The official sermon audio podcast of Genesis Church, located in Eureka, MO.
The Way of the Bereans
The trip through Macedonia takes Paul and his companions into Thessalonica and Berea. A church is planted in these cities as some Jews and Greeks believe. Yet, the response of the larger crowd of Jewish people in these cities cannot be more different. The people in Thessalonica outright reject the preaching of Jesus and even side with the secular culture around them to rid the city of the Gospel. Yet, we are told that in Berea, the people "Received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."
The Bereans teach us how to listen to every sermon by checking the Scriptures to make sure what was proclaimed in the sermon lines up with the Bible itself. This morning we will take a look at the importance of the Bible, and examine the role of the preacher and the hearer in our Sunday gathering. May we as a church be much like the Bereans.
What to Do When You Are in Prison
Nobody promised this Christianity thing would be easy. How would you respond if you were arrested merely for changing the life of a broken, hurting person? This is the outcome for Paul and Silas as they end up in the inner prison of the Macedonian city of Philippi merely for rescuing a slave girl from her demons. Doesn't seem fair. Do they complain? Curse and get bitter? What we find them doing in the middle of the night is actually unnerving and unnatural. We find these two guys in chains, yet they are singing praises and declaring the glory of Jesus in this dark dungeon. God again executes a miraculous release, yet this time the prisoners do not leave. That is interesting--- freed prisoners who do not run away. By the end of the story we have another whole house of people who have been rescued by Jesus and a growing church in this city. The praise from prison becomes contagious and shows all of us how we can respond to the worse of adversities we face in life.
How About a Greek Vacation?
I remember hearing the story of the Macedonian Call in a missions class at my church when I was a kid. The image of a Macedonian man appearing to Paul in a vision and crying out, "Why don't you come over here," felt a little like Red Rover to me. Yet, this story revealed something about God and Paul. Both of them had a passion for the unreached people in the world. The Macedonian Call is a reminder that there are still people all over the globe who have never heard the name of Jesus. In some of these places God is doing miracles and even sending visions to people. Yet, the primary way God has planned to reach those people is through the faithful witness of Jesus' people and the raising up of future missionaries like Timothy to join the task. The result is the salvation of people such as Lydia in cities like Philippi and formation of a community of faith that will be a mission outpost is each city. Today we will consider the global task God has given us and consider ways each of us can be a part of the Gospel to the nations.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Paul and Barnabas were heroes, fighting in the trenches of the Gospel together. They traveled the world and they stood unified at the Jerusalem Council. You would have thought they would be together until the end.
But, there was an issue that came between them---the person John Mark (aka, Mark who wrote the Gospel bearing his name). Mark ditched them on the first missionary journey, a hardship that must have hurt the mission. Now Paul and Barnabas are prepping for another world beating mission journey. Barnabas, the encourager, sees redemptive hope in Mark and wants to give him a second chance. Paul has his eyes on the big picture---the lost people in Asia who need the Gospel---and does not believe they have time to take a second chance on someone who already failed. So, the Gospel tandem had a disagreement that led to their parting ways.
There are times in our Christian journey where we will have disagreements and may even part ways. Yet, in this case, God multiplied the mission teams and impact. So who was right? Well, in a way, both were.
The First Church Council
The theological question addressed in Acts 15 was not a small one. God had revealed Himself to the Jews and gave them the Law, and this God also sent Jesus (a Jewish man) into the world to save people. So, shouldn't these new Gentile (non-Jewish) followers of Jesus be required to obey the Law and join the Old Testament covenantal people through circumcision? Of course, this is a big ask, and add on to this, is giving up bacon.
This chapter is one of the benchmark moments, not just in Acts, but in all of church history. On one hand, it was important to stay faithful to the Scriptures. On the other hand, Paul and Barnabas's mission led to the conversion of a large number of people from the nations believing in Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit without circumcision and adherence to the Law. The Apostles and Elders of the early church, including Paul, Barnabas, and James the brother of Jesus, come together to wrestle with this question through the lens of Scripture and, with the help of the Spirit, come to a settled position. In this instance, the great doctrine that we are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus alone wins the day. But this story also gave the church a model to follow for centuries as it had to deal with multiple theological questions and even heresies.
This morning we will look at an event called the First Church Council and we will find that the core doctrines of our faith are very important.
Preaching Jesus, Planting Churches
The book of Acts contains the amazing story of how the good news about Jesus started with a small band of people in Jerusalem, and in a few short years, ended up with followers of Jesus and churches in every key city in the Roman Empire. A key aspect of the story involves the missionary efforts of Saul of Tarsus, A.K.A., the Apostle Paul.
Today's passage gives us a quick glimpse into the missionary ministry of Paul. He goes on three great journeys traveling from town to town to preach Jesus and plant churches. This sermon will be a little different from our normal sermons as we will share a biography of this amazing servant of Jesus, and we will look at Paul's missionary efforts around the world.