Acts 21: Disciples making disciples
On this continuation of the Acts Series, Pastor Adrian preaches on Acts 21 with a focus on the challenging journey of Paul to Jerusalem. Exploring Paul's unwavering commitment to Jesus amidst tough challenges, this sermon encourages us to defend the testimony of Christ, embrace the difficulties, and remain steadfast in our faith.
Well. We are continuing with our next series this morning and uh if you've been following along hopefully you've been incredibly challenged by it I certainly have been as we've been reading and studying and preparing for the messages and hearing others preach but more than that simply the the reading of the scriptures simply the reading of the words and and in my own five times and and being challenged by not only Paul's example but seeing Christ come through every step of the way if you've been reading along you'll see that while the story has now started to focus more and more I'm Paul in his missionary Journeys what we also should be seeing here in Greater highlight is how Jesus and His holy spirit has empowered has provided has guided it has been the focus of that man as his travel and as he has worked and so we can be guilty of placing Paula on a higher pedestal than he really should be yes is it Apostle but yes is a great spiritual man but he is but a servant of the Living God and if you spend any time reading through these sections of scripture you would see that by his own words he has said that very clearly that he is just a servant just a child and living God and we too are the same and that's why I find this challenging this morning we'll be traveling through a fairly thick chunk of scripture so we obviously won't have time to get right down into the details of some of these things um but I just want to read to you from Acts chapter 21 verse 27 we're going to start off our reading from there since when the seven days were almost completed the Jews from Asia seeing him in the temple stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him crying out men of Israel help this is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place moreover he even brought groups into the temple and has defile this holy place for they had previously seen trophomas the efficient with him in the city and I suppose that Paul had brought him into the temple then all the city was stirred up and the people ran together They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple and at once the gates were shut and as they were seeking to kill him word came to the Tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion he at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them and when they saw the tribute in the soldiers they stopped being horrible then the Tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains he inquired who he was and what he had done some in the crowd they're sharing one thing serve another and as he could not learn the facts because of the Uproar he ordered him to be brought into the barracks and when he came to the steps he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd for the Mob of the people following crying out away with him now that's a pretty violent sort of picture that we're painted bed and that's just a small section of what's really going on so a bit of context for you you'll remember from a couple of weeks ago Paul had said farewell to the Ephesian elders and he bowed down in prayer with them acknowledging that he was likely not going to be coming back to visit them anytime soon because he had a plan to try and be back in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost and for their celebrations there and he also had a hope that the Lord would take him to Rome that was always his ultimate goal that he would end up in Rome and to be able to go and preach the gospel in what he considered to be the nerve sensor the actual capital of the Empire and of the world at that time and Paul being Paul wanted to be the the one person who went out and preached the gospel to every single person he could that was his main plan was to go out to in particular Rome where he believed the seat of power was at the time and it then was to go and preach to influence the people who may also then be able to go out as disciples that sounds like a discipler to me doesn't it you know we think of missions and we think of missionaries and we think of of all the people who go out on missionary Journeys perhaps to deepest darkest Africa maybe even to State schools in caboolture just as scary hey Justin sometimes you know we talk about carrying your pack and going out and speaking a different language um you don't have to go very far and Paul understood that he understood that when he went to the the the Greek Jews in Ephesus and other places in that area when he went to Jerusalem itself into the Jews there when when he also went to the Romans he understood that every single person irrespective of their culture and of their background needed Jesus whether they knew it or not whether he was received well or not as a matter of fact whether he was received at all and hopefully you've got the sense as we've been traveling through and read through now the the three big missionary Journeys that he's had you'll see that he got rejected more often than he was accepted hopefully you've been saying that he was rejected he was running out he was beaten he was imprisoned more often that he was exceptional and so yes we've often major on the times when we see success in Ministry hey when when we see that God has provided miraculously or when there's been a number of people who have come to a saving phase or when some truly wonderful good Miracles have happened but that would have been the smaller part of his ministry the larger part of this ministry was struggled in hardship and pain does that sound like a great sales pitch for Christianity good because it's not a sales pitch it's reality right and hopefully you're seeing that as we've been traveling through uh the scriptures and we're going to just go with the first little section here hopefully this will click through thank you Catherine if you could just click it through it's not working for me thank you um the first section in chapter 21 Paul goes to Jerusalem this is his return Journey from Ephesus he's come back on the ship miraculously didn't think this time and he gets off the boat and he he's met by people who love him okay as it's a bit of a homecoming he hasn't quite made it into Jerusalem itself but he's in the region okay up sort of a bit further north of Jerusalem up near scissoria and so on and he's met by people there who have met him on from the ship and they said welcome home Paul um it's so good to see you tell us all the stories we want to pray for you oh and by the way uh we have a warning for you see we've been praying for you because we knew that you were coming and the Holy Spirit is telling us that you're going to get a rest and it's going to be really hard for you in Jerusalem so you shouldn't go there okay and it was true that was was the message from from God and And he as as you can imagine Paul is just super excited to get home and to go and preach to his friends and his family especially because he believed this is going to be the stepping stone into the next part of this ministry after Rome and so that's his big idea it's his big viewing that's what he knows what God wants him to do but as he's welcomed back into the region back into the area he's welcomed by people who love him and they say it's so good to see you it's wonderful to have you back but please don't go to Jerusalem you know that place that you desperately want to go to don't go there because the holy spirit is saying is going to be incredibly difficult you're probably going to be arrested and who knows what else is going to happen to you it's not a good idea it's unwise and they spoke to him because the Holy Spirit had told these things to them okay because it was true but also out of a love and the concern for Paul as you would right if you have a love and a concern for someone and the law has told you something a warning about that person you would share that with that person out of a loving concern for them wouldn't you I just I hope so yeah I did all right but here's Paul's response in verse 13. he says what are you doing weeping and breaking my heart for I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus my truth right right here if you ever wanted to know what the heart of a missionary is it's that right this is the heart of the missionary this is the heart of a discipline someone who goes out and makes Disciples of people and a disciple there isn't necessarily someone who just goes overseas as a missionary a disciple or someone who just wanted to tell everybody about who Jesus is because that's the Great Commission right and so this is this is the heart of Paul right here start breaking my hands in other words I love you I want to stay with you I want to hang out with you I want to minister to you it will be so much easier for me to stay here with you and minister to you and be encouraged by you because if anybody's been out there discipling and on a mission it's a hard gig okay you're rejected and you're in strife and you're in pain for one of the very few times in this ministry Paul came back to a safe place came back to people who actually received him and they loved him and he could have stayed with them and yet he says stop breaking my heart because I know he knew in himself that God had told him to go to Jerusalem he wasn't just Paul's plan it was God's plan that he went and he says this I'm ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem why for the name of the Lord Jesus not because of the ministry not because of the church not because they're a group of people not because of the plan he was willing to be imprisoned and to die for the name of Jesus that's incredibly convicting Church because how zealous are we not for Ministries not for the church not for the brand not for people but simply for the name of Jesus you see the name of Jesus for Paul for so much bigger than mission so much bigger than discipleship those things didn't matter at all makes no sense if you're not zealous for the name of Jesus and that is is incredibly convicting but it also highlights the heart that Paul had for the name of Jesus and for what he had been called to do now Paul knew that the warning from the spirit was true but the morning was not that he should not die it was just a warning that it was going to be really hot Christian life is really high if we didn't go every time things were difficult we'd never go right and maybe for some of us that's true maybe that's hitting us right between the eyes right now because it's hard we've talked ourselves out of it because we thought we were being Wise by not going it was not wise it was not a smart thing for Paul to go to Jerusalem because he knew for a fact that it was going to be really hard and he was likely going to be imprisoned it doesn't seem like a smart choice does it why go to a place that you know you're thrown into prison we could over spiritualize it and say well we could have said maybe if I go somewhere other than Jerusalem I can continue to preach the gospel that sounds like a better plan right and how many of us would have over spiritualized that and said ah well because of the warning um I'm not going to go to Jerusalem I'm just going to go outside of Jerusalem I'm going to go to my other places I was going to go to Rome anyway so I'll find a nice city on the road to Rome and I'll go and preach the gospel then I'm still fulfilling the mission and I I'm still no it's actually disobedience God had told him to go to Jerusalem and so that's what he's going to do but he also said it's going to be really hardcore I want you to be prepared I want you to be prepared because that's what Paul indeed thank you when he finally to get to the tourism he goes and visits James who is the heading to church in Jerusalem and James James makes him aware of really the particular nature of the trouble that was coming of this Brewing food for football and I wanted to be able to get into too much there but you'll you'll be able to read that for your stuff in a session the trouble was that there was work getting around in the countryside especially amongst the Jews that Paul was out there preaching saying that they no longer had to follow the law and he was telling all the Gentiles of the law was no longer relevant they're telling all the Jews that the law was no longer relevant that's what was going around the murmurings you know I have churches have memories no one ever come to talk to the past but they had memories so there was there was murmurings happening in the church not just in the building because there was no building there was Christians Jews and there was murmuring did you hear what Paul said did you hear what they said about Paul did you hear that he said you don't have to follow the law anymore and there was a great uproar about this and so James fills Paul in on this Paul had no idea because he'd been out doing the work amongst gentiles it was the safe Christians who were back at home the safe Jews who were back at home who hadn't gone who had time for the Memories did you hear what Paul's in did you hear what Paul was saying and they had it wrong they hadn't wise Christ it wasn't what was Paul what Paul was saying at all and so anyway James fills him in and he says look there are four guys here that are wanting to go through the Nazarite vow okay I'm not gonna have time to explain to you what the Nazareth power is but essentially what Paul was going to come into was saying look let us go through this ceremony because it is a voluntary following of the law that we now do on the ceremonial law the the commander of Jesus it's non-negotiable we do that okay that's what we've got to do but the ceremonial parts of the law it's purely voluntary now before Christ we had to do it but now we are free to do it okay and that was the distinction that he was making we don't have to do all of these things and certainly for the Gentiles whom this is not their culture for why are we putting that burden of the law on the Gentiles they've got no idea about that for you and I we are the Gentiles most of us don't have Jewish background right and so we have no understanding of Jewish culture and a certainty of the ceremonial parts of the law and so when we came to Christ we didn't have to comply with any of the ceremonial parts of the law and that's essentially what Paul was saying as Gentiles don't have to do that because their faith in Christ with no contention upon that even for you now that you know who Jesus is but it is cultural and it is purely voluntary falling of that rule and there is nothing wrong with that and so he consented to to take these for Guides Through about the Nazarite about and that's what he does you can imagine what that did to the memories he's doing that now so what does that mean and of course they all get themselves what I'm going to dinner thanks Catherine they all get themselves up in the desert and that was the passage that we read um as shortly after he goes through this vowel the mobs start saying things the people start saying things and nobody really knew what was going on here mobs have no idea about facts they just say oh did you hear this person said no must have any idea about facts since there is just massive Uprising and of course the governor of the city at the time says well actually what's going on he's basically the chief of the police down there he goes and arrests all in two chains because he's obviously a criminal must be if there's this massive Gathering of Jews who are crying out to to kill him to arrest him and so he goes down and and arrests Paul but both of the Jews May travel and Paul got arrested anyway despite Paul trying to mitigate the risk of being arrested he went to clarify things with the Jews didn't he after James had spoken with him Paul says okay well I can be all things to all men right um I was like a Greek to the Greeks I could be like a Jew to the Jews and so for the Greeks he was able to go and speak in their in their temples and speak to idols and say do you see this unnamed god well I know the name of that guy his name is Jesus right and for a Jew not for a Greek that would have made a lot of sense because that was their contest but for a Jew the Nazareth found and the and the ceremonial laws that was their context and so this was what Paul was doing after he spoke to James I said okay well I can be that for the Jews because there is no harm in me doing that I can still be a faithful follower of Christ and speak the language of the Jews right see context is important okay and Paul understood that see I speak like this in a church context but there's no chance of me speaking like this out in a cup in a coffee shop because it's not appropriate right and so it'll be a different language at this speed but I'm still a faithful father of Christ now I still hold true to who Jesus is because the name of Jesus it's far more important than anything else right so Paul got arrested and you'd think oh well so what's new it's been arrested many times [Music] and then thanks Catherine and then he wants to speak to the people to clarify what's been going on and again you see Paul's heart he wasn't trying to teach them anything he was just trying to get the Jews to understand that he understood that he had heard them but he understood where they were coming from that he understood that they felt like their culture was being attacked and they'd heard on the Grapevine a great number of things and he was now his opportunity to clarify with them for them if they truly wanted to know what he was really teaching and you know in this section of scripture you see up there and obviously you have time to read it later the only thing that Paul does in that entire monologue is share his testimony but that's essentially all he does he tells the people about who he used to be as a Jew from even more than even the people that he's speaking to then and then he tells us about his encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus and about how how that forever changed him because that's what happens when you encounter the Holy Spirit you are transformed if you are the same person after coming to Christ you haven't come to Christ [Music] there is always a transformation and Paul's was a classic transformation of of a man who was going one way and eventually hit a 180 degree turn and went the other way instead of becoming the the chief persecutor of the church he was the chief lover of the church and he tells them this whole story of of who he was and how God had transformed him and how he had then been sent to all these different places we'll get into it next week but they were fine with all of that right up until he said and then he sent me and then Jesus sent me to the Gentiles and then previously next week that's when the crowd got their knickers in a knot because was it a Jesus for the Jews all right there's a lot going on here you know Jesus knew something of what Paul was going to go through when Jesus walked the Earth he knew that it's going to be difficult didn't he huh he knew it was going to be hard but he did it anyway and I'm so glad that he did Paul knew that it was going to be hard even after the warning the Holy Spirit had given him through trust and Friends but he did it anyway Jesus knew it was going to be hard you heard his prayer in In The Garden of Gethsemane he cried out to god father had his cut for me but if you're will be done and not mine and he showed us that he continues to show us that he understands what we're going through he understands what it's like to be a human being in the world with all of our struggles with all of our Strife in the context of what we live in he understood that he demonstrated that and bad things happen to good people right Paul understood that bad things happen to good people he would not have called himself a good person he would have called himself a saved person because he knew that on his own left his own devices he would not have been transformed and they wrote Damascus he would have been a chief persecutor he was a horrible person stood by as murderers did what they did right and you and I here's the harsh reality in truth we're exactly the same but for Jesus we are exactly the same there are no lovely people in this room the only loveliness we experience in this room is because of Christ and not because of US dollars that's a harsh truth church because we especially have been in Christians for a little while we'd like to think that we've become better right we'd like to think that our lives and become a bit better that we're better people but here it is without the Holy Spirit you would go back to your former self in a heartbeat parents we don't encourage our children once doing correct them over and over and over again and it's frustrating I'm sure that's something that God did for us so we would understand you know it's tough man it's tough without god without the goodness of God without the transforming power of this Holy Spirit we are nothing bad things happen to good people sometimes and he did not defend himself remember the the examination before Pilots and how pilate brought these accusations that were given to him from the Jews from the people and Jesus did not defend himself he just defending the will of God Paul did not defend himself are you stood before the riotest model that were out for his blood it would have been very very easy for him to say well no I didn't say that because he didn't right I didn't say that here let me make it very easy and clear for you and I have often wondered why Paul didn't say that why didn't he defend himself why didn't he say well you've heard people say these things about me but no I didn't say that you know why people weren't after the truth they didn't want to hear what he had to say about that because if they were they would have let the fruit of his ministry speak right the fruit of his ministry was that Christ had been released and amongst the Gentile Church and Paul was partly an instrument of that and there is no question about how God had used him and about what God had done so the only question that the Jews had come back with was you said murmurings Paul did not have time for memories he said let me tell you what Jesus has done this is irrefutable because you all know this is true this is what happened this is who Jesus is this is what he did for me and this is what he has done through my life and my Ministry he did not defend himself and defended his Testament and church we are going out into a world that opposes us we've heard about how Paul did it heard about as Jesus did it it seems to me that these are two good men to follow in terms of how to do it Jesus happens to me the person who actually wrote him so it can be difficult to represent Christ kind of speak to any chaplain in a school not only is there rules from the state there's also expectation from staff and families and parents there's also a need amongst children and the staff and they can be in the school communities we know what they need but there's also rules around what you can can't do and say that's Championship but there's a whole bunch of other things as well what about in your workplace what about in your home life in your families you might be a minority of people in your extended family that are Christians imagine family gatherings you're the godfatherer in that family it's tough isn't it pray for our little ones think of some of the stories that Jackson shared earlier this morning there are young young people who are still children come into Christ imagine how difficult it is for them to be disciplers in their family you think you've got it tough it's hard but we're not of this world Paul understood that that that that transformation that he had and for those of us who are questions in the room we've all had a transformation you you we're in this world yes we're in this world it's no question otherwise you're delusional when we're in this world but we don't have to be all of this world what that means is that we don't have to be defined by the rules and regulations and the culture of this world because we are now part of the Kingdom of Heaven if we acknowledge that and there is a culture that comes to us from Christ and so Church what is that going to look like for you as a disciple of Jesus throw out the word Christian if that's a confronting word for you if you're a follower of Jesus then you have been called to be a disciple right someone who follows after their Master exactly obedience is not optional it's it's the main thing Paul understood that and the Heart of his ministry was but I'm going to do it anyway because that's what Jesus expect of me we don't defend our lives rather we defend the testimony of Christ now lives Jillian Comer is going to stand up this afternoon this evening at the 15 year old girl in front of all of the people who'll be gathered here in front of witnesses she's going to tell them the story of what Jesus has done in her life that's going to be hard for her but she wants to she wants to do it anyway because Jesus needs to be given the glory that speaks to me and transformed life is she going to make mistakes of course choose a human being right and we should all remember that there is nobody here who is still perfect doesn't matter if you've been walking with the Lord for 60 ideas you still make dumb mistakes don't you if anything as I get older I realized that I'm more and more dumb so let's sign up right when you're 16 and 17 you know everything when you're 25 you realize that your parents are decided to figure out some things and when you get to 80 you realize actually I don't really know anything at all I'm not eating yet I'm on my download and so we come to the end of this message and we come to the end of this part of Paul's journey of these they arrested is is testified for the people let's go to that last one thanks again Christian lost wife is difficult enough but the same verses are used at the end of the couple of weeks ago because I think it's still found therefore my beloved Brothers this is Paul's writing to the Corinthians the Saint Paul who's standing before these people who have been who have arrested him okay and he hasn't defended himself before them he's just said but remember Jesus and what are you taking my life and what he wants to do in yours and this is what he says therefore my beloved brothers be steadfast immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain if you've given up hope church because it's just so hard it was tough because people have always doubted you always sick and guessing you and why are they always active because I'm a Christian keep going keep going flip side if you're not getting this what are you doing if you're not experiencing opposition to your faith in your life what the heck are you doing that's a challenge if you're not feeling opposed if if people aren't saying oh I don't want to hear about Jesus in your life and what are you doing because I've been transformed Paul was transformed every disciple that I know has been transformed and the one thing they want to talk about more than anything else is Jesus when we get together for a coffee when we have the whole family around for a meal when we go out and play sport have you noticed those people the conversation always somehow comes back to how amazing is Jesus are you that person I think Paul would have been that person he would have been really annoying at family gatherings can you imagine that look can we just have a nice family gathering this time we don't want any fights okay we're all gonna bring our potluck in and everything's all going to be good they don't have our presence Paul don't you say anything mean just just keep it in check just come and have a good meal he would not have been able to help himself and we have proof that he couldn't be that person because Jesus is far more important than family Harmony I'm I'm for real okay because family Harmony can be fake right friendships can be fake but your love for Jesus you can't face that what is the most important thing in your life as you raise your families as you are a family yourself as you have your friends as as you're part of the community in which you have been planted are you the person like Paul who people will hear Jesus about how many people in your circle know your testimony you couldn't walk with Paul for five minutes without knowing his story how many people in your you don't have to go and be a great preacher of the Bible but how many people in your life know your testimony [Music] you know the challenge heavenly father I pray that we would not be in church who are afraid of testifying to who you are with Jesus and what you have done for us and we take pause in impressive example of being and getting hard things and doing hard things will go but doing it anyway because of his body for the name of Jesus so we pray Church individual disciples as Believers of you from Jesus they will be sold out to your name that who would not be ashamed of your name and that we would have courage to stay steadfast and preaching your name. Amem.