Saturday, January 21, 2023

2023.01.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 18:8–18a

Read Acts 18:8–18a

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to faith at this point (Acts 18:8)? Whom else does the Lord save? And many of whom? And what is now done with them? Who now appears to Paul (Acts 18:9)? What does He tell him not to be? What does He tell him to do? What does He tell him not to do? Why—Who is with him, and what will no one be able to do (Acts 18:10)? Why not? How long did Paul stay there (Acts 18:11)? Doing what? But then what happened (Acts 18:12)? Who said what and where (Acts 18:13)? How does Gallio answer (Acts 18:14-15)? What does he do (Acts 18:16)? Who then do what to whom (Acts 18:17)? What does Paul do (Acts 18:18a)? 

What happens when the Lord wants to sustain a ministry? Acts 18:8–18a looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord may sustain ministries through reassuring ministers’ apprehensions and restraining ministers’ opponents. 

The way things have gone thus far on the second missionary journey, the apostle might be getting ready to move on from the work in Corinth. But the Lord wishes to sustain his ministry. How will He do so?

Reassuring the minister's apprehensions, Acts 18:8–11. First, the Lord reassures the apostle of covenant reality by saving not only Crispus but also many of the Corinthians (Acts 18:8). He saves not just Crispus, but his whole household, as the covenant God Who is powerful to save according to His promises and according to the pattern that He has established. With every new believer, there is at least one baptism—and often an entire household of them. Over and over again, the fact of Christ's reign in heaven is displayed. Over and over again, the fact of His pouring out His Spirit is displayed. Over and over again, the effectiveness of His Spirit to make disciples and grow disciples is displayed. Over and over again, he sees the display of the presence of Christ with His church to build it in the age of its gathering.

Second, the Lord appears to him (Acts 18:9a) and reassures him of three things: His steady presence ("I am with you," Acts 18:10a), His sovereign providence ("and no one will attack you to hurt you," Acts 18:10b), and His saving purpose ("for I have many people in this city," Acts 18:10c). The Lord is present to the apostle always, even when not visibly so as Hs is just then in the vision. The Lord is in providential control of whether or not people attack him, and whether the attack is able to hurt him. And the Lord is superintending all things for the express purpose of bringing to faith all whom He has chosen to take as His own by salvation.

Restraining the minister’s opponentsActs 18:12-18a. We’re not sure how far into the year and six months this event takes place. It is presented as an example of that sovereign providential restraint that Jesus had promised in Acts 18:10. The Jews drag Paul before the proconsul (Acts 18:12) and present the sort of argument that has worked before in Macedonia (Acts 18:13, reasoning that Christianity should not have the same protected status as Judaism, cf. Acts 17:6–7), and the reader thinks “hear we go again.” But the Lord has raised up a proconsul who refuses to be manipulated such that Paul doesn’t even get a chance to make his own defense (Acts 18:14). Gallio denounces the Jews and drives them away, with the rod-bearers laying the stripes on the Jews’ leader all the way (Acts 18:15-17). In this way, the Lord sovereignly restrained Paul’s opponents so that Acts 18:18a might be fulfilled, “and Paul remained for many days.”

How has the Lord been restraining opposition to the work of the gospel in your area/ministry? What further restraint are you praying for?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You that You rule and overrule all things for gathering to Yourself those Who are Yours by election and redemption. Grant the ongoing work of Your Spirit to sustain a renewed gospel work in our own day we pray, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

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