Monday, 27 October 2014

The Religious and Political Confrontations faced by Paul – By Dr. Thomas Chung dated 26.10.14

The Religious and Political Confrontations faced by Paul – By Dr. Thomas Chung dated 26.10.14
This sermon is based on Act 23. Acts chapter 23 is relevant to today’s Malaysian Church.  What were written than are also happening now in our country.  What happened to Jesus also happened to Paul.  In John 20:30 it was written that Jesus performed many miracles but only some were recorded.  Similarly for Paul he did many things and also performed miracles but only some of these were recorded. Why? This was because God used special stories to tell His people and also for the purpose of teaching His people.
At that time, the Church was in transition.  Paul was dealing with the Jews who believed in the Old Testament, and he had to deal with gentiles who were pagans.  Paul faced many challenges with the Jews who only believed in Old Testament carried many baggage whereas pagans were non- believers.
There are four sections to this sermon:
1.        V1-11 – Religious confrontation
2.       V12-22 – Religious Extremism
3.       V23-30 – Protection under the law
4.       V31-35 – Political corruptions ( also Ch.24:22-27)
Religious Confrontation – The Sanhedrin, the religious authority were controlled by Sadducees conflicted with Paul.  They were politically motivated and they did not believe in spirituality.  The Pharisees also conflicted with the Sadducees.  Paul was just testifying and not attacking anyone but the High Priest ordered him be stuck on the face.  Paul knew the different beliefs of the Sadducees and Pharisees, so he “played politics” with them. Because of this difference, the Pharisees sided with Paul and said they found him not guilty. There was an uproar and to protect Paul, the Commander put him in jail.
Religious extremism-forty Jews plotted to kill Paul.  Paul nephew knew of the plot and told Paul who in turn asked him to inform the Commander.  The Commander instructed his nephew to tell no one about this plot.  Paul was a Roman citizen.
Protection under the law-after knowing about the plot to kill Pau, the Commander ordered 470 soldiers to protect Paul as they proceeded to Caesarea.  Paul being a Roam citizen knew the law well, and under Roam law their citizens needed to be protected until proven guilty.  The Commander was well aware of Paul’s status and the importance to protect him for the trial. Paul was brought before Governor Felix. Actually Felix came from a slave family, but his brother manipulated and got him to be a ruler.  The Governor asked Paul he was from, and when Paul said Cilicia. The Governor ordered him to be put in jail.
Political corruption- Paul was brought to Antipatris and on to Caesarea.  He appeared before Governor Felix.  After the Governor learnt that Paul was from Cilicia he ordered him put into jail and will only hear him the following day.  Actually he was delaying hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe.  But none was offered.  In a way the Commander also passed his problem to Felix. 

Important issues in Act 23
-Respect for law and authority.  Paul did not condemn the authority because he knew that the authority was appointed by God. Roam 13:1 spoke about this authority.  The perfect will of God applies here.
-Protection under the law- Paul was a Roam citizen and he knew his rights as a citizen.  He demanded that he be protected under such law. 
-Perfect and permissive will of God.  In Luke 16:8 the parable of the unrighteous steward, God commended the unrighteous steward, and this can happen because of the permissive will of God.  In another example, Kin David eating the show bread which was reserved for the priests.
1 Corinthians 11:31-33 – do all to the glory of God.  Paul did not give offense to the Jews.  His concern was their salvation.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Paul’s Trip to Jerusalem by Ho King Swee dated 12.10.14

This sermon is based on Acts 21 to 22.
Bro. Ho has also subtitled his sermon as “Paul’s conviction”.
Conviction is a belief in something, not changing his mind, he is firm in his belief.
1. Paul returned from 3rd missionary journey 21:1-16
                a. The fellowship & ministry at Tyre 21:1-6
                b. The fellowship & ministry at Caesarea 21:7-14
                c.  To Jerusalem 21:15-16

2. The Lord protected Paul in Jerusalem 21:17-22:30
                a. Paul gave a report of the work of the Lord 21:17-19
                b. Paul took a Jewish vow 21:20-26
                c. Paul was arrested 21:27-40
                d. Paul spoke to the Jewish crowd 22:1-30
1. Paul returned from 3rd missionary journey 21:1-16
Was Paul right to insist to go to Jerusalem and be arrested?
a. The fellowship & ministry at Tyre  21:1-6
                21:4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

b. The fellowship & ministry at Caesarea  21:7-14
21:10: While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Ag'abus came down from Judea.
11: And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, `So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'“
12: When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Paul’s conviction
(1) Jesus’s words
Act 9:15  But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
Act 9:16  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

(2) Paul obeyed the HS
Act 16:6  And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
Act 16:7  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
Paul did not go to Asia and Bithynia

(3) Paul always listened to the HS
Act 19:21  Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

Act 20:16  For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

Act 20:22  And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,
Act 20:23  except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
Act 20:24  But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

(4) Confirmed by the Lord later:
(a) Act 23:11  The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome."
(b) Act 27:23  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24  and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand   before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.'

(5) Paul always kept clear conscience before God
(a) Act 23:1  And looking intently at the council, Paul said, "Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day."

(b) Act 24:16  So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

b. The fellowship & ministry at Caesarea  21:7-14

21:13: Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14: And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, "The will of the Lord be done."

How could Paul fulfil Jesus’s will for him ?

c. To Jerusalem 21:15-16

Paul did not return to Antioch after the 3rd missionary journey but went to Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival

2. The Lord protected Paul in Jerusalem
     21:17 - 22:30
a.       Paul gave a report of the work of the Lord 21:17-19
                            b. Paul took a Jewish vow  21:20-26
1Co 9:22  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
1Co 9:23  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
                          c. Paul was arrested 21:27-40
                         d. Paul spoke to the Jewish crowd who wanted to kill him 22:1-30
Paul risked his life to bear witness for Jesus He loved Jesus & the Jews (Rom.9:1-3)!
3 Lessons we can learn:
Christ-centered Conviction –
       Stay convicted on the Lord Jesus and His words and not moved by people or circumstances or anything else
Fellowship & ministry- .
       Always seek to fellowship & minster with other believers.
Witness for Jesus –
       (a) always be willing to be all things to all men for the sake of the Lord & the gospel
       (b) always seeking opportunity to witness for Jesus.
Is your conviction on your life & calling Christ-centred ?
(built on the Lord Jesus and His words?)
Are you able to stand on the conviction irrespective of what is coming your way?