GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Godís Word has a Powerful Effect
Jerry A Collins
We often come across spheres of relationships in our lives where it seems impossible to make a difference with the Word of God. For some of you that may include your family relationships. That would include kids saved thru Sunday School or a summer camp ministry that are the only believers now in an unbelieving family. Their moms and dads, brothers and sisters, extended relations continue in their unbelief but God has a seed planted there. For you it may be your workplace, career choice and you are surrounded by pagansóunbelievers who have no interest in God and are preoccupied by the power and affluence that money will bring them and you wonder how the Word of God could ever penetrate someone caught up in all of that. Your neighbor who scoffs at your witness and mocks your faith. You serve in the community with staunch muslims, catholics, jwís, Jews unwilling to even hear about your faith. Can Godís Word penetrate these kinds of hearts? The city of Ephesus was like these kinds of groups of people. It was a place that seemed impossible to penetrate with the Word of God. It was a center for witchcraft, superstition, demonism, the occult, temple worship, and magicians. It is to this city that Apostle Paul came to assault the strongholds of evil there with the Word of God. What happens when believers are planted in these kinds of strongholds and use the Word of God there? What kind of strategy can we employ to attempt to make a godly impact?
1. IT IS A STRATEGY THAT EMPLOYS THE USE OF GODS WORD 8-10, 20
(1) First the power of Godís Word is unleashed by proclaiming it. Godís Word has the ability to change the lives of people. If you believe that, then you will use it, proclaim, share it, teach it and it is that proclamation that has the power to effect the hearts of minds of people you may believe are impossible to be reached. Again, we see Paul entering the city and beginning his proclamation in another synagogue. He had established cordial relationships with these Ephesian Jews on a previous visit (18: 19-21). This time he was connected with this synagogue for 3 months and boldly spoke out, (emphasizing the continual nature of his message), reasoning (word for dialogue, responding to questions and challenges) and persuading (means to convince by argument). This was a congregation of unbelieving Jews and unflinchingly he directly challenged their mindsets by teaching the Word of God. People need to understand that the source of your authority is the Word of God. That is the source of authority for your morality, your decision-making, your priorities, your affections, your conduct, your standards, your beliefs, your salvation.
(2) The focus of the proclamation was the kingdom of God. It is Godís rule over the hearts of men and his desire for us to submit to His authority and dominion. It is centered in a king and people subject to that king. It is the livelihood of the people intimately related to the king. The kingdom of God is supernatural, heavenly and eternal. This kingdom is the source of our significance, security and authority. Righteousness is at the center of this kingdom. It is essentially the heart of God. It is what God is. It is a description used for the entire message of Christianity. Salvation is how you enter into it. It is this kingdom that is opposed to the rule of Satan. It is this rule of darkness, this authority of the kingdom of Satan, which the kingdom of God in Christ challenges.
(3) There will always be opposition to the rule & authority of God 9. At first this messenger and his message was welcomed but when some understood that to submit to this rule of God in Christ meant no longer submitting to and confessing and repenting from their religious authority they opposed it. This hardening was gradual and eventually manifested itself as disobedient, unwilling to believe and speaking evil of the way which was the outward manifestation of their refusal to believe. A slanderous campaign to discredit Paul, his message and influence began. People will want to remain under the authority of the worldís thinking, priorities and perspective.
(4) Find other ways to influence people with the Word of God. Paul transferred his ministry to another location and intensified his ministry from a weekly to a daily proclamation. For 2 more years he
influenced his disciples (those who had repented and confessed Christ) Some believe this happened for nearly 5 hrs a day and if 52 weeks a yr for 2 yrs adds up to 3120 hours of lecturing. That is 130 days of lecturing continuously for 24 hrs. The content of these must have been the deep truths found in his letters. The impact was such that all of Asia, previously not allowed to go, heard this word about the kingdom of God. How? The believers who heard in this hall captivated and galvanized by this truth, spread the word throughout the whole area. They formed groups in other cities and evangelized and discipled until the whole province heard this word of Christ. Most likely the fellowship at Colossi begun by Epaphras and Philemon. The believers in the cities of Revelation 2-3 were probably established at this time (Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Laodecia). All of this begun and started out of a place unconcerned about Godís kingdom and preoccupied with their own world. God can do amazing things if we are willing to use His Word and share and live His message where he has planted us. Let me share with youa testimony of a muslim who has come to know Christ as her personal savior. Reaching muslims with the gospel is a very difficult thing to do but even within this unbelieving group God is drawing people to himself.
2. GODíS WORD WILL COMPLETELY TRANSFORM PEOPLE WHO BELIVE IT 11-20
(1) God confirms His Word as true 11-12. These miracles were extraordinary done at a distance from Paul. Not magic by supernatural symbols God used to underscore the character of His apostle as a channel of the power of God as an apostle.
(2) Satanís stronghold will crumble under the influence of Godís Word 13-17. These 7 sons knew a good thing when they saw it. So they attempted to jump on this bandwagon and employ Jesus name as some kind of magic formula. This Ďspirití knew Jesus in sense of instinctive and innate knowledge and knew Paul in sense of know his name, who he is. Here we see this kingdom of darkness divided. They were unwittingly duped by satanic philosophy and were attacked by an evil spirit supposedly should have been on their side. Jesus said ĎWhen Satanís kingdom is divided he can no longer stand (MT 12:26).
(3) Believers begin to clean up their lives 18-20. These people hearing of Godís kingdom were set free and discarded that which had previouslyheld them in bondage. They confessed, came clean and were changed. Here in this impossible city Godís power broke thru and continues to for those deluded and trapped by deception and philosophy that wants to ensnare them.