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Sermon24-28 Acts12 Guide

Acts 9-12, theme verse Acts 11:25-26

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

In this third Sunday after the Pentecost, I pray that His grace of the application of all the benefits which Jesus earned for our salvation and also the glorious ministry of the proclamation of His kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit may be full in our life. While the Gospel of Luke records the story of the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Acts records the evangelism story of His disciples who received Great Commission from their Lord to proclaim His good news to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and then to the end of the earth with the power of the Holy Spirit. As we looked into the expansion and persecution of Jerusalem church and the evangelism in Judea and Samaria, yet this week, we would like to see how God prepared His church for the Gentile mission to learn few lessons together.

1)    The “Acts” as the sequel to the Gospel of Luke, written around AD 80-90 after the Gospel of Luke, was written by Luke also on the ministries of the first church, who proclaim the Good News to all over the world, I mean, geologically from Jerusalem to Samaria, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome and ethnically not only to Jews, but now embracing Gentiles of every nationality. And briefly speaking, in chapter 1 through 12, Luke recorded the ministry of Peter, while recording the ministry of Paul in the chapter 13 through the end, chapter 28.

2)    And the Acts is composed of introduction and three church planting movements; I mean,

a)     In 1:1-26, Luke summarized again Jesus’ ministries after His resurrection to ascension, as the bridge between the Gospel of Luke and Acts,

b)    In 1:12-6:7, Luke recorded the story of the church in Jerusalem from its birth through the coming of the Holy Spirit to its expansion by the power of the Holy Spirit,

c)     and in 6:8-9:31, it was recorded the story of church in Judea and Samaria, after being scattered through the persecution after the Martyr of Stephen. 

d)    And then in 9:32-28:31, it was recorded the story of church expansion to the end of the earth in which Paul who joined with Barnabas in church in Antioch went spread the Gospel to the end of the earth, I mean, to Turkey, Asia Minor, Greece and even to Rome.

3)    By the way, God prepared a few things for His church, before the gospel was preached to the non-Jewish territories after it was preached to the Jewish territories like Judea and Samaria. First of all, after God converted Saul and installed him as an Apostle for the Gentiles. And then God sent Peter to the Roman centurion, Cornelius, and made him preach the Gospel to them. And while Peter was preaching to them, the Holy Spirit came down upon the Gentiles so that Peter baptized him and his while families and reported this to the church in Jerusalem. As such, God made Jerusalem church knew His will for the Gentile mission and be prepared for it. And then God planted a church in Antioch, Syria where those who believed Jesus became to be called Christian, I mean, the people of Christ and made Barnabas and Paul, the converted Saul minister there together to prepare the Gentile mission.

4)    And then two more important incidents happened in Jerusalem church. Firstly Jerusalem church that almost only Apostles remained had to go through the severe persecution again so that Apostle James was martyred and also Apostle Peter was imprisoned by Herod who wanted to gain popularity from the Jews. But, God did not leave Peter in that pit so that at the night before Herod tried to kill Peter, an Angel came down opened the door and released Peter from the prison. And so because of this, Herod killed the watchmen and Peter freed from Jerusalem and stayed somewhere else so that this incident made Peter and other Apostles made more effort to the Gentile mission.

5)    And secondly, one more unique incident occurred. I mean, it was recorded the strange death of King Herod. According to Jewish Roman historian Josephus in his “Ancient History of the Jews”, after Peter's imprisonment and release, Herod went to Caesarea and stayed there. And in a day to celebrate Emperor Claudius' victory in the British expedition, and Claudius' birthday, after wearing a royal suit made of silver thread, when climbing up to the amphitheater of Caesarea to give a speech, as his silver royal suit was shining off a dazzling glow, with the sunlight as his speech began, then the applause from Tire and Sidon gave him enthusiastic cheers and praise, saying, ‘He is a god! He is a god!’ so that Herod thought he became like a god himself, responded with their cheers and praises, saying, ‘Yes, yes, I guess I am a god’. At that moment, an owl, which the Jews regarded as a sign of evil, flew in and perched on a pillar of the stage. At that moment, Herod suddenly suffered from abdominal pain and fell down on the ground, clutching his stomach. Even though his shocked aides rushed him to the palace, but he eventually Herod died after just five days. Regarding this, the Bible says in verse 23 that “Because Herod did not give glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him, and he was eaten by worms and died.” Since his grandfather, Herod the Great, also died from the same disease, it seems this was a family tragedy, yet it also seems me a sign for His Gentile mission, that is, the signal of the end of Pax Romana based the violence and the inauguration of Pax Christi who is the Son of God. Through all these incidents, God prepared His Gentile mission.

6)    Through today’s Bible verses, we would like to learn few things. Firstly, the strange death of Herod, who was a symbol of Roman politics and religion, wearing a silver cloth and misunderstanding he was a god just right before the Gentile mission, seems to prophesy and symbolize the collapse of Pax Romana and the coming of Pax Christi. In other words, since Pax Romana was inaugurated by Octavian who ended the civil war after Caesar’s death in 31BC and was crowned as an emperor with the title Augustus by the Senate, Pax Romana had continued for around 200 years, in which all the Roman emperors were revered as gods who came down from heaven, as Virgil, a famous Roman poet, sang in his epic poem,  “Aeneid” that “A young man in Rome will usher in an era of peace and prosperity,” in which ”Young man” represented “Augustus” since Octavian was 31 years old when he became an emperor. Yet. This death of Herod seemed a prophetic event that signaled the arrival of a new era in which Pax Romana would be replaced by Pax Christi which would be inaugurated by true Son of God, Jesus Christ. Secondly, we would like to think about the mission of God. I mean, when the western missionaries were faced up with the crisis that they were expelled from their mission field by the independent government from the colony after the World War II since they have been arrogantly destroyed local culture and religion, being clothed with western culture and civilization backed up by the expansion of Western imperialism, in that situation, the concept of the mission of God in Latin “Missio Dei” was born, after the International Missionary Council conference at Willingen, Germany, in 1952. In this, against all kinds of the absolutization of human principles and the self-justification of the mission, it was said only God is the motif, purpose of His mission, and He Himself does all His mission. Beyond traditional missions for conversion of the native people and church construction, the mission of God is defined as His sovereign, comprehensive and holistic ministry to promote the presence and lordship of Christ in the world. Especially Hoekendojk defined the goal of the missio dei as the “Shalom,” that is, comprehensively encompassing concept including peace, honesty, community, harmony, and justice, beyond the salvation of human souls. Therefore, I pray that when God the Father invites us to His mission, we all may obey to His invitation to proclaim His kingdom which was inaugurated in His first coming and will be consummated in His second coming to the eternal shalom of the new heaven and new earth for the glory of the Father.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 According to today’s sermon, we can know that in the mission of God, God Himself planned, executes and will consummate it and we all are invited into His mission to recover His created yet corrupted world. So for a moment after reviewing our life to check how and where we are participating in His mission, I hope you could share your thought and idea and experience with your team members together.

Q2 And then, when we have this understanding of the mission of God, we could participate in the mission of God rightly and also follow Him in right direction. So after reviewing how we were led and obey to His leading in our missional life, I hope you could share your thoughts and experience with your team members.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or  even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized   ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon                                    )

Please help me to live in that (  learned way of life                                                )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

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