Many in This City

Big Idea: Jesus has other sheep to bring into his fold.
The Proclaimer of the Gospel:
Must not be fearful
Must go on speaking
Must trust the result to Christ
This morning I am continuing on the topic of evangelism. I am thankful so many of you have committed to pray for the lost that are in your lives, in your spheres of influence. Some of you have already connected with your prayer partner to pray together. This morning we have available cards for you to take to write down the names of people you are hoping to bring to church in December. (Of course, you can bring the earlier!) We are going to ask you to turn those cards in so that I can be praying with you and others, as we spur each other on to pray for the lost.
If you haven’t figured out what names to put yet, that’s ok. Take a card with you and keep praying and during the next week you will hopefully come up with some names. Then, starting October 22, we are going to kick off a 40 days of prayer, where we all, as a church body, are going to pray together that the Lord move in our hearts, that He provides opportunities for us to share the gospel, and that we would see his hand of mercy on the lost and allow Oasis church the privilege of seeing the fruit that only God can bring. May He be glorified in our lives and in the church.
This morning I want to look at Acts 18 together, where Paul writes about the fact that God has many people in Corinth, so Paul needs to keep on mission, preaching and pleading with the lost to believe in Jesus. The key focus will be on vs 9-10.
Acts 18:1–11 ESV
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Big Idea: Jesus has other sheep to bring into his fold.
The Proclaimer of the Gospel:
Must not be fearful
Must go on speaking
Must trust the result to Christ
This passage starts out telling us that Paul went to Corinth. Corinth was in its day, a place known to be filled with debauchery. It was so bad that the word Corinth became a verb, to corinthinize, was to corrupt something or someone. The city had a temple to Athena, the goddess of love, and each evening 1,000 prostitutes would come out of the temple. So depravity was part of the worship of the pagan gods, and there could be much more said about this city. In fact, some scholars believe it was Corinth that Paul was thinking of when he wrote in Rom1.26-27
Romans 1:26–27 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Corinth was truly a depraved place. It was a place where the cultural norms were so strong that even in the church, Paul had to write to correct some pretty crazy behavior, such as he did in 1 Corinthians 5. Yet here in Corinth, God had determined to have a church. Here in one of the most depraved places, a church would grow. And here in Corinth, Paul found a Jew named Aquila and his wife, who had left Rome because the emperor had cast out all the Jews from there. Paul initially worked and stayed with them, as he was a tentmaker and needed a way to meet his needs as he did the ministry. So he worked a job and on the Sabbath he would go to the synagogue and try to reason and persuade Jews and Greeks.
Then Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, and they found Paul “occupied” with the word. The translation occupied may not fully convey the energy behind the original Greek word here. It is more like this. Paul was seized with the burden of teaching and proclaiming the Word. Now, when Timothy and Silas came, they brought the gift of money that the Macedonian church had sent, and this allowed him to focus full-time on the ministry of the Word. God sometimes calls men to preach and work in full-time ministry, and at other times someone needs to earn a living to provide for themselves and this leaves less time to focus on studying, praying, and teaching. Even today, there are ministers of the Word who are called bi-vocational, and others in full-time ministry.
The bi-vocational minister is to be commended, yet if he has a family to care for, he may be stretched thin. For most married men, it isn’t sustainable to do full-time ministry and then also have to provide a full income and balance family time. A single person may have an easier time of it, but even he may come to be weary and if he is caring for a family of believers, he may find himself worn out. So it was good that Paul was helped by the Macedonian church, who he said partnered with him in the gospel. So today we may find opportunities to be gospel partners, and many ministries use that terminology. If it was good for Paul, it is ok for us. We are all gospel partners. All are to share and demonstrate holy living. Some are called to more active ministry. Others are given means to support the ministry. It is a wonderful thing that God allows us to partner in this way.
Now we see in verses 5-6 that the Jews opposed Paul, so he shook out his garments, which is a sign of casting someone off. He claimed he was innocent of their blood. Ezekiel was told by God he was a watchman. He was to warn people of their sin, but if they did not heed the warning he would be innocent of their blood. If he failed to issue the warnings, then the blood of those who were supposed to be warned by him would be on his head. Paul is saying that he is innocent of the blood of Jews who refused to bow to Jesus.
He then went to stay with Titius Justus, who some say is one and the same as Gaius. He had a house, apparently large enough for Paul to have groups of people there to teach them. He lived next to the synagogue, and the ruler of the synagogue became a believer, as did many Corinthians. Now, that was a very quick overview to get us to our main text.
Acts 18:9–10 ESV
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Big Idea: Jesus has other sheep to bring into his fold.
The Proclaimer of the Gospel:
Must not be fearful
Must go on speaking
Must trust the result to Christ
So first, the proclaimer of the Gospel must not be fearful. Now, just that fact that Jesus had to say this indicates that Paul did have some fear, and probably the potential to back off of his important job of teaching. This makes perfect sense, that Paul would have some fear, since already at this point Paul had experienced opposition just about everywhere he went. And certainly many of God’s men and women have had some fear. Persecution exists, and it can be severe for some Christians, to the point where they may fear.
Jesus tells Paul “do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you. Now, this is a promise to all believers. I am with you. Jesus said it in the Great Commission, behold, I am with you. He said He would never leave us or forsake us. So in the life of every believer, this is a promise to trust in. Jesus is always with you. This is a universal promise to all believers in Christ. He is always with us. Although this promise is for all believers, the next is not. “no one will attack you to harm you”. This is not for all believers at all times. Paul himself was not promised this everywhere, since he endured some very difficult persecutions. Christians around the world throughout history have endured some very painful things.
Jesus is always with you when life is good, you have full health, and no one is opposing you for Christ’s sake. And Jesus is always with you when life is difficult, and your health is failing, and people are abusing you for standing up with the courage of your convictions. He is always with you, but he does not promise to protect you from all harm and pain and difficulty. Jenelle was in a bible study years ago, and a lady said something along these lines: “If God is in something, it will be easy”. Au Contraire, sister! Often God allow us to serve Him in very difficult situations. The early disciples counted it an honor to suffer for Jesus. James and John both wrote about sufferings and trials and how they are good for us because they help us grow in faith.
However, in this case, Paul is being told to stay where he is, because the Lord was making a promise that he would not be harmed. This is a promise that was only for Paul in this particular place and at this time. He is telling Paul to stay where he is. Other times, Paul was told not to go or not go somewhere:
Acts 22:18 ESV
and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
Acts 16:9 ESV
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
Acts 27:23–24 ESV
For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
John Calvin writes:
Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 18)
And surely experience shows that none are faithful and courageous ministers of the word whom this a faint heart does not sometimes hinder; and that those only are rightly prepared and addressed to teach to whom it is granted with boldness and courage of heart to overcome all manner [of] danger. In which respect, he writes Timothy that the spirit of fear is not given to the preachers of the gospel, but of power, and love, and sobriety, (2 Tim. 1:7.) Therefore, we must note the connection of words, Fear not, but speak, which is all one as if he should have said, Let not fear let thee to speak.
The Proclaimer of the Gospel:
Must not be fearful
Must go on speaking
Must trust the result to Christ
So Paul is to not be fearful. He should be encouraged by the promise of Christ being with him. Also, he is to keep speaking. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28, the going and speaking came first, followed by the promise of Jesus’ presence with His followers. Here the promise comes first and then the command to go on speaking. Now, certainly Paul knew He was called to this. However, we are often in need of reminders from our Lord and King of what it is He has called us to.
Jesus had told Ananias that Paul, known as Saul to him at that time, would be his witness and would suffer. Acts 9.15-16
Acts 9:15–16 ESV
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Paul knew from the time of his conversion that he would suffer for Christ’s sake. Yet, here in Corinth, Paul would be able to preach and teach unhindered by the opposition. We are about to see why in our third point. The proclaimer of the gospel must trust the results to Christ:
I have many in this city who are my people.
Notice he did not give their names to Paul. Paul doesn’t know who they are! Christ does. The exact same thing is still true today. We are called to share the gospel, but we do not know who among those we speak to may respond. We may look at this world and say the lost are too lost to be saved! Look at how depraved! Look how they love their sin! Yet, what was Corinth? That capital of sin. If you think Corinth sounds a bit like Hollywood, you would be on the right track. Kent Hughes said:
Acts—The Church Afire Recognize that Your Work Will Not Be in Vain

God assured his apostle, “I have many people in this city.” Those were encouraging words. Paul’s work would not be fruitless. Some of the Corinthians were tired of Tinsel Town. The fleshly pleasures had lost their attraction. Some were suffering deep guilt and an awful emptiness of soul. They were ready to receive Christ. These people, according to Paul’s other writings, included Erastus, Gaius, Stephanos, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.

Jesus knows who are his, you and I do not. Yet he will surely bring all of his into the fold. How he has chosen to do this is to use his church as his witnesses. John10.16
John 10:16 ESV
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Jesus knows which ones he has appointed to eternal life. When Paul and Barnabas brought the gospel to Antioch, here is how scripture describes those who came to faith:
Acts 13:48 ESV
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
As many as were appointed! What does that mean? Well, God had predestined them to believe. They were appointed to believe. They were not only marked as property of Jesus, but the very time of their blindness ending, the very time when they would move from spiritual death to life everlasting, the very moment was determined by God! As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. Jesus knows that the Father has given him souls as gifts, and they will not be lost. John17.6
John 17:6 ESV
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
John 17:12 ESV
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
John 18:9 ESV
This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”
John 10:28 ESV
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
God had many in the city of Corinth who were his. He knew who they were, but Paul had to find out. He had to preach the gospel indiscriminately to all that would listen.

The Lord knows those that are his, yea, and those that shall be his; for it is by his work upon them that they become his, and known unto him are all his works. “I have them, though they yet know me not, though yet they are let captive by Satan at his will; for the Father has given them to me, to be a seed to serve me; I have them written in the book of life; I have their names down, and of all that were given me I will lose none; I have them, for I am sure to have them;” whom he did predestinate, those he called. In this city, though it be a very profane wicked city, full of impurity, and the more so for a temple of Venus there, to which there was a great resort, yet in this heap, that seems to be all chaff, there is wheat; in this ore, that seems to be all dross, there is gold. Let us not despair concerning any place, when even in Corinth Christ had much people.

Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 18)
Furthermore, the Lord calls those his people, who, though they might then for good causes be counted strangers, yet because they were written in the book of life, and were immediately to be admitted into his family, they have this title given them not improperly. For we know that many sheep wander without the flock for a time, as the sheep have many wolves among them. Therefore whom the Lord determined shortly after to gather to himself, those he takes for his people in respect of their future faith. But let us remember, that those are ingrafted into the body of Christ who relate to the same by the eternal adoption of God; as it is written, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” (John 17:6.)
We should be very encouraged in our evangelism efforts that there are still many in our own city who God may call to himself through our testimony and proclamation of his word!
It may seem to us at times that the world is too attracted to the sins and temptations, or that people are not interested in God because they just aren’t spiritual people. And yet, I was in the Barnes and Noble store recently, and everywhere you look, you see that people are spiritually hungry, yet there is nothing but poison in much of what is on display there. All over the store were books on witchcraft, and tarot card readings, and crystals that are supposed to help people out somehow. Meditation and new age garbage everywhere. Outright satanic materials everywhere you turn. And you would tell me that people aren’t interested in the spiritual?
Friends, people are seeking the spiritual. Some will not admit it, that is true, but there are many people out there that are desperate to experience something of the spiritual. In Corinth, they flocked to the temple to see the temple prostitutes and engage in sickening and depraved acts, all in the name of religion. Is our world much different? They may say it isn’t about religion, but the truth is that everything is spiritual! All of life is spiritual. Everybody is worshiping something. Maybe self, maybe vice, maybe satan, maybe God. Everyone worships something.
The more that people try to fill their sadness and lack of connection with vice, or activity, or whatever, the less fulfilled they are. They only true fulfillment comes from knowing Christ. There truly are many in this city who are His. We are called to proclaim the gospel to them. But we don’t know which ones are appointed to eternal life. We can only obey our command to go and make disciples. Ultimately, the results are up to Him:
1 Corinthians 3:7–9 ESV
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
Big Idea: Jesus has other sheep to bring into his fold.
The Proclaimer of the Gospel:
Must not be fearful
Must go on speaking
Must trust the result to Christ
Well, we see that we cannot avoid our responsibility to share the gospel, yet some might think they do not have the right speaking skills. Yet you do not need to have perfect speech to share the gospel. In a couple weeks, John Sappia and I are going to share a short video each week that will have John sharing about a simple and effective way to share the basics of the bible. You don’t need to have perfect speech. God has used many people for great purposes who were unlikely in their own minds or in the minds of others. Paul himself said he did not have the greatest speaking skills when he brought the gospel to Corinth. What did he have? Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11–21 ESV
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

O God, help us not to turn aside because of fear, but rather to have courage through the Holy Spirit. Help us to keep serving, fighting, hoping, proclaiming, no matter what obstacles the enemy might put in our way. Help us to recognize and claim the protection you have provided, knowing that whatever happens to us, no real harm can befall us, for we are shielded by your eternal love and faithfulness. Help us to remember that what we do for you will indeed bear fruit, for your glory and exaltation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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