The Whole Gospel

by | Jul 16, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Acts 19:1-10

Most of us live day to day with only half of the Gospel. But the truth is half of the Gospel is no Gospel at all. Half of the Gospel is all demand and no assurance. It is all obligation and duty without grace and mercy. It is a self righteous prison with no freedom. The whole Gospel of Jesus Christ offers assurance, holiness, blamelessness, sonship, redemption, forgiveness, grace, and purpose only through the finished work of Jesus Christ for you and for me.

Transcript

Heavenly Father we thank you for these ancient words you come now for the power of the holy spirit will you fill us will you lead us to your throne of grace that we might find help and mercy in this our time of need and Jesus we pray all this in your mighty name amen you may be seated well I hope everyone had a a great Fourth of July celebration uh celebrating the freedoms that that we enjoy uh in this country but today I want to talk about freedom but I want to talk about it in a little different kind of Freedom not not the freedoms we enjoy here in in this country as important as those are but uh hear this from before we get to our acts reading uh hear this from from John chapter 8 verses 34 to 36 the the Jesus said This truly truly I say to you everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin the slave does not remain in the house forever the sun remains in the house forever so if the sun has set you free you are free indeed amen I want to talk about the freedom that we have in Christ we’re free from sin we’re free from death we’re free from the devil we’re free from from the law we’re free from expectations of other people we’re free from even the expectations that we unduly put upon ourselves we’re free from judgment you know it’s why the the Apostle Paul even said he goes to the Corinthians you know you can judge me but it doesn’t bother me I don’t even judge myself God Alone is the judge and what did we learn in the gospel is that Jesus has been judged on our behalf for our sin we’re free in Christ we’re free in Christ and that is what’s worth celebrating today and always but the question is what do we do with that freedom what do we do with the freedom that we have in Christ most of us probably struggle our whole lives to even try to understand what does that even mean to live in Freedom in Christ most of us uh as the scriptures will will attain to you know we’ll attest to uh most of us continue to fall back into into the slavery of the law but what does it look like to to live in the freedom of Christ that we truly have in him to own it because I think there’s good ways to live into it there’s also bad ways to live into it what are some of the bad ways that we can we can live into the freedom that we have in Christ well I think the obvious one is to use it as a license for sin right Paul talks about that that you know should we uh just because of this Grace we receive should we go on to to continue to sin by no means he tells us another another bad way that we can live into the freedom we have in Christ is to use that freedom to flaunt it and to others and to put it in their face and say I don’t have to do any of this I I’m free you deal with my freedom another way is maybe to to gain a sense of self-righteous Pride because of the the freedom we have in Christ that that so easily happens and so easily happens it seems ironic doesn’t it but because of the grace that we’ve received we can actually take that as a sense of Pride and feel like we’re better than other people because we really get the gospel here that church over there down the road they don’t really get the gospel they don’t really understand Grace but we do we’re better than them it so easily becomes that sense of of self-righteous Pride or we can use our freedom in Christ as some idea of uh of of selfish gain or we can use it to be aggressive uh and to create divisions within the church itself we can do all that we can use the freedom we have in Christ and really negative uh and divisive ways within the church but there’s some good ways as well they’re good ways and we actually see in our reading from Acts chapter 18 as we continue in this series uh through through Paul uh through um Priscilla and Aquila we also see it in Apollos ways that they use the freedom that they had in Christ Jesus in a positive way to build up the church and to serve the kingdom of God and so as we continue in this series together and look at this this passage together that’s what we’re looking at we’re looking at how did they live into the freedom they have in Christ for the good of the Kingdom to serve God’s purposes to to build it on up not to break it down there’s some really powerful examples we have here uh for those who may be visiting with us today or have been away for a while we’re still in our acts series uh we’re uh we’re in Acts 18 that this we’ve just come out of Corinth last week uh we’re gonna continue to be through in our act series all the way through uh up to Advent of this year but it’s been really the Lord’s used it in some wonderful ways I know in my own heart and my own convictions and I believe in the way that in all of our hearts and all of our convictions uh but this morning we begin with Paul leaving Corinth in verse 18. it says after this Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria and with them Priscilla and Akila

at syncrae they he cut his hair for he was under a vow

he cut his hair for he was under a vowel this is where I want to start with Paul this is this is really interesting here like what you know and we probably can get lost in the weeds too much if we try to figure out well what thou the did he take why did he need to take a vow he knows the grace of God he’s got freedom in Christ why in the world would he take some this kind of vowel now this is a little bit speculative but I think it’s reasonable and that he took a Nazarite vow um is what he was taking on and part of that vow was to cut your hair or to let the hair grow right so before you take the vowel you’d cut the hair so that it wouldn’t be you know too long by the time your vowel was up uh people took vows for really uh these kind of vows for for one of two reasons either it was to give thanks for what God had done uh and to give him the the thanks and the in the Honor by by taking on this vow and making this uh sacrifice of your hair uh it could also be uh uh doing it for asking the lord to bless uh what is going to come and the travels or the journeys or whatever it is that you were undertaking now to what they would do in the the Nazarene vow was take the hair to to Jerusalem uh take it to the temple and actually burn it there and it would be burnt so even by Paul doing it here he could save it and bring it with him as he’s eventually making his way back to to visit uh the brothers in Jerusalem uh so that that could be the reason why he took on The Vow uh either to give thanks for what is passed and what God’s done in this missionary journey that he’s been on or it’s looking forward to what the travels he’s got to to ask the Lord for that but I think there’s another reason and we get to it here and we get to it uh in the next verses in verse 19 and they came to Ephesus and he left them there meaning uh Priscilla and Aquila but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews when they asked him to stay for a longer period he declined but on taking leave of them he said I will return to you if God wills and he set sail for f for Ephesus so here’s a different take on why he may have taken on this vow uh and I think it’s consistent with Paul’s own thought and that is he took on this vow as a way uh of for being more effective for preaching the gospel uh there uh in the synagogue I think he did it so that when he went in they would see that he’s still a Jew who takes on uh these serious vows and takes our religion seriously so that he could have a voice and he could be heard by them because this is one of the the few places where he doesn’t get any conflict in fact he was so well received they said keep coming we want you to stay but but Paul couldn’t he had to keep keep moving uh he’s not done yet he’s got to keep going on this journey uh but he took on this foul so that but it wasn’t something he had to do he knows freedom in Christ he knows the grace of God that he’s already been blessed beyond measure he doesn’t have to take on a vow but I believe that he did it he did it in order to to reach them in order to uh for them to be able to hear the words he said uh that he the gospel words that he said uh in First Corinthians chapter 9. verses 19 to 23 uh Paul says something similar I think and the way that he thought about his freedom in Christ and how he would use it for though I am free from all I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them to the Jews I became as a Jew in order to win the Jews to those under the law I became as one under the law though not being myself under the law that I might win those under the law to those outside the law I became as one outside the law not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ that I might win those outside of the law to the week I became weak that I might win the week I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some I do it all for the sake of the Gospel that I might might share with them in its blessing

I I think I think Paul took on this vow to as a way of helping him to be able to win those in the synagogue to show that he wasn’t a hindrance in any way to the gospel which tells us this that he used his freedom in Christ to serve others he cared more about them than he did about his own Freedom or making any kind of point or any kind of stand he cared more about the gospel in them coming to know Jesus as their lord and savior and so he subjected himself to a vow that he didn’t even believe he had to do anymore he was free in Christ but he used it to serve and in love for others and trying to win them for Christ do we use our freedom in Christ in that way do we use it as a way of serving others as a way of trying to reach others

yeah I think far too often we get too carried away in our little in particular Rarities about Christianity and what we should do and what we shouldn’t do

and we get too concerned and bogged down with those things that our freedom in Christ gets completely lost and just we use it for ourselves and we don’t at all use it to serve others

you know if I thought going out and and getting tattoos all over my body was going to win more people for Christ you bet you I’d do it

if I thought that having a drum up here on the stage was going to win more people for Christ I’m gonna do it

I know somebody really want it there were some stronger amens some oh my gosh I hope he doesn’t do that

you know we how do we how are we using our freedom in Christ are we using it for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of others or are we just serving ourselves but then we go on uh Paul continues to move on in his uh and his journey uh he came to uh he comes to Ephesus and there Paul left Priscilla and Akila uh he went into the synagogue to reason with them um went well while I already talked about that but it went well he said he wasn’t going to stay but he did promise that uh that if he could and it was God’s will that he would come back to them that he would come back um then in caesarea he went uh he went up to greet the church to Antioch back for where this all began right he went through uh back to Antioch to report and then throughout galatia and phrygia

strengthening the disciples there in the church but then we come to verse 24. and we come to two uh we go back and hear what’s going on with Priscilla and Aquila and with a new character that enters into the scene in verse 24 now a Jew named Apollos a native of Alexandria came to Ephesus he was an eloquent man competent in the scriptures he had been instructed in the ways of the Lord and being fervent in spirit he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus though he knew only the baptism of John and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue so this is interesting this is very interesting this this Apollo’s character what what do we know about him well Luke tells us that he was a Jew uh he’s a native of Alexandria and that he came to Ephesus uh that he was an eloquent man it was an eloquent man well this doesn’t just mean that he was a good order I mean it certainly is that uh but what this means is that he was gifted with learning he was well studied he’d done his time remember Alexandria the Great Library is there it was it was a wonderful place of study it was known for it and he had done his study he would he he knew his stuff and he was he was eloquent well studied we also know that he was competent in the scriptures uh this word is the same uh root word for dynamos meaning powerful mighty strong able he was strong in his knowledge of the Old Testament he wasn’t just confident he was strong he was powerful he had been instructed in the way of the Lord so so this means he had been taught he’d been catechized in the foundational uh teachings of of Christianity that as they as all the things that related to Christianity he had been taught in the way of the Lord we’re told he was fervent in spirit that word fervent it means to be hot to to boil over meaning he had great Zeal he was passionate he believed it he wasn’t just a con man who was coming in here this guy uh he was he was passionate and he spoke accurately about the things about Jesus that’s a lot of good stuff isn’t it that’s that’s a lot of good stuff this is an impressive this is impressive Guy this is the guy you want to recruit for your team right no matter what you’re doing you want this guy to be around he is he’s got it he’s impressive uh and we’re told that he spoke he began to speak boldly in the synagogue he spoke boldly in the synagogue but yet there was an issue there there was a problem one in the first problem we get the uh the picture of it uh that he knew only the baptism of John he knew only the baptism of John which means uh that John the Baptist and remember John and uh and proclaiming uh and preparing the way of the Lord he proclaimed the the baptism for uh repentance of the Forgiveness of sins but what did she what did John himself say would happen he would say the one who was mightier and I is coming and he’s going to baptize you with fire he’s going to give you in other words the the baptism of the Holy Spirit you’re going to receive power to be able to live into this Gospel Mission that I’ve called you to John himself had said it but what we’re being told here is that Apollos hadn’t received that yet he had not received a baptism in Jesus’s name in the name of the father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit and so something significant is is missing because the truth here is is strong and as eloquent uh and as competent and as bold and Powerful as Apollos was an impressive able to win a room credible presence guess what without being filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit doing the work it’s for naught

it’s for naught and so presumably this is what Priscilla and Aquila in the second part of verse 26 when Priscilla and Aquila heard him they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately

so they took him aside they perceived that something was wrong or not wrong but something was missing there there wasn’t there was something that that was missing here you know we’re already told he was learned he was eloquent he was taught in all the ways of the Lord uh he had everything but there was something that was missing in his ministry there was something significant what was missing I think was was that being baptized in the name of the father Son and Holy Spirit having the spirit empowered Ministry we don’t know for sure there may have there may have been some other uh issue maybe he didn’t understand Grace correctly maybe it was uh he didn’t understand the the ministry of the Holy Spirit and it’s more fullness there could have been some other thing but I think there’s a reason Luke tells us that he only knew the baptism of John I think that’s the Clue Into what’s going on here uh so they they perceived it there’s something wrong here but notice how they handle it and this is where I want to get into how do you use the freedom that you have in Christ how do you use the grace that you have received you know Priscilla and Aquila on perceiving that this was wrong there was something not right here this wasn’t complete uh that this man needed something else uh they didn’t just uh stand up in the middle of the of the of the synagogue and say and point their finger at him and say something’s wrong with you you don’t have what you need that’s not how they handled it we’re told they took him aside what we’re being what we’re being shown here is an incredibly gracious and a gentleness in the way that they handled Apollos they didn’t feel like they needed to call him out in front of everybody embarrass him set things straight because they knew the truth and that they were then they’re going to be the bearers of what is true and what is good and what is Godly and I’m going to show everyone else in the room

they didn’t do that with gentleness they took him aside they didn’t take to Facebook or to Twitter to try to smear him uh to point out to everyone out there that this guy is a fraud he’s not real don’t listen to him he hasn’t been baptized in the spirit

they didn’t do that they gently took him aside and they talked to him about it man that is an important part of how we use our freedom in Christ isn’t it to handle each other gently we have a real problem with that we like to be bold we like to call each other out we like to because it puts us in our own self-righteous throne room makes us feel real good about ourselves to be the one who’s pointed out other people’s errors

but the one who truly knows the grace of God in their own heart the one who truly knows the freedom that they have in Christ has no need of any self-righteous Pride they’re free they’re free just to quietly call someone aside point out to them where they might be going wrong what might be going on in their lives have you ever had anybody do that for you I have I’ve had it both ways by the way I’ve had I’ve had it very publicly I’ve had it also very quietly and I can tell you what happens when someone publicly does it to me uh you know what I do I dig in and I fight back that’s what I do I’m way too stubborn I am way too prideful uh don’t you dare call me out in front of other people or I’m gonna you know I’m gonna find a way to win the argument that’s what I’m gonna do but I’ve also had someone come up to me quietly and just say hey you know I’ve noticed this maybe about you know about the way you’ve said this or something you were doing and I think you really need to think about that and I don’t know that’s consistent with uh with the gospel with Biblical teaching and you know what effect that has it’s like you know what I’ll let me pray about it and and really search that and uh and I take it seriously it has that it has that kind of power that gentleness and by the way gentleness isn’t weakness gentleness isn’t weak uh in any way it’s actually quite uh quite the opposite of that it’s a strength it’s a wisdom it’s knowing when to push in and how to push in it’s being having the ability to read the room and know what’s really going on here and not speaking for your own good but truly for the good of someone else

that’s what gentle gentleness is but then you’ve got Apollos here so how would he how is he going to respond to it so they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately and when he when he

when he wished to cross Ikea the brothers encouraged him and wrote the disciples to welcome him and when he arrived he greatly helped those who through Grace had believed for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus well the fact that he got encouragement and everyone was supporting it means I think he received it you know I I think it is it you know it doesn’t say it specifically how he received it but that he you know maybe he fought back at first maybe you know nobody likes to hear something negative about themselves or they could possibly be wrong but you know but what it tells us is that he did eventually have a heart of humility when it came to hearing and receiving it that’s how he used the freedom that he had in Christ to receive it with humility with humility so you know the Apostle or the the Apostle Paul talked about gentleness and he talked about uh humility uh when he was writing to the Ephesians he was writing the Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 1 through through three now this is for all my trail life leaders uh that are here this is uh kind of the motto for for trail life uh and I think it’s a good one especially if you keep you know get the whole context he said I therefore a prisoner of Christ urge you to walk in a manner that’s Worthy to walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called that freedom in Christ the grace that you know and God through his son Jesus Christ to walk in a way that is worthy and what is a way that is worthy of walking and the freedom that you received in Christ with all humility and gentleness with patience bearing with one another in love eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace that’s the way that’s worthy that’s walking Worthy of the freedom that we have in Christ and gentleness

in humility for others we’ve talked about the the gentleness the humility of Romans 12 3 Paul wrote for by Grace the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to uh to think of himself more highly than he ought to think but to think with sober judgment each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned to them you know C.S Lewis uh we talked we’ve we’ve shared that these quotes from C.S Lewis about humility all the time and what a truly humble person uh looks like and how it’s not what what you think right uh but he also said humble people don’t think less of themselves they just think about themselves less that’s how we use the freedom that we’ve been given in Christ we use it not to flaunt it over people not to uh not to divide not to serve our own self-righteous Pride we use it our freedom to win others for Christ we use that freedom to be gentle in how we correct we use that freedom and humility to receive when someone does come to us in gentleness and to receive it and to truly think about it and take it to the Lord that’s how we use the freedom that we have in Christ how does how did Jesus use the freedom you’d agree he has freedom and doesn’t he how did he use the freedom that was given to him

he used it to win us for God

and he did it with gentleness he did it with the humility that we could never possibly imagine

by giving up all that was rightly his the power The Authority laying it down to come is one of us to die on a cross subject himself to the scorn

of others rejection humiliation he humbled himself because he loves us that’s how he used his freedom he used it for you and he used it for me

and the Lord give us through the work of his holy spirit the ability to use the freedom that we have in Christ that we might win others for the gospel for Jesus that we might do it and treat one another with the true gentleness and then we might receive all in humility let us pray Heavenly Father Lord Jesus thank you that you used your freedom for the sake of us and for others you didn’t use it as a way of of serving your own purposes for serving your own honor and Glory you used it to honor your father to subject yourself to his will and to his plan

and you did it gently treating us with the gentleness that we don’t deserve acting in a humility

that we rarely showed to anyone

thank you that you love us that much thank you for this gospel message for the freedom that we know in Christ the grace that has been given to us

that when the sun has set you free that you are free indeed and that we are free and you Lord Jesus because of what you have once and for all done for us on the cross help us to use this Freedom that we have been given not for our own selfish purposes not to divide not to Lord it over others but let us use it so that we might become all things to all people to win them for the gospel for you Jesus let us treat one another gently correcting one another when something is missing and deficient in your gospel message and give us all humility to receive what you have for us Lord not to think less of ourselves but to think of ourselves less often that we might love and truly serve one another and Jesus we pray this in your mighty name amen

in Jesus name amen

 

 

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