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February 4, 2021 11:00 am
The morning morning. How's everybody could see you what I see all you folks down and overflow.
Thanks for being here today to get a Bible. Let's open it to ask chapter 19 to be continuing in our study of the great man of God.
The apostle Paul and you know what the summer. I was actually watching E true Hollywood story. What's funny about that and I was watching the life of Madeline Murray O'Hare now. I think all of us know who she is.
This was the lady who filed the court case that was responsible for prayer being discontinued and declared unconstitutional in the American public school system. 1963 was the year and her son John along with her founded the American atheist Association, and she and Jon I learned from the program were both murdered a number of years ago but before John was killed as a brat as the president of the American atheist.
He said this and I quote he said there was no such person in the history of the world as Jesus Christ. There was no historical living, breathing human being by that name ever. The Bible is a fictional non-historical book.
It's a myth that's good for business." Now I think it's safe to say that today he's probably changed his mind, but don't know but anyway the point. Yeah, the point in all of all of this. The point of all of this is that there are a lot of people in our world where serious reservations about Jesus Christ and the reason for that is because they have serious reservations about the Bible, which is our only source of information about Jesus Christ. They wonder is the Bible really a historically reliable, trustworthy document and that's what were going to talk about today because it grows out of our passage in the life of the apostle Paul asked the question. Can the Bible stand the test when it comes to the issue of historical reliability. So that's our plan little bit of background before we did. Again, remember here in acts chapter 19 that the apostle Paul is an emphasis on his third missionary journey. Emphasis was such a strategic city that Paul decided to spend almost 3 years here.
Let's show you about. And of course here's episodes where you see the star and all the thin green that you see as the Roman province of Asia and the Bible says that is the result of Paul's ministry for three years there burst in all the Jews and Gentiles who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. So that's what we been so far. Let's go on now verse 21 and see what happens next. Now after these things. Paul purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem, he decided to pass through Macedonia and Acadia on the way there and then he said after I've been to Jerusalem, I must visit Rome also calls 2 1/2 year stay here in Ephesus is coming to a close and of the Christian faith has already been well established and recently did that on the second journey. Now it's been well established here in Asia minor.
On his third journey and the apostle Paul said now I think I'm going to go to Rome and not just Rome but I'm going to go on to Spain.
Romans 15. The letter he wrote the church of Rome from here in Ephesus. He said, but now that my work in these regions in Ephesus is finished. I intend to go to Spain and I hope to see you in passing and to be helped. On my way there by you. You remember the old Star Trek series to explore strange new world to boldly go where no man is gone before. What I was kind of the apostle Paul's attitude when he came to the message of Christ. He wanted to boldly go where no man is gone before.
He wanted to take the message of Christ to virgin territory were two places that people had never been, and never preached and Spain was one of these. It was wild. It was uncivilized. It was the western end of the Roman Empire, but show your map and you see where Spain is. And Paul said I want to go here because this is new ground for Jesus Christ and I want to be the first one there to preach he said. Romans 1512 verse 20. It is always been my ambition to preach the message of Jesus Christ, where Christ was not already known that I might not build on someone else's foundation. However, before Paul went to Spain in Rome. He says here verse 21 that he purposed in the spirit to go to Jerusalem with this means is, he prayed and prayed about it and he really felt the Holy Spirit was giving him the purpose and the direction to go to Jerusalem.
He mentions this in the next chapter.
Chapter 20 he says that now compelled by the Holy Spirit.
I am going to Jerusalem here in acts chapter 19 Luke doesn't tell us why Paul was so excited I going to Jerusalem, but if we compare Scripture with Scripture, we can figure it out. So let's look at some other passages in the New Testament, we can figure it out.
Romans 15 Paul writes but now I'm going to Jerusalem in order to serve the believers.
There for the churches of Macedonia and Acadia have been pleased to collect an offering for the poor believers of Jerusalem. So after I have completed this task of taking the offering. There and make sure that they in Jerusalem have received this give.
I will go to Spain and I will visit you in Rome on the way. Remember we told you before that the believing community in Jerusalem at this time was very poor. That was because the other Jewish people in Jerusalem boycotted their businesses as a way of punishing them for believing in Jesus and so Paul felt that the Gentile churches that he it started around the world that they had a responsibility to help and stand by their Jewish brothers there in Jerusalem and so he says abroad. Chapter 15 verse 27 for the Gentiles have shared in the Jewish people.
Spiritual blessings he means the Messiah, the word of God, he said, then today the Gentiles are obligated to share their material blessings with their Jewish brothers. So what Paul was going to do. Let's show your map is. He says I'm coming back to Macedonia.
Everything you see an orange on the screen. I'm going to go back to Philippi to Thessalonica to Berea. All these churches that I started and then I'm going to go to Acadia everything you see in blue on the map. The main church.
There was the church of Corinth and I'm going to collect an offering and I'm to take it to Jerusalem for these poor believers.
So, let's summarize. We'll talk more about this offering. Later. But what was Paul's plan as he got ready now to leave Ephesus will number one he plan to go back to all the churches in Greece that he started number two you plan to collect from them. This offering for the poor believers of Jerusalem. Number three he plan to take this gift to Jerusalem. Personally and delivered to the church number for the player then to leave Jerusalem and head offer Spain and number five.
He planned on the way to stop by Rome and visit the church there for a while. That was Paul's plan in his mind as you get ready to leave Ephesus okay verse 22.
So Paul sent two of his helpers ahead of him in the Macedonia that is to start making preparations for this offering.
Timothy Erastus. While he stated Ephesus a little while longer. Verse 23.
At about this time there arose a great disturbance about the way the Christian faith. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver images of Diablo was bringing in no little income. Stop there for second. Remember that the Temple of Diana was located in Ephesus. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
People came from all over the world to worship here that the worship this goddess.
And today they've actually uncovered of the temple. Here is what it exist today is true that it nothing else there, but it was the wonderful Temple of Diana that you saw and all. It's clear from the passage here that there were silversmiths and other artisans there making little talisman may be making little silver rabbits foot feed the rabbits feet making little little charms of Diana that they would sell. It was a very lucrative business.
We actually in 1956 archaeologist Saxon found one of these little silver amulets. Here's a picture of one, the goddess Diana little silver thing is what they were selling and Demetrius ever make it up bunch of money doing this well. Verse 25 and Demetrius called the rest of the craftsmen together and send men you know that we received good income from this business and you know how this fellow Paul has persuaded and turned away large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says Paul says that man-made gods are no gods at all in that wonderful Demetrius figured out the message he got there is danger. Demetrius says not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana will be regarded as worthless and when they heard this, they were filled with rage, and began shouting great is Diana of the Ephesians and soon all city was in an uproar, and they seized Gaius and Aristarchus Paul's traveling companions and dragged them into the theater and only 30% of Ephesus is actually been dug up today, but as interestingly they have dug up this theater and let me show you a picture of it. You're standing at the top of the theater and looking in the road that you see running with all the columns is part of the Appian Way running all the way from Rome into here in Asia minor and right at the end of that little road all point to it is where the Mediterranean Sea used to calm. It's all silted him now, but the Mediterranean Sea used to run right to the end of that long road so people would get off the boat, walk up the road and they be right here at the temple and then they turn right going to the city.
This is temple seated 25,000 people 10% of all city and this is where they drag Gaius in this where they drag Aristarchus on here in acts chapter 19 this this sort. This theater is an unbelievable archaeological site and the really of the celebrities have come from all over the world to see the cyber picture one right here and just, playing with you little bit but but you can see behind me the size of this theater, its enormous well this is where they took Paul's friends.
Verse 30 and Paul wanted to go would appear in the crowd before the crowd, but the disciples would not let them go. They said Paul. It is way too dangerous for you to go down there and then Luke in verse 31 makes a most interesting comment. Here's were going to stop for today. Verse 31, and even some of the AZ arc. Some translations will say here. Even some of the local officials, but the word literally is AZ arc. Even some of the AZ arc were friends of Paul sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. Now this word. The word AZ arts is the word I really wants to focus on the day because you know up until the late 1800s, the use of this word AZ arc here in acts 19 was pointed to by liberal critics as proof positive that the book of acts was fraudulent and that it was historically unreliable. Here was a title AZ arts for local rulers in Ephesus that never appeared anywhere else in the entire Roman Empire and they said see there Luke just made up some word and this whole book is fraudulent, then in the late 1800s archaeological archaeologist discovered something very important. They discovered that because of the strategic importance of this province to province of Asia, the Roman government had allowed them to preserve this ancient title for their local rulers. Essentially, the Roman government had grandfathered in this ancient title and so here's the point for 1800 years the Bible was right, and all the critical scholars were wrong. This really was the term that was used here in the word AZ arc here in acts 19 instead of proving that the Bible is historically unreliable. What it actually proves is that the Bible is historically accurate to a fault. That's as far as we want to go in the passage. For right now because we want to ask a question y'all know what our question is yeah yeah okay, ready, here we go. Altogether, 123 right Ceylon so what you say you know AZ arts Maisie arts will I care about AZ arts makes no difference to me whatsoever. No I don't think that's true because it makes a huge difference when it comes to the issue of the integrity of the Bible you know the integrity of the Bible's been attacked from a number of different fronts, but it's been attacked from the scientific front and saying you know the Bible's account of creation is absolutely impossible, were not going to talk about that today, but I covered that in a series of messages I did called in the beginning you need to pick those up in the bookstore. If you have doubts, and then the Bible's integrity is been attacked on the theological front and I'm not going to cover that today because of cover that already in a series of messages call spiritual boot camp pick those up in the bookstore.
What I want to talk to about today is another front on which the Bible is been assaulted and attacked and that is the front of historical accuracy is the Bible a historically accurate document and here's the issue. If, when the Bible is talking about historical events. It's not reliable then how do we know it's reliable when it talks about the events of Jesus Christ. If it is reliable when it talks about historical events, we can make the presumption that the writers got the history right then they got the things about Jesus right so there's an awful lot riding on this now a key player in this whole discussion is a fellow named Sir William Ramsey's William Ramsey was actually born in 1851 in Scotland. He received his PhD in Greek culture and archaeology from Oxford University and in 1885 he began teaching at Oxford Greek art, Greek archaeology and New Testament. Ramsey had been trained as a liberal scholar when he came to the Bible. Ramsey believe that the Bible was unreliable as a historical document. He believed that it was fraudulent as a historical document. He believed the book of acts.
In particular, was written by by somebody other than Luke centuries after Paul lived, if indeed there even was.
Anybody named Paul that ever live, and that it couldn't be counted on to be accurate about any of the events from the first century and this is what he taught in his classes, well, there was a problem. The problem is he had a lot of students who believe the Bible and the a lot of students who Took Sam telling him that he needed to give his life to Jesus Christ and he got irritated with all the students bugging him about the dividends like the crisis lawyers when he decided to do. He decided to take a sabbatical from Oxford and go to Asia minor and dictate the book of acts to take the Bible and use the book of acts as his roadmap to actually follow the exact itinerary city to city.
The city that the book of acts that Paul followed and to do archaeology in each of those cities. Remember the guys trained as a PhD archaeology and he said oh I'm going to do is on the go there and I'm gonna find so many examples of where the Bible is wrong, bring them back and publish them. So these people will leave me alone once and for all about Jesus Christ and that was his goal, and that's what he went did is been over a year, marching around Asia minor.
Following the book of acts, and at the end of that year. Guess what happened, he became so convinced that the Bible was right, he became so convinced that the Bible was accurate that he did three things. Number one he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Number two. He came back to England and publicly recanted all the liberal teaching he'd been doing about the Bible and number three in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. He became the most outspoken and erudite defender from a scholarly point of view of the Bible anywhere in the world.
As a matter fact so William Ramsey was the man who discovered the truth about AZ arts and we just learned in Ephesus. He's the one to figure out that's really what they were called in that tail. Listen to what he said and I quote, he said.
I began with the fixed idea that the book of acts was essentially a second century fraudulent composition just simply saying here I went over there convinced it was a fraud. I didn't go with any presumption, it was true.
He said I never relied on its statements is trustworthy for first century conditions but I gradually came to regard it as an authority for the topography historical conditions in society of Asia minor. In the time of Paul. Luke is a historian of the first rank."
Folks were really convinced Ramsey more than any other single thing was the fact that Luke correctly use titles for local rulers everywhere. He mentioned the local rulers in other words, and everywhere in every case. In the book of acts.
Every location were Paul when Luke gets the title of the local rulers exactly right.
And that was no salt small feet in the Roman Empire. Let me show you in acts chapter 13 Luke got Sergius Paulus right calling in the proconsul of Cyprus Cypress was not a senatorial province. It should therefore have not had a proconsul, but out of because there were some relatives of the Emperor that lived on Cyprus. They gave it a proconsul anyway as a way of being nice to the island. Luke got that right. Acts chapter 18 he got Galileo right as the proconsul of Acadia in acts chapter 28 he got the chief official on the island of Malta were Paul was shipwrecked right.
He called them the protons in Greek, the first man of the island, which was the unique title that was used for the ruler of this island in acts chapter 16 he got the local ruler of Philippi right calling them pray tors and it's interesting that Cicero, the Roman poet mentions to us that the technical title IV rulers of colony cities and Philippi was a colony city was due him for years, but then Cicero says and I quote all they arc, although they are called to him beers in other colony cities. The rulers at Philippi like to be called traders."
So not only did Luke do not know that he knew the nickname of these people that they like to go by the interested that he knew that pay in acts chapter 17. Luke calls the chief magistrate's of the town of Thessalonica pilot talks now. This title never appears.
Even to this day in any Greek document in any Roman document of any kind, and this was pointed to as proof positive. The exalted proof that the Bible was absolutely wrong. Lucas is making up names as he goes along. But then, in 1835. Archaeologists working in the city of Thessalonica found the stone, and on that stone was an inscription that mentions poly tarps is me in the local rulers, and since then we found 64 other stones mentioning poly tarps from the town of Thessalonica, it still doesn't appear in any Roman document. It still doesn't appear in any Greek document that we have 65 inscriptions confirming this is what the rulers in that town were called Luke got it right. No one five centuries later Cody got it right because it never appears in any writing. How did Luke get it right if he wasn't there when the Bible says he was there.
We've already talked about AZ arts in acts chapter 19 but let me give you one more example last one here in acts 19 verse 38 Luke refers to the proconsul's the plural of Ephesus.
They say ha ha ha see you said the local rulers were AZ arks and now here you are.
Six versus A versus later say Interpol talks in the Bible you see there. The Bible contradicts itself and timbers. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Yes, you're right. The local rulers of Ephesus were called AZ arks, but we know from archaeology. Now that the Roman government also insisted on sending its own representative to rule over the whole province and as a senatorial province. The ruler was a proconsul.
You say, but lawn the he said proconsul holds the there was only one proconsul per province right that's correct. So see there you say the Bible is wrong. Luke says there was more than one we know there's only one women but yet 5480.
Remember, Paul was in Ephesus, 53 to 5680 we know in 54 A.D. Nero you know Emperor Nero the gotta play the fiddle going out okay. His mother got mad at the proconsul in Ephesus, the proconsul's name was Julius Alanis and she sent two assassins to killing, which they did 54 A.D. we also know from Roman records that Nero took his time in prayer, in appointing a successor. So for two years from 54 to 56. These two assassins were appointed by Nero's mother as interim proconsul in the province of of Asia and therefore in 55 when Luke is writing this. There are two proconsul's in Asia). These two interim guys there were only there two years, but they were there the two years. The apostle Paul was there.
Luke got it exactly right exactly right. You know there's an old Sherlock Holmes story about how this fraudulent ship captain was trying to get some friends of Holmes to to give them some money to start a swindle and so Holmes went met with the these ladies he was trying to swindle and with this Capt. fraudulent Capt. for dinner and as they were leaving.
He says ladies he says whatever this man wants from you. I would recommend that you give him nothing. He is a fraud and a liar. As they were walking home. According to the story. Watson is walking with Sherlock and Watson turns to Sherlock Holmes is and how could you possibly a figure that out in such a short time just having dinner with the man. Here's what Holmes said and I quote, he said, my dear Watson. No genuine semen. Whatever speak of his ship, tossing to the right and the left as this man did he would've said to the port and starboard, nor would he have talked about the phone and the back of the boat, but rather the bow and stern. Sherlock says when we were being offered falsehood. Simple little facts, such as the right words in the right places reveal the true" (listen the opposite is true. When we have all the right words in all the right places as Sherlock Holmes says there is a presumption not a falsehood there but a presumption of true and what we seen here is that Luke got all the right words in all the right places for all of these rulers. In fact, the truth is it's taken modern scholarship 1800 years to catch up with the Bible the Bible the right the whole time.
Ramsey said and I quote one of Luke's most impressive claims to historicity to historical accuracy is that he always gets titles right how a writer handles titles quickly betrays him if he's trying to construct a forgery. Instead of having been there is an eyewitness, Ramsey continues the officials with whom Paul and his companions were brought into contact are those whom are historical records now tell us would have been there every official in acts is found precisely where he ought to be proconsul's and senatorial provinces, AZ arts in Ephesus. Traders in Philippi pilot talks and Thessalonica, etc. Ramsey concludes the only reasonable conclusions are one that the book of acts must have been written by an eyewitness of the events and to that the writer was a stickler for accuracy. You know him we could take tours to Israel this little mantra that I make people say and it goes like this, the more they dig out of the ground the more the Bible proves to be true.
That's a direct quote from me. I said that. Okay, the more they prove out of the gathered round the motor Bible proves to be true. And folks, this world system would love to shake your confidence in the Bible is the word of God, you little run in the professors in high school and college of the come up with every auto high sounding reason why the Bible can't possibly be correct and is not possibly reliable. You can have friends at work.
The relatives are going to try to convince you and undermine your confidence in the Bible, but you listen to me they may come up with all kinds a high sounding logic. But I'm here to tell you the Bible has stood the test. It stood every test that it's ever been subjected to it stood Artest this morning when he came looking at every local ruler that it mentions and the important point for this morning is this not just that the Bible is right and what it says about AZ arks and Pollock thoughts and prayers and proconsul. The important point as Sherlock Holmes said it that by getting all of these titles right. The only logical conclusion is that the Bible is also correct in what it says about far more important issues for weightier items like Jesus Christ. What he did for us on the cross and how to get eternal life. Friends of your here and you never given your life to Jesus Christ and and one of the things that is been hanging you up this is what is your you're just not sure as to whether or not the Bible can really be trusted. I'm here to tell you be hung up no more because the Bible will stand the test and for those of us here who have already put our trust in the Lord Jesus, I hope you walk out of here and say you know what I'm walking out with a greater confidence in the Bible that I walked in here with because you know what if he gets all these little titles right. Anybody who was that precise and and care that much about details like that woman he's got to of gotten stuff about Jesus Christ right because that's the more important stuff, you know, when I was growing up we didn't sing the song that were about to all because we didn't sing the song in the synagogue. We can do this a lot you sang the song growing up and you sung it with your children and maybe with your grandchildren and it goes like this.
The wise man built his house upon the rock. The wise man built his house upon the rock. The wise man built his house upon the rock and the rating scale Mutombo in the rains came down and the floods came up. The rains came down and the floods came up.
The rains came down and the floods came up, but the house on the rock stood her yeah all right they know that's a lot more the kid song.
That's a formula for life. The gods try to give us, and it's a formula that works friends when we build our house on the rock of the word of God paper storms can come in the rains can come in the floods can come and it doesn't really matter because when all the dust clears an eternity, you gonna still be standing on the rock in your house is going to be fine. So let me challenge you here today. You don't need to have any concerns about the Bible. It stands the test is a historically reliable document in a way that is challenging for modern scholarship to even explain and if it can be trusted to tell us the truth about history.
It can be trusted to tell us the truth about the Lord Jesus build your house on the rock.
You'll never be sorry you do spring floor. Thanks for talking to us today about the word of God and the fact that it is the rock to build our lives on and thanks for helping us look even if something is little and trivial as the title of local rulers in the book of acts and showing us that in every case the Bible gets it right even in some cases that modern scholarship is never got it right Bible gets it right and use that to encourage our faith today and deepen our confidence in the word of God.
May we build our house on the rock. The word of God. So the Lord when all the dust clears an eternity will still be standing because the house it's built on the rock stands firm send us out into our world with iconic confidence in the word of God. I pray and I ask this in Jesus name, amen