- Sermon Notes
Once You Put on The New
Intro: Backstory from Acts 19:8-20.
Illus. The New.
This morning, in Acts 19:23-41, we will see some of the results of what took place in the city of Ephesus after many in the city experienced the grace of God and began walking in truth. There was a way they used to live, the old way, but now they had turned to God, they were a new creation in Christ, it was time to walk in the new.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
And it was to the church at Ephesus that Paul would one day write to them and remind them to refrain from living the old life they once lived prior to knowing Christ and keep putting on the new!
Ephesians 4:22-24, In reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Continuing in Acts 19, we see some of the results in the city, after many began turning to Christ, and walking according to the new life. Ultimately, not everybody liked that so many people began to follow Christ. For some, it affected their businesses and their livelihood. Not everyone liked that the believers had put on the new self, especially when it began to affect their wealth! And in the city, an uproar and then a riot breaks out.
My prayer this morning is that what is seen from Ephesus historically, will give insights and instruction surrounding leaving the old life, once you put on new!
- Be Known for Being About the Father’s Business
- The text this morning centers around what those in Ephesus had turned from, after turning to the Lord.
- There were some practices and businesses that the church was no longer into, and while it is a wonderful change in God’s view, there were others in the city who did not see it the same.
Acts 19:23, About that time a major disturbance occurred in regard to the Way.
- What takes place in the city after the people began turning to Jesus, is noted as a “major disturbance.” Other translations say, “no small disturbance,” or to quote the New Living Translation, “serious trouble developed.”
- And the serious trouble that developed was concerning “the Way,” which is the description of, or title for the early Christians. They were called “the Way” on many occasions in the book of Acts (9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:14, 22).
- The early church didn’t go by different denominations or genres, they were first called Christians in Acts 11:26, but were also largely known as and referred to in Acts as “the Way” on several occasions.
- Their being called “the Way” was tied to their devotion to Jesus Christ who said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” They were devoted to Jesus Christ, they preached and believed that Jesus Christ was the only way, not just a way, or one of many ways, He was and is the only way. They were so tied to Christ that they were referred to as “the Way!”
- In their devotion to Christ, they were walking according to His Word and truth, which meant walking away from some things that did not align with His ways, and serious trouble develops.
Acts 19:24-26, For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing considerable business to the craftsmen; he gathered these men together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all.
- The issue, or serious trouble that arises, begins with the impact those leaving their old lives and turning to Christ were having on the economy.
- We looked last week at what this city had largely been known for.
- It was a city filled with superstition, a city filled with temples, but mostly know for a particular temple, the temple of Artemis (Greek name), or Diana (Roman name).
- Artemis, or Diana was known as the goddess of fertility, as well as the goddess of the hunt. In the Roman Empire, there were 39 different temples to worship her, however, in all of the Roman Empire, the chief temple for worship of Diana was in Ephesus. Ephesus was referred to as the guardian of the temple of Diana.
- Their belief was that she was born just outside Ephesus, and so the temple was there, just outside the city. And the temple was massive. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, with 127 pillars standing 6 stories tall. The temple building measured 425 feet long by 220 feet wide, and in the center of the temple was a large statue of Artemis (a carved female figure with many breasts).
- The festival of Artemis involved all sorts of dark and sinful practices, and with Ephesus being the guardian of the temple of Diana, the commercial and religious life in the city centered around ways to worship her.
- This is where things get interesting. There is a silversmith in the city who has made a business around those practicing the worship of Artemis.
- Both the people who would travel to the temple in Ephesus, and those who lived in or nearby the city would purchase silver shrines of Artemis from his company.
- These silver shrines would have been a miniature sized depiction of the temple, with Artemis seated in the middle.
- People would buy these in the city, and either take them home, or present them as an offering in the temple.
- From verse 24, we understand that the issue, or serious trouble that stirs up against the Way, is due to the fact that Paul’s preaching was persuading people toward the Lord Jesus, and away from the idols and shrines of Artemis.
Acts 19:20, So the word of the Lord was growing and prevailing mightily.
- When something prevails, it succeeds, it has power to overcome. The Word of the Lord was growing, and people were turning away from the old life, and living as a new creation in Christ.
- The people become about the Father’s business, and those who are encouraging people toward false gods and deities begin losing business.
- The little shrines were bringing in big business, and as the city turns to Christ, they stop buying the shrines, and this becomes a very big deal.
- From verse 25 we know that Demetrius brough together all of the workmen from similar trades and told them “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. This is not only happening in Ephesus, but in all of Asia…”
- In the first century, craftsmen would unite to form professional trade guilds, these would be similar to modern day unions.
- Demetrius was a silversmith, making shrines out of silver, but the loss of business was not just affecting silversmiths, there were also other shrine sellers who worked with different materials. Archeologists have also found images of Artemis made out of terra-cotta and gold.
- The first people he speaks to are those who, like him, are getting hit in the pocketbook. The early Christians stop purchasing the idols in Ephesus and almost all of Asia. So that is the first, and seemingly most important point he was trying to make…Next he turns the people toward concerns about the temple.
Acts 19:27, Not only is there danger that this trade of ours will fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as worthless, and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”
- What will follow these statements is rage and riots. But before we look at what happens next, I want to point to the powerful example seen as those in the city of Ephesus start turning away from the old life and putting on the new.
- They become about the Father’s business.
- What they used to do, what they used to practice, the things they were once into had changed.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
- As the old things passed away, the were passing on the old ways, and new things had come. They were a new creation in Christ.
Illus. Focused on the Father’s business.
- Follow Christ, Not the Crowd
- After Demetrius speaks about their loss of business and his understanding that Paul preaching was leading people to believe that the temple of Artemis was worthless, the crowd was filled with rage.
- They rushed the streets of the city, shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
- While shouting and rushing through the city, other citizens were whipped up into a frenzy. It becomes a mob.
- The crowd heads to the theater in town, it was the largest Greek theater in the ancient world. It sat 25,000 people and many in the city, being stirred up, head there.
- Two of the men traveling with Paul are located and dragged to the theater as well.
- Paul learns of it all and wanted to head there. This mob was enraged regarding his teaching, so, he likely wanted to take the opportunity to defend his companions, but I would also imagine, he would have wanted to take the opportunity to preach.
Illus. Examples of Paul continuing in difficulty (Acts 14, Acts 16, Acts 21).
- Paul wants to speak to the people in the uprising, but his disciples, fear for his safety, did not want him to risk his life.
- Also, some of the Asiarchs sent word to him, urging him to stay away from the theater.
- The Asiarchs were elected officials of prominence, notoriety, influence, and wealth. They were elected yearly to ancient cities. They were called Asiarchs because the area Ephesus was in was called Asia minor (Modern day Turkey).
- Paul had befriended the Asiarchs, people of prominence and power.
- While all this is going on, the crowds continue to head to the theater and the words that best describe the crowd, are confusion and chaos.
Acts 19:32-35, So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
- The city was whipped up into a frenzy, and as they fill the theater, some are shouting one thing, and some are shouting another thing.
- Some in the crowd begin thinking that the cause of it all is a man named Alexander because the Jews had put him forward.
- They likely put him forward to explain to the crowd that there was a difference between Judaism and Christianity, but before he could even begin speaking, the crowd continued shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” For two hours.
- Prior to that, Luke notes that the assembly was in confusion and most of them did not know why they were even there.
Illus. What is going on?
Exodus 23:23, You shall not follow the crowd in doing evil…
Matthew 16:24-27, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels and will then repay every person according to his deeds.
- Jesus said if anyone wants to be my disciple, if anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.
- To follow someone for us today, doesn’t mean what it meant in that day.
- Today, if you follow someone, it is a term mostly associated with a social media page. You follow them, meaning, you click a little button next to a page where they send out articles, they want you to see, personal photos, or updates.
- In Jesus’ day, and for our purposes today, to follow meant and when it comes to Jesus means you walk behind Him, you travel after Him, you strive to be like Him as He takes the lead in your life.
- “If anyone wishes, or desires to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross.”
- Jesus says here, if you are going to come after me, you must deny yourself.
1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a, “you are not your own; for you have been bought with a price.”
Illus. It’s yours.
When you sell a vehicle, you don’t just give away the vehicle, you also sign over the title to that car…
The title then reads who has control over that vehicle. They determine where it goes and what happens to it from that point forward…
And when you sell it, you hand over the keys, you give up the right to run and drive that car going forward…
- When you give your life to Jesus, you give Him the title as Lord in your life. Jesus takes not simply the wheel momentarily, He takes over.
Colossians 3:1-4, Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
III. Do The Deeds He Desires
- It is the town clerk who finally quiets the crowd down. The town clerk would have been the cities chief administrator (similar to a mayor today).
- His role would have been to keep the peace in the city, he would not have wanted this uproar to be on the Roman radar as he would be responsible for it.
- He pointed out to them that everyone knew that the city of Ephesus was known as the guardian of temple of Artemis, that the companions of Paul they had brought in had not robbed the temple or blasphemed.
- He tells the craftsmen that if they have an issue, the courts were open, and they could pursue due process.
- Before dismissing the crowd, he tells them all in verse 40 that there was no real reason for the riot, it was simply people being stirred up in a disorderly gathering.
- The assembly was dismissed. The Ephesian believers had weathered the storm.
1 Corinthians 16:8-9, I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
1 Corinthians 15:32(b), I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus…
- In Paul’s day, the people were putting on the new, doing the deeds God desired. There was difficulty, but the Lord was moving powerfully.
- Soon, as we will see, Paul will leave the city.
- All that is written of in Ephesus would become ancient history. Now when you head there, it is just the ancient city of Ephesus.
- What we have remaining from the Christian movement in Ephesus are four letters that speak of the church: the book of Ephesians, First and Second Timothy, and a small section from the Book of Revelation.
- It is worth mentioning because something amazing was happening in Paul’s day in that region and city. There were people turning to the Lord, excited about His word going out to the known world, planting churches, and following Jesus fully.
- The word was prevailing as people were walking as new creations in Christ, but around 40 year later, things were already beginning to change in that city.
Revelation 2:2-5, ‘I know your deeds and your labor and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people, and you have put those who call themselves apostles to the test, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured on account of My name, and have not become weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first…
- Jesus gave these words to the church at Ephesus, I know your deeds, your labor, your perseverance, you endurance. But I have this against you…You have left your first love.
- This literally means, you have left your love, the first one. You have left your priority on loving God first.
- They had left their first love, and they needed to turn back. To remember from where they had fallen, and do the deeds they did at first.
- Jesus says they left, it wasn’t He who left, it was they who left. And it did not happen overnight, it seems that after 40 years, it was just starting.
- The word of God was once growing and prevailing mightily, people turning, giving their lives to Christ, loving God firstly…Then things started changing.
- Today, if you go to that area, to modern day Turkey, that part of the world is 99 percent Muslim. As some point, the church in Ephesus stopped growing, stopped prevailing, left their first love, the love of God, and Christian churches began vanishing.
- Jesus told this church to turn, to do the deeds you did at first, remember from where you have fallen, and return.
Illus. 2 Kings 6:1-7.
Hosea 6:1, Come let us return to the Lord…