Apologies for the lateness of this update, we were unable to video the sermon but have provided a longer summary.
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
What about our church? We read the scriptures, we meet together, we take communion, we baptize, and we pray together; we preach the same gospel about the same Lord,
This is Jesus, whom we worship. It is Jesus who rose from the dead, something we should spend time considering and contemplating as our celebration of Easter approaches. And when Jesus appeared before the 11 remaining apostles in Matthew 28 He gave orders to them on a mountain in Galilee regarding the spiritual conquest of the whole earth, the first thing that He did was to declare the foundation for this mission. The imperatives of the Great Commission are based on the fact that Jesus Christ has received all authority. Christ’s reception of “all authority” is emphasized “Given to Me was all authority.”
In Acts 16, the authority of Jesus Christ is in effect being displayed by the obedience of the Apostle Paul, to actively preach the gospel here in Philippi.
We must persist in the activity of praying and proclaiming the gospel. Vs. 17
We must persist in our obedience to preach because in doing so we persist in displaying the authority of Jesus Christ. The devil is persistently working to undermine and distract from the glory of God. Vs. 18 the slave woman was caught in the middle of the battle and she ‘kept this up for many days’ to disrupt the preaching of the gospel.
The written word doesn’t express the tone of the woman but it affected Paul.
Paul would have taught that Jesus is the way to be saved. This spirit was calling into question the authority of God in a number of ways,
The spirit was mocking Paul and calling into question the truth of Paul’s testimony, and primarily as to whether or not Paul had the authority to speak for God at all.
The spirit was challenging the gospel itself and the viability of Jesus Christ as the one name under heaven by which all men must be saved. Acts 4:12 and John 14:6
This is still the case today. We are constantly bombarded with relativistic jargon about how this spiritual path or that spiritual path will both lead to the same place. It is not true. Jesus Christ is the only one with the authority to save.
The spirit was finally challenging the authority of Jesus by its very presence in the girl. How could Jesus be authoritative to save if he couldn’t even handle this putrid wimpy spirit of the evil one? How could Jesus stand by and let this woman mock the truth of the gospel. It’s the same question the thief on the cross asked him IF YOU”RE REALLY GOD, THEN SAVE YOURSELF
And it is a question many many people struggle within our own day. We want to know why something terrible could happen or tragedy could befall our loved ones or our own lives, if God is in control. This shakes those outside the church with regularity, but it is particularly frightening how often this troubles the souls of the faithful. We must be convinced of the goodness of God, as we see in the very next sentence. Rather than calling down the power of heaven to free himself Jesus turns his attention to the pleas of the second thief.
The thief on the other side of Jesus confessed remember me when you come into you’re true Kingdom (LUKE:23:39-40)
It is the argument over the reality and authority of Jesus Christ to rule his creation and the bottom line when you look at the people around you every day is, PEOPLE NEED THE LORD and they are clueless as to his authority and movements toward them at every turn and tick of the clock in their daily lives.
Why is authority such a big deal? Many of us have had it with authority have we not? In our own day and age it is customary to assume that authority and power corrupts. We associate authority with discipline, with despotism, and oppression. To be sure that is what this woman had experienced of authority by her slave master. It describes this man in the text as obsessed with money.
How rare it is that we see authority in the light of freedom. How often do you consider Christ’s authority and his love in the same breath, because it is by that very same authority that he has the power to forgive sins according to Mark chapter 2. It is by this authority that Jesus faced down death and the curse and rose again to claim the seat next to God the Father. He claims the throne and occupies the throne to exercise his authority over his people, and to judge the wicked. II Timothy 4:1-8 God is using this picture of his authority to save more people in Philippi and to build his church.
Now comes the showdown. Paul is about to display this very authority in the middle of everyone watching. It has been days. Everyone hears the preaching of Paul. They hear the mockery of the woman. Some may have seen it a disturbance, others may have thought her rude, but a great deal of them were perhaps thinking in the back of their mind, what if she’s right? Who are these guys, to come into my town, claim to be from God, preach to me a single way of salvation, and expect me to swallow that tripe? Paul will now do what must be done, He calls out the spirit in the Name of Jesus, he displays the absolute authority that Jesus “the word of God” has over all creation. Do you remember at creation, when God spoke, things immediately came into being and here Paul declares the authority of Jesus the living Word of God and no less stunning result occurs, but the immediate silence and expulsion of this spirit of mockery and deceit. Jesus has the authority to command your life and to rule the things that are ruling you as despots. He can free you from anything, and he must free you from anything, otherwise you will remain lost and ignorant in service to created things rather than the creator. Authority speaks to the core of our being as humans. We were created to have authority, but we don’t know what authority is without turning to the LORD GOD CREATOR OF HEAVEN and EARTH. John 19:11 “you would have no power over me unless it were granted by heaven.” Our authority is granted.
When we think of authority it must be in faith. Do you believe in the authority of Jesus Christ?
A believer in Jesus Christ is one who lives by the authority of Jesus Christ as set forth in his Word. A believer is directed in this obedience to the Authority of God, by the Spirit of God and by the Church. When I say the Church I do not mean simply the power structure of the visible church but rather the same Spirit of God residing in the members of the body who are faithfully discharging their duties as the priesthood of all believers. Praise God for his authority over all things even our lives. This is truly good news. Praise God that he has authority over death and sits at the right hand of the Father ready to right all wrongs and reverse the ill effects of the curse.
You could be here today without knowing the truth of the one who created you and has true authority to forgive sins and give meaning to your life. Would you turn from serving created things, things that do not fulfill or keep their word. Would you turn to Jesus who commands even those things that have holds on us too great for us to break. Nothing in heaven or earth can keep you apart from him. If he is calling you and you feel it then pray, call out, let him know your desire to know him and be known by him. There is nothing that would keep him from you. He would come to you and make you his own and show you what truly good authority is like.
Praise be to God the Father, and to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit.