Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – September 6, 2015
Theme: Responses to the Word
Topic: The Ephesians
Main Texts: Acts 19:1-41
Key Verse: Acts 19:17 – “When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, we saw the difference in how The Thessalonians and Bereans received God’s word brought to them by Paul.
Key points we noted include:
Just as Paul adopted a multi-pronged approach to sharing the Gospel with the diverse populations, we need to also adopt appropriate strategies as we share the Gospel with Muslims, nominal Christians and other unbelievers. The same approach may not work for every group.
It is important that our core faith and beliefs are based on God’s word and not what some respected Christian leaders tell us, or even our denomination’s specific teachings. When a brother or sister points out a Scripture truth us, we should not thenceforth ascribe the truth to the brother or the sister; it is God’s word.
Denomination-specific teachings which are well intentioned are good, but we should not present them as being Scripture teachings or at the same level with the Scriptures. If we avoid this pitfall, we would see far fewer reasons for acrimony between denominations
This Sunday we will be studying how The Ephesians responded to the Gospel. In particular, we will see how God’s word brought different kinds of fear into them, and the different responses to those fears.
The key learnings the class should take away should include the following;
Fear is an appropriate response to God’s word.
The fear we experience from reading or hearing God’s word should make us align our lives to His purposes.
It is dangerous to suppress the fear brought about by God’s word with a view to “feeling good”. If we continue to resist His word, we could over time develop a calloused spirit that is no longer sensitive to Him.
Paul and Silas stayed quite a while at Ephesus, preaching the Gospel in public places and holding discourses with Jews in the synagogues. Throughout this period, God honoured His word and wrought many miracles through the apostles. Initially, many who believed, afraid of what other people would think of them, kept their faith secret. But it got to a point they could not keep it secret any longer – they openly declared their faith in Christ and brought out all articles of their idolatry to be destroyed – Acts 19:18-20. Our key verse says the people “were all seized with fear”.
a) What different kinds of fear could arise in those exposed to the preaching of God’s word under the anointing of the Holy Spirit?
There is a fear that leads to repentance and salvation. This was the kind of fear that made those bystanders on the day of Pentecost ask, “What shall we do?” – Acts 2:37. It was this same kind of fear that led the Ephesians to renounce idolatry and embrace the Gospel. However, a silversmith by name Demetrius had a different kind of fear.
b) What was Demetrius’ basic fear and what other fears did he spin from this basic fear with a view to mobilising support for his opposition to the Gospel?
c) What fears today keep people from responding positively to the Gospel message, and how are these fears often played up to win public support for opposition to the Gospel?
Ephesus was a Gentile city, and here were Paul and Silas – Jewish preachers, preaching what the Gentiles saw as undermining the supremacy of Artemis, the god of the people. It seems the Jews felt obliged to protect the apostles and defuse the tension. So they got Alexander – a Jew – to try to calm the frayed nerves of the protesters. (See vs 33-34.) He got on stage but the crowd would not let him speak because they knew him to be a Jew. It was the city clerk who eventually took the stage and calmed the people by reaffirming the supremacy of Artemis – the Ephesian god – and instigating a spontaneous praise of this god. Paul later made reference to this same Alexander in his letters to Timothy: Read 1 Timothy 1:18-20 and 2 Timothy 4:14.
d) From later references to Alexander the silversmith (also called “the coppersmith”, what qualities did the Jews see in him that made him a candidate to pacify the riotous crowd?
e) Are there characters in the Church today that could play a similar role to what Alexander was to play in event of attacks on the Church?
While we love the Scriptures that promise us good things and encourage us, God’s word would also inspire fear in us, and this is appropriate. What we do in response to that fear determines our destiny. God intends the fear to lead us to repentance. But if we embolden ourselves and suppress the fear, we could over time develop a calloused spirit that God’s word may no longer be able to penetrate.
Father, when your word pierces my heart and makes me uncomfortable, please help me take the right step to align with you. Never allow me be comfortable in resisting your word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.