The Gospel Confronts A Wonder of the World
Sunday, March 12, 2023 - Pastor Steve Webster
Locations & Times
  • GracePoint Baptist Church
    3143 Sheppard Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1T 1P4, Canada
    Sunday 10:30 AM
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This morning as we continue our current study series on the New Testament book of Acts we’re going to give some thought to how those in Christ back in the world of the first century challenged the cultural idolatry of their age, and how idolatry continues to represent a very real challenge to those of us in Christ today.

The word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer. About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all.” Acts 19:20-26, NIV

Demetrius was a silversmith there in Ephesus who calls a meeting of the local silversmiths’ guild to discuss a growing danger to their lucrative business making silver shrines of the goddess Artemis.

Back in Acts 17 when speaking with the Athenian philosophers Paul said:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25, NIV

Demetrius highlights for his fellow craftsmen 3 dangers of Paul’s influence: “There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” Acts 19:27, NIV

A lot was at stake for the silversmiths and for the population of Ephesus as a whole, and consequently they were not happy with the rising influence in Ephesus of the Way of the Lord. When your life in Christ calls into question the beliefs and behaviour of others they get upset. That was true in ancient Ephesus and it’s also true here in 21st century Toronto.

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theatre. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Acts 19:28-34, NIV

By our commitment to the gospel, by the values we hold and the priorities we pursue, by our first and final allegiance to Christ as Lord of our lives, do we ever present a challenge to the idolatry of our culture?

When properly understood the gospel is about Jesus saving you and me in order to change everything about us — our priorities, passions and pursuits; our approach to money, relationships, and politics; how we respond to success, failure and hardship; how we exercise authority, influence and privilege; and even the way we deal with those that hurt us, oppose us, and reject us. When we begin to more fully live out such a Jesus-first life the people around us, and the broader culture we are part of, will take note because our faith moves from simply a private experience to something that the Lord uses to make a public impact.
Those of us in Christ are not immune to the challenge of idolatry for anything we want more than God effectively becomes an idol to us. In this regard the apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:5: Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Colossians 3:5b, NLT

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21, ESV

Idolatry is a disordered desire. It’s craving, wanting, being satisfied by anything or anyone more than God himself. Are there any idols that need to be toppled from the throne of your life? Is there anything in your life that means more to you than Jesus?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24, NLT

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