May 2, 2023
God’s Climate Changers – Acts 17:6
Listen to last week’s sermon entitled: God’s Climate Changers found in Acts 17:6.
As Pastor Eric began his sermon on April 30, 2023, he spoke of the power of prayer and worship, reminding us that if we desire to be touched by the hand of God, we must worship God and pray to Him. Pastor Eric prayed that God would do His work in our lives today, not just for us to come to church and listen to a sermon, but for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He prayed that we would discover how God wants to use us and that we would hear what He wants to reveal to us.
Read Matthew 5:13-16
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus said,
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and walked on. You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.
Pastor Eric shared with us that Pastor Jeff Laird, the new assistant to our District Superintendent, will be our guest speaker for Pentecost Sunday just a few weeks away. Pastor Eric recalled the first time he met Pastor Jeff and how he was discussing the amazing story of how his church purchased land and began a building project, and how God opened a miraculous door for them. It is a story that sounds very familiar to us as this is our story as well. We can hardly wait to hear Pastor Jeff’s message. We are sure it will be both inspiring and encouraging. We look forward to celebrating Pentecost Sunday with Pastor Jeff and are excited to see what God will do through his words.
Read Acts 1:8
In just a few weeks, we will be discussing the significance and importance of Pentecost. Jesus made this clear in Acts 1:8 when he said,
But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses – in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.
In other words, the Holy Spirit will give us the power to be witnesses and have an impact on the world. When the Holy Spirit is present in our lives, we can use this power to spread the gospel and be witnesses to those around us. As Christians, it is our responsibility to be a light in the darkness, and the Holy Spirit provides us with the power to do that. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can be empowered to be witnesses and have a lasting impact on the world.
Read Jeremiah 29:7
The words of Jesus in Jeremiah 29:7 are powerful and remind us of our duty to do good in the city we are in, no matter the circumstances. When the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon, a place that was far from ideal for their faith, the Lord still urged them to be active in the community. He implored them to pray for the city, for He promised that if the city prospered, the people of Israel would benefit as well. This verse teaches us that our prayers can affect the climate of the city we are in. Even if it is not a Christian city, our prayers can still make a difference. We can pray that God would use us to bring light and hope to those who are living in darkness and despair. God’s words in Jeremiah 29:7 remind us that we can have a positive impact on the city we are living in. Our prayers can make a difference in the lives of those around us, and our actions can bring hope and restoration.
Pastor Eric raised a call for action to his congregation, asking if anyone was willing to be used by God to bring spiritual transformation to their community. He reminded them that they could be used to raise up the presence of Jesus in their school, workplace, family, and community. He encouraged them to look for ways to be an instrument of spiritual climate change wherever they are, no matter their age, gender, or background. He encouraged them to step out in faith and be willing to be used by God to make a difference. Pastor Eric says it this way: God needs more thermostats and fewer thermometers. He is saying that what the world needs more of are thermostats. Thermostats regulate the temperature, which is an active role. What God needs more of are people who will actively shape the spiritual temperature of the world. Thermostats will stand up and make a difference, not just measure what is happening. We need people who will work to make the world a better place, and who will strive to make it closer to God’s will. We need people who will use their faith to actively shape the world and lead others to righteousness. We need people who will be the thermostats, not just the thermometers, in the world.
God knew exactly when we would be living in this world, and He knew how corrupt it would be. Despite this, He sent us here to be a light and a witness to the world. He wasn’t calling us to be believers during the 1800s or even the 1900s – He was calling us to be believers right now. He has laid out a path for each one of us, and He is asking us to find our place in this world and to change the spiritual climate. He has equipped us to do this, and He is counting on us to make a difference. We are called to be spiritual thermostats and not spiritual thermometers. He has given us this responsibility, and it is up to us to make sure that our lives reflect our duty as God’s temperature shifters.
Pastor Eric then spoke about the various traits of such people.
Read Acts 17:1-9
The New King James Version translates Acts 17:6 as follows:
…These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
The people of the city in which these spiritual climate changers had come to were well aware of their presence.
We read in Acts 17:1-9 that Paul and his companions arrived in Thessalonica, a major city in Macedonia, and Paul, as was his custom, went to the Jewish synagogue. On three consecutive Sabbaths, he spoke to the members of the synagogue about Jesus, and some of them were persuaded and believed. Paul and Silas had a profound impact on the spiritual climate of the region. Not only did they attract a large number of Jews to their cause, but they also drew many God-fearing Greeks and prominent women. In addition, they managed to attract people from all different classes and walks of life, all of whom were united by their common desire to come to Christ. Paul and Silas were true spiritual climate changers, and their impact on the region was undeniable. They had a profound effect on the spiritual climate around them and opened the door for many to come to Christ.
This leads to Pastor Eric’s first point.
God’s climate changers engage in fearless witnessing
Changing a spiritual climate requires individuals who are willing to take action and speak up for Jesus. We need people who have the courage to spread the gospel, regardless of the consequences. Those who are passionate about the Lord and His teachings can create a powerful impact on the spiritual climate by engaging in fearless witnessing. The way to truly effect change is to break our silence and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:2-3 states that
Paul went into the synagogue as he always did, and on each Sabbath day for three weeks, he talked with his fellow Jews about the Scriptures. He explained and proved that the Christ must die and then rise from the dead. He said, ‘This Jesus I am telling you about is the Christ.
Paul went to the synagogue and spoke to the Jews about the Scriptures on three Sabbath days. He explained that Christ must die and then rise from the dead, which was all foretold in the Old Testament. Paul declared that this Jesus was the promised Christ, which generated a lot of interest and anticipation among the people. They had been waiting for the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament and were eager to learn more. Paul’s words gave them hope and assurance that the promised Messiah had come. Paul’s words also emphasized the fact that the fulfillment of the prophecies was at hand and that they were part of the unfolding of God’s grand plan. This stirred the hearts and minds of the people and caused them to eagerly look forward to the future and the promise of salvation that was to come. In other words, Paul opened his mouth. He shared the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, in doing so, showed us the importance of spreading the Good News.
While it is wonderful to tell people we are Christians, and that we attend church, it is not enough. We must be willing to open our mouths and actively share the message of Jesus with others. By doing this, we can bring the hope and love of Christ to those who do not know Him, and further His Kingdom on earth. When we open our mouths and share the gospel, we can bring people to Christ and show them the power of the Good News. Our faith should be evident in our words, our deeds, and how we treat other people. We, as Christians, are called to live our faith in such a way that others can see it in us. We should not simply go around telling people that we are Christians. Instead, we must live our faith in a manner that reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ. We should be kind, loving, and generous. We should show respect for all people and demonstrate our faith through our actions and words. It is important to remember that our faith is something that is meant to be shared, not hidden away. If we live our faith, others will inevitably take note and see that we are Christians.
Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ through words is the ultimate goal. As Jesus said, we must spread the Good News. We are to preach the gospel. There is a popular saying that reads, “Preach the gospel and use words if necessary”, and this is important. We need to live out our faith and strive to be good Christians, but simply being a good person won’t get people to heaven. That’s why it is so important to speak the gospel and use words to spread it. We must be intentional and articulate in our faith, and make sure that every word we speak is in line with what Jesus taught us. Being a good person may attract people to us, but it is not enough to lead them to follow Christ. To do that, we must demonstrate and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. We are not to demonstrate our own goodness; rather, we must demonstrate and proclaim the goodness of Jesus. We need to show people that He is the only way to salvation and tell them how He has changed our lives. We must tell them about His love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and peace. We must share with them the Good News of Jesus and tell them that He is the only way to eternal life. We must convey the truth of Christ and His love. By doing so, we can bring people closer to the Kingdom of God, and help them to experience the same peace and joy that comes with the gospel of Jesus.
The words of Ligon Duncan speak volumes about the power of our spoken words and their ability to bring salvation. He said,
Preach the gospel and use words if necessary’ is like saying, ‘Feed the hungry and use food if necessary.
It is the gospel proclaimed, preached, and shared that brings someone to spiritual transformation. This is the work of spiritual climate changers. They share the gospel with passion and conviction, understanding that it is the proclamation of the gospel that can lead to spiritual awakening.
Read Mark 16:15
Elton Trueblood said,
Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus Christ.
Elton Trueblood’s words are a powerful reminder of the role we all have to play in the mission of Jesus Christ. We are all part of the ‘Company of Jesus’ and, as such, we all have a responsibility to spread the gospel. How many of us are actively doing this? How many of us are living out our faith in the day-to-day and committing ourselves to the task of evangelism? We, as Christians, have been given the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion. It is a commandment to go out and spread the Good News of Christ to the entire world, and to make disciples of all nations. We are tasked with informing the world of what Jesus has done for us and offering them the opportunity to make our faith, their faith. It is our duty to bring the gospel to all corners of the globe and to invite people to join us in following Him. This is not just a suggestion, but a commandment. We are called to be His witnesses and to proclaim His name. We have been given the Great Commission and it is our duty to fulfill it. We all have a role to play in the company of Jesus Inc. and we must take seriously the task of evangelism.
Read Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 says that
I am not ashamed of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes – to save the Jews first and then to save non-Jews.
This passage clearly states that the Good News of Jesus Christ is not something to be ashamed of, but instead, something to be celebrated. It is the power God uses to save everyone who believes in Him, both Jews and non-Jews alike. In this passage, Paul is emphasizing the universality of salvation – that it is open to all who believe – and further affirming his commitment to spreading the Good News to all people. He understands that the Good News of Jesus Christ is not only for the Jews, but for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture. This is a powerful reminder that God loves us all and wants us all to experience His saving grace.
Read Romans 10:13-14
In Romans 10:13-14, we read,
As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them.
These verses are powerful reminders of the importance of preaching the Word of God. It states that in order to be saved, one must first call on the name of the Lord. But before that can be done, one must first believe in Him. And in order for that to happen, one must first hear about Him. This means that it is up to us to tell others about the Lord and the salvation He offers. We must take seriously our role as ambassadors of Christ and be diligent in spreading the Word of God, so that all may come to believe in Him and be saved.
Read Romans 10:15
No one can go and tell others about the gospel of Jesus until they have been sent. We are called to be the messengers of love, joy, and hope to a world in desperate need of a Saviour. It is a great privilege to serve as ambassadors of Christ, as we share the Good News of salvation through Jesus.
Preaching the gospel is an essential part of our mission as Christians. We must share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others and tell His story in a way that they can understand. We must be careful to not use language that is too complicated or linguistically abstract; instead, we should tell His story in a way that is accessible and meaningful to all. When Pastor Eric first became a Christian, he eagerly evangelized and shared the gospel with others. He used simple language that was easy for people to understand. However, after four years of being a Christian, he began to use more complex imagery that others were not familiar with. For example, if a believer said something like “the Lamb of God came to wash us in His blood”, it would likely scare people, as they are not used to such language. This is why it is important to be mindful of the language we use when evangelizing, and make sure it is accessible and understandable to the listener. We want to ensure that our message of love and redemption is communicated in a way that is clear and relatable to all.
Paul was known for his simple, yet effective way of sharing the gospel. He was not afraid to share the message of God with Gentiles, as well as with prominent women. He had a unique ability to understand the cultural context of different people and was able to tailor his message in a way that was meaningful to them. His goal was always to make the gospel accessible to all, regardless of their background, status, or beliefs to help to spread the message of the gospel to more people. Paul’s willingness to share it with everyone, regardless of their background, is a testament to the power and reach of the gospel.
It was Tim Keller who said,
Why does Paul preach the gospel so differently in Acts 13 (to Jews and God-fearing Gentiles), then in Acts 14 (to blue-collar, polytheistic pagans), then in Acts 17 (to white-collar, pagan philosophers)? Hint: Contextualization – he’s seeing his audience and adapting.
Paul spoke to them in a language they could understand.
Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-22
Paul’s motto, as stated in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, was to become all things to all people. He recognized that each person had a different background and perspective, and he adapted his approach in order to reach them. Paul understood that he could not reach everyone by remaining the same, so he adapted to the context. We can take the same approach when we communicate with children, youth, and young adults. We need to speak their language, relate to their experiences, and understand their unique perspectives. We need to be willing to adjust our language, conversations, and interactions to meet them where they are. This understanding and appreciation for the diverse perspectives of different age groups will enable us to better connect with our audience.
How do we share the gospel? We can start by sharing our testimony. Our testimony is simply the story of who we were before we accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour; how we came to accept Him; and how our lives have changed as a result. Sharing our story can be a powerful way to bring people to Christ, as it can open their hearts to the love of God and the miracles of His grace. It can also help them to better understand the power of the gospel and how it can transform their lives. Sharing our testimony can lead to sharing the gospel – the Good News of salvation, grace, and forgiveness that Jesus provides. This is a simple yet effective way to show people the transforming power of Christ. By doing this, we can help to bring others to the knowledge and love of Jesus.
Read Romans 6:23-24
What is the gospel and how do we share it? We must start with the bad news. Consider this scenario: a doctor says to us that he has the cure for cancer in the bottle he is holding in his hand, and all we have to do is take this bottle and drink it. The doctor says, “That is good news, isn’t it?” And we say “Yes, that is good news, but not for me because I don’t have cancer.” But if the doctor says, “I have bad news to tell you. You have terminal cancer and not much time left. But guess what? Our medical team has made a remarkable breakthrough – a cure for cancer, packaged in this little bottle. Just by receiving it and drinking it, you will be healed.” It suddenly becomes good news, right? So, we must begin by sharing the bad news: we have spiritual cancer and it is called sin. We are all sinners and this is an unfortunate reality. The bad news is that our good works alone won’t erase our sins. The penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God. No matter how hard we try, our good deeds won’t be able to repair the sins that we have committed. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and this is something that is unavoidable.
Read Isaiah 64:6, John 10:10 and Romans 3:23-24
If we believe that we can gain salvation and favour with God through our own good works, we are like someone attempting to wash himself or herself with a filthy rag. Isaiah 64:6 states that “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags.” We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. We have been condemned to an eternity of suffering and death because of our sins. Our good works can never be enough to wash away our sins and give us salvation. But then comes the Good News. Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to live a sinless life and to die on the cross for our sins. By His sacrifice, He offers us forgiveness, redemption and a way to be reconciled with God. When we accept His sacrifice and believe in Him, we are covered by His blood and cleansed from all our sins. His blood is our only way to be righteous before God. We can never be saved by our own efforts or by any other means. Only Jesus’ sacrifice can bring us salvation and favour with God. Jesus Christ has done so much for us that it is important for us to share this with the world. His gift of grace is one of the most amazing gifts ever bestowed upon mankind. Through His sacrifice, we are able to receive forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in Him. Jesus Christ is also offering us a life of abundance, available to anyone who believes in Him and follows Him. His offer of grace is free and available to all. We should be eager to share this incredible news with the world and to show them how life in Jesus can be so much more than anything they could ever imagine. As Christians, it is our responsibility to share this Good News and to let the world know that as believers, we have so much to gain from Christ.
If the living knew what the dead knew, then the whole world would follow Jesus Christ!
The words of Carl Henry challenged Pastor Eric when he read them. Carl Henry said,
The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.
Fearless witnessing is the hallmark of God’s spiritual climate changers.
God’s spiritual climate changers make witnessing a way of life
Witnessing as a way of life is something that spiritual climate changers strive for. It goes beyond just signing up for a witnessing program offered by the church; it is a lifestyle choice. It involves making witnessing a conscious priority in our everyday lives. Witnessing as a way of life is a lifestyle choice that spiritual climate changers make every day. It is a commitment to living out our faith and sharing it with those around us. It takes dedication, courage, and trust in God, but it is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Do we witness as a way of life?
The Bible records that Paul went to the synagogue as it was his custom. He reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures on three Sabbath days. Paul made it a priority to witness and share the grace of Jesus with others. It was his way of life to bring the message of salvation to all who would listen. He was faithful to this mission and was successful in converting many souls to the Lord. Paul’s example of dedication and commitment to the Lord serves as a powerful reminder to all of us to be faithful in our own spiritual journeys.
In the words of R. A. Torrey
The church exists for one reason: to carry on the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ until He returns.
The words of R.A. Torrey remind us of the purpose of the Church, which is to carry on the redemptive mission of Christ until He returns. We can truly carry on this mission when we witness His love and grace to the world. This means that we need to make witnessing a way of life rather than something we do only occasionally. We ought to look for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with others and to be bold in proclaiming His name. Our lives should be an example of His love and grace and we should strive to be a light in a dark world.
Pastor Eric stated that for the longest time, when he would share something about witnessing and asked people if they were sharing their faith with those around them, they said they struggled with it. Many people find it difficult to share their faith due to shyness, a lack of ideas, or a lack of confidence. For some, however, it comes naturally. They feel comfortable striking up conversations about faith and are able to start sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with ease. For those who struggle, it is important to remember that it is not about having the perfect words or a well-rehearsed speech. It is about showing genuine interest in the people around us and being open to sharing our faith with them. We can do this by getting to know others, understanding their needs, and introducing them to the love of Christ.
Pastor Eric remembers a pastor who used to talk about how he would initiate spiritual conversations in the most natural way. For example, when he entered an elevator and heard someone ask if someone was going up, he said, “You are going up? You are a Christian?” On another occasion, he was attending a funeral and overheard someone saying he was a firefighter. The pastor told the man he was also a firefighter, as he helped put out spiritual fires. He quickly seized the opportunity to bring up his faith. These examples demonstrate the pastor’s ability to witness to people in the most natural way. For some, it can be daunting to open up a conversation about the Lord and to share the gospel. It can be intimidating to be the one to start a discussion about faith. However, it is important to remember that everyone has their own story and perspective, and it is always beneficial to share it with others. The Lord’s message is one of love, acceptance, and understanding, and talking about it can be a powerful way to spread that message. It can be difficult to start a conversation about the Lord, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. By talking about our faith and sharing the gospel, we can help to bring people closer to the Lord and to deepen our own spiritual connection.
Read Matthew 10:11-14
Many of us struggle with witnessing to others for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is that we don’t want to be too pushy. However, it’s important to remember that being pushy can sometimes be a good thing. The Holy Spirit was never too pushy. Jesus sent his twelve disciples out with these instructions: see (Matthew 10:11-14). This shows us that being pushy can actually be a way to spread the gospel – if we are willing to ask permission and be persistent, we can bring the message of salvation to those who need it. We need to remember that being pushy isn’t always a bad thing, and it can be a great way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have been so afraid of being too pushy that we have gone to the other extreme and are not pushing at all. It’s almost like we’re waiting for the door to swing wide open on its own. Jesus wasn’t too pushy either. Sometimes, however, pushing is necessary. We can’t just be stagnant, waiting for something to happen, or a door to open. We must take the initiative and be proactive in pushing for the sake of the gospel. We must trust that God will provide the way if we are willing to put in the effort.
Pastor Eric was perplexed. He had been telling people for years that it was a commandment to share their faith, and that they were being empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. But many of them would respond saying that their faith was personal and they didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. For the longest time, Pastor Eric thought that many good people didn’t share their faith because they were afraid of coming across as too pushy. He believed this until Covid-19 hit. Then, suddenly, he noticed that even the shyest and most introverted people were becoming bold in expressing their faith. People who would normally struggle to even talk to strangers were now finding the courage to shout out their beliefs. It was a remarkable transformation.
People have been very vocal about their opinions concerning the Covid vaccine and the regulations surrounding it. Some people have even gone so far as to lose their jobs over their health status and their stance on the vaccine. The debate has become quite polarized, with some staunchly pro-vax, some anti-vax, and others somewhere in between. Despite the varying positions, it’s clear that people are not afraid to talk about their views on the vaccine, masks, and the regulations surrounding them.
Pastor Eric was perplexed by the idea that people did not share their faith because they were afraid of being too pushy. However, he soon began to realize that if we could share our beliefs about Covid with a stranger, no matter what side we were on, in a bold manner, then why not have the same courage to talk about our faith? If we could talk fearlessly about our own health and the health of our families, why not have the same openness when it comes to our faith?
Read Acts 17:5-8
Paul and Silas were not the only ones who played a huge role in the events that transpired. Their companions and a man named Jason were just as instrumental in the story. Jason was the one who received them in his home. However, this act of kindness did not sit well with the Jewish leaders, who were consumed with jealousy and envy. In an attempt to punish Paul and Silas, a mob of people from the streets were incited to attack Jason’s home, believing they could find the two there. However, upon arriving, they could not locate Paul and Silas and instead dragged out Jason to take him before the Council. When the people of the city and the judges heard of what had happened, they intervened and rescued Paul and Silas from the mob. Thanks to their quick response, the two were spared from punishment and were able to go on living their lives. Sadly, Jason was persecuted, but despite the hardship he faced, he seemed in a good position to help Paul and Silas spread the gospel.
Jason is not seen preaching like Paul and Silas, but we can see his role as a host and a prayer warrior. He is an example for us who support missionaries and provide resources to enable the gospel to be shared. Every Christian has a role to play in the mission of spreading the gospel, and witnessing our faith should be seen as a lifestyle rather than a task. It is only when we each do our part that the gospel can continue to reach others.
Sometimes, Christians become selfish. It can be easy to forget about the souls of others. We prioritize our own needs and wants and often forget about how we can share the love of Jesus Christ with those around us. We can get so caught up in life and what life has to offer, that we forget about what is most important: witnessing our faith. Witnessing is an essential part of our Christian journey. It is through witnessing that we can show others the love and grace of God. We can share the message of hope, and the promise of salvation to those without. When we prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, we are not living out the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. Therefore, if we don’t make the souls of others a priority, we won’t make witnessing our faith or any contribution to witnessing a priority either. We must remember that witnessing is an integral part of our faith and that it is our duty to share the Good News with those who do not know Jesus. We must live out our faith in a way that reflects the heart of Christ, loving our neighbour and sharing the message of hope with those in need.
New Beginning Church is here to serve. God has brought us to this church and our leaders strive to be shepherds that equip us and help us grow in our faith. We understand that, though Pastor Eric may be at the helm of this church, we are all coming from different places in life. We have jobs that Pastor Eric may never experience, we attend schools that Pastor Eric may never enter and we have access to people that Pastor Eric may never meet. That is why New Beginning Church is here to support and foster our faith and equip each and every one of us to become ambassadors of Christ.
God’s climate changers have a fire within them
Paul, Silas, and Jason had a burning passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the driving force behind the early Church – seeking to save the lost and introduce them to the saving grace of Jesus. This fire of the gospel within them was what set the early Church apart, and made them so successful in their mission. They were a beacon of light to a world that was in desperate need of hope and redemption. Despite the challenges they faced, they persevered in the face of adversity and kept their fire for the gospel burning brightly. This dedication and commitment to the gospel was the hallmark of the early Church and has continued to be a source of inspiration for Christians throughout the centuries.
The early Church was characterized by many heroic examples of courage and sacrifice, and Paul, Silas, and Jason were no exception. Their reputation for standing up in the face of persecution spread far and wide and caused a stir in many places. They were willing to take risks and put their lives on the line in order to share the gospel with others. They were not afraid to speak out against injustice and to stand up for what was right. Their courage and faith inspired many others to do the same and to follow in their footsteps. As a result, the early Church was able to spread quickly and gain a foothold in many parts of the world. The example set by Paul, Silas, and Jason continues to be a powerful example of the kind of courage and faith needed in order to stand up for what is right.
The early Church is often remembered for its persecution, but there is more to its story than that. Pastor Eric wants us to look beyond that and recognize the reputation these men also had. Below are some examples.
Read Acts 10:25-26
According to Acts 10:25-26, “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter helped him up, saying, ‘Stand up. I too am only a human.’”
These men were just ordinary human beings, dedicated to spreading the Good News of the gospel. Despite this, however, the Church had lost its spiritual fervour and they were determined to turn that around.
Read Acts 14:11-15
In Acts 14:11-15, Paul is trying to convince Cornelius that he is just a simple human being. The passage states that “When the crowds saw what Paul did, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have become like humans and have come down to us!’ Then the people began to call Barnabas ‘Zeus’ and Paul ‘Hermes,’ because he was the main speaker. The priest in the temple of Zeus, which was near the city, brought some bulls and flowers to the city gates. He and the people wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard about it, they tore their clothes. They ran in among the people, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings like you. We are bringing you the Good News and are telling you to turn away from these worthless things and turn to the living God. He is the One who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.”
Read Acts 28:3-6
In Acts 28:3-6, Paul is bitten by a snake. It states that “Paul gathered a pile of sticks and was putting them on the fire when a poisonous snake came out because of the heat and bit him on the hand. The people living on the island saw the snake hanging from Paul’s hand and said to each other, ‘This man must be a murderer! He did not die in the sea, but Justice does not want him to live.’ But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and was not hurt. The people thought that Paul would swell up or fall down dead. They waited and watched him for a long time, but nothing bad happened to him. So they changed their minds and said, ‘He is a god!’”
These passages recount how the early Church was viewed by the people of their time. The people, who had never encountered anything like it before, saw something special in Paul and Barnabas and their faith. In trying to make sense of what was happening, some began to spread rumours that they were gods. Paul and Barnabas had to convince the people that they were, in fact, just ordinary human beings.
The people who were witnessing the preaching of the gospel began to recognize the passion and fervour that the men had for the cause. They could sense the fire of the Holy Spirit radiating from them and working with them as they spread the Good News. It was obvious that the Lord was using them to accomplish signs, wonders, miracles, and healings, all to point to His Son, Jesus Christ. Perhaps, we need to be more diligent in preaching the gospel, and when we do so, we may be blessed to see more signs, wonders, miracles, and healings. These signs and wonders are a confirmation of the message of Jesus, that He is the Christ, the promised Messiah.
Read Acts 17:6 (NKJV)
The reputation of Paul and Silas and their companions had spread far and wide, to the point that their actions were seen as turning the world upside down. As Acts 17:6 (NKJV) says, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” The early Church was highly esteemed by the people in their society, to the point that the Jews were jealous of their growth and influence. This shows that Paul and Silas and their companions had a big impact on the world around them, and the people among them were well aware of it.
Read Acts 5:13, John 14:12, 21:25
Acts 5:13 states that “Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.” This Scripture is a powerful reminder that although the unbelievers did not want to join the Church, they still esteemed the apostles highly. It’s a testament to the power of God to use ordinary people like you and I to do extraordinary things. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12). This is a powerful reminder, that with faith and the right attitude, we, too, can do extraordinary things. We all have the potential to make a difference, no matter who we are and where we come from. We all have the potential to do great things through Christ, and it’s inspiring to think that our ordinary lives can have an extraordinary impact when we trust in Him. The Bible tells us that Jesus did many things that could not possibly fit into one book. Yet, we are encouraged to know that we, as believers who have the Holy Spirit, can do even greater things because we have His power living within us. John 21:25 serves as a reminder that Jesus’ work was remarkable and that, as His people, we can do even more. Christ gave us His power to fulfill His work and do even greater things than He did. As we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do amazing things for God’s glory. We have the capability to do extraordinary things because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Let us remember this and strive to do great things for the Lord!
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