that he would be with Paul. He was not going to leave Paul’s side and he promised that he would protect him.
The Lord continues to come to us with this same assurance. We may be afraid to talk to others about Jesus because of what they might say or do. Yet, we have these assurances. First of all, it is not up to us to do the converting. It doesn’t depend on our eloquence. We are simply called upon to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to others. We leave the work of conversion to the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the promise that the Lord made to Paul, he also makes to us. He is with us. No matter what those who oppose what we are saying may say to us or do to us, Jesus is right there by our side. He will protect us. He will strengthen us as we continue to tell others about what Jesus has done for them.
As we spoke about that youngster at the beginning of our sermon, we noted that they were just so excited that they had to tell us every detail. Even when we discourage them, they can’t help themselves. They just have to tell you what they saw and experienced. Think for a moment the exciting news that you have been told. You have been told that Jesus Christ is your Savior from sin. You know that eternal life is waiting for you. How can we keep this good news to ourselves? May the Lord continue to fill us with such joy that we cannot help but tell others what we have seen and heard. You have a message that is too important to keep to yourselves. When you tell others, it will always produce results. You have the promise that Jesus will be with you as you do. Brothers and sisters, may God help us to keep on speaking.”
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