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Wisdoms Toolbox-Part 6


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Enduring Slanderous Attacks

SKU: 22-31 Category: Date: 10/16/2022Scripture: Acts 16:19-26 Tags: , , , , ,


As messengers and representatives of the gospel we will experience unjust and costly opposition, in which we should continue to entrust ourselves to our powerful Savior.


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22-31 Wisdom’s Toolbox-Part 6


Wisdom’s Toolbox – Part 6

Enduring Slanderous Attacks

Pastor Mike Fabarez


Well, no parent enjoys watching their children go through unnecessary pain. Matter of fact, we do our best as parents to steer our kids away from unnecessary pain. That’s obvious. But equally obvious is the fact that there are plenty of necessary, painful situations that our kids have to go through. They have to do things they don’t like. They have to do things that are unpleasant. They have to do their homework. They have to go to the dentist. They have to endure the loss of the soccer game. They have to go through the pain of homesickness at camp. They’ve got to go through their first breakup. They have to get a rejection letter from a college they wanted to get into. There are plenty of things they have to do that are painful and difficult, and we want them to do those things with a courageous attitude.


If you think about it as parents, we don’t want to just see our kids do the things they have to do, like on a Saturday when they’re out there having to do their chores to do it, to check a box, with a bad attitude is not a joyful experience for a parent. We would prefer they do it with a joyful, optimistic attitude, and sometimes it’s not easy to do that. But when they do that, it’s just a very satisfying for any parent to experience a courageous, determined, resolved, enduring attitude, even a hopeful and optimistic attitude in doing what is necessarily difficult.


I’d say any parent and I mean any parent, any parent, including our Father, who we call on as Father, who puts us sovereignly through situations that are difficult. He cares about how we go through it. It’s not just checking the box and having a crummy attitude and complaining and, you know, moaning about it all. It’s a good thing when we bear up under situations and God says, “attaboy, that’s good. You’re doing it with the kind of attitude that honors me.” I just wonder, as I think about that concept of going through difficulties, you know, what does God think of your attitude? How is his experience looking at your attitude in the situations that you are facing that are unpleasant and you don’t want to go through?


It matters a lot. And he does concern himself with our attitude. And when we see it in Scripture, someone enduring situations with a good attitude the Bible would tell us to take note of that, and we ought to follow that. Even in the New Testament, it speaks about the patience of Job. And of course, we can’t help but look at Job in some of the worst situations and see that he honored God with an attitude, even when his wife is harping on him to curse God and die, he’s like, “Oh, stop, that’s foolish. Don’t say that. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” It’s just a mind-boggling attitude in the midst of what would be, as we put ourselves in the sandals of Job, an extremely painful situation.


We encounter one of those situations today in our study of Acts Chapter 16, where Paul and Silas demonstrate an amazingly good attitude in the midst of something horrifically painful. And it is painful. If you look at the details of this text in Acts 16, we should, if anything else, learn that this is an attitude that shows a kind of hope and trust in God that all of us should aspire to. And so whatever it is you’re facing, I think we can get some good instruction here and maybe some tools to situate in our own minds when we go through hard times.


And I don’t mean just being in the hard times we talked about last week when we considered the spiritual realm and the spiritual dynamic of spiritual warfare. And I understand that, right? First Peter Chapter 5, we see that “Satan is roaming around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” And we know just aligning ourselves with Christ creates that hostile situation with the spiritual forces of evil, and we ought to know that. But there are some situations that are much more explainable on the human level. I know that the enemy is behind it and would love to make our lives miserable. But when it comes to the people who respond to us, sometimes it just makes sense on the surface to figure all that out and to see here’s why this gets such a negative response. Here’s why I, as a Christian in my generation, aligning myself with Christ and receiving so much pushback and hostility from our culture. Understanding it is a good part of us beginning to approach it with the right attitude.


So I want to learn that among some other things in this passage that might help you today get an attaboy from God. Because I really believe that is something the Bible is holding out in front of us. Can we do this with the right attitude that pleases God? Because some of us, we say, “Well, I’m doing the right thing even if I just grit my teeth and bear it. You know, God should be pleased that I went through it.” But we need to do it with the kind of attitude that would bring honor and glory to God. So let’s look at this text beginning in verse 19 of Acts Chapter 16 and see if we can pick up some tools that are necessary for us to get through this as we ought to.


Now, we’re going to jump in the middle of the narrative, and I’m sorry for that, but to break down these texts in a way that will help us really digest each element, we’re going to jump in the middle of this, and you’ll remember where we were last week, and then we’re going to stop at a place you’re not going to be satisfied with. But there’s more coming, Lord willing, next week as we tackle the next section.


But let’s start here in verse 19, and you can see we’ve just come off of this scene. Remember, Paul’s been brought to Macedonia, the Macedonian call, he’s there in Europe, and he leads this gal, a very important gal to Christ, and that’s one among others, we can assume. Lydia becomes the base of operations for their missionary work there in Philippi. They’re there for many days. They go back to this place where they had reached Lydia for Christ by the riverside, this place of prayer, There was this demonized servant girl and she was a fortune teller. And of course it became very annoying as she was shouting out and being disruptive. And Paul, I believe in his apostolic authority, commands the spirit to come out. It comes out.


So we’ve got this gal that we can only assume much like the narratives in the gospels is now seated there in her right mind, listening to Paul and we hope responding rightly to the gospel. We’re not told here, but the scene is one where Paul does just an amazingly good thing. As odd, as weird as it is, to read about an exorcism, it was like, wow, that’s amazing. This girl’s life is freed from this occultic connection with the demonic. I mean, wow. Good, good deal. Well, it didn’t go over so well with the owners of this slave girl. And that’s where we pick up the story in verse 19.


Let me read it for you, beginning in verse 19, all the way through 26. I’ll read it from the English Standard Version when it says, “But her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone.” If you really do have someone who’s not just a shyster and knows the tricks of the trade, and we talked about that in terms of one category of fortune telling, it’s just a bunch of con men. But if you really have someone who’s tapped into the occultic power of being able to converse with and be a medium through which a demon can speak and then go out and do something, as I said, was effectible in tomorrow’s or next week’s situation, I mean, you’re going to get the attention of people. They’re going to line up to get their fortunes read. And so she was making money that now is gone because she didn’t have this spirit in her anymore.


Well, they were angry about that because they lost their stream of revenue and they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. Verse 20, “And when they brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they’re disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.’ And the crowd joined in attacking them,” we call that a mob, “and the magistrates tore the garments off of them and gave orders to beat them with rods.” Now, that is a horrific scene, if you think about it. “We want you to feel every bit of this. We’re going to tear your clothes off and then we’re going to have you beaten with sticks and rods.”


Verse 23. “And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely,” or keep them secure. That’s the point. Right? Make sure they don’t escape. Verse 24. “Having received this order,” the jailer, “he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks.” Well, that ought to do it. Let’s lock down their feet. And they’re going to be there in the inner prison in Philippi.


Here’s the amazing noteworthy attitude part. Ready? Verse 25. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” I mean, that’s an amazing thought. I mean, I can imagine you can’t sleep. You’ve got, you know, lacerations, you’ve got bruises starting to form. You’ve got lumps on your body. I mean, it’s a bad situation and you’re in a lot of pain. You can’t sleep, but you’re praying. And we’re assuming that’s not shaking your fist at God, saying, “God, how could you and why did you?” But they’re singing in conjunction with singing to God, singing hymns to God. These are prayers that seem a lot more like Job than the kind of prayers we pray when bad things happen.


“And the prisoners were listening to them.” That’s an interesting line. More on that later. “And suddenly there was a great earthquake,” which, by the way, this part of Macedonia was prone to experience seismic activity. You know, plates and tectonic plates underneath what’s going on there in that part of the world and certainly the faults that were, you know, there situated beneath Philippi. This was known to happen, but this was happening at a very unique time and causing a very unique kind of release of these prisoners. “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” So God uses this providentially-timed earthquake to free them from the stocks and the things that they were in to keep them in this inner prison.


And that leaves us at a place we’d like to know what happens next. And of course, you do know what happens next if you’ve been in church or you can just read it. But we want to stop there, put a pin in that and go back to verse 19 and ask ourselves the question, “Well, how did this all start? How did Paul and Silas end up in prison?” And you can look at the explanation, verse 19, and say, “Well, I can see why” And in verse 19 it couldn’t be clearer. The owners of this slave girl who was a fortune teller saw that their hope of gain was gone. They didn’t make the money they used to make, and they couldn’t make the money because this girl who used to be whipped into this frenzy through this connection with this use that she was being utilized as in this passivity she had by this demon, all that was gone.


So, you know, she’s not going to make us money anymore. They’re concerned about their bank account. And therefore, “they seize Paul and Silas and drag them into the marketplace before the rulers.” Now, you’re not going to exorcize a demon and cause someone not to make money on a fortune teller this week. But it’s a good parable and a great paradigm for us to look at a template and say, okay, but there is something here to be learned about why on a human level, human explanations, why people don’t like us as Christians if we’re faithful with the message of Christ. This was the situation. Paul is preaching evangelistically. This girl is disrupting. He cast this demon out. All of a sudden now the hopes of making money through her are gone. And here’s a situation where the right thing, the godly thing, gets in the way of something these people want, which is money, as most people do. And all of a sudden now they’re mad at them.


I mean, that is a good picture of how what we stand for and what we proclaim is going to get in the way of what people want. And that’s a good way to just start to think about why we as Christians, as messengers of the gospel, we really become problematic for our culture and our world. That may be worth writing down. Number one, you need to “Know Why the Gospel Offends.” Why does our gospel offend? Just like this exorcism, which was an act of righteousness, offended them, which of course, was all for the purpose of doing evangelism by the riverside. Why is it hard for me as a Christian to stand up in my culture and say, “Yes, I am a follower of Christ? Yes, I stand with the Gospel. And yes, I want to tell you the good news of being saved from your sin.” Why would that be an offense to people?


Now that point doesn’t answer the question, but it sets us up for some sub-points. So let’s fill some of these things in in our thinking. Let’s step back and think about what the Bible says regarding the gospel. The gospel is not something, the good news is not something that when you hear this good news, you can just add it to your life as you are and as you live. There is something that the Bible continually talks about as it relates to you being in right relationship with God, with heaven, with the king of heaven, and the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Christ the Messiah that’s going to change everything about your life.


Whatever is important to you ends up becoming subservient to, it becomes subject to this thing that we’re trading in everything in our lives for. This Christ, this King, this Savior, this Lord becomes the king of everything. And this whole arrangement of saying, I’m going to align myself with Christians, I’m going to be a follower of Christ, it ends up supplanting the supremacy of everything else, and Christ becomes supreme. The gospel and my Christianity becomes the defining element of my life.


So if I’m going to put in a sub-point here, I guess I’m going to start with this concept here, right? Basically, Christ becomes preeminent, Christ becomes supreme. I am now going to say everything in my life is of secondary importance to Christ, and therefore, if it’s going to mess up my revenue stream, that’s okay because Christ is more important. If it’s going to mess up my hobbies or my schedule or my patterns or my bank account, whatever it might be, it doesn’t matter. My relationships, my job, if it changes where I live, it’s okay. Because I know this when I came into this thing called Christianity, I’m kind of giving up all that I have.


Matter of fact, that’s a good passage to jot down. Luke Chapter 14 verse 33 when Jesus says, if anyone’s going to come after me, if anyone is going to follow me, you’ve got to give up everything that you have, right? You’re going to say everything is subject to the Lordship and the Kingship of Christ. That’s how it works. Let me put it this way. Turn with me to Matthew 13. In Matthew 13, Jesus gives two parables back-to-back, which explain what it’s like when the kingship of God, when the arrangement of me fitting in with heaven, when my name gets written in heaven, as Jesus put it, when I get right with my maker, when I say, “Hey, I want to be right with God,” here’s what happens to everything else in my life. It becomes subservient. It becomes less important. It becomes secondary to this whole arrangement called, in this case, verse 44, the Kingdom of God.


Look at this with me Matthew Chapter 13 verse 44. Jesus told this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” Now we call it good news. Is it good? Is it good? Yeah, it’s good. This aspect of the goodness of the good news in Paul’s situation was freeing this girl from the power of Satan. Right? That this demon is no longer going to have control in her life. And I trust she came to faith in Christ, became one of the followers of Christ, became a sister in Christ with Lydia. That’s what we hope is taking place. Nevertheless, someone who was related to her, someone who owns her, this slave owner says, “Wait a minute, you’re messing my life. I don’t like it with her being rightly related to God.


“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field,” it’s a good thing, “which a man found,” he stumbled upon. He just came upon it and he said, “Oh, I want that.” He “covered it up.” Then in his joy I found something here valuable, supremely valuable. How valuable is it? I’ll sell half of what I have. No, “I’ll sell ALL that I have and I’ll buy that field,” because I need what I just found, what I stumbled upon. The kingdom of heaven, to be rightly related with God, for me to enter this thing called the kingdom, to say Christ is going to be my king and I’m going to be rightly related to my maker, right? It’s as though I say, “This is so valuable, this is so important. Everything else is going to be cashed in and traded in, in my mind, to this supreme Christ. Christ is going to be King. Christ is going to be in charge.


Look at the next parable. Verse 45. “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of pearls.” You can see how this shifts. Someone stumbles upon something valuable, or here’s someone looking for it. Right? And there are people thinking, “I need to figure out what life’s all about. I need to figure out what religion is true. I need to figure out how it is that the world is so messed up and what theology might explain that. I need to figure out who I, you know, who I am and where I’m headed and what I’m made for.” And they’re looking for answers. They want this thing. “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding the one pearl of great value,” they find it, they come upon, it’s like, this is it, this is what I’ve been looking for, “went and sold…” half of what he had. Nope, “he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”


That picture of exchanging is a great picture of what happens in that arrangement where Jesus puts it very straightforwardly in Luke 14:33. You want to follow me? You want to have Christ, you want to be in my team, do you want to be in the kingdom? Well, you have to give up everything you have. You basically are signing it over. And if you struggle with that, I will point it out, to think of Matthew 19 when Jesus comes upon the rich, young ruler and he’s like, “Oh, I’m good. I got all the rules right. I do everything I’m supposed to do.” Which of course he didn’t.


So Christ says, “Hey. Okay, great. Sell everything you have and come and follow me.” And because he had great wealth, the text says, he was sad and went away. And Jesus turns and says, “Hey, how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Why? Because the more you have, the more you’re giving up, the more you’re saying is subservient to Christ. That’s why someone who doesn’t have a lot can say, “Well, here I am. I’m going to put everything under the Lordship of Christ. I’m going to say Christ is supreme. I know that he is of supreme value, and I put it underneath that.”


Well, if there’s not much it doesn’t seem to be as costly. But if I’m a rich, young ruler, I got my future in front of me. I got this great career. I got this path of advancement. I got a lot of money, and now Christ is saying, “here’s the thing. I don’t think you understand. The kingdom of heaven, being rightly related to me. You’re putting it all on the line.” We come to God and we recognize God is God and I’m not and we’re saying, you’re in charge. If we call on the Lord to save us, that’s the picture there in Romans 10, he’ll save us. We call out to him and we recognize that he is the king, he is supreme.


Now, here’s the thing. You go to your marketplace, you go to your work, you talk to your neighbors, you talk to the other parents on your kid’s soccer team, and you talk about everything being subjected to Christ. I mean, that’s a reason the gospel would offend people. I mean, I can see if you want to kind of add him to your life. I mean, I can see if it’s something that might help me, but to say, no, I am putting everything under Christ. I’m saying if I’m going to be in this, I take all that I have and say it does not rival the importance of this. Now, it’s hard for people to do. A matter of fact. It becomes offensive. It seems cultic, right? I mean, it seems wrong. It seems like a brainwashing. Why would I want to be a part of that?


Not only is it that Christ is giving us this picture of everything being subjected to the supremacy of Christ, but there is a sense in which all of a sudden now, if he is the Lord and the King, he gets to call the shots. He gets to say what’s right and wrong. Think about this girl. Why did we say last week we know this was wrong? Because it says in Deuteronomy 18, God had revealed his will, fortune tellers and necromancy and all these things involved in trying to contact the dead or the mediums of the spirits, it’s wrong, it’s occultic, and you should not do it. Who gets to say this is right or wrong? Well, God does. And of course, Paul and Silas and Timothy and Paul are going to say, well, it’s wrong and it shouldn’t be done. It shouldn’t be done because God says it’s wrong.


See Christians, when they say, okay, I want to proclaim a message to you that says Christ is supreme. I’m also saying and Christ gets to define what is right and what is wrong. Not you, not the culture, not the polls, not what people think, not what you feel in your tummy. It is what God has said, and therefore I am now subjecting myself to a God who gets to make the rules. Christ is supreme and Christ makes the rules, and Christ is here affirming everything all the way back, as he says in Scripture, to Genesis when he talks about he created them male and female. He gets to decide that. All of that is his prerogative. And why would I not want to be under the authority of Christ? Because I don’t want him to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong.


Why would the Gospel offend people? If I go and tell people, if I get on some talk show, some national talk show, and they invite me to come on to talk about Christianity, I’m representing Protestant Evangelical pastors or whatever, and I start talking about the fact that God gets to call the shots and he has revealed himself clearly through the apostles and prophets. And now I’m going to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, they will not like that. They will not like it because people get to decide what’s right and wrong for themselves. And we are in an era where that’s increasingly the case, where people say, I don’t want some external rule. I certainly don’t want some book from antiquity and some Christ from some Jewish Messiah and all the prophets telling me what’s right and what’s wrong. And yet that’s exactly what we’re proclaiming. No wonder the gospel is an offense to people. Of course it’s an offense to people.


Jesus was talking to Nicodemus and he said here’s the problem. You remember verse 16, right? “For God to love the world he gave his only son, right?” That’s a great passage. But the passage is talking about the facts so that we would not perish. Now he says, I’ve come not to judge the world, but to save the world. That’s what I’d like to do. Right? The first coming is about bringing salvation. The second coming is about bringing judgment. And the point between the two comings is to get as many people as possible to respond to that amazing, good news of a Christ who loves us and gave his life for us.


And he says this. “But here is the judgment that’s come in the world. People love darkness rather than light.” Why? “Because their deeds are evil and they don’t want to come into the light lest their deeds be exposed as evil.” They don’t want us to say, here is Christ. Submit to him. Then I open the book and I find out what he says and I go, “I don’t like that and I don’t want to be told that I’m wrong.” Psalm 2, if you’re taking notes, that would be a good Psalm to put down because Psalm 2 is a perfect picture of where we’re at. Even though it’s directed to kings and rulers, they all say this, “I don’t want them to have their strictures on me, their bonds or their chords on me.” Them is the Lord and his anointed. God and his Christ. I don’t want God and his Christ telling me what to do.


As Jesus put it in his parable, as the master sends his son to the people in the land, they say, “We do not want this man to rule over us.” We don’t want this. We don’t want him to call the shots. Now, here’s the problem of Christianity. Not only am I saying Christ is supreme, what’s most important is seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness. But now I’m going to say he gets to define what that righteousness is. No wonder they don’t like our message, right? Because in our day that is just sacrosanct for each individual to determine what is true and what they think is right and they get to do that and you dare not touch that. And we’re coming on the scene and saying, well, let me look at this chapter and verse and it says, “No, you can’t do that.”


By the way, you can get away with talking about Jesus and God at your work and with your friends and your neighbors and the parents at the soccer game as long as you try to tell them that Christianity and God are just going to merge into their lives and allow them to do whatever they want to do. But that is not the gospel, you understand. I mean, that’s a perversion of the gospel to say, “Well, listen, whatever your idea of a good life is or a wonderful life is or a blessed life is, here add a little Jesus and maybe he’ll help you get there faster. You can have your best life as you define it if you just get Jesus into your life.” Right?


Well, that’s not Christianity. Christianity is Christ is supreme, the kingdom of heaven, you exchange everything for you to get it. Christ becomes the Lord and he calls the shots for your life. He gets to tell you what’s right and wrong. Once you become a Christian, listen to this passage, Titus Chapter 2 verses 11 and 12, “The Grace of God,” and it is good news. It’s grace that we get to get saved even though we don’t deserve it. “It’s bringing salvation for all people,” Jew and Gentile, “training us to renounce ungodliness,” that’s the hard part and we don’t like that, especially if someone else defines it for us, “worldly passions,” what everyone else wants to do, “and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Which makes it even harder because now I’m going to be an outcast. I’m going to be the minority.


That’s exactly what our message of Christianity is bringing to our generation. It’s the same thing that was brought to every generation by faithful evangelists. They’re saying, “We stand with a Christ who’s in charge of all things and gets to call the shots. He makes the rules.” And that is the problem with the true gospel. That’s the problem with us representing Christ in a culture that doesn’t like that because no culture has ever liked that, because they want to say, “We don’t want you bringing any of your rules into our world. We don’t want you telling us what to do.” And we’re saying, “Well, we’re not telling you what to do. We’re telling you what God has said.” They say, “Well, we don’t believe your book. We don’t believe your king. We don’t believe your God. You should keep your religion to yourself. You have your religion in the pews and in your homes but don’t bring it into the marketplace. Don’t tell me that we ought to reflect your rules in this world.” Well, it’s not our rules. It’s Christianity, which says you’ve got to recognize that Christ is supreme and he makes the rules.


One more on this and I quote this passage often. But if I’m going to say, why is the gospel offensive in our day? Right? What is it that gets in the way from what people want? Right? Just like this exorcism got in the way of these people’s income. Well, I’m going to quote Second Corinthians Chapter 5 verse 15. Second Corinthians 5:15, which I quote all the time, and that is that “He died for us, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and rose again.”


The whole point of my life now is defined as no longer living for me. Right? That’s big. That’s big because now I’m called a servant. One of the popular words in the Scripture to define what a Christian is. I am a servant of God. I serve Christ. I’m a slave of Christ. Now, here’s the problem with that. Christ doesn’t need anything, right? If he needs a sandwich, he’s not going to call you, right? He’s enthroned in heaven. He’s got all the angels around him, living creatures, 24 elders. They’re all sitting there serving Christ. The Lamb of God is enthroned and glorified somewhere else. And you know what? There’s not a single thing you can do for him. But what he does is commissions you to say, “Hey, in this world, you got stuff to advance my cause, my agenda in this world. And you got my people, my body, my organization, and I want you to serve them.”


Here’s how he puts it, right? “I’ve laid down my life for you. You lay down your lives,” not for me, “but for the brothers. You do all things for the sake of the elect.” So there’s the evangelistic part. I’m going to make a difference in my world. And I want people to respond rightly to the gospel. And so I’m going to do everything I can to serve them with the gospel, and I’m going to serve those who are converted, the believing Christians now who have come to faith in Christ, I’m going to lay down my lives for them. Romans Chapter 15 verses 2 and 3 says that we should not please ourselves, but we should do what pleases others. We should seek to see ourselves as servants of others. And then verse 3, “For even Christ did not come to please himself.”


And of course, that brings us back to the gospels and we hear that all the time. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served. I came to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Hey, you want to be great? The greatest among you is going to be your servant. The whole point of my life now becoming a Christian is I am a servant. That’s the point. I serve Christ and he’s saying everything’s fine up here. Right? But you got a lot to do down there. So go serve the lost by giving them the message of the gospel and go serve my people. And even that, people don’t want to be servants. Who wants to be a servant? And yet that’s the picture. Christ laid aside, Philippians 2, his divine prerogatives to go and give his life as a ransom for us, as a payment for us. He died on a cross, that horrible death that he suffered for us. And then he says, “Hey, have that mind in you, which was also in Christ.” Do that. Do what he did. Be a servant.


Do you want to know why the gospels are offensive? Because Christ has to be supreme. This whole arrangement, Christianity, is the number one thing in life. Number two, the king, who is the king of Christianity, he gets to make the rules. And number three, he wants me to identify myself as a servant. I mean, is there any reason a person who is not being drawn by the Spirit would ever want that? Who wants that? That’s offensive. And again, your temptation is to curtail the message so it doesn’t feel like that, it doesn’t sound like that.


If you want that, that’s fine, but you can’t prove it biblically. I guarantee it. You will try, but you can’t. You will exclude all the passages that speak to the heart of the matter, and that is that God gets to be God, you don’t. He’s not coming to make sure that you get all that you want on your terms. That you are submitted to him and when you do everything that you’re commanded, you ought to say, “We’re unworthy servants. We’ve only done that which we ought to have done,” to quote the words of Christ. That’s key. And for us, we’re presenting a message to the world. We stand for that. And when they rightly understand Christianity, no wonder they’re offended by that. And if it gets in the way of your income. Oh, well. If it gets in the way of your hobbies. Oh, well. If it gets in the way of your relationships. Oh well. If it causes division in your home, Jesus said it’s going to. Oh, well. Well, that sounds really horrible.


Turn with me to Philippians Chapter 3 before I leave this first point. I suppose if all you’re looking at is the cost, that is horrible, right? You have less income now, slave owners, that’s horrible. I feel bad for you. You have less disposable income now. Maybe you were counting on that to pay your rent in Philippi. I’m sorry. But here’s what you get in exchange. Paul is talking about his resume and all the things that would help elevate his life. Hebrew of Hebrews, circumcised on the eighth day, all the things that he was. He was rising in the ranks of the powerful Sanhedrin to be this great leader of the Supreme Court in Israel. I mean, he had this going and it was all going to serve him, but now he becomes a Christian.


Look at verse 7, Philippians Chapter 3. “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss.” Right? That’s the hard part. We’re just looking at the price tag right now. “For the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth.” There are three words. The surpassing worth. It’d be good for us just to ponder. Does that make sense to us? It better make sense to us. “The surpassing worth” to say you now have a person who you have power over in your household, right? This slave girl who now is freed from demonic power. Right? And she’s, I’m hoping, trusting in Christ-like Lydia and the rest of the people getting saved in Philippi. I mean, you ought to rejoice in that and then you ought to do the same. “But oh, I don’t want to because it’s affecting my income.”


Well, “I count everything loss because I understand the surpassing worth of knowing,” look at this pile up of words, Christ, the Messiah, Jesus the Savior, my Lord, the boss, the King, “as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them,” and here’s that Greek word you’ve heard this preached on before “Skubalon,” the poop. Right? Here’s the do-do that used to…. I know. Sorry. This is church, this is as bad as it gets here. It’s the poop now that I’m saying used to be valuable to me, but now it’s lost. How lost is it? I just want to flush it. I don’t care. I don’t care about my resume because now I’m a servant of Christ. I’ve traded everything in for Christ, for knowing Christ. He gets to make the rules and he’s told me what to do, and now I’m out to do it. It doesn’t matter about my own success. It doesn’t matter about my value in this world. I don’t care about any of that. “I count it all as rubbish” as it’s translated here, “in order that I might gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteous on my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” And then if it cost me something like suffering in a Philippian jail that I “may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Look how he was unjustly crucified. If I’m unjustly killed, it doesn’t matter. I’m a servant. Christ is the king. I do it for him. “That by all means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”


I mean, I know what I’m cashing this in for. I’m cashing in my life that would be over in a few short decades anyway, with stuff that I’ve amassed that, as Ecclesiastes says, will go to someone else anyway. And I’ve cashed it all in to value Christ as supreme, the kingdom of God as the ultimate, Christ is the one who gets to call the shots and me as his servant, and he’s directing me to serve his cause and serve his people. And that’s just the way it is. And you know what? It’s a good arrangement. It’s the best exchange I’ve ever made. That’s how Paul views it. I get the way the world doesn’t understand it, but if you’re faithful to the message, just get ready and know why it’s going to offend. And I’ve given you some reasons there.


But that’s not what they say, verse 20. Go back to our passage, Acts Chapter 16 verse 20. It says in verse 20, “And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men…'” have messed up our revenue stream. No, that’s not what they said. “These men are Jews, and they’re disturbing our city. They’re advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” Now that’s an interesting flip and twist on I’m upset because these guys exorcize the demon from this servant in my household and now I can’t make as much money. And you’re saying, hey, it’s because they’re Jews. They have come all the way over here to Macedonia and they’re trying to turn this place into Jerusalem. Right? That’s not really the motivation, but that’s what they’re saying. And by the way, verse 22, it works. The crowd joined in attacking them.


I just want to show you this is not really the reason. It’s not really the reason. As one commentator put it, it is not all that recent either, as I recall, the commentator said they played the race card. Right? That’s a good line. They call them Jews. Which, by the way, may be the reason we only have Paul and Silas in stocks in the prison, because the other two characters who have been named, Luke and Timothy, well, Timothy’s not fully Jewish and Luke is not. And so the crowd is playing the race card and they say, okay, “You are trying to mess up our culture by bringing in values into this culture that we don’t want and we can’t accept.” And so they take the two Jewish men, fully Jewish men, and they put them in stocks in the prison.


And the point is, now we’re going to something that is beyond what actually happened. What actually happened was you helped a girl who was enslaved by a demon. And now we’re saying, “You’re trying to turn our town into something that looks like, you know, some kind of Jewish enclave. We don’t want that.” So that’s a problem. The average Roman, if you really thought about what Paul was advocating, would not say, well, you know, you’re really messing up our society. Now, I know they had their occults and they had their practices and they had their gods. But in reality, to have this girl who’s screaming in the middle of a public meeting, it’s not like the average person would say, yeah, you know, you’ve done a really bad thing thereby putting her in her right mind. They wouldn’t say that.


Matter of fact, Paul would later say as he writes the Romans, the Roman Christians, he says, “You know what, all you Roman Christians, Jews and Gentiles, I want you to pay taxes. If there’s a position of honor, you ought to give honor to them. If there’s revenue that’s due, you ought to pay the revenue. You ought to be a good citizen.” Romans 13. In other words, if you followed what Paul said, it would make for better Roman citizens in Philippi than if you just went and ignored everything he said. But Paul is really doing a service to the culture, and yet they’re saying, “Well, I don’t like this. We’re going to blame you for bringing your Jewish customs into our culture and we don’t like that. Even though the real problem was it was affecting my bottom line. My revenue stream has been dried up.”


And you’ll find that all the time and people will buy it. The crowds will jump on it, the crowds will join in attacking them. And the magistrates will say, “We’ve got to punish you. We’re going to tear your shirts off, your cloak off. We’re going to beat you with rods, and then we’re going to put you in prison.” And that’s exactly what happens, right? Verses 23, 24. You should expect this because not only does it happen to the followers of Christ, it happened to Christ himself, and that is that they brought unfounded accusations to them. You ought to expect that. Number two if you’re taking notes, “Expect Unfounded Accusations. You’re going to be called things that are not true. And you’re going to struggle with that because you going to think, “Wow, I don’t like the way that they’re calling me a hater or phobic or whatever they’re calling me or narrow-minded.” Right?


You can’t help the truth of the gospel. Hinduism is not going to lead you to forgiveness and you’re going to say Christianity is going to and they’re going to call you a bigot. You can’t affirm the cultural sexual ethic. You’re going to say, no, God, the king gets to make the rules. He’s made the rules and Jesus said what those rules are. The Bible says what those rules are, and you need to keep them. And they’re going to call you a hater. They’re going to call you some kind of horrible person. And all I’m telling you is you should be ready for that.


I mean, it doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn’t matter what we do. Right? I mean, a couple of weeks ago, this is a different kind of sermon than the last couple of weeks. A couple of weeks ago I was talking about complrmentarianism and egalitarianism. And what did I say in that very long-worded first point, which was just two words, but lots of letters? I said, you know, complementarianism is not misogynistic. Do you remember that point? You kind of laughed at how long those words were, right? And the whole point, misogynistic means this view in Scripture does not mean I hate women. Guess what I got accused of the following week? You’d never guess — being a woman hater, misogynistic. And all I’m saying is, listen, not only did I say it upfront, that’s not what I’m saying, that’s not what I’m thinking. It doesn’t matter.


You can say all you want that you’re not homophobic. You can say all you want that you’re not trying to destroy anyone or you’re not hurting anyone and you don’t hate anyone and you’re going to be accused of all of that. Get ready and be ready, because that’s exactly what happens. Remember when Pilate was sitting there listening to the Pharisees bring charges against Christ? And here’s what the Bible says. “He knew it was because of envy that they had delivered him up.” Is that what they were saying? “We’re envious of this guy.” No. Were they saying, “We’ve lost income through this. This gal is not a demon fortune teller anymore.” Nope. They were saying something different. They were bringing unfounded accusations. They were exaggerating things that weren’t really the truth. But it certainly wins the argument. And in culture, the mobs all pile on.


You watch what happens. You have a well-reasoned statement on social media about something, and the comments and the mob rule that takes place on these social media sites and none of it makes any logical sense. It doesn’t matter. It wins the day, the mob will jump on and beat them with verbal rods. It happens all the time and you sit back and go, “Oh, I can’t even engage in this. It’s absurd.” And it is absurd because that’s how it works. It worked that way with Christ. Then they start saying, “Well, you said you were going to destroy the temple.” Jesus actually meant, “Well, I know I use those terms. I said, if you destroy this temple in three days, I’ll build it up. I was talking about my body,” and you know, John’s gospel, he makes clear talking about his body. “I said that, but that’s not what I meant. And, you know…” It doesn’t matter.


Two witnesses come up before the trial and say “Well he’s saying he’s going to destroy the temple.” This guy from Galilee can do what? He going to bring his chisels and his hammers and destroy… Stop, stop. It’s stupid. It makes no sense. But it wins the day and they say, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Pilate says, “I will let Barabbas go.” The crowd says, “No, crucify him.” It makes no sense. So get ready for that.


Now, here’s the problem with this sermon. I don’t like telling you the things that get you in my shoes and make you think about the sermon or the delivery or the prep. But I’m going to break that rule. If you’ve been in my homiletics class, I tell you not to do this, but I’m going to do it here. Ready? I start working on this sermon and, you know, I’ve had two sermons that were doozies in the last two weeks. So I’m like, I’m ready for something different. I get to this passage and I think, “Oh man, it’s about Christians doing the right thing and suffering. I just… how many sermons in Acts that we have like this? Then go back to Luke, you know, when we’re all a lot younger (audience laughing) I had a ton of sermons on that and I was like, I don’t want to keep preaching the same sermon all the time. And I was just like frustrated. I’d already mapped out a bunch of it, I’d work hours on it.


And then Saturday morning, I think it was yesterday, I wake up in the middle of all this prep and I get to the Daily Bible Reading and I open up the Daily Bible Reading and the Daily Bible Reading was in First Thessalonians Chapter 3. And if you’ve been doing the Daily Bible Reading, there were some words in those first five verses that just ministered to me amazingly. One word in particular just jumped off the page at me. It was like God going, “Man, just keep preaching on this topic. I know you’re going to get up there and feel like they know all this. It’s an old song. You’ve said it before. Yeah. It’s illustrated differently or, you know, I’ll do something that’ll make it different. I don’t want to tell them what they already know.” Okay. That was my mental gymnastics until I read this passage.


Turn with me to yesterday’s Daily Bible Reading reading in the New Testament, First Thessalonians Chapter 3. This was helpful for me in so many profound ways yesterday. First Thessalonians Chapter 3 verse 1. Let’s read verses 1 through 5. “Therefore,” Paul says, “when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind in Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith.” So he wanted to go and send Timothy to exhort them, encourage them and establish them. Just keep standing strong in the faith. “That no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”


Verse 4, “For when we were with you,” here’s a good line that helped me, “we kept telling you,” like, sermon after sermon, “beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith.” Right? Tie it back to the bottom of verse 2, “I wanted to exhort you, establish you,” I wanted to make sure your faith was vibrant and strong. Why? “For fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” The word that jumped right off the page at me yesterday morning in my devotional time reading this passage was the “tempter.”


And I thought that is why I should not apologize for preaching another sermon to you about being faithful and strong and standing with Christ and preaching the gospel to our generation and suffering for it. Because every time affliction gets ramped up for you doing the right thing, every time there is an injustice and someone calls you a hater or someone says, “You’re narrow-minded, or you’re a bigot, and stop with your fundamentalist Christianity.” Every time that happens, the tempter is right there with that pressure and that affliction to get you to say, “It ain’t worth it. It’s not worth it.”


Go back to Jesus’ parable in your mind. He tells the parable of the four soils and he says, the sower goes out to sow. The seed is the gospel, and it goes to all these different soils. Do you remember the two middle soils? It says, “They receive the word with joy.” And one of the soils, think about this, “without root, the persecution arises because of the word.” Right? They’d received the word with joy. “But persecution comes because of that word and because of that persecution they immediately follow away.”


Now, of course, we would say theologically from a biblical perspective, it’s because their faith was not saving faith, but the tempter was there to say, “What are you trusting? How are you trusting? You should not be suffering for holding on to this truth.” You should not be saying, “I trust in Christ” and if things get hard, this doesn’t work and people bail out. They say, I don’t want this. I’m not interested in this because of persecution, because the tempter is there going, “Nope, don’t trust God the way you ought to trust God saying I trust him as the king. I’ve exchanged everything for him, the rule maker, and I’m his servant for the rest of my life come what may, if the world throws everything at me.” Right? Don’t. Right?


Don’t listen to Paul when he says in Acts Chapter 14 verse 22, “Going and strengthening the faith of the disciple, saying through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God.” Don’t believe that. He kept preaching that. And I’m preaching another message to you about you’re going to suffer for doing the right thing. And all I’m telling you is that’s because I want to be someone who can say, I kept telling you this because when it happened, the tempter was right there.


Just think about it. Here we are Sunday morning. There are still some seats available for people. If you were to go back from the founding of this church back 17 and a half years ago, think about it. And you thought about the founding of this church of all the people who came through these doors and sat in these services and were excited about the Bible. They were excited about their faith. They were like, “This is great. I’m all about it. It’s a newfound understanding of Scripture.” And they were just excited.


If we had kept every single one of those and just you could take all the people out who moved because of jobs or they died or whatever it is, and you just look at people who right now are living in South Orange County, reading the paper, walking the dog, thinking about whatever they’re going to do this afternoon and they don’t have any interest in coming to Christ. Right? How many of them it would be because they realize if I hold this view out there in my job, in the marketplace, with my friends, if I do it the way they uncompromisingly keep telling me to do it, I am going to be suffering for it. And I don’t want to suffer.


I’m just saying, if you had all those people back and not one of them was lost, think about it, you couldn’t find a parking space. We’d have to have five services every weekend because we couldn’t hold everybody. And I’m saying every one of those, it should be a painful loss for us. Paul says, I had a fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and all of our work, all those sermons, all that preaching would be in vain. And all I’m saying is, I guess what I should get used to is preaching periodic sermons. Not like, “Oh yeah, I remember two years ago, Pastor Mike talked about it, it could be hard at work if I hold to biblical Christianity.” I want you to say it was two weeks ago he said that. I want you to say, “Yeah, well, he kept warning us. He kept, verse 3, “we’re destined for it.” Verse 4, “We kept telling you beforehand,” it would happen.


Is it going to cost you your job? Yeah. Is it going to cost your relationship? Sure. Is it going to cost you a revenue stream? Yes. Yes. I’m telling you that’s going to happen. And you need to recognize that the thing that’s going to shake us is when people attack us, it’s going to cost. They’re going to exaggerate. They’re going to say things that aren’t true. They’re going to bring unprovable accusations about your motives.


When they say those things, man, check your heart, make sure it’s not. Right? I hope you’re not a hater. Right? But you prayed the Psalm 139 prayer, right? “Search me and know me. Try my heart. See if there’s any wicked way in me.” I want to make sure the accusations aren’t true. But they’re going to accuse you. And your goal is to say, “No, I expected it. I knew it was coming. I was told we were destined for that. But my faith is going to remain strong.”


How strong do you think Paul’s faith was here and Silas’ faith in verse 25? Look at it. After being beaten with rods without a shirt on. Think about it. There in the inner prison fastened in stocks, you can’t sleep very well fastened in stocks. About midnight. you’re in pain, you can’t sleep, you can’t get comfortable. Who knows if they even had a blanket in this cold, dank prison? But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.


The whole point of Paul and Silas preaching by the riverside was to get more people saved. The only reason they shut down that girl was because they were annoyed that she kept interrupting. The whole point was to see people hear the word. Like in Luke Chapter 14, Jesus tells the parable of trying to get people into the banquet hall and the people who they ask didn’t want to come. And he said, “Fine, servants go out to the highways and byways and just bring anyone in who will hear.” And that whole chapter ends. We got those great verses that I just talked about ending in verse 33. You got to give up everything you have, and then a short little paragraph and it ends with this: “To him who has ears, let him hear.” And the whole point is, I need people to hear this message.


Chapter 15 starts with Jesus going out and talking to people about the message, and it uses the same word, “Akouó,” “to hear.” It says, in the Greek New Testament, “He went out to the tax collectors and sinners, and they were hearing him.” They were listening to him, right? The Pharisees grumbled because look, he’s hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners. Now, I don’t know. I don’t have the comparison here. Maybe everyone was happy to hear him at the riverside, but maybe at some point God says, “Listen, they’re not listening to you. I got some people who will listen to you. They’re going to hear you with a good attitude in the midst of your trials. And they will be interested in why in the world you would have such a positive view of God in the midst of such trials and troubles and injustice. Now they have an audience.


Just like Paul when he was incarcerated. He shares the gospel. The whole Pretorian Guard now is hearing the gospel. They’re not bitter. They’re not angry. And then it says, “Suddenly,” verse 26, “there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.” As I said, this is an area prone to earthquakes. But the timing and the effect, all God governed, right? “The foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened,” and it was like a jailbreak. BAM! God does this jailbreak.


Now. Is it that God was like, “Oops, I wasn’t paying attention. I got two of my four missionaries here in prison. I got to bust them out. Okay, let’s move some plates under the earth there in Macedonia, and I’m going to do this so I can get those stocks to come off and the doors to fly open and I’m going to BAM! Okay. Sorry, guys.” Right? Is that how that works? Did God not know? Was it like Paul and Silas are going, “Finally! I wish you would have got me out, you know, before the beating,” right? No, no.


They were like they knew, they’re praising God. They know that this is God’s will. Like Job, “the Lord has given, the Lord has taken away.” The sovereignty of God, they know that. They knew that God was in charge of their lives and I’ll bet even Luke adds this line because Paul and Silas get out and tell them we had the prisoners listening to us. They know God is sovereignly doing this thing called affliction and unjust suffering and there was some purpose in this and I think it’s hinted to right there. But then God says, “Okay, we’re done. I’m getting you out of here.”


To pray and to praise in the midst of such trouble and pain is a sign that they were trusting in a God for the things ultimately that they knew were secured. As Paul said when he was in prison in Philippians Chapter 1, even if I die here, I have all courage and resolve that even if I die, in my body Christ will be exalted, whether by life or by death. I’m going to do what God wants me to do. I trust him. It’s like Hananiah and Mishael and Azariah. Right? Think about it, right? Even if you throw me in the fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, that was the Babylonian name said, God can save us, he can. But even if he doesn’t, we’re still set on trusting in him. Our hope is fixed on him.


Number three, that’s exactly what Paul and Silas were doing. That’s what we should do in the midst of our unjust suffering. Number three. We ought to “Fix Your hope on a God Who ‘Saves.'” Now look at the screen and look at the word “save.” And look at the quotes I have around it. Right? Put those on your outline. Right? A God who saves, quote, unquote. Now, the question I have is did Paul and Silas get saved from the prison? And the answer would be yes. Is that a good use of the word? Yes. Paul uses the word that way. It’s used all through the Scripture in that way. The Bible talks about being saved from prison. God talks about being saved from illness, God talks about, James Chapter 5, God talks about being saved from armies back in the Pentateuch, in the Hebrew Old Testament word Yeshua, which we get the word “Jesus” from “salvation,” saved from all kinds of troubles, Psalm 103, saved from all kinds of things. Right?


But then there’s a kind of salvation that the New Testament talks about and it adds words and adjectives like this in the book of Hebrews, “eternal salvation” or “salvation to the uttermost,” the book of Hebrews puts it. So there’s a kind of salvation that we think of when you hear the word salvation. But there are all these other kinds of salvations in the Bible. You use the word saved in a variety of ways. I’ve saved these leftovers. I saved a seat for you. Right? You use those words that way. But then, you know, when you use it in the right context, when you’re thinking about God and eternity, you say, “I’m saved,” right? I’m saved. I’m saved from the penalty of my sins in eternity.


Here’s what they were hoping for, is that God would save them from their sins. That’s the whole point of the gospel. The whole point of the gospel, “whether by life or death,” they know this, my hope is in Christ, the next verse, “For me to live is Christ,” to quote Phillippians Chapter 1, “but to die is gain.” I just know that’s settled. Salvation is secured. A great passage for you to study sometime, Hebrews Chapter 6, as he says, God wants you to “have this hope and confidence and assurance,” he says, “like an anchor in your soul.” God has made his promises firm. You should not doubt him and that if you died today, you should know that you’re going to be in the presence of God.


As John wrote, “I’ve written these things to you that you might know you have eternal life.” That’s the ultimate salvation. But you’re fixing your hope on a God that you know could also save you in a variety of other ways under that heading of salvation. Could he not? Well, of course he could. He could calm the storm, right? He could shut the mouths of the lions. Sure. He can get you out of this prison. He could make the cancer go away. He could make the lawsuit drop. He could make these people who are attacking you stop. He could do all of that. But you’re trusting in a God that you know has the power to do that. And if he doesn’t choose to do that, oh, well. “By life or by death.” Whether he fixes this or doesn’t, because he’s fixed the ultimate thing for me. And the ultimate thing is I know that when I die, I’m not going to be hearing the words, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”


So I’ve settled the ultimate salvation. But when I say I trust in God in the midst of my unjust suffering I know he could save me at any point during this. And I just know that’s up to him. I’m going to trust him whether he does or he doesn’t, because he is a God who saves.


Turn with me to First Peter Chapter 2. This is important for us to catch because when it comes to the idea of what it means to be a Christian who trusts regardless of the situation, Christ becomes our template for this and it’s a great text. First Peter Chapter 2, start in verse 19. And I know this is a word, it’s like the word glory. We just have a hard time getting a clear picture of it in our minds. And it’s the word “grace” or “gracious.” But try and understand this, verse 19, “For this is a gracious thing.” Gracious thing. It’s a thing where God’s favor rests. It’s a thing where God, I started with when a parent sees a kid going through a tough time and going, “Yes, attaboy, it’s good.” God’s approval, God’s favor, right? It’s a good thing. It’s “a gracious thing, when, mindful of God.”


And there’s my third point, you’re fixing my hope on a God who saves. “If I’m mindful of God,” in the midst of this, “I endure sorrows while suffering unjustly.” Now, Paul and Silas are in a prison, suffering unjustly. They’re mindful of God. They’re mindful that God is a God who’s in charge of all things, they’re singing praises to him. They’re praying to him. That’s where God’s favor rests. The spirit of Christ is there. Verse 20, “For what credit is there if you sin and are beaten for it and you endure it,” right? If Paul and Silas were out doing, you know, terrible things and sinful things, it was awful what they were doing, well, then, you know, take your lumps and just, you know, grit your teeth and bear it.


“But if when you do good and suffer,” was it good to cast out the demon of this girl oppressed by a demon? Absolutely. Good thing. Was it good to share the gospel. Yes. Good. All that was good. “And you suffer for it.” Right? If you point out God’s standards. Is that good? Of course it’s good. If you share the gospel, the only way to be saved, is it good? It’s good. Of course it’s good. You stand with Christ. Of course that’s good. And if you “suffer for it,” think about this, “and you endure, well, that’s a gracious thing in the sight of God.” It’s like God draws near there. It’s like God’s credit. Like God’s smile is upon that. Like God is saying, “Yes, that’s good. It’s a good thing.”


Verse 21, “For to this you have been called.” Now you got to take that [00:55:33]dancer [0.0s] pronoun there, “to this you have been called.” What’s “this?” Right? Well, to be the object of God’s grace, certainly. But what’s the context? To suffer when you’ve done the right thing, when you know you’ve done what’s right and you’re still suffering, you’re called to that. What do you mean you’re called to that? Yeah, I know, that’s exactly right. “Because Christ also suffered for you.” Now I know he suffered to save us, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. He left you an example so that you might follow in his steps. So he suffered as a template in a pattern.


And what did he do? Well, I’m glad you asked. Verse 22. “He committed no sin.” Right? Talk about innocent and suffering. “Neither was deceit found in his mouth.” He wasn’t even lying. He never lied. “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he continued,” here it is, “entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” They knew sitting in the stocks in Philippi this is unjust, we shouldn’t be here, the magistrates were wrong to tear our robes off, the magistrates were wrong to have us beaten, the mob was wrong. The people who were concerned about their paycheck and their revenue stream through the demonic girl, they’re wrong. They’re all wrong. We’re not wrong. We did the right thing.


And when you do the right thing and say the right things and stand for the right things, you just need to know you have that clear conscience. I know it’s the right thing. I’m going to entrust myself, fix my hope on a God who ultimately saves, he vindicates. He ends up saying to those on his right “enter into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” and to those on his left, “depart from me, you accursed ones, into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” God is going to separate the people who are accusing us and the people who are mocking us and the people who are accusing us of being haters and bigots and all that. All of those are going to be punished. Either that or we’re going to get through to them with the gospel and their sins will be appended to the cross. But either way, he’s going to settle the score. It’s just such a great line, “continuing to entrust ourselves to him who judges justly.” Mindful of God. Those are big phrases. And I’m just trying to put that into a point for you. Fix your hope on a God who saves.


There’s a passage in First Samuel 30 when David was in a bad situation. End of a losing battle, his family gets captured. The people he’s with, their families get captured. And it says in verse 6 of First Samuel 30, “David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul.” You can imagine a lot of situations where David is in trouble and here when he’s in trouble, everyone wants to kill him. The last sentence of that verse, and I’ll take you and your small groups to that. It’s on the questions for your small group discussions this week. There’s just that great line. “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” He found strength when everyone was rising up.


Did David doa wrong thing? It wasn’t about that. Did Paul and Silas do a wrong thing? No. Did Jesus do a wrong thing? No. The unjust suffering. You didn’t do anything to get that cancer. You didn’t do anything to have that lawsuit. You didn’t do anything wrong to have these things happen. But you’re there and you’re suffering and you’re receiving the hostilities of whoever it is. And all I’m saying is you’ve got to do what David did, to be able to refresh yourself in the Lord your God.


I always think of that, I can’t help but think of that when David is led out of town, I think I quoted this one recently, and Absalom is on the throne, his own son, and it’s this coup d’etat that is taking place, and Shimei is throwing rocks and stones and dirt at him. And he finally gets to the Jordan River and he “refreshes himself.” He dunks himself in the river. And I can just picture all the dirt coming off his face. And I’m thinking, there’s got to be more to the writer of the Psalms. Right? So many of the Psalms with that. I always think of this passage. “He refreshed himself.” He strengthened himself in the Lord his God. I’m just saying, you need to find the great solace in the midst of your trial when the pressure is on and the tempters at the door to say, “I am not going to back down from the real gospel. I know it offends. I know I’m going to be accused, but I will fix my hope on God like Job did, like Paul did.”


When I was a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, there was this weird thing going on up the 10 freeway around the Catalina mountains there called the Biosphere. Does anybody remember the Biosphere? This really weird, hermetically sealed, lot of acreage where they sealed it off, had its own, you know, filtration system, had its own ecosystem, they had irrigation and they had, you know, trees and they had water and ponds and a coral reef. They tried to create this whole environment where people could live in there and it’s like completely like something you build on Mars. You could live in this little biosphere.


Nothing was going on when I was in college and I read about the fact that though they had everything that you could need in there, things started to fall apart. The trees that they had planted to bear fruit and do all the things in there, they started to fall over in their little, they called it a rainforest, their mini-rainforest. The trees start to fall over because though it had all the nutrients it needed, those trees in the soil, they had fertilizer, they had irrigation every day. They finally realized, horticulturists come in and they said, “Hey. The reason your trees are failing is because there are no storms, there’s no wind, there’s nothing pushing these trees around to dig their roots deep down into that soil. And they’re just going to collapse on their own weight and that’s exactly what started happening. They had to artificially generate pressure and affliction on those trees to get them to be healthy.


Peter said, the testing of your faith, the testing of the genuineness of your faith that produces that perseverance for you to sit there and suffer the persecution that arises because of the word is there for you to do what the soil that fell away didn’t have, and that is to dig roots down. The reason you should be here, if it’s not here, you move away to some other place, in a Bible-teaching church on Sunday morning till the end of your life. Right? Fellowshiping with the church and studying the word and getting recharged to live your Christian life for another new week. Right? That should be happening because you got roots that go down and your faith is real and genuine.


And that’s going to happen when you know, you’ve been warned, hopefully I can play some small part in that by reminding you continually, this is what we are destined for through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart,” those are the roots, “take heart, Christ has overcome the world.” Whether you’ve got a day left to live or 100 years left to live, what you need is a faith that’s resilient, that can power through the difficulties, particularly the unjust suffering. That kind of difficulty of you being piled on and the mob attacking you, saying, “I know that we’re serving a king. He’s right. There’s vindication coming. I’m trusting in a God who saves.” Are you charged up to do that for another week and frankly, for the rest of your life?


Let’s pray, God, give us that sense of digging down deep in our Christian life to trust you when things are hard, when relationships disappoint, when our bodies fail, when our economy and our money collapses and we don’t have what we want. When things that we thought were going to go well, go poorly, and we end up trying to do the right thing, we get thrown in jail and put in stocks. When our kids die. Think of that Job passage, God. It’s amazing. Let us remember that even though things may go bad for us personally, we’re trusting in a God who saves eternally.


I think of Second Samuel 7 when you told David you were going to build a house for him. He was going to have a lot of ups and downs in his life but in the end you would glorify yourself through his descendants and bring Christ into this world. And David then said, “Then I want your name to be magnified, to be magnified forever. I want the glory to be given to you.” We sang about that earlier, God. We care about you being put on a pedestal and that you are seen even through our trials, like those prisoners listening to Paul and Silas that they know that we’re hoping and trusting and we’ve fixed our hope on a God who saves and the God who vindicates. Help us to trust you better even this week starting right now, this afternoon.


In Jesus name. Amen.


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