Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sermon 6-14-15 What are We to be Known For

You’ve heard the phrase, “what do you want on your tombstone?”  it’s not just a pizza commercial.  There’s things you would like to be known for and things people remember you for.  
How much of a difference would there be if you wrote your own versus someone else?  The ideal would be that they would be the same.

In Acts 17 we get to see things that Paul and the early church were known for.  And the question becomes, are these things that we would want to be known for?  In today’s culture and world, are these characteristics still necessary or even more necessary?
We’re going to read vs. 1-15 and the go back and pick them out, but try and see these characteristics as we read.

Acts 17—Thessolonica
1—“Then they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue . 2 As usual, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” 4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women. 

 5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king —Jesus!” 8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 9 So taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.

Reputations are built over a lifetime—a Good Name is worth more than…
Proverbs 22:1—“ A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.”
1 peter 2:12—“Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.”
Revelation 3:1—“The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.”
What do we want to be known for as a believer and as a church?
Things to Be Known For
·         Reasoning & Examining the Scriptures
o   Paul was known for going into the synagogues to reason through the Scriptures.  He’s going into the heart of the challenge and willing to debate with others about the Scriptures. 
o   In order to do that you’ve got to have a good understanding of what it says.  You’ve also got to be able to demonstrate its trustworthiness and consistency of the Bible—knowing what you believe and being able to show what you believe to anyone who asks you.
o   We need to have this as a characteristic as well.  We need to be able to reason through the Scriptures, we need not be afraid to talk about them. 
o   You probably can think of friends or family that can quote to you baseball or football stats.  Or business people that never forget a name, can calculate numbers all in their head or keep track of stocks or futures.
o   And while those may be impressive, how much better would it be to be known for knowing the Scriptures.
o   Paul was speaking the truth—he was reasoning, persuading, debating the Scriptures with the people—the question was whether listening, you engage with it yourself—do
o   Paul was known for this and it was part of the training that he passed on.  He even looked for it in churches.
o   Compare the churches at Thessalonica & Berea.  Of the two, only one was known for really examining the Scriptures to find out if what Paul was saying was true.  The Bereans were of “more noble character than the Thessalonians”
o   As a people and a church lets develop the reputation that we know, examine and can reason through the Scriptures.  When we can do that, we’ll be better equipped to do what comes next.

·         Giving Evidence that Jesus is the Messiah
o   Vs. 3—“explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”
o   Where in the OT Scriptures are the prophecies about the Messiah?  How does Jesus fulfill them?  Can you show anyone the prophecies about Jesus’ birth from Isaiah?  Or His suffering in Isaiah 53 or crucifixion from Psalm 22.
o   In talking about the Messiah—can you describe His first coming as The Suffering Servant and the second coming as the Reigning King of Kings
o   Our lives must testify to this truth and we should be known as a people and a church that gives evidence to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.
o   When Jesus asked, “who do you say that I Am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”  And it was His own identity and this confession that Jesus would build His church.  Out of this truth we should be known for
·         Convincing People to Believe
o   Vs. 4—“Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.”
o   Is your life and witness bringing people to Christ?  Are you testifying to your children and grandchildren and passing on a legacy of faith. 
o   It would be great to have a reputation as convincing or giving reason for people to believe and seeing them respond.
o   The mission of the Gospel, going out into the world and making disciples should be what we are known for.  If we did this, with effectiveness and passion we’d be doing what next we should be known for.

·         Upsetting the World – turned the world upside down
o   Vs. 6—““These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too,”
o   We tend to think that causing an uproar is a bad thing—but this is a statement from Paul’s critics—he’s making us uncomfortable.  He’s challenging the status quo.  He’s causing people to give up their idolatry, their drugs and alcohol and affecting the local economy because our city income is based on alcohol sales tax, lottery tickets, strip clubs, drugs and other criminal behavior and this Christian has come in here and messed up the good thing we had going.
o   This is the kind of Turning the World Upside Down that Paul had become known for.  And what we should be known for.  Causing an uproar and riots, dividing towns and families over the issue of Who is Jesus
o   Would you like to go to the church known for “turning the world upside down” causing a riot and an uproar! 
o   A church with that kind of reputation must really know the Scriptures, must really be giving evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, must be convincing people to believe.
o   Of course, Such a church would draw the interests of others higher up in the world’s power structure.  Because this world became known for
·         Acting Against the Decrees of Caesar
o   Vs. 7—“ They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees”
o   Paul was a man who’s loyalty was not to the political power structure.  When the laws came down, Paul lived and was teaching the church that it is more important to obey God than men—no matter what the laws said, or how they might be changed in the future, this issue was settled.
o   Wouldn’t you want to be known as a church, as a people, and a disciple that cared more about the Decrees of the Bible than the Decrees of the Government?  If the Gov’t ever outlawed the Bible—would you still own it, read it, believe it? 
o   If the gov’t ever declared Christianity to be illegal or threatened to take away tax exempt status of this church if we didn’t get with the program of modern social issues, how would you respond?
o   Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.  Because ultimately, and most importantly, we know with absolute certainty that our loyalty belongs to Him more than any government.
·         Claiming there is another, Better King
o   Jesus is a better King than all our Presidents combined, but you won’t see Him on a ballot, nor a commercial on the web.  We are calling people to loyalty to a new country and a new King, after all, this world is not our home, we're just passing through.
There is another King--King Jesus--who will one Day come to Rule and Reign on this earth and all the nations and kings of the earth will bow before Him--every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
But we do not serve a King that is only interested in power and wealth, He is One of Love, Service & Sacrifice.
We have a King that invites us into His presence, who is willing to lay down His life for us.
o   Christmas song—“How Many Kings”
Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
This is the heart of the Gospel.  And you are invited to respond to it.  What are you, what is your church known for?

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