GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD

The Courage Convictions Bring

Acts 21:1-16

Jerry A Collins

SCC

9/28/03

 

  1. What is significant about having convictions?
  2. What do convictions enable you to do?
  3. How can I develop strong convictions?

 

A major consideration as we disciple people is the need to equip them to formulate convictions consistent with the Word of God. The state of being convinced; a fixed or strong belief according to the dictionary. Convictions are things you stick to no matter the pressure to change them or the consequences to follow them. A strong conviction will develop a courageous commitment. I am tired of the fudging; the hedging; the rationalizing; the permissiveness; the compromising in the church, the people of God. This week a friend and I reminisced about what we would be like if we went back to high school the way we are today. There would have been no wimpiness. I could easily blow Larry Korsynski off or viewed as irrelevant whether or not I was in the Ďiní crowd. It would not matter. Courageous commitment stemming from strong convictions was an essential characteristic of those God chooses as leaders. Joshua and Caleb were convinced that God had given the land of Canaan to Israel. Deborah and Barak believed God would give them victory. David had the conviction that God would defeat Goliath. Daniel had the courage to die rather than cease worshiping the true God. And Paul stands in this line with the courageous commitment to his convictions. What is it that we can learn about the development and display of the courage to live out our convictions?

1. A COURAGEOUS CONVICTION HAS A CLEAR PURPOSE 1-3

Friday night we were with Chandler. I just picked him up and while driving to our destination he told us about a handful of decisions he had made the evening before that he was determined to accomplish. There was no fuzziness or fogginess just plain, clear purpose and intention. That is what we see here in the first three verses. While the parting from the Ephesian elders is not easy (20:38), the journey has begun. The step by step progress with which the journey is recorded, (a strait course to Cos, next day to Rhodes, from here to Patara, found ship to Phoenicia, set sail to Cyprus, kept sailing to Syria, landed at Tyre) shows Paul advancing toward the fateful events in Jerusalem unhindered by any outward circumstances. Systematically, steadily, deliberately, it portrays a man driven to fulfill his purpose. In this case to meet the needs of the poor believers with a financial gift collected for them and unifying the church of Jews and Gentiles. These were divine priorities that needed to be accomplished. The purpose of your conviction provides the incentive to have it and keep it. I am convinced of my need to grow up spiritually and I know that cannot be done without studying the Word of God; then my incentive to study the Bible, learn from it, be taught by it, is sustained by my conviction to grow up spiritually. And sometimes I may want to fudge on that but my clear purpose to grow up spiritually will bring me back around to studying Godís Word. Donít let your purpose get cloudy. Donít let it get fuzzy. Otherwise, so will your conviction.

2. A COURAGEOUS CONVICTIONIS UNDIVERTED 4-6

First, the possibility of trouble will not divert you from your courageous conviction. In vs 4 the Spirit issues a warning of some kind to Paul thru the Christians at Tyre that not all will be well for him. We should not conclude that this forecast meant he should not go to Jerusalem. There is no command from God that the journey should not be made. Of course, his friends are not going to want him to make this trip. It is interesting that all the outward circumstances indicated no trouble but the Spirit discloses otherwise. We should not look to our circumstances as a guide to our decisions but to revelation, Godís Word. Often, those closest to us can be the greatest hindrance to our living out our convictions. Thatís why Jesus taught that we hate our father, mother, wife, children, bro and sis, own life cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:25ff). There can be no rivals in your life to your commitment to Jesus Christ. Not even the ones who are near and dear to you.

Second, the passage of time will not divert you from your intention vs 5-6. He has had time to reflect on a change of course but in the farewell that ensues, we see a man undiverted with the passage of time to compromise his conviction. Neither danger, nor friends, nor time dull the edge of his conviction. So, on this beach is true worship by the seaside of the gentile world. While in Jerusalem, intheTemple called the house of prayer, is there rarely true worship anymore. There will appear only violence and hatred.

3. A COURAGEOUS CONVICTION PAYS ANY PRICE REQUIRED TO FULFILL IT7-14

Both sections of this passage (1-6; 7-14) are surrounded by a warning of danger. The 1st section seems to be a prelude and this section a climax of that warning. What we learn is that in spite of the clearly articulated cost for fulfilling his conviction, Paul is determined to pay whatever price necessary to courageously follow it thru. First, we see again that the voyage is without incident 7-8. The progress toward Jerusalem is steady but unhurried. A day can be spent with some brothers indicating calmness no rushing; evidence of his confidence in God. Then arriving in Caeserea he settles in Philip the evangelistís house. It was Philip who was the first to thrust the gospel beyond Judaism (8:5). This gentile imagery of (disciples at Tyre; brethren at Ptolemais; Philip) is against the backdrop of the warning of hostility from the city which God had been moving out into the gentile world. It is there where it all began that Paul is to return. Second, as Jerusalem is approached the prophetic atmosphere increases as noted by the reference to Philipís 4 daughters vs 9. Even the outcome of his trip is announced by prophecy. Agabas arrives and uses Paulís girdle or belt as a symbol of his inspired utterance. Girding up your loins allowed for vigorous activity, a freedom to serve or minister. Now instead of this girdle freeing him for movement will now bind him. His Jerusalem visit will bring a Jewish restriction upon his travels (his feet) and his actions (his hands). His ministry will not be marked any longer by freedom but of a prisoner. But it will be a ministry for it is a girdle and not a chain that will bind him. While a prisoner he will become an ambassador for Christ! Ironically, in betraying him, they will also commit him to the gentile world vs 11b to which he belonged spiritually. It will be their loss but the Gentiles gain! In vs 12-13 what warnings of danger could not do, the begging and love of friends could not either. Resisting warnings and pleas fully ready for whatever the pathway of fulfilled ministry requires. The appropriate response then is resignation to divine purpose where is ultimate comfort vs 14. 1)Develop your convictions from the Word of God. You do not want to violate Godís commands.

2) Develop your own convictions. God has no grandchildren. Each follower must develop his own convictions.

3) Establish them before time of testing. No good to negotiate them during testing.