Beloved, by the time the Apostle Paul arrived in Corinth, he had many reasons to be discouraged. In city after city Paul’s life had been threatened and he needed to be encouraged.
We have seen how on his first missionary journey in Pisidia Antioch – persecution instigated by the Jews arose and Paul had to shake the dust off his feet. In Lystra, where Paul healed the lame man, he was stoned and left for dead.
In addition, there was the painful parting of ways with Barnabas over the issue of taking John Mark. The jealous opposition and painful persecution in Philippi; hidden by Jason and the brethren in Thessalonica from the angry mob and snuck out of town to Berea; and fled to Athens where he ministered all alone against a bunch of intellectuals who ended up mocking the message of the resurrection.
So, by the time Paul gets to Corinth, he is lonely and ministering by himself. He is physically exhausted and probably still suffering from earlier beatings. He also has new challenges ahead because of the depressing sinful state of this commercial hub and seafaring town; plus, he is out of money and would not have much time for ministry because of the need to work to support himself. Paul needed some perseverance and some encouragement. The Lord was going to provide both!
Beloved, in his book, Knowing God, J I Packer said, “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. John 17:3 says, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Packer goes on to say, “What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God. He quotes Jeremiah 9:23- “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.”
Beloved, as the Apostle Paul comes to these sophisticated intellectuals in Athens, he brings to them the precious knowledge of God. He presents the gospel argument in a way that exposes the inconsistency and foolishness of worshiping their many idols while focusing on the majesty and glory of the One True God. He proclaims the truth about God. Like a yearlong seminary course on the Nature and Attributes of God, Paul presents true theology. Beloved, do you know God? There is no greater pursuit in life than to know God!
Beloved, this morning we have a special guest speaker. Pastor Rick Barnett of Calvary Chapel Okinawa Japan will be teaching today’s study. Pastor Rick is a personal of a couple of our members. Please welcome him and his family to our fellowship!
Also, please remember that VBS will be soon upon us. Invite neigborhood friends to come and join with us. Also, please note that help is still needed in the Children’s Ministry! Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord!
Beloved, our passage this morning presents a tale of two cities – Paul’s missionary outreach to Thessalonica and to Berea. As always, he meets with a variety of responses to the presentation of the gospel message – some positive, but the majority negative. It is instructive to see the contrast in the way Luke records what took place in these two cities.
This tale of two cities is a tale of truth versus tradition. The big idea here is that our response to the gospel reflects our value system. Do we have a passion for the truth of God’s Word or are we jealous for the security of man’s traditions?
Beloved, we live in a world turned upside down by sin and as a Christian it is our responsibility to help turn it right side up. This will take courage so that the content of the Gospel will bring converts, which always brings conflict.
As believers, we don’t run from conflict but hit it head on with God’s grace. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Beloved, the world is lost and needs desperately your help. Will you help turn it right side up?