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Two More Cities

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 9, 2020 8:00 am

Two More Cities

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 9, 2020 8:00 am

Long ago and far away, the apostle Paul and a few friends traveled from place to place for months at a time. Everywhere they went, they preached about Jesus, attracted attention, drew crowds, ... and eventually got kicked out of town. But they also left behind, in place after place, a new community of believers.

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Long ago and far away. The apostle Paul and a few friends traveled from place to place four months at a time, everywhere they went, they preached about Jesus attracted attention drew crowds and eventually got kicked out of town but they also left behind in place after place a new community of believers.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically and asked 17, Paul and his companions come to the city of Thessalonica stay there a while they move on to Berea, it's becoming clear that Paul is focusing his attention on cities.

Let's listen to Dr. Boyce as he describes what happens. The 17th chapter callbacks is best known for the great sermon that the apostle Paul preached in Athens on Mars Hill. That's only the second half of the chapter and in the first half of this great chapter of this important book we find Paul not in Athens but in two other Greek cities Thessalonica North and in Berea which was on the way south from Thessalonica and Philippi toward Athens and Corinth is an interesting place to stop. If only for a few minutes and reflect on the importance of cities in the Bible studies are important in the Bible as a whole.

Some who have studied this and pointed out that there are more than 1400 references to city significant references to studies and that there are more than 25 careful studies of mission to a particular setting. The Old Testament as well, as in the new act course is a great example of this act begins in the city of Jerusalem, and most important city in all of Jewish history added progresses through scores of city's until toward the end of the book we find the apostle Paul, and those who are with him in Rome. You move from the most important city of Judaism. The most important city of the world that day were the midst of the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul is companions. We remember that they were commissioned by the church in the city Church of Antioch. It was the first mission minded church in the New Testament era was a cosmopolitan church because it is a cosmopolitan city was out of the particular sensitivity that the Christians in this city. Syria had that the missionary enterprise as we know it went forth from this point on her going to find Paul in Athens. I indicated Rach intellectual center of world is going to pass on to Corinth Rach commercial center and then were going to find them in Ephesus, where one of his most significant works was done all strategy as we study his activity in these journeys seems to of been this number one to go into a city and then number two after he had gone into a city to make it his endeavor to plant churches there doesn't of course football with unconcern for other areas.

He obviously wants. He knew that if he planted a strong Christian presence in the city as everything goes, comes from the city well the gospel like everything else would eventually spread from black great center to the regions roundabout. As I said, we have two examples of that in this first half of the chapter and it's those we want to look at in the study. Diversity is Thessalonica, Thessalonica was a very important city was a port city wasn't as great city of Corinth. Corinth was more direct line of commerce sat astride the isthmus and was a place where produce was passed up one side of the narrow straits and down the other in order to save many miles of sailing around the Peloponnese. Thessalonica was not like that, but nevertheless was the chief city of Macedonia and much of the produce from Macedonia going away and many of the things being imported to Macedonia passed through the city of Thessalonica there today. A slightly different name. It's known as Salonika.

But it is still an important city and wasn't even more important city in Paul's day, balancing just a moment what Paul did what his strategy was in this city. The first thing we notice we have noticed in other cities as well is that he established the point of contact with the citizens. Paul's chief point of contact as he went about the cities was the synagogue because there he had a hearing. There was a place where godly Jews and God-fearing Gentiles would gather regularly to give attention to the Jewish Scriptures that was a great advantage to Paul when he went to a synagogue.

He found people that were already interested in religious things and he found those new to some extent were already familiar with the word of God did know about Christ Messiah, the fulfillment of the Scriptures, but on the basis of their prior knowledge. He had a great opportunity to announce Christ to them. I would suggest that in our effort to reach our world today. We should focus on the city's course. That's where majority of the people are more more people are moving to the cities all the time and that when we move into the cities to establish a Christian witness. We look for points of contact someone will say to me well that is synagogue of not necessarily a synagogue. As a matter fact in most places is not today. The most effective point of contact, but our goal should be to establish those points of contact. We tried to do that a bit here in Philadelphia person would quiz me on this. I think I would say my judgment the greatest point of contact for the preaching or teaching of the gospel today is in areas of city life where Christians can be of service to other people. People in the cities are very conscious of their needs are single people and they have children after work. I wonder what they're going to do with the children when they get older they go to school, what are they doing their younger of the greatest point of contact with such people as a preschool. We establish one here many years ago. I suppose over the years we have had more hopeful contacts with city people in that way than perhaps anything else we would not, in more recent years, we've established a high school and for the same reason unnecessarily because we think we know how to do it better than anybody else. But because there's a tremendous need very point at which an development of education, the secular system public schools seem most of breakdown point where there's the greatest witness an opportunity there is a weakness because so many Christian schools tend to stop when they get the high school level. Sears is an opportunity to serve establish a point of contact same thing is true in the service ministries industries to street people are ministries known as Iraq's ministry to homosexuals. Our ministry is known as harvest ministry. Those who are having problem or crisis pregnancies are ministries known as alpha sought. I don't think that we have done a comprehensive job yet. Matter fact I would say that deer in Philadelphia.

We have perhaps only begun to scratch the surface of the many things that can be done. Nevertheless, that's a place to begin and it's out of those contacts that the most likely prospects arise for actually sharing the gospel with those were need to perhaps by the grace of God are aware of the need they have another thing we've stressed her over the years as a challenge to Christians to live in cities and establish a Christian presence there is not to say that Christians are not to establish a presence elsewhere go in the wall the world with the gospel.

But if the people are in the cities were to establish contacts with the people, then obviously the majority of us to find the cities to be a place where we should live by pattern of errors. I've explored this in other areas is that of EV Hill in Los Angeles who made it his goal.

He went there to pastor Zion Baptist Church some years ago. Establish a Christian presence in every block of the city been a ward leader for the Democratic Party city in Texas before he went to Los Angeles in his job as a ward leader for the Democratic Party was to have a block captain every block of his wort. So when election day came, work to get out the vote we went to Los Angeles. He said to himself I could do that for the Democrats. I can certainly do that for God and so he tried to establish a Christian block captain in every block that sounds like an overwhelming task, especially if one thinks about it while one is flying into Los Angeles especially at night sees all those many millions of street lights. All those many billions of people that one looks down upon you wonder to yourself how many blocks are there in Los Angeles. Johnny Carson and Johnny Carson would reply if he knew the answer to that question 8000 blocks.

That's not all that impossible.

So EV Hill started out to do that.

Last I heard it was many many years ago. He had block captains in 1900 blocks of Los Angeles, I think we need to do that. Find other ways of doing it as Christian people of the second thing I noticed about Paul's procedure when he arrived in Thessalonica is that having gone into the synagogue.

He began to reason with those who were there from the Scriptures explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.

I just think about those things for a moment I want you to think about what it says that I want you to think about what it doesn't say first of all it says she began with the Scriptures Scriptures and the word of God refers to them.

Elsewhere is the very oracles of God, that is God's own words as promised blessed Scripture said that he won't allow it to return unto him void so Paul I guess for theological and practical reasons began with the words, knowing theologically that God would blessed in judging the that's what God promised blessed will that he probably do better preaching the Scriptures and doing anything else. So he began to teach them reduce those who were in the synagogue still be ministered presumably already having them be setting some of the scrolls had in their hands, that which he could use as he began reason from the Scriptures to prove the Jesus is the Christ.

The second thing he did was reason for the Scriptures at something that the evangelical church needs to hear today because we have a tendency our time down play reason we say sometimes we do it on theological grounds.

Well, if the Holy Spirit is one that has to bring men and women to faith in Jesus Christ. And it doesn't really matter whether you give the reasons for their faith or not that only thing you really have to do is proclaim the Scriptures that is just quote Bible verses to them well is better to quote Bible verses to them and do nothing at all and is better to quote Bible verses to them than to the quote that mere wisdom of man, however valuable it may be, but I do notice that is not all Paul that gave the Scriptures, but he reason from the Scriptures said, think about this. Think about what it says. Think about what it implies. Think of the Scriptures relate to one another man as we read what Luke has to say about it. We find that on that basis. He explained the open them up and talk what they meant and proved that is taking text from them, relating them to the experiences of life of Jesus Christ. Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Messiah, and that he had to suffer die and then rise again from the dead. So those of the positive things only negatively for a minute, what didn't he do one thing he didn't do is try to coerce them in some manner in them over the head with a Bible, figuratively speaking. Sometimes we do that, we think that is Christians, all we have to do is shout louder world does want to hear us so we shout world doesn't want to think so. We Bible verses ad nauseam we try to compel people, sometimes even by threats to be Christians. Alden knew that he reason with him. I suppose he reasoned. Similarly, tried to win them beside gave every violent, every careful every thoughtful reason he could and with the reasons you provided inducements or Jesus Christ himself did that during the days of his earthly ministry so you didn't course of and I want you to see to he didn't entertain them. We really do need to hear that today because we live in an entertainment agent Christianity in its evangelical form, particularly is caught up in entertainment. One way we talk about the type of thing that is going on today is by this word ministry Doug about people's ministries now want to be misunderstood. At this point because ministry is a biblical word and an important one and when we understand it properly. Something we need to understand Bible teaches about that. There are laypeople and ministers. Rather, the Bible teaches that all Christians are ministers and that he is called some to be teachers, some to serve another way ministry means to serve in. All Christians are to serve and therefore all of us are to minister. That's a good word to use it that way. We use the word we speak of a ministry. What we mean by that is a business generally that's wrapped up around an individual I noticed in the media in recent months that there is great talk about television ministries and whether some of the people who were no longer in television ministry are going to establish another ministry really means is a business looking to get into something that's going to bring in money and as we well know often why, but because of the substance of its teaching, but because of its entertainment value. I'll probably not go to Thessalonica to entertain the citizens of Thessalonica, he did not go to Berea, entertain the brilliance all went there to teach the word of God took the Scriptures you reasoned from them explaining what they meant improving from the word itself. The Jesus is the Christ, we say that you decide entertain you do that on a large scale millions and billions of dollars in small-scale goal get a certain following because people like to be entertained. The result of it will not be result refined from Paul's work in Thessalonica that is church communion Christian people called into being by God blessed by him. 11 business of the ministry wrapped up around you which you are gone will fade away.

Why is it that Bible teaching church strives generation to generation and ministries and our use of the word modest because ministry center on an individual entertainment churches.

The Qaeda churches they should be center of the exposition of the word and Jesus Christ was the message that's the next thing we need to see from that we've seen Paul's strategy in establishing a point of contact we've seen his teaching method, namely to teach from Scripture proving explaining in a reasonable way what it says next notice of this message is centered in the Christ. There are lots of other things you go to talk about and I'm sure that as he explained who Christ was what he came to do, and the implications of that you touched on many of these things is important, however, that when Luke writes in his condensed form as he does. He doesn't mention these other matters important as they may have been, but he mentions Jesus all came to teach Christ had to suffer had to rise again from the dead, and he proclaimed that Jesus at his Jesus of that sort of the historical Jesus is that Christ say what we really have here in this passage, it gets shorter and shorter as we go on as a restatement of what I spoke of an earlier study is the charisma or Greg Ms. Greek it means the proclamation was a certain proclamation.

It was associated with what we mean when we use the word gospel. Namely, the good news.

What is the good news. Well the good news concerns a certain proclamation.

Certain things are happening certain things are true and that is focused in Jesus Christ, the son of God, that he died. According to the Scriptures was Barry Rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen alive by chosen witnesses and is now proclaimed throughout the world as Savior from sin and the Messiah.

I cited many other things you can add to that that's that's the focus and any teaching that leaves that out of course has left out the very thing that God blesses the heart the very thing the results in the salvation of sinful men and women I spoke about Paul's method is point of contact. I spoke of his teaching are spoken of the content of his message. I want you to see.

Finally, the results result which I alluded to a moment ago is that he established a church in the city. Verse four says some of the Jews were persuaded, that is, some of those were in the synagogue, they joined Paul and Silas, and so did a large number of God-fearing Greeks. Are going to find one of them was Jason was another man named Antipater and perhaps others as well. Mentioned even in the New Testament it says here that a large number of God-fearing Greeks and bought a few prominent women women and enjoyed a larger measure of liberation of the Greek city states that they did in the villages of Palestine or Canaan, and here they were prominent and many of them believed I said the result was that the church was established in that's true to say that it was not only establish but it endured. We need to say that something else was true as well. Not only was a church established second thing is that persecution followed.

Here we find that those who did not believe were jealous.

Verse five and that out of the jealousy they were moved around up certain bad characters guide that you find hanging around on street corners. Even here, as well as their they formed a mob and started a riot in the city I went to Jason's house because that's where Paul and Silas were staying didn't find them there. They did find Jason so they dragged him as a mother brothers to the city officials shouting these men who have caused trouble all over the world have come here and Jason is welcome them into his house and they made their accusation they are defying Caesar's decrees saying that there is another king one called Jesus to give you a little parenthesis before I say something that is really more important in our translation those to whom they brought Jason are called the city officials.

Sometimes we do something by translations and I think that's true here words.

City officials are good translation of the Greek word which is public parks. Reason I say we lose something. Is that that title is an official title of Paula target actually means a city official, but it's an official title of that's important. For this reason, this is the only place in ancient literature where his word is found, was a long time. When scholars liberal scholars, critics of Bloom's writings were saying that it's proof that will didn't know what he was writing about is in the story and what they said we don't know anything about any public parks in the Greek city states here. Luke is using the term so obviously something that is calling because he wasn't there to report the situation accurately while as a matter of fact it is the critics rather than Luke, who has been proved wrong because they have now found scattered throughout the Roman world, but in this very city, Thessalonica, 16 inscriptions in stone on this very word tolerance arc would seem since the inscriptions are not found elsewhere in the word is not found elsewhere that this was a term unique to Thessalonica even found the term carbon in March about one of the gates to the city so far from being an accuracy on smart. It's actually a proof of extraordinary accuracy because he didn't use this word when he reported the work that was going on in Philippi. I called him or Derby list for any of the other places where there were Paula Parks, but rather use the word here which is entirely right. I said I was going to say something about this that was a bit more important and let me do that now were told that when they came to the city officials they made their accusation was twofold that these two have been upsetting people elsewhere come here and that they are teaching that people should defy Caesar's decrees or point out that the second half of that was untrue. It was politic. Of course I wanted to rouse slogans who regarded themselves as good citizens of the Roman Empire if they could get them stirred up by thinking that people were coming here teaching insurrection against Caesar they have something in their favorites exactly the same tactic was taken in the trial of Jesus Christ.

I knew the pilot wouldn't condemn him because he claimed to be God, which of course is why they wanted to have it executed so they said well he sets himself up against Caesar making out that he is a king. Well, that's what they're saying here.

These men are defying Caesar's decrees saying that there is another king one called Jesus is King of course.

He said even at his trial that his kingdom was a kingdom of truth pilot understood that, so that wasn't substance of the accusation and was false, but the first part of it was true. I do think this is a another place where we lost something in the translation translation that I have says these men who have caused trouble all over the world.

Now, come here. Well, that's the gist of it, they were certainly causing trouble. The text actually says these are the men would turn the world upside down Bill King James Bible translated that way there's an inscription from antiquity of a teenager writing to one parent complaining about another parent and the gist of it was that his father would let them go to Alexandria and he says this is upset me and that's the word that you steer. These are the men will upset the world turned upside down. I say that's true because that's exactly what they were doing they were upsetting the world they were turning it upside down wasn't a bad thing for them to do. It was a good thing for the simple reason the world already been turned upside down by sin and by turning upside down again and really setting it back the way it should go reset it right side up again because they were pointing men and women to Jesus Christ. I wish all Christians everywhere would be upsetting just that way. I know a lot of Christians are upset, but not in that way and I find myself sometimes upset by the that's not what I have in mind, we should be upsetting the world in the sense that we bring by the grace of God in the preaching of the word world back which senses teaching them what it is a God is not in Jesus Christ for their salvation question I would ask is that different.

This is what God wants us to do God's places in the city where it needs to be done brothers and sisters. Why aren't we doing it is our task and it's her challenge. We had a great deal more time, I would like to look at this point of the first two chapters of first Thessalonians because in those first two chapters of that important book.

Paul, from a later period of history looks back in this church and begins to reflect on what happened. There is the result of his preaching going to find as we go on from this point and actually begin to deal with cities to whom he later wrote letters to come to Corinth, he wrote two letters to Corinth going to call deficits. He wrote an important letter deficits. We've already been in Philippi, wrote a letter to the Philippians. These two letters to the Thessalonians are most important in the first two chapters of first Thessalonians, throw great deal of light on what happened here in these days, instead of reading them, which we had time to read them instead of reading them just tell you the points that they make all says in the first chapter of that letter that the gospel came in power when he preached in the city that is by the Holy Spirit why Paul writes makes me think that there were times in his ministry when at least so far as he could tell the gospel didn't come in such power preached. It was the same gospel but for reasons known only to God, not as many responded and the results are not as firm here however Thessalonica had gone powerfully last the Scriptures as they were preached.

Secondly he says that in conjunction with back when he preached the gospel. The words he spoke were received by the Thessalonica and this is the very words of God. He often refers to his teaching that way. Not to say of course it did human why everything he said was from God rather to say that when he was preaching the gospel as an apostle, one who got a call to the special tasks.

The actual words he spoke were God's words said in writing to the Corinthians that we speak God in human words but the words given to us by the Holy Spirit.

That's the way it was received because it was received.

That way God richly blessed thing Paul says in those first two chapters of first Thessalonians is that those who receive the gospel in this way and believed it became imitators of him that is Paul and Silas and the others were present was in the New Testament those days they didn't have even the sermon on the Mount so they could place the words of Jesus Christ before them and say this is our model that Paul Paul living after Jesus Christ so they tried to model their Christian life on him for thing he says is that in doing that they became models that is not only models to one another, but models to Aldo's roundabout those who are actually living out the Christian life in the city and doing it a powerful and effective way and then finally says in those chapters. As a result of all those things they became a center through which the gospel spread that is to say in their turn, they became missionaries. I think that's what we need today, many churches established in our cities pot in the Scriptures receiving those Scriptures is a very words of God in which individuals are imitating now mock Paul, necessarily, but Jesus Christ, so becoming models about a church should be an from home gospel spreads to all regions roundabout.

Well, the story goes on to tell us that although they hadn't arrested Paul and Silas, and had only secure adjacently did extract from Jason a pledge that there would be no more trouble doesn't spell out exactly what that involved would probably advance that missionaries at least Paul will be the city so we did we find in the next section that as soon as it was night brothers. That is the Christians sent Paul and Silas away to Berea so we come to the second of these two cities of interesting things happened in Berea.

I think that of all the phrases from this great book of acts that I remember teaching I had enacted my childhood this one about the brands is probably that which is stuck with me most. Over the years. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, translated in the slightly different way than our version that's the way I learned it because they received the message with great eagerness and search the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true to things that are set of them. There are three things actually.

First day received the message eagerly. Secondly, they searched the Scriptures and then thirdly search the Scriptures daily says that they received the word or message eagerly. It doesn't mean that they were na´ve simply believe everything the hard that isn't the implication of the message of all.

It simply means that, unlike those in some of the other cities. They were open to what and had not prejudge the issue in advance say in the other cities attended some instances to regard the preaching of the gospel something new and therefore something to be rejected out of hand. The greens didn't do that.

They said this is good. Would like to hear it. You come to announce good news. Let's hear the good news that were told. Having heard the good news they went to the Scriptures themselves and search the Scriptures examining them see of these things that the apostle Paul was teaching really were substantiated by word of God and moreover they did daily daily just on Sunday mornings were in our daily because these things were matters of life and death. They wanted to spend all available time and studying for a church like that all how happy the preacher who has a congregation composed of such people are preachers.

I suppose one people to accept what they say. Just because they say they don't want to be challenged but those who are really happy are those who have a congregational hear the word receive and eagerly go to the Scriptures themselves and study it to see if these things are really true. And as it says do it daily, the results find the results in verse 12. It's exactly the same things we saw earlier, many of the Jews believed tested. Also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men, that means I'm sure you understand it is that here in Berea as in Thessalonica and in Philippi before laugh and in the other cities church was established, which went on to grow and thrive, and in turn send out missionaries to other places. When we finished our last study, which was about Paul's work in Philippi. I pointed out that although doesn't say it in so many words he stayed behind in Philippi. We see it by the fact that he changes from using the word we when they traveled to the word that was we when they came to Philippi, but it was they afterwards so we know that he stayed on here at the end of these two stories. Stories of the work in Thessalonica and Berea, we find the Paul's company is reduced still further, because Silas and Timothy stayed on Berea Hon Paul on the loan to this great southern city of Athens and other reasons, of course, the early churches needed someone to strengthen them. That's why Paul allowed them to stay, but if we look at it, we would say you know from a human point of view. What he really was doing was dividing what was already a pitifully small force always setting out we have to understand this upset the world not just Thessalonica, not just Berea, not just Philippi but offset the entire Roman world. And he was setting out to do it with just four workers himself and Silas and Timothy and Luke, who had joined them along the way, what is he doing leaves can Philippi. The leaves, Silas Timothy and Maria goes on to Athens. Later they, joined him there. We find in chapter 18, but after that he dispatches them again. Timothy goes back to Thessalonica. Silas somewhere else. We don't know where on the pitiful, inadequate timing force and hats.

What a revolution because of the preaching of the gospel, God was making known through these four men. This area of the world. The world really was in some quarters that we set back up on its feet again.

Churches were established and everywhere man and women, Jews and Greeks, young and old free slaves called upon Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Prayer father bless the study of Paul's work in these two cities to our hearts grant we might learn from it. Above all, give us the determination, strength and grace to do in our own way. What he did there and we establish a Christian presence word counts whether people and to model what it means to be Christian, so that those what God might see Jesus seeing him might be drawn to him and find salvation. We pray in Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 port.

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