Sermon 3447. A Present Helper
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1915.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"I aim with you." Acts 18:10.
THE Apostle Paul was about to be placed in imminent peril. He was to be brought before the Roman governor, Gal-lio. The Jews,rank and rabble, were hopeful that they would get him condemned to death. In this threatening crisis the Lord Jesus wouldgive him a word of comfort to strengthen him, that his courage might not fail. The best, the most assuring word that the Saviorcould speak to His servant was this, "I am with you." Nothing in Heaven or earth could be more fitted to cheer his tried spirit!To know that Jesus was with him, approving, supporting, defending him, was a safeguard against fear. Years afterwards, whenPaul had to stand before the Roman emperor whose will was absolute, whose fiat could have put him to instant death, he hadno man who dared stand by him. A poor despised servant of a despised Master, he was not, then, cast down or disheartened,for he said, "Nevertheless, the Lord stood by me." Under the worst circumstances, true Christians find the richest comfortif they do but know that Jesus is with them! When our Lord went away to Heaven and left His disciples on earth, they werelike a flock of sheep surrounded with wolves. Just then He would surely give them, as a parting word, the most tender andthe most encouraging sentence that could fall from His lips. What do you think He said? Why, one of His farewell words wasthis, "Lo, I am with you always"-a dear and blessed legacy to His children who are still in banishment below! And when John,in Patmos, had a vision of Jesus in His Glory, where, do you think, did he see Him? Did he see Him as standing before theThrone of God, or in any position of Glory? Yes, he did, but first of all he said, "I saw Him walking among the golden candlesticks."Now, he tells us, these golden candelabra represented the Churches-and Jesus Christ was pictured even as a glorified Savior,holding the seven stars in His right hand and walking among the seven golden candlesticks! Hence I gather that the truestcomfort of the Church is for Christ to be with us-and that one of the highest joys of Jesus is to be with His people!
I shall ask you, now, to consider the grateful fact that Jesus is with Believers. The words, "I am with you," may be takenin three ways-and the three must be combined to get the whole of their sense.
"I am with you." This implies His Presence. That would not be enough-a person is not with us if he is merely in the same placeas a spectator. "I am with you" expresses His sympathy. He is not here as a stranger, but He is here feeling for us, compassionatingwith us. "I am with you" has a yet deeper significance. It involves succor. He is working with you- on the same side-exertingHis power in connection with yours. Put the three together, and you get presence, sympathy, co-operation, to interpret themeaning. We will take the three words, and oh, as we take them, may we realize them as our own! The words, "I am with you"leave no doubt of-
I. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
Believer, Jesus Christ's spiritual and most real Presence is with you! This should greatly comfort you because it is the Presenceof One whom you dearly love and who reciprocates that affection with an accord so intimate that every hope or fear you feelis reflected in His breast. His heart beats true to you. I might almost say His nerves vibrate in sympathy with you! Oh, howit calms the mind in the midst of difficulty or danger, if we have near us, by our side, One toward whom our heart goes forthand from whom a kindred yearning comes back! The child sleeps sweetly when it is with its mother, watched and tended by herquick eyes and ready hands. The loneliest part of the pilgrim's road is relieved of its tedious-ness and its terror when somedear companion is with him, in whose fellowship he can agree, upon whose arm he may lean and whose constancy he can trustto share any danger. A sprightly word, a kindly look, a brotherly act seem like timely aid to us all when we are tired, footsore,out of our course, and out of spirits. Ah, then you could not have a sweeter
Friend with you than you have in Jesus! The society of brother or sister, husband or wife, parent or guardian, can never equalthe hallowed peace of communion with Jesus, who loved you, lived for you, died for you, still lives for you, gives His wholeheart to you-and only asks that you give your heart to Him in return.
Still more precious does this Presence of Jesus become when we think how ennobling it is. Some people talk all their lifeof having been once in the society of some great person. That is, indeed, a foolish pride! Very empty! But to have been inthe society of Jesus is worthy to be remembered, deserving to be recorded and most desirable to be repeated! I reckon thatthe angels would look more respectfully towards a man who has had communion with Jesus than they would at a council of kingsand emperors, or a parliament of princes and peers! We are made priests and kings who enter into fellowship with our greatHigh Priest and King. His Glory overshadows us. Though He is transfigured in a way we are not, yet we participate somewhatin His honors, now, and we shall be altogether partakers of His Glory, by-and-by. "I am with you," then, is the voice of atender Friend, and one of a superior Nature who confers dignity by His companionship!
This-"I am with you"-is an enlivening cry. It inspirits a man, quickens his pulse and enables him to bid defiance to danger.We remember when Paul was in the ship tossed with tempest-what fear seized all persons on board! So much were they discouragedthat they would probably have been unable to do anything for their own rescue had not Paul, with the coolness of faith, chidedtheir panic, gave them counsel and bid them to eat, for, as he said, "this is for your health." After long fasting, he sawthe necessity of taking refreshment. And he led the way. He took bread, gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, thenbroke the bread and began to eat. This manly fortitude, this moral courage of the Apostle, repressed the general agitationand nerved them all with fresh hope, insomuch that they were all of good cheer and they also took some food. This was theturning point in their fortune and, in the end, they, everyone, came safe to land. Thus full often has it been in the timeof battle. When the troops have been ready to flee, one able man has stood like a rock, has made caution look like cowardiceby his own defiance of danger, has given a word which has made every soldier feel himself a hero, lion-hearted, not milk-livered!And so the battle has been turned. "I am with you," there, O Christian, is the voice of One whose Presence fills your soulwith dauntless courage! No fear when Jesus is near! None can be defeated who have Him to bring them succor. The Presence ofChrist with us puts an end to morbid apprehension and ghastly cowardice!
When we are told that Jesus is with us, we remember that His is a Presence which causes intense delight. We have seen menwith money, who were not happy. We have seen men with honor, who were not happy. We have seen persons in power, with the commandof empires, yet they were not happy. But we never saw, and never will see the individual who has Jesus with him, who is nothappy! To be near Him, to have Him with us is to have our fears relieved, our griefs soothed, our wounds healed and all oursorrows turned into joy! One drop of Jesus' love would turn the whole ocean sweet! Yes, though the bitterness within you seemsto have penetrated your whole being, let but Jesus whisper, "You are Mine and I am yours," and the bitterness would turn tohoney at that one single phrase! Only a glimpse from Jesus' eyes and the darkness is turned to noonday. Only one word fromJesus' lips, and the tempest that raged becomes calm and the ruffled sea is still! "I am with you" bespeaks the Presence,then, of One who brings you delight.
And this Presence, as I have already hinted, transforms the soul. When Jesus is with us, He makes us like Himself. He thatlives near to Jesus becomes so like Jesus that others, "take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus." Put these thoughtstogether and you will see how infinitely desirable and how exquisitely satisfactory the company of Christ is. But, ah, mywords cannot tell you, though I had the tongue of the orator or the sweeter strains of the poet. Yes, the inspiration of themuse would fail to acquaint you with it! You must know it for yourself, or else you can never realize how transporting thesewords are-"I am with you"-Jesus present with His own people!
Now some of you know, by a happy experience, times and seasons when Jesus is specially present with His people. I trust wehave often found Him so at the hour of prayer. Rising in the morning, it is sweet to find in those few minutes we give toGod before we see the face of man, that, like the Psalmist, we can say, "When I am awake I am still with You." Then at nightfall,when the day's work is over, and we are about to lie down and rest, it is good to find, as we kneel before Him once again,that Jesus is there! And, Oh, some of us have proved what it is in the watches of the night to have His sweetest company!When darkness compasses us, silence awes us and sleep has deserted us, our soul has said, "Now will I speak with my Beloved,"and we have always found Him awake! A sigh has reached His ears-the fluttering of an unfledged prayer! A desire after Himhas brought Him near to our side, close to our bed, present to our heart. We have
thanked God for sleeplessness when we have had our beloved Master talking with us and indulging us with a blessed sense ofcommunion! And, oh, how near Jesus is to His people when they are passing through the stage of penitential love. I hope youoften get there, when sensitive to your own imperfection and unworthiness before God, you are abased and humbled, yet lookingup at the same moment to that dear Cross on which He bled because we sinned! You see your pardon and acceptance written incrimson lines on the fair body of the dying Savior! I do not know that I have ever more tenderly felt the Presence of Jesusthan when, while my heart has been broken with a sense of my own worthlessness and insignificance, I have confidently fledfor refuge to the hope that is set before me in the finished Sacrifice and the perfect Redemption that Christ has accomplished!
But, Beloved, Jesus is present to us not only in our acts of penitence and devotion, He is present with His people in thebattle of life! Yes, He will go with you to the workshop. The street is not too common for Him to tread side by side withyou. Jesus can stand with you in the market. You can as truly maintain fellowship with Christ in your buying and your selling,if your commerce with the world is conducted in the fear of the Lord, as in your praying and your reading, which are of smallaccount, unless "you have an unction from the Holy One." No kind of labor will ever make Christ take an aversion to you, howeverhumble your toil, however poor the chamber in which that toil is carried on, or however rough may be the garb in which youhave to earn your daily bread. Jesus cares not for these. 'Tis your soul He looks for and if you hunger and thirst for Him,He will go with you into the lowliest places and you shall find it true, "I am with you."
More especially, beloved Friends, in the ordinances of God's House, may we look for the refreshment of the Lord's Presence.Oh, what a beloved place this Tabernacle is when Jesus is here, manifestly in our midst, and witnessed by many hearts! Itwould be a poor meeting house if only the minister and the congregation, however large, were congregated together within itswalls. Poor would it be, notwithstanding all the accessories of worship, yes, even with the bread and the wine, the elementsof the Communion Supper, spread in rich abundance, without the Lord, Himself, here to bless the feast and feed the communicants!But, ah, when the King sits at His Table, then our spikenard gives forth a sweet smell and our heart is merry within us, evenas the angels that are before the Throne of God! Does He not come to you as you sit in the pews, Beloved, and say to you,"I am with you"? And when you gather yourselves together to partake of the Communion Supper, is He not with you there? Doyou join in the solemn hymn, or do you unite in earnest prayer? What is it that makes the service enlivening, elevating, instructiveand fruitful but the consciousness of His Presence-this same "I am with you."
Yes, and when the time shall come for you to have done with ordinances-when the preacher's voice shall no more reach yourears, when the melody of sacred song shall cease to enter your senses-when you have joined here below for the last time inthe fellowship of the Supper of the Lord, for you must bear the clammy sweat upon your brow, and wear the mortal palenesson your cheeks as you are about to pass through what they call the "gate of tears"-even then you shall find it a gate of endlessjoy because this shall be true to your experience in the highest sense, "I am with you." Fear not the darkness! Dread notthe loose pains, shrink not from the weakness, tremble not at the advent of the grim King of Terrors. "I am with you" willchange the hue of that affliction and when you are very ill, make you say that all is well!
Oh, if my Lord would come and meet me, my soul would stretch her wings in haste, fly swiftly through death's iron gate, norfeel frightened as she passed! So it shall be with you. I have but skimmed the surface of this first point-the Presence ofChrist-"I am with you." Do not any of you skim it. Go into the depths and enjoy it, Beloved! The words still further express-
Remember that Christ in very deed feels in His heart the sorrows of His people. Are they in the furnace? He walks the firewith them. Are they in the rivers? He says, "When you pass through the rivers, I will be with you." And this is grounded uponthe precious Doctrine of Vital Union. Every Believer is livingly one with Jesus. Jesus is the Head, and the Believer is amember of the one mystical body. Now you see, whenever a member suffers, the Head must suffer, not only because the Head willsto suffer, but because of necessity-if there is a vital union, there must be a real sympathy. Let this be, then, a matterof faith with us. If I have believed in Jesus unto everlasting life, Jesus is one with me as my Head, and He must-whetherI apprehend it or not at the time-He must be in sympathy with me. This He shows by the tender pity He has for His people.Do not think He is ever hard or unfeeling towards His poor, His afflicted, His depressed disciples! No, Brothers and Sisters,the heart of Jesus is full of tenderness! His heart melts with love, as He often proves by the sweet converse He has withthem. Though He may leave the strong sometimes to bear, for awhile, the hardships, and grapple, as it were, alone with thetroubles of life, He will not leave His tried and tempted ones, or suffer them to faint by the way. Like a mother that letsher full-grown boy alone to shift for himself, but will scarcely go out of doors while the baby is ill, so will He watch overthem. And has not Jesus been very, very watchful over us in times of pain, weakness, and serious apprehension? You know Hehas! He has kept His best succor till we had got into our worst plight. When we had spent all and exhausted every resource,then He has come and brought Himself to our aid-and we found Him our All-in-All. Oh, what true sympathy this is! "A friendin need is a friend indeed." He treats us better as we grow worse. This is just the Friend we need. One with us by vital union,He proves His oneness by His tenderness.
Now, Beloved, if this is so, the very first sympathy you ought to seek in any time of trouble is that of Jesus. You have notalways gone promptly to Him. You have been far more ready to run off to some kinsman or neighbor and ask counsel or succorof an earthly helper. What would you think of a wife-would you think she had much genuine confidence, much good understanding,much true love to her husband, if, on any sudden trouble or anxiety, she left him, fled from her home, crossed the road, enteredanother person's house and poured into another man's ears the story of her plaint or her peril? You would feel convinced thatthere was a lack of mutual love and reciprocal fellowship! And should it ever be that your soul goes after some poor mortalfor consolation-when the Beloved Bridegroom of your spirit can afford you all you need-to ask advice? It is often a helpfulmeans, but go first to Jesus. Tell Him all! Pour out your heart before Him. He is with you. Oh, will you neglect One who iswith you, and play Him so ill a part as to seek another's help when He is ready to give you all His help-His sympathizinghelp in time of need? The sympathy of Jesus will, in all probability, be most clearly manifested and most richly enjoyed byyou at such times as you are most in need of it. Thus, when you are persecuted for His sake, He will not hide His face fromyou!
We are not likely to be burnt at the stake, or even cast into prison for the profession of His name in these days of civiland religious liberty, but there are divers tortures from which our fine sensibility shrinks, such as household persecutions.Little petty spites are often vented upon Believers for Jesus Christ's sake. Now do not think a strange thing has happenedto you! Take it as a natural consequence of not being of the world-and then hear the Savior say, "I am with you. I am reproachedin your reproach. I am scorned in the scorn that is cast on you." Paul persecuted Jesus when he thought he had only persecutedsome poor Jews. And the enemy persecutes Jesus when he persecutes a Believer. "I am with you," then. Will you not say, "Lord,I will bear it for Your sake, and in Your company. Yes, if it were a thousand times worse, I would feel honored to endureit, if You are with me"? You will find Him with you sympathetically in your common sorrows. Remember, Jesus does not lookfor extraordinary occasions in which to sympathize with His people, though He will do it peculiarly then. But at all othertimes He is a faithful, feeling Friend. "Jesus wept." It was at the death of Lazarus. Lazarus was only an ordinary saint-anordinary Believer. There was nothing so remarkable about his death as to make it exceptional. Think not for a moment thatin the loss you have sustained, Jesus will keep aloof. With the grief that now weighs down your spirit, He fully sympathizes.In the griefs which are common to mankind, He bears you company. But if you should ever come into deeper waters-if you shouldhave to cry, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" then you shall still hear Jesus say, "I am with you," for He knowswhat strong temptations mean, and deep depressions and despondence that borders on despair. He has passed through all, thatas the Captain of our salvation He might be made "perfect through suffering." "Tempted in all points like as we are," thereis no grief in which Jesus is not near to us-we have but to open the eyes of faith and we shall see Him with us, even in theworst extremities of grief and pain!
"I am with you in sympathy." This shall be found true anywhere and everywhere by the Believer-yes, even in death, itself,for Jesus died! He knows the death sweat, for He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. He knows the fever, for He said,"I thirst." He knows the fainting, the languishing, for He said, "I am poured out like water; I am brought into the dust ofdeath." He knows death in its severest form. He died as you will not die. Under the Divine displeasure He passed away, butyou shall have the light of the Divine Countenance amidst the shades of death. Fear not, therefore, that Jesus will forsakeyou! You have Jesus' sympathy. I want you to feel that. Well do I know what a precious thing sympathy is. A little child'ssympathy will do you good. "Mother," said a little girl, "I do not know why Mrs. So-and-So wants me to go into her house sooften, but she told me, when I came home tonight, to be sure and go tomorrow, for I comforted her
so, now her husband was dead. And do you know, Mother, all I do is, when she cries, I put my face against hers and I cry,too-and she says that comforts her." And so it does. It is just that. We are not alone. Somebody-somebody cares for me! Weshall never despair while we feel that is true.
Now there may be somebody here tonight who is alone in London-and you had better be alone in the deserts of Sahara. To bealone in London is to be alone, indeed! And you are thinking, "Nobody cares for me." But if you will take Christ to be yourFriend-if you trust in Him-Jesus will care for you and He will surely help you, for He is not one of those who will put youoff by saying, "Be you warmed and be you filled." He will practically show His love to you, and you shall yet rejoice thatJesus is with you! You are not alone, though you seem alone." There I leave that second point, praying that you may all knowthe sympathy of Jesus. Once more-
III. CO-OPERATION is implied in the words, "I am with you." This was just what Paul needed. He had come down to the city topreach, and God said to Him, "I have much people in this city. I am with you." So Paul went to his preaching with a cheerfulheart, for he felt that if the Lord was with him, it was good to preach. With good sowing, there would be good reaping. Nowlisten, Worker-worker for God-and see if there is not music for your ears in this thought. Jesus co-operates with you! Howso? Why, He commands Providence! All things are ordered according to His will! The Father has given all power into the handsof Jesus. He regulates the fields of Providence, that they may produce the best results for you. Go on, confidently, then.All things are favorable to you. As Mohammed said, in his way, to his followers, "Swiftly on to the battle, and win! I canhear the tramping of the angel Gabriel's horse as he rides into the thick of the battle to help you." They believed it andwere comforted. What he said in lies, Jesus says in truth-"I am with you." You can hear the footsteps of the Prince Emmanuel!His power is ruling all creation to produce the grand result of His Glory in the salvation of souls. "I am with you"-thatis, "I will prepare human hearts for your message." You that talk to others will often find others ready to be talked to!It is a cheering thought to the preacher that he has always a picked congregation, selected by Divine Providence, that outof them Divine Grace may make a further selection! They are prepared. As the rain and the wind and the frost will preparethe clods for the plow and the seed, so do God's Providence and the work of Grace prepare men's hearts for the Gospel! "Iam with you."
Moreover, Worker, Jesus is with you, helping you. He will suggest suitable thoughts. He will give you right arguments. Hewill often guide you to fitting words. Only trust Him and when you go about His business, the Holy Spirit shall be your strength!He will be with you to back up the Word of God you utter, by the power of the Holy Spirit going with it to convince men thatwhat you say is God's Word to them. Fear not, therefore-if the converting of souls depended upon you, it would never be done!If a nation had to be reformed and the whole of another nation had to do it, it would never be achieved! But the Spirit ofthe Lord is not straitened, and what He wills to do He can accomplish, and none can say no to Him!
Lastly, O earnest Worker, Christ is with you to accept your service. Nobody has taken any notice of you lately. You have goneplodding on at your work with not a creature to help, and none to praise. Even your friend who used to, sometimes, give youa nod of approbation, appears not to have observed you lately. Never mind! Never mind! No servant that is deeply absorbedin his work cares much about what other servants may say about him by way of commendation. But if his master comes along andsays, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" that is what he needs to cheer him! Some people will be overhauling your character-Iknow they do mine-and they are extremely welcome, for I care not as much for their opinion as for the barking of dogs in thestreets! If my Master were angry with me, I would mind it, but they are no masters of mine, and they may say what they like.If my Master smiles, all the world may frown, it does not matter! But if my Master frowned, then if all said, "Well done!"it were but a poor, poor recompense to me. Servant of God, be this, then, your joy! "I am with you," says Jesus, "to see whatyou are doing-to accept and take your will for the deed full often-to read your real motives where men misconstrue them. Iam with you. Therefore, go on your way." Sunday school teachers, tract distributors, or whatever you may happen to be-in oneword, beloved child of God seeking to serve Jesus-take, then, this fresh from Jesus' lips, "I am with you," and go your wayin the power of this, your might, to serve your Lord without weariness, till He shall say, "Come up higher." "I am with you"
Oh, you that have not any Savior to be with you, I pity you! But I would say this to you-He is still to be had. There is still-
"Life in a look at the Crucified One."
Jesus still has blood in which to wash the guilty-still has room in His heart for needy sinners-and the way to have Jesusfor your Savior is simply to trust Him and to rely on Him implicitly. May God grant you Grace to do this, for His mercy'ssake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ACTS 18.
Paul had been preaching the Gospel at Athens to the most famous men of that city gathered at Areopagus.
Verse 1. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth Another most important city of Greece, where hestruck at the very center of the country by preaching the Gospel, since these were the centers of commerce and also of literature.
2. And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come into Italy, with his wife Priscilla (because Claudiushad commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. Lodged with them.
3, 4. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and worked: for by their occupation they were tent makers.And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greek. He stepped into the synagogue and whenthe time came for strangers to address the audience, he began to argue that Jesus was the true Messiah. Nor did he argue invain, for there were some who were persuaded. He endeavored to persuade them all, both the Jews and the Gentiles, who cametogether to listen to him.
5. And when Silas and Timothy were come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesuswas Christ He may not have brought out the whole Truth of God at first, but argued little by little to bring them, as it were,up the steps till they should be prepared to receive the grand Doctrine that Jesus is the Anointed One. His spirit was compelledat last to come to that point more fully
6. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your ownheads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. Oh, what a blessed, "from henceforth," that was for you andfor me! He no longer confines his ministry to Jews, but goes out seeking the Gentiles-takes up his true commission-becomesthe Apostle of the Gentiles. But let all of us take heed of opposing the Gospel, because it is not to be trifled with impunity!A time comes at last when God's Gospel seems to have done with us. Its ministers say, "We are clean." They shake off the dustof their feet and they go elsewhere to proclaim the Gospel to others who may be less opposed to it. What a thing to be ableto say, "I am clean." I wonder how many in this house of prayer could say that of everybody round about them, "I am clean.The blood be on your own heads. I am clean. I have spoken to you about Christ. I have warned you. I have invited you." "Nightand day with tears," as Paul says elsewhere, "I have pleaded with you, and now I am clean. I am clean." You know there ismany a man that is clean in the blood of Christ in that sense who has not yet discharged his obligations to his fellow men,and cannot say, "I am clean." I thought it a grand thing of George Fox, the Quaker, when he was dying, when he said, "I amclean. I am clean of the blood of all men." To the best of his knowledge he had fearlessly proclaimed all the Truth of Godthat he knew, wherever he had opportunity. O ministers of Christ, teachers of the young and all you who know Christ, the HolySpirit be upon you, so that you may speak the Gospel till you can say, "I am clean."
7. And he departed from there and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one who worshipped God, whose house joinedhard to the synagogue."The nearer the church, the farther from God," they say-but it was not so in this case. He was one thatworshipped God and his house joined hard to the synagogue.
8. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house. And many of the Corinthians, hearing,believed and were baptize. That is the old-fashioned way, you know-"hearing, believed, and were baptized." The new-fashionedway is baptized, perhaps hear, and very likely do not believe at all! That is not according to Scripture.
9-11. Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not your peace: For I am withyou, and no man shall set on you to hurt you: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months,teaching the Word of God among them. Farmers like to plow good soil, where they expect large harvests. So Paul, who was accustomedto make flying visits to places, on this occasion settled down for a long time-even for a year and a half! It would pay todo it, for God had much people in that city!
12- 13. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought himto the judgment seat. Saying, This fellow "This fellow," says our Bible but they did not say that. They had not any word badenough, so they said "this"-
13- 15. Persuades men to worship God contrary to the Law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said untothe Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O you Jews, reason would that I should bear with you. But ifitis a question ofwords andnames, and ofyour law, lookyou to it, for I will be nojudge ofsuch matters. I dare say you have heardGallio condemned. They used to say in prayer, "Such-and-such a person went on, Gallio-like, caring for none of these things"-butin truth, Gallio does not deserve to be so condemned. It is no business of the civil magistrate to inquire into the religionsof the people brought before him. It is out of his province. He was quite right when he said, "If it is a question of words,and names, and of your law, look you to it. I will be no judge of such matters." If the kings and queens of this world hadbeen half as sensible as Gallio, there had been no stakes in Smithfield, there had been no prisons to lock up the Puritans!Religion would be left alone, which is the one thing it needs-free Church and free State! We want neither the governor's help,nor the governor's hindrance. If he will kindly leave us alone, it is all we ask from him-and so far Gallio is to be commended!But I do not think he acted thus out of any intelligent scruples on that point. He is to be condemned because of the motive.No doubt he was indifferent and here may none of us imitate him! That he was indifferent and careless is certain, for he didnot do his duty. It was his duty to leave this good man alone, but it was not his duty to allow the Gentiles, on the otherhand, to begin beating the Jews. If there is six of one, there should be half a dozen of the other, and so we do not admirehim when we read,
16-17. And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes. the chief ruler of the synagogue, andbeat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things. Perhaps liked it. "You came here," he said,"to accuse Paul, to get him beaten. Now the mob is beating you, and it serves you right. I shall not interfere. Why did youcome here at all to plague me with your questions? Why did you interfere with Paul?" But I should think that this ruler ofthe synagogue must have opened his eyes when he found himself being beaten, instead of the persons whom he desired to havebeaten! It is singular that this name, Sosthenes, should be used, when further up we find another ruler of the synagogue,Crispus, who was a believer in Christ. This was no doubt, one they had set up, instead of Crispus, having rejected Crispusfor accepting Christ. And yet this man, Sosthenes, bears the same name as one that is spoken of as a Brother in Christ afterwards.I wonder whether that beating did him good-whether, in the Providence of God, he was led to see the hand of Providence inthis beating falling upon him, instead of Paul-and whether this ruler of the synagogue, who ousted a better man, did, himself,become a Christian! Let us hope it was so.
18. And Paul, after this, tarried there yet a good while and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed from there intoSyria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; havingshorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had taken a vow. Most probably not Paul,but Aquila had shorn his head, because usually Luke puts the man first. "Aquila, and his wife Priscilla." But here, in orderto state that Aquila had made a vow, he put it, "Priscilla and Aquila." I think it very questionable that Paul ever shavedhis head in that way. I think it was Aquila. If Paul did it, I think he must have been under a sort of mental aberration,as he once or twice before may have been thought to have been. Even he who, above all men, had cast out Jewish rites and ceremonies,yet, you remember, took Timothy and circumcised him-a most extraordinary action to do, as in this case, if, indeed, it washe who had shorn his head.
19. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.Thoughhe had turned away from them, yet still his heart is after his own country.
20- 21. When they desired him to tarry a longer time with them, he consented not, but bade them farewell, saying, I must byall means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God wills. Oh, how wise it is to saythat when we are making plans and promises, "If God wills." The short way is to put a little "D.V.," which means that youare ashamed to say, "If God wills."
21- 23. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the Church, he went downto Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order,strengthening all the disciples. For you not only need planting, but strengthening! Young saints, like young plants, needmuch watering, and Paul took care of them. Evangelists have not half done their duty when they stir
up a community unless they go and seek after those who are converted, to strengthen them. Hence the essential need of a permanentpastorate over churches.
24-25. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things ofthe Lord knowing only the baptism of John. He had not got farther than that, but it is always well to tell out what you doknow. It is the way to learn more and we doubt not that many a half-instructed Christian is doing good in his way, and itis not for us to stop him, or to find fault with him, but rather quietly to endeavor to tell him more of the Truths of God.Paul did not say, "Now, Apollos, you must stop this, you know. You had better study. You do not know enough yet," but he lethim tell out what he did know.
26-28. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him unto them, and expoundedunto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciplesto receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through Grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews,and that publicly, allowing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ Now let us sing ourselves an encouraging hymn that asChrist, the Lord, said to Paul, "Fear not," so His Spirit may say to us tonight-
"Give to the winds your fears."