What a Mix: Generosity, Idolatry, and Christianity
INTRODUCTION: The truth this passage magnifies to us as believers is this reality: the church progresses under persecution. Effectiveness and persecution usually go hand-in-hand, since an effective church is a bold church, and a bold church is often a church made strong through suffering. It is still true that ''salt'' stings when rubbed in wounds, and ''light'' reveals the deeds that are evil done in darkness. This type teaching can provoke a hostile reaction.
In Jerusalem, persecution came from organized religion. In Antioch, it stemmed from prejudice and envy. In Lystra, it was the result of paganism. In Philippi, it was the reaction to a victory over the demonic realm. In Thessalonica, it came from an unruly mob. In Athens, the gospel faced the opposition of worldly philosophy. In Corinth, it came from Judaism. Wherever the church boldly and faithfully proclaims the gospel, it faces Satanic opposition.
Now, as we enter Ephesus, note the hardened hearts, hypocrisy (French word), and hatred, energized by materialism, towards the gospel.
I. THE MINISTRY WITH PURPOSE. 21-22
''purposed'' -- mental action
A. GENEROSITY. 21
''passed through Macedonia and Achaia'' -- this was the opposite direction from Jerusalem. Many in the church at Jerusalem were poor and in need of substantial financial assistance. To meet that need, Paul wanted to take to Jerusalem with him a love offering from the largely Gentile churches he had founded.
Romans 15:25-27, ''But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.''
1 Corinthians 16:1-3, ''Now concerning the collec ...
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