Beth Moore - Compelling - Part 1
I'm going to do something I would not normally do to get us started on our concept. I'm gonna keep your Bibles closed, if you would. I'm not gonna have you open them from the top because I wanna start trying to get you thinking toward the concept before we ever look at it from the point of view of the scriptures. Is that fair? So I'm about to ask you a question, and I want you to know there's no right answer to it. It's subjective. It's gonna be a "what do you think," and "in your opinion, what". So this is the question I want to throw out to you as we get started: "What do you find most compelling in a person"? If you said, "I really find that person compelling," what is it you mean by that?
If it were a group of people and you said, "Man, they really compel me," what is it that you're trying to say? What makes that distinctive to you? I wanna try to help create a little bit of a visual for you so that it'll get your mind going. Say you're sitting across the table from somebody, maybe at a Starbucks, maybe at some kind of restaurant. What is it, with your elbow on the table, that just keeps scooting that elbow forward? Know what I'm talking about? What is it that across from that table, you just keep scooting toward it because there is something that you find, what's our word? Compelling. And what if it has nothing to do with physical attraction?
One thing I can tell you from the very beginning that compelling is not, is lust. That's not why you're scooting closer and closer across the table. There's something on the other side of it that somehow is drawing you across the table that sits between you, and what is it? Case in point: a couple of weeks ago, I had a photo shoot. I have to do one every single year for the next year's events. And so it's something I never think is any fun, so I take fun people with me so that I'll have fun with them. But I had a makeup artist for the photo shoot that I had had one other time, but the one other time I had her, and I remember liking her so, so much, but I was about to teach, and when I'm about to teach, my eyes are, I mean, literally, they are trying to put on the eyeshadow and my notes are moving behind them constantly because I can hardly even think. But this was a photo shoot so I didn't have to concentrate on what I was speaking on.
I was perfectly free to just talk. And I was thinking to myself how fascinating I find her. And I thought, "What is it about her"? She was not gregarious. She was very, very straightforward. It was an interesting thing because she does this for a living, literally, she's a makeup artist, but wears very, very little makeup. She just is such a fascinating person. And I was thinking to myself, "You are so compelling". In the course of the conversation, she was telling me a little bit about herself and she said, "You know, I have Asperger's". And I said, "You do, do you"? She said, "Yes, I do". And she owned it with such confidence, so comfortable in her own skin, so comfortable with what her particular gifting was and how it all went together, and I thought, "How very interesting that she chose a career path where she is in constant human contact and touch," and there's something about her that you just cannot take your eyes off of. Fascinating, compelling. She did not minimize the challenges, but she was curiously and wonderfully unique.
Now, let's go ahead and set aside that compelling is not the same thing as exciting. So get that out of your thinking. Where we're thinking, "Man, I find them so compelling," that's not the same thing as exciting or even adventurous. They may speak very little and you just still find yourself, your elbows, scooting across the table because something is fascinating about them. Compelling doesn't even always mean that you want what they have. You're just interested in what they've got. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Like, what is it that drives you? What made you choose this particular path? Compelling, compelling. It doesn't mean you always want it, but it does mean you're drawn to it.
Now, before we ever open up the scriptures, I want you to see the definition out of Merriam-Webster's for "compelling," because this is so important that we get this all down before we dive into where we're going in the New Testament. So I want you to see on the screen, so what is it? Not just "compel," but "compelling". When we use that word for somebody, what does the word "compelling" mean, and so I want you to see it out of Webster's. You're gonna see a couple of different synonyms for it. It means a forceful kind of personality. That's one definition. It doesn't have to be the whole thing, but it means a compelling personality, a forceful, "B" is this: demanding attention, that there's something about it that just commands your attention. And the third one is convincing. Whether or not you knew it, when we said "authenticity" up here several times, that was part of what we were talking about when we were trying to nail down what compelling means. That there's something about it that you believe, is that fair to say? That would be compelling to us.
There's something about you I really do believe. Okay, are you ready to open up the scriptures? Open up with me to Acts, the book of Acts, chapter 20. But I want to go ahead and give you your first two points because they're the ones I want you looking for as we read together. We have everything it takes to be the most compelling people on earth. I'm talking about believers in Christ, people who have placed their faith in Christ. If you are a Christian, or we'll refer to as the church; if you're new to our terminology, that is a word that means everyone, every country where there are believers, every people group, every tongue, we comprise, all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we make up what we'll be referring to as "the church".
Number two is this: in an effort to be culturally compelling, we have forfeited our uniqueness. Because somehow we think we are gonna get along better with the world if we just blend in. And so when we blend in, when he said, "No, you are the light of the world, you are the salt of the world," what we have done is that we have just lost our uniqueness, and in trying to be cool, we are less compelling than we were. We have made ourselves less compelling trying to be cooler, and it's not working. They're not compelled by us. What I hope to prove to you in the scriptures is that when we become who we really are and we are true to that, we become compelling without trying because we're just weird. [congregation laughing] And people are fascinated by weird. And you don't try to be weird, and we're gonna see you can't try to be compelling, because that hijacks the whole process. But in an effort to be culturally compelling, we have forfeited our uniqueness, and we're here to see if we can grab back hold of what it is we are called to be. I want you to see that with me, that the Spirit of God uses gospel people to be the most compelling people on earth.
Now, throughout our time together, you and I are gonna fasten our attention on Acts chapter 20, starting at verse 13, and we're gonna go through Acts 21, verse 6. We'll also look at some passages right around it, but here is my premise for you, and I'm about to start reading it to you in chunks. But here's what I'm trying to go for here. I am hoping to be able to prove to you that within this segment of scripture, so Acts chapter 20, starting at verse 13, all the way to 21, verse 6, that within this segment of scripture, we are gonna get a glimpse of what makes the people of God so compelling. And what our effort will be is to pull them out one by one. We're gonna go through five additional things. We'll have seven points by the time we leave, all about the concept of compelling, becoming the compelling people we were ever set apart in the first place to be.
What we're gonna see here in this glimpse that I'm gonna begin reading is the fully functioning New Testament church, as early as it was. It's a fascinating piece of Acts because we see people that are functioning, not only the apostles, but we see now that people who have, they have trained and discipled are standing up into leadership and they are discipling. So we're seeing the process take place and the elements all around it are so gorgeous because in it, you see a people that would draw your attention. And you think, "What is it about them that makes them that distinctive? What is it that drives those people that's got all the things"? What I'm hoping to tell you is that if you are in Christ, you've got all the things. You do. You've got everything it takes to be one of the most compelling people on the planet. You're significant in the process, part of it, and I hope we're gonna see ourselves in it.
I'm gonna read Acts 20, verses 13 through 17 to start with. "We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul on board, because these were his instructions, since he himself was going by land. When he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. Sailing from there, the next day we arrived off Chios. The following day we crossed over to Samos, and the day after, we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, because he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, for the day of Pentecost. Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and he summoned the elders of the church".
These are our forefathers and foremothers in the faith. This is the heritage and the legacy of courage, of pure go-to that they had. When the New Testament church was born and beginning to thrive, this is our legacy. And I want you to watch this guy. This is Paul's third missionary journey. If you look on the map, you would see that it's gonna start in Antioch, so right here in Antioch. And just try to wrap your mind with me around this. He is not flying. He's not driving a motorcycle. He has not rented a car. He is either on foot or he's on some kind of beast or he is on a boat. But I want you to just try to get it. Third missionary journey, he's gonna go all the way up here, all the way around, and all the way down to Jerusalem. I mean, it is absolutely fascinating. So, Antioch, this became an extremely important city that was outside of Judea. Go back with me to the time when, in Acts chapter 7, Stephen, the very first martyr, Stephen was martyred. Right after Stephen is martyred, it says that the church scatters.
Now here's the beauty of it: it was the purpose of God for it to happen exactly that way because, in their scattering, most of the apostles stayed there for a time in Jerusalem with that church, with that nascent church right there in the city. But a lot of the believers scattered at that point. Well, when they scattered, they took the gospel with them. So here's the thing. This is what's supposed to happen to us when we're under persecution, is it just fires us up. That I mean, if you push me out of here, I'm just gonna go over here, because I must share the gospel. I must share the gospel. And so, they started taking it everywhere. Well, one of the places that these Jews that had come to believe in Christ had gone was to Antioch, and a good group of them banded together. That became the early church there.
When Barnabas first meets Paul, who was Saul, the persecutor, the very first place he takes him after they get to know one another well, he takes him to Antioch. They get to know the believers there, and a strong, strong work of the Spirit begins there. Holy Spirit tells them they're to set apart Barnabas and Paul for these missionary journeys. That's what they do. We also know that in Acts chapter 11, this is a really neat point of Bible trivia, I love this kind of stuff, and it's not trivial, and that's, it's the very first place that believers were ever called Christians. So, right here in Antioch. So, they do all of this traveling. What they have done now, they've gone all the way up and around, all the way here, all the way around the Aegean Sea area, and so by the time you are picking up with our text in Acts chapter 20, we've got 'em in Assos right here, they're right here. They've just been in Troas, they're here, and these cities, Mitylene right here, Chios right here, Samos is in here, Miletus right here.
So, I want you to understand something. Paul is going to all of these places. This mind that was this zealot of a Jew, I mean, he was like, he was not even your normal guy. Wasn't even your normal devout guy. He was zealous for the traditions of his fathers. And so this mind, this gorgeous brilliant mind that had just been overtaken to persecute the church, now this mind has been captivated by the Lord Jesus Christ, and so here he is going to all these famous places, listen to me, listen to me, and he is taking words that will be written down eternally on the everlasting scroll of God. And I just, to see history all converge. Listen, there have been famous people in the world, there have been famous things written, but I want to remind you tonight there is nothing like the scriptures. Absolutely nothing like the scriptures, nothing. That it has been able to be preserved in whole in the way you hold it in your lap is nothing less than a miracle of God, who said, "You will not take one word from this. You will not add to it, you will not take one word away from it. It is my eternal word and I will reserve it".
I just want you to think about this with me because what I want you to understand, when we look at a map that seems so ridiculous, is that what's so easy for us to do when we hear sermons, when we're in Bible study, is that we'll get it in our head that these were people who were different from us, that they somehow had, these were supermen and superwomen, that they had somehow this courage that we're not called to have, and they were somehow unafraid. And we're gonna see something different than that because what I want you to understand is that these people were compelled by the same thing that is meant to compel us. Picking up with me at verse 17, let's overlap it just a little bit: "Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church".
So, here's what he's doing because, remember, it's just said that he didn't want to go back. He'd already been on his way when he left Antioch. He'd worked his way to Ephesus and been there several years. But what he's doing now is he's coming back around and he's gonna get close to it, just within miles, some amount of miles from them. But he doesn't wanna go to the city itself because he has too many relationships there and he knows he won't make it to Jerusalem to be there in time for Pentecost. So he sends for them and has them brought to him so that all he's got is a band of leaders from that particular church that's already well established by this point.
Verse 17: "Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them, 'You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or teaching you publicly and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.'" Okay, 20:23 could not be more important to us in this present theme. "And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me". Verse 24: "But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace". NAS says, "Bound by the Spirit". King James Version says, "Bound in the Spirit".
Now, just a few minutes ago, we looked at the Merriam-Webster's definition of compelled or compelling, compelling. So what's gonna be important now is that now we need to lock it in to what was the intent when it was given to Luke to write down. So, in the Greek language, what does it mean? So that word, it's gonna be the same Greek word that is translated in any one of your translations that you have, whether it says "constrained" or whether it says "bound" or a similar word. It's all coming from the same Greek word, and I'm gonna show you a form of what that is. So, "dedemenos" is a perfect participle of the verb "déo". Everybody say "déo". It's easy. Déo, just nice and simple. And déo means, that's the basic verb form. It means, it's to bind together or to anything, to bind around, to fasten. I love antonyms because if the synonyms don't work, the antonym usually does. So if we were looking for an antonym, it would be lúo, and it would mean to loosen, to loose, or to break up.
Now, I want you to see that with me because what's happening here is it's telling us that he's compelled, so put these words in it. He's bound, he's fastened to, he's not loosened from. Something is drawing him that he is completely tied to. And what he's telling us in the scriptures is that he is bound by the Spirit, constrained by the Spirit, compelled by the Spirit. So here's what I wanna do. I wanna come up with a working definition for our purposes in our present theme, come up with a working definition of what we mean by compelling: is the pull of the Spirit on the people of Jesus.
When we are operating the way that God called us into relationship with him, that we have a pull of the Spirit in us to do what he has called us to do, a pull of the Spirit. But that same thing about the Holy Spirit that compels us pulls people toward us. This is what we mean when we talk about sitting across the table and our elbow going like this... When someone is compelling to you, there is a draw. There's something that's pulling you toward them, something that is fascinating you that you want to know. So, I want you to understand. This is the way this works, that the more we are compelled by the Spirit, pulled along by the Spirit, tied to him, fastened to his will, strangely, the more people will be pulled toward us, because there's something about us that they can't quite figure out.