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Summary: What could cause you to doubt God’s plans for your life? I suggest that you beware of the 3 D’s of dullness!

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THE 3 D’S OF SPIRITUAL DULLNESS

ACTS 24:17-30

CONCEPT: TO EXPOSE SPIRITUAL DULLNESS AT ITS HEIGHT, AND TO RECOMMEND A REMEDY.

HERE WE HAVE THE CHRISTIAN AND THE JEW BROUGHT INTO CLOSE CONTACT; AND THERE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN AS FAIR AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE LATTER TO UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THE FORMER AS COULD EVER HAVE BEEN GRANTED. WITH CALMNESS, WITH THE WISDOM AND FULNESS OF LONG STUDY AND MATURE EXPERIENCE, THE MOST ENLIGHTENED CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST AND GOSPEL GLOBETROTTER, PAUL, PRESENTS THE CASE OF CHRISTIANITY TO THESE MEN OF THE JEWISH FAITH. PAUL FELT THAT HIS POSITION WAS ONE WHICH WAS OPEN TO MISUNDERSTANDING ON THE PART OF HIS FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN, AND HE RESOLVED TO LIFT UP A FREE AND FULL EXPLANATION. WE SEE HIM AT HIS BEST, (1) HIS CONSTANT FAITHFULNESS; FOR IT WAS IN HIS DUTY TO HIS DIVINE MASTER THAT HE SOUGHT TO CONCILIATE THOSE WHO WERE HIS ENEMIES; (2) HIS HABITUAL COURTESY, FOR THE WHOLE STRAIN OF HIS ADDRESS TO THE "CHIEF OF THE JEWS" WAS COURTEOUS TO A HIGH DEGREE VS 17-20. HOWEVER HIS ADVANCE WAS MET WITH FORMAL IMPARTIALITY COMBINED WITH A PREPOSSESSION OF MIND DECIDEDLY AGAINST THE CAUSE THAT HE ADVOCATED FOR CHRIST. PAUL, LIKE US, WAS A TRUSTEE OF THE GOSPEL, A DEBTOR TO HIS FELLOW MAN AND AN AMBASSADOR FOR CHRIST. AND LIKE PAUL, WE ARE NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF HIS SALVATION, OR OF SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. AN ALLITERATION OF "D’S" SUMMARIZES THE RESPONSE OF THE LEADERS OF THE SYNAGOGUE AT ROME. WE ARE NOT TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THESE SIGNS IN THE CHURCH TODAY. YOU MIGHT RECOGNIZE SOME OF THESE SIGNS IN THE CHURCH TODAY.

PAUL NEVER GAVE UP ON HIS FELLOW JEWS. NO MORE THAN THREE DAYS AFTER HE ARRIVED IN ROME HE CALLED THE LEADERS OF THE JEWS TOGETHER. AFTER ALL THAT HE HAD BEEN THROUGH ON HIS MISSIONARY JOURNEYS AND THEN IN JERUSALEM AND CAESAREA, MEETING HOSTILITY, REJECTION AND PERSECUTION FROM HIS COUNTRYMEN EVERYWHERE, WE WOULD ASSUME THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO MEET WITH MORE OF THEM. BUT THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH PAUL; HE WAS COMPELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO SHARE THE GOSPEL. HE KNEW THAT THE HOPE OF ISRAEL WAS IN CHRIST JESUS, THE MESSIAH. BECAUSE OF THAT HOPE THAT HE PREACHED, HE WAS IN TROUBLE. YOU CAN GET INTO TROUBLE WITH GODLESS MEN WHEN YOU THE PREACH TRUTH. HE HAD DONE NO WRONG WORTHY OF DEATH. THE FIRST MEETING WITH THE LEADERS WAS CONCLUDED WITH THEIR EXPRESSION OF WILLINGNESS TO HEAR WHAT HE HAD TO SAY. SOMETIMES PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE WRONG MOTIVES. THEIR POSITION WAS NOT ONE OF LEARNING, BUT OF COUNTERING THIS LIBERATION THEOLOGY WITH A DESTRUCTIVE CRITICAL ANALYSIS AND THEREBY HOPING TO BRING IT TO NOTHING. PERHAPS, THESE BRETHREN IN ROME COULD HAVE BENEFITED FROM GAMALIEL’S COUNSEL IN JERUSALEM. WHEN PETER AND SOME OF THE BRETHREN WERE PREACHING,..... ACTS 5:37-38, WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL HEEDED,...LEAVE THIS MAN ALONE, IF THIS WORK BE OF MEN, IT WILL COME TO NOTHING, BUT IF IT BE OF GOD, YOU CAN’T STOP IT. I CAME TO REMIND US THIS DAY THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING IS OF GOD, AND IT CAN’T BE STOPPED.

NOTICE THEIR RESPONSE IN VS 22, THEY CALL PAULS WORK A SECT, AND SUGGESTED THAT PEOPLE EVERYWHERE HAD SPOKEN AGAINST IT.

BY VS 23, PAUL GOT DOWN TO THE ESSENTIALS. ALL DAY LONG, "FROM MORNING TILL EVENING", HE EXPLAINED AND TESTIFIED TO THE TRUE MEANING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE FULFILMENT OF THE PROPHETS AND MOSES, IN JESUS AS THE MESSIAH. LUKE USES THE VERB “EXETITHETO”..WHICH MEANS EXPANDED,...TO INDICATE THE EXHAUSTIVE DETAIL AND CARE PAUL USED IN EXPLAINING THE SCRIPTURES. NOTE THAT HE BEGAN WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD, HIS RULE AND REIGN OVER ALL HISTORY. THEN HE TOLD THEM ABOUT CHRIST THE MESSIAH, KING OF THAT KINGDOM. HE TALKED TO THEM ABOUT THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY, AND THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST. IT IS LIKELY THAT MAGNIFICENT WORD WHEN PAUL SUBEQUENTLY WROTE DURING THIS FIRST IMPRISONMENT IN ROME.

VERSE 24, TELLS US OF THE MIXED RESPONSE, (AND HERE COME THE D’S).

SOME WERE PERSUADED AND SOME DISBELIEVED. BEFORE THEY DEPARTED, PAUL GRIEVED BY THEIR DISBELIEF, REPEATED A PASSAGE FROM ISAIAH 6:9-10, QUOTING THE LORD’S WORDS TO THE PROPHET ABOUT ISRAEL.

WHAT ARE THE 3 D’S? ……………

NOTICE THE ORDER OF THOSE “D’S” IN VERSE 24,…AND YOU I WILL DISCERN A MICROCOSM OF THE MENTALITY OF SOME “RELIGIOUS FOLKS” TODAY.

1. DISBELIEVED INITIAL STAGES OF DOUBTING GOD

2. DEPARTED…THE MANIFESTATION OF CONTINOUS DOUBT

3. DISBELIEF …THE RESULTS OF CONTINOUS DOUBT

IT IS A PASSAGE THAT DESCRIBED THOSE LISTENERS, AND JESUS USED IT WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT THE DISBELIEF OF THE JEWS IN JOHN 12:40. PAUL WAS POINTING TO THE FACT THAT THE LEADERS HAD COME TO THE DREADFUL STAGE OF RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL DULLNESS.

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