Summary: 1. Talk about God's glory (vs. 17-18). 2. Talk about God's guidance (vs. 18-21). 3. Talk about the guilt of our sin (vs. 19; 22-24). 4. Talk about God's amazing grace (vs. 19-21).
God's Guidance for Christian Testimonies
The Book of Acts - Part 79
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 22, 2015
*In this Scripture, Paul's third missionary journey had ended, and the team had arrived in Jerusalem. Paul and the Gentile churches had collected a large sum of money for the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Then Paul had traveled many miles to bring the gift to Jerusalem. But instead of being treated with gratitude and honor, Paul was treated with suspicion and disrespect.
*In Acts 21:20-26, the Jewish believers at Jerusalem accused Paul of heresy based on nothing but rumors. So, the church leaders asked Paul to go through a purification ceremony as a good-faith gesture against the accusations. They also asked Paul to pay the expenses for four local believers who were planning to go through the purification. And Paul did exactly as the elders asked, even though he had to buy a dozen prime animals for the sacrifices, along with other expenses. (1)
*Paul was trying to do the right thing. But Acts 21:27-40 tells us that a terrible riot broke out when some Jews from Asia saw Paul in the Temple. And Paul would have been beaten to death by that mob, if the alarm hadn't been sounded for the Roman soldiers to step in.
*Paul was rescued by the soldiers, but he was also placed under arrest. He was now under both the protection and custody of Roman soldiers, and he had entered a long season of trials and tribulation. All of Paul's travels from now until the end of Acts will be as a prisoner of Rome.
*At the end of chapter 21, Paul pleaded with the Roman commander for permission to speak to the crowd. And Acts 21:40 closes the chapter by saying "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. . ."
*Now here in Acts 22, Paul began to speak to the mob before him, a mob that was silent for the moment, but had just tried to kill him. And as Paul began to speak, he gave his Christian testimony. The Apostle told how Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, and how Ananias helped him call on the name of the Lord.
*Tonight in vs. 16-24, we will see how Paul continued his testimony, but to put it in context let's start by reading about Ananias' help back up in vs. 12.
*Before we read, it's interesting to note that there is a 3-year gap between vs. 16 and 17. Paul talked about this period of time in his letter to the Galatians. Please look at Galatians 1, starting in vs. 15, where Paul said:
15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,
16. to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17. nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.
19. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.
*Paul spent most of that time in Arabia and then went back to Damascus before making the trip to Jerusalem in vs. 17. With this background in mind, let's begin by reading Acts 22:12-24.
*Tonight, we are looking at the rest of Paul's testimony, because it can help us learn how to give our testimonies, even in troubled times. The same mob that wanted to beat Paul to death in Acts 22 is still out there in the world today.
*Of course, the people are different, but the antichrist spirit is exactly the same. Even in our own country, anti-Christian bigotry seems to grow stronger every day. Taking a biblical view of marriage in the public square can cost your job and more. According to many ungodly people running the show, right is now wrong and wrong is right.
*That's the kind of world we live in today, but again, God shows us see how to give our testimonies in troubled times and all the time.
1. First, God wants us to talk about His glory.
*In vs. 17-18, Paul gives us another glimpse of the glory of God. There the Apostle said:
17. "Then it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance
18. and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.'"