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May 12, 2022 7:05 am
Erosion is a subtle process. Sometimes it takes years and decades, even generations to run its destructive course.
It's like waves that are constantly crashing on the beach slowly sweeping away the sand and reshaping the once familiar shoreline today on Insight for living. Chuck Swindoll continues his series called the church awakening during the next half-hour. Our attention turns toward finding cultural trends that wear down our resolve and eventually destroy healthy churches before you this morning from Chuck titled the church on a long drift will begin with we acknowledge you are father is the giver of every good and perfect gift. The best you ever gave was your one and only son, who has rescued us. Jesus, what a friend for sinners. Let us hide ourselves and him. Thank you that Jesus has died. Thank you that you have raised him from the dead, declaring in the resurrection, your satisfaction in his death and that it is a complete and total payment for the sins of the world. Thank you that Jesus has been raised.
He has now seated beside you are father and we acknowledge him as Lord of the church.
He has been seated and seated he prays for us.
He intercedes on our behalf Ugandan again rescues us from giving us over and over. Thank you that Jesus has been raised. We worship the one who is coming again, and we exult in the thought that the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Jesus will return and we thank you father that your promises are true, ensure that he will reign over this whole earth as promised, and we anticipate that time, we will reign with him as we worship the Lamb without the need of any other light in the absence of tears and fears and death. We will worship him forever. Jesus shall reign in the name of our match same. We give these gifts and we pray, everyone sent is designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic go to insight.more.
And now, let's continue Chuck Swindoll's message titled the church on a long drift. The reality of erosion is nothing new, its opponents, I came to realize that we are now experiencing ecclesiastical erosion and its reached epidemic proportions in light of this, I decided to face it head on. The last thing I want to leave in your mind is any foolish impression that I believe are the only place that has it right. That would be pride beyond description by the grace of God were able to do what we do and keep doing it for his glory. But I added it hasn't come without a price. What you don't know is whatever the truth is declared a price is paid behind the seen what you don't know, are the attacks the enemy attacked the adversarial attack the things that go on that would drastically detract from our calling in our work. The work of our whole staff of fine staff committed women, men and women who love what we do, this church hasn't just happened. Grace of God is been at work in your presence has added its own benediction, but God's spirit is upon us and we all want to hold it very loosely but not seen loosely that we become responsible, complacent, apathetic this past week.
It occurred to me that there was a classic case in point right from the New Testament where we can watch erosion taking place you turn in your Bible to acts chapter 18 will see this example in the place called the church at Ephesus for the first 17 verses, Paul is in ancient Corinth and that's a story unto itself where he spends some two years or so, pouring his life into the lives of those young believers in the fast rapid moving wicked city of Corinth God pleasing to go across the a GMC to the land we know today as Turkey called in those days Asia.
When he arrives he comes. Not surprisingly, to the busy metropolis of Ephesus we read of the journey in verse 18 of acts 18. Paul, having remained many days longer meaning in Corinth took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria and with him. Please note were Priscilla and the quality is lived with this couple for the years he has been in Corinth. He has poured himself into their lives. We would call it mental ring.
He has built a theology in their thinking. He has equipped them to carry on, either in his presence or absence. And so, not surprisingly, verse 19 he leaves them in Ephesus as he moves on to Antioch that came to Ephesus. He left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue, and reason with the Jews, the original term means dialogue so he goes into the synagogue any dialogues with these people.
He's never known before. In the city of Ephesus in the synagogue were Jews assembled. They've not heard of Christ.
They not heard of the resurrection they know nothing about Holy Spirit. He dialogues with them for a period of time, albeit brief and they wanted to stay longer. Verse 20, but he doesn't he doesn't consent he leaves them in. Says I will return again if God wills, and he set sail from Ephesus.
The next column will take you to chapter 19 verse one.
Picking up a story. He is going to Antioch.
Given his report now returns into what we call Turkey or Asia comes down from the north and comes back to that city that he briefly visited verse one Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus and he found some disciples drop down to verse seven there were in all, about 12 men. So we find a small group of disciples that equipment and Priscilla have no doubt built their lives into spend time with them and they're underway in the faith, and Paul decides to carry on in the place where you have left all the synagogue in Ephesus. We read of it in verse eight he entered the synagogue and continue speaking out boldly for three months. Three months is again dialoguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God. Once again he's telling them of the Savior.
They're talking about the cross, or at least he is. He's listening to their questions.
He's answering them, and there's a back-and-forth give-and-take just like one would do in any Jewish synagogue today. Very unusual, very unique and resisted by the majority. We read of that in verse nine.
Some were becoming hardened. Don't miss that summer becoming hardened and disobedient speaking evil of the way in those days Christians were called followers of the way, meaning the way of Jesus and these people in that assembly that synagogue are hardened toward the message disobedient toward the things Paul was teaching and therefore they are speaking evil of the way before the people notice Paul's response.
He withdrew from them, meaning he left the synagogue and he took away the disciples those of the followers of the way those of the believers and he moved over and reasoned daily in the school of Tyrannosaurus verse 10. This took place for two years so that all who live in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and critics is an amazing thing. The Bible simply says as only it can say it in the most succinct terms.
He came, he taught he held forth.
He was consistently reliable to deliver the goods and as a result the message spread people get the word that God's truth is being taught. As I've said for years sheep, where there is good food all over Asia. They began to hear it and God was performing miracles and doing a remarkable remarkable thing the church in Ephesus, founded well taught, but during the process of this period of time. The enemy attacks. Not only is he strong. In fact, supernatural empower not only is he insidious. He is invisible and he works for Demon's in this case we have some self-appointed exorcists to come on the scene, and they're going to do work of deliverance, not from the Lord himself, but from the enemy.
Verse 13 some of the Jewish exorcists who went from place to place, so their itinerant exorcists attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits. The name of the Lord Jesus saying Adria by Jesus whom Paul preaches there were seven sons of Skiba, a Jewish tea priest were doing were doing this, the evil spirit.
Please observe this answer.
The evil spirit answered and said to them I recognize Jesus, don't ever wonder if the demons know Jesus.
Don't ever wonder they don't know that he died for the sins of the world known everything the demons are ill-informed. They are brilliant. Their strategy is from the one who was the ark and who was the angel of God. At one time Lucifer, son of the morning. The strategy is is empowered by him. They know Jesus.
In fact they say I he says I know about Paul but who are you and the going to deal with this in this one overpowers him and please observe verse 18. Many also of those who had believed Coming confessing and disclosing their practices. God was at work when the teaching of the Scriptures when the the songs of the faith when the faithfulness to God's truth is maintained. It is remarkable.
The impact it makes. There are those confessing wrong. There are those disclosing their evil practices and their satanic practice. Many of those who practice magic brought their books together. It began burning them in the sight of everyone that counted up the price down to 50,000 pieces of silver. So the word of God continues to grow. Look again at verse 20 the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing. I checked the word prevailing it means to be in control.
So at that time, God's word was growing mightily and it is in control and thank goodness they make it through this time of spiritual warfare done. Finally, the tests are over wrong inverses at 23 to 41. There is an all citywide. It that is targeting this ministry ministry at Ephesus when he read part of it for you. Verse 23 about the time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the way for a man named Demetrius the silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis was bringing no little business to the craftsman and explain Artemis the large idol of Ephesus, and back known all over the world, certainly of the region was the Temple of Diana, called here. The Temple of Artemis. The city is known for that. And this dude is making his money from making little low shrines of that look just like the temple and he's selling them and he's a exporting them and they're going all over Asia with these little shrines and and he's got all these tradesmen's craftsmen who are in the business with him and so verse 25 he gathers them together with the workmen of similar trades is that man you know that our product prosperity depends upon this business and you see and hear that, not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia, this Paul is a sarcasm and that is this Paul has persuaded and turned away. A considerable number of people saying the gods made with hands or no gods at all well. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours will fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as worthless and and and and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship little exaggeration there but all the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificent so what's he doing stirring the pot wherever you have conflict from people. There's always a few who secure the pot. There they are gifted pot stores. They just have a way of just jamming away and touching on people letting a little bit of information go here and there and looking shocked and a pious and responding with that kind of the religious oral. The goal problem on my minister and what's that's the job of of of Demetrius. Well, this is no laughing matter because the city verse 29 is filled with confusion and they they rushed with one accord into the theater dragging Gaius and Aristarchus Paul's traveling companions that if you ever go to Ephesus and trust me on this. You you you won't miss. You will miss the theater. It has been on earth and it is a magnificent archaeological find that it's been it's been measured so they were able to seek 24,000 to 25,000 people in this theater magic you can stand there and see the stones seating as it wraps around you. It's in that theater where they are gathered. But in this case it isn't to worship the living God. It's too it's to bring their confusing chaos and complaint against Paul and the little church at Ephesus watch closely. Verse 28 when they heard this, they were filled with rage and they began crying out, saying, great is Artemis of the Ephesians, Paul wanted to go verse 30 into the assembly and the disciples would not let them. Some of the AZ arks who were friends who had sent him sent to him. These words repeatedly urging him not to venture into the into the theater wise counsel the application of that. If I may enter into the story a bit is that it's not wise for the senior pastor to get all involved in all the skirmishes it it it is wise for there to be some sense of protection unless one loses his direction and vision and energy Paul could have not only lost party could have lost his life in that threatening situation. So there are those around them signal. Paul don't go there. In fact there were people from outside their sending word.
Don't let Paul in that mob don't let them in there. You might think that they probably after a while got settled down wrong. Look at 33 some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander. Since the Jews had put them forward and having motion with his hand. Alexander was intended to make a defense to the assembly. But when they recognize he was a Jew little somatic and awesome Semitism and that they recognize he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from the mall as they shouted for two hours.
Great is Artemis of the Ephesians. Paul's and let that sink in to Alice 25,000 people shouting the same line over and over and over.
I mean, that's worse than a European soccer game that that's that's worse than a cowboy game. I mean two hours same line over and you guys in the frenzy that that that grew and it's not enough for all people in Ephesus to hear that scream, including the little body of people in the church at Ephesus. You do when the church's reputation begins to be smeared when people rise up in mass began to scream against you by the way they were the German commentator Ernst Henson is right when he says in the final analysis, the only thing heathenism could do against all shot itself course they can't stop Paul's message. But what happens, God steps in love is verse 35. This is so like God. Verse 35.
After quieting the crowd. The town clerk clerk.
Let's call him Joe Smith style.
So what town clerk walks up and said so soon after. Many of Ephesus. What man is there.
After all, doesn't know that the city of the visions as guardian of the temple of the great Artemis of the image which fell down from heaven say they believe all that nonsense. So, since these are undeniable facts you want to keep calm and do nothing right. You can't change the facts.
Diana is gone from heaven, do as the devil is eternal. All these fools in a runaround naming Jesus is Savior and Lord. They mean nothing to us what else he does. He speaks as an advocate. You have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples or blasphemers of God.
It's true, by the way a church occasionally needs an advocate from someone who is in a part of the church. There's a case in point, Paul's over here they will let them in the crowd.
The church is over here and they're not a part of it. Here's a town clerk whose name never appears here or elsewhere in the Bible quiets the crowd, reasons with the Mensa so that verse 38 of Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man. The courts are in session. There's a there's a proper way to deal with this proconsul's are available and bring charges against one another. But if you want anything beyond this, it will have to be settled settle in the long lawful assembly.
Thanks, Joe. You got it right. As a matter-of-fact verse 41 he says you're all dismissed get out here that is a town clerk who has clout held to this guy carries himself with cloud you know why it's a reasonable voice. The problem with all of this is a release of the church. It becomes a distraction. Seems like a little thing, but believe me it or if it is those those those little foxes that eat at your time is those little skirmishes you have to put out is those little gossipy pieces of stuff that fly around church of any size you know we heard so-and-so pastor concerns us as a group of us are concerned about heart starts beating what it would have years ago, now it's so you know when I can sweat that if I got someone I can help with it, fine. If I don't get distracted. Both should the issue she'd need to be shepherded but we don't need to fight ever little tiny fire and by the way, don't waste your time trying to distract the system Breyer were on the move were moving in the direction that is becoming for us remarkable as we watch God doing its remarkable God has his shows all over the place who can step in that sound advice for anyone in church leadership. It's absolutely essential to stay the course, even when were distracted by minor flareups.
You're listening to Insight for living in the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. He's titled today's message the church on a long drift to learn more about Chuck Swindoll in this ministry. Visit us firstname.lastname@example.org whether a volunteer at church or you serve in an official capacity. I'll point you to a book. The checks written about leadership. This is a classic.
It's called Hanmi another brick. The Old Testament character named Nehemiah provides an unforgettable model for servant leadership. You might recall that Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, a feat that was absolutely remarkable, even by today's standards in this book from Chuck offers a practical approach to leadership, such as how to size up a task how to organize and motivated team and how to respond to critics and complainers to purchase a copy of Hanmi another brick. Call us if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to Insight.org/offer and follow the simple instructions. Then as we continue to pray for the safety of the Ukrainians will remind you that Insight for living has been speaking into this part of the world for many years.
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So thank you for supporting the ministry of insight for living to give today. Call us if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or give your donation email@example.com/wide open sky pristine glaciers with varying shades of blue and turquoise mingle within the towering pine tree all manner while Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation have been to a lot of places and seen a lot of but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska. God is awesome. Come with us on the inside for living ministries cruise to Alaska July 1 through July 8, 2023. When I'm like me, created by God, let yourself get lost in the majestic spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to rephrase from you soon as you reflect on his word and his goodness in your life to learn more, go to Insight.org/events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. The tort of Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us. When Chuck Swindoll continues to describe what he calls the church on a long drift Friday on Insight for living. The preceding message the church on a long drift was copyrighted in 2008 and 2010 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. all rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited