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The Light Shines In Corinth

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 23, 2022 1:00 am

The Light Shines In Corinth

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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October 23, 2022 1:00 am

How do our vocations bring glory to God? In the godless city of Corinth, Paul laid a healthy foundation for a lasting church. In this message, we learn truths about facing opposition to the gospel. When doctors, lawyers, teachers, and businesspeople live out the gospel with integrity, the world is turned upside down. 

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When the light of the Gospel shines, it shines in the hearts of individuals. These people then make up local assemblies of believers that affect the culture wherever they're planted. During Paul's time in what is now Greece, he founded several local churches, one of them in Corinth, a city known for its moral decay. Today, we'll see how history has validated the Bible's account of a businessman in Corinth, a man who became a believer and then made a difference where he was planted.

Stay with us. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor Erwin Lutzer. Today, we continue an eight-part series on light shining in darkness, how the Gospel impacts culture.

Later in our broadcast, Erwin Lutzer takes us back to the time that the light shined in Corinth. Pastor Lutzer comes now to open today's service. Now we have the opportunity to worship together. I'm going to pray and then we're going to sing, O worship the King.

We're glad that you are here today and whatever it is that may have brought you here, you may be a regular member, regular attender, a friend, a visitor. We want to be united today in God's love and in his grace. We want to be able to sing together in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Could we pause for a moment before I pray and then we shall stand to sing. Lord, help us to know that we are in your presence. May we leave the world and all of the concerns of life and the busyness of life behind. And may these moments be dedicated to you, to your holiness, to your instruction, and to our worship of your greatness. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. O worship the King, O glorious Allah, and gratefully sing his wonderful love. O shield and defender, creation of faith, the will of his wonder and thrill with praise. Whose head of his might, blessing of his grace, whose soul is the light, whose hand of his grace, whose strength so gallantly thunder'd the storm, and the riches that from the rings of the storm. And our grateful prayer, what of every sight, we praise in the air, which shines in the light, which streams from the hills, which he sent to the plain, and steams in the hills, in the hill and the wind. O shield and love of us, and evil has failed, we believe in you, which does the right thing to live.

Like the seaside tender, the fires to the air, the waker, the ender, the changer, and the man. O praise to the King, his center in flow, let the praises be free, thy wonders below. Eternally glorious, and wonderful sing, in Jesus our glorious, our victory will be. Our scripture reading this morning is taken from Psalm 150.

Please join me in reading the bold print. This is the word of God. Praise the Lord, praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty heavens, praise him for his mighty deeds, praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with trumpet sounds, praise him with lute and harp, praise him with tambourines and dance, praise him with strings and pipes, praise him with sounding cymbals, praise him with loud clashing cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord, praise the Lord. I will praise you with all of life's praise. I will seek you all of my days.

I will follow you all of your ways. I will give you all my worship. I will give you all my praise. You alone I long to worship.

You alone are worthy of my praise. I will bow down, I will bow down and give you as King. I will serve you, give you everything. I will lift up my eyes to your throne.

I will trust you, trust you alone. I will give you all my worship. I will give you all my praise. You alone I long to worship. You alone are worthy of my praise. I will give you all my worship. I will give you all my praise. You alone I long to worship. You alone are worthy of my praise.

You alone are worthy of my praise. As morning dawns and evening fates, You inspire songs of praise that rise from earth to touch Your heart and glorify Your name. Your name is a strong and mighty tower.

Your name is a shelter like no other. Your name, let the nations sing it louder, cause nothing has another to say but Your name. Jesus, in Your name we pray, come and fill our hearts today. Lord, give us strength to live for You and glorify Your name. Your name is a strong and mighty tower. Your name is a shelter like no other. Your name, let the nations sing it louder, cause nothing has another to say but Your name.

Jesus, in Your name we pray, come and fill our hearts today. Your name, let the nations sing it louder, cause nothing has another to say but Your name. Your name is a strong and mighty tower.

Your name is a shelter like no other. Your name, let the nations sing it louder, cause nothing has another to say but Your name. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Worthy in the morning the song shall rise to Thee. Holy, holy, holy, Merciful and mighty, Holy, holy, merciful and mighty, Holy, holy, holy, All saints of glory, As without an open mouth the mouth of God has to speak. Share a thing and sell him, Holy, holy, holy, Great Word and God and evermore shall be. Praise God the new, all blessings flow, Praise Him, all creatures live alone, Praise Him, all body and soul.

Praise God the Son and only Lord God. This morning I want you to use your imagination. What I'm going to say I hope will stimulate a great deal of interest and a great deal of talk and a great deal of prayer. But it's time for your imagination to work. I want you to visualize this beautiful sanctuary here at The Moody Church with every single seat taken out. I want you to visualize that it's been turned into a restaurant. All along the way here where the aisles are there are tables with nice white tablecloths and in the evening patrons come from all over the city of Chicago to a great place to eat.

The chamber behind me where the choir practices has been turned into a modern kitchen. In fact you can even eat in places in the balcony to have a special place with your favorite date. Or let's imagine that all of the seats have been removed and what you have is a bookstore, something like Barnes and Noble. You can go in among the stands and on the other side of the colonnades there there are special books and in the balcony that's where all the technical books are. And you can go to the balcony there and you can study and you can buy books. Why do I begin with that illustration?

Let me give you one other more ominously. Let us suppose that all the seats are removed and rugs are on the floor entirely. Because this is the biggest mosque in the city of Chicago. Muslims come here to pray. As a matter of fact when you walk outside the church you discover that there are four minarets.

The number of minarets indicates the importance of the building and since this happens to be Chicago's most famous mosque, people come from all over the world to come and to look and to pray at what once was a church. I tell you that story because a week ago today Rebecca and I were in Athens and we were catching a cab from our hotel to the airport. In the back of the cab there was this magazine which I pulled out. It was both in English and Greek. And I noticed that there was an article that caught my eye. The headline was, oh God, old European churches turn into contemporary temples of indulgence. And what it was is a story of seven or eight churches, cathedrals in Europe.

For example, some in the Netherlands, some in Glasgow, Scotland and elsewhere throughout Europe that have become such things as cafes. They've been turned into bookstores and even one has been turned into a hotel and it showed pictures of the church and the new temple of indulgence that it has become. Now before we were in Athens, we toured the seven churches of Asia Minor.

They are in the land of Turkey today. And when you go into the land of Turkey, you discover that there is no church to speak of. Oh, there may be pockets of believers here and there, but we visited all seven churches. And we wanted to miss Thyatira, but it was a church that was very important also.

So we actually hit all seven. But let me take you today to the church in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was one of the churches of Asia Minor to whom Jesus wrote a letter and he said, Behold, I have set before you an open door that no man can shut. And if I shut it, nobody can open it.

And if I open it, nobody can close it. Philadelphia. Of course, we were not expecting in Philadelphia to find a church, the same congregation that was there 2000 years ago.

But we discovered that there are really no churches in Philadelphia. In fact, Rebecca took a picture of me standing in the ruins of a fifth century church, which is really all that's left of the ancient city. And across the street is a mosque and you can see the minaret. And that became symbolic, really, of our entire tour, because, as you know, Islam crushes the church wherever it goes. And so the seven churches of Asia Minor remind us that churches can be turned into mosques. When we were in Istanbul, we were in Hagia Sophia.

Now it's my second time to be there. When I became the pastor of Moody Church, I prayed and said, Lord, someday I want to be in Hagia Sophia. It is the largest church, I suppose, in Christendom.

You could take a couple of Moody Churches and put it in to that church. Dedicated to Christ in 537, 1500 years old. But when Islam conquered Istanbul, as it is called today in 1453, it became a mosque for 500 years.

But all of the major churches of Istanbul were turned into mosques after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. You know, there are many lessons that I learned as a result of being on this tour. In fact, I've come up with seven or eight of them. But what I'd like to do is to share, perhaps today, only one or two lessons. And one of the most poignant is simply this, that we do not know the future of any individual congregation. We don't know what Moody Church is going to be like in 50 years or 100 years. You do know, don't you? It's in the news. That today in the Chicago area, this weekend, there is the first Islamic supremacist group, the headline reads, holds its first US conference. And the title of the conference is The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam. The lesson of Turkey that we learned is simply this, that we do not know, we cannot presume the continuation of any given congregation. In the past, churches have been extinguished and it's possible it could happen to us as well. Just because Moody Church has been in existence for nearly 150 years, that does not mean that we shall exist as a Bible preaching church for the next 150 years. I pray that under our watch, it will always be what it was called to be, namely a house where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached.

I would like to think that everyone who's listening to me would be willing to die for the faith if that were to ever happen. But at the same time, we cannot be presumptuous and we must stop to think and ask ourselves this question, what is it that preserves a church and why do churches die? It's a huge question and I'm not going to be able to answer it today.

In fact, I'm not sure that I have a final answer at all. But I am going to probe the scriptures for this reason. As you take your Bibles and turn to the 18th chapter of the Book of Acts, Acts chapter 18, we are introduced to the way in which the church began in Corinth. And I'd like to submit to you that if we can understand the beginning of a church, if we can understand those doctrines that make a church great, maybe we can also understand what it is that causes a church to continue despite hardship and despite persecution. When the Apostle Paul came to the city of Corinth, he was coming to a city which at that time already was really greater than Athens in terms of being a commercial center. And the ancient city of Corinth today basically is ruins.

Archaeologists have uncovered a good deal of it, but not yet all of it, believe it or not. And of course, there's a modern city of Corinth as well. But when we were there, we visited the ancient city with its ruins. And among its many ruins, there is a temple to the god Apollo. And that temple is also a reminder to us of a second lesson that we learned when we were on this tour, and that is that the Church of Jesus Christ is always tempted, always tempted to compromise with its culture. Apollo was a god that was given many different responsibilities in both Greek and Roman traditions.

Apollo was the god sometimes of light and darkness, the god of revelation at the Oracle of Delphi. And so the Christian church always found itself in the midst of this paganism. In the midst of paganism is where the church began in Corinth.

And let's look at how it began, and maybe we can get a little bit of insight into how a church can continue despite its unknown future. The Apostle Paul came to Corinth, and there's where he met Aquila and Priscilla. They were a couple that were into tent making as the Apostle Paul was into tent making. And he became friends and actually stayed in their home, the Bible says in the opening verses of the 18th chapter of Acts. And you'll notice in verse 4, Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. He reasoned with them.

The word means that there's dialogue going on. When the people came there to the synagogue, they simply didn't hear a sermon, they heard dialogue. I need to emphasize that we here at The Moody Church have a means by which we would like to train you to do dialoguing the gospel, because it's the only way in which you can really do it today. More about that in just a moment. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with a word testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

Let's stop there. One of the great truths that made the church great and made it strong and kept it on track was a message that transforms, a message that transforms. The Apostle Paul came there and he had one thing in mind, and that is to help the people to understand who Jesus Christ was, that Jesus was Christ, Jesus was Messiah. And many of the Jews believed. One day at a Bible study, I met a woman who told me her story. She was Jewish. She grew up not liking Jesus at all. And she began to study the Bible and she began to read the New Testament. And suddenly she was confronted and she was filled with fear, she said. And she used to pray and she'd say, Oh, God, turn out to be anybody but Jesus. Well, you probably know the rest of the story as she continued to study.

Guess what? Her worst fear was realized. God turned out to be Jesus and she accepted him as her Messiah. And that's the message that the Apostle Paul preached. Interestingly, he gave us a window into what was going on in his heart when he came to the city of Corinth, when he wrote them his first letter, the letter to the church in Corinth in First Corinthians, Chapter two, the Apostle Paul says, when I came to you, he said, I didn't come with excellency of speech. In those days, there were people who admired oratory.

Paul says, I didn't come with excellency of speech proclaiming to you the gospel of God. He said, I was with you in fear and in weakness and in much trembling because he saw the gods, the pagan gods of Apollo. He saw the immorality of the city. It was a very immoral city. As a matter of fact, to say that you were Corinthianizing meant that you were into immorality with a thousand prostitutes coming down from the Corinthian Acropolis every night.

It was a city that was filled with debauchery. And Paul says, I went there and then he said, I came in fear and trembling. He didn't try to clean the place up morally.

There may be a place for that. But but that wasn't the heart of his message. The heart of his message was that Jesus Christ died for sinners. He said, I knew nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Now, this is a long story because almost every point I make here in the message today, I could go on a while, but I must summarize. But the Christian church throughout history has oftentimes compromised the one message that can found a church and the message that can hold it together. And that is Jesus Christ and him crucified. Now, today, we find that there are many churches who demean the gospel and there are so many different ways to do it. For example, there are those who reduce the gospel. By that, I mean they are people who who preach the gospel every Sunday. But every Sunday, it's the same thing.

John, three, sixteen, for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Now, now that's the heart of the message, but it's not as if that's all of the message of the cross. To think that that is the only part of the message would be like going out in the night sky and surveying surveying the stars and then saying that now you understand astronomy.

No, you don't. You understand the big picture. But now you need to understand the constellations and you have to study the stars in detail and you have to learn distances. And you see, that's why here at Moody Church, we are a gospel centered church, but you don't hear simply John three, sixteen every Sunday. We relate the gospel to all of life. And that's why we have equipping classes, by the way. When you read in the bulletin that you can take a course in doctrine, that you can take a course in apologetics or Christ and culture or how to share your faith or the history of doctrine.

That isn't there simply because we think that you don't have enough to do and we want to keep you off the streets. That is there because we want you to be equipped to understand the full orb gospel so that you can reason and you can present your faith intelligibly and understand that the gospel has many different spokes, even though the hub is Jesus Christ and him crucified. When you begin to unpack that, you begin to realize that you are in a lifelong endeavor to try to understand what Jesus did and its implications. But it's the heart of everything. Then there are other churches that neglect the cross because they substitute other things, talking about health and wealth and all kinds of other things.

True story. In the south, a Muslim family came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. They wanted to go to a church to be encouraged, to be inspired, to learn how do they live out their faith. And the pastor, and I say this with a broken heart, was speaking on nutrition. Now nutrition is important. In fact, it's very important. But I hope that the walls of Moody Church collapse when the day comes when the pastor stands up and preaches on nutrition on a Sunday morning.

Are you with me or am I all alone out here? There are so many different ways to minimize the gospel. You can sacramentalize the gospel. That's what happened, by the way, in Turkey, the seven churches.

Another long story. Grace was sacramentalized. And now, after the time of Constantine, when you have basilicas being built, there was a distinction between the laity and the supposed pastor or priest. And this distinction led to an impersonal relationship with God where all that you needed to do was to participate in the mass. And somehow you were included in God's program, even if you didn't know Christ personally, and even if you had never understood the basis of your assurance. So there are many different ways to minimize the gospel. But I want to quote the words of P.J.

Forsyth. Speaking of the cross of Jesus Christ, he says, If you move faith from that center, you have driven the nail into the coffin of the church. The church then is doomed to death.

And it is only a matter of time when it shall expire. The church can only live and breathe at the cross. And if we want to exist as a church, we must have conversion and the cross as the heart of our message must always be there. That's the first great truth that makes the church great. It founded the church and it can keep the church. The second is we need a God who saves. I could have changed this and said we need a God who is sovereign. You'll notice that the apostle Paul has a revelation from God when he's there in Corinth.

Actually, he received six visions and this is one of them. Verse nine. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you and no one will attack you to harm you. For I have many in this city who are my people. Is that OK with you? God is saying, I don't have merely people in this city who will be mine.

They're already mine. They just haven't believed the gospel yet. We find this throughout the book of Acts and we find it in the New Testament. Acts chapter 13, verse 48, the Bible says, and as many as were appointed unto eternal life believed. Now, we have a great deal of problems with that, and we need to balance that with the fact that Paul reasoned with them and tried to persuade the Jews that Jesus was the Christ and to persuade the Greeks that he was the savior of the world.

So we balance it out. But the fact is that throughout the New Testament, you always find that when the gospel is preached, God works. And if God isn't working, nothing eternal is going to be accomplished. What God does is he opens the minds and the hearts of people so that they see their sin, so they see their need, so they see that Jesus is the answer to their need and gives them the ability to believe. So salvation is entirely of God. And that's why God could say, I have many people in this city. They haven't believed yet, but they're mine.

They're mine. Let me give you an illustration. When we were on the cruise, we stopped in Philippi. I'd never been to Philippi before, and I was so nicely surprised. You go through the agora or the agora, depending on where you put the emphasis. And it was sort of the center of town. And we know that the apostle Paul was there.

In fact, you can actually see the dungeon where possibly he and Silas were imprisoned. But also you go by the river because it says in Acts 16 that when Paul came there, there was no synagogue. And people went to the river to pray. And that's where there was a woman. And she was a seller of purple and her name was Lydia. And it says she was a woman whose heart the Lord opened.

Isn't that beautiful? And she believed the gospel and she was baptized there. And we went to the river approximately where she was baptized. And we had a communion service there.

What a wonderful experience. But that's really the gospel. It is those whom the Lord opens. I'm preaching now to many people right here in the sanctuary, The Moody Church, and then, of course, on the Internet, because we stream live all over the world. We have people who have tuned in. Eventually, this message is going to be on the radio and tens of thousands of people will hear it. But what I want to say is this, that we must understand that there are some people who will hear the gospel and it will just blow past them.

There are other people who are going to pause to listen and to say, you know, there might be something there that I need. And they may not yet belong to God right now, but they will belong to God because God says, I already have them as my people and God will overcome their blindness. He'll show them the beauty of the gospel and they'll come to saving faith. And that's why I have faith in the gospel is because when the gospel is preached, God works. Now, another long story, but when the church loses that, what you find is manipulation oftentimes, what you find is decision ism, where you try to get people to simply pray a prayer and think that the prayer itself is going to do it, even if God hasn't worked in their heart, if we can just get them to pray and that can be an error and that can lead to a kind of shallowness in our understanding of the gospel. So the apostle Paul here, he has a vision and the Lord encourages him and says, hang in, Paul, because I have many people in this city. There's a third truth that we need to come to grips with, and it's maybe the biggie in terms of our future. First of all, a message that transforms a sovereign God who actually saves. And then third, what you have is opposition that purifies, opposition that purifies.

Now, I'm going to read the text here. You'll notice it says in verse 12, but when Gallio was pro counsel of Achaea, the Jews made a united tack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. The Greek word is bima. Now, when you go to Corinth today, you can actually see the bima. I asked the guide, I said, is there any evidence of a synagogue where the apostle Paul preached and where he reasoned? No, there's no evidence of the synagogue. There's a house that was next to the synagogue. We don't know where that is.

Maybe archaeologists will still uncover it because a great deal of Corinth has not yet been excavated. But you can go to the bima and it even has a sign on it that says bima, judgment seat. This is the place where all of the affairs of the city were adjudicated. And so Paul is brought there and they accuse him and say, this man is persuading people to worship God, contrary to the law. Now, Christians have faced opposition to their faith. First of all, an opposition from culture, peer pressure, culture that does not want to hear about Christ or the gospel. Secondly, the church has faced a great deal of opposition also from legal laws, laws that are made to hinder the proclamation of the Christian gospel.

That's another long story. Certainly that is true in many of the countries of the world. And this past week, a hate crimes bill was slipped into an appropriations bill in Washington. And I understand that it passed.

I didn't have an opportunity to read the wording, so I will not comment on it, except to say that in other countries, it has certainly stifled freedom of speech, such as in Canada. I said to a Canadian pastor one day, are you still able to preach Romans Chapter one in churches in Canada? And he said, well, it depends who's in the audience and it depends who you are preaching it to or who comes to hear it.

And I could tell you stories about that. But again, we must hurry on. Now, in this instance, in this instance, the apostle Paul got by because when this happened, you'll notice that Galileo really defended Paul. It says, Galileo said to the Jews, if it were a matter of wrongdoing or a vicious crime, then I'd enter into this. But because it isn't, it's questions about words and doctrine and law.

See to it yourselves. And he drove them from the tribunal. And then they took Sosthenes, who is also one of the rulers of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Galileo, he didn't pay any attention to this. So basically, the apostle Paul got off. He was able to be there.

He stayed many days longer. There was no imprisonment, no serious opposition. But we in America need to think through this business of opposition because we're not used to it. We've always had government policies that kind of favored Christianity or at least supported it or at least didn't work against it. And now we can't count on that as we used to in the past.

And that's been a long time in coming, not just in recent years or months. But I think Bonhoeffer was right, who himself died at the age of 39 in Flossburg when he was hung. Bonhoeffer said that the church will never be strong unless it sees suffering as a gift. And he based that on Philippians chapter one, verse 29, where it says, unto you it is given on behalf of Christ to believe on him.

We love that. Oh, I love to believe on Jesus. It's given to me to believe on Jesus. But the rest of the verse is and to suffer for his name.

Bonhoeffer says both parts of those verse applies to the church. And so we need to see suffering and we need to welcome it as an opportunity to prove God's faithfulness in the midst of a country that needs to hear the gospel so desperately. Whatever you may encounter at work, whatever you may go through because you're an honest person, rejoice, Jesus said.

And this is where we need a whole mindset that changes our minds, because most of the times we complain or we are fearful of what's going to happen. Jesus kept saying, rejoice and be exceedingly glad, because that's the way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. That is part of our calling. And it may be part of our calling as a church. Collectively, it may be part of our calling as individuals also, not only to believe in Jesus, but to suffer for his name.

Suffering purifies the church. Twenty years ago, I was in China. Makes me old to say that that was 20 years ago. But I remember being with Bishop Ding, who was the head of the Three-Self Movement in China. The Three-Self Movement is the official church in China that's recognized by the government. And we were with him for several days, the group that I was with, and I'll never forget what he said. He said, if you go through the length and breadth of China, you will find Christians who believe like you do, he said, and then please get this, he said, persecution wiped out theological liberalism in China.

And I thought, thank you very much. What person who denies the virgin birth? What person who denies that Jesus Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for sinners? Or the person who denies that he's the only way to the father? What person is going to want to die on behalf of Jesus if he believes that?

Nobody. But it's the true church that endured in China. Persecution purifies. Purifies our faith. It purifies our theology. We finally begin to understand what it is that we really do believe. And Jesus said, it's your gift that comes along with the gospel.

So rejoice. Now, let us keep in mind that the church has always struggled with its relationship to the world. And when we were there with the seven churches, it was my responsibility. I was with Mark Bailey, the president of Dallas Seminary. He took about half of the seven churches and I took the other.

I guess you can't divide seven and a half very well, but it can probably be done. But it was my responsibility and privilege to speak at the church at Sardis. Now, Sardis, the Bible says, when Jesus dictated the letter, he says, you have a name that you're alive, but you're dead. Wow. What a indictment of a church.

You have a name that you're alive and are dead. And why the church was dead is another separate story. But right next to the pagan temple is a church. I mean, right next to it, I mean, three feet from it is a pagan temple.

And I said to the folks that were there, there are two ways we can interpret this. One way is to say that the church said, if there's a pagan temple there, that's where we want to be. We want to be where there's the most paganism because the pagans are the ones that need to hear the gospel. They put a temple there. We put a church there for the glory of God and the gospel.

That's one way to interpret it. The other way to interpret it is that the church felt comfortable next to the pagan temple. It had so compromised its witness. The relationship of the church and the world has been a struggle for two thousand years. And we still are part of it and will be a part of it till the Lord returns. Now, I want to end this message by talking again about Corinth.

I told you that there are really three truths we need to hang on to. First of all, the message of the gospel. Secondly, the sovereignty of God. And thirdly, that persecution is God's gift to the church. But actually, if you begin to ask the question, what makes a church great in a practical way, it is the membership.

It's the converts. And so I want to tell you about one of Paul's converts in Corinth. In 1929, archaeologists uncovered an inscription. And the inscription says, Erastus, commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.

I love it. He wanted to say, hey, I built this, but I paid for it. Who in the world was Erastus anyway? Erastus evidently came to saving faith in Jesus Christ through Paul's ministry in Corinth. He is mentioned three times in the New Testament. Now that your Bibles are open, take them and turn to Acts chapter 19. Acts chapter 19, verse 22, and having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus.

There he is. He himself, that is Paul himself, stayed in Asia for a while. Erastus accompanied Paul. Who was Erastus?

Well, according to this inscription, he was a commissioner. But if you look at the book of Romans, and I suppose we can take time to turn to this. You don't need to actually see this in your own Bibles.

Turn to Romans chapter 16. The Apostle Paul is writing the book of Romans while he's at Corinth. And you'll notice in chapter 16, verse 23, he's giving greetings and he says, Gaius, who is host to me and the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quitarus, greet you. Well, here he is, the city treasurer, commissioner, city treasurer, Paul's companion. And he's mentioned also in the book of Timothy, where he's still alive in Corinth, the Apostle Paul said.

Now, here's the thing. You know what makes the church great? It is business people who come alongside leaders such as the Apostle Paul and others, and who say to themselves, God has given me this business. Here's a man, Erastus, who is commissioner, treasurer of Corinth. He travels with Paul.

I can imagine. And we do have here at The Moody Church business people who go on our short term missionary ventures. Who are willing to say, God has given me this vocation, but I'm going to use this vocation for the glory of God. I'm going to learn and I'm going to serve along with, if God has blessed me financially, I'm going to make sure that the church benefits from that blessing. But what we need is doctors and lawyers and teachers and nurses and business people in every kind of vocation like Erastus. Having a ministry of integrity. Now, the church is tempted to compromise, and I'm going to be mentioning this because the next sermon is on Ephesus.

And I'll emphasize that next time. But Erastus evidently had a wonderful testimony. And God bless him.

Unlike many politicians, he says, I paid for this myself when he made that sidewalk, that pavement, as it's called in the inscription. The history of Moody Church is not the history of its pastors. The history of Moody Church is actually being written by God entirely different than the way in which we see it. The history of Moody Church is you. That's the history of Moody Church, your name inscribed not on pavement, but in the Lamb's Book of Life, your name on his forehead, because you stepped to the plate, because you said, I will use my vocation in whatever it is with integrity.

And I'm going to learn, and I'm going to accompany, and I'm going to be an Erastus for the glory of God. I need to say that it's not necessary for me to have archaeologists to find this inscription in order to believe the scriptures. There's plenty of reason why we should believe the Bible.

But every once in a while, isn't it nice? In fact, it happens more than once in a while where an inscription is found that absolutely confirms the scripture. I could tell you another one in this chapter, you know, where it says that Aquila and Priscilla, they came from Rome because there was persecution under Claudius. There's inscriptions that prove that.

The Bible is a real book that deals with real people. It's not just Paul and Silas. It's, God bless him, Erastus, who builds the pavement and pays for it with his own money. God bless him. God bless him. And God bless you. And God bless Moody Church. May it continue with the gospel till Jesus returns.

All right, let's do that. We're going to pray and then we'll sing together and be reminded on which rock upon which the church is built. Father, I pray today, Father, that Moody Church will be a light in this city. We pray today earnestly.

May it never be used for any other purpose. We pray that its members might be like Erastus who used his vocation and his position in the city to help. We can't do without people who are willing and committed and use their vocations for your glory. Make us a powerful church. We pray a continuing church in Jesus name. In Jesus name we ask.

Amen. Pastor Lutzer has written a powerful new book, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture. This book can point the way for your walk with God in the difficult days ahead as we face economic failure, racial strife, and moral decadence. No Reason to Hide will be sent as our thank you to you for your gift of any amount to support The Moody Church Hour. Just call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Church's ministry. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church Media, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. You can also go online at moodyoffer.com. That's moodyoffer.com. Join us next time for another Moody Church Hour with Pastor Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-13 20:09:27 / 2022-11-13 20:27:28 / 18

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