This December will mark my ten years as pastor of the Village Church. In my first few weeks, I just felt it out. I just keep thinking, Okay, how hard can I push and keep this job? Once I felt like I figured out where those boundaries were, the first book study we did was the book of Ephesians. We took over twenty weeks and walked through Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus.
This morning I want us to turn our eyes to some important truths as we let the Holy Spirit do the correcting that I believe needs to take place. I hope we can give our attention to some things we need to focus on as a community of faith.
What sticks out about the church in Ephesus is it's the only church I know of in the Scriptures that we can see its birth, its life, and its death. I want to look at its birth and death. I also want to explore what we can learn from a church that had far more explosive growth and far more Holy Spirit power than anything we've seen, and yet got confused, drifted, and ultimately disappeared.
Starting with affection for Jesus
First, let's look at the birth of the church in Ephesus in Acts 19. Apollos is teaching in Ephesus. He doesn't fully understand the gospel, so Priscilla and Aquila have to pull him aside and help him see all the parts. When Paul gets there, he finds some disciples and asks them if they received John's baptism of repentance or did they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Their response was "What's the Holy Spirit?" So that's the answer to the question. And then Paul lays hands on them. They receive the Holy Spirit, and then from there they begin to prophesy. And then we're going to pick it up in verse 8:
And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in the unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
So Paul was involved in a straight church plant. He's not partnering with the Baptists. He's not connected to the Presbyterians. This isn't some non-denominational church in Ephesus. There is no church in Ephesus. There are no followers of Jesus Christ, and so Paul comes in with the intent to plant a church, raise up men to run that church, and then to head onto whatever's next for him. And within two years, the Bible tells us, there was no one in Asia that had not heard the word of the Lord, not among the Jews or among the Gentiles. They all heard the word of the Lord.
Now I want to show you how deep the gospel penetration went into Ephesus. We're going to go to 21 and then come back to verses 11-20.
Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there [or Jerusalem], I must also see Rome." And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods."
Now I love Demetrius. I want to have him to my house for dinner, because one of two things just happened. Either he legitimately believes that when he's making these silver images he is making a god, or he thinks he just got busted by Paul. But either way, he's undeterred from continuing on his course of action. I don't know which is crazier. He may think when he's hammering silver into shape he's building a god. And just how powerful is a god if you made it? If you can manipulate and make it, how can it possibly be god? How tiny and weak is your god if your god is dependent upon you?
This is Paul's argument earlier in Acts 17 when he says, "God is not made by any … He's not served by any human hands as though he needed anything. He gives breath and life to all." It's a very subversive attack on the idolatry in Athens and Ephesus.
Now, let's continue reading at verse 27:
And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.
(See what sin does? It blinds you and makes you foolish.)
When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" So the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel.
I want to spend some time unpacking this passage, because this story reflects something that I don't believe has occurred to any other church in Christian history—namely, that the gospel had completely penetrated a singular city. In Ephesus, Paul has proclaimed the Word of God, and the Spirit of God has moved in such a way that people who are making money off of sinful gain are no longer making money off of sinful activities. The whole socioeconomic climate of Ephesus has, by the gospel, been turned on its head. As a result, if you were in a line of business that made money off of lying, cheating, and exploiting, you were no longer able to make money. So, those who made money off such things rioted against the gospel. You can look at some things like the Great Awakenings, but I don't know of any other place where the gospel so affected a city of ministry like this.
Can you imagine this happening in our area? If the gospel had so penetrated, if the word of God had gone out so forcefully by the power of the Holy Spirit, that there's no longer money to be made off of things like strip joints or escorts. Imagine that there was no clientele for these activities because the word of God had so transformed the hearts and lives of men and women. It's hard to even imagine, isn't it? It almost feels impossible, and yet that's what happened in Ephesus.
You can follow the church at Ephesus throughout the pages of the New Testament because there's so much written to the church and for the church. There's the letter to the Ephesians written by Paul when he was in prison back to this church that he planted. And then Timothy is an elder at Ephesus, and so Paul writes to Timothy in 1 and 2 Timothy, talking with him about the church. And when he's telling Timothy about leading the church, Paul's writing about Ephesus. And John, 1, 2, and 3 were written by John, an elder to the church at Ephesus. So staff-wise, this is a varsity-level church. Of course I love our staff, but here's the deal: We exegete Scripture; John wrote Scripture. Now that's different. When I say, "Jesus said," I point you to Scripture. When John is saying, "Jesus said," he's literally saying Jesus said this to me when we were walking together. That's different.
And so you've got this great attention to this church and this strong leadership, and there aren't many alarms that go off as you read those letters. There are some warnings in the book of Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and 1 through 3 John. But there's nothing to make you think, Man, this church is in a lot of trouble. But then we read in Revelation 2 starting in verse 1:
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and who walks among the seven golden lamp stands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary."
I want to stop there and, like Jesus, commend this church, because here's what we hear is happening in Ephesus: They're enduring patiently, and they're not growing weary in their patient endurance. If I look at the close to twenty years that I have followed Jesus Christ, I feel like I have endured well but I've not always endured patiently. I have not always endured without getting weary from enduring. Anyone else?
There have been times when I have endured because I don't have a say. If I could get out, I'd get out. If there was an easy button, I'd smack that mug. I would want out. But it wasn't my call, and so I endured patiently because there wasn't another route.
And I'll tell you that, in that endurance, I wasn't always glad to be enduring. So not only did I lack patience, but I also grew weary in enduring. But there have been seasons in my own journey where it felt dry, where I felt like I was praying and had to exercise my faith muscles to trust that he was there, to rely on the promises in the Word of God, and to believe that God is who he says he is. And so I read about these guys and women in Ephesus, and I'm really kind of blown away that this is what it says.
So you've got two big components: They endure well, and they've got great theology. They have great doctrine. They know the Word. According to this text, they're able to spot false teachers—which implies that they can hear somebody teach and say, That doesn't line up with the teachings of Christ. You are obviously not an apostle. They don't put up with liars when it comes to doctrine. So they're theologically sound, and they endure well.
Losing our affection for Jesus
And then we get to verse 4: "But I have this against you …" Have you ever been in a conversation like this? "Man, I love you. You're just so generous with people. Such a good guy. So glad that you're my friend but …" That's exactly what just happened. Look at 4: "'But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love that you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent."
Now this is a heavy text. Doctrine alone and endurance alone is not exactly what Christ is after, because he says I have this against you. Yes, you have truth. Yes, you endure well. But here's what I have against you: "You have abandoned the love that you had at first." And then he tells them to do two things. One is to repent about abandoning that love, and two is to get back to doing the things that you did at first.
Now, we have to do a little bit of work with that sentence because here's what we know to be true. God's affection for us, his love for us, and forgiveness of us is not predicated upon anything we do or don't do. Rather God's love is based in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. So when he engages Ephesus and says, "You have abandoned the love that you have at first; repent and get back to doing what you did at first," he's saying that if you'll remember what you did and you'll do those things, that affection and love that you had for me—not that I had for you, because my love for you is built on Christ but—your love for me will be restored.
And then you've got this scary word of warning: If you don't. If you're just doctrinally correct, beating your chest and boldly enduring in truth, but you have no affection for me, you have no love for me, no desire for me, I'm pulling the lamp stand. I'm shutting this thing down. I am removing the power of the Holy Spirit. I am removing my presence, and I'll continue to save and do work as I choose to save and do work, but it will not be through you.
That's a pretty terrifying threat, and I haven't e-mailed back and forth with the church at Ephesus so it appears they didn't heed this advice. But there are some very pointed things you need to hear here: although he commends them for sound doctrine, it appears that sound doctrine does not lead us to a deeper love for Jesus Christ. And he's all about endurance and enduring. But enduring that is not leading to a greater love and affection for Jesus Christ is not why Christ came and died for us.
Extolling Jesus for who he is and what he's done
And so the million dollar question at this point has to be: What did they do at first that will help us see how our affections can be stirred for Jesus Christ? Because according to this text affections matter. Now, when I say affections don't think to of mere emotion. Don't think that when we sing songs you have to do cartwheels up front and scream and shout and get your hands up. It's been my experience that some of the deepest affections are sometimes quiet. There's a serious aspect to some affections. That's not to say that there's not a place for cartwheels. But ultimately this is talking about a stirring of the Spirit towards the things of God. So to answer that question we have to go back to Acts, picking it up in verse 11.
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
I want some of that here. And I'm not saying that to be funny. I mean, if this is what God does, if this is what the Holy Spirit does, if this is available at some level, we'd be fools not to be hungry for this. Let's keep going.
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits …"
They're watching Paul operate in an unbelievable amount of power. He's not just praying for the sick. He's not just commanding the sick to not be sick. Things like handkerchiefs and aprons that just touched him were driving out evil spirits and healing people. When these itinerant Jewish exorcists see this, they want in on the action. And so they find a demon-possessed guy and say, "I adjure you [that's very polite way to speak to a demon] by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.'"
Verse 14 reads, "Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize but who are you?'" Seven itinerant Jewish exorcists that all happen to be brothers (apparently they're in a family business) find a demon-possessed guy and adjure the demon in the name of Jesus, who Paul uses, and the demon answers, "I know Jesus and I've heard of Paul." And then there's the oh-no moment when the demon basically says: "But who are you again?"
"And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." That's in the Bible. I didn't make that up.
If you've ever seen a fight there's always debate on who won and who lost the fight. As a general rule, if when the fight started you had pants on and when the fight was over you were no longer wearing pants, no one is arguing that you won that fight. No one is saying, "Well, he had him in a chokehold for a second." They would just say, "He left naked. He came in with drawers. When all was said and done he was bleeding everything and his drawers were gone." And that's what happened here. So I'm telling you to read the Bible slowly. It's spectacular.
We're trying to find what the church at Ephesus did that stirred their affections for Jesus so they were informed by doctrine but ultimately Jesus himself was the truth that they loved. Let's go to verse 17:
And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus as extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Jesus is flexing over Ephesus. I don't know how else to say it. Jesus is literally flexing over this city so that disease, the demonic, and wickedness is literally being forced to the edge. Jesus' presence is so powerful that even other religious persuasions are acknowledging there's a power they do not possess and they're trying to tap into that power without submitting their lives to Christ. They want the benefits of Jesus without submitting their lives to Jesus. They try that and get beat naked and bloody. And so a holy fear covers the city and the church extols the name of Jesus.
For you to extol the name of Jesus, to make much of the name of Jesus, you need to know who Jesus is, because what you think about Jesus informs your worship of Jesus. One of the big barricades to prayer is that we have a hard time imagining that Jesus delights in us. We think he's patiently putting up with us till we get to heaven and quit being morons. But that's not what the Bible says about Jesus. In fact, if we watch Jesus walk and interact with men and women, he's full of grace and compassion. Think of the woman at the well who had had five husbands and was currently exchanging sex for rent.
Think about Zacchaeus who purchased the right from Rome to raise money for an occupying, brutal regime in the Romans. Think about how gently and graciously he dwelt with them. He was not put off. In fact, he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down, for I'm going to your house today." Now that doesn't sound like "Get your stuff put together, son, and then you and I can talk." In all his thievery, in all of his wickedness, Jesus says "Get down, I'm eating at your house. I'm coming to you." And they sat at that dinner and in response to Jesus' unflinching love, despite his rebellion, Zacchaeus was transformed. He said I'll give all that I've taken and more.
For the woman caught in adultery, the law says that she was to be pelted with stones until she died. And what was Jesus' response to the accusation? "Let the one of you who is without sin throw the first stone." And then from oldest to youngest they dropped their rocks and left. Then Jesus responded, "Has no one condemned you, woman? Neither do I. Now go and sin no more."
When you look upon, gaze upon, meditate upon who Christ is and what Christ has done, it becomes easy to exalt and extol his name. But if you see him wrongly, if you don't get his righteous life, if you don't get that he went to the cross and paid the price for you, if you don't get that he was resurrected, showing that you've been set free from all that binds you, then it becomes very difficult to worship him. If you believe that Christ is your enemy, if you believe that Christ is trying to rob from you, if you believe that ultimately Christ came to bring rules, rules that you find very difficult to obey, then you're not going to extol the name of the Lord. So it becomes imperative that we feed our affections with facts about Jesus.
In Revelation 2, they loved truths about Jesus, but those truths about Jesus did not lead them to love Jesus himself. It would be the equivalent of me saying, "Man, I love my wife's blue eyes but she gets on my nerves and I'd rather not talk with her. If she could just look at me and I could look at her blue eyes that would be awesome. But other than that I really can't stand her."
He's moving them into truth that leads to an extolling of the Lord, a worship of the Lord in light of who he is and in light of what he's done. This is why the Word of God is so important. It informs you of who Jesus Christ is and not the Jesus Christ that's in your mind. All of us are guilty of creating a Jesus that's different than the Jesus of the Bible. So we let the Word of God inform our Jesus, and then we meditate on it, and we think about it, and we let it build up in us so that we might extol his name.
Confessing our sinful practices
But that's not all they're doing. They're extolling his name, but then look what happens next in verse 18: "Also many of those who were now believers came confessing and divulging their practices."
Here's the beauty at Ephesus. Ephesus is blowing up, but here's my favorite thing about it. It's gritty. I mean, it is gritty in that these are people who don't know how to pretend yet. They don't know how to go "I'm fine" when they're not fine. They're coming and they're divulging their practices. They are confessing to one another where they have fallen short.
These two things—extolling the name and renown of Jesus Christ and the confession of our sinful practices—are woven together in a fabric that can't be torn. When you understand that God is aware of all of your sinful rebellion and has loved you anyway, you have been set free to not pretend that you're more than you are. But if you don't get Jesus, if you don't understand that he knows all the thoughts of your mind and desires of your heart and he loves you anyway, then you will be forced to pretend that you are more than you are. And that's exhausting.
There's this weird thing that happens in churches everywhere. It doesn't take you long to put on the clothes of the church you worship at. I'm not talking about how we dress, because we're all over the map here. It doesn't take long to think I need to have my Bible. It probably needs to be an ESV. I need to have a journal and take some notes. I need to learn certain phrases. I need to learn at what part of the song we raise our hands. And then you begin to mimic the actions of a congregation. And in so doing, you compare yourself spiritually with the Joneses to where you measure up. Where you feel you're not measuring up, you just pretend that you are. And so you tend to regurgitate truth rather than walk in it.
God has created not just persons but a people. So he comes in Genesis 12 and says "I'm going to make all things new, I'm going to redeem all things to myself," and he forms Israel through Abram. Then Pentecost happens. The Holy Spirit falls. And he creates the church. And what that means is that we are aware of grace in our salvation. But the practice of grace occurs in community as we are fully known and loved anyway. It's hard to walk in grace if nobody knows who you are or if you're harboring and hiding secret sin. It's hard to walk in and experience grace if you're not willing to take the risk of being fully known. You get to walk in grace in community when you are fully known and loved anyway. And the more you refuse to do that the less an experience of grace you'll walk in.
Some of you don't want to do it because it's risky. I'll acknowledge it is risky. Did you experience something other than grace? That's a real possibility. But the reward far outweighs the risk. For grace to not be a word that you know but to be something that you get to walk in with other people is profoundly transforming to our journey with Jesus Christ.
Pretending to be more than you are is exhausting. It is a ridiculous game. It's the equivalent of when you try to play hide-and-go-seek with your kids—they're just lying on the floor pretending that since they can't see you, you can't see them. Really? Do you think you're fooling God? You know you're not. So that must mean you're trying to fool us. That's a ridiculous hobby. Get a boat. Seriously, wakeboarding is far more fun than that and probably less painful because the game of pretending withers the soul.
The sinful practices that the new believers at Ephesus were divulging weren't run-of-the-mill stuff. It's not, Hey, I got really angry with my wife and I said some things I didn't mean. It's witchcraft and all kinds of sordid practices. It's more like, It's my neighbor Bill. There's this strip of grass he'll never mow. So my yard looks great, and then his part of the yard looks horrible, and so I killed a goat and put a curse on his family. Just want to come clean about that. I don't feel great that I did that. His daughter's sick right now. I think that's probably a demon I put on her. Please, I need help.
So we shouldn't think, Well, my sin's so grotesque. There's no way I could ever come clean. I know some of you are lying to yourselves right now by thinking, Man, if I come clean about the things that I've done and where I've been, there're going to be so many people that are disappointed and it's going to cause the whole fabric of the kingdom might unravel.
It's been my experience that my weaknesses do far more to push us into holiness than my strengths. When I come clean it creates an environment where it's safe for others to come clean. But if I'm always saying something like, I was memorizing Psalm 8, and then after that I shared the gospel with my neighborhood. Then after that I just went looking for more people to share the gospel with. Then I was fasting as I did all of that. How was your week? That tends to be a bit stifling to people. Most of us don't have, at this point, some real dark side that's external to us. It's far more internal to us. And we have to be honest about our heart, the thoughts of our mind, and our desires so sin doesn't grab a foothold in our lives.
For me there have been times that I have acted the correct way, the way that I know the Word of God would say I'm supposed to act, but my heart wasn't in it. And then I've had some of our leaders come in and try to say, "Hey, thanks for the humility you showed on that." I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa. I'm going to be honest. I responded the way I know the Word of God wants me to respond. My heart is not there. I want an octagon and a show count. That's what I want right now. Somebody pat me on the back that's not where I am." That's what I mean by being tapped into your heart, so that you're able to not take praise that doesn't belong to you. So that you're dialed in at such a level that you know you're in desperate need of Jesus. Quit comparing your lives to other morons around you. Compare it to the holiness of God and you'll see just how deeply you need Jesus Christ, which will lead to more extolling of his name.
Establishing roadblocks against sin
And that leads us to the last piece to renewing our affections for Jesus. Look at verse 19:
And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Besides gazing on who Jesus is and confessing our sinful practices, there's one more way to stir our affections for Jesus—the church Ephesus got very serious about sin. I'm not advocating book burning. I'm not saying, "Hey, grab your televisions and meet me in the parking lot." That's now where we're going.
But this passage shows their seriousness about holiness that has led them to action. They're not passive about their sin. My big concern for us as a church is not that we would over-preach grace, because that's impossible. If we had all the words in every language on earth, you wouldn't be able to preach enough the grace and mercy of God found in Jesus Christ.
My concern is that in the good, right preaching of grace you might get confused and think that grace makes sin safe, and it doesn't. So that we might know Jesus and extol his name, that we might be honest about where we have fallen short, either in mind, heart, or action, and that we might take very seriously sin in our lives—and even the sin that could potentially dwell in our heart. All of us have iniquity. All of us have a bent. All of us are prone to certain wanderings.
What's being described in Revelation 2 and Acts 19 is something that can be found all over the Bible. It's what the Puritans called vivification and mortification. And here's what that looks like—that we fix our eyes on Jesus, meditate upon Jesus, sing about and to him, and walk with others who love him until our affection for him outweighs our desire for anything that would be rebellious to him. And while our affections are set on Christ, we're still aware of our sinful nature, so we set up obstacles and barricades that sin would have to cross to get to us. We're violent towards our sin because we understand what's at stake.
So if you think of Colossians 3:1-10, the first four verses are "Set your minds on Jesus," "Set your minds on the things that are above" where Christ is. It's this idea of thinking and dwelling on him. And then verse 5 says, "And put to death, therefore, that which is in you." So, yes, let's focus on Jesus. Yes, let's confess. But let's also be very violent against the sin that wars against us and will draw us away.
And so I love Jesus Christ. I have strong affections for Jesus. But there are still rules in my life that I live by. I'm free in those rules. But I can tell you this: I never travel alone. Ever. My wife goes with me. One of our pastors goes with me. I am never alone on the road. Is that because I think I'm going to slip up and hook up with a woman of the night? No, I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think if I'm in a parking lot and somebody offers me black tar heroine I'm going to wonder Should I do this? No, I'm not. I don't think that's going to happen. But I know the enemy's conniving, and he's been at this longer than I have, and so he's not only going to have to get past my affections but he's going to have to get past some other things in my life. I can, before you and before the Lord, tell you I don't have a pornography problem but I've installed website monitoring software called Covenant Eyes on all of my computers. Why? Because pornography is available and who knows what might happen? So as I set my affections upon him I am serious about the enemy not getting a foothold in my life. The elders have access to my personal finances. So at any moment they could say, Hey, bring your books in, and I'll gladly bring my books in. I have to be very careful that there's never a discrepancy between who I am right here and who I am out there. And so I've tried to build into my life barricades with barbed wire and machine gun turrets against the enemy who would love to destroy me and who would love to destroy you.
So my question is this: Are you pursuing an affectionate relationship with Jesus Christ while simultaneously confessing and divulging practices and building a defense against your iniquities? Because the Bible says that when these three things are clicking the overflow of the heart and affections towards Jesus is what occurs. I'm not concerned about doctrinal drift here. Our elders are pretty ferocious about that. We're pretty ferocious when it comes to doctrine as we're in glad submission to what God has revealed about himself in the Word of God. We'll protect and fight for that unity, and we believe in that. But I do believe that in an environment like this truth can be exalted beyond the One who is truth. So the next thing you know you love doctrine, but you don't love Jesus the way you love that doctrine about Jesus. And when that takes place, you become graceless and loveless and impatient with others. Your message ceases to be the love and mercy of Jesus Christ and begins to become whatever doctrine you pinpointed as the fulcrum upon which everything rests.
Doctrine is important. Theology is important. But it's only important insomuch as it informs us and fuels our love and passion for Jesus that works itself out as we love and patiently walk with others inside the family and outside the family.
I want you to answer a couple of questions. How are you feeding your affections for Jesus? Are you? Do you have any affection for Jesus right now? How serious are you about your sin? When's the last time there was any confession that came out of you? John, an elder at Ephesus, in 1 John 1 says, "If you say there is no sin in you, you lie." Do you think that was a hint towards the church of Ephesians based on Revelation 2? There is sin in you. When's the last time you've acknowledged that before God and before others? How serious are you about the sin in your life? Are you fighting it or are you passive?
Holy Spirit, help us. I pray that you would stir our affections for you. I pray that just as your Word bears weight on us today that you would remind us and drive us to your feet, that you would fill our hearts, flood our hearts with the joy that comes from knowing that you are good and that you do good and that you've rescued us and you set us free from the chains of religion and irreligion, that you have purchased us and call us your own by your blood. And so we thank you for that. And it's for your beautiful name. Amen.
Matt Chandler serves as Lead Pastor of Teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and serves as president of Acts 29, a worldwide church-planting organization.