I have been encouraged many times and in many different ways, but many times I receive encouragement from a note given to me or something someone says. I know of pastors that have an encouragement file. If they are ever discouraged they go to that file and find encouragement. We need encouragement, I do. Many times my encouragement comes from an email, a text message or a phone call. Sometimes I do not realize how encouraging it is until later on. Sometimes someone will simply text me a Scripture verse. A few times I have been praying and the Holy Spirit reminds me of something.
Today we talk about the Holy Spirit encouraging Paul and the Holy Spirit encouraging us. As we start this subject it should encourage us, but also challenge us. Living by the Holy Spirit is not easy.
Francis Chan writes in Forgotten God:
CHRISTLIKENESS: A PAINFUL PROCESS
The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t fit normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be. This often incredibly painful process strips you of selfishness, pride, and fear.
For a powerful example of this, read in C. S. Lewisfs book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader about the boy, Eustace, who becomes a dragon. In order to become a little boy again, he must undergo a tremendous amount of pain as the dragon skin is peeled away and torn from him. Only after he endures this painful process is he truly transformed from a dragon back into a boy.
Sometimes the sin we take on becomes such a part of us that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to free us. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, and this can be painful.
(Francis Chan. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (pp. 50-51). Kindle Edition.)
In today’s passage we see that the Holy Spirit encourages Paul, BUT, notice first that Paul was stepping outside of his comfort zone following the Holy Spirit’s will. He was sharing the Gospel, despite resistance.
The great idea today is that The Holy Spirit encouraged Paul and the application is that the Holy Spirit will encourage you as well. But remember to walk following the Spirit.
Let’s read Acts 18:5-11: (I am referencing the NASB translation today)
5But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, gYour blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.h 7Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. 9And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, gDo not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.h 11And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
- I want to come back to the theme that Jesus encourages us as He encouraged Paul, but let’s look at the context first. Context is always critical:
- Remember from last week that the Apostle Paul came to Corinth without Silas and Timothy. He needed encouragement and he soon met Pricilla and Aquila. It seems that he has had a burn out phase.
- In verse 5 Silas and Timothy joined Paul, likely with financial support from the Macedonians. In 2 Cor. 11:9 Paul mentioned people coming from Macedonia with his needs.
- In verse 5, Paul was thoroughly, completely, preaching Christ. The verb translated as “completely” means “over and over again.” Paul was no longer only preaching on Sabbaths.
- In verse 6 people resisted and blasphemed. So the message Paul was preaching faced resistance. We do not know what kind of resistance, but we do know they blasphemed. This usually means blasphemed God, to talk negatively, disrespectfully against God. However, this could mean that they lied about Paul, questioned Paul’s integrity or something like that.
- In verse 6, he shook out his garments, this was like shaking the dust off of their feet as was so common. Let me share what the E.S.V. Study Bible says regarding this:
When they opposed and reviled him. Paul will spend much time with audiences where there is interest and response, even if they don’t immediately believe (see v. 4), but he will not spend time where he simply faces hostile opposition. Shaking garments was a gesture of rejection, much like shaking the dust from one’s feet (cf. 13:51). Your blood be on your own heads reflects Ezekiel’s words about God’s prophetic watchman (Ezek. 33:1–7). “Blood” means “the responsibility for your judgment by God.” Paul had faithfully discharged his responsibility, so that at the final judgment no part of these Jews ‘failure to believe could be attributed to his failure to tell them about Christ (but cf. note on Acts 18:7)
Ezekiel 33:6 says: 6‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’
- In verse 7, Paul leaves but does not leave the city. He goes next door. The Bible says Titius Justus. This man was a worshipper of God. So, this man was not a pagan man like they would have in Corinth. Corinth had a lot of pagans practicing lewd (offensive in a secular way) idolatry.
- That house was actually attached to the Synagogue. The I.V.P. Bible Backgrounds Commentary gives insight: Patrons’ homes in Corinth normally seated nine in the triclinium (the best room) and as many as forty others in the adjoining atrium (the largest furnished room)
- Imagine the next part, the Synagogue leader is saved.
The I.V.P. Bible Backgrounds Commentary gives insight: “Crispus” is a typical Roman name. It was not uncommon for Jewish people to have Latin names (“Crispus” and “Crispina” appear several times in Jewish inscriptions), but the proportion of Latin names among Paul’s associates is so much higher than generally in inscriptions (even though inscriptions were normally made by the well-to-do) that it is likely that a number of Paul’s Jewish and Greek associates were also Roman citizens. To be “synagogue ruler” means that Crispus is a person of status and wealth, responsible for the synagogue services.
- That had to make in impact. Imagine if the head of I.S.I.S. comes to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior? Imagine if the leader of a local part of I.S.I.S. trusts in Christ? Imagine if the local Jehovah’s witness leader accepts Christ? This was a leader accepting Christ, not a common attender. Now certainly, that may be a bigger deal since this was a Jewish leader and the Jewish Scriptures prophesy Christ. So, imagine if a local Jewish synagogue leader accepts Christ as Lord and Savior? Would not that make a difference?
- Jesus is in charge of the results of evangelism. We are to proclaim the Gospel and Jesus will take care of the results.
- The whole family and household of this leader is saved.
- Many Corinthians are saved.
- They were baptized.
- Baptism follows salvation. We are baptized in order to follow Jesus’ footsteps. We are baptized to make a public profession of our faith in Christ. We are baptized to be symbolic of dying with Christ and rising again. We are baptized as that is symbolic of washing our sins away.
The Lord speaks to Paul, let’s look at that.
- In verses 9-10 this is the message.
- Paul need not fear. Paul was told not to fear any longer which means that he did have fear. In 1 Cor. 2:3 Paul said that he came in fear and weakness. We know all the persecution he had faced. Paul had faced difficulties. He was used to declaring the Gospel in power and great boldness, but maybe he has faced a time of depression, or burn out.
- Paul is to go on speaking and not be silent.
- Jesus is with Paul.
- No one will attack Paul in order to harm him.
- God has many people in the city. This could mean many other followers, but likely means many people in the city who need the Gospel.
- What about us?
- We need encouragement and the Holy Spirit may encourage you through circumstance. You know how encouraging it is for me to be sitting in my office when Mercedes walks by and says, “Hi Daddy, that’s my daddy, that’s my daddy.” That is exactly what she said a few weeks ago. That brightens my day and I hope I never forget it. You know how encouraging it is when I walk in the door only to slammed by Mercedes with a hug. A few weeks ago Mercedes was up in the night coughing so I got her up and gave her a drink and some crackers. She was wide awake. She sits down at the table and says, “Daddy, I’ll sit here and you sit here.” She pointed next to her. I wanted to unload the dishwasher, oh but she wanted me with her. She wanted presence.
- It is also encouraging to see childcare and preschool children at the church or at Wal-Mart and hear their exciting greeting. Just after Christmas I was at Wal-Mart and heard a child say, “There is Jesus.” The mom looked around and so did I. We heard him say the same thing again. He pointed directly at me. He associated me with Jesus since I work at the church and read stories about Jesus to him.
- Are those encouraging words from God? Not directly, but God can use them. Mercedes encourages me by being my loving daughter and being proud to say, “That’s my daddy!”
- Now how will the Holy Spirit encourage you? I do believe Paul was communicated with by the Holy Spirit directly, what about you?
- Jesus may encourage through the church. Jesus may encourage you through a kind letter from a friend. Jesus may encourage you through the Scriptures. Have you ever read the right Scripture at just the right time? Jesus may encourage you through circumstance. Jesus may encourage you in prayer. You may be praying and you feel this presence. Jesus may speak to you that way.
- You are to not fear WHEN you are following Jesus. Are you seeking and following the Lord’s will? Then do not fear. Consider Matthew 10:19-20: But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
- You are to preach Christ and not be silent. The Lord needs your words and your actions.
- God is with us. Immanuel. Matthew 1:23 says that Jesus’ name shall be called Immanuel which means “God with us.” Matthew 28:20 says that the Lord is with us in the great commission.
- I heard about a child that was eating something and his sister asked for a piece so he gave her a small piece. Then his parents said, that was very nice of you, so he gave her another piece. It is thought that he did not give her more because he wanted to but because he was encouraged by his parents.
- The Holy Spirit encourages Paul and that keeps him going.
- Let’s apply this a little bit further. The Holy Spirit will encourage us but also challenge us. Remember the beginning of the sermon the Holy Spirit will take us deeper.
- The Holy Spirit is with you as a Christian, but are you with Him.
- The Bible says “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
On the night of March 29, 1848, Niagara Falls completely and mysteriously stopped flowing. The estimated 500,000 gallons of water that customarily rushed over the falls stalled to a trickle. James Francis Macklem, a village justice of the peace in the Niagara area, wrote that he had witnessed the subsidence of the waters and the phenomenon of the Niagara running dry “caused great excitement in the neighborhood at the time.”
To some, the mystery of this sudden “turning off” of the river seemed to be an ominous portent, and nightfall found most of the churches packed with people praying or talking in frightened voices about the end of the world. Fear grew into the proportions of panic.
The cause of this unusual event began along the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo. For several days, the wind had been blowing to the east over Lake Erie, driving much of its ice flow down river. Then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the lakefs ice to break up and dam the river. The Niagara River ceased to flow for almost 30 hours until the ice shifted and the dam broke up. When we become cold towards Christ and not let the Holy Spirit flow through our lives it can become disastrous. Has your love for Christ grown cold? Today in prayer, confess any sin to Christ and remember the love you had for Him when you first became a Christian. Walk with Him and do not let your love grow cold.
- God has others in the city. God has people who need Jesus in this city as well.
- Corinth was the first city where Paul had settled for extensive missionary activity. He stay a year and a half. Paul’s “year and six months” stay in Corinth probably dates from the fall of 50 to the spring of A.D. 52. This was evidently the entire time Paul remained in Corinth. The church Paul planted in Corinth consisted of a rich mixture of people, some of whom were greatly gifted, but most of whom came from the lower elements of society (cf. Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:4-8, 26-29; 7:18; 12:13).1
- His stay second only in length to his two to three years in Ephesus (19:10; 20:31).2
- This could mean that he stayed a year and a half longer. He had already been there a while. He might have spent two years in Corinth.
So, Paul steps out in faith, he continues to preach the Gospel and the Holy Spirit encourages him.
|Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.
William Arthur Ward.
Remember as I began the message: The Holy Spirit will take you out of your comfort zone, but I also believe the Holy Spirit will be with you, encourage you and help you along the way.
The challenge: Follow Jesus and let the Holy Spirit encourage you.
But I believe the Spirit can and wants to use you to encourage someone else. I ask that you will send someone an encouraging note this week. At the beginning of this sermon I mentioned how I know of pastors who have an encouragement file, maybe you would benefit from an encouragement file as well. Maybe your job is real stressful and you receive a lot of discouragement. Consider noting encouraging things and saving them. I ask that you consider sending a note to that person who encourages you on the job, or as a parent or grandparent, but I also want to mention the person who built up your faith. Was there a time when your faith was shaky? Was there a time when you knew that God called you to something and you were struggling with it? Did someone encourage you to keep going? Send them a card or a letter and tell them thank you.
In my Bible I have a letter that I received as I finished my first year at this church. That letter is encouragement which I need.
Maybe within a few weeks many from this church will have encouraging letters from others and many of this church will have encouraged another in the Lord. The church can and must be used by the Holy Spirit in this way.
First do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
2 Toussaint, S. D. (1985). Acts. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 407). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.