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The Bible and America - Acts Part 47

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2020 11:00 am

The Bible and America - Acts Part 47

So What? / Lon Solomon

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We are in a verse-by-verse study of the book of Acts and we have reached chapter 19 and in this chapter which we're going to cover today there's some wonderful truth that applies to your life and my life as Christians but there's also that same truth that has application to our nation and since this is July 4th weekend I think that we should talk about our nation as well don't you yeah so this is what we're gonna do are you guys ready all right here we go the title of the message today is the Bible and America now a little bit of background if you remember the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 16 17 and 18 has been on his second missionary journey he has crossed we'll show you a map into Europe for the very first time with the gospel right into the heart and the soul of the Roman Empire and he has led thousands of people to Christ in Turkey and in Greece and established church after church after church but here at the end of Acts chapter 18 Paul concludes his second missionary journey and he goes back to his home church in Antioch we'll show you a map so you see where that is Paul spent only about a year in Antioch and then he left and went out on his third missionary journey and that's where Acts chapter 19 picks up so here we go Acts chapter 19 verse 1 and it came to pass that having passed through the interior meaning of the country of Turkey Paul came to Ephesus now let me show you a map so you see where he went from his hometown in Antioch through central Turkey to the Mediterranean coast and the city of Ephesus Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia we are not talking about Asia China Asia we are talking about the Roman province of Asia which if you draw a line north to south through the middle of modern-day Turkey it's the part on the left the part on the west that was the Roman province of Asia and Ephesus was the second most important city in the Roman Empire verse 9 and Paul taught the disciples daily in the school of tyrannous tyrannous was a man who had some kind of educational facility there in Ephesus and Paul borrowed it every day to disciple the disciples you understand what I'm saying okay verse 10 and this continued for two years by the way this was the longest stint that the Apostle Paul ever had in a single place on all of his missionary journeys two years so that all who lived in the Roman province of Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus both Jewish people and Gentiles let me show you a map and these are the seven churches of the Revelation Thyatira Pergamum Philadelphia Smyrna they're all addressed in Revelation chapter two and three all of these churches were in the Roman province of Asia and yet the Apostle Paul never actually went to any one of these places personally you also see the city of Colossae up there to whom the letter of the Colossians was written Paul says in that letter he had never actually been to Colossae personally you say well how the world all these churches start well it's just what the verse said it said everybody in the Roman province heard the Word of God because of Paul's ministry in Ephesus his ministry he used what I like to call the honeybee strategy you know how honeybees pick up pollen and they carry it from one place to the other well the strategy Paul used is that people would be coming through this great commercial center of Ephesus and they would get saved he would lead him to Christ and they would pick up the pollen of the gospel and carry it back to Thyatira carry it back to Philadelphia carry it back to Colossae share Christ and a church would start there do you understand how Paul did it and you know this is what we as McLean Bible Church are out to do we live in the crossroads of the world here in Washington DC and what we hope to do is follow that same strategy with men and women coming through Washington coming to know Christ picking up the pollen of the gospel in Washington and taking it back to Africa back to Asia back to the Middle East we are perfectly situated like Ephesus was for the honeybee strategy all right let's move on verse 23 and about this time there arose a great disturbance about the way that is Christianity for a silversmith named Demetrius who made silver images of the goddess Diana was bringing in no little business to the craftsmen in the town of Ephesus who did the same now the temple of Diana will show you a picture of what we think it looked like in those days was here in Ephesus and it was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world you remember the seven wonders of the ancient world yeah the pyramids come on what are they the Hanging Gardens of Babylon the mausoleum of Halicarnassus the the the Colossus of Rhodes the the statue of Zeus on Mount Olympus of the library at Alexander this should be review come on we're reviewing here you guys know this yeah okay well this was one of them now may I show you what the temple of Diana looks about the it's had some some tough days this is what it looks like today yeah one stinkin column okay that's it but in the time of the Apostle Paul it was a massively important religious center for the for the idol worshippers in the Roman Empire and they would come here and when they were in town they'd buy souvenirs and we actually have dug up in 1956 we found one of these little silver souvenirs of the goddess Diana that the Bible is talking about today it's in the Austrian Vienna Austria archaeological museum but we know the Bible's telling the truth because we found one of these little trinkets in the ground there at Ephesus so Demetrius saw the gospel as a threat Demetrius saw Paul as a threat if everybody comes to Christ they stop worshipping idols which means they stopped buying souvenirs yeah so he got a mob together and soon the whole city was in an uproar and they seized Gaius and Aristarchus Paul's traveling companions and they dragged them into the theater now we have found this theater in Ephesus we'll show you a picture it seats 25,000 people and this is the theater that they the mob dragged Gaius and Aristarchus into and when Paul wanted to go and appear before the crowd to kind of help Gaius and Aristarchus his buddies the disciples wouldn't let him also some of the say the next word with me AZ arcs yeah okay now that you know how it's pronounced say it with me some of the AZ arcs yeah who were the local rulers of the city of Ephesus who were friends of Paul sent to Paul pleading with him not to venture into the theater he get himself killed is what would happen and so after the uproar had ceased Paul called the disciples to him embrace them and then departed from Macedonia where Philippi was Thessalonica was Berea was you remember those cities and this is a continuation of his third missionary journey now that's as far as we're gonna go in terms of the chapter but we wanna I want to take you back now to verse 31 for just a minute here's what the verse said also some of the AZ arcs who were friends of Paul pleaded with him not to go to the theater the appearance of this word AZ arc here had been used for centuries by liberal critics of the Bible as a classic example of the historical unreliability of the book of Acts and by extension the historical unreliability of the entire Bible and here's the reason why this word AZ arc had never been found anywhere outside of the Bible in any Greek or Roman literature for 1850 years after the Bible was written never appears and in every Greek and Roman document the rulers of local places were either called proconsuls or tetrarchs and you know even the Bible says this look acts 1812 when galio was saying what was he proconsul of achaea and here's Luke chapter 3 verse 1 now in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar when Herod was Tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip was Tetrarch of Iteria and Lysanias was Tetrarch of Abilene you go ho ho wait me whoa you mean Abilene no I mean Abilene see Abilene is in Texas Abilene is a kingdom that was in northern modern-day Lebanon and Abilene is the correct pronunciation of that kingdom now my recommendation is that you don't go to Texas and say Abilene Texas that's probably not a good idea in Texas but the correct pronunciation of this is not Abilene it is Abilene okay just so you don't go out of here going what an idiot he is that's not Abilene that's Abilene I'm not an idiot and I'm not from Texas okay praise the Lord now all right now into this whole picture right now enter Sir William Ramsay let me tell you a little bit about Sir William Ramsay Sir William Ramsay was a professor of classical meaning Greek literature art and archaeology in the late 1800s at Oxford okay he had been trained as a theological liberal he believed the New Testament was unreliable he believed the book of Acts was a myth and he believed the entire Bible was a fraudulent book the problem is he had some students who kept arguing with him and challenging his skeptical views of the Bible the same students kept telling him that he needed to ask Jesus into his life you say at Oxford where these guys come from oh here's a little factoid you should know these students came from a revival that Dwight L Moody the great American evangelist held at Cambridge and Oxford in the years 1874 to 1876 where hundreds and hundreds of students at Cambridge and Oxford came to Christ that's where these students came from praise the Lord yeah and they drove dr. Ramsay crazy and so he decided that in order to shut him up once and for all he was going to go to Turkey himself he was going to go to Greece himself he was going to follow the book of Acts exactly chapter by chapter city by city he was going to do archaeological work at every one of the cities in the book of Acts and he was qualified he had the goods and he was going to do this to prove how the book of Acts was loaded with mistakes those ease so these students would shut up and leave him alone so he took a year sabbatical and that's exactly what he did would you like to know what he found in Ephesus yes he discovered that because of the strategic importance of the city of Ephesus the Roman Empire had allowed the Ephesians to retain an ancient title given to their city rulers and you'll never guess what that title was take a guess a Z arcs you got it that's exactly right and the point is that only someone who had been in Ephesus in the first century like the Bible says Paul was would have ever known about a Z arcs to put in another way somebody trying to forge the book of Acts centuries later would never have gotten this right because remember in all of the Greek and Roman literature available this word never appeared they wouldn't have known it so in summary the word a Z arcs instead of proving that the Bible is historically unreliable it actually proves a Z arcs does that the Bible is historically reliable to a fault praise the Lord and you know what everywhere Ramsey went to every city he went to he found the very same thing the result is after one year of carrying out listen to me now the most meticulous first-hand scholarly investigation of the book of Acts ever conducted Ramsey was so overwhelmed by the accuracy of the book of Acts that number one he gave his life to Jesus number two he recanted every liberal view he had of the Bible and number three he became one of the most outspoken and erudite defenders of the accuracy of the Bible in the late 19th and early 20th century praise the Lord true story true story and you know the biggest piece of evidence that convinced Ramsey you know what it was it was the book of Acts correct use of the titles for local rulers throughout the Roman Empire that's what really convinced him not just a Z arcs in Acts 19 but in Acts chapter 12 13 the book of Acts gets Sergius Pauluses a title right calling him the proconsul of Cyrus in acts of Cyprus rather in Acts chapter 28 the book of Acts gets the chief official of the island of Malta right calling him the first man of the island in Acts chapter 16 the book of Acts gets the rulers of Philippi right calling them praetors can I give you just one more in Acts chapter 17 when Paul was in Thessalonica the chief magistrates in that city the book of Acts calls them polytarks now listen to me to this day I mean 2017 the word polytark has never been found in any written Greek or Roman document anywhere ever and of course just was used as another great example of how the Bible was historically wrong and how the Bible was untrustworthy but then in 1835 archaeologists working in Thessalonica dug up a stone inscription and I'll put it up on the screen so you see it it's called the Varder V-a-r-d-e-r inscription because it was found right by the Varder River in Macedonia and on this old Greek inscription you will never guess what the local rulers of Thessalonica are called take a guess polytarks yes and now we have found 65 total references almost all of them in Thessalonica to polytarks none in literature all in stones that came out of the ground in archaeological work there and what we have learned is that polytark was a unique title given to the local rulers of Thessalonica only it's never used anywhere else in the Roman Empire and again only somebody who had been in Thessalonica in the first century like the Bible says Paul was could have possibly gotten this right you know there's a Sherlock Holmes short story where Holmes is invited to a meeting that some of his friends have organized with this captain of a ship who was trying to recruit money from them for a voyage the only problem was the captain was a fraud and the voyage was a fake he was trying to swindle them and at the end of his little speech Holmes says ladies whatever this man wants from you don't give it to him he's a fraud and a liar and on the way home his assistant of course Watson asked Holmes how in the world could you tell this man was a fraud just from his little speech and Sherlock Holmes says my dear Watson no genuine seaman would ever speak of his ship tossing to the right and the left as this man did he would have said to the port and the starboard nor would he have talked about the front and the back of the boat but rather the bow and the stern Holmes said the right words in the right places always reveal the truth end of quote and fraud friends this is exactly what convinced dr. Ramsey the right words about all these local rulers in the right places now to conclude this section of the message would you allow me to quote from dr. Ramsey himself here's what he said and I quote he said I found that the book of Acts could bear the most minute scrutiny one of Acts most impressive claims to historicity meaning to historical accuracy is that it always gets the titles of local rulers right Ramsey went on to say every ruler in acts is found precisely where they ought to be proconsuls and senatorial provinces a Z arcs in Ephesus pray tours in Philippi polytarks in Thessalonica he concludes by saying the only reasonable conclusion is that the book of Acts must have been written by an eye witness of the events in just the way the Bible claims end of quote praise the Lord and you know what we love to say can we say what we love to say it's up on the screen I think there it is let's say it together come on the more they dig out of the ground the more the Bible proves to be right praise God praise God now that's as far as we're gonna go in our passage because we're gonna stop now we're gonna ask our most important question and this is a 4th of July so what and you know what that means don't you that means it's got to have firecrackers behind it yeah okay so are we ready are we ready here we go one two three oh baby how sweet it is yeah you say all right Lon you know what I mean I feel like I've been drinking from a fire hose but you know hey you want meat I'll choke you yeah you want meat I'll choke you and and that's what we've done today but listen you say Lon I'm not a hundred percent sure what all this means for me well here's what it means for you I had somebody this past week asked me this question it's kind of morbid but it nonetheless they asked me this they said Lon if you knew that you were going to die Monday morning meaning tomorrow what's the single most important thing that you would want to tell your people at McLean Bible Church on Sunday today and I answered it I didn't even have to think I knew exactly what I would say to you I would say to you here it is brothers and sisters believe your Bible that's what I would say to you believe your Bible the more they dig out of the ground the more the Bible proves to be right for 46 years I have believed this book and for 46 years I have believed the God who wrote this book and that God and this book have never let me down to the contrary this Bible in this book has kept me out of trouble for 46 years praise the Lord most trouble anyway except what I get into with my wife but most trouble yeah most trouble and listen this book won't let you down either if I only had one thing to say to you before I went to meet Jesus I would say brothers and sisters believe your Bible believe your Bible and listen don't you dare let anybody talk you out of believe in your Bible don't you let anyone I don't care what kind of of scholarly achievements they have I don't care how many doctorates they have I don't care if they got three doctorates you know what education proves in most cases is that that person is educated beyond their intelligence that's all it proves folks listen to me I've seen people with multiple doctorates stupid as a stone post listen all you got to do to get a doctorate is be able to hang in there longer than everybody else that's it trust me that don't mean a thing don't you let anybody talk you out of believe in your Bible just because they've got credentials and just because they have a silvery tongue no you stick with your Bible and when the dust settles I promise you in heaven you're gonna thank God you did now we said though that there's a truth here that applies to our nation right that we should talk about and I'm gonna close with that by simply saying that I hope you understand as I do that all the problems we have in our nation today crime drug addiction racism hatred all of this these are just symptoms folks we understand that right these this is not the core problem the core problem in our country is that as a nation we have forgotten God as a nation we have forgotten God's Word the Bible and how it tells us to live and how it tells us to treat each other and how it tells us to find meaning and purpose in our life in the Lord Jesus Christ not in money not in power not in sex not in fame not in fortune not in achievement that's not where meaning and purpose are found they're found in living for the Lord Jesus Christ and we've taken the Bible out of our public schools we've taken the Bible out of our universities we've taken it out of our courts we've taken it out of our legislatures we've taken the Bible out of our workplaces we've taken the Bible out of our public squares we've taken the Bible out of our military and for goodness sake with very few exceptions we've even taken the Bible out of most of our churches you You say, that's the most judgmental thing I ever heard anybody say in my life. All right, I'll make you a deal. Go to a new town, pick out 10 churches at random, go to all of them, sit there, and you see how many times you hear somebody teach you the Bible.

And I guarantee you, you'll be shocked. And then we wonder why we got the problems we got. Listen to Deuteronomy chapter eight. Therefore, you shall keep the commands of the Lord your God, for the Lord your God is giving you a good land. Has the Lord given us a good land here in America?

Yes, he has. But beware that when you have eaten and built good houses and when your silver and gold multiplies, beware that then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commands and his statutes, for it shall come to pass. If you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods, power, fame, fortune, money, whatever, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you, Moses says, that you will surely perish like the nations the Lord makes to perish before you. So you shall perish because you refuse to listen to the voice of the Lord your God. Folks, can you see America in Deuteronomy chapter eight?

Cause I sure can. And you know what that means? That means that the greatest way that we as Christians, the greatest way that we as a church can help our nation is by standing firm for the Bible here in America and by declaring the truth of the Bible to America relentlessly and to teaching our children the Bible and our grandchildren the Bible and our teenagers the Bible and our young adults the Bible and each other the Bible and demanding that we believe it and that we obey it. That's the greatest service we can provide this nation. And brothers and sisters, this is the sacred mission of every church, in every culture, in every society, but there's no culture that needs it more right now than America does.

Amen. And every pastor who does this will be called blessed when he meets Jesus. And every church family that does this will see the anointing of God on their church and the blessing of God on their church. God has not blessed this church because I've been here.

Don't you dare think that. God has blessed this church because among other things we have stood firm for the Bible for over 50 years and that's why God has blessed this church. And you have my oath, you have the oath of our elders, you have the oath of our elders, you have the oath of our staff, and we're gonna make sure you got the oath of the next senior pastor of this church that this will always be McLean Bible Church. And the Bible will never be removed from this church nor will we ever compromise it or disbelieve it. No, no, when Jesus comes, I expect us to be standing here teaching the Bible as the eternal word of God and the inerrant word of God. And I don't care if we're the only church left doing it, we're gonna do it.

That is my oath to you. Now, yes, praise the Lord. Now, let me say one thing in closing. You said, well, I already thought you were closing. Well, I was, but one more thing. Listen here.

You know, I talk to you all the time about us being a mighty church, mighty in prayer, mighty in the word, mighty in evangelism, mighty in discipleship, mighty in church planting. But listen to me, folks. Do you understand? I hope you believe the devil's real. I hope you believe that, that there's a real being called Satan. You know, the greatest spoof that the devil has ever pulled on modern culture is convincing us he doesn't exist. But he exists. The Bible declares he exists. And listen to me, he hates this church.

You understand that? When we stand up and we say, oh, we're gonna teach the Bible here, Satan doesn't go, oh, goody, oh, goody, oh, goody, good for them. No, he turns red.

If he isn't already, I don't know. But he turns red with anger. And he hates this church with a diabolical hatred. And he is out to destroy this church and every church like this church and to pull it down and to smash it and to turn it into rubble. And that's the reason why, when I put those mighties together, I put prayer first. Because listen to me, we can't be a church that's mighty in the word if we're not a church first that's mighty in prayer. It can't happen because the only way that we can defend ourselves from that enemy is by the prayer of God's people in the name of Jesus, not in the name of McLean Bible Church, not in the name of Pastor So-and-so or anybody, but in the name of Jesus.

That is our weapon. Resist the devil, James chapter four, using the name of Jesus and he will flee. The disciples came back and in Luke's gospel, they said, even the demons are subject to us, Jesus, in your name.

And that's the only way the demons are subject to us. And so a praying church that uses the great weapon of the name of Jesus, a church that prays for its pastor, a church that prays for its elders, a church that prays for its staff, a church that prays for its church family and surrounds that church with an impenetrable wall of in Jesus' name, in Jesus' name. That's the only kind of church that we'll ever get to being a church mighty in prayer because it's the only church that'll have the protection from the enemy that it takes to get there. Are you with me?

Are you with me? And so I want to call you as a church family to be a church family of prayer. I want to call you to go in on our website and signing up to be a prayer warrior for your pastor, for your elders, for your church. I want to call you to come to the pre-service prayer meetings that we have at every campus.

And campus pastors, please tell the people at your campus when we're done where yours is. Ours is right out here in the prayer room before every service. And to come in there a half an hour early and get on your knees with God's people and pray for this church and pray against the devil for the needs of this church, friends. And I want to invite you in your personal prayer life to pray for this church. And if you don't have a personal prayer life, then start one and put this church as part of that.

If we're gonna be the church God wants us to be 50, 100, 150 years from now, it's because we're gonna be a praying people. And I call you to that as your pastor. I challenge you to that as your pastor. That is your duty and responsibility. We will lead and we will lead you right by the grace of God as your leaders. But you have the responsibility to surround us in prayer.

That is your job. You do your job, we'll do our job and together we'll do Jesus's work here in Washington. End of sermon. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, I wanna pray that you would take what I've said today and not only encourage our own hearts to believe the Bible, but that you Lord Jesus would enable us here in our nation's capital to be the kind of church that holds the Bible up as the inerrant word of God.

And no matter what price we might pay, we never ever move off that position. Jesus, use us to start a revival in this nation. Use other churches to start a revival in this nation. But Lord, even if a revival in this nation is not your plan, then let us Lord Jesus still be found holding up the Bible when Jesus comes back. So Lord, strengthen us for that task. Steal us against the enemy and make us a mighty church in prayer that we can be a mighty church in all these other ways for Christ. And we pray this and pray for our nation. In Jesus' name I pray and God's people said, amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 15:59:28 / 2023-06-10 16:11:46 / 12

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