Summary: Paul was always in trouble in the book of Acts. And here we find a great example of how he handled it.
Passage: Acts 21:37-22:22
Intro: We have a foosball table in our house
1. I’m very good when I play by myself.
2. but when I play against Caroyl Johnson, or my son-in-law Brycen, “The stonewall”, things are different.
3. in the Christian life, persecution either snuffs out our life or makes it shine more brightly.
4. and there is no doubt that what Paul was experiencing in this passage was great persecution, alone
5. he was misunderstood, criticized, and vilified, even by those who claimed Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
6. but in Paul’s case, this persecution had just the opposite effect than was intended.
7. our struggle may not be so intense, but we can take the same steps that Paul took in this passage.
8. Jesus promised us trouble, but our response to it is critical if we are to be effective witnesses to His life-changing power.
9. Paul did not avoid or run from trouble, but used it to glorify the Lord Jesus
I. State the Truth Clearly
1. earlier in this chapter, it was made clear that the Jews had a skewed view of Paul’s theology. V21
2. and it was that view that caused a riot when they caught sight of Paul in the temple.
3. he was rescued by the Romans, and could have been content to be carried off to safety.
4. but he was compelled to stay by two things:
5. one was his obvious love for the Jewish people, which brought him to Jerusalem
6. second, they needed to know the truth, and not base decisions on rumors.
Il) this last election, more half-truths and rumors floating around than I have ever seen. A well-placed rumor can torpedo a candidate.
7. but the stakes were too high for Paul
8. asked commander if he could talk, then with permission, addressed the crowd.
9. statement full of cultural sensitivity to his audience.
10. spoke in the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic instead of Greek.
11. 22:1 “brothers and fathers”, same way Stephen addressed Sanhedrin in 7:2
12. established commonality by giving Jewish pedigree: v3
13. throughout this address, spoke “Jewish” not only in language, but also in culture.
14. without compromising the truth, Paul spoke in a way that would be understood, because his purpose was not to lessen his trouble, but to communicate the gospel.
Il) when a person goes to speak to prisoners, he uses different images and language than if speaking to a Christian college chapel service.
15. the goal is to clear up misconceptions and make the truth plain.
16. this is close to God’s heart.
17. this is not defensiveness. It is clarity.
II. Let Your Life-Light Shine
1. you would think that Paul would do more than give his life story.
2. but that’s exactly what he did, and in doing so connected with every Jew there.
3. he had been where they were, with a deep nationalistic pride and all the prejudices that went along with it.
4. the change that God had made in his life was deep, completely reversing his murderous hatred of everyone who followed Jesus.
5. the change had been so powerful that he had immediately been baptized in the name of Jesus, becoming his follower instead of his persecutor. V16
6. and we know from the book of Acts that he had immediately set out to teach about Jesus to the Jews.
PP Acts 9:20
7. Paul underwent one of the most amazing spiritual transformations recorded.
8. frankly, ours seems pretty pale, yes?
9. that’s exactly what Satan wants us to think.
10. but God saved you and I to be witnesses to his life-changing power, and people need to hear our story and see the difference.
11. each of us is unique, just like Paul.
12. we have a section of society to whom our story will ring loud and clear.
Il) Tom Merriam’s life story
13. and when the story is coupled with a visibly changed life, with joy in trouble and love in response to hatred, God will work.
14. Paul was walking down a dangerous track, and he knew that the next few minutes of his testimony would cause a commotion.
15. but he told the story, giving the praise to God.
III. Dare to Follow God Wherever He Leads.
1. here is where Paul is separated even from the other apostles.
2. I cannot help but be convinced that the other apostles had a very difficult time with the inclusion of the Gentiles.
3. Peter had his vision of the unclean animals, and concluded that Gentiles were OK
4. and yet he did virtually nothing to reach out to them.
5. I find their absence from a supportive role in this event troubling.
6. put the pieces together, and I conclude that the early Jewish apostles struggled with the Gentile question.