TRANSCRIPT | Wed, Sept 9, 2020 | Let Me In There

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You guys can be seated that are here in the room with us. It's my privilege to get to invite you into what is somewhat of a staff chapel moment for us. We have missed Wednesday nights, and so good to get to be back with you in this vein. As best we can, we're going to be coming to hang out with you pretty much every Wednesday night for a season here moving forward. And we hope that you'll not only make plans to join in and be a part of this but that maybe you would invite some others to be a part. And then we also have the opportunity for you to even have watch parties or small groups as a part of these evenings together. And there's going to be information, you can find out about those, that they'll be putting in the comment sections and then the links. And you can obviously find that on our different social media platforms, and then even on our church's website.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But our church, we exist because everyone needs Jesus. Because everyone needs Jesus. And as we're trying to fulfill that vision, what we understand is that really God has called us, mandated us, to seek the lost. And then, after the lost are found and they go public with their faith through baptism, really there's a further mandate upon every church, not just Three Trees, but to make disciples. And after the disciples are made, we pray that they're going to be able to go out into the highways and the hedges and to find needs and meet them. And ultimately the cycle just repeats itself, because as we're finding needs and meeting them, sometimes meeting a material need, opening somebody up to spiritual truth, we're right back to seeking the lost.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And so these Wednesday nights are going to be a little bit more about making disciples. And what we want to do is really to fulfill the word, that you would be equipped with the word, empowered by the Holy Spirit for the work of ministry. And there's a passage of text that I've been meditating on a lot over the course of the last week or so. I had the privilege to hear a pastor from Manhattan, New York speak, and he was sharing about how since COVID has transpired, over 30% of his congregation has moved out of that Manhattan area. Now, some of them will be coming back, a lot of them will not be coming back. And he was sharing how that in the initial stages of COVID, he even thought himself, "Maybe it's time for me to go too. Maybe it's time for me to leave and do something different with my life and my ministry." And he shared how that God spoke to him out of Acts, Chapter 19. And a few of the words that he spoke in the midst of an extended time of sharing, they just became like seed in my heart. And they're producing something that I want to share with you, as I'm on a journey myself.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Acts, Chapter 19, verse number eight, I'm actually going to read from the NIV version. I may stop periodically as we move through this and share a few thoughts as we make our way to the bottom line of what I believe God wants our takeaway to be. Acts, chapter 19, verse number eight, it says this: "And Paul entered the synagogue and he spoke boldly there for three months, and he argued persuasively about the kingdom of God." I want you to think about that for a moment, that he was in a debative tone, he was in an argumentative tone, but he wasn't just trying to make a point. He wasn't just trying to win the argument. I mean, scripture is clear that he attempted to be persuasive. And I think sometimes, especially in the spiritual climate that our culture currently possesses, it can become really easy to just try and make a point, to just try and win an argument. But I believe that one of the reasons that Paul was so effective is because he understood, "I need to be persuasive in my tone." And when you evaluate the Greek in this particular verse, verse number eight, that word persuasively actually means to convince by analogy, to pacify by quelling the anger of.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Now, you think about all the anger that's in our world today and all the people that seem to be upset, and it would be really easy just to take a prophetic tone and tell everybody how wrong they are and try to prove how right you are. But I believe that Paul sets a precedence that we actually, as we are presenting the gospel, there is a tone that we can take with the help of the Holy Spirit that actually quells anger, that actually settles down anger. And that we are even given analogies by the help of the Holy Spirit to convince somebody how much they need the kingdom of God in their own life.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Verse number nine says this: "But some of them became obstinate," or they became stubborn, "And they refused to believe, and they publicly maligned the way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and he had daily discussions in the lecture hall." Now, think about this. The point that's being made here is that Paul understands that he needs to be persuasive. All right? He needs to be persuasive. He needs to be convincing. That he needs to try and settle down anger. But also, in the process of this, just because he's trying to be persuasive, just because he's trying to calm some people down, it doesn't mean that it worked for everybody. It proves to us that there is the reality that people do possess a free will and that the enemy is alive and in living color in some folks' life. And what it points out is that some did refuse to believe, and some even publicly maligned him. They got on their Facebook page and they publicly maligned him. They went into their circle and their sphere of influence and they publicly maligned him. At the workplace, they got in front of anybody that would listen and they publicly maligned him.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And here's the thing. When Paul realized, "This audience is not open to receiving what I have to say, even though I'm trying to be persuasive," he made the decision, "I just need to move on. This is not a teachable spirit right here. This is not someone that's open to hearing anything that I have to share." So what he decided to do, he said, "I'm going to move on." He left them. But he kept the disciples, those that were teachable, those that did desire to be an audience. He kept them close. And he didn't stop pouring into the teachable people just because there were some people that weren't teachable. He didn't quit sharing just because there was a bunch of folks who decided they were going to publicly malign him. He just realized, "That's not my audience. My audience is over here." And I think one of the things that helped me early in my ministry is that there was a seasoned man of God who shared with me, "Eric, don't waste your breath on an unteachable spirit." One of the ways that it's also been shared with me is you can't rationalize with an irrational person.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And I think that one of the reasons that social media becomes so toxic is because people try to rationalize with irrational, people try to teach the unteachable. Sometimes we're the unteachable one, and we don't even realize we're not allowing anyone to teach us. And so the point would be this, that as you are attempting to spread the kingdom of God, and as you're attempting to bring the kingdom of heaven into the earth, do everything that you can with the help of the Holy Spirit to be persuasive, but if there's somebody that just is not open to hearing what you have to say, it might be time to move on. But if God has put you in a mentoring role, if God has put you in a discipling role, then don't stop pouring into the people that he has given you an audience with.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Look at this, verse number 10. It says, "And this went on for two years." For two years. "So that ultimately all the Greeks and Jews who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord." That's important, and I'm going to read it again for the sake of emphasis. "This went on for two years." Paul's trying to be persuasive, some people want to listen to him, some people don't want to listen to him. He leaves those that don't want to listen to him, leans into the disciples that God has given him, and ultimately every Jew and every Greek that lived in that province heard the word of the Lord. It proves that discipleship works. It proves that discipleship is exponential. It proves that when there were people that Paul did not have the influence to minister to as he focused on discipleship, God was able to use these others to even get the word of the Lord to every single person.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And so what it goes on in verse 11 to say is that "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that touched his body were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured and evil spirits left them." Depending on your background in faith, you may or may not have heard of prayer cloths. This is actually the verse in scripture that that concept comes from, where that someone will take a cloth and they will pray over it, they might anoint it with oil, and then they will take it to a sick person. It's not because anybody's trying to say that they are Paul, it's because they believe that God once did it, and since God is no respecter of persons if we have enough faith, he might just do it again. And so I've actually been the benefactor of prayer cloths, of great men and women of God that maybe couldn't get to me physically, but there was a point of contact that they would pray over and they would just believe that there was going to be something tangible that would enhance my faith. Maybe you've experienced the same thing, just believing that there was going to be a tangible anointing made manifest through prayer.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Look at verse 13. So, "Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. And they would say in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out. Seven sons of Skiva, a Jewish chief priest were doing this. One day, the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus, I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?'" It's one of my favorite lines in the entire book of Acts. "Jesus, I know, and Paul, I know, but now, who are you?" This is what the devil said to the people who were trying to cast him out. And then this man who has the evil spirit, he jumps on these seven sons of Skiva and he overpowers them all. And he gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It is a perfect example of what a relationship with Jesus Christ has the power and the authority to do in your life. That these guys saw Paul having power in the name of Jesus, and so they thought, "Well if Paul can do it, I guess I can do it too." But they ran into a demon who called them out and said, "Wait a second. I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who is it that you are? What are you posing as?" And this demon actually took authority over them, started whipping on them, starting beating on them. And I think it just speaks to the fact that Paul had a very special relationship with Jesus, to the point that even the hoards of hell had to recognize, this guy is not your average choir boy.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Verse number 17: "And 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 honor. And many of those who believe now came and openly confessed what they had done." Notice this, that's a sign of true revival when repentance starts to take place. "Many of those who believe now came and openly confessed what they had done." It's revival when the things that are in the dark begin to be exposed in the light. It's revival when somebody is literally responding to conviction in their life and says, "I don't want these skeletons in my closet any longer. God's doing something in me. I want to honor God by getting it out, dealing with it."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

"A number who had even practiced sorcery," verse number 19, "Brought their scrolls together and they burned them publicly." When they calculated the value of the scrolls, it was worth a tremendous amount of money. In today's money, it's believed they were probably worth over $50,000. "In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power." So just reflect on it for a moment, that revival is breaking out. Paul is preaching persuasively. Not everybody wants to listen, but he's leaning into the ones that do. And God is now taking those disciples and he's using them to get the word to every single Jew, every single Greek that's in this entire area. It's exponential ministry at work, exponential evangelism, exponential discipleship, and God continues to work through Paul. And now he's working through these other disciples and people are holding the name of the Lord in high esteem, and people start to openly confess. And if they've got something in their life that doesn't need to be there, they literally burned it.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

There's been a couple of moments in the history of Three Trees where I think we've been in some pretty unique revival moments, and I remember one in particular. Our church was actually still in the storefront, and if you had the chance to be with us on Sunday, then you know, our church, we just celebrated 20 years of ministry. And so this was about 20 years ago, that there was a guy who he came and he did exactly ... it's literally this scripture unfolding. The name of Jesus began to be held in high honor in his house. His wife got saved, his kids got saved, and then he finds himself at the altar and he gets saved. And I remember when he got up from the altar, he's just overflowing with confession. He's telling me all this stuff he's been doing in his life and that he needs God to heal him and he needs God to set him free.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And I don't know, at the conclusion of the service, it really didn't even have anything specifically to do with this guy, I just felt like I was supposed to announce to the church that we were going to have a moment where we were going to go to the property. We were in the storefront, the property was, I don't know, maybe five, 10 miles away, we're going to go to the property and we're going to have a prayer service. And if there's anything in your life that you've got that you don't think needs to be there anymore, we're going to just burn it. We're going to just throw it on the altar and say, "I'm getting this out of my life."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And it was so funny, that when this guy showed up, everybody had just one little thing and everybody was wrapping it up in sacks, nobody wanted to know what they had, that they were throwing away. I will never forget this guy, he went to the trunk of his car, the fire's going, everybody's put their little thing on the fire. He opens up the trunk, he starts bringing out garbage bags, garbage bags of stuff. And he starts dragging it, he starts throwing it on the fire. And I can tell you that once it hit the fire and the smoke started rising, it was not hard to tell what was in the bag. We all had to step back a few feet. Hallelujah.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

You all look at me like, "So holy with those ... your halo's sitting crooked on your horns." I'll just say this. I think that the drug industry lost a dealer that day. And it was a testimony of what I believe revival looks like. And it comes on the other side of the name of Jesus being held in high honor. Not everybody was acknowledging it, but yet everyone is acknowledging it. Not everybody's surrendering to it, not everybody's submitting to it, but everybody's having to admit, "There's something up with these Jesus people. There's something about the power and the authority that they walk in."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Now, I want to skip down to verse number 23, and I want to kind of move into the heart of what I want to share with. It says, "In about that time there arose a great disturbance about the way." That means about the gospel. This is the way the devil works. Revival starts breaking out, and now he's going to try to disturb it. He's going to try to disrupt it. "A silversmith came, his name was Demetrius, and he made silver shrines of Artemis. Artemis is also known as Diana, it's a Greek and a Roman God, on one side known as Artemis, on the other side known as Diana. "And they brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. And he called them together, along with the workers and related traders. He said, 'You know, my friends, we receive a good income from this business. And you see and you hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all, and there is danger, not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also the temple of our goddess will be discredited.'"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

When the enemy starts disrupting stuff, it's because he's always afraid that his authority is going to be discredited. And so what happens is, because he's afraid of the discreditation, he starts the disturbance. "'And the goddess herself who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world will be robbed of her divine majesty,'" verse 28, "And when they heard this, they were furious," because now money's on the line. They're furious. "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians, and soon the whole city was in an uproar." The reason the whole city was in an uproar is because the enemy was concerned about being discredited, and the flow of money being disrupted. And the whole thing was provoked by money. You'll find that most of the time when the enemy causes a disturbance, it's because he's gotten some personality to worry about their money. And it'll cause an uproar.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And many times what you see happen right here is exactly what happens in modern culture. "The people seized two disciples, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia and all of them rushed into the theater together. And Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message, begging him not to venture into the theater." I want you to remember that we're coming back to it, verse number 32. "And the assembly was in confusion," this is what I want you to see, "Some were shouting one thing, some were shouting another thing, and most of the people didn't even know why they were there."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Think about it for a minute. The enemy was worried about getting discredited, the persuasion of Paul is having an effect he's not comfortable with. He gets somebody to worry about their money. They want more, not less. Disruption happens. And now the whole place is in an uproar. And the people who joined in, some of them don't even know why they're there. They're just shouting because it seems to be like the thing to do. And here's what I love about Paul, I'm going to look at it again, verse number 30; "And Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Paul has been working for over two years in this city. Paul's been giving it everything that he's got. Revival is breaking out, people are burning $50,000 worth of paraphernalia because it signifies that they're getting rid of that and they're moving into a relationship with God. And when it says they went into a theater, you need to know what the theater was in that day. It wasn't like the Key Twin cinemas. In that day the theater was where they went to kill Christians. It's where they went to watch gladiators. It's where they went to see the lions and the animals eat the beast of the field, eat people. It was a form of entertainment that was gruesome and horrific. And when they took these two companions of Paul in there, another epistle of Paul actually says that these men laid down their neck for him. That's how it's described later. They've got their neck on the line for him. And Paul sees all this happened and he's like, "Let me in there." Instead of running away from it, instead of trying to say, "I don't want to risk anything," he's like, "Let me in there. Give me one more chance to try and persuade somebody. It's been two years since I tried to persuade all of them, just one more shot."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

So you have to understand that this temple that was dedicated to Artemis, also known as Diana, it was one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built 550 years before the day of Jesus Christ. About 350 years before Jesus came on the scene someone burned it to the ground in honor of the birth of Alexander the Great. And they were so reviled that, man, if you said his name, they would kill you, this man that burned it. That's how much this temple meant to them. They rebuilt it. They put 127 columns that were 60 foot tall in it. All of it was built out of marble and it was believed to be worth tremendous amounts of money. But each of the columns, 127 of them, were presented by different kings from throughout the earth. 13 cities use this epic center of Ephesus to come here and worship and they're all profiting from it and they're all celebrating. In fact, Alexander the Great, once he actually reached his full age and became a conquering king, he came into this city and offered them everything that he had plundered in his Eastern exploits if they would just put his name on the temple instead of Diana's. And they wouldn't do it.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

So the fact that Paul has disrupted what Alexander the Great couldn't disrupt, the fact that Paul has had such an effect that one of the seven wonders of the world is being affected by this, the fact that Paul is turning a city upside down, that 13 other cities considered this their religious pagan epic center. And Paul said, "If this group won't listen to me, give me some disciples to lean into. I'll get them so fired up, so filled with the Holy Spirit, that all of them are going to wind up hearing it anyway, because if I don't have the influence, this one will have the influence. And if that one doesn't have the influence, this one over here will have the influence. One way or the other, we're getting everybody to the point that now the people who profited from this have said, "We've got to get rid of Paul," and people have such respect for Paul that they're literally laying their necks on the line to say, "We'll take it. Just don't hurt him." And Paul's saying, "Nobody's going to take it from me. Let me in there. Let me in there." And disciples are grabbing a hold of him and physically saying, "Not yet, Paul. Don't go."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It even says that Paul had influence with people in really high places in Ephesus and they started sending letters to Paul, like, "Paul, that theater, it's a bad place, man. What's going on in there? Please don't try to go." And Paul says, "Let me in there." Can you imagine being so passionate about the gospel that when everybody else was running away, you would run to it? Could you imagine looking at a riot and actually having so much faith in your God that you would believe that you at least deserved a shot to try and persuade them to serve God instead of their goddess? Can you imagine the kind of influence it takes in the power of the Holy Spirit to turn upside down one of the seven wonders of the world?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

I believe that God wants to raise up some disciples that are infiltrating culture to the North, the South, the East and the West, and that we begin to do ministry in a persuasive way. And when we realize our influence hasn't got it for that area, we pour into somebody who does have the influence for that area. And that the impending result is that the enemy has to scratch his head and say, "I don't even know what to do with this guy. I don't even know what to do with these people."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It goes on and it talks about how that ... I'll just read it to you. Verse number 35, it says, "The city clerk ultimately quiets the crowd. 'Fellow Ephesians, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and her image?" You know what the image was? It was a little wooden doll that had breasts on it from the neckline to the ankle line, and they convinced people it had fallen from heaven 550 years before Jesus was born. And they built one of the seven wonders of the world to come and bow at a little wooden doll. And this is what this guy's talking about. And you want to know what the city clerk does? The city clerk, one of the things that he does as the guardians of the temple, the most elite of that society, this blows my mind, James, the most elite of the society stood in line to be scheduled by the city clerk to go and sweep the temple. That was the greatest privilege you could have, to open the door to the temple and get the privilege of sweeping it. All the campus pastors are like, "That'll preach. That'll preach."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

But it goes on and says, "'You brought these men here,'" verse 37. "'They didn't rob the temple, they didn't blaspheme, they were just being persuasive.'" And he goes to the fellow craftsmen and he says to them, "'If you've got a grievance, take it to the courts. They can press charges.'" Verse 39; "'If there is any further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.'" Verse 40; "'As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what has happened today. In that case, we would not want to be accountable for this commotion since there's no reason for it.'"

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

In that day, under Roman rule, which Ephesus was in modern-day Turkey, but it was under Roman rule, Romans hated riots. And so if they caught somebody rioting, they would publicly kill them to make an example that you couldn't riot, et cetera. So it's this whole thing. And what's happening is I believe there's a part of Paul that doesn't want these people to die. And he knows that, as they are rioting, they're on the verge of death. And there's some part of Paul that knows they don't have Jesus yet. And I think, just my interpretation, maybe it's right, maybe it's wrong, but I think there's a part of Paul that wants in there because he knows the penalty for rioting is death. And he wants to get in there and give them a chance to accept Jesus before they have to face the afterlife without Jesus as their Lord and their representative. And he's saying, "If I've got to risk my life in a theater where people die for entertainment, if I've got to risk my life running into a riot, just give me one chance to try and persuade these people to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

It's a pretty profound text. And I think maybe there are some people that you've got to look at your own sphere of influence, your own life, and say, "Who do I need to get into a conversation with?" And at least try to persuasive. Not just proving a point, not just winning an argument, but being persuasive. Father, I ask you that there would be a persuasive nature that would come to our evangelistic efforts, that it wouldn't just be trying to prove a point, it wouldn't just be trying to win the argument, but that God, you would begin to do something through your people that is so profound, that is so spectacular, that God, it would be like Acts, chapter 19 made manifest all over again in 2020. And Lord, we're believing that the name of Jesus is going to be held in high honor, that God, there's going to be people who are going to openly confess what they've done that they might have repentance. And that God, there's going to be people who are going to say, "This stuff in my life, burn it. I don't need this anymore. I'm not settling for this anymore."

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

And so Father, we just surrender to you, and we tell you we want to be used by you. And we ask you for that kind of attitude that comes over us that says, "Let me value people's souls above all else. Let me see every single person I interact with as a lost soul that needs to be found and needs to be introduced to Jesus. Lord, let it be done in Jesus' name, this church said, amen.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

Just out of an honor for the cross of Jesus Christ, I want you to take the elements for communion, and this represents what we get to share. This bread represents Jesus' body. It was taken, it was blessed, it was broken, it was given. It symbolizes that I believe Jesus died for our sickness, he was broken for our sickness, that it was by his stripes we are healed. It was the body that was beaten and striped so that we could be healed. Maybe there's a place in your life you need to be healed, you need to be made whole so that you can more effectively minister and help other people in their walk with God. I want to ask you right now to take and eat of the bread.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert:

The cup represents the blood of Jesus. If the body's about the sickness then the cup is about the sin. And we've all got sin. And I thank God somebody persuaded me to listen to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit got ahold of my heart and tugged me to an altar. And that there was able to be that moment where old things passed away and everything becomes new. And so maybe there's a place in your life where you're battling with sin, maybe there's a place in your life where there's the shame of sin, the guilt of past sin, the condemnation of stuff that you've wrestled with in your mind, your heart, your life, your body. Whatever the case, just believe in God, and being thankful for the remission of sins, I'm going to ask you to take and drink of the cup.

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