Pastors BLOG
October 30, 2018, 1:05 PM

The Adventure Begins 57: Lessons From the Early Church - Acts 21:27-23:11



In the middle of Paul’s 3rd missionary journey He felt God was showing Him where He wanted him to go…

Acts 19:21 (NIV)
21 …Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. "After I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also."

As we look at the concluding pages of Acts and the concluding messages in this series I want us to see how God orchestrates His will in the lives of people who will simply say yes to God daily…

Before we dive into the story – look with me at what Paul wrote from prison in Rome, where he would eventually end up and spend the balance of his life and ministry…

Philippians 3:7-21 (NIV)
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

This is the attitude we must emulate and it is so well revealed in the life of its author…

- Paul was a man of submission/ a true follower of Jesus - Paul listened to God and submitted by going to Jerusalem where God was leading him, despite his knowledge of the dangers that awaited him.

 

Paul listened to the leadership in Jerusalem. When he arrived James, the apostle, instructed him and to go to the temple and participate in purification rituals. Though Paul no longer felt the importance of such rituals he complied out of respect for the authority and wisdom of those over him.

 

Paul was submitted to the plans of God. Following Jesus requires that we be submitted to His plans and the leadership that He places over us.

 

While at the temple – not hiding, but in plain view – some of the Jews from Asia who had persecuted Paul in his missionary work stirred up a mob against him and spread lies about him.

 

Acts 21:31-36 (NIV)
31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.
32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done.
34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks.
35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers.
36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Away with him!"

- The trial before the Jewish crowd - The commander had Paul confused with some other instigator and was surprised to discover that Paul spoke his language (Greek) – He got the Commanders attention and asked to speak before the mob which was attacking him. He did not seek refuge, but instead seized the moment to speak to them.

Paul recognized the opportunity God was giving him, born out of this conflict, to speak to his assailants. Following Jesus requires that we look for and seize the opportunities that He brings our way.

He began telling them his story and at one point when he shared about how God had sent him to the Gentiles the crowd lost it. Paul was Arrested and almost flogged in Jerusalem –

Acts 22:23-29 (NIV)
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,
24 the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.
25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "This man is a Roman citizen."
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes, I am," he answered.
28 Then the commander said, "I had to pay a big price for my citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

In Following Jesus we are not on our own, He has prepared the way for us and walks through life with us. Paul inherited his citizenship from his father. When his father purchased citizenship in Rome, he would have had no idea that it would be used for the purposes of God in his son Paul’s life. It was illegal for Paul to be treated the way he was being treated as a Roman citizen, he had rights that were being violated. So the commander released Paul and assembled the Jewish leaders to meet with him.

 

Paul went before the Sanhedrin –

Acts 23:1-5 (NIV)
1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.
3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?"
5 Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'"

Paul’s claims against Ananias were righteous, but once he realized the office to which he was addressing and his violation of scripture toward those in leadership over you – he quickly apologized.

 

It is obvious in retrospect that Paul had more authority from heaven than this appointed leader of the Jewish people, but he still showed respect and honor for the offices and role of authority. Like David to Saul he preferred the man in office whether the man in the office truly deserved it or not. Following Jesus requires humility and a respect for the authorities over you, even when they are not following Jesus themselves. This doesn’t mean that we blindly follow leaders, however…

 

MLKJ’s legacy – along with the likes of Gandhi who adopted Henry David Thoreau’s ideals of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience – They showed respect for others and for the authorities. They did not strike back, however they did not necessarily agree or follow in obedience the misguided ways of others or their leadership.

 

Paul now addresses these Jewish leaders…

Acts 23:6-11 (NIV)
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."
7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?"
10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

Paul speaks to the council raising an issue that they had long argued about. He shifts the issue away from his guilt to the real issues here. This is about the resurrection and the provision of our savior, however he was not given the opportunity to finish his arguments with them because they began to devour themselves.

 

Following Jesus faithfully in trials will provide clarity for you, while at the same time causing confusion/division among those who are at odds with you. Even our greatest enemy – the devil. God will use your faithfulness to upset the accord among your accusers. He does this so that they will question their own values and perhaps to bring them back to a faith in Him. And as you emerge from the struggle you will have greater understanding of where and what God has for you to go and do.

By Carl Friedel



Comments

11-01-2018 at 9:35 PM
JoAnn
Powerful message!!! Thank you...each one of these messages from Acts bolsters our faith and fortifies us for whatever we may face! Our Savior is with us...Amen
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