Summary: A unanimous apostolic plan that went awry, Jewish rumors, gentile riots, and an apostle getting a ride on Roman soldiers. The purpose of the Christian life is not to avoid problems; indeed, God can sometimes use our problems to further His plans.
A Good Plan That Went Awry – Or Did It?
1. The invention of Post-it notes is interesting. What seemed like a failure was turned to a great success:
In 1968, scientist Spencer Silver at the 3M company created a very weak adhesive that would peel off when removed from any surface. The funny thing was that he was in fact trying to create a super strong adhesive No one thought there was any use for such a product, until another scientist, Art Fry, realized that the little pieces of paper made great bookmarks for his church songs without leaving residue on the page.
2. Or take the invention of potato chips:
In 1853, in a New York restaurant, when a customer complained that the fried potatoes were too soggy and thick, and repeatedly sent them back to the waiter, the chef- George Crum- got so fed up, that he took the request for a thinner potato quite literally- he cut the potatoes into thin slices, fried them, and covered them in salt. And, Voila! The most favorite snack in the world was born! [source for both: www.storypick.com].
3. Unintended effects, both positive and negative, make predicting the future difficult.
4. In today’s Bible narrative, we see a good plan that seemed to turn into a disaster, but that disaster nonetheless furthered God’s plan.
5. Today’s sermon is about a unanimous apostolic plan that went awry, Jewish rumors, gentile riots, and an apostle getting a ride on Roman soldiers.
Main Idea; The purpose of the Christian life is not to avoid problems; indeed, God can sometimes use our problems to further His plans.
I. The First Problem: Jewish Believers MISUNDERSTOOD Paul (17-25).
Paul Visits the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem (17-25).
A. Paul REPORTS the great things God had done in his ministry.
B. The Jerusalem leaders shared the great SUCCESS they had witnessed as scads of Jews came to faith in Jesus.
1. The Greek says myriads, tens of thousands. At least 20K in Jerusalem. Probably 10% of the Jews or more were Messianic Jews before the temple was destroyed in 70 AD.
2. These believing Jews became even more zealous for the Torah.
3. They had heard false rumors about Paul, however.
4. One rumor was that he dissuaded Jewish believers from being Torah observant; another was that he forbade circumcision.
5. Now church history tells us that Christians did eventually adopt what Paul was incorrectly rumored to have taught.
6. Suspicious people are often the worst culprits. When I candidate here, some claimed I taught baptismal regeneration.
7. People who are careless with the truth assume everyone is, too, so they don’t believe what others say; gullibility is bad, but assuming dishonesty is as bad.
8. The Jerusalem council in Acts 15 ruled that gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to be saved; later, church leaders turned that around to say if a Jew became a Christian, he could no longer be a Jew. These were Jewish believers, not Ex-Jews.
9. The issue here was not how people could be saved, but rather whether believing Jews had to stop being Jews.
10. The church leaders were clear: no one could be saved by Torah observance, and gentile believers were only to obey the moral commands of the Torah (Noahide).
11. Once our salvation is settled, the question remains, “How should we live?”
12. The answer is that Jewish believers can choose to remain Torah observant to identify with their people and God’s future plans for Israel, because the Millennium will see a return to some aspects of the Torah.
C. These church leaders suggested what sounded like a GOOD plan.
1. Paul would prove his affinity to the Law by going to the temple with four believing Jewish men and take a Nazarite vow for a week. This involved offering sacrifices.
2. One of the reasons some people reject a literal temple in the Millennium is that they see conflict between Temple worship and grace. This text proves there is no conflict.
Application: All anyone can ever do – whether a board of elders, the president of the United States, or the head of a family – is to make the best possible decision by submitting oneself to God and then using the information available. The exception, of course, would be God communicating otherwise, which did not happen here.
The purpose of the Christian life is not to avoid problems; indeed, God can sometimes use our problems to further His plans.
II. The Solution to the First Problem Creates a WORSE New Problem (26-36).
Paul is Arrested Because of Another Rumor, that He Brought GENTILES in the Temple (26-36).
A. Paul AGREED with and followed the plan (26).
B. Some unbelieving Jews saw Paul talking to gentile believers in town, and ASSUMED the men he brought to the temple were gentiles (27-29).