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Between Two Worlds (Acts 22:22-23:11)

August 19, 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 reveals the struggle of navigating between the world and the Kingdom of God. Pastor Carter exhorts the Christian to be faithful citizens of their country, while also realizing that citizenship is subservient to and to be used for the furtherance of their citizenship in Heaven. The focus of this sermon is on examining how the conflicting citizenships, attitudes and doctrines Paul encounters in this account.

Conflicting Citizenships

Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live. And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned? When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen. So the tribune came and said to him, Tell me, are you a Roman citizen? And he said, Yes. The tribune answered, I bought this citizenship for a large sum. Paul said, But I am a citizen by birth. So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him (Acts 22:22-29;ESV).

Before when Paul was talking to the Jews, he asserts he was a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Now, he asserts, to save himself, that he is a citizen of the kingdom of Rome. Paul was not afraid to beaten, considering he had received violent physical encounters before, but he had never experienced the agonizing whipping of the Roman tribune (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

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Conflicting Attitudes

And looking intently at the council, Paul said, Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck? Those who stood by said, Would you revile God’s high priest? And Paul said, I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people (Acts 23:1-5; ESV).”

When Paul was wrongful attack for his speech, he responds to the violence of the high priest with violent words, which seem odd that he would do so after what he wrote to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:13). However, Pastor Carter highlights the difference of Paul’s attitude once he realized that he did not belong to this world, he belonged to Christ. In other words, Paul regrets what he said, when he realized what he said?

Conflicting Doctrines

Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial. And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees ‘party stood up and contended sharply, We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him? And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks (Acts 23:6-10; ESV).”

The Pharisees and Sadducees did not agree on many things, but the one thing they had in common is their disdain for Jesus and His disciples. With this in mind, Paul used the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the platform to cause these two parties to really wrestle with the real issue, namely, did Christ rise from the dead? For this reason, Paul and all Christ followers have to faithful navigate between the two worlds with the hope and contentment that God gives in the resurrection of Christ.

Does your life reflecting the resurrecting power of the Gospel?

You never really understand how much a citizen of this world you are until the world pushes you. The resurrection of Jesus Christ governs every decision we make everyday; and is the foundation and motivation of everything in life (cf. 1 Corinthians 15). Our citizenship of this world is to be used for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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