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Our Element

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
October 3, 2022 9:48 am

Our Element

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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October 3, 2022 9:48 am

Our element is the state in which we most naturally thrive. What is a Christian's element? Where do we thrive and flourish?

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Maybe you've heard the expression, he was in his element. Our element is the state in which we most naturally thrive. A fish's element, for example, is water.

The fish can't thrive outside of his element. But what is a Christian's element? Where do we thrive and flourish? Listen as Pastor Rich digs into Ephesians 1, 1, and 2 and reminds us that our element, the place in which we will prosper and grow, is in Christ. We're beginning a new series today. We're studying the book of Ephesians.

Pull over and park because we're going to be here for a while. So I want you to turn with me to Acts chapter 19. Rich, we're studying Ephesians.

Why are we looking at Acts? Well, did you ever listen to Paul Harvey, the rest of the story? This is the rest of the story. This is what goes behind the scenes of what leads up to Paul writing to the church at Ephesus. So we're going to look at some history today. It's going to be a bit of a history lesson. That's a lot of what the Bible is. It's history.

And we're going to look at Acts 19 that Bob did such a good job reading for us this morning. As we begin, let's consider the city of Ephesus itself, because Paul's letter of Ephesians is a letter to the church at Ephesus. So you might know where the location of Ephesus is. If you look at a map, you look at modern day Turkey, over on the western coast there by the Aegean Sea is the ancient city of Ephesus. It's an ancient city.

It's in ruins today. Plenty of ruins there to see. We'll be seeing a couple of pictures here, but it's on the Aegean Sea. If you go just across the Aegean Sea, farther to the left there, you'll be looking at Greece over at Corinth and areas like that, okay?

So that kind of gives you an idea where you are. You look at Turkey, you go due south, you'd be going right into Egypt. That gives you an idea where Ephesus is. Now, what were the what were the distinctives of this ancient city of Ephesus? Well, it was a political education and a educational and a commercial center, and all of these things put together, it brought its ranking up with the ancient city of Alexandria in northern Egypt there. In that part of Asia, Ephesus was to that region of the world what New York City is to us today. Just a massive center of political, educational, cultural things that describe the country in the region today. One of the distinctives of Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis.

Artemis was the Greek name, Diana was the Roman name. This temple was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was built in 550 BC. At 550 BC, that's when Israel, Judah, had now been taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire. Okay, so they were in captivity.

Daniel was ministering, okay, during this time. So, about 550 BC, this temple was built. If you were looking at the top part there where the columns are, the floor space of that top part of the temple where people go into is larger than a football field.

Kind of gives you a sense of the size of it there. It was made of solid white marble, so on a sunny day it would just gleam in its magnificence, and there were a hundred columns. You see them outside, there were many more inside, a hundred columns, each of them 60 feet high. And inside was the image of Diana, which ostensibly had fallen from heaven, specifically from Zeus or Jupiter.

The picture of the image of Diana is over on the left, and it can kind of give you a sense of what the emphasis of their worship was all about. Another distinctive of the ancient city of Ephesus was the great theater that was in the middle of town. In this picture here towards the top, way in the background, you can see the general sense of where the temple of Diana was, but over on the right-hand side here you see that great theater, stone seats, and it's carved right into the mountainside.

This theater is well preserved today. You see it right there, and it's going right down the main thoroughfare through town. We'll get a closer picture of that, but this theater seated over 25,000 people.

That was huge in that day, over 25,000 people. And that theater, that one right there, is specifically mentioned a couple times here in Acts chapter 19, specifically in verse 29. So the whole city was filled with confusion and rushed into the theater with one accord.

So here they were in these streets. This is the main thoroughfare through the commercial section of Ephesus, and you see the columns there lining that way. On either side would have been merchants, so this was like a massive mall, and it went from the theater right down to the harbor. The harbor, it was a main commercial port, so all the ships would come into harbor, they would unload, they would take all their goods into this mall of merchants right here, and then you go all the way down and you're right there at the door of the theater.

This massive carving into the mountainside. So the theater is the one that is mentioned, that one there, that's pictured, is the one that's mentioned in Acts 19 and verse 29. So that kind of gives you a sense of the ancient Ephesus, the city there. Let's talk now about the beginnings of the church at Ephesus. The beginnings of the church at Ephesus goes back to the second missionary journey of Paul. At the end of Paul's second missionary journey, he was on his way to Jerusalem. He had been through Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, all those regions up there going through Greece, and then he'd come back over and he stopped, he was on his way to Jerusalem, and then he stopped at Ephesus.

And we have that in chapter 18 of Acts, and then as he was on his way, he didn't stay long, he went to the synagogue and he would reason in the synagogue with the Jews, but he didn't stay there long this time because he was intent to get back to Jerusalem. Following him, Apollos comes to Ephesus. Apollos was a scholar-apologist, and he also reasoned with the Jews. And Apollos had a great understanding of the Scriptures, but at this point, because of the revelation of Jesus Christ, he was limited in his understanding. He knew the prophets, and he understood the teachings and the introduction of Messiah by the prophet John, but he had not yet encountered the apostolic doctrine of the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

Who introduced him to that? At Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla introduced Apollos to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. Now, Aquila and Priscilla were Jews, they were residents of Rome.

They, at this point, had been evicted from Rome by Emperor Claudius. Now, it's very possible, here they were believers, and they're the ones that introduced Apollos, this Old Testament scholar, they introduced him to the gospel of grace in Jesus. It is very possible that they, being Jews, were people from Rome who went to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Acts chapter 2 tells us that there were people from all over the region, all over the ancient empire, that had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.

It is possible that Aquila and Priscilla were there, and then they came to Christ, they saw the apostles, all speaking in tongues, saying things in languages and foreign languages that they could understand, speaking of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, and they possibly could have been of that number that was converted. They go back to Jerusalem, I'm sorry, back to Rome, and then they were evicted from Rome, and they go to Corinth. And it was at Corinth that they met Paul on his second missionary journey, and they ended up working with Paul. What did they do at Corinth? What kind of work did they do? They made tents.

They would sew together the hides and the fabrics, and they would sell them to people for their, whether it's their business or for their home, they would make tents and sell them. And Paul started working with them. And then they decided to travel with Paul. So they were some of his ministering, traveling companions in his missionary journey, and they went with him from Corinth to Ephesus.

So here they were at Ephesus. While they were at Ephesus, Apollos encountered them, and they introduced him to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So Apollos stayed there and was taught by them, and after he had been fully brought up to speed, if you will, with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then he wanted to go to Corinth. So Apollos goes to Corinth. Paul started the church at Corinth, and then Apollos is the one who followed up as a master teacher of the Scriptures, and he ministered at the church at Corinth. And if you look at 1 Corinthians, Paul mentions Apollos quite a bit, all right?

So he was definitely instrumental at the church at Corinth. Meanwhile, while Apollos is at Corinth, we begin Acts 19. As it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus and finding some disciples. Now Paul begins his third missionary journey.

Now he's on his way. He's come back from Jerusalem, and he's traveling through Asia Minor, and now he's on his third missionary journey, and he comes finally to Ephesus. And he encounters some disciples there. What kind of disciples are they? Well, they're disciples of John, and Paul had to introduce them also to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, because they had received the baptism of John, but they had not yet heard of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the coming Holy Spirit.

They had not heard of that. And so Paul, again, brought them up to speed with the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, and as we have in the record here, that they started also speaking in tongues and prophesying. What is the significance of that? The significance is that they encountered common spiritual identifiers with all the believers at Pentecost to confirm that they were of the same faith, that they were of the same faith. This was not a new religious sect. This was not a new faction of Christianity. This was one faith, and Paul says that in the book of Ephesians, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. So these were common spiritual identifiers to show that these people now in Christ were of one faith. You've been listening to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. To hear this message and others, check out delightingrace.com. To discover how to live by grace, tune in with us on weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 01:35:22 / 2022-12-28 01:40:10 / 5

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