- Sermon Notes
In Dependence Every Day
Illus. A change.
As we pick back up Acts 18 this morning, we turn to a section in Scripture where the best words used to describe Paul’s disposition are “overwhelmed,” “worried,” “fearful,” and “discouraged.” From this text we also get a strong indication, that his disposition, or the place of worry and fear he was in, was going to determine his next steps and direction.
In Acts 18, Paul is in the city of Corinth. It was a city known for being full of immorality. It was a city that had 12 temples. The most infamous of the temples, which gives an indication of the city he was in, was dedicated to Aphrodite, “the goddess of love,” and from that temple, one thousand prostitutes would emerge each evening to offer themselves to men as an act of worship to the goddess of sensuality. In classical Greek, “to act like a Corinthian,” meant to be sexually immoral. The phrase “Corinthian girl,” was an expression used to identify a prostitute due to the abundance of them in that city.
Corinth had a reputation, and upon seeing the reality, after preaching in the synagogue of the city only to be met with resistance, it is evident that Paul was overwhelmed, and weary on his journey. Paul would later write to the church at Corinth regarding the place he was in when he was there in Corinth.
1 Corinthians 2:3, I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
Certainly, much had gone into the way he was feeling and his disposition when he arrives to Corinth. During his first, and now second missionary journey, Paul had seen many put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, he had some who would even come alongside him and join him on his journey, but he had also seen much difficulty. He was persecuted, stoned and left for dead, would endure a sharp disagreement with a dear friend, then severely beaten and placed in prison. He would continue to preach but would continue to get persecuted and removed from city after city.
Prior to coming to Corinth, he ended up alone in the city of Athens, as a city, Athens was known as the center of art, beauty, culture and knowledge. It was home to the world’s most famous university and was the center of philosophy. Athens was also, a city filled with idols, false gods, and false religions. Athens was referred to as the “junkyard of idols,” the estimation is that around 30,000 different gods were worshipped in the city of Athens, and more that 3,000 different altars and temples were constructed to represent them. One ancient writer wrote that it was “easier to find a false god in Athens than a man.” Paul preached in that city, and some would believe after his preaching, but many remained unmoved.
From there, he comes to Corinth. He meets some new friends name Pricilla and Aquilla who he would minister with and make tents with for trade. Next, we see some old friends arrive in town. They brought a financial gift and Paul is able to stop making tents and focus completely on the Word. Next, we see him testifying to the Jews, telling them that Jesus was the Christ, but it says they resisted him and opposed him with blasphemy (verses 5-6). In response (verse 6), Paul shook out his garments and said, “your blood is on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Paul would leave the synagogue, and continue to minister, but he was there in weakness, fear, and much trembling, and the words of the Lord spoken to him, seem to indicate that he was considering leaving, or at least ending his speaking in that city.
It was there, in that place and at that time that God spoke some powerful words to Paul:
Acts 18:9-10, The Lord said to Paul by a vision at night, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
The words spoken to Paul were timely, needed, and necessary for the future of his journey. The Lord spoke to what Paul was going through and what he was up against specifically. Paul’s disposition, his opinions of the situation were affecting his direction, and the Lord spoke to him. The question remained, however, what would Paul do, now that these words had been spoken?
Would he lean into and place his plans upon them? Or would he simply ponder them and then move on from them? Would he depend on them and remain in Corinth while walking according to them? Or would he end his time in Corinth despite them?
The answer to these questions were not only important to Paul but are important for us all. Paul had been given the word of the Lord, but would it impact the way he lived out his life in the city and world he was living in?
In our lives, we certainly have thoughts, opinions, and dispositions about any and every situation we find ourselves in. Not only do we have opinions and thoughts about the situations we find ourselves in, but others do as well. The question is, however, who is it that we are depending on for direction? And for those who have received Jesus Christ personally as Lord and Savior, must be upon him that we live in dependence on, every day.
The definition of dependence is: “the state of relying on another for influence, control, and support; to depend on something or someone means to rely and trust in or upon them.
My encouragement to you this morning is to be known as one who is living in dependence, to rely on the Lord, not just knowing what He says, but going according to what He says.
- Settle on What God Has Spoken
Acts 18:11, And he settled there for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
- The Lord tells him to keep on speaking, which gives an indication he was going to stop speaking. The Lord tells him that there are many people in the city, which gives indication that he may have felt like moving on from that city after what he had seen.
- But after hearing the word of the Lord, we learn that Paul settled there for a year and six months.
- His stay in Corinth will go down as his second longest stay in any city during his missionary journeys. It will only be outdone by Ephesus on his third missionary journey.
- When Paul heard God’s words, when God spoke to the reality of the situation, rather than the conclusions that may have come from worry, Paul heard the words of the Lord, and settled down.
- The word “settled”: to set or sit down. It depicts that which is decided and permanent.
- It seems that when Paul heard the words of the Lord, he changed his mind about his approach toward the world. When he understood what the Lord had to say about the city, and who Paul was to be in that city, he settled there.
- I want to look at the word “settled,” when it comes to God’s word in our lives, because our ability to settle on what God has spoken is tied to our dependence upon Him.
- The two aspects I want to look at is first: how you view God’s word, what is it to you, and second: what you do about God’s word in light of your view of God’s word.
2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (NIV)
John 17:17, Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
Isaiah 40:8, The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
Luke 11:28, Blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it.
Psalm 11:89, Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
- So, the commentary from Jesus and the Bible on the Bible is that God’s word is truth, it is dependable, a blessing to those who follow it, and will never pass away.
- So, the first aspect I mentioned was how you view God’s word, and the second, what you do about how you view God’s word.
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.
- This speaks to the direction of a person’s life…That God’s word would light our steps and illuminate the direction we are to go.
Illus. GPS path.
Psalm 119:130, The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
- If I am settled on God’s word as truth, then I need to be sure that I am unfolding His word for light to my path and understanding regarding what I am going through or seeing.
- Paul models this for us in Acts 18, he was having trouble, he was afraid, and it seems he was considering becoming silent in that city. Paul saw his situation, the specifics of the city, and was coming to some of his own conclusions, but then the word of the Lord was spoken to Him.
- Paul heard the word of the Lord and changed his mind about his approach to the city he was in, and what he would do while there.
- He seems to have had a bias, “I don’t want to be here,” but then he drew near to the word of the Lord, and his path became clear.
- In the situations we face, often it is much the same. Something comes up, we have a disposition, a position, an opinion. But since God’s word is truth, it is important that we understand clearly what his word has to say on the subject prior to proceeding.
Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- The word for “conform” means to follow the pattern of another, and the word “transformed,” means to transfigure, to change into another form. Paul wrote, do not follow the pattern of this world, but be transformed into another form.
- The transformation he speaks of is the “renewing of your mind,” which is a renovation, a complete change for the better.
- And this non-conforming transformation that takes place, allows us to understand what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable, and perfect.
- That word “transformed,” is the word used in 2 Corinthians 3:18, which describes what happens to us when we look to the Lord.
- We are changed more and more as we look beyond the pattern of the world, when we look not at our own opinions and solutions, but when we look to the Lord, His word, what he has spoken.
- And when we look to Him, when we are settled on His word, and walk according to what He has spoken, we are walking according to His will, and the way he would have us go.
- Walk According to His Will
- Paul showed that he was settled on God’s words, by walking according to them. And in the next verses, we see the Lord doing just as He promised.
- As Paul continued to teach the Word of God among the people of Corinth, the Jews went from resisting his preaching about Jesus (verse 6), to rising up together against him (verse 12).
- To rise up against means they took their stand against his message with hostility.
- They resisted the message of God, and then became hostile to it. This follows the form from a familiar passage.
Romans 8:7, For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
- The people rise up against Paul in hostility and bring him before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia.
- Achaia was a Roman territory, that consisted of the southern part of Greece today. Corinth was the capital of Achaia. A proconsul was governor of a province, or territory.
- So, the Jews rose up against Paul, and brought him before Gallio, and stated their charges against him.
- Their charges against Paul were, “this man is inciting the people to worship God contrary to the law.”
- They brought Paul in. I want to make mention of one other thing, that in verse 9, the Lord has spoken to Paul saying that nobody would attack him to harm him, which based on his history of being beaten and stoned with rocks. What it did not mean was that there would be not opposition to his mission, or an attack on his ministry.
- Paul is taken in, and the charges are spoken, “this man is inciting people to worship God contrary to the law.”
- Judaism was tolerated by the Romans, and at this point, their view was that Christian was nothing more than a sect of Judaism. The Jews challenged this belief by saying that Paul’s teachings were contrary to theirs, and that Christianity should not be tolerated by Rome.
- In time, the Jews would successfully have Paul charged with promoting a religion not approved by Roman law, but not this time.
Acts 18:14-15, And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” (NKJV)
- Had Paul been given the opportunity to speak, he likely would have said that he was not encouraging people to worship the One who was contrary to the law, but rather, to worship Jesus Christ, who was and is the fulfillment of the law.
- But just as he was about to open his mouth, Gallio spoke up, “If there were a wrongdoing, or wicked crime to convict of, I would bear with you, but, it is a question of your own law, I don’t understand your terminology, or the specifics of your theology; investigate it yourselves, I am not the judge of such matters.
- Paul didn’t even have to say a word, the Lord had it handled. He gave promises to Paul, and His promises were sure, Paul just needed to depend on God through it all.
- It would have been easy for Paul to recant or recoil. To just tell those rising up against him, okay, I will stop speaking…But the Lord had told him not to stop and Paul was walking according to His will.
- It is interesting, because they brought Paul before what was known as “the judgement seat.”
- And the word for “judgement seat,” is perhaps a word you have heard before. It is the word “bema” or “bema seat.”
- It is a raised platform in Greek cities where judgements took place. Paul, when writing to the church at Corinth would reference the “bema seat.”
2 Corinthians 5:10, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.
- To judge is to form, give, or have an opinion. It is to make a decision about something or someone.
- Paul was being judged by the people, he also stood before the judgement seat of the governor. There were judgements being made about him and what he was all about.
- But more important than the judgements of the people or the proconsul, was the judgement he would receive from the person of Jesus Christ.
- Paul knew that he would stand before the Judgement Seat if Christ.
Romans 14:10-12, We will all appear before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, to Me every knee will bow, and every tongue will give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
- There are many “judgement seats” we might stand before in the life, the judgement of another, or the court of public opinion. So easy it can be to recant or recoil to change your mind about things God’s word has clearly defined.
John 12:48, The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day.
- Many often get so overcome and fixed on what is happening “these days” that we lose sight of what will take place on the last day.
- It is our mindfulness of what will happen on the last day, that will help us to live as God desires today.
- Paul was walking according to God’s will, and the Lord made a way. The Lord told him, do not be silent, keep on speaking! But when it came down to the day Paul stood before the judge, Paul would not have to speak a word.
- Before Paul could even open his mouth to speak, Gallio said, “I don’t have jurisdiction over what your law says, I am not going to dispute or look into it. What does your law say?”
- The issue at hand was a big issue. In fact, the ruling here would have implications going forward regarding the spread of the gospel in the Roman empire.
- As long as the Christians were seen by Rome as a sect of Judaism, the courts would refuse to hear cases against them.
- This case would serve as legal precedent in that land and even in Paul’s future trial in Rome. Gallio’s ruling, in effect, would make way for the spread of the Gospel throughout the entire Roman empire.
Acts 18:16-17, And he drove them away from the judgment seat. But they all took hold of Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began beating him in front of the judgment seat. And yet Gallio was not concerned about any of these things.
- Sosthenes, was the new leader of the Jewish synagogue, interestingly, some translation say it was the Greeks who beat him, others indicate it was the Jews; NASB reads “they all.” Whichever way, the case he presented and lost was not well received. The Greeks may have been upset because his case was causing turmoil. The Jews would have been upset because he was the leader and the case against Paul was lost.
- Sosthenes was beaten here. He had risen against Paul, along with the people.
- But we see his name written in Scripture later, and it seems that through Paul’s ministry, Sosthenes has gone from rising against Paul, to coming alongside him.
1 Corinthians 1:1-2, Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…
- Sosthenes had received Jesus Christ as Lord!
- Paul continued to pursue the ministry, he was depending on the Lord, walking according to his will and Lord made good on his every promise.
- From verse 10, the Lord was with him, no one attacked him to harm him in that city, and there were many who were going to come to faith in Corinth.
Acts 18:18-21, Now Paul, when he had remained many days longer, took leave of the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. Paul first had his hair cut at Cenchrea, for he was keeping a vow. They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but took leave of them and said, “I will return to you again if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.
- It is interesting what happens in Ephesus. Normally, Paul goes to a synagogue, preaches the Gospel, and the people want him to stop speaking about Christ. They throw him out, take him to court, beat him, stone, and rise up against him.
- In Ephesus, they want him to stay longer, and he says “nope, sorry!”
- Most in his sandals, would stay a while after such a welcoming crowd. But Paul, walking according to the will of the Lord says, sorry, no can do!
- He will be back, he will spend over 3 years there, but he had taken a vow and was headed to Jerusalem… “I will return here if God wills.”
- Paul was walking according to God’s will and dependent upon him for direction.
James 4:13-15, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
- James talks about our approach toward our lives, our dependence on God for direction and in our decisions. What we do and don’t do, where we go and don’t go.
- We should not just speak about the Lord’s will; however, our disposition should be tied to our direction as we walk according to His will. One’s understandings of the things of this life, one’s outlook on life, one’s direction, all determined by the will of the Lord.
- The question I want to close with this morning is this: Are you living in dependence on the Lord? Have you settled your life on what He has spoken? Are you walking according to His will as revealed by what He has spoken?
Illus. A Change.
2 Corinthians 5:20, We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us.