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Onward to Jerusalem
Compelled by the Spirit, Paul goes to Jerusalem
Acts 21-25

Onward to Jerusalem
Compelled by the Spirit, Paul goes to Jerusalem
Acts 21-25

For the past month we have been taking a look at the Book of Acts together.

The key verse in the Book of Acts is found in Acts 1:8 wherein Jesus says "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Such is our mission today.

The key figure in the Book of Acts is the Apostle Paul. In Acts 9:15 the Lord says to a disciples named Ananias (whom the Lord sent to Paul lay his hands upon him that he might receive his sight) "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel."

Last week we took some time to consider some ministry lessons from Paul-- the worlds greatest missionary.

This morning we are going to take up with Paul in Acts 21-25 with a message I've entitled "Onward to Jerusalem. Compelled by the Spirit, Paul goes to Jerusalem"

The key to unpacking Acts 21-25 is Acts 20:22-24 which says; "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace."

NOTE THE REASON FOR PAUL'S COMPULSION TO GO TO JERUSALEM--- testify the good news of God's grace!

I. QUESTION TO CONSIDER: DID PAUL MAKE A MISTAKE IN GOING TO JERUSALEM OR WAS HE REALLY SUPPOSED TO?

Read Acts 21:1-16 which details Paul going to Jerusalem despite being warned by the Holy Spirit, Agabus (v.10-11), and the other believers (v.4) of what would happen to him.

-Paul headed for Jerusalem since Acts 19:21 "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, I must also see Rome."

Interesting: Paul's determination mirrors Christ's. In Luke 9:51 it says of Jesus "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem."

On Jerusalem: It's history was not always a good one. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says; ""O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!"


Question of interest: What's with the conflict in the text? Should Paul have gone to Jerusalem? Was Paul too stubborn?

Thoughts

a. While it's possible that Paul was being overly stubborn we've already learned that from his calling that it was God's will for him to carry the Gospel to before the Gentile kings (Acts 9:15)
b. My conclusion is that Paul was on mission-- and while God told his friends that trouble awaited him in Jerusalem, there trying to dissuade him was a kind of test for Paul-- to see if he would stay on mission.

WE FACE TESTS AND TEMPTATIONS TOO -discernment needed, a hand on God's Word always needed

Paul's determination also teaches us to STAY ON MISSION FOR CHRIST

II. EVERY FOLLOWER OF JESUS HAS A STORY OF HIS GRACE AND MERCY TO TELL.

Note Acts 22 and how Paul tells his story of how he became a follower of Christ

Scene: Chaotic. Crowd wanting to kill him. Bound in chains. Guarded by Roman soldiers

Paul's heart: Wants to talk about Jesus and the mission that Christ gave him "Testify!"

Paul, speaking in Aramaic/Hebrew tells his story of how he cam to be a follower of Jesus, the crowd listens until he tells them that his special mission from God was to take the message of Jesus and salvation to the Gentiles. v.21. At this point the crowd totally freaked out and away Paul was taken into the barracks.

POINT OF APPLICATION: If you are a follower of Christ, you have a story too!

The Book of Acts records Paul telling his story of how he became a follower of Jesus, 3 times. (His actual conversion, before this crowd, and then later before a Roman king)

1 Peter 3:15 says; "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

Part of sharing Christ with others, is sharing our story of God's mercy, salvation, and deliverance in our lives. It helps us to be grateful, but it also demonstrates the power of Christ in people's lives.


III. SIDE POINT THAT ILLUSTRATES HOW COOL ACTS 17:26-27 IS

In the barracks Paul was stretched out by the Romans who were going to flog him, to find out why the crowd was to stirred up. It's at this point that Paul uses his trump card-- his Roman citizenship-- to get out of being beaten and to receiving justice.

Roman citizens had special rights. Paul- a Jew- had been born in Tarsus. Tarsus was a favored Roman city and by Roman decree all Jewish citizens of Tarsus were granted Roman citizenship

Hearing that Paul was a Roman citizen the Romans in Jerusalem started to treat him quite nicely.

An interesting verse that connects to Paul at this point. Acts 17:26-27 says; "From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us"

Paul being born were he was and having those special privileges was used by God to protect Paul at some very key junctures in his life and ministry for God.

IV. JESUS IS ALIVE. WE SERVE A RISEN SAVIOR!

At the core of Paul's preaching was this proclamation: Jesus is alive. Jesus had risen from the dead.

In Acts 23 Paul is brought to a hearing before the high priest and Sanhredin. A big fight breaks out because Paul declares that he is on trial because of his hope of the resurrection of the dead. v.6

The fight breaks out because the Sanhedrin was composed of Sadduccess (who denied the resurrection and the belief in angels and evil spirits) and the Pharisees (who acknowledged them all)

POINT: THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS FROM THE DEAD IS A KEY OF OUR FAITH.

At the beginning of Acts (Acts 1:1-3) we are told that Jesus gave his disciples many convincing proofs that he was alive. Case in point being the empty tomb, the cover up of the Jews and Romans as it regarded the empty tomb (though it had been guarded by 16 Roman soldiers), his appearing to his disciples over a period of 40 days, the transformation of his disciples from being fearful and ready to go back home to spending the rest of their lives declaring Christ and his resurrection-- to the point of their deaths.

If Jesus did not rise then our faith is in vain -1 Cor. 15:14

Jesus' resurrection from the dead guarantees ours and the hope that we have of Heaven

Jesus' rising from the dead shows him to be God and necessitates that we listen to him and obey his every word-- beginning with the call to believe in Him


What's very interesting is how Paul's hope in the RESURRECTION comes to the fore in a hearing before a Roman Governor named Felix in Acts 24!

-At this point, because of an attempt on Paul's life, Paul has been moved to Caesaria and resides in the prison of the Governor (though he received some special privileges)
-Because of their hatred of him, the high priest, some elders, and a lawyer named Tertullus come down to Caesarea to present their case against Paul. After telling a whole bunch of lies about Paul, Paul is given an opportunity to defend himself. Again, as he had done the week before Paul declares "It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day." v.21

WE SERVE A RISEN SAVIOR. OUR HOPE IS A REAL ONE!


CONCLUSION

Before we finish off this morning I would like to draw your attention to Acts 24:22-27 (READ TEXT)

In this portion of Scripture Paul is in Caesarea (detained for no good reason-- but fulfilling God's plan that Paul testify to kings and rulers). Herein the Governor is shown to routinely call Paul in to hear him speak.

Note what Paul boldly spoke to Governor Felix about during their personal meetings

1. Righteousness

We are called to righteous living! Integrity, virtue, purity of life,

On our own we not and cannot be righteous (for our righteousness as filthy rags. We all sinners)

Righteousness: The condition of being acceptable to God (such is only by faith in Christ and make possible by the substitutionary death and sacrifice of Christ on the cross-- who imputes his righteousness to us).

2. Self Control

A big area of need for us

A fruit of the Spirit. The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions

We to strive for it (patience, anger, sexual urges and lusts, food, tongue, etc)

3. The judgment to come

Judgment day a real day

In Hebrews 6:2 it says "Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment."

Judgment day holds no fear for those who are in Christ. Romans 8:1 says: "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ."

Turn to Christ and be saved!

Note Felix's response: He was frightened-- yet he kept bringing Paul back (for selfish reasons, but had him back anyways)

CLOSE BY encouraging congregation to read what happens next (Acts 26-28)