Summary: THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST, HAS A “CATEGORY” SYSTEM. IN FACT IT IS A TWO CATEGORY SYSTEM. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WHO ARE “ALONG FOR THE RIDE”. AND THOSE WHO ARE ENGAGED FOR A REASON
ARE YOU ALONG FOR THE RIDE OR ENGAGED FOR THE REASON.
Acts 18:18-28 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. 24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
INTRODUCTION: I WAS RECENTLY AT A SEMINAR WHERE THE SPEAKER IDENTIFIED PEOPLE INTO THREE CATEGORIES; SHEEP, WOLVES OR SHEEP DOGS. SHEEP WERE IDENTIFIED AS THOSE WHO ARE PASSIVE IN A SITUATION. WOLVES WERE THOSE WHO WERE THE AGGRESSORS IN THE SITUATION. SHEEP DOGS WERE THOSE IDENTIFIED AS THE PROTECTORS IN THE SITUATION. THIS SPEAKER WAS TAKING THE SITUATION THAT WAS HIS TOPIC AND APPLYING LABELS TO PEOPLE WITH REGARD TO HOW THEY WILL RESPOND.
FOR THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST, WE ALSO HAVE A “CATEGORY” SYSTEM. IN FACT IT IS A TWO CATEGORY SYSTEM. THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WHO ARE “ALONG FOR THE RIDE”. THESE ARE THOSE WHO AVOID ANY DIRECT ACTIVITY AND SERVICE, AND IN MAY CASES ONLY ENGAGE WHEN SPECIFICALLY ASKED. THEN THERE ARE THOSE IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WHO ARE “ENGAGED FOR THE REASON”.
PROPOSITION: WE NEED TO BE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WHO “ENGAGED FOR THE REASON”, NOT “ALONG FOR THE RIDE”!
I. NO BELIEVER IS WITHOUT A REASON
a. UNDERSTANDING THE REASON FOR THE CLOSED DOOR
i. OUR PASSAGE REVEALS THE CONTINUING MISSION TRIP OF PAUL.
1. WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IS THAT PAUL’S TRAVELS NOW TAKE HIM INTO ASIA!
2. PAUL WAS PROHIBITED FROM MOVING INTO ASIA WHEN HE FIRST ATTEMPTED TO GO THERE. ACTS 16:7 RECORDS PAUL’S ATTEMPT TO ENTER ASIA WITH THE GOSPEL.
a. THE SPIRIT OF JESUS
b. THE MAN OF MACEDONIA
ii. NOW PAUL IS GOING TO AND IN ASIA
1. GOD CLOSES A DOOR TO MOVE US IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION
2. GOD OPENS A DOOR TO ALLOW US TO AGAIN MOVE IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION
b. WHY DOES GOD CLOSE DOORS?
i. GOD IS SOVEREIGN
1. GOD HAS A PLAN
2. GOD HAS A GOAL
a. EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS THAT JESUS IS LORD
ii. GOD IS COMPASSIONATE
1. GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES
2. GOD KNOWS WHAT OUR LIMITS ARE
3. GOD KNOWS WHERE WE NEED TO GROW AND TRUST HIM
iii. GOD IS MOTIVATED BY HIS LOVE FOR US.
1. GOD MANIPULATES DOORS BECAUSE HE IS DOING WHAT IS GOOD
2. GOD MANIPULATES DOORS BECAUSE HE IS DOING WHAT IS BEST
3. GOD MANIPULATES DOORS BECAUSE HE IS DOING WHAT IS RIGHT
c. WE OFTEN RESPOND POORLY BECAUSE WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE TRUE NATURE OF GOD AND HIS SOVEREIGN ACTIVITY
ILLUSTRATION: A. W. TOZER WRITES IN HIS BOOK, “THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY”
AN OCEAN LINER LEAVES NEW YORK BOUND FOR LIVERPOOL. ITS DESTINATION HAS BEEN DETERMINED BY PROPER AUTHORITIES. NOTHING CAN CHANGE IT. THIS IS AT LEAST A FAINT PICTURE OF SOVEREIGNTY.
ON BOARD THE LINER ARE SEVERAL SCORES OF PASSENGERS. THESE ARE NOT IN CHAINS, NEITHER ARE THEIR ACTIVITIES DETERMINED FOR THEM BY DECREE. THEY ARE COMPLETELY FREE TO MOVE ABOUT AS THEY WILL. THEY EAT, SLEEP, PLAY, AND LOUNGE ABOUT ON THE DECK, READ, TALK, ALTOGETHER AS THEY PLEASE; BUT ALL THE WHILE THE GREAT LINER IS CARRYING THEM STEADILY ONWARD TOWARDS A PREDETERMINED PORT.