When God Speaks
By Bobby Blakey on October 11, 2021
When God Speaks
By Bobby Blakey on October 11, 2021
Turn with me to the book of Acts, Acts chapter 18, verse 12 is where we will begin. This is the thirty-seventh time we've opened up to the book of Acts together, and I absolutely love it. Anybody else love going through the book of Acts here? That's why they sit in the front. Do you guys notice that right there? So, I've already met some people who are here tonight for the first time. Can we welcome them here as we open up the Bible together? And I know that right now we have some people who, right outside, are watching on the front lawn. Can we say hi to them right now? We see you out there. We’ve got some people online. We love you. Thank you for joining us. And I hope you will open the Bible with me to the book of Acts, chapter 18, verse 12. And I want to start out by asking you, who is the main character in the book of Acts? We've been studying this epic story, this epic study, of the church and Peter in Jerusalem. And now we've been going on missionary journeys with Paul and Barnabas kind of links the two. Let's just make it very clear that the main character in the book of Acts is God Himself. And God is on the move. Jesus is building his church and the Spirit is speaking through people in such a way that people are hearing men speak, but they are actually hearing God speak. And we got a glimpse of that last week, if you were here, when Paul was in the city of Corinth, and Jesus spoke to him one night in a vision and said, don't be afraid, I am with you, and no one's going to attack you to harm you, I have many people in this city. That was like, we got a glimpse, oh, this isn't just a story of Paul going around. No, this is a story of Jesus saving people and building his church. And so, what we're going to see together tonight is three different scenes that happen in the book of Acts. And we're going to see how God is speaking and working kind of behind the scenes, but it's actually God who is the main one, moving in all of them.
Now you've got a handout there in your bulletin, if you can open up your autumn themed bulletin here, you'll see that there's a handout, and it's got a map on it. And this is a review of what we've been going through as we come to the conclusion of Paul's second missionary journey. And he went to some of the cities he went to on his first journey, and then he went over to Macedonia. And you can see he started in Philippi. Maybe you remember Lydia, maybe you remember the jailer and their whole households that got saved. He went over to Thessalonica, and then the city got divided. Some Jews got angry there because he was saying Jesus is the Christ. The Bereans were ready to receive the Word when he began to preach there in the synagogue. And then last we saw down there in Greece, we saw Athens, and last week we saw Corinth and how many believed and were baptized when they heard the Word. And so, we're picking it up right there in Corinth, and we're going to go over to Ephesus, and that will conclude the second missionary journey of Paul.
So, I just want to take us through three different scenes. And we can see how God is behind the scenes. And when God speaks, we need to all be listening. And a lot of people they're like, yeah, wish God would speak to me. And we're hoping he's going to speak to you in a dream, but it's right here in this book, how God is speaking to you. It's in his holy Word. And so, please follow along as I read for us. I'm going to read Acts 18:12-17 to get us our first of three different acts we're going to see from Acts 18 tonight. This is Acts 18:12-17.
“But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews[a] made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.’ And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.”
So, our first scene is that there are the Jews who have been angry at Paul, following him from city to city, and the Jews who oppose him and reviled him in Corinth, they now attack him, and they want to take him to this tribunal where Gallio is leading it. And Gallio… this is amazing to me when you see verse 14, when Paul was about to open his mouth. Like basically the book of Acts, the rest of it is going to turn into Paul on this trial and Paul on this trial. And some of our studies will be these long defenses that Paul's going to give when he's on trial. He doesn't even have to open it. He can't. Before he can even say a word, Gallio's like, no, this is a matter of your Jewish religion. I'm not a judge of this. We're not doing this here. Next case. He's already dismissing the case. And then, this is really ironic, verse 17, that this guy Sosthenes, who's the ruler of the synagogue gets beat up. So usually, the way the story has gone is… who's the one getting beat up at the end of the story in a city? Paul. Who's getting beat up this time? Sosthenes. Interesting, the ruler of the synagogue. And if you go back and remember verse seven, back in the Acts 18:7. After Paul left the synagogue where the Jews were, there was a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue.” So, remember, Paul started a church next door to the synagogue; that got very tense. Crispus, the original ruler of the synagogue got saved; he and his household started going over there with Paul, where it will apparently Sosthenes is now the new ruler of the synagogue. And because the case gets thrown out against Paul, this mob, apparently, somebody who was so fired up to get to Paul, they decide to beat up Sosthenes instead.
Now, what is this all about? Why is Luke telling us this trial? Where are they come against Paul, but really nothing happens to him. And instead, one, the leader of the Jews who came against Paul is the one who ends up getting beat up. Well, just go back to Acts 18:9-10. And remember what Jesus said last week, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent for I am with you.” And then underline this, circle this, write this down in your notes, “no one will attack you to harm you.” And just to prove that Jesus is alive and he's still keeping all of his promises, instead of Paul getting beat up this time, the leader of the synagogue is going to get beat up instead. Okay, so this is Jesus actually doing what he said he was going to do. So, it's not just a story of Gallio, a lot of times we're tempted to think the governing officials are really the ones in charge of what's happening on planet earth, there is only one Lord of heaven and earth. And the Lord is in charge. Jesus is building his church. And if he wants to protect one of his people, those people will be protected. So, when God speaks, when Jesus spoke here to Paul, and he made this promise, no one will attack you or harm you.
Let's get this down for number one, because we're going to get three reasons to be encouraged here tonight. That's what you're going to see, three reasons to be encouraged. God is doing things behind the scenes here in the scenes in acts, and he's doing them behind the scenes in your life, as well. And the first thing that you can know about our God, when God speaks, he will keep his promises. Three reasons you can be encouraged when God speaks, he will keep his promises. If God promises no one will attack you or harm you, your worst enemy is probably getting beaten up instead of you. Because whatever Jesus says, it's going to happen. And one promise that we are banking on here at Compass Bible Church, Huntington Beach, is Jesus has promised to build his church, and not even the gates of Hades will prevail against it. And so, it is the promises of God that we should be trusting and that we should be putting our faith in, that we should be banking our life in. Because if God has said he's going to do something, bet your bottom dollar that God's going to do what he said. Okay? And we need to have faith in that. Beyond what you can see or feel on any given day, there are promises, there are eternal words that have been spoken by God, and they will come to pass, and we will see them. And so, we're supposed to see here the example in verses 12 to 17 shows us that in this city of Corinth, Paul did not get attacked to harm him. No. Instead, that guy who was the ringleader of the attack, ended up getting beaten up.
Now turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 1, because this is absolutely fascinating. I don't know if you've ever studied this before, but later on, Paul is going to write two letters to the church in Corinth that leads to letters that we have in Scripture. And so, Paul, yes, Jesus spoke to Paul in the night vision and then Paul was inspired to write 13 letters that we can read where God is speaking to us. And this is what he says in 1 Corinthians, his letter back to that church in Corinth. “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother…” what's his name, everybody? “Our brother is Sosthenes.” What? You mean, the ruler of the synagogue, who got beaten up in Paul's place, has now become bros with Paul and they're co writing a book of the Bible together? This is how God works, everybody. Okay?
So, there's a lot of speculation because people kind of find this too good to be true. Like, is this the same Sosthenes, right? So, two rulers of the synagogue ended up getting saved in the city of Corinth. Right? But some people think, well, did Sosthenes get beat up before that, did he get saved before he got beat up, or are they beating him up to persecute him? But it seems like maybe after Sosthenes got beat up, maybe the believers came around and he ended up becoming one of the believers in Jesus Christ. And, apparently, he is with Paul when he is writing a letter back to Corinth. So, Jesus is keeping his promises. He is keeping his promises for his people, and he will always be behind the scenes building his church. So, I don't know what's going on in your life. If it feels like a lot of things are falling apart, if it feels like the American society is being deconstructed, and you're really concerned about what's going to happen next, I'll tell you what's going to happen next, every word of God will be proven true. That's what's happening, and all the promises of Scripture will be yes, in Christ Jesus. And this is something we can have confidence in. This is something that should be encouraging and faith building.
Turn to the end of second Corinthians; go all the way. That's the beginning of First Corinthians jump all the way to the end of second Corinthians. And 2 Corinthians 12:9 will see another promise that Jesus says to Paul, and this one's a little bit different, because we really liked that promise in Corinth that “no one will attack you to harm you.” Well, now there's a problem where he's got this thorn in his flesh, and we don't know exactly what this thorn in his flesh is. It's a messenger of Satan to harass him. And three times, Paul pleads with the Lord to remove it. So now, he has some kind of pain, some kind of trial and suffering as we're all going to go through in life. Paul's going through it. And he's saying, Lord, take away this suffering. And here's what he hears. Here's a promise about this thorn in the flesh. “He said to me…” this is 2 Corinthians 12:9, an amazing promise for every single one of us from Jesus to you here tonight. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’” Can I get an Amen from the congregation? His goodness will be enough. He's not always going to take you out of the trial, but he'll be good enough to get you through the trial, to actually grow your faith through the trial. In fact, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, Paul's response is “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a promise of grace for every single one of you who are in Christ Jesus here tonight. You have everything good that you're going to need to get through life, no matter how hard it gets. There is grace for everything you're going through. This is what's happening behind the scenes. Behind the scenes, God is always working together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Does anybody love Jesus Christ here tonight? Anybody been called according to the purpose of Jesus? Things are always working for your good, even evil things are work together for your good, there is always grace. You got a thorn in the flesh here? You got a messenger of Satan harassing you? Let me just tell you right now, the grace of Jesus will be enough to get you through. You’ve got to believe it. You’ve got to believe that, behind the scenes, God has my back. God is working for good, and he's already told me what he's going to do. And all the promises are there. Every word is true. And the more of these promises that I come to know, and come to believe, and come to see true in my life, the more my faith will increase, and I'll see that God is actually the main character of my story. And he's keeping every one of his promises. I won't be able to find one promise of God that he'll ever lie to me about. I won't be able to find one time that God raised my expectations, only to disappoint me. Never once will one of the promises of God ever fail you, even when you're going through a hard time, even when it seems like they're going to beat you up. No, we're actually beating Sosthenes up. Oh, and by the way, after he gets beat up, he's going to write a book of the Bible with Paul. How about that? Okay, that's how God's working. Seems really bad when you're going to trial before the tribunal, before Gallio, but Gallio's already got your defense, your enemy’s about to be thrown down. And Jesus has already said, “No one can attack you to harm you.” If Jesus says it, you know what's going to happen.
So, we’ve got to stop getting so caught up in the news, and stop getting so caught up in social media, and start getting more caught up in the promises that Jesus has made to us. Because that's what's going to happen tomorrow. Right? We don't need more epidemiologists trying to tell us what's going to happen tomorrow, we need something we can actually believe. And we don't need more politicians telling us what's going to happen tomorrow when the Lord of heaven and earth has already told you the words of eternity. You need to spend more time with your eyeballs in your Bible than on the news or social media if you want to live a life based on truth. If you want to live a life based on news you can actually use, this is where it is, everybody. And we should all be reading our Bibles and praying for revival because Jesus is going to be doing what he said in a way that might surprise you, in a way that might be not what you expected. Well, we should adjust our expectations to what he said. So, hey, there's a promise in Corinth, no one will harm you, and the ruler of the synagogue ends up getting beat up instead. And the ruler of the synagogue becomes brothers with Paul. How do you like that scene? God's working there for sure.
Now go back to Acts 18, and let's dive into the next scene here. Okay? We're going to leave Corinth now. This is an Acts 18:18. And we're going to move across the sea there to Ephesus, and this is going to be a big city for us. Maybe you know about the book of Ephesians. So, we're going now from Corinth to Ephesus. This is x 18, verse 18. “After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers.” So, he stayed even longer than that in Corinth, “and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila.” So, we've met this godly couple who were business partners with Paul in the trade of tent-making. But clearly, from what Paul says about them in his letters, they're not just business partners in tent-making, they’re partners in church-building for Jesus Christ. And so, they come with him on this journey. Acts 18:18-23, “At Cenchreae, he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them, he said, ‘I will return to you if God wills.’ and he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples.”
So, Paul goes across the sea to Ephesus, and it seems like he's just kind of there on his way back home. And we know that where they originally sent Paul out from was Antioch and Galatia and Phrygia are where he went on his first journey. And so, this, this really concludes now the second journey, and he kind of goes back and says hello to some of the brothers and sisters that he already knows that churches that have already been established. But the second journey ends here in Ephesus, and there are some very interesting things. One is that he takes a vow there in verse 18. We don't really know exactly what that vow is. Perhaps the most famous kind of vow is the Nazirite vow that we're going to see Paul take later on in the book of Acts, but to take that vow, you end up at the temple in Jerusalem, and we don't have a record of him going to Jerusalem here. So, I don't know if it was the Nazirite vow. They did have vows that they would take of thanksgiving that was common among the Jews. So, I think the vow that Paul is taking is, he's thanking God for getting him through this second missionary journey alive, I think is what he's doing. That would be my guess about what this vow is about is that he is really acknowledging that it is God… is the one who has kept him safe, with these Jews tracking him down from city to city to city. And maybe he thought in Corinth, he was afraid they were going to get him in Corinth. Well, no, the Lord has faithfully brought him through all these different cities there on your map. And so, he kind of just starts preaching there in Ephesus, and there's a poll Ephesus wants him to stay. And he says here, a key line, something that we all hopefully learn to say in our vocabulary, “I will return to you if…” what does he say everybody, verse 21, if what? Lord willing. Right? Lord willing. If there's anything that we should be making sure, is a way that all of us think and speak after this last year and a half of COVID, is that we don't know what's going to happen in the future. Can I get an Amen from anybody? All right? We don't know what the future may hold. And so, we have to humble ourselves, and we have to understand that the future, our times, our days, are not in our hands, but they're in God's hands.
And so, you have to understand that God has a will for your life. You might have things you want to do with your life, but God's will will be done in your life. And Paul is giving us an example here of a man who has submitted his life into God's hands, and he is thankful that God is keeping him alive, and his attitude when people ask him, what are you going to do next out here? Here's his answer. I'm going to be doing what the Lord wills. Right? Now when he says this, because many of us have read the book of Ephesians, because many of us know that Ephesus becomes a main hub for the church, that Jesus is even speaking to the church in Ephesus later on. We think that Timothy becomes a pastor of the church of Ephesus later on, because we know he comes back, many of us who've read other parts of the Bible, or even the rest of the book of Acts before, we know what God's will is. Well, that's exactly what God's will is God's will is that you would come back. And wait till you see if you come back next week when we get to Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19. What an epic chapter that's going to be to see what God does when revival breaks out in the city of Ephesus. But see, Paul's not like, yes, I'll be back. Paul's not like, no, I won't be back. Paul's like I'm going to be wherever the Lord wills me to be. And we could use a lot more of that in our church, Christians in America. A lot less of, let me tell you my plans for my life and a lot more of, let me submit to God's plans for my life.
So, when God speaks, when God is working behind the scenes… let's just get this down for number two: His will will be done, his will will be done. God is going to do what God wants to do. He's in the heavens, and he does whatever he pleases, and he loves to work for the good of his people. But we all need to acknowledge that we can't control our own lives, we can't accomplish our own will. In fact, we need to willingly submit our will to God's will for my life. This is so important. And if you hear people boasting about here's what's going to happen by 2035, here's where I'm going to be in ten years, here's what's going to happen next, you just need to understand very clear that all such boasting is what? Evil.
Go with me to James chapter 4 and let's get some wisdom on how we should all think and talk about the future. Because this idea that Paul says, if the Lord wills, if God wills, I'll come back and I'll do some ministry here in Ephesus, well, that's going to be the beginning of the third missionary journey. If you come back next week for Acts 19, we'll get into what happens in that city. But before we get to the city, let's learn from the example of, hey, it's about God's will. That's really what's going to happen. And James, when he writes here in James 4:13-17, he makes it clear that we should all be speaking the way that Paul does here. And hopefully the reason we're speaking that way is because that's how we're actually thinking about our life. James 4:13-17. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit.’” Okay? Here's where I got my whole plan. I know what the future holds. Yet “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Maybe we'll start feeling some fall weather around here, maybe it'll start getting a little bit cold, there'll be that chill in the air in the morning, and you'll be able to see your breath, and you'll see your breath, and then it's gone. That's your life. That's what it's saying. Like, our life is so short, so temporary compared to the big scheme of eternity that God, the Eternal One, who lives outside of space and time, behind the scenes of this life. Like, compared to eternity, we're like a mist. We're here today. We don't even know if we have tomorrow. And so, it says here, then verse 15, “Instead, you ought to say,” so this is for every one of us, “’If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
Like I just hear a lot of people saying what they're going to do in the years to come. And the Scripture is saying, that is a wrong way to think, to think that you know the future. God is the only one who holds the future in his hands. If it comes down to a competition between your will and God's will, God's will will win every single time. And so, we need to acknowledge that we could use a lot more humility, especially when we're going through a hard time, it would be great to hear a lot of people saying, well, clearly, we're not in control. Clearly, it's not up to us. Clearly, we can't prevent all these disasters or all of these sicknesses from happening. And so, we need to humble ourselves and put our life in God's hands, because he's the one who's in control. And we need to say, not my will, but yours be done. So, first thing we need is this humility. And you can see that Paul, he's going from city to city, but we've been going along with him, some of us now, this is our second trip with him from city to city. And it's not like Paul's got a master plan. I mean, sometimes you can tell he's got something really on his heart, on a way he wants to go, where a place he's looking for God to guide him. Okay? we're going to Macedonia, we're going over here, but he ends up in this city, because he got chased out of that city by the people that he upset in this city. That's how this is working. So, he's not got his own agenda. He's going to end up in whatever city God's got him in. And when he's there, he's going to be doing God's will in that city. So, this is the way we've got to start thinking. It seems like we think that it's up to us, we have the power and authority to decide what we're doing with our lives. That's not what this book is saying to you. It's saying that you should do what God tells you to do with your life; you should obey the commands of God. And a lot of people act like, well, God's will is very mysterious. I'm not sure what God's will is. Well, let me tell you, this whole book will tell you what God's will is. Every single command in this book is God's will for your life. And the way you're going to figure out what you should be doing tomorrow is by obeying God's commands today. The most important step of obedience in your life is the next step of obedience because that's what leads to all the other steps of obedience. And you can know right now, there are things you can know with hundred percent confidence, when you wake up in the morning, God wants you to do this. God wants you to do more of that. God has commanded you not to do this, but to do this instead. Like, we can know a lot more about God's will than most people act like. Like, most of the percentage of your life, I can tell you exactly what God wants you to do, because it says it here chapter and verse. So, we need to humble ourselves about wanting to do our own will and acknowledge it's God's will over us. And then we need to get earnest in seeking out well, what is God's will? What is God telling me to do? Because this Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. And if I do what God tells me to do, and a year from now, two years from now, ten years from now, 2035, I'm going to be right in the middle of God's will exactly where he wants me to be, if I follow the beautiful path of obedience that he has set before me. So, God's Will if you're acting like, well, I don't know what God wants me to do, hey, I'll be happy to have a meeting with you. It could be a long meeting. We could talk about a lot of things that God wants you to do with your life. And then, what people are usually talking about and what this book is talking about, don't always line up on the same page. Our priorities and God's priorities don't always seem to be the same.
And so, not only do we need to humble ourselves and acknowledge I can't make my will happen, it's God's will that's going to be on in my life. But I also need to acknowledge that I have a good idea of things that God wants me to do. And I may not be exactly sure what city I'll be in, and I may not be exactly sure how long I'm going to be there, but I sure do know what God wants me to do wherever I am, and however long I'm there. I mean, Paul, it doesn't seem to matter what the city was, we're going to go to the synagogue and we're going to start reasoning with the Jews. Is that what it seems like he does,? We're going to find other people and we're going to start team building in the Church of Jesus Christ. And then even if we leave that city and go on to the next one, we're going to start writing letters back to those people to make sure that they're encouraged in their faith, and they keep going on the path of obedience with Jesus. So, yeah, we've seen this guy in many different cities, but it's the same story every single time; he's operating not on his plan but on God's plan.
Go to 2 Corinthians chapter 1 and look at how he describes it here to the church in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 1:15, just like with Ephesus, there are a lot of similarities between what happens in Corinth and what happens in Ephesus in these two cities. And when he says to the people in Ephesus, hey, we'll see if it's God's will that I come back or not? Well, he wanted to get back to Corinth. And he writes here about, was he going to get back to Corinth? This is 2 Corinthians 1:15, “Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace.” So, I wanted to come back to Corinth. Man, we saw God's grace, he's remembering maybe even personally, how God was so good to keep him from harm in Corinth; he is remembering how many believed and were baptized, and how he saw God's goodness to them in saving them through the gospel of Jesus. And so, he's like, I want to come back and take another trip to Corinth and have a second experience of grace. What a beautiful idea. 2 Corinthians 1:16, “I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time?” I'm not living in maybe-land here, he says. I'm not going back and forth, saying yes one day, saying no the next day, because I'm following the flesh, I'm following my own desires. No, no, no. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” He sang all the promises. This is going back now to our first point; all the promises of God are yes in Jesus Christ. And I'm not going back and forth. No, I'm doing the work of God. I'm following Jesus. And he said, God established everything there in Corinth, and he placed us all into Christ. And he's put his seal on us, which is the Holy Spirit, who is in our hearts as a guarantee. He's underscoring, what happened in Corinth was a work of God. And I'm not saying yes, yes or no, no, I'm on a mission to do the will of God. That's what he writes there. I wanted to come back to you. But ultimately, it's not up to me. And I'm doing what God wants me to do with my life.
Are you doing what God wants you to do with your life? How do you know? I mean, can you honestly say that you are doing right now, as you sit here tonight, that, hey, it's not my will, but God's will being done? That's what we should all be going for is to actually put aside our own agenda, and to really live for God's agenda, and to say, if the Lord wills, I'll be here doing this, or I'll be here doing that, but I'm ready to do whatever God's will is. And if you go back to James, for we left off one very important verse that really combines these two thoughts about God's will. One is we need to humble ourselves and say, we can't control the future, only God's will will be done. But then the second part of that thought is, since his will is going to be done, I want to line up with his will. I want to make sure I'm doing what God's told me to do in his Word, and it says this in James 4:17. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is…” what does it say? “Sin”. Okay? this is what we call the sin of omission. Okay? This is where God has some things that he has told people in this room to do and you're not doing them; you know, you ought to, you know, that's your next step. But for some reason, you're procrastinating, for some reason, you're doubting, for some reason, you're holding yourself back. If you know what God's will is through how he's spoken to you in his Word, and he has convicted you. Because this is what's so amazing about this book. When you read this by yourself, when you hear it preached like this, you go home and you think to yourself, as you're reading or after you heard something, you think that God wants you to do something, not like you figured it out, not like you just heard it from somebody like me, but it actually goes down like God spoke to you. And he put his will right out there in front of you. And it became clear that's it right there. That's the next step of obedience. That's what I ought to do. Why would you not do what you know to be God's will right in front of you? You can't know God's will for the future, but you can know of something that God is telling you to do through his Word today. And if you ought to do it, you should go and do it. Because if you don't, it is sin; you're falling short of God's standard for your life. So, I want to really encourage everybody here to humble ourselves about God's will and say, if the Lord wills, that's where my future is headed. And then to make sure that in this present moment, you're doing what you know God wants you to do. I wonder how many of us right here, just by bringing that up, hey, who knows something that God wants you to do and you're not doing it? I wonder how many of us right now are convicted? Like, yeah, I know I should do that. I want to strongly encourage you that's God's will for your life. That's the next step. Take that step and see where God leads you for the future.
Now go back to Acts 18 because we've got one more scene, one more. We saw how Jesus protected Paul in Corinth, we see how he's seeking God's will if he should be in Ephesus or not, answer is, yes, come back next week, but then we have a crossing of the paths here. Whereas Paul is going from Corinth to Ephesus and then on back to his home, to the places that he's already been, home base in Antioch and all of the early churches that they established, this man Apollos is going the other way. Apollos comes into Ephesus. And then in chapter 19, Apollos goes on to Corinth. So this is kind of a famous crossing of the paths when Paul goes from Corinth to Ephesus, Apollos, who was this zealous fired-up speaker, he went from Ephesus to Corinth. Here's what it says about him. This is Acts 18:24-28. “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.” He literally says, mighty in the writings is how Apollos is, he's mighty in the writings, and “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.” So, Apollos comes to town and everybody's like, whoa, who's this guy bringing the Way? Okay? Now this is very important that everybody see that this is a theme in the book of Acts that often goes unnoticed. You need to notice that he is teaching the Way. Look at Verse 25. This man, mighty in the writings, he had been instructed in “the Way.” And you might even want to like, capitalize that, put quotes around that. That's like a phrase that we're using in the book of Acts. Instead of calling it Christianity, they would just go around to people, and they would say, this is the Way, that's how they used to do it. Okay? That's how they described it. They didn't describe themselves as some kind of religion. No, they didn't get categorized like that. They just started telling people that this is the Way and Apollos, he's out there, and he's been tucked away and he's preaching the Way. And then he meets Priscilla and Aquila, this couple that we've been getting to know. And they take him aside and they teach him the Way more accurately.
Now go back to Acts chapter 9 and let me just show you through a few verses here. What how this the Way works in the book of Acts. But if you go back to two Acts 9:2, when Paul is still Saul, and instead of being spreader of the gospel and a church planter, he is a persecutor of the gospel, and he wants to kill people who go to church. He is solid at this time; he is the enemy of the early church. And it says here, look at Acts 9:1, “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to…” what does it say, everybody? “The Way.” Hey, the Way has spread, this is how they're referring to it. The Way has spread from Jerusalem to Damascus, and we need to go arrest anybody up there who is a part of the Way. Okay? So, we have a pastor here at the church, who's bringing back the phrase “One Way,” right. And I've seen a lot of people starting to say One Way, because that's what they were saying in the Jesus movement, while in the original Jesus movement, in the book of Acts, they didn't necessarily say “One Way,” they said, “the Way” and that's how they were known. That's how they were known by their enemies, all those people, they're a part of the Way, that's how they used to say it. And we're going to see it more and more.
Go to Acts 19. Here's a preview of where we're going to get in Ephesus. But if you skip ahead to Acts 19:9-10, it says, “But when some,” some of these Jews “became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” So, people started speaking evil of the Way, and then he ends up going to another place to preach, and he's there for two years. So, that's what's going to happen in Ephesus. We'll get there in the future. But look at Acts 19:23. “About that time, there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way.” So, clearly, they're not calling it Christianity at this time. They're not calling it go to church at this time, no, what they're calling it is the Way and Apollos he was instructed in the Way. And then Priscilla and Aquila instructed him a little more accurately in the Way.
You could also write down Acts 22:3-4, where “according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all of you are this day, I persecuted this Way to the death.” There's Paul referring to when he saw before he met Jesus saying, yes, I was against the Way just like you guys are against the Way. And in Acts 24:14 He says, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law and written in Prophets.” So, if you're into saying the Way or One Way, well, that's not just something that happened in the Jesus Movement of the 1970s that we're trying to bring back today. No, it's how they described the early church in the book of Acts was the Way but think about this with me now for a second. If Apollos shows up and he's preaching the way but all he knows is up to John the Baptist, he doesn't even know, apparently, about Jesus fulfilling all of the Messianic prophecies through his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven, and he doesn't even fully know about how the Spirit has come in power and is bearing witness, so how could Apollos be teaching the Way if he doesn't even know about Jesus and the Spirit that tells us the Way must actually come from before the New Covenant all the way back to yes, my friends, the Law, the Prophets and the Writings in what we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible. So, you're saying that there was already the Way of God even before Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Here are a few verses you could write down that Apollos might have been teaching from. Exodus 32:8, “they have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them.” This is God rebuking Israel, because after he gave them the ten commandments, they didn't do his will for their life. No, while Moses was up there on the mountain, even before they actually got the ten commandments delivered to them, what did they make to worship instead of God? They made a what? A golden calf, that when they made that golden calf, and “worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” They quickly turned aside from the Way, all the way from God leading the people out of Israel, all the way from God giving people the original commands, the law of Moses, he's always been trying to give us the Way. God has always been saying, this is the Way and so, quickly people turn aside from it. And Apollos, he's not bringing some new trendy message of the Way. He's bringing the old original recipe message of the Way, and Priscilla and Aquila are like, hey, you’ve got to come over here because we've got some really new material you could be working with and you're teaching. But do you realize that Apollos can preach Jesus and he doesn't even need the New Testament to do it? Apollos can preach the way that we're supposed to live today, and he's preaching it accurately. The Scripture says, like, his preaching was good. And it was based on the Law and the Prophets and the Writings.
Write down Deuteronomy 5:33. This could be known as the Way theme verse here. This is Moses making kind of a climactic statement. Deuteronomy, remember, is the second telling of the Law. And as he goes through it again, he says, “You shall walk in the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live.” That's the idea. Go all the way so that you can live and be blessed and, and have a family and, and live life the way God designed it to be lived. Hey, all of that is waiting for you if you just live with a way that God has commanded you. See, the Way is for your good, it's for your blessing, it's for your prosperity, if you just live according to the way that God has commanded. Oh, well, then you'll really live, and it may go well with you, and you may live long in the land that you shall possess. God has always been saying to his people, this is the way and we need to make sure we're listening to what God says.
Write down Jeremiah 7:23, where God speaks in the first person in this. “But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’” How can you know the people of God? What is the secret sign? What is the handshake? What is the password? Those people will be living according to the way. So, this idea of the way is not something new in the 1970s here in Southern California? No, this was in the book of Acts. And this was actually the way that God has always spoken to his people is to teach them according to the way.
And when I read this about Apollos… go back to Acts 18 and let's just enjoy this interaction, because I feel like when I'm reading about Priscilla and Aquila here, who are this mature, godly couple who've been working with Paul in Corinth, and we know that later on, they're going to be a part of different churches, and they're going to have people who meet in their house; they're going to have the church in their house eventually. I mean, when I read about Aquila and Priscilla, and then this guy, Apollos, he's this zealous man. You can see that if you look back at Acts 18:25. It says “he had been instructed in the way of the Lord and being fervent in spirit...” Okay, this guy is known as someone who was fervent; he was fired up. The zeal of Apollos is for real, that same phrase of being fervent in spirit is used in this verse.
Romans 12:11 that we'll put up here on the screen. I think we've got it here on the screen. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Everybody here should want to be an Apollos Okay? That's a command that Paul gives to the church in Rome. Hopefully, someday, Lord willing, we're going to study that command ourselves. We're going to have a zeal sermon coming someday because everybody here needs to be fervent in spirit. This guy Apollos, he didn't know everything there was to know; he needed to grow in his understanding, he had ways still to mature, but what he did know he knew to be true, and he was fired up about it, and he was going to let some people know about it, and he was going to do something about it. We could use some of that zeal here at our church, and what I really enjoy is I see this happening here at the church. We have some couples who have welcomed people into their homes here at this church. We've got some people and I could start making a list of names. But we have some people who actually have fellowship groups that meet in their homes. We have people… I have seen this happen where people, mature in the faith, maybe older men and women, have come alongside of zealous younger people, and instead of looking down on the younger generation, they have come alongside and explained to them the way of God more accurately, and then you see the zeal just go to a next level with those people. So, what happens here in Ephesus when Apollos comes to town fired up, and Aquila and Priscilla, they're like, yes, but there's even more to what you're saying. And they explained to him. You can see how in Acts 18:26 “When he's speaking boldly in the synagogue, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” So, it's very clear that he was explaining it accurately but things concerning Jesus, but he only knew up to the baptism of John. And so now they're like, well, we've got the whole rest of the gospel to tell you; we've got this amazing work of the Spirit, where he showed up and he's speaking through the apostles who've been sent out. Wow, we've got a lot more material for you to work with. And they give him the Way more accurately. It is a beautiful thing when you can see the older mature believers, not looking down on the youthfulness, on the zeal of the young people, but coming alongside of them, sharing with them some of their wisdom, some of what they've learned from the Word and they've been able to live out skillfully in an experience in their lives, and then they get to pass it on. And then you see that that personal zeal just gets even more mature, more fired up. I've been blessed to see this many times here at this church and I want to thank all the Aquilas and Priscillas who are here at this church. And I want to just say to all of the Apolloss here, don't lose that zeal. Don't lose that fervency in Spirit.
If there's something the world needs right now, it's Christians who really believe that they're living the Way and they're ready to tell it to other people. And so, this is a beautiful exchange that takes place here between Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos where they come together for encouragement, and Apollos is then even more mature in his fervency and spirit. Like, are you caring about other people to pull them aside and to explain to them the way of God more accurately? Are you having anyone in your home? Are you meeting anyone at a coffee shop? Are you taking long walks on the beach so that you can talk about what you're learning from the Bible, and you can encourage others towards a more accurate understanding of the Way? Or are you like an Aquila And Priscilla? Or are you like an Apollos who has eaten up as much as you can process and maybe you don't know the whole thing yet? Maybe you’ve got more to learn, but you are definitely zealous about what the Lord has spoken to you through his Word, and you're fired up. And maybe, even though you're fired up and you know some things, you're ready to receive more instruction so you could know the Way even more accurately. This is what we want to happen here at this church. This is why we're having a coffee shop, so events like this can happen. This is something I've already seen as people pass by each other at church there in the new building. They don't actually pass by one another, but they get to know each other. See, they're not just strangers passing in the night. They're not just travelers noticing each other as we go by on our way to eternity. No, in Ephesus, there was a connection between a godly couple and a young on-fire man, and after that connection, he was even stronger in his understanding of the Way. See, that's what we're here to do. We're all traveling through life. We're all on our way to eternity. But we're here to have interactions with one another that help make sure we're all really on the Way, the Truth, the Life.
And that's what happened. And see, Paul didn't have anything to do with this. Peter is not in this story. Barnabas is not here, because God's working behind every scene. He doesn't need pastors, doesn't need missionaries. All he needs is you. And he's ready to do something through you and your life. He wants you to live the Way; that's why he made you. That's why you're here tonight. He wants to speak to you through this book and he there's a whole scene that's supposed to happen in history with your name on it. Don't miss it. Don't miss that. What God is really doing now, you can tell like there's this tension that happens when like Paul's in Ephesus. Apollos is in Ephesus. Paul left Corinth, Apollos comes to Corinth. Well, who are you going to listen to? And people are still doing this today. Well, I heard this Bible teacher said this. Well, I heard this Bible teacher said this. And then let's start debating what one Bible teacher said, versus the other Bible teacher. We’ve got to stop acting like teaching the Bible is a competition. Okay? We’ve got to start realizing that the point is, we're teaching the Bible, and the Holy Spirit is actually the teacher. And if anybody here has ever learned anything about the Bible, I didn't teach it to you. Nobody else here really taught it to you. No, the only way you understand spiritual things is if the Holy Spirit reveals them to you, who's the one that is doing the work to grow people up, to give them zeal, to give them maturity. Who is the only one who's really teaching people the Way? There's only one giving out commands. Some people might be interpreting or explaining them, but there's only one who is authoritatively commanding that, and it's not any man, Paul, Apollos, whatever you want to name the man. No, it is God who teaches people through the work.
Go to 1 Corinthians 3 because, unfortunately, they couldn't handle both Paul and Apollos being pastors or being teachers. They started to pick sides, they started to put them into competition. This is what happens in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. He's going to go off on this, when Paul writes his letter to the church in Corinth, he's going to have to mention his name, and Apollos is his name. And he's going to have to say it's not about either one of us. See, Paul didn't care about the competition. Paul didn't care about being the Bible teacher, that was everybody's favorite. He just wanted people to actually know what God had said to them. In fact, go back to 1 Corinthians 1:10, and you can see this became a big problem in the church in Corinth, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” The goal is to all get on the same page because we're all studying the same book. That's how it's going to work. But if you start following this guy, and I start following this guy, we're going to end up in two different places, because then we're not studying the same page. And so, he addresses one of the divisions, was following different teachers. And he says it here in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:8-9, “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.” I mean, we’ve got to make it very clear that whoever it is, I mean, even we've already seen that Apollos needed to be taught by Aquila and Priscilla. We've already seen that Barnabas had to reach out and help Paul, like everybody needs to be taught the Bible by somebody. But everybody who's learned in the Bible is being taught by God. He's the one who gives the growth. That's what Paul says.
Let's get that down for our third thing here: When God speaks, he will give the grow. He is the one who will mature you. It will be all a work of his amazing grace that he will open your eyes to see through the scriptures. You will have faith to believe through the scriptures, and the Word of God will not return void just like that little bit of blessing rain we had with that thunder and lightning storm that came through and watered the earth. So, the Word of God will not return void. You will be sanctified by the truth. And the truth is not what some favorite Bible teacher tells you; the Word of God is true. And that's what's going to help you grow is an accurate understanding of the way that God is telling you to live your life. And, yes, you're going to love people who teach you the Bible because you're going to be so happy to know what God's telling you about the way to live, but don't get caught up in the people who are teaching you the Bible. Be thankful that God is the one growing you and your understanding and growing you in your maturity. And that's what we believe is going to happen here at this church in Huntington Beach, that we're going to keep opening this book together, we're going to keep hearing God speak to us. And when God speaks to us, he will give the growth and we will be God's field, we will be God's building. And we're praying that he's going to build something here in Huntington Beach, so that Jesus is going to keep his promise, and God's will is going to be done. And we're going to see the church get built up. So, we become a church in Long Beach as well. That's our prayer. And we think that God is the one. Don't be deceived. It's not about Compass Bible Church. It's not about me, Bobby Blakey. No, it's about this book right here. That's what God is using to do the work. And God will give the growth. That's what Paul is teaching the Corinthians because they got confused about Apollos. And, let's make sure that no matter who walks up here, as long as they open up this book, and they speak this book, we're all here to hear it. Because it's not some dude speaking to you right now. It's God saying, I'm behind the scenes in your life. And I've told you things, and I'm going to do what I said. And I want you to do what I said, because I have given you the Way. And I want not only for you to live the way I want you to live in such a way that you will teach other people to live the way and I want that way to spread to more and more people. That's what God is doing. It's happening. It's actually happening right in front of our eyes. But sometimes it's so hard for us to see it because we need to understand that when I open up this book, God is speaking. And I need to make sure that I'm ready to believe that he's going to keep his promises, his will is going to be done. And he is going to accomplish his perfect will through this Word. He will give the growth. So let me pray for us here at church tonight.
Father, we thank you that we could spend some time looking at these three scenes in Acts 18. And we could see you in every one of them. God that you had Aquila and Priscilla there to hear Apollos in that synagogue to teach him the way more accurately so he could go teach more people in Corinth, where Paul had already preached. But it wasn't about any of the people we just read about. It was about what you were doing the entire time. God, I pray that we could see that. I pray that when we read the Bible, we'll stop seeing people and we'll see more of you. I pray that when we when we see what's going on in churches will stop thinking it's about the pastor or the Bible teacher and will think, wow, look what God's doing. That we’ll give you the glory. Yeah, you have many workers that you're using. You have many laborers in your harvest field, but you're the one who gives the growth. You're the one who reaps the souls in salvation. You are the one who gets all the glory and praise and honor. So, God we want to just see here tonight, a preview will open our eyes that we could see, hey, there's grace working behind the scenes. There's grace working to protect Paul, there's grace working so your will will be done to bring him to Ephesus, there's grace going through Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos, and there's grace right here in this church. Your grace is working right here in some of these people's lives who are doing great things in your name, people here who are fervent in spirit, people here who are living the Way. God, you're doing it, so why are we getting so discouraged about all the things that aren't happening and all the evil things that are happening? God let us see what you're making happen. There is grace that is sufficient for this time in which we live, and that your power will be perfected in our weakness. So, Father, let us see behind the scenes and let us hear when you speak. We ask you to do this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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