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Tell Me Again

October 6, 2011

Every week, all across the whole spectrum of human existence…upper class, middle class, impoverished, even third world…people gather together to worship.  This is a true statement.  There’s not a “well, I think”…listen, it’s just a fact.  People do this.  Now some of them, perhaps many of them, are there because cultural climate dictates that they be there…I’ll freely admit that.  This is true of every body of believers that gathers together.  So, knowing that, I think it is a fair question to ask; what are we doing at church?

 I hope you will take a moment and read through Acts 19:21-41 today.

 “Now after these events”…what events?  If you look at the passage just before this, you’ll see that all sorts of stuff had been going on in Ephesus.  Paul’s clothes and even his handkerchiefs are being used to heal people.  There were some boys who got a little crazy one night, wanted to find a demon possessed man…and actually found one…and they tried to cast the demon out of him in the name of “Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”  The demon responds and says, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  It’s really a crazy story.  I’ve always liked the fact that the demon had heard of Paul.  It’s as if there is some sort of stirring in the spiritual world and the demons get a little nervous when Paul comes on the scene…they’ve seen what the Holy Spirit does with him…and they’re scared.  Then the demon possessed guy actually beats the pants off the seven guys.  So, all that being said…yeah, there’s been some crazy stuff going on in Ephesus.

 And listen, all of this occurred through the preaching…of the Gospel…by Paul.  He wasn’t organizing protests, or burning down pagan temples…he was preaching the good news of reconciliation through Jesus Christ.  That’s it…preaching…and maybe making some tents. 

 It’s important to recognize where the disturbance of verse 23 originates from.  Verse 24 says that it came from “Demetrius, a silversmith.”  So it’s not coming from the religious leaders.  It’s not coming from a political leader.  The opposition is coming from a prominent voice among a guild of metal workers…so, effectively, we have a teamster rallying his boys.  He’s rallying them together because the people who had been coming and buying their little souvenir shrines have stopped buying them.  You see, ever since Paul showed up, perhaps more appropriately, since the Holy Spirit began to move, the whole socio-economic system has been transformed.  The speech that Demetrius gives is really a testimony to the transforming power of the Gospel.  But in the end, they’re unhappy, so they do what unhappy people do…they riot.

 And listen, it got ugly there in Ephesus.  This is a legit riot…people are screaming, chanting stuff…and nobody really seems to know what they are rioting about.  In fact, verse 32 says, “Most of them did not know why they had come together.”  And again, a pagan leader gives a testimony about the work of the Holy Spirit when he says, “You have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers.”  He’s talking about the Christians.  They aren’t rioting…they aren’t being loud…they’re just telling the story.  That story is the reason that we gather each week to worship.  That story is why people were and are being transformed.  That story is the Gospel.  It’s really simple…in our sin, we stand fractured in our relationship with the creator God…unable to clean ourselves up and get right…and 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  That’s why we gather…the Gospel…because our God is worthy of worship.

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