Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church: Acts #18: For The Good Of Others To hear this message and others download our free Ap. Search The Gathering Connect at The Ap Store.
Suffering for Doing Good Acts 21:35-36, 1 Peter 3:13-18a
We concluded our last lesson with Paul being carried away by soldiers to escape a murderous mob of Jews. The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar because of Paul’s reputation of boldly preaching the truth about Christ.
Have you ever suffered for doing good? If you have, perhaps at that time you thought, “God doesn’t care for me at all!” It is easy to think such things in the midst of suffering for good; however, God’s word is what we must cling to for answers and not our feelings. God’s word says He loves us immensely (Psalm 86:5, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:1,4:7-8) but we must remember that He loves others immensely too and sometimes the only way he can get through to these people is with our suffering. After all, it was Christ that suffered first to bring you to God. And don’t forget, before you became a child of God you caused a lot of grief to others yourself.
“Surely, They’ll Understand!” Acts 21:37-22:22, John 15:18-21
When we suffer for doing good it is hard to believe it’s true. one thinks, “there must be some mistake, ”surely they’ll understand if I just explain myself clearly”, but a person (or people) hell-bent on hating you is not easily reckoned with. As the Roman soldiers were taking Paul into the barracks they were mistaken about his identity (they thought he was an Egyptian terrorist), but the inciters of the riot knew exactly who he was (even if many in the crowd did not). Paul attempted to reason with the crowd and God gave him the wisdom to speak in Aramaic (the commonly used language of the Jews at that time) which astounded most of the Jews into silence (Paul likely spoke Aramaic (Hebrew), Greek and Latin fluently). The crowd listened to his testimony until he got to the part where God sent him to speak to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21-22). The instigators that hated Paul used the prejudice of the Jewish people to get them to riot against him once again, for there was a great hatred of Gentiles by most Jews. It was never the Gentile people that God hated, but their sin of worshiping pagan gods. God “so loved the world that He sent His only Son” (John 3:16), and God so loved the Gentiles that He sent Paul to tell them about Jesus, but there was no reasoning with such a crowd filled with hate.
We must remember that whenever we testify about Jesus or stand for the principals and values He teaches we are going to stir up the Devil in people. “Surely, they will not understand”, because worldly people do not know Christ or the one who sent Him (John 15:18-21). Religious people may say that they know God, but if they reject Jesus and His teachings they do not know God. As Jesus said Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
“Why Me?” Acts 22:23-23:35, 1 Peter 4:12-19
Paul’s testimony and good intentions did not win the mob of Jews, as soon as he disagreed with their cultural theology (verses 21-22) they rioted and he was taken from the angry crowd to be stretched out and beaten (flogged) by the Romans for causing a public disturbance. His impending punishment ended immediately when Paul informed the soldiers that he was a Roman citizen (It was illegal to sentence a Roman citizen to any form of punishment without a trial). The next day the Roman commander cautiously brought Paul before the Jewish court (Sanhedrin) in order to hear what their problem was with Paul first hand.
Paul began his defense before the Sanhedrin (once his own stomping ground) by addressing the members there as “My brothers” for which he was swiftly slapped in the mouth! This came as a sober reminder that he was indeed no longer a “brother” with these people and once served with them in league with the devil himself.
When did you first realize such a thing? That you were no longer in the world but in Christ? When did you come to the realization that you would never go back to serving the Devil and that you were now and forever branded by Christ and rejected by those you once called your own? There should come such a time for every Christian. If it has not yet come then perhaps you are not living as you should for Christ. The Apostle Peter told us to rejoice in such a time, because it is proof of our allegiance to Christ. Of course what usually happens is that we cry out “Why me?”
If anyone had a right to whine “why me?” in the midst of persecution for the gospel it was Paul, but he never did! Paul was pushed from one abuse to another but God did not leave him clueless. He spoke to Paul while he was in prison in Jerusalem: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Acts 23:11b
Because Paul was a Roman citizen he was protected by Roman law from the Jews who wanted him dead. No one else had the dual citizenship that Paul had coupled with the understanding of the Jewish law. Who could have shared the message of Christ in such a hostile place and yet live to tell about it? Who else could have avoided the plot to kill him (Acts 23:12-35) and been spared from the Jewish mob to be transported into the royal courts of King Herod and be kept under guard by the Roman legion? God had a plan to share His truth with others (even those who didn’t want to hear) through the preaching of Paul. God used Paul, not for the good of himself, but for the good of others.
“Hear Am I, Send Me” Isaiah 6:3b-9a, 1 John 2:2, Luke 10:2
Isaiah 6 describes how the prophet Isaiah, through a vision from the Lord, began his life-long ministry for God. In the vision, the Lord asked, ““Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8a). Isaiah’s response was “Here am I; send me”. His exclamation took him from priest to prophet and God’s message for Judah became the book of Isaiah.
Before Isaiah could serve he was made aware of his sin that was atoned for by God (Isaiah 6:7). In Christ our sin is also atoned for (1 John 2:2) and in this present day He seeks out willing servants to reach the lost in His name (Luke 10:2)— not those who cry “why me” when trials come, but servants like Isaiah and Paul who say “why not me”. “Who else but me?”… and “Here am I, send me”- for the good of others– for the glory of the King!