Sermons

Why Are You Here Today?

Sun, Aug 29, 2021
Teacher: Tom Blackford
Passage: Acts 19:17-41
Duration:23 mins 51 secs

Message text

Why Are You Here Today?
Acts 19:17-41

INTRO: Good morning. Today we continue in our look at the book of Acts. Last week we saw that Paul found some disciples who had been baptized with the baptism of repentance, which looked forward to the coming of Christ. Paul explained to them that the baptism for salvation was baptism into Christ. We suggested that we each need to ask the question; “Who am I?” “Was I baptized for the right reasons?” “Who’s will am I doing?” And most importantly, “Does Jesus know my name?”

I heard a story about a big, mean lion who met a monkey in the jungle.
The lion pounced on the poor monkey and said, "Who is king of the jungle?"
The frightened monkey replied, "You are, O mighty lion."
The lion let him go.
The next animal the lion met was a zebra.
He pounced on it and roared, "Who is king of the jungle?"
"You are, O mighty lion."
The lion let him go.
The lion next met an elephant and asked the same question.
The elephant grabbed the lion, twirled him around, and then threw him 50 feet.
The lion picked himself up and huffed, "Just because you don't know the answer is no reason to get so rough."

We know that there is really only One king, and His Name is Jesus. He’s the one who is ruler overall. He’s the one who possesses authority overall.

The last time we were together we saw very powerfully that the Name of Jesus is the Name all should fear. Even the evil spirit in Acts 19 knew this and only feared the Name of Jesus. After asking ‘Who are you’? The evil spirit beat up the Jewish men who were trying miss-use the power of Christ.

I. We catch up with Luke’s report to Theophilus in Acts 19:17-22 – “17. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. 21. After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.”

A. Luke tells us that since an irreverent use of the name of Jesus brought on this attack by the evil spirit, both Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus were moved to reverent awe, for the authority of Jesus. Folks, we know when we see Jesus in His proper light, we can’t help but be in awe of His holiness and righteousness.
B. When a person sees Jesus like that, they are going to bow down and recognize His authority.

1. We should take notice what they did when they submitted to Christ... they repented.
2. Their repentance was very visible and many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.
3. Their repentance was further illustrated when a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls or books together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the books that were destroyed, the total came to some 50,000 pieces of silver. From that point forward, the gospel grew in a great way and conquered the hearts of many in the region.

C. At the end of these verses Luke tells us that Paul mapped out plans to go through Macedonia and Achaia on the way to Jerusalem. Paul eventually wants to go to Rome and so he sent Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia while he personally stayed in Asia.

II. When we use our car these days the computer checks for any errors, and it can warn us of problems with the check engine light, the tire inflation light, and other indicators. We would be wise to have checkups ourselves to see if there are conditions, medical, dental, or optical which can be corrected before a serious problem develops.

A. We also need to have a spiritual checkup and ask ourselves; “is there a sin in my life which needs to be confessed to God?” Is there a sin in my life which needs to be burned in a fire?

1. Maybe it’s the sin of gossip, maybe it’s the sin of lying, maybe it’s the sin of sexual immorality, or maybe it’s the sin of worry. Do we have a sin that weighs heavy on our heart?
2. That question reminds me of something that happened when an open-air preacher was telling the old, old story, and a thoughtless man yelled out, "You tell us about the burden of sin. I feel none." Then he flippantly added, "How much does sin weigh? Eighty pounds? Ten pounds?"
3. The preacher answered, "Tell me sir, if I put a 400-pound weight on the chest of a dead man, would he feel it?"
4. "No, because he is dead," answered the heckler. The preacher responded, "And the man who feels no load of sin is dead spiritually." The man's remarks had only proved what he was, dead.

B. The Scriptures call it "Dead in trespasses and sins" in Ephesians 2:1.

1. Does anyone hearing this feel the burden of their sins? Is it time to rid yourself of the sin in your life?
2. Thinking of Ephesians 4:31 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” We need to get rid of all forms of malice.
3. Let me ask this, is there something in your life that you need God to help you with? Colossians 3:7-8 – “ In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” We used to walk in those ways, in the life we once lived. But now we must rid ourselves of all these.
4. Does anyone have an area of your life from before you became a Christian that you still struggle with today? 1 Peter 2:1 – “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,”

C. I’d like us to notice that Luke tells us in verses 18 and 19 about the believers’ repentance and then in verse 20 how the “word of God grew and prevailed”. Not before or during but after. That very same principle applies to the church today. If we want to grow as a congregation, we first need to repent of the sins which dominate our lives.

III. Luke continues his report to Theophilus, and he tells us that while the believers were repenting and while the church is growing, a riot took place in the city of Ephesus. Acts 19:23-28 – “23. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25. Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” [KJV]

A. Luke tells us that while Timothy and Erastus were away, a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made shrines of Diana, or Artemis as some translations have it, began to stir people up against Christianity. He called together the other members of his craft, reminding them that their wealth came from making silver idols. He truthfully reported that Paul’s preaching had impacted people in Ephesus and throughout Asia. He said that Paul had declared idols made with hands were not gods, to the point of destroying their business and causing Diana to fall into disrepute.
B. As Paul Rogers puts it; “Demetrius solemnly spoke of “our trade” and the “great goddess Diana.” Patriotism and piety oozed from every pore of his body, yet the overriding issue was that of personal profit.... Many a modern man poses yet as a pure patriot, consumed with public progress and righteousness, while having his own private enrichment as the chief goal.”

1. His words enraged his listeners, and they began to shout, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” We can understand why these people were upset. Imagine if you had a successful business and someone came along and put your business at risk? We also note that his business was more precious than truth to him, and his business was more precious than his soul. Don’t we see things like that today?
2. Jesus told a parable that I’m sure you all recall in Matthew 19:16-24 – “16. Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'' 17. So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'' 18. He said to Him, "Which ones?'' Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 19. 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' '' 20. The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?'' 21. Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'' 22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24. "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.''” [NKJV]
3. When push comes to shove its only when you seriously search your heart, that will you find out what is most important in your life. People search and try to find riches in all the wrong places. That home we own can be lost. That car we drive can be damaged beyond repair. Our husband or wife or children can be lost in a moment because of their or someone else’s recklessness. Everything and everyone we see around us today is temporary... except for the souls who belong to Christ.

C. These craftsmen were more concerned about their temporary riches than they were about the true eternal riches which can only be found in Christ Jesus. Paul said to the church in Philippi in Philippians 1:21 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” These idol makers would have said, “For us to live is making money, and to die is tragic.” All these people are upset with this apostle named Paul whom they thought was trying to ruin their business. But in all reality, he was trying to save their souls.

IV. They were so offended by such a message that apparently these craftsmen spread this around and Luke goes on and tells us in Acts 19:29-34 – “29. So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions. 30. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32. Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34. But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!''”[NKJV]

A. So, the gathering now becomes a mob. Luke says the whole city came together to see what was happening. Along the way, they seized two Macedonian travel companions of Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go to the people, but the brethren wouldn’t allow it. Even some of the Asian officials who were his friends pleaded with him not to enter the theatre.
B. It’s interesting that Luke says, “that many in the crowd didn’t even know why they were there.” It’s also interesting when you speak to some who profess to be Christians about why they attend a certain ‘church’. Some say that they like the preacher, some say they have always gone to that ‘church’. Some say they enjoy listening to the music and that helps them in their worship.
C. We need to ask ourselves; “Why am I here today?” Worship that is accepted by God is a privilege unique to the Christian. 1 Peter 2:4-5 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [NKJV]

1. Peter says Christ is the living stone, so also are the Christians. Why "living"? Because the Lord is the living One, and the life-giving One, the same yesterday, today, and forever. As members of Christ's spiritual body, Christians partake of the same nature as their Lord, and they too are "living stones," endowed with a measure of the Spirit which shall raise them up at the last day. Christians are permitted to offer acceptable worship only by the grace of God. Without this grace there is no right to worship God. It is disheartening when children of God deliberately reject this privilege and stay away from the public assembly which God has ordained for His glory and our good.
2. I recall the words of Charles Spurgeon: “Some Go To Church To Take A Walk; Some Go There To Laugh And Talk. Some Go There To Meet A Friend; Some Go There Their Time To Spend. Some Go There To Meet A Lover; Some Go There A Fault To Cover. Some Go There For Speculation; Some Go There For Observation. Some Go There To Doze And Nod; The Wise Go There To Worship God.”

D. Have you ever thought about the significance of worship? Let me share with you just a few thoughts on this.

1. Worship is obedience to a divine command.
2. It is also a means of nourishing the spirit.
3. Worship assists in achieving spiritual growth and it encourages others in their spiritual development.
4. Worship shows the world where our priorities are, and it is one means of expressing our love for God.
5. It is an avenue that God has provided by which we can praise His name and offer spiritual sacrifices.
6. It is a way of showing our thanksgiving to God for all He has done for us.
7. Worship is a time of communion with God with the world shut out entirely.
8. Finally, worship is an experience that should make the heart of every Christian glad.

V. Folks, as Christians we should know why we are here today and why it is important to be here every Lord’s Day. I note in the scripture that some people in Ephesus didn’t even know why they were in that theatre. Yet now Ephesus is in an uproar and when some Jews singled out Alexander to make a defense and the people found out he was a Jew. The crowd shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

A. After a period of two hours of shouting Luke tells in Acts 19:35-41 – “35. And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36. "Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37. "For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38. "Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39. "But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40. "For we are in danger of being called in question for today's uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.'' 41. And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.”[NKJV]

1. Luke says that the city clerk got the crowd to quiet down and appealed for reason and a lawful approach to the matter. Here was a man who knew how to reason even with a mob. He said, no one could deny Ephesus worshiped Diana. He proposed that Demetrius and his colleagues make their case before the authorities. That is if they had a case in the first place.
2. He recognized that the disciples didn’t steal from the temples, and they didn’t blaspheme the goddess. He realized they had done nothing wrong, and he warned the mob that such an assembly might be questioned by the Roman government and had no choice but to quietly dismiss the crowd.
3. It’s amazing just how quickly a chaotic situation can be made calm when people are willing to reason together. So many congregation fights and splits and personal agendas would be laid to rest if people would only reason together.

B. In Isaiah 1:11 God is telling the people through Isaiah that they have made meaningless the observance of forms and sacrifices because they lost the heartfelt devotion and faithful obedience to all of God's commandments which were supposed to accompany these external observances. He goes on and tells the people; “16. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17. Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19. If ye be willing and obedient...”]KJV] God says in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together."

1. Have you ever tried to discuss something with someone that you both knew was a reasonable discussion? Yet they could only see one side of the discussion and their reasoning was always right no matter what you said. People who act this way are lacking the ability to reason and to listen to reason. Reasoning together involves more than one person. Reasoning together, means just that, we reason together.
2. In other words, we respectfully listen to what each other is saying, think about what we are both saying and weigh it with what the scriptures teach. That’s reasoning together. When we do that, the result will always be the same. We can part company quietly and without any further fuss.

CONCLUSION:

In the film Gladiator, Russell Crow plays the part of a Roman General named Maximus Decimus Meridius and at the very start of the film when he is getting his army ready to fight against the Germanic tribes, he says to his men, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

I think that is so true. Whatever decision we make in life is going to be echoed in eternity. That’s why it’s important for us to share the good news about Jesus with as many people as we can. If people choose to live for Christ, that will be echoed in eternity, by living with Christ for eternity. If people refuse to live for Christ, then that too will be echoed in eternity by living without Christ, but with the devil and his angels in hell.

We need to know why we are here. Remember, your destiny is your choice.
I pray you choose wisely.
May God bless us in our efforts to reason with other people.
May God bless us in our efforts to repent of our sins and live a life which is pleasing to Him.
May God bless our efforts in trying to persuade the world that everything they see and posses today and tomorrow is just temporary.

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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.
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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

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