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The Acts (73) - This man is a Roman citizen

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Rev._Jang\'s_Sermon_on_September_18,_2016.docx (20.8K), Down : 3, 2016-10-03 19:55:44
설교일 : 2016.09.18.
설교자 : Rev. Jang
본문말씀 : Acts 22:22~29

September 18, 2016

 

The Acts (73) – “This man is a Roman citizen.”

Acts 22:22-29

 

Rev. Chan Young Jang’s Sermon at the KUMC of Metro Detroit

 

 

1.

Last week, the ‘2016 KUMC Mission Conference’ has been successfully completed by the grace. 11 missionaries from overseas and 2 pastor representatives from 2 mission organizations participated in this Conference. 119 members of the 37 Korean UMCs in U.S. registered, and including those from this area and from our church, there were 230 registrants in total for the Conference. The main theme of this Conference was, “Which direction should our missions take?” and during the Conference, we held mission revivals in the evenings, early morning prayer services, 2 main speakers for the evening services, 2 private sessions with the missionaries about their mission work, and various mission committee meetings.

 

Above all, this Conference provided an opportunity to define the true character of the Korean United Methodist Church missions and to share our past problems and future directions, while having a wonderful fellowship. I heard from many participants that they were most impressed and appreciative of the devoted services of our church members. I was a little embarrassed by their unanimous compliments that they learned so much from our church.

 

Therefore, I want to deliver their thanks to all of you who served so wholeheartedly during this Conference. I am thankful to each of you from all the departments of our church. Without your dedication and willingness to serve, this Conference would not have been possible. The staff of the KUMC Mission Committee really appreciate the dedicated service our church members have shown to them as well as our experienced way of hosting big meetings at our church.

 

One pastor told me that he really would like to copy and apply to his own church our pastoral ministry, the leadership of our church leaders, and the joyful dedication of our members. Now that all the guests have left, I want to share with you that I have been extremely happy and proud of our church and thankful for our growth. This was another opportunity provided for us to realize what a blessing it is to serve and help others.

 

The last time we shared about the Acts, we meditated upon Apostle Paul’s stay in Jerusalem and his saying that “May I say something to you?” for the purpose of preaching to the crowd, when he was being arrested. Then he went on with the accounts of how he had met with Jesus. He had been previously interested in his own story only, but after meeting Jesus, he was changed to concentrate only on ‘His story’, and now he is interested in other people and ‘their story’, and to heal them and evangelize to them.

 

We often think of ‘testimony’ as talking about very unusual life events or experiences, so when asked to give a testimony, we tend to say, ‘I don’t have any testimony’. It is like admitting that you don’t have God within you, even though you believe in Him. Giving a testimony is really talking about your life of faith, with Lord Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and that is all. Therefore, your testimony should be a ‘Love Story with God who came into your life’, specifically 1) your life before meeting Jesus Christ, 2) how you met Lord Jesus, and 3) your life after meeting Jesus.

 

What was Paul like before meeting Jesus? He was an expert of the Mosaic Law and very knowledgeable about the Jewish traditions and Greek philosophy, and also a man of devotion, passion and dedication. But all these qualities didn’t help him in his meeting with Jesus. The fact is that he was not looking for Jesus, but Jesus came looking for him.

 

John 15:16a  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.”

 

Therefore, a church, Ecclesia, is the gathering place of the people who have been ‘called’. Essentially, we cannot meet with Jesus by our own efforts. It may look like we met Jesus by our efforts, or our dedication or our thirst for Him, but in reality Jesus came to look for us, and this was the ‘grace’ that we talk about all the time among Christians.

 

Lord Jesus really came to look for us for our ‘salvation’, which can never be attained by ourselves. We do not possess any power within us for our own salvation and we utterly depend on our Lord, to be saved.

 

Even the fact that we are here in church at this moment is all because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit within us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Our faith in Jesus grows by responding to His calling and agreeing with Him, and then welcoming Him into our lives.

 

For those who have met Jesus, the meaning of everything in life begins to change. They will soon realize the real ‘purposes’, ‘meanings’ and ‘values’ of their lives, while others will be wandering around without ‘directions’, being ‘confused’ and ‘ignorant’ about the meaning of life.

 

 

2.

Paul’s encounter with Lord Jesus was really dramatic. On his way to Damascus, Jesus came to see Paul amid flashing bright lights. Then, Paul was bestowed with the blessing of ‘meeting with a man of God’, who guided him to the right path of faith with the right motivation.

 

Acts 22:14-16  “Then Ananias said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear the words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.’”

 

Forty four years ago, God had called a few families together for His intention of building a church here, and then called more people from all over the world. And God has done amazing work with His children at this church. When this church was first founded, who could have imagined our church of today? At that time, we didn’t have enough resources, so we had to use the facilities of other established church, and even the pastor’s salary was subsidized by the UMC Annual conference.

 

As we were not able to accomplish much with our meagre resources at first, we depended on the grace desperately and prayed fervently for the help of the Holy Spirit. Now our church has the biggest attendance among the 830 United Methodist Churches in Michigan, and it has been all because of the grace.

 

We have grown, but we are not done with growing yet. We know that we are still helpless and utterly dependent on the grace. We humbly confess our helplessness and pray to the Lord always for His help, hoping God will use us continuously.

 

It is the same with our business and with our home. Just because things are going well with your business or your home, we should never think of neglecting our Lord in our lives. A wise person will come closer before the Lord, as his or her life becomes busier, more prosperous, and more recognized in the world. Our Lord will not allow me to overlook anyone just because our church has a large number of members.

 

Yesterday morning when I was praying to the Lord, He indicated to me some concerns about a few members of our church. He has reminded me that there are quite a few among us who should pray more, but do not pray to the Lord, and provided me the names of some Elders and Exhorters. In His opinion, they only keep their leadership positions, but do not come to church to pray to Him often enough. Then He also showed me the names of some Cell Group leaders who do not pray for their Cell Group members.  He also showed me those old members who have been too distant from the Lord. I know each of you have a good reason or excuse, but despite of all, please come out to the Lord, as He really wants to see you and have a close fellowship with you.

 

 

3.

Paul continued to talk to the crowd about how God had come to him and used him, but when he mentioned about his work for the Gentiles, the crowd became so hostile as to be violent.

 

Acts 22:21-23  “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He is not fit to live! As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,”

 

The reason for their uproar was that they couldn’t accept the idea that their God could become the God for the Gentiles also, and the Gentiles could be saved. We are not exempt from this kind of emotion, as we also have ‘me-first’ attitude in everything. Therefore, we Christians should strive very hard to ‘serve others’ and to ‘save their souls’, instead of concentrating on our own salvation.

 

In the midst of this commotion, the commander ordered his soldiers to take Paul to flog and question him.

 

Acts 22:24  The commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.

 

Then, Paul asked a question to the centurion who was going to question him. This caused the centurion quite a distress.

 

Acts 22:25-26  As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”

 

What kind of power the Roman citizenship had in those days? There were two ways people could acquire the Roman citizenship; one way was being granted of a partial citizenship because of one’s business or position and by paying a certain amount of money, and the other way was being granted the full citizenship because of one’s birth, or for services rendered for the Empire. And the full citizenship that Paul had was inherited from his family who had been granted this special privilege because of their loyalty to the Roman Empire, good reputation and prosperity. Roman citizens were exempted from shameful punishments, such as scourging and crucifixion, and they had the right of appeal to the Emperor in Rome.

 

Acts 25:12  After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”

 

As we can see, the Roman citizenship at that time meant having a passport to go to the end of the earth with protection, so it was quite a status symbol for a special privilege.

 

But contrary to the case of Paul, the commander acquired his citizenship by paying a big sum of money for it.

 

Acts 22:27-29  The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes, I am,” he answered. Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied. Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

 

What an interesting scene! I have a question for you. Do you think this commander later became a believer of Jesus or not?  It is not clearly stated in the Bible, but he was the one in the next chapter to rescue Paul from the plot of Jews to kill him and then wrote to the Governor that he had found no charge against Paul. So, we can suppose that this commander was sympathetic toward believers, like Joseph of Arimathea who buried the body of Jesus in his own new tomb, and it is very likely that he later became a believer himself. A commander was in charge of 1,000 elite Roman soldiers, and each village had 30 elite Roman soldiers stationed with more mercenaries or local soldiers under them. So this commander was governing more than 30 villages at that time.

 

Now, this commander was alarmed enough when he heard, “This man is a Roman citizen”, and became a supporter of Paul, and eventually a believer of Lord Jesus.

 

 

4.

Here we witness an important principle that Paul had applied to his faith. He used every means of grace provided to him for the purpose of evangelizing. He never used his Roman citizenship for his benefit, but used it wisely for the benefit of preaching the gospel.

 

There are some who think that what they have in status or positions are theirs only. That means these people cannot see beyond their immature satisfaction. A mature person will see beyond the status and positions, and realize that those were gifts given by the grace to be used for the good. We should humbly admit that, “by the grace of God, I am what I am”.

 

Do you recall what Lord Jesus said to His disciples about their true identity during His ministry on earth?

 

Matthews 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

 

This was a shocking statement at that time, calling His disciples the salt of the earth, as the salt was almost as valuable as gold to the Jews who lived in the hot desert weather of above 120 degrees often. Salt was absolutely indispensable to them to preserve their food. And Lord Jesus called His disciples the salt of the earth.

 

He meant that they were as indispensable as the salt in the world, so they should never lose their important character of saltiness. Therefore, all the things given to us, such as our position, status, wealth and honors, should be used to preserve our saltiness.

 

I want to share with you the painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and it is ‘the Last Supper’. This one was painted on the fresh wall of the Convent of Santa Maria dell Grazie in Milan, Italy, and its size is 4 meters high and over 9 meters wide, and it took him three years to complete.

 

While this painting was being restored, an interesting fact was discovered, and it is about the salt shaker. In this painting, the disciples were in 4 different groups of three, and John, Judas Iscariot and Peter are in one group on the right side of Jesus. What do you see in the hand of Judas Iscariot? We can clearly see the money bag he was holding tight, but next to his elbow, there is the salt shaker that tipped over.

 

This is the point Leonardo da Vinci wanted to emphasize; the tipped over salt, meaning that Judas Iscariot had lost his saltiness and he would be soon trampled by men. This shows that the money bag can tip over the salt shaker at any time, if it is not handled properly.

 

In today’s passage, we learn how Paul used his status and high position as the tools for his evangelistic efforts, and this can be applied to our lives right now. You are what you are by the grace of God, so all the things you have at present, such as your position, fame, wealth, health and time, should be used for the evangelism. If these were applied to your home, workplace or your store only, it would be just too sad.

 

Paul was only interested in spreading the gospel. He said, “Woe is to me, if I do not preach the gospel”, and he confessed, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and foolish.”

 

“By the grace of God, I am what I am!”

 

Let us sing the closing hymn; #495 “Since Christ set my soul free from sin” 

   

총 게시물 610건, 최근 0 건
번호 설교일              제목 본문말씀 설교자
340 2016.12.25.  The Acts (83) – I pray that you may become what I am Acts 28:16~31 Rev. Jang
339 2016.12.25.  사도행전(83) - 드디어 로마에 도착하다 사도행전 28:16~31 장찬영 목사
338 2016.12.18.  Christmas Cantata: “Adoration in search of a King” Matthew 2:1~12 Rev. Jang
337 2016.12.11.  The Acts (82) - Living meaningfully on our own island of life Acts 28:1~14 Rev. Jang
336 2016.12.11.  사도행전(82) - 인생의 섬에서 의미있게 사는 사람 사도행전 28:1~14 장찬영 목사
335 2016.12.04.  The Acts (81) – Finally, everyone reached land and was saved Acts 27:27~44 Rev. Jang
334 2016.12.04.  사도행전(81) - 마침내 사람들이 다 구원을 얻으니라 사도행전 27:27~44 장찬영 목사
333 2016.11.27.  The Acts (80) - Do not be afraid, Paul (1) Acts 27:14~25 Rev. Jang
332 2016.11.27.  사도행전(80) - 바울아 두려워하지 말아라 (1) 사도행전 27:14~25 장찬영 목사
331 2016.11.20  "Give thanks in all circumstances" Psalm 107:1-9 Thessalonica 5:16-18 Rev. Lee
330 2016.11.20.  범사에 감사하라 시편 107:1~9, 데살로니까 전서 5:16~18 이훈경 목사
329 2016.11.13  The Acts (79) - "Those who truly love God" 1 Samuel 12:19-25/ Acts 27:23-25 Rev. Jang
328 2016.11.06.  The Acts (78) – I pray that you may become what I am Acts 26:24~29 Rev. Jang
327 2016.11.06.  사도행전(78) - 나와 같이 되기를 원하나이다 사도행전 26:24~29 장찬영 목사
326 2016.10.30.  The Acts (77) - The blessings of God for those who wait patiently Acts 25:1~12 Rev. Jang
처음  이전  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  다음  맨끝

제목 : This is the Christianity
설교일 : 2019.11.17
본문말씀 : 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
설교자 : Rev. Eungyong Kim
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