Sermons

Summary: The right of Paul as a citizen, and our rights as citizens of heaven.

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‘I Know My Rights!’

JCC 25.10.09 pm

Acts 22

Jewish nationalism was on the rise

Paul had to prove the integrity of his Jewishness

The Jerusalem church is providing an effective indigenous witness within its culture

Modern Gentile Christians opposed Jewish Christians’ keeping the law yet observe church and cultural traditions of their own

This is not the spirit of the New Testament, which calls people to forsake their sin, not positive or neutral elements of their culture

The earlier Christian Jewish people practiced the law and followed Jesus

The law is now fulfilled through Christ, so why did they, and why do the Jewish Christians even today still follow their traditions and laws?

Does it matter if they do or not?

Should we abandon culture?

Culture is a way of reaching people

I think culture allows people to keep links with their identity

Even Paul could say:

1 Cor 9:22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 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; 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; 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.

Citizenship was a big issue

Still the same today

Citizenship in a Greek city gave one higher status than the many who were merely “residents” of the city

One became a citizen only by birth in a citizen family or as a grant from the city authorities

City pride and rivalry were fierce in ancient times, especially in Asia Minor, and Tarsus was a prominent city

Tarsus’ citizens were not automatically Roman citizens (it was not a Roman colony), but Paul saves his admission of Roman citizenship as a trump card in case he needs it later

Paul knew his rights as a citizen

People are treated differently based on their citizenship

The Roman rulers treated people differently if not Roman

Blacks treat other blacks differently than they would treat someone who is not black

Whites treat other whites differently than they would treat someone who is not white

Muslims treat other Muslims differently than if they were Christian

Christians treat other Christians differently than if they were not Christians

The reason for the difference in treatment is because like minds think alike

Even within the Christian Church, denominations treat each other differently

The reason for this difference in treatment is because like minds have like experiences

Quote: Race prejudice is as thorough a denial of the Christian God as atheism.

HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (1878–1969)

As people belonging to Christ we cannot entertain prejudice of any kind

Heaven will be filled with all races and cultures

Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands

After his conversion Paul changed in more ways than just his faith

Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to Stephen’s death

Acts 8:3 ..Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison

Acts 9:1 .. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord

Paul had transferred a portion of his allegiance from being a ruling Pharisee to that of a great writer of Christian literature and a traveling messenger of Jesus

He changed from being a cold-blooded murderer and persecutor of the saints to one who loved and encouraged the Church

There were people who did not like Paul’s new message

Some people did not like what Paul had become

Maybe some of your friends and family don’t like what you’ve become

People who would rather see Paul dead than to see him continue preaching Jesus

Especially if you’re a Muslim and you become a Christian; you’re disowned; even the death penalty hangs over you

Verse 22 says that they listened until they had had enough and someone cried out “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he’s not fit to live.”

Paul’s enemies were once his old hanging out buddies

Verse 23 says that they began to tear off their own clothing

Not only that, but they also began to throw up dust in the air. In other words, they had decided to kill this man who had been one of them

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