Acts 17:1-15: The kingdom advances in spite of darkness
Implicit in our vision as a church is the truth that every follower of Jesus is a global disciple maker: “For the glory of God we will disciple the nations by being and producing radical followers of Jesus.”
The reason is that the Great Commission is not given to special forces Christians but to every Christian. There are no special forces Christians. There are only followers of Jesus who share his vision for his fame among all nations.
Acts recounts the church’s practice of Jesus’ mission of his kingdom rule among all nations.
Remember, Acts 1:3 shows us Jesus teaching about the kingdom and Paul, in 28:31 under house arrest in Rome, proclaiming the kingdom of God.
What we are seeing in Acts is the Holy Spirit bearing witness to Jesus and his kingdom.
We also see Jesus’ people, as his instruments, bearing witness about him and his kingdom by the power of the Spirit who dwells in them.
Keep this in mind: Just because the historical narrative of Acts focuses on a few people does not mean that the current work focuses on a few and the rest of us just get to cheer them on. On the contrary, the people Acts focuses on were just normal people who were obeying Jesus.
This means all of us can obey Jesus right where we are, just like they did, and leave it to the Lord to determine our scope of influence. Obeying Jesus will inevitably lead to global disciple making because Jesus can and does reach the world by local witness. It may not be now. It may not be in your lifetime. It may be a disciple you made that is the next Jim Elliott. It may be that the Lord puts a Muslim in your life, and they believe and go make disciples in their homeland. Either way, all of us can and must live in the stream of the kingdom like we see in Acts.
So, as we study through these passages we can be instructed on how the kingdom works, we can have our faith increased as we see the faithfulness of God, learn how to engage people well, learn how the curse and the cursed world system will respond to the kingdom and what to expect from the cursed system.
This chapter describes Paul’s ministry in three cities (Thessalonica, Berea and Athens) and how some of the people in those cities responded to the word.
Let’s look at our text today see what the Lord has for us to obey.
1. What do we see? What does it mean? Paul and Silas in Thessalonica 17:1-9
A. Paul had a custom to his evangelism.
1. Paul and Silas do not bypass the synagogue.
2. Paul and Silas go to those who need to hear
3. Paul and Silas spend extended time.
B. Paul used the Scriptures to prove it necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead that that this Christ is Jesus.
1. Paul reasoned – dialogued with Q&A
2. Paul explained – to open up, to make it clear
3. Proved – to allege, meaning to lay down alongside as evidence
C. Some were persuaded by the gospel of the kingdom.
1. Persuaded – moved, convinced.
2. Please keep in mind that the persuasion is not because Paul reasoned, explained or proved. Those were tools in our evangelistic belts, but the effectiveness of our tools depends on the Spirit to make them effective. We must wield them, but Jesus makes them work. “He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement.” – John 16:8
D. Some violently rejected the gospel of the kingdom.
E. The accusation of the rejection is quite true!
1. “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…and they are acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
2. They have turned the world upside down not in volume but in values.
a. Matthew 5:1-12
2. What do we do with this?
A. Develop a custom to how you make disciples. What is your “groove”? Are you naturally attracted to a group of people? What is your desire for discipling folks?
1. You must learn your “custom”, and make it your habitual work.
B. The Spirit used Paul’s custom to witness to Jesus with great effectiveness. God can and will use your customs or habits or plans of engaging folks with the Gospel. Expect him to do so.
C. Paul knew the Scriptures and due to knowing them could reason, explain and prove.
1. The most important thing you will do is to read your bible, know God and obey him.
D. Let the values of God’s kingdom become your values. Live by them.
1. Try practicing the Sermon on the Mount.
3. Paul and Silas in Berea 17:10-15
A. The Bereans were more noble because they examined the Scriptures to weigh Paul and Silas’ preaching and did not respond with jealousy.
B. Many Bereans believe the gospel.
C. Jealous Thessalonians pursue Paul and Silas even to Berea in an attempt to stop the work.
D. In both locations, moving on to the next city was best because that is what Jesus taught them to do.
1. Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5
4. What do we do with this?
A. Ministry was not long-lived in either location. However, Jesus’ kingdom was established and work was done. Trust God can get done in little time by his power more than we can do by our ways and means over a lifetime.
1. 1 Thessalonians
B. Sometimes you will run across folks who want to search the Scriptures and know truth, like those at Berea. Sometimes you will run across Thessalonians who will want to throw you in jail or out of town. Neither is a sign of God’s blessing or lack of blessing. You already have his blessing in the indwelling Spirit and a powerful gospel. Don’t let “response” determine your status. You are sent, equipped, and empowered. Make disciples!!!!
A. Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.