The Hope of the Resurrection

Ayear1142ecPaul’s life was at stake. He had survived being beaten almost to death by a mob the previous day only by the timely arrival of the Roman commander and his soldiers. Now the Sanhedrin is trying him, but the command of the high priest shows what the outcome will be. In Acts 23:6-11 Paul proclaims his belief in the resurrection, not just as a defense tactic, but as part of a summary of the good news he proclaimed.

Be committed to your risen Lord. Paul based his defense on the hope of the resurrection. Paul was trying to create a division in the court that was trying him. Luke explains that the Sadducees (who held thatonly the five books of Moses were Scripture) denied the existence of angels and spirits as well as the resurrection. The Pharisees, however, affirmed those beliefs. Paul had indeed been trained as a Pharisee under Gamaliel. Although Paul rejected the works-righteousness that usually went with the desire of the Pharisees to follow God’s law carefully (see Philippians 3:4-11), one could trust in Jesus and be his follower without ceasing to be a Pharisee (see Acts. 15:5). For a Sadducee to become a Christian, however, meant repudiating core elements of their distinctiveness. Seeing how prejudiced the court was, Paul divided them with his cry that he was a Pharisee, and that the crucial issue was the resurrection. Paul’s statement caused such dissension in the Sanhedrin that Paul again had to be rescued by the Roman soldiers!
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Called to Be a Witness

saul_4215cYou knew it! If Paul made it to Jerusalem, he would be in trouble. Paul also knew it, but for the sake of his Lord he went. He understood that union with Christ involves union with him in suffering. Just as in his Gospel Luke slowed down the narrative to give details of the betrayal, suffering, and death of Christ, so now he slows the pace of Acts as he describes Paul’s suffering and arrest. Acts 22:14-16 is part of a larger narrative, a repetition of the account of Paul’s conversion—this time from his own lips. The repetition underscores the importance of the narrative. It helps unpack, not only Paul’s calling as an apostle, but also the work of the church in his day and today.

Rejoice in the Father’s choice. Your salvation rests in the choice made by God. After being seized in the temple and being beaten by a mob, Paul was rescued and arrested by the Roman tribune in charge of the garrison in Jerusalem. As he is brought into the fortress in chains, Paul asks for permission to address the crowd. He wants the opportunity to point his fellow countrymen to Christ. As he tells his story Continue reading “Called to Be a Witness”

For the Name of the Lord Jesus

Ayear1005ecDr. Kent Bradley never expected to be making national and international news. A year ago this month he left Texas with his family to serve, not just as a humanitarian, but as a Christian medical missionary in Liberia. As Ebola spread in Liberia he directed an Ebola case management team in a hospital near Monrovia, where he contracted the disease. As you know, he was flown to Atlanta, treated, and on August 21 was declared virus free. Dr. Bradley was motivated by what drove Paul to continue his journey to Jerusalem, despite knowing that suffering and imprisonment awaited him there, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts. 21:13).

Be willing to die for the name of the Lord Jesus. Suffering characterizes the Christian life. Paul is on his way to Jerusalem, not only to report on his third missionary journey, but also to present the gifts that the young Gentile churches were sending to the suffering church in Jerusalem. He knew that danger and suffering awaited him, Acts 20:3, 22-23; 21:4. Now in Acts 21:10-11 Agabus dramatically Continue reading “For the Name of the Lord Jesus”

The Whole Will of God

breathc_2311The seal of the seminary I attended includes a drawing of a pulpit with an open Bible with a sword lying across it. Above it are five Greek words, which translate into our text (Acts 20:27), “The whole will of God.” That was crucial, not only for the elders of the church at Ephesus, but for both officers and members of the church today.

Learn the whole will of God. Pay attention, because God is the author of his word. Paul’s expectation that this would be the last time he would see these men (verse 25) gave additional weight to them. The will of God here refers to God’s revealed will. Behind Paul’s words, behind the passages of Scripture he had proclaimed at Ephesus, lies the work of the Holy Spirit. All Scripture is God-breathed. God holds you accountable for your response to his word. Paul, v. 26, like the prophet, Ezekiel 33:1-9, had faithfully proclaimed God’s word. The church today has a similar responsibility. Your elders are called to proclaim the warnings of the Word—and you are responsible to obey. Continue reading “The Whole Will of God”