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Tag: baptism

Gallio, Sosthenes, and Apollos

In our passage today, Paul is about to conclude his second missionary journey. This journey has taken him roughly 3 years to complete and during this time, he has traveled about 2,500 miles – which by comparison, is roughly the distance between here and Florida! So this has been quite a journey for Paul and his companions.

But their journey is not yet complete. As of verse 11 in Acts chapter 18 where we left off last week, Paul still has about 1/3 of the journey to complete. And so today, Luke is going to zip us through that final leg of the journey – using only five verses to summarize it all! (I guess not much interesting happened on the way home.)

But as I said, we’re not there yet. At the moment, Paul is still in Corinth – having been assured by God in a vision that no one was going to attack & harm him here as they had in other cities. And so Paul stayed in Corinth for about a year and a half – preaching the Word of God and building up the church.

However, even though God has promised Paul that he would be safe, that didn’t guarantee that he would be free from opposition. And as we begin our passage today – opposition is exactly what we see. Starting at verse 12.

12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.” Acts 18:12-13

As we’ve seen many times before (in fact, in most of the cities where Paul has visited) it’s not long before the Jews are plotting together to either kill or silence Paul. These Jews had refused to believe Paul’s message – and they were not happy that other Jews had believed. And so as these verses tell us, they rose up together against Paul; and brought him before the new governor of Achaia. 

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Philip’s Divine Appointment

For the last three weeks, Mike has been taking us through Acts chapter 8 – and so today, we are going to continue that tradition and will continue working through Acts chapter 8.

But before we begin, let’s just take a step back and see where we are in the overall journey through the book of Acts.

You’ll recall that this entire book is built upon Jesus’ command to his disciples in Acts 1:8. Just before Jesus ascends to Heaven, He says to them:

8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

This entire book revolves around this verse – every chapter describes how the Holy Spirit is empowering God’s people to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

But so far, the Gospel has really only made it as far as Samaria. In fact, up until the martyr of Stephan, Christianity was really only found in Jerusalem – and really it was only the Jews who had become believers. 

However, once Saul began persecuting the church, the believers fled Jerusalem and began spreading their message throughout the land of Israel. They even went so far as to preach to their half-Jewish cousins – the Samaritans. And of course, was the focus of Mike’s messages over these last few weeks – it was all about Philip preaching to the Samaritans.

But at this point, the Gospel has not really made it past the borders of Israel. It certainly hasn’t made it “to the ends of the earth” as Jesus had commanded. Christianity is still pretty much a Jewish thing.

But that begins to change in our passage today. Today, we are going to see the baptism of the very first fully-Gentile believer in Christ.

Mike left off at about verse 25 with Peter and John returning to Jerusalem after laying hands on the new believers in Samaria – and so we’re going to start at verse 26 today to see what becomes of Philip.

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The Command to be Baptized

This morning we are really excited that we can baptize 5 people out in the river in just a few minutes from now! And I am glad that we are doing this in June instead of in late September like we have in the past. Theoretically, it should be a little bit warmer! 

But I’ll admit that this year’s baptism is a unique baptism for me. This will be (by far) the youngest group of baptism candidates that I have ever baptized.

And because of that, I do want to clarify a few things this morning about baptism – what it is and what it is not. You know, having these young kids wanting to be baptized has actually been a good but challenging process for me. It’s caused me to go back and review the Scriptures to make sure that what we’re doing is actually the proper way to obey Christ’s instructions regarding baptism.

And so this morning, before we get into the actual baptism, let’s just take a few moments to look the Scriptures and see what the Bible has to say about it all!

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Poured Out On All People

This morning you guys are in for a real treat, because today you are going to hear one of the most powerful and most effective sermons that has ever been preached to mankind!

Now to be clear, it’s not my sermon this morning that I’m referring to. The sermon I’m talking about is the very first sermon ever preached by the Apostle Peter, on the day he was empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

As most of you know, we’ve recently begun studying the book of Acts – a book that is introduced as a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. In the opening words of this book, Luke writes:

In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach…

Acts 1:1

The implication here is that, while the Gospel of Luke is all about what Jesus began to do and teach, the book of Acts is all about what Jesus continued to do and teach – primarily through Apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And that is very much what we are going to see in our passage today! On the very day that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples – in fact, probably within the hour of that event – the Apostle Peter boldly stood up and preached a powerful message to all the people who had gathered there and more than 3,000 put their faith in Jesus Christ that day and were baptized!

It was an incredible kick-off to everything Jesus would continue to do through the Apostles and the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s sermon begins in Acts chapter 2, starting at verse 14, but before we read that, we should probably back up a little bit to review the first 13 verses so we understand what’s going on here.

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The Baptism of Jesus

Last week we began our journey of walking through the life of Christ from birth to resurrection – from Christmas to Easter. Of course, having worked through the Christmas story already back in December, we continued down the timeline last Sunday with the only Biblical story of Jesus’ childhood – an event that happened when Jesus was just 12 years old.

And just in case you missed it last week, let me quickly give you a recap. According to Luke chapter 2, Jesus and his family had travelled to Jerusalem for the passover feast – as they did every year. But this year was a little bit different. This time, when the passover celebration was over, Joseph and Mary started home, but without realizing that Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem. They travelled for an entire day before they finally realized that Jesus wasn’t with them, so they turned around returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days of frantic searching, they finally found him in Temple – sitting with the religious teachers – listening and asking questions.

Of course, when they found him, Mary & Joseph understandably had mixed emotions. They were both relieved to have found Jesus but rather upset with him about the emotional toll this had taken on them for the last three days! Jesus had always been a responsible young man – as the Son of God, he had never sinned! So Mary & Joseph’s frustration with Jesus was probably a new experience. I think Luke says it well in Luke 2:48…

48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” Luke 2:48

But to this Jesus gave a most amazing reply…

49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 2:49

What a response! Even at this young age, Jesus already knew who his true Father was and He had already made it his priority to begin accomplishing his Father’s will.

And that, actually, is a key point in our passage today. Today we are jumping ahead along the timeline to when Jesus is about 30 years old and he is about to begin his public ministry. And even though about 18 years have passed since this incident at the Temple, Jesus continues to make it his priority to carry out his Father will – something that He will do single-mindedly for the rest of his time on earth!

The passage that I want us to look at today is Matthew chapter 3. The event that I want to focus on is the baptism of Jesus (which is really just the last 4 verses of this chapter) —but to understand those four verses, we kinda need to look at the rest of the chapter. So let’s begin at Matthew chapter 3, starting at verse 1.

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Worship in Ekklesia

Well, last Sunday I kinda left you hanging…  For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the purpose of the church – or the purpose of God’s Ekklesia – the gathering of God’s family. And by last Sunday, we had already talked about the main over-arching purpose of the church – which is to bring glory to God. In everything we say or do, we aim to display and declare God’s goodness to the world around us.

But then we narrowed our focus just a little bit and began to discuss the specific tasks of the local church. Bringing glory to God is the ultimate aim for the church as a whole – but what is God’s purpose in establishing local congregations? How are we to bring glory to God together as a community in ways that we simply couldn’t on our own?

And so last week, we divided these tasks of the church into three main categories. They were: 

  • To bring glory to God through worshipping Him together.
  • To bring glory to God by edifying His people.
  • To bring glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And so we started last week by digging into what it means to worship God – and that’s where I kinda left you hanging! We talked primarily about what the word ‘worship’ means – but we didn’t really dig into what that looks like as one of the primary tasks of the local church. But that’s where I want to go today.

So to do that, let me first refresh your memory as to what worship is all about – because today’s message really does build on what we talked about last week.

You’ll remember that last Sunday we looked at the old english word “weorthscipe” – which basically means to ‘declare the worth of’ something. And it’s from this old word ‘weorthscipe’ that we get our modern word ‘worship’.

When we worship something, we are declaring it’s worth or its worthiness. But worship isn’t simply about the words we say or the songs we sing in church. Worship is much more about the daily decisions we make and the priorities we have in life. It’s about showing how we esteem and value God (or anything else for that matter) by the choices we make every day.

Because whatever it is that is our highest priority, whatever it is that we value above all else, whatever it is that is our greatest consideration in every decision – that is what we worship.

It’s like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21… 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

Whatever it is that we hold most dearly, whatever it is that we choose above all else – that’s what we treasure – that’s what we worship in our hearts.

We don’t have to sing any particular songs. We don’t have to physically bow down. We don’t have to bring any offerings or sacrifices. We can do those things, but they only have meaning if they are outward reflections of what’s already going on inside in our hearts. We need to worship God in spirit and in truth, like Jesus said in John 4:23. He says…

23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

That’s why the object of our worship isn’t necessarily revealed by what songs we sing on Sunday morning. The object of our worship is revealed by our daily decisions and choices. It’s those choices that truly reveal what we value in our hearts – what we worship.

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