We Are Alive!
INTRO: We are now at chapter 20 in our look at the book of acts. In the past few weeks, we have seen the power of Jesus name. We also saw the power of the gospel to dispel the myths and ignorance about God. Sadly, we also saw how people can go around all excited and yelling even though they do not know what they are excited about, and we were reminded that we have the freedom of choice but there are consequences to those choices.
Today we catch up with Paul’s journey starting in Acts 20:2-6 Luke tells us: “Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.”[NKJV]
Luke tells us that after encouraging the brethren in Ephesus, Paul went to Macedonia. Paul sailed to Macedonia and built up the churches there before he went on to Greece, the district containing Athens and Corinth, where he stayed for some three months. Then, he planned to sail to Syria, but the Jews plotted to kill him as he was about to depart.
Paul was warned of the plot, and when he found out, he went north to Macedonia. Paul was carrying a large contribution to give to the needy saints in Jerusalem. We recall one mention of this in Romans 15:26 – “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” It looks like, from what Luke tells us that, he took along several men with him. The reason for this was probably to see to the proper handling and use of the money.
Folks, when it comes to giving, we should note that the early church gave for a purpose. They didn’t just give for the sake of giving. They gave to further the cause of Christ and they gave to bring glory to God through their giving. Giving was part of their worship.
I. We, all of us, have a calling from God in this life. Our efforts and our giving should be to produce glory for God while we are still alive. In Hebrews 13:16 we read; “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”[NKJV] Paul also reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 –“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”[KJV] As we said before, we have free will, we can make a choice. James tells us in James 4:17 – “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
A. In Luke’s record is a whole list of names traveling with Paul. I thought that was interesting, so I did a little research and found that someone once said, “You need to observe that the Macedonian congregations were represented by Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus. The Galatian congregations were represented by Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra. Then we see the ones located in Asia were represented by Tychicus and Trophimus. According to 2 Corinthians 8:6 and following the Corinthian’s contribution was entrusted to Titus and two other brethren who were sent by Paul to Corinth to receive it.”
B. So what’s important about that? Well, if it’s not important it’s certainly interesting, because if it tells us anything, it tells us that they went around collecting the funds. They were going to meet at a predetermined location, which in this case was Troas. They didn’t have banks like we have today where they could just wire or transfer money in accounts.
C. They had to go from congregation to congregation to collect those funds. They collected funds on behalf of others. The people gave and the funds were collected for a reason. These funds were for the saints who were in massive need in Jerusalem.
D. Isn’t this an amazing way to encourage each other? The fact that these men who were sent on behalf of their home assemblies, would have seen the gratitude in the eyes of those at Jerusalem as they gave on behalf of their congregation. The home congregations were involved.
E. The encouragement doesn’t stop there; can you imagine when they return to their home congregations? I would imagine that they would give a full report about how everyone in Jerusalem was doing and how their offerings had blessed so many other people. Folks, if we could see the offering that we give each and every week through eyes like those, we would truly see just how much more of a blessing it is to give.
II. In fact, that’s exactly how Paul saw giving. He said to the Ephesians elders a few verses later in Acts 20:35 – “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
A. There’s something else interesting in our text passage. Luke uses the word ‘we’ a couple of times in verse six. Acts 20:6 - “... we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” The reason he does this is simply to remind Theophilus (remember Theophilus is the person Luke is writing to, Acts 1:1) that Luke himself was present and rejoined Paul at Philippi. That’s why he uses the word “we”. They both stayed there and sailed for Troas after the Passover. Luke is a witness to the event that happens next.
B. Listen carefully to Luke’s report about what happened starting in the very next verse. In Acts 20:7-12 – “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.'' The NIV says “Don’t be alarmed, He’s alive! Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.” What an amazing scripture that is when you read the whole thing in its context.
1. When Luke tells us that Paul and his company stayed seven days in Troas, this helps us in understanding the custom of worship in New Testament times. That little phrase helps us a lot. Luke tells us that, “They came together on the first day of the week.” [para]
2. I know there are religious groups who come together on Saturdays for worship. The reason some of them do that is basically because they don’t believe that Jesus was the messiah. That’s why they get together on Saturdays for worship. Ask yourself a question, if Paul and his companions were there in Troas on every other day of the week why did they partake of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day? Why did they do that?
3. This is a big lesson for the church right here and for every one of us. Even though they were busy doing other things for the Lord each and every day of the week, these men knew that everything else takes a back seat in their lives when they came together on the Lord’s Day to remember His death. That’s important to this passage.
III. Let’s think about it. Think about the first day of the week. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on a Sunday according to Mark 16:9. Jesus’ disciples assembled after His death on the first day of the week according to John 20:19ff. The church was established on what day? Sunday, according to Acts 2:1. The church, the congregation in Troas, which we are now looking at, met on the first day of the week according Acts 20:7. There were regular contributions taken into the church treasury. When? “Every first day of the week” according to 1 Corinthians 16:2.
A. For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. One commentator suggests, “All Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Savior arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship.”
B. You see, folks, although Sunday might have been a workday in the ancient world, the disciples set it apart as a day of worship and it became known as “the Lord’s day,” according to Revelation 1:10 as John tells us.
C. Way, way back in the Book of Leviticus Moses records in Leviticus 23:15-16 – “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.”
D. Ok, why am I telling you this? What relevance is this? God says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” according to Exodus 20:8. My point is this: the Jews understood that He meant every single Sabbath. Not just every now and then, but every single Sabbath. They were to keep that Holy. Go over to the New Testament where we’ll look at Paul’s account to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11:18-26 – “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Now listen Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”
E. To put this another way... If a school teacher becomes frustrated with disruptive students and says to them while they are at school, “You did not come here to learn.” That very statement tells you that they were there to learn, doesn’t it? That’s what Paul is saying here. You didn’t come here to observe the Lord’s Supper because you don’t act like it.
F. The reason these early Christians assembled, was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We know they assembled every first day of the week, and Paul tells us they got together on the first day of the week to give as well. 1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper...”
IV. I recall hearing about a congregation that loved good fellowship and they always served coffee after the sermon. The preacher asked a little boy one time, if he knew why they served the coffee. The little boy thought and said, "I think, it is to get the people wide awake before they drive home." Apart from Bible study when I teach, the longest sermon I have ever preached here was 37 minutes. Thankfully, as far as I could see from up front, everyone managed to stay awake. I think we are safe not serving coffee after service.
A. Certainly, it is possible some people may think that I preach for a long time. Notice though, going back to our text in Acts 20 and in verse 7, Luke tells us that when the church assembled in that third story room, Paul’s lesson continued until midnight. It was there we find a young man who needed more than a cup of coffee to stay awake.
B. Scripture tells us there were many lamps where the people were gathered. Quite warm I imagine. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting on a window ledge listening to Paul. He fell into a deep sleep and fell out of the window and died.
C. Look what happened next. Did Paul say, “Wait until I finish my sermon then we will deal with this? Did Paul say, “I’m getting to a really important point in my sermon, can you hold on and then we will go down and deal with this? No, he didn’t. They went down straight away and that tells us something. There are some priorities more important than preaching and teaching. They went down straight away to see to the young man. After he was pronounced dead, Paul took him up in his arms, then announced that his life was in him. The Power of God was being used through the apostle Paul to bring him back to life.
V. To me this text is almost unbelievable. I’m not talking about the miracle. I’m talking about what they did next. Luke says that after the miraculous restoration of this young man’s life, the Christians again assembled in that upper room to eat a meal together. Hard for us to understand, isn’t it? Right after this miracle they returned to what they were doing. They got on with life.
A. We are told the talking lasted until daybreak, which tells us just how highly the brethren thought of the apostle Paul, and how interested they were in what the apostle was saying.
B. Let me ask you this question. How can we be sure that Eutychus was dead in the first place? There are a lot of people who don’t believe he was you know. What we need to remember is that if anyone can tell whether a person is alive or dead, it’s a doctor. Surely, a doctor knows if someone is dead or if they’re alive. Luke, the writer of Acts, present with Paul at this moment, is a doctor according to Colossians 4:14.
C. It’s Luke who tells us that Eutychus was “dead” here in verse 9. When Paul addressed the situation, he did not say, “His life is still in him,” or “His life is yet in him” as some translations have it. He simply said, “his life is in him.” Luke later comments that Eutychus was brought “in alive” at verse 12
1. If the young man had merely been injured, why would Luke stress the point that he was “brought in alive”? To merely mention that he was brought in would have been entirely sufficient.
2. After all, weren’t they all alive who returned to the upper room? What was so special about this young man? Very simple, the fact that he had been dead! He was dead and now he’s alive! No wonder Luke says the saints in Troas were comforted.
VI. I would suggest the resurrection of Eutychus brought “comfort” to the saints in Troas, as Luke tells us, for two reasons. First, it let them know that their religion was genuine. They understood that only God can affect a resurrection.
A. Remember when Jesus raised Lazarus back to life, Jesus said in John 11:40-42 – “..., "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?'' Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.''”
B. Jesus is saying the miracle of raising Lazarus from the grave was performed so that the people around would believe that Jesus was the Christ. When the people believed that fact, they would trust that the message which Jesus delivered was true and genuinely from God Himself.
1. In a small country town, the local doctor went to the home of a terminally ill man to check on him. The man said to his doctor, who was about to leave after the visit: "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side." Very quietly the doctor turned and said, "I don't know." "You don't know the man said? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?" The doctor was holding the knob of the door to the man’s house and from the other side came sounds of whining, and as he opened the door a dog sprang into the room and leaped on the doctor with an eager show of gladness.
2. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Have you seen this dog before? The man said, “no”. The doctor said, “my dog has never been in your house before. Never. He did not know what was inside this room. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. When the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness."
C. That’s the second reason why the resurrection of Eutychus brought “comfort” to the saints in Troas... and to us. It brought to them comfort because it showed them that the grave is not the end of human existence. The Creator of life can bring life out of death. In other words, death is not the end. It’s just the beginning in many, many ways. We can understand why those saints were comforted.
VII. Let’s bring this a little closer to home. Don’t we feel comforted in the fact that the religion we place our whole faith in, is genuine? Doesn’t that bring comfort? Have we ever questioned the Lord’s church? Have we ever questioned the church’s beliefs and its practices?
A. I know we have at times. I am glad we question things about what we teach and preach and practice as a community of believers. Let me tell you why it brings me comfort. It brings me comfort because it forces me to study the Bible more often. It brings me comfort because it forces me to look at other religious group’s doctrines. It brings me comfort when I see that what we teach, preach and practice is according to God’s word, the Bible.
B. I come to the same conclusion as a very wise man who once said; ‘if there were another religious group that taught and practiced closer to the truth than the Lord’s church that is where I would be.’ Wise words from a wise man. It brings me comfort, to know that the Bible brings me everything I need to know about God and what God wants from me.
C. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” Do the words ‘all things’ leave anything out? No, all things mean everything.
D. Most importantly, it brings me comfort because if I knew I were going to die today, I would be filled with gladness, just like the doctor’s dog, as I run towards my master for eternal salvation. Loved ones, I hope and pray that each and every one of us are feeling the same way.
VIII. A friend of mine asked one time if I had ever read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I said no but asked him what it was all about. He said to me, ‘if you read it, you’ll discover one of the strangest imaginations ever put together, especially the part where the old mariner represents the corpses of all the dead men rising up to man the ship, dead men pulling the rope, dead men steering, dead men spreading sails.’ He went on and said to me that when he had finished reading it, he thought to himself, ‘what a strange idea that was’ for a book.
A. Do you know what, folks? I agree with him it is a very strange idea. Yet, I wonder if perhaps that idea describes what we find today in some congregations. I have personally gone into congregations, and I have seen a dead man in the pulpit, dead men as a deacons or elders. I’ve been to places where the men handling the Lord’s Table are dead and dead men were sitting to listen.
B. Well folks, we were all just as dead in our sins spiritually as Eutychus was dead physically. Just like Paul brought Eutychus back to life physically, Jesus Christ has brought us back to life spiritually. In Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Listen to the next part But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”. It’s an amazing passage, isn’t it? Thinking about dead people for a moment.
1. You know when we visit a cemetery; we expect to be among the remains of dead people and it’s just not the liveliest of places to visit. We know that dead people belong in the cemetery, because their spirit has left their bodies and is awaiting judgment, but their earthly remains belong in the cemetery.
2. Jesus Christ has proclaimed to the world that anyone who has died into Christ in the waters of baptism is very much alive in Christ Jesus today. That’s what people should see. Not only in our daily lives but in our worship services too. People should see that our worship to God is joyous, and spirit filled because God’s people are very much alive in Christ Jesus.
Let us look at the remaining part of our text. Luke carries on with his letter to Theophilus in Acts 20:13-16 and tells him, “Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios; the following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium; the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”
Folks, Eutychus is alive, and the apostles are alive in Christ Jesus. The gospel is moving forward. I pray that each of us will continue to do the same. We too, should never forget that we are alive in Christ. It’s my prayer that we will continue to find comfort from God through His word and His people. Yet, we must never get too comfortable staying in one place so that we fall asleep spiritually.
We also should never get to the stage where we are totally relying on people just walking into our assemblies. Each of us, as individual Christians, needs to watch for every opportunity to take the good news about Jesus to others.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
Taken from sermon by Mike Glover
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