Year 2 Day 66
Read - Acts 19v21-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Why does the Gospel make people angry? Why does the Gospel divide families? Why does the Gospel divide churches? The Gospel isn't a nice little fairy story. It declares that Jesus Christ laid down His life for sinners and was raised for their justification. The Gospel demands a response and it calls sinners away from their idols and sin to repentance and faith in Jesus. To those perishing the Gospel is offensive for it strikes at the heart of their delusion and declares that Jesus is Lord.
The offence of the Gospel was on full display in Ephesus. There was a growing disturbance about the Christian faith, here called "the Way" (v23) The problem? More and more people were being converted and they all believed that that gods made with hands were not gods at all (v26). This was increasingly hitting people in the pocket. There was a man called Demetrius who made silver shrines of Artemis (v24). He was no fool and could see the writing on the wall.
If Christianity continued to grow Demetrius' trade was at risk and the false goddess Artemis might be forgotten about (v27). For an Ephesian this would have been utterly unthinkable. Artemis was seen as the daughter of the greek god Zeus. She was revered as the god of the hunt and her temple in Ephesus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
You see the problem? The Gospel threatened culture, history, trade and tradition. Demetrius could not let this pass and so he spoke against the Christian faith in an attempt to stop this new religion called "the way". Nothing has changed. The Gospel is still offensive and it still threatens the ungodly kingdoms and empires and traditions of this world. As humans we invest so much time and attention in things which are passing away. We get so excited by our sports teams. Our culture and heritage captures our attention. National identify drives us to the streets. All manner of issues send us to the ballot box.
Yet the Gospel trumps everything because the Gospel is more important than everything.
I once was told about a man who somehow had become an elder in a church. On a visit to a home in his district he asked the shocking question "You aren't one of those born again Christians are you?" I hope that man came to realise the foolishness of his question and I hope that he came to trust Christ. If you have never been born again then you are not a Christian. The Gospel transforms. It changes our identity. Our status with God. Our attitudes. Everything.
Why does the Gospel make people angry? Because it tells humanity that they are not the captain of their own ship and instead they need to trust Jesus. Today the temple of Artemis is no more. You can still visit Ephesus but the glory of Artemis has gone. Such a thing will never happen to Christ. He is no idol and he is no fraud. His Gospel stands forever and He still calls upon all to repent and to receive Him by faith.
My friends do not grow angry at such a message. Instead put away your idols and look unto Jesus. Gods made with hands are not gods at all. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and in this crumbling and fading world He remains the Saviour and friend of sinners.
Q73 Which is the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.