First Baptist Church of Howard City
September 5, 2021
      • Proverbs 2:1–8ESV

  • Lord I Lift Your Name On High
  • Day By Day (Blott En Dag)
  • God Leads Us Along
  • I Love You Lord
  • Acts 21:15–40 NKJV
    15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. 17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them. 27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. 35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!” 37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
    This is an unsettling passage for me.
    There is so much here that its hard to wrap my mind around it.
    Things that happened even before Paul’s arrest.
    We quite likely won’t make it through this passage.
    The end of it flows directly into next week’s passage.
    Acts 22:1-20 Learning From Paul’s Testimony.

    1. Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem.

    Acts 21:15–19 NKJV
    15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. 17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

    (1) A. Paul was recieved gladly… at first.

    Save verse 16 for later. It is a hint that Paul knew what the Jerusalem church was like.
    Notice who they met first - “the brethren”
    Or the lay people of the church.
    They were happy to see Paul.
    Probably partly because he was bringing financial support to them.
    But for now they are recieved warmly.

    (1) B. Paul gave a good report.

    he told them in detail what God had done through his ministry to the gentiles.
    First… here we see a model of a missionary report!
    This isn’t the first time this has happened.
    Second… have you ever been in a ministry situation where God did some amazing things and you were excited about it, not only that but you had invested some sweat and tears into the ministry.
    Then someone just dismisses it?
    Watch this...

    2. The elder’s response to Paul.

    Acts 21:20–25 NKJV
    20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

    (2) A. The elders glorified God.

    This seems to be genuine excitement for what God was through Paul’s ministry doing.
    However, there was a disconnect.
    The elders were excited but that was Paul’s ministry to those people… to the gentiles.
    Paul gives them a detailed update that would have included both the highs and lows.
    and they didn’t get it.
    They were excited to see the gospel going to the gentiles, but they had no idea what that actually meant.

    (2) B. The elders were less than happy with Paul.

    They glorified God and IMMEDIATELY launched into a plan to keep the Jews from rioting as they had in other places Paul had been.
    They did not understand what Paul had been preaching.
    There are many Jews who believed but they were still zealous for the law.
    The Jerusalem church with the decision of the Jerusalem counsel for gentiles, but didn’t think it should be the same for Jews.
    So these Jews (though believers) were unhappy with Paul because they said he had been teaching the people to forsake Moses and the law.
    Paul was teaching salvation by grace through faith.
    Paul was teaching that no works were necessary for salvation.
    Paul was not slandering Moses or the law.
    Paul understood their proper place.
    Galatians 3:24 NKJV
    24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
    the law was our tutor or schoolmaster (KJV) to point us to Christ.
    Hebrews 10:1–4 NKJV
    1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
    Hebrews explains that the law was only a shadow of things to come.
    Especially the need for sacrifice.
    Colossians 2:13–14 NKJV
    13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
    Paul says the requirement of the law went away at on the cross.
    This zeal for the laws should have been rebuked.
    It should have been taught against.
    Instead it was accepted.
    We need to understand that law and grace cannot be mixed.
    It is critical for us to understand what Paul understood.

    First, the Law ended at the crucifixion.

    That means the 10 commandments are not for us.
    Other Old Testament law or Jewish law is not for us.
    We must understand that the law is not our guide for living. It never was.
    Romans 6:14 NKJV
    14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
    We are under grace. That does not mean we live lawlessly.
    Romans 13:8–10 NKJV
    8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
    Paul says our love for God compels us to obey Him.
    We are given several commands in the New Testament that we are expected to obey.

    Second, the law was given to the Jews.

    The law was not given to the gentiles or the church.
    The Jerusalem counsel taught us that.
    Paul was trying to teach both the Jews and the gentiles that the Old Testament Law was no more.
    There are practical implications for us as well as the believing Jews in Jerusalem.
    I will give you two… that will be enough for you to think about. You can then do more study.

    First, New Testament Christians are never taught to keep the Sabbath.

    The Sabbath is the 7th day not the 1st day.
    We say God set aside the 7th day for rest,
    Genesis 2:1–3 NKJV
    1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
    He blessed it and sanctified it.
    He does not tell anyone to follow His example.
    Adam and Eve were not commanded to keep the Sabbath.
    Noah did not keep the Sabbath.
    Genesis 9:1 NKJV
    1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
    Abraham did not keep the Sabbath and was blessed by God.
    Job did not keep the Sabbath.
    Job 1:1 NKJV
    1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
    Sabbath keeping is tied directly to the Israelites.
    Even then, Jesus and His disciples were accused of not keeping the Sabbath and He never denies it.
    They were told to keep the Sabbath when God gave them the Law.
    It was a sign of God’s relationship with them.
    Exodus 31:13 NKJV
    13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
    Yet as New Testament churches we often put an emphasis on the Sabbath.
    We were not told not to work on Sunday.
    We were told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

    Second, New Testament Christians are never taught to tithe.

    In the Old Testament the Jews are taught to give 10% off the top of all their income.
    Translate that into today - 10% before taxes.
    This is even a point of argument - before or after taxes.
    Malachi 3:10 NKJV
    10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
    Once again a command or a promise given to the Jews!
    Think about it with me...
    We would all agree that everything we have is God’s.
    That means our entire paycheck is God’s.
    Yet when we teach tithing, we are modeling something different.
    We are modeling that 10% is God and 90% is ours.
    Rather we are taught in the New Testament that our giving should be generous.
    It should be from the overflow of our heart.
    2 Corinthians 8:1–4 NKJV
    1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
    Our giving should come from a heart of dedication to God rather than an obligation to give 10%.
    2 Corinthians 8:5–6 NKJV
    5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.
    Paul points out that before they gave money they gave themselves.
    Vs 5 - our giving should be out of loyalty to our church leaders.
    Hebrews 13:17 NKJV
    17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
    What about giving joyfully just to support what the church is doing!
    Give to help us equip you to be better disciple-makers.
    Give to the remodel project.
    Still the encouragement is to give to over and above your regular giving for certain things.
    It wouldn’t be wrong to give only to the remodel project.
    However, we don’t want the project to distract us in any way.
    We don’t want it to take away from ministry.
    We don’t want it to take away from giving.
    back to our text...
    What Paul needed the Jews to understand is found in his letter to the Galatian church.
    Galatians 3:11–12 NKJV
    11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
    The Jerusalem church was having a hard time accepting this idea.
    We look at everything that happened in Acts...
    We think about everything the Jerusalem church would have heard about.
    All the details Paul would have given them in their report and think...
    Why didn’t they get it?
    Let’s give the Jews a little grace.
    The law had been their life.
    The law was what they had been taught.
    The law was what was comfortable to them.
    We are not always different.
    We have church traditions that shape who we are.
    When those traditions are challenged we are uncomfortable.
    We have to be careful not to allow extra biblical things to become like the law for us.
    What about not taking an offering?
    “the church just wants my money” is one of the longest lasting perceptions of the world.
    Why not do what we can to change that?
    Where is passing the offering plate taught in scripture?
    It can create a sense of guilt for someone who is not giving.
    Maybe they give once a month.
    Maybe they can’t give.
    Maybe they need discipled.
    We don’t want people giving out of guilt or obligation.
    2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV
    7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
    You could give before the service having already purposed in your heart.
    Or, what if, at the end of the service you gave out of the abundance of your heart?
    What if we were to have a few less Sunday evening services?
    What about wearing your “Sunday best” to church?
    What are some things you are uncomfortable changing, but are tradition rather than biblical?
    I am less worried about keeping tradition in our church and more worried about creating opportunities for spiritual growth, equipping, fellowshipping, going into the world, and discipleship.
    Those are the things that matter. How we get there matters a lot less.
    Sunday nights have become one of the most profitable gatherings.
    So… because Paul is challenging the law in a sense, the Jews are not happy with him.
    What we see next seems to show us the misunderstanding the elders had.
    Rather than teaching the Jews correctly, the were worried about perception and conflict.

    (2) C. The elders had a plan ready.

    We have four men that have take the vow
    The Nazarite vow.
    This is a Jewish vow.
    Once again we need to understand that vows are not something that is taught to New T Christians.
    Vows were a Jewish thing.
    The elders want Paul to go with them to their ceremonial cleansing.
    To pay for their cleansing as a show of support
    And most likely to be cleansed himself since he had been around gentiles for so long.
    Really the elders had a scheme to pacify the Jews.
    We know based on the previous verses and what we just learned that this was crazy.
    Paul had every right to tell them no.
    Galatians 5:1–4 NKJV
    1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
    CONTEXT: the bondage Paul is talking about is the law.
    Don’t entangle yourself in that way of living.
    Don’t even start down that road.
    Keeping any part of the law profits you NOTHING.
    So Paul is faced with a decision.
    We will learn a lot from Paul’s decision based on what we have already learned.

    3. Paul’s response to the elders.

    Acts 21:26 NKJV
    26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
    Are you kidding me???
    Why is Paul going along with this?
    We should know by now that Paul was going along with this because of love for others.
    Because he did not count his own life as important.
    Galatians 5:13–14 NKJV
    13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    Remember the context 5:1 - don’t be in bondage to the law.
    However, don’t use your freedom as on opportunity for the flesh.
    Don’t use your freedom for you own good.
    This becomes even more powerful when we realize how real it was to Paul that the law was dead.
    It was simply bondage to the Jews.
    The elders were out of line.
    Yet Paul still submits to this plan.
    Following through with it did not cause him to sin.
    He was not living in bondage to the law.
    He was willingly and lovingly following it knowing it had nothing to do with his relationship with Christ.
    However, it had everything to do with his relationship with the Jews.
    1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV
    23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
    Paul had every right to reject the elder’s plan.
    There was no reason in the world Paul needed to go with those men.
    But saying no… practicing his liberty, would not build up.
    It would not give him an opportunity to speak into the lives of the Jews in Jerusalem both believers and non.
    I used to think Paul was so zealous for the cause of Christ that following his example was unattainable.
    But the more God has opened my eyes to what He expects of me as I live in this world, the more sense it makes.
    The more I see Paul’s example going against the grain of the American church.
    1 Corinthians 9:19–22 NKJV
    19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
    Paul reminds the Corinthian church that he is FREE.
    This thought should resound with us!
    We are free!
    Say, can you see By the dawn's early light What so proudly we hailed At the twilight's last gleaming?
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars Through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watched, Were so gallantly, yeah, streaming?
    And the rockets' red glare The bombs bursting in air Gave proof through the night That our flag was still there
    O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

    4. Paul’s arrest.

    Acts 21:27–40 NKJV
    27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. 35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!” 37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
      • Acts 21:15–19ESV

      • Acts 21:20–25ESV

      • Galatians 3:24ESV

      • Hebrews 10:1–4ESV

      • Colossians 2:13–14ESV

      • Romans 6:14ESV

      • Romans 13:8–10ESV

      • Genesis 2:1–3ESV

      • Genesis 9:1ESV

      • Job 1:1ESV

      • Exodus 31:13ESV

      • Malachi 3:10ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 8:1–4ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 8:5–6ESV

      • Hebrews 13:17ESV

      • Galatians 3:11–12ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 9:7ESV

      • Galatians 5:1–4ESV

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