Acts Series #38
Back to the Beginning: When Church was Church
Don't Break My Heart
Well … folks if you've been following with us in the book of Acts you will find that contrary to popular opinion or theology, being a follower of Jesus Christ is not rosy, or easy.
Paul is chased from one town to another
He has been stoned and imprisoned
And now he is making his way to Jerusalem …
Doc preached from the latter part of chapter 20 last week. Today let's begin reading in Acts 21
There are two things that break my heart …
What breaks my heart are
#1 people who refuse to be set free by surrendering to Christ
And #2 is people who have embraced Christ but refuse to let go of the reigns, refuse to follow Christ into the difficult places, who refuse to forsake all for the sake of taking the gospel to the world.
These people around Paul were given divine inspiration about what was ahead in Jerusalem, but they didn't have the faith or the insight to get the point of the Revelation.
Don't be confused here, there ARE times recognize danger and be sensitive to the Spirit's direction to avoid the danger, but THIS was NOT the time.
The disciples in Tyre sensed from God's Spirit that Paul faced difficulty in going to Jerusalem, but that is NOT what God had in mind for Paul.
Then they go to Caesarea and stayed in Deacon Philip's house. Now it's been 20 years since we last saw Philip. Then Agabas agrees that the Holy Spirit is revealing that Paul will be facing imprisonment by the Romans in going to Jerusalem.
But they didn't understand the Revelation
Difficulty for the sake of the gospel doesn't mean we avoid it or run from it
Yet they, including our writer, Luke, PLEADED with Paul to avoid it.
Even though godly people may tell you to avoid challenge, trust the Spirit when he calls you to proclaim the gospel.
I LOVE verse 13, I love Paul's response, “what are you crying about?” “Why are you breaking my heart?”
“I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Then verse fourteen says “when he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, 'the Lord's will be done.'”
Why was Paul able to deal with difficulty and the promised of bondage and potential death on his way to Jerusalem?
Because he was already a bondservant to Christ
Are you in chains for Christ to Christ or for yourself and to sin
We are bound to tradition when we should be bound to the gospel and doing whatever it takes to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul wasn't afraid to die …
Tradition says “protect yourself”
But Theology says “run to the battle”
GO … that is the theology of the gospel
Paul was not afraid to be bound because he was already bound, bound to Christ, bound to men for the gospel of Jesus Christ
I Cor 9:19-23
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible
The KJV says it this way I made myself servant until all, that I might gain the more
Paul was not worried about himself he was worried about being obedient to God and “gaining the more”
I heard one preacher on Sunday say about this passage … “we have to believe that MORE IS POSSIBLE”
That same preacher reminded us that a servant is bought for the purpose of being pushed around …
The Greek word for “bound” here is the word deo which means to tie, to fasten with chains, to put under obligation, duty to the law, to compel
If we are
To what are YOU bound?
A. bound to sin -
if you are bound to sin … you are a slave to it because you obey it and Paul says in Romans 6:16 that slavery to sin leads to death … but even churches, even believers are slaves to sin and do not live in the blessing of God because we fail to obey his command to GO and tell … no matter the cost, no matter the casualty
B. bound to the past - sometimes we do not move forward with Christ because we are bound to our past. That may be a good past or a bad past.
So many churches today are living in bondage to their past. Perhaps in their past there was sin in the camp, there was bad leadership and that bondage keeps them from moving forward bound to Christ.
So many churches have had past successes, past glory and they are still living in the past and the safety of past successes and they don't go forward bound to Christ.
But Paul said “forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal …
C. bound by traditions - too often tradition becomes theology and we fail to reach our world for Christ because we are bound to tradition.
“Well it was good enough for grandpa …”
There is an old song that says “gimmie that Old time religion” … it was “good enough for Paul and Silas” and it's good enough for me”
I heard someone say, about the King James Translation of the Bible, “if it was good enough for Paul and the Peter, it's good enough for me”
>>>> that's NOT the “translation” of Paul … it was GREEK and Hebrew
Well LISTEN … the SAME GOSPEL is good enough but the same expression and methods may NOT be.
When we are bound to the gospel and the people we will reach … we are willing to do whatever it takes. We will get free of traditions and inclinations and styles and preferences, and ask the question … what will it take to reach people with the gospel?
Paul's custom was to go to the synagogues FIRST with the gospel, but in Athens he went to where the philosophers were throughout Greece he went to places of education, theater, market places, homes, whatever it took to present the gospel.
I've got news for you, the only tradition we need to worry about following and maintaining, is found in this inerrant, infallible word of God.
The command to GO, Teach, and Baptize, is the ONLY tradition we need to be bound to … everything else is negotiable
D. bound to unbelief -
Rick Warren said to us on Sunday night that we need to be people who live with Possibility --- he called it the “faith factor” …
Mt 19:26 - with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible
If you think about it, the greatest sin of all is UNBELIEF
Failing to receive Christ is unbelief
As a believer, failing to trust God for great things is unbelief
Warren said to us, God is doing in your life/church what you are letting him do … let us not be bound to unbelief
Not bound to unbelief
Not bound to tradition
Not bound to past
Not bound to sin
E. bound to Christ
when you are bound to Christ you will do what he says, you will go where he leads, you will NOT believe your eyes, you will not believe your past experience you will believe the call and command and promises and plans of God
Rom 6:22 but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life
2 Cor 4:5 we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake
2 Cor 6:4 as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses
Gal 1:10 am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ
The great preacher, Vance Havner said Our Lord never put discipleship in the fine print of the contract. He called on us to forsake all, take up our cross, deny self, love him more than anything else. We are not our own, we are bought with a price, the personal property of Jesus Christ with no right to anything. 'love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all'
Paul was not worried about the warnings …
Besides if these prophets knew what lay ahead for Paul, do you think Paul didn't know as well?
Not only was Paul already a bondservant, bound to Christ … but he was ready to die because he was already dead.
This is the most basic teaching of Christ
Luke 9:23 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”
Paul's attitude is found in Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ …”
What does it matter if you kill a dead man?
Paul was …
2. Ready to Die
Because he was already a dead man … surrendered to the will of God
Are you ready?
Are you willing?
A. Being ready to die is the ultimate act of humility.
1. It is recognizing that you are NOT in control and you can trust God.
2. Rick Warren says that the LACK of humility is the greatest cause of stress.
3. He says that the two greatest causes of stress are both lack of humility. Those great causes of stress are …
#1 - the Need to Control --- causes great stress … you can't control everything … let it go
#2 - Lack of Trust in God - our pride keeps us from trusting God
Do you see any stress here in Paul? NO … because he is humbled and dedicated to service, dead to self and alive in Christ
When I think of the kind of people God uses, and the churches God uses, I think of wheat and tares parable …
B. Wheat and tares
1. There is a great difference between the Wheat that is dead to self and alive in Christ and the Tare or Weed that is all about self purpose and self preservation …
2. how do you tell the dif .
3. Wheat gives us a beautiful picture of what we should be as a church and individuals as we grow up in Christ.
4. As wheat grows up it bows down.
That's right, as it's head gets heavy and ripened it bows toward the earth.
5. But the tare, the weedy imposter, as it grows it stands rigid and erect straight and proud face to the sun.
6. The Wheat ripens with face to the ground.
7. As we grow up in Christ, as we come to know Christ through his word, his presence, his goodness, his grace, his glory, our knowledge of who God is and who we are causes us to bow low in humility.
8. A church or a person who walks about the church with a proud heart, a self serving purpose, self-sufficient, either doesn't know God at all or doesn't know him as he should.
Paul was ready to die, because he recognized God was in charge, God is gracious, God is Lord, and he bowed in reverence to the plans and purposes of God
C. Releasing Hold on this World
1. One other thing about the wheat:
As the wheat ripens upward, it dies downward
2. What is toward God ripens
3. What is connected to this earth dies.
4. The roots and the stalk die and release their hold on the earth.
5. One writer about this parable calls this ripening up and dying down, “the sanctity of the relaxing grasp”
The closer we grow to God, the more we relax our hold on the things of this world, the pleasures of this life,
6. Paul said, I'm already bound, I'm ready to die … oh and by the way … how do you think Wheat ripens?
7. The heat of summer, the scorching winds, the difficulties and storms, ripen the wheat.
8. Tradition says, preserve and protect yourself
But the Theology of the Gospel says GO …
9. Remember Jesus said the Gates of Hell couldn't prevail against us … folks, gates defensive weapons … we are to be storming the gates of hell and we have a promise that they can't stand up against our advance
Bound to Christ
Ready to Die
No matter the cost …
John Wesley said “some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells, but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell”
But that begs the question Why?
Perhaps you are here today and you've never given your heart, control of your life, to Jesus Christ as Lord, and you are saying “Pastor, I don't know that I want to go there … sounds, hard, sounds difficult”
Perhaps you are a believer but aren't sold on living this kind of life … so it begs the question
Alexander Mackay, English missionary to Central Africa said, I want to remind the committee that within six months they will probably hear that some one of us is dead. Yes, is it at all likely that eight Englishmen should start for Central Africa and be alive six months after? One of us at least - it may be I - will surely fall before that. When the news comes, do not be cast down, but send someone else immediately to take the vacant place
3. Why? For the Name of Jesus
The word translated “name” here means “name, authority, cause” - it is the Greek word onoma /on-om-ah/ the proper name, everything the name covers, every thought or feeling which is aroused by the name, persons reckoned by the name, the cause or reason of the name
There is a valid reason to be bound, to be ready and willing to die, as if dead already … it is for the NAME of Jesus Christ, it is because of the authority of Jesus Christ … it is for the Cause of Jesus Christ …
John Wesley also said if I had 300 men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and determined to know nothing among men but Christ, and him crucified, I would set the world on Fire
If you have never trusted Christ, you can die to self and attach yourself in allegiance to Christ for the
A. the name of Jesus …
In the NAME of JESUS there is …
1. There is salvation - Acts 4:12
2. There is peace -- Phil 4:7
3. there are answers -
a. to Zacchaeus he was the answer of riches,
b. to Mary Magdalene the answer for love,
c. to the scientist he is the answer to life,
d. to the astronomer he is the answer to the mysteries of the universe,
e. to the mathematician he is the only thing that adds up,
Jesus is the Answer
4. there is power - Rom 1:16, Eph 1 (same power of resurrection is for us who believe)
5. There is love - 1 John 3:16 --- “this is how we know what love is”
6. There is family - Heb. 2:11 - we are of his family and he calls us brothers
7. Every promise of God is yes in Jesus - 2 Cor. 1:20 no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God
We deny ourselves and come to Christ for the name of Christ … and because of
B. the Authority of Christ
1. Jesus said … “follow me” --- that means … “watch, learn, and do”
John 20:21 - “… as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
2. Jesus came for the purpose of reconciliation and he has given to us the ministry of reconciliation as him Ambassadors …
C. the Cause of Jesus Christ …
It is the gospel of Jesus Christ
Go … teach all nations
Be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth
Go where you are, go where you are from, go where you don't want to go, go where you have never been
Don't Break my heart!
If you've never come to Christ, Surrender to him … it breaks my heart to see you reject the only thing you truly need
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, don't break my heart, don't shrink back …
Willard Hotchkiss an early missionary to Central Africa --- I have dwelt forty years practically alone in Africa. I have been 39 times stricken with the fever, three times attacked by lions, and several times by rhinoceros, but let me say to you, I would gladly go through the whole thing again if I could have the joy of again bringing that word “Savior” and flashing it into the darkness that envelopes another tribe in Central Africa”
Let me take you back to that Wesley Quote from earlier
Steve Camp wrote a song in 1981
Run to the Battle
> You'll never be free until you are bound to Christ
> You'll never be ready to live until you are ready to die
> Your never ready to be used by God until you are willing to die
> Col 3:17 - and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him
Run to the Battle
Some people want to live
Within the sound of chapel bells
But I want to run a mission
A yard from the gates of hell
And with everyone you meet
I'll take them the gospel and share it well
And look around you as you hesitate
Another soul just fell
Let's run to the battle
Run to the battle
Do you have your armor on
We're in the middle of a raging war
We've been training for so long
Have we learned to use his sword?
We may not be ready
But we serve a mighty Lord
And he's made us more than conquerors
So what are you waiting for?
Let's run to the battle
We've got to run, run to the battle
He has trampled down the enemy
And he has given us the victory
When we pray we learn to see
That his army
We are marching on our knees
There'll be times when we grow weak
Let's keep our faith alive
Let your faces shine with glory
For he's helped us to survive
And in that final hour
When you feel like you're ready to die
Will you hear the trumpet sound
Will you hear the warrior cry?
Run to the battle
We've got to run, run to the battle
Steve Camp 1981 Word Music