This picture was my concept of the church as a child. That is, until I met the Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul. From this incredible Spirit-filled man of God I learned I learned the following truth that set my spirit on fire:
“CHRISTIANITY IF CONFINED TO THE CHURCH IS NOT
SO MUCH EMBRACED AS IT IS IMPRISONED.”
-Paul is on the move again, but then when wasn’t he? He now has left EPHESUS. It was the greatest success, by far, of all of his MISSIONARY CAMPAIGNS! We read of this in Acts 19:20,
“SO MIGHTILY GREW THE WORD OF GOD AND PREVAILED.
a. IDOL STORES AND MAGIC SHOPS WERE CLOSED.
b. People of Mystery Religions burned books worth 50,000 pieces of silver! Today, that would include all Harry Potter books and DVDs as the first ones to go up in smoke. Also, it would include all Secret Lodge materials like the Masons etc. All of these mystery religions are reminiscent of the ancient Egyptians whose gods were pictured and represented with their finger upon their mouth, thereby enjoining silence to their members, and forbidding all publicizing of their rites, rituals, and secret practices.
c. The entire CITY was turning away from IDOLS TO JESUS!
d. But it was not because Paul or anyone else prevailed, but only because:
“THE WORD OF GOD PREVAILED.”
e. Hear it:
“THE WORD OF GOD, SO SLIGHTED BY SINFUL MAN, AND SO
MUTED BY THE CHURCH, IS THE POWER OF ALMIGHTY
GOD UNTO SALVATION, THE INSTRUMENT BY WHICH
THE DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE CONVERTS SOULS TO
“THIS IS THE DIVINE POWER, THIS IS THE DIVINE ENERGY,
THIS IS THE DIVINE FORCE – THE WORD OF GOD. WHY?
BECAUSE THE BIBLE ALONE IS THE VOICE OF GOD
AND NOT THE VOICE OF MAN.”
“DO YOU WANT ACTION? THEN ACT UPON AND OBEY THE
WORD OF GOD, FOR THE MOST AUTHENTICATING THING
IN THE LIFE OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS ITS ACTING
UPON THE WORD.”
-The Gospel of God says:
“NOT EVERYONE WHO SAYS LORD, LORD, BUT HE THAT DOES THE
WILL OF MY FATHER SHALL ENTER HEAVEN.”
Paul LEFT EPHESUS:
a. It would seem NEVER AGAIN TO RETURN THERE!
b. There is a suggestion that HE WAS BOUND OVER BY THE GOVERNMENT, never TO RETURN THERE!
-Because when he had the opportunity, he didn’t!
-Rather, he met with THE ELDERS OF EPHESUS LATER way down the coast!
(So far in this two part series, we have KEPT PRIMARILY to the HISTORICAL FLOW IN THE BOOK OF ACTS.)
I. EPHESUS TO TROAS
1. From here on, Acts 20:l,
“AND AFTER THE UPROAR WAS CEASED (in Ephesus), Paul called UNTO HIM
THE DISCIPLES (believers, followers of Christ), AND EMBRACED THEM,
AND DEPARTED FOR TO GO INTO MACEDONIA.”
2. NOW RIGHT AFTER Acts 20:1–
-We are going to insert some other history belonging here, but recorded elsewhere.
-I gather here now what I am going to tell you from II Corinthians.
-It is not here but there, so follow along now, and it will make sense to you!
PAUL LEAVES EPHESUS FOR TROAS
1. Paul by this time is DISCOURAGED AND DEPRESSED. Why?
2. Well by this time, he had heard things were DOCTRINALLY and MORALLY CONFUSED at Corinth.
3. Paul had written I Corinthians and sent the letter to THEM by the hands of Titus!
4. No doubt:
a. This had really done something to Paul!
b. While at Ephesus, a MAN NAMED CHLOE came with his family from Corinth to Ephesus.
c. And, he sits down with Paul, and HE spills all THAT’S HAPPENING IN CORINTH. (I Corinthians. 1:11) Paul, he says, you won’t believe it!
-There are DIVISIONS/SPLITS over on the WEST SIDE OF TOWN – THE WE ARE OF PETER PRAYER GROUP.
-On the other side of town, they only talk only of you Paul – THE WE ARE OF PAUL PRAYER GROUP.
-And, of course, some say that THEY ARE OF APOLLOS.
-Then, there are THE REAL SPIRITUAL ONES, who say THEY ARE OF JESUS, and only hear Jesus.
-Paul, it’s a mess; they aren’t even talking to each other; you wouldn’t believe it.
“THE BOOK OF ACTS IS REAL CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION. BUT REMEMBER,
THERE IS NEVER ACTION WITHOUT FACTION, SAD TO SAY. THAT IS
HOW SATAN WORKS, TO SLOW AND KILL THE ACTION
THROUGH FACTION. “
-Will we ever learn? It is the devil’s masterpiece and PRIME ENGINE to overthrow and defeat active soul-saving churches – SCHISMS AND SCHISMATICS – FACTIONS AND FACTIONISTS.
-What it does is turns the church back into INTROVERSION rather than EXTROVERSION. The church then has to be wasting its time and energies on these nasty internal dividers and splitters. Satan wants to drive the church INDOORS, and get its head stuck in its own stinky navel.
“FACTIONS ARE LIKE CANCER IN THE BODY WHICH FEEDS ON THE GOOD
CELLS AND KILLS THEM. SO TOO, FACTION FEEDS ON THE GOOD
ACTION, ABSORBS IT INTO ITSELF AND KILLS IT. THAT IS
WHY IT IS CALLED FACTION.”
“UNITY SRENGTHENS – DIVISION WEAKENS – UNITED WE STAND –
DIVIDED WE FALL.”
“DIVISION WEAKENS, AND WEAKNESS IS DESTRUCTION BEGUN.”
a. The Psalmist says in Psalm 122:3,
“Jerusalem that is built as a city COMPACT TOGETHER.”
Another translation could be,
“Jerusalem is built as a city that IS AT UNITY WITH ITSELF.”
b. All of this means PERFECT CENTEREDNESS. It means being CENTERED IN GOD. The CHRISTIAN CHURCH MUST BE CENTERED IN CHRIST, and not in weak and fallible human personalities. Indeed:
“ONLY UNITY IN CHRIST GIVES POWER, AND ONLY POWER IN
CHRIST GIVES INVINCIBILITY.”
c. Any church named after or centered in a man will fail, because it is then centered in ANOTHER ALLEGIANCE other than CHRIST, and the powers of Hell will prevail against it.
How often I have seen the case of the longstanding and endeared pastor leave a blessed work. Whether it is a case of going to another pastorate, or a case of retirement, he leaves as a most beloved and treasured shepherd of the flock. Then the next able and sincere pastor who comes in gets crucified, because the people were centered in a man and not in Christ. People then begin to leave, but on their way out, they cause schism and division, and take others with them. This disease will continue, because it is a DISEASE THAT WILL NOT BE CURED until the people repent of their idolatry, and become totally centered in CHRIST.
I just a few days ago talked to a dear brother whose church has declined after the longstanding pastor left, and a new shepherd came in. People began to leave and take others with them. He said, “I just don’t understand it, for the new man was doing a good work.” Sad to say, IT IS THE OLD PETER – PAUL – APOLLOS SYNDROME!
6. More than that, there is IMMORALITY-SEXUALLY, no one is doing a thing about it.
-Even THE PAGANS are horrified by WHAT THEY SEE IN THE CHURCH.
7. AND EVEN MORE THAN THIS:
-Paul had heard about certain other THINGS, like the LORD’S SUPPER, turning into a DRUNKEN SOCIAL CLUB.
-The LOVE FEASTS when you brought SOMETHING TO SHARE with others, the BIG HEAVY ONES barged in, knocked all the LITTLE ONES OVER, INCREDIBLE!
-The gifts of the Holy Spirit, everybody speaking in TONGUES, AND NO ONE INTERPRETING.
-They would sit there for hours, while people talked in TONGUES AT THEM!
-And WOMEN, certain women, were HAVING TROUBLE WITH THEIR MOUTHS. They wanted AUTHORITY AND A VOICE in the church, and they began to DOMINATE.
-What A MESS!
8. SO PAUL:
-With a very HEAVY HEART, sits down and writes what we know as “FIRST CORINTHIANS.”
-And in that letter, almost every chapter begins WITH A QUESTION OR ISSUE GOING ON IN CORINTH!
-And if you read Paul’s answers, you will get a COMPLETE OUTLINE OF THE BOOK!
-And mingled with it, you can hear his SORROW, DISCOURAGEMENT, and FRUSTRATION!
-And he writes THE LETTER, and he sends it to them by the hands of Titus.
-Titus was then to leave CORINTH, after delivering THE LETTER and meet Paul in TROAS.
9. SO NOW, GET THE PICTURE:
a. Paul leaves EPHESUS FOR TROAS, driven out of Ephesus, with I Corinthians still drying from his pen!
b. He is alone and depressed over CORINTH IN THE FIRST PLACE!
-Thrown out of Ephesus, his greatest GOSPEL SUCCESS, thrown out by a Riot!
-And, TITUS, where is TITUS, supposed TO MEET ME HERE, AND tell me about CORINTH!
-One can see Paul going down to Troas’ dockside every day, saying,
“WHERE IS TITUS?”
-In fact, so down was he that:
a. White we read in II Corinthians 2:12,
“A DOOR WAS OPENED OF THE LORD TO PREACH
b. Yet, Paul discouraged, uneasy, didn’t take it, as II Corinthians 2: 13 says,
“I HAD NO REST IN MY SPIRIT, BECAUSE I FOUND NOT
TITUS MY BROTHER.”
c. Can’t imagine Paul, so DISCOURAGED, doesn’t walk through A WIDE OPEN GOSPEL DOOR OF THE LORD.
1. I appreciate the HOLY SPIRIT’S CANDOR ABOUT SPIRIT-FILLED CHRISTIANS.
2, OH THE HUMBLENESS OF PAUL:
-You see, when YOU LIVE THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE, there will be DISCOURAGEMENT at times!
-But, “THE RIGHT KIND” of DISCOURAGEMENT, if I may put it that way.
a. THE HEAVINES5 that will COME FROM NOT SEEING CERTAIN SOULS SAVED, and/or CHRISTIANS NOT GROWING.
b. For, that is THE BURNING MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION of the Spirit-filled believer.
c. TO SEE SINNERS SAVED, AND DISCIPLES DEVELOPED, that’s Spirit-filled LIVING! That is true Christianity in action! Otherwise all that we are doing is playing church, spinning our wheels, and sweating over nothing.
d. NOT THE POOR ME, THINGS AREN’T GOING MY WAY, I’VE GOT IT SO BAD, DISCOURAGEMENT. That’s NOT SPIRIT-FILLED DISCOURAGEMENT, rather, that is SELF-FILLED DISCOURAGEMENT, and that is SIN.
a. If you are TRULY SPIRIT-FILLED, you won’t have won’t have the time or the room for the POOR-ME SYNDROME.
b. Rather, SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE have no ROOM FOR SELF, that makes good sense, doesn’t it?
c. Rather, just filled WITH THE DESIRE TO SEE CHRIST GLORIFIED in every man’s life!
d. You will see SPIRIT-FILLED people TRAVELING THE NEXT MILE AND TRAVAILING at the ALTAR for the salvation of souls! Yes, TRAVELING AND TRAVAILING, that is authentic CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION.
e. You will never read of Paul asking God to GET HIS POOR PICKED-ON SELF SOME JUSTICE!
f. If that’s the kind of life you’re living, that isn’t SPIRIT- FILLED LIVING, even though you are “SPEAKING IN TONGUES.”
g. Christianity in action is more like the old ABC program, yes, The Wide World of Sports – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
II. GOOD NEWS – BAD NEWS
Paul leaves TROAS, joins up with Titus elsewhere. Not sure where, perhaps Philippi. TITUS BRINGS PAUL GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS ABOUT CORINTH:
a. FIRST THE GOOD NEWS,
-The Corinthians have cleaned up the mess Paul, they responded to your letter!
-They have repented, and so Paul writes II Corinthians and says in II Corinthians 7:7-8,
“NEVERTHELESS GOD, THAT COMFORTETH THOSE THAT ARE CAST DOWN,
COMFORTED US BY THE COMING OF TITUS, AND NOT ONLY BY HIS
COMING, BUT BY THE CONSOLATION WHEREWITH HE WAS
COMFORTED IN YOU WHEN HE TOLD US YOUR EARNEST
DESIRE, YOUR MOURNING, YOUR FERVENT MIND
TOWARD ME, SO THAT I REJOICED
b. SECOND – BUT THEN TITUS TOLD PAUL THE BAD NEWS!
-Some PHARISEES had come TO CORINTH from Jerusalem! And if they had been to Corinth, you know they had been to other churches too.
-Now don’t forget – THE PHARISEES WERE A POWERFUL RULING SECT among the Jews, professing, or should we say pretending, a greater sanctity of life and purity of doctrine than any others.
-Pharisee comes from the word PHARASH which means SEPARATION. They did so by claiming a GREATER OBEDIENCE TO ALL JEWISH CEREMONIAL AND MORAL LAWS than any others. It was this that Jesus was referring to when He warned against THE RIGHEOUSNESS OF THE PHARISEES – LEGALISM – WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS – SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. They reeked with it!
-Remember now that Paul would go into the synagogues and totally put down this legalistic self-righteousness, and preach about sin and the need for all to be saved from their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
-Paul was considered by the PHARISEES an INFESTATION in the Jewish Church. He was a threat to the Pharisees and their entire religious system. In particular, they considered themselves to be THE BEST LIVERS AND TEACHERS OF THE LAW. Paul taught that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, AND THAT THERE IS NOT ONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO NOT ONE. PAUL LITERALLY TURNED THEIR ENTIRE RELIGION ON ITS INFLATED HEAD!
c. So they talked against Paul. I don’t have time to SHOW YOU ALL OF IT. THESE MEN HAD BEEN IN CORINTH when Paul told them he was coming to them! They were also there when he sent Titus with I Corinthians instead.
-So they were saying about Paul in Corinth things like the following as best as we can piece things together:
“HE CALLS HIMSELF AN APOSTLE, BUT THE MAN CAN’T MAKE UP HIS MIND. FIRST HE SAYS I’M COMING, THEN HE SAYS I’M NOT COMING, CALL THAT AN APOSTLE? THE MAN DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT. HE TALKS OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF HIS MOUTH. AND TALKING ABOUT TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES THE MOUTH, DID WE EVER TELL YOU THAT HE NEVER REALLY DID MEET THE LORD? HE’S NOT AN APOSTLE, ONE SENT FROM GOD. HE LIES THROUGH HIS TEETH. IF HE WAS FROM GOD, HE WOULD TELL YOU TO BE CIRCUMCISED, AND TO TAKE ON THE LAW OF MOSES. THIS MAN IS TOTALLY UNRELIABLE, NOT TO BE TRUSTED, TOLD YOU HE WAS COMING, AND DIDN’T!”
-You see what they were doing? CASTING DIRT/DOUBT/DUNG ON A MAN’S CHARACTER, AND THEN PEOPLE WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE IS SAYING. (Nothing ever really changes, does it?)
d. Hear this now:
“THE OPPRESSIONS AND VEXATIONS OF MEN ARE OFTEN SUCH POWERFUL
TEMPTATIONS TO SIN FOR RELIEF.”
-And that indeed temptations to sins such as adultery or quitting.
-We read in Ecclesiastes 7:7,
“Oppression will make a WISE MAN MAD.”
-The OPPRESSORS, the ANTAGONISTS, are some of Satan’s greatest tools to discourage and disorientate us, and lead us off the righteous path to a person or place of immediate but false and unholy relief.
-Too many Samsons have sought refuge in the arms of a Delilah! A word to the wise apparently is not enough to stop the madness.
-He that hath an ear let him hear:
“WHEN MEN OPPOSE AND REJECT YOU, THE ARMS OF SATAN
AND SIN ARE ALWAYS THERE TO EMBRACE YOU.”
PAUL really didn’t need this, and who does?
1. So he writes II Corinthians.
2. It IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES, because particularly here YOU MEET THE APOSTLE PAUL!
3. He is BROKEN, DISCOURAGED, IRRITATED, sick and tired of THESE men who follow him around and try to break up the churches.
4. And YET THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST ALWAYS keeps coming through in the SPIRIT-FILLED CHRISTIAN!
5. Though he was down, he was never out, as we hear him in II Corinthians 4:9,
“CAST DOWN, BUT NOT DESTROYED.” (J.B.PHILLIPS translates it, “KNOCKED DOWN,
BUT NOT KNOCKED OUT.)
6. And then the other Paul comes through – the real Paul too in II Corinthians. 11:13ff,
“FOR SUCH MEN ARE FALSE APOSTLES (these character assassinators in Corinth
came from Jerusalem), DECEITFUL WORKERS, DISGUISING THEMSELVES AS
THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST. NO WONDER, FOR SATAN HIMSELF IS
TRANSFORMED, DISGUISES HIMSELF AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.
AND LOOK, I’M FOOLISH FOR SPEAKING THIS WAY.”
“BUT IF YOU WANT CREDENTIALS, YOU’RE GOING TO GET THEM. ARE THEY
HEBREWS? SO AM I. ARE THEY ISRAELITES? SO AM I. ARE THEY
ABRAHAM’S SEED? SO AM I. ARE THEY SERVANTS OF THE
CHRIST, THE MESSIAH, THE ANOINTED ONE? I AM CRAZY
FOR SPEAKING THIS WAY, BUT SO AM I EVEN MORE SO.”
“IN FAR MORE LABORS, IMPRISONMENTS, BEATEN TIMES BEYOND NUMBER,
OFTEN IN DANGER OF DEATH, FIVE TIMES WHIPPED BY JEWS WITH 39
LASHES. ONCE STONED, THREE TIMES SHIPWRECKED, DANGERS
FROM RIVERS, ROBBERS, DANGERS IN CITY, IN WILDERNESS,
“IN LABOR, HARDSHIP, SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, HUNGER, THIRST, COLD, NAKEDNESS,
FALSE BRETHREN, THOSE WHO SAY THEY ARE WITH YOU AND ARE NOT. THERE
ARE MY SINCERE APOSTLESHIP CREDENTIALS, AND THE GOD AND FATHER
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHIRST WHICH IS BLESSED FOREVERMORE,
KNOWETH THAT I LIE NOT.”
7. And then Paul goes on about HIS REVELATIONS:
-Remember what HE’S TALKING ABOUT NOW, and remember the CONTEXT OF THIS NOW!
–II Corinthians. 12:7ff,
“AND BECAUSE OF THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF THE REVELATIONS, FOR
THIS REASON, TO KEEP ME FROM EXALTING MYSELF, THERE WAS GIVEN ME
A THORN IN THE FLESH, THE MESSENGER OF SATAN TO BUFFET ME, LEST
I SHOULD BE EXALTED, PUFFED UP ABOVE MEASURE…I ASKED THE LORD
THREE TIMES THAT THAT IT MIGHT DEPART FROM ME.”
Remember THE CONTEXT:
a. The context is THOSE MEN, those SATANS, DISGUISED AS ANGELS OF LIGHT!
b. How long are THEY GOING TO FOLLOW ME?
c. But, after all THAT GOD HAS SHOWN ME, I think I know WHY THEY ARE THERE.
-If I WENT THROUGH THE WORLD, saving souls, leaving perfect churches behind me!
-I MIGHT JUST GET A BIG HEAD, God allows these men TO CONSTANTLY HUMBLE ME!
-So, I can never COMPLETELY LOOK BACK, AND SAY, “SEE WHAT I DID IN MY STRENGTH.”
-I look back, and see WHAT THESE FELLAS ARE DOING AND SAYING! -But, WHEN I LOOK AT ALL THE LIES THEY TELL, AND I GROAN IN WEAKNESS, and can’t DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!
-That IS WHEN GOD TEACHES ME that HIS GRACE IS SUFF1CIENT FOR ME, FOR HIS STRENGTH IS PERFECTED IN MY WEAKNESS. MOST GLADLY THEREFORE WILL I RATHER GLORY IN MY WEAKNESSES, THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME.”
-THEN OFF GOES THIS LETTER TO CORINTH, the most REAL OF ALL OF PAUL’S LETTERS, the one in which we truly meet Paul, the man.
III. PAUL GOES TO JERUSALEM
1. Paul had sent for them, THEY WERE SO CLOSE, EPHESUS BEING HIS GREATEST PLACE OF IMPACT FOR JESUS!
-Wherever he went, PROPHETS, PEOPLE, warned HIM NOT TO GO TO JERUSALEM.
-Paul’s great desire was TO GO TO JERUSALEM, as we read in Acts 20:19,
“FOR HE HASTED, IF IT WERE POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO BE AT JERUSALEM
THE DAY OF PENTECOST.” (Great Jewish FEAST DAY)
-THAT’S SPIRIT-FILLED CHRISTIANITY, going WHERE THE NEED IS THE GREATEST, no matter the cost – TRUE CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION.
2. Paul explains it to the ELDERS OF EPHESUS as he states to them in Acts 20:22-24,
“AND NOW, BEHOLD I GO BOUND IN THE SPIRIT UNTO JERUSALEM, NOT
KNOWING THE THINGS THAT SHALL HAPPEN TO ME THERE.”
“EXCEPT THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT SOLEMNLY TESTIFIES TO ME IN EVERY CITY,
SAYING THAT BONDS AND AFFLICTIONS AWAIT ME.”
“BUT I DO NOT CONSIDER MY LIFE OF ANY ACCOUNT AS DEAR TO MYSELF, IN
ORDER THAT I MAY FINISH MY COURSE, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE
RECEIVED FROM THE LORD, TO TESTIFY SOLEMNLY OF THE GOSPEL OF
THE GRACE OF GOD.”
3. The ACTION CHURCH and the ACTION CHRISTIAN are not BORN AGAIN WITH TEETH AND TALONS. But rather, like a lamb, not only under the shearer, but even under the BUTCHER, READY AND WILLING TO BE SACRIFICED FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST! Christian is neither vengeful nor silent, AND HE IS BOUND BY THE NECESSITY OF HIS SPIRIT to speak the Gospel of the Grace of God even when it will hasten his death. His final ACT OF MARTYRDOM is his greatest action of all as he considers JESUS INFINITELY DEARER THAN HIS OWN LIFE.
PAUL THEN GOES TO JERUSALEM
1. He takes with him, certain of the Gentile believers!
2. We read in Acts 21:16,
“DISCIPLES OF CAESAREA, ONE MANSON OF CYPRUS, AN OLD DISCIPLE.”
3. OH HOW PEOPLE TRIED TO STOP HIM:
-Just before going down to Jerusalem, Paul was in Caesarea, in PHILLIP THE EVANGELIST’S HOME!
-Here, a certain PROPHET AGABUS:
“BOUND PAUL’S HANDS AND FEET, AND SAID SO SHALL THE
JEWS AT JERUSALEM DO TO YOU.”
-They begged him not to go and Paul said in Acts 21:13,
“THEN PAUL ANSWERED, WHY ARE YE CRYING AND BREAKING MY HEART?
FOR I AM READY TO BE BOUND, NOT ONLY BUT TO DIE AT JERUSALEM
FOR THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.”
-And when Paul would not be persuaded, they said in Acts 21:14,
“THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE.”
1. Paul is taking his Gentile friends around THE ANCIENT CITY! Showing them THE SIGHTS!
2. And not just around THE CITY:
-In the TEMPLE, there is a certain line drawn, if as A GENTILE YOU GO BEYOND THAT, YOU ARE KILLED!
-There was a little WALL, and written on it were the words:
“JEWS ONLY, ANY GENTILE BEYOND THIS POINT IS PUNISHED BY DEATH.”
-This is a favored precinct, and PAUL WALKED THERE ALONE, he wasn’t DUMB!
3. BUT, CERTAIN JEWS SAW HIM, Jews of EPHESUS, they knew HIM, saw HIM, but he DIDN’T SEE THEM:
a. This PAUL, fellowshipping WITH GENTILES!
b. This PAUL, stating there WAS A NEW ISRAEL!
c. This PAUL, stating THAT THE PROMISES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT were for the WORLD FOR WHOM JESUS DIED!
d. This PAUL, who STOLE THEIR EXCLUSIVENESS, and brought HEATHEN INTO THE KINGDOM!
4. WHEN PAUL WAS IN THE TEMPLE INNER COURT:
-These Jews cried out,
“THIS MAN HAS POLLUTED THE HOLY PLACE, AND BROUGHT
GENTILES INTO THE TEMPLE!”
-It was false, but it worked to incite a riot, as we read in Acts 21:30-31,
“AND ALL THE CITY WAS AROUSED, AND THE PEOPLE RUSHED TOGETHER:
AND TAKING HOLD OF PAUL, THEY DRAGGED HIM OUT OF THE
TEMPLE:AND IMMEDIATELY THE
DOORS WERE SHUT.”
“AND WHILE THEY WERE SEEKING TO KILL HIM, A REPORT CAME UP TO THE
COMMANDER OF THE ROMAN COHORT THAT ALL JERUSALEM
WAS IN CONFUSION (UPROAR).”
a. They take Paul, and they are too spiritual to shed blood IN THE HOLY PLACE.
b. So they dragged him outside and were about TO KILL PAUL illegally.
c. THEN THE ROMAN POLICE SHOWED UP and dragged him up THE STEPS TOWER OF ANTONIA!
d. The Jews CRIED OUT AT HIM, grabbing after Paul, shouting,
”AWAY WITH HIM!”
e. Paul says to the chief captain, “CAN I SPEAK WITH THEM?” The Romans say yes!
f. Paul speaks to them in their EVERY DAY LANGUAGE, Aramaic, sort of STREET HEBREW!
g. The Roman soldier didn’t understand, probably stood THERE, smoking a Roman Cigarette!
h. Paul is listened to, as he said he was a Jew, a Pharisee, and he got their EAR!
i. All went pretty well, until Paul said to them,
“THE LORD SENT ME TO GENTILES.”
j. And as soon as he said the word GENTILE, THE WHOLE MULTITUDE EXPLODED AGAIN! A riot starts again.
k. The chief captain pulls Paul aside, to find out what in the world is going on here!
5. THE CHIEF CAPTAIN WILL GET THE TRUTH OUT OF THIS RIOT-STARTING FELLOW:
-They string HIM UP; there were STAKES IN THE GROUND!
-They would LASH YOU TO THAT ONE; and then TO THAT ONE; and suspended you ABOVE GROUND!
-Spread EAGLED, and then THE LICTOR WOULD COME, especially trained in Rome!
-Leather RIBBONS WITH STONE, STEEL, anything to RIP FLESH!
-They were just about to do that and Paul looks up and says in Acts 22:25,
“IS IT LAWFUL FOR YOU TO DO THIS TO A ROMAN CITIZEN
-The chief captain asked him,
“ARE YOU A ROMAN CITIZEN?”
-The man says,
“HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY FOR THAT?”
-When the man who held the whip heard him say that, HE SIMPLY DISAPPEARED.
-Whipping A ROMAN CITIZEN without a trial? So they loosed him from HIS BONDS!
6. THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO:
-So 200 SOLDIERS, 70 HORSEMEN were assigned, all to guard ONE SPIRIT-FILLED PREACHER!
-They take him UP TO CAESAREA, to the Roman Governor FELIX.
-FELIX KEPT HIM FOR TWO YEARS, waiting for A BRIBE to let HIM GO FREE!
-The New Governor, FESTUS, comes on scene, and to stay on the right SIDE OF JEWS, HE KEEPS PAUL IN PRISON.
7. Festus is trying TO PLEASE THE JEWS A LITTLE TOO MUCH, AND PAUL knows any minute he could be turned OVER TO JEWS!
a. SO HE DOES WHAT EVERY ROMAN CITIZEN HAS A RIGHT TO DO! Acts 25:11,
“HE APPEALS TO CAESAR!” (Festus, I’ve had it. I am an innocent man. You can
keep me no longer. I appeal to the Supreme Court, to Caesar himself.)
c. So HE IS TAKEN BY PRISON SHIP TO ROME and if it rains it pours!
d. THE BLESSED SHIP SANK ON THE WAY:
-All these years, framed by the Jews; kept in Jail by a bribe-awaiting Governor!
-KEPT IN JAIL by the PEOPLE’S GOVERNOR, and then SHIPWRECKED AT SEA!
-WORTH IT? Of Course! FOR THE SHARING OF JESUS CHIRST, THE SPIRT- FILLED CHRISTIAN COUNTS IT ALL WORTH IT! His ACTION CHRISTIANITY, AS IF THERE IS ANY OTHER KIND, MUST GO ON UNTIL HE IS DEAD.
IV. I MUST HURRY – PAUL IS IN ROME!
Paul had TWO OPTIONS:
1. First, wait in jail. Nero HAS TWO YEARS OF A WAITING LIST BEFORE PAUL CAN GET TO PROVE HE IS NOT GUILTY!
2. Second, rest in HIS OWN HOUSE, GUARDED BY Roman soldiers, many of whom accepted Christ! Half of the PRAETORIAN GUARD! (Philippians 1:12-14) IT ISN’T OVER UNTIL IS OVER, as the old saying goes. That was never truer than in Paul’s life. For Paul, it was never over. Hear it:
“SATAN’S OPPOSITION IS GOD’S OPPORTUNTIY, SATAN’S ENDINGS ARE
GOD’S BEGINNINGS, AND SATAN’S BARS ARE GOD’S DOORS.”
a. Only the Holy Spirit can SNATCH VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT.
b. Only the Holy Spirit can BRING FORTH LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS.
c. Only the Holy Spirit can USE A PRISONER TO SET SOLDIERS FREE IN CHRIST.
d. This is wild and wonderful stuff, for it assures us that no matter how dismal the present may look, the future holds great promise. So we hear Paul from house arrest in Philippians 2:12,
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have
turned out for the GREATER PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL.”
In comes a RUNAWAY SLAVE ONE DAY, and Paul leads HIM TO THE LORD! His name was ONESIMUS!
a. Paul found out that the slave belongs to Philemon, the MAN WHO HEARD PAUL PREACH IN EPHESUS! PAUL WRITES A LETTER TO PHILEMON which says in essence:
b. I know THAT ONESIMUS WAS UNFAITHFUL and UNPROFITABLE TO YOU!
c. I SEND HIM BACK TO YOU, NOT AS A SLAVE, BUT AS A BROTHER!
d. Philemon 17-18,
“RECEIVE HIM AS MYSELF, IF HE HATH WRONGED YOU, OR
OWES YOU ANYTHING, I WILL PAY YOU.”
e. Paul sends back WITH ONESIMUS Paul’s LETTER TO PHILEMON!
(Paul also during THIS TIME writes to the Colossians and to the Ephesians. And at the END OF THE TW0 YEARS, he writes HIS LETTER TO PHILIPPIANS. Maybe, that MUST BE THE MOST AMAZING LETTER HE EVER WROTE!)
It is 5 YEARS NOW since HE WAS FRAMED IN THE TEMPLE, cooped up, under HOUSE ARREST, some of IT SPENT IN DUNGEONS. He writes in Philippians 4 amazing truths like,
“REJOICE IN THE LORD, AGAIN I SAY, REJOICE. FOR I HAVE LEARNED IN
WHATSOEVER STATE I AM, THEREWITH TO BE CONTENT. I HAVE
LEARNED HOW TO BE ABASED, AND I KNOW HOW TO ABOUND.
I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS
ME. THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BE
WITH YOU ALL.”)
-HISTORY QUICKLY RESUMED:
a. A church Historian, EUSEBIUS by name, picks UP NARRATIVE AFTER ACTS ENDS.
-He says that after Paul stood before Nero.
-Paul went to SPAIN, and TO THE OUTER-MOST EXTREMITIES OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE! (Scotland – a dream fulfilled)
-And after that:
a. Paul, WAS ARRESTED, Nero set fire to Rome and blamed the Christians.
b. And by THIS TIME, THE FIRST GREAT ROMAN PERSECUTION CAME UNDER NERO, ABOUT A. D. 66.
c. And of course, THEY CAME STRAIGHT FOR PAUL:
-Paul was in Troas when they arrested him!
-It was SUCH A QUICK ARREST that he left HIS COAT AND BOOKS BEHIND HIM.
-They TOOK HIM TO ROME, PUT HIM IN A CELL, AS WIDE AS COMMUNION TABLE, AS LONG AS A HUMAN BODY!
-He was in that cell and wrote HIS LAST LETTER, II Timothy, and writes in II Timothy 4:13,
“THE CLOAK THAT I HAVE LEFT AT TROAS WITH CARPUS, WHEN THOU COMEST,
BRING WITH THEE, AND THE BOOKS, BUT ESPECIALLY THE PARCHMENTS.
-Going TO BE A COLD WINTER HERE, BUT PAUL NEVER
SAW THE WINTER!
d. For even AS HE PUT THE PEN DOWN, having written II Timothy, they beheaded Paul for the SAKE OF THE GOSPEL!
-Paul wrote in II Timothy 4:6,
“FOR I AM NOW READY TO BE OFFERED AND THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE
IS AT HAND. I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT, I HAVE KEPT THE
FAITH. HENCEFORTH THERE IS LAID UP FOR ME A CROWN
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH THE LORD THE RIGHTEOUS
JUDGE, SHALL GIVE ME AT THAT DAY, AND NOT TO
ME ONLY, BUT UNTO ALL THEM ALSO THAT LOVE
d. IN THE HOUR OF MY DEPARTURE:
-That was a WORD HE TOOK FROM THE DOCKSIDE!
-It was a WORD THE SAILORS USED AS THEY PULLED UP ANCHOR!
“THEY’RE PULLING UP MY ANCHOR, THEY’RE LOOSENING THE ROPES, I AM
ABOUT TO SET SAIL FOR THAT LAND FOR WHICH I WAS MADE.”
e. Paul is so looking forward to THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS which the LORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS shall give him in Heaven. He did not say that the Lord would give him:
-A Crown of Power
-A Crown of Authority
-A Crown of Riches
-A Crown of Success
The emphasis in the apostate church is on prosperity, success, riches, and power. It is not only the emphasis, it is the obsession. Heaven is saturated and obsessed with something that is being UNCROWNED IN MODERN SOCIETY AND RELIGION – THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Listen:
“THAT WHICH IS OUR REWARD IN HEAVEN MUST BE OUR
PRIORITY EFFORT ON EARTH.”
“THOSE WHO WOULD DIE THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS
MUST LIVE THE LIFE OF THE RIGHTEOUS.”
“WE CANNOT LIVE UNRIGHTEOUSLY ON EARTH
THE REWARDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN HEAVEN.”
“WHEN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OUR CROWNING GLORY IN HEAVEN, IT
IS RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT MUST BRING
US TO HEAVEN.”
-What sense does it make for the LUSTFUL, the CARNAL, and the UNCLEAN , in short, the UNRIGHTEOUS to be crowned with RIGHTEOUSNESS by the LORD THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE?
f. Paul knew that the sentence of death had been pronounced:
-Have any of us ever been present when the sentence of death is pronounced upon someone?
-The darkest and woeful sentence carrying hell and horror in the very hearing and sound of it.
-Every syllable is a stab to the soul, and every word is death to the spirit.
-A paleness covers the face of the death-sentenced one, a trembling in his joints, and a cold sweat over his whole body.
-But see and feel the SPIRIT OF THE CHRISTIAN, as Paul under the sentence of death celebrates HIS HOME-GOING TO THE LORD with an impatience for his HOUR OF DEPARTURE that he has been longing for so long. He is now finally going to get his preference, to be absent from the body and TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD. THIS IS TRUE CHRISIANITY IN ACTION to the very end, which is the beginning of glory.
They came and BEHEADED HIM, and they thought that THEY WERE ROMAN SOLDIERS:
-They were REALLY ONLY LITTLE TUGBOATS to take him out to sea, and set sail for him THE GREATEST ACTION OF ALL, THE HOMEGOING OF THE CHILD OF GOD.
-PAUL GOES OUT IN A BLAZE OF GLORY, and the Gospel had gone from JERUSALEM TO ROME, and beyond!
-FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN, TO THE GOING DOWN OF THE SAME, the name of Jesus is to be praised!
-It had happened in 30 years, through THE SPIRIT-FILLED COMMUNITY-OF-ACTION CHRISTIANITY WHO COUNTED THEIR LIVES AS LOSS FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS CHRIST! AMEN!