What Kind Of Christian Are You? No. 4.
For Dependable Christians! Part A.
Reading Acts Ch. 19 v 23-41 + 3 John v12.
Dependability is a most wonderful quality in the life of anyone, but especially in the life of a Christian. But we need to understand, it costs!
It cost Abraham the yielding up of his only son Isaac to death.
It cost Queen Esther the yielding up of her own life if called for.
It cost the three Hebrew children the burning hot furnace.
It cost Daniel the lions den.
It cost Stephen death by stoning.
It cost Peter a martyr's death.
It cost Paul his head on the axe man's block.
I am only one, but I am one.
I can't do everything, but
I can do something.
And what I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do, by the
Grace of God, I shall do. Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909).
"Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth." End quote! James S. Hewett Illustrations.
In the wonderful calling of God, am I one of those faithful souls of whom it can be said, "dependable whatever the cost."
"Make me a captive, Lord, And then I shall be free; Force me to render up my sword, And I shall conqueror be. I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand." George Matheson (1842-1906)
This is number four of the lesser-known characters from the Bible.
4. Demetrius The Dependable!
Not a great deal has been written about him, but O, what has been written about him is amazing and worth looking into.
- Let's Think About The Person!
Now as I set out to study the person of Demetrius from 3 John v12 I discover there is a great deal of disagreement amongst the scholars as to whether he was the same Demetrius of Acts 19 v 23-41. Whether he was the same person or not though, the contrasts between the two are worth a long hard look.
(i) This Demetrius Was Marked By A Desire for Wealth! Acts 19 v 23-26.
Luke highlights for us in v 23 before Paul left Ephesus as he had planned in v 21-22 there was something of an uproar-taking place about the group known as 'The Way.' This was a title given to those who followed the Lord Jesus in the early days, probably drawn from the words of Jesus, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.'
I am sure the reason for such a riot was of course the satanic realm's antagonism to the prevailing of the Word Acts 19 v 20. Demons would stir up human agents to oppose the preaching of the glorious gospel, which of course was having a powerful effect throughout the province of Asia Acts 19 v 26.
"Moreover, ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods which are made by hands."
Now it is evident, the one who is the instigator of this uproar was a man named Demetrius, the silversmith. Why? Obviously it was affecting his business, remember he is a man with a deep desire for wealth. That’s enough to warp the thinking of any man or woman. Not that wealth is wrong per-Sa but we can easily get choked or taken up by the riches of the world to the degree that we lose sight of why we are here. And if I may interject here, to the question as to why we are here, be careful not to give too small an answer. We are in the Kingdom for such a time as this and God has a plan and a purpose for every believer. Don’t lose sight of the plan or get caught up with something less important. It's an old adage I know, but it does take a steady hand to carry a full cup. Be careful what you follow after!
(ii) This Demetrius Was Marked By Dislike of Christians! Acts19 v 27-28a.
"So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught, but also that the temple of the great goddess, Diana, should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshipeth. And when they heard theses sayings, they were full of wrath."
Demetrius, was first and foremost a businessman, what buttered his bread controlled his conduct. The trade, he with others, was involved in was indeed a lucrative business and anyone or anything that threatened that lifestyle was not going to be tolerated. So we read, they were full of wrath. Full of wrath against whom? Why Christians of course. They became very alarmed as to how rapidly the Christian gospel was spreading and having a diverse effect on their sales and income. He begins by addressing very bluntly the problem. In effect he was saying v 27. "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business." The gospel was threatening their business, and they were compelled to take action. These Christian preachers and people were making a difference.
Wherever the gospel was preached and believed. Like the Thessalonians, the Ephesians were turning from idols to serve the "living and true God" 1 Thess 1 v 9. Demetrius, a bitter opponent of the Christian message and faith, was forced to confess that the preaching of the gospel was successful. It is most interesting that he could find no charge of wrongdoing by these Christians v 37. Now the question for us must be, what caused the success of the gospel in Ephesus?
Well, number one was the powerful, relentless presence of one man who was totally committed to the gospel. If ever there was an example of what one man, given up to God, can be used to do, here it is. It must be noted of course, the key to his powerful influence was not his charismatic personality or a clever marketing strategy, and not even a political influence. Paul said in Acts 20 v 27-31 "I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God…night and day for three years, I ceased not to admonish each one of you with tears."
Paul's powerful effect came from a devotion to his Lord and the Word.
Another factorin the gospel's success was a pure church. Acts 19 v 18-19.
"Many also of those who had believed [at Ephesus] kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practised magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver."
"When an observatory is about to be built, the site selected is always on some high mountain. The aim is to find a place where there is a clear, unobstructed view of the heavens. Similarly, faith requires for its heavenly vision the highlands of holiness and separation, the pure sky of a consecrated life."
A. B. Simpson in A Larger Christian Life.
Because there was a continual persecution, there was produced a continual purging of the church. The church remained pure and clean and "the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing" (19 v 20). Now that's a recipe for blessing in any man’s language, persecution, purging, purity, result in power for the preaching of the Word of God. And beloved the church needs today more than ever before a powerful preaching of the Word of God with ongoing effect upon those who hear.
Yet another reason for the success of spreading the gospel was the church's use of correct spiritual means. The Ephesian believers did not approach the authorities and plead their case, they did not organise a march with placards and slogans, they did not enter on a tirade of the goddess Diana. They simply preached and lived out the life-changing message of the gospel.
"A purely social gospel is like a body without a soul - it is a corpse. A purely personal gospel is like a soul without a body - it is a ghost. But put them both together and you have a man with a message."
E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973).
Beloved, we have been entrusted with a life-changing message, it is high time we were showing we believe the message and live by it. The walk and the talk must measure up and produce a finished article.
(iii) This Demetrius Was Marked By Devotion to His Beliefs! Acts 19 v 28-34.
Obviously, Demetrius and his friends were deeply concerned about their financial situation and any threat to their lucrative lifestyle. They were also concerned deeply about their civic pride, but it’s evident that a third thing
concerns them greatly, that is the challenge to their fervently held religious beliefs. When they heard this very powerful and convicting speech they literally boiled with rage. And of course what they did boiled over into the crowd. The crowds are whipped into a frenzy by this inflamed speech from Demetrius; they become more and more infuriated. You see, the gospel makes people angry by confronting them with their false religion and their sin forces them to recognise the emptiness of what they are professing.
Dear brothers and sisters, that should challenge us deeply! Let me ask the question. Why is it, that so many who propound false teaching, hold so fervently to their foolish beliefs with such deep conviction, when those who have the whole truth and nothing but the truth find it so difficult even to get excited about it and share this wonderful message with those who are in spiritual darkness? What is the problem here?
Let me leave this reasoning from J.C. Ryle with you to end this segment.
He is speaking of a faith that does not work and have an ongoing effect on others.
"Sanctification…is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit" (John 15 v 5). The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ, which produces no effect on heart and life, is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith, which has not a sanctifying influence on the character, is no better than the faith of devils. It is a "dead faith, because it is alone." It is not the gift of God. It is not the faith of God's elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life; there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. It constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven, he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ purifieth himself even as He is pure" (James 2 v 17-20; Titus 1 v 1; Gal. 5 v 6; 1 John 1 v 7; 3 v 3). End Quote!
Now this Demetrius was under no delusion that he was a believer, in fact he comes across without any shadow of doubt that he was not a believer in the Christian gospel. He knew exactly where he stood with respect to what he believed, he was not in any sense deluded about what he believed, it meant a great deal to him. As I stated earlier, what buttered his bread affected his character and he did not mind taking a distinct stand for what he believed.
James reminds us that people can be deluded into thinking they believe when in fact they do not, and he says the single factor that distinguishes bogus faith from the real thing is the righteous behaviour inevitably produced by authentic faith.
Now Demetrius of Acts 19 is very clear where he stands in respect to the gospel and whether they be one and the same or not, the Demetrius of 3 John is also very clear where he stands with respect to the Gospel and his beliefs.