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No Turning Back (Acts 21:1-16)

July 22, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon exhorts followers of Christ to faithfully endure until their Lord returns. Pastor Carter reminds the Christian of the importance of persevering in the faith. The focus of this sermon is on how the Spirit of God speaks through His servant Paul in the Promise of Persecution and the Power to Preserve.

The Promise of Persecution

20140311-184658.jpgAnd through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit, This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. ’” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4b-12;ESV).

The Lord showed Paul’s friends what awaited him in Jerusalem and they sought to persuade him not to go. However, when the Holy Spirit makes a promise, He will keep His promise and He promised trouble to God’s people. Likewise, just as the Holy Spirit promises trials and tribulations, He also promises glory to those who faithful persevere to the end (cf. Matthew 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13; 2 Timothy 2:10, 12).

The Power to Persevere

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. ’” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 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 in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:6-10; ESV).”

Despite the best intentions of his friends, Paul was determined to finish his course well for the Lord, even if that meant his death in Jerusalem. Pastor Carter describes perseverance as the means of going in the right direction despite the opposition. Therefore, just as Christ set His face toward Jerusalem, Paul was willing to actively obey the will of God rather than the persuasion of man.

Where does this courage come from?

The power to persevere comes from a person, who knows that God is real, and Jesus is not simply a historical figure in a storybook. Jesus Christ never lied or deceived His disciples. Instead, He prepared them for what they would face in this life by giving His Spirit to enable them to do what is naturally impossible for self-serving human beings.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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