This sermon was based on Acts 18:1-17.
Paul In Corinth
1After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2And 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, 3and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6And 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.” 7And 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. 8Crispus, 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. 9And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16And he drove them from the tribunal. 17And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.
- There are lots of reasons not to church plant: you are small but trying to do something big; it is hard work; many people are uninterested; it opens you up to rejection; there is a spiritual battle.
- The only thing that could count against all this is if God is in it.
- In Acts 18, Paul planted a church in Corinth as part of a strategy to spread the gospel to the Gentiles by planting churches in significant cities.
- When they planted in Corinth, they could have confidence that God was in it, because they saw:
GOD-GIVEN PARTNERSHIP (v.2-5)
- When Paul arrived he found Priscilla and Aquila who were sympathetic and opened their home for him to use as a base. Things started small and they reasoned in the Synagogue weekly.
- A bit later, Silas and Timothy arrived. Adding in a few more people with experience and capacity allowed them to up the pace a bit.
- Over the last year as we have been talking about planting a church in Manchester City Centre, we have seen God bring together a partnership of people with the same heart and vision.
GOD-GIVEN PROVISION (v.6-7)
- When opposition came in the Synagogue, they were able to find another venue in an ideal location – right next door to the Synagogue!
- Our venue too was provided by God, without the challenges that many experience when looking for church planting venues.
GOD-GIVEN PROGRESS (v.8)
- Through Paul’s ministry, Crispus (the Synagogue ruler) and his household were saved, and many in Corinth believed and were baptised.
- This is what we long to see in our church plant in Manchester.
- We have already seen very encouraging first-fruits of it.
GOD-GIVEN PROMISES (v.9-11)
- Jesus instructed Paul to keep going and promised to have his back and that there were many in Corinth who were His! This promise motivated Paul for the rest of his ministry with the Corinthians, both in person and by letter.
- We also have promises from God – both prophetic promises and Biblical promises.
GOD-GIVEN PROTECTION (v.12-17)
- Paul was opposed and his case referred to a governor, but the governor wouldn’t accept a charge against him. Jesus fulfilled the promise to protect Paul (though Sosthenes still got beat up, so we shouldn’t infer nothing bad will ever happen to people starting churches!)
- When you step out in church planting, spiritual attack will come.
- Spiritual battle isn’t just us against the devil. Jesus is fighting and He has overcome, so we can lean into Him.