Saturday, November 10, 2007


Acts 22 The Call In A Crisis

The 1st verse says, Acts 22 verse 1, "Men, brethren, and fathers, here ye my apologia," spell that out, apology. The first and original meaning of it was "a defense," an apologia, "a defense which I now make unto you." "And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue, they kept the more silent, and he said." Then follows the recounting, three times in the Book of Acts. Here the second one. The recounting of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus as he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. The occasion of his standing there and speaking on the steps of the tower of Antonio was this. For the fifth time since his conversion, Paul has come to Jerusalem. And for the last time.
Because from here, he is taken to Rome to be tried for his life in which city he was ultimately beheaded. Coming to Jerusalem, he was in the temple, worshiping the Lord.
There were Ephesian Jews there, who had been a part of that riot in Ephesus. And when they saw Paul in the temple at Jerusalem, they shouted, saying, "This is the man that teaches all men everywhere to depart from the customs of Moses and to despise this place." It created a violent reaction and a mob immediately gathered who seized the apostle and with their fists, they were beating him to death. Now, on the north side of the temple area, the Romans had built a large fortress called the Tower of Antonio. And the steps of the tower went down into the temple area. And always there in Antonio, was a contingent of Roman soldiers watching the scene below. And when they saw the riot forming in the temple court, the soldiers poured out and down those steps. And saved Paul's life. They bound him with two chains and led him back up into the tower. And as he was led back up into the tower, to be scourged by scourging to find the truth of what he had done, the apostle said to the chiliarch, the leader of a thousand Roman soldiers.
He said, "May I speak unto thee?"
And the chiliarch replied, "Canst thou speak Greek?" He had just spoken to him in Greek. "You speak Greek? I thought you were that Egyptian, a member of the sicarii," an assassin who heretofore led a disturbance in the city.
And Paul replied, "I am a Jew of Tarsus, a citizen of no mean city. And I beseech thee, suffer that I speak unto the people."
So the chiliarch gave Paul permission to stand on the steps of the tower of the fortress and to speak to that bloodthirsty and maddened throng below him. And as he began to speak, not speaking Latin. Not speaking Greek. But speaking Hebrew, those people in the temple, the more earnestly listened to what he had to say. They were the greater in silence as he began to talk. So this chapter, "Men, brethren, and fathers. Hear ye my defense which I make unto you."
What do you do in a crisis? What can you say in a lfethreatening crisis?

1. Crises Call For A Clear Commitment
There will come crises in your life that may seem to just come upon you out of the blue. Your life has taken a suddenly different direction. There has been a bad doctor’s report. There has been a problem within the family. There has been an accident. Some crisis has overtaken you unexpectedly, and you suddenly discover that the Lord has placed you in an unusual circumstance.
Paul knew about the crisis he was about to enter into. Sometimes the Lord gives us good warning so we are ready. Yet I am sure that the violence of this mob took Paul by surprise. Acts 21:27 the Jews from the province of • Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has profaned this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple complex.30 The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul, dragged him out of the temple complex, and at once the gates were shut. 31 As they were trying to kill him, word went up to the commander of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in chaos.
The word “Crisis” in Chinese characters is composed of the two Chinese characters representing two other words” “Opportunity” and “dangerous”. Our crises are dangerous. That we know well. But our crises are also dangerous opportunities. They are opportunities for us to display to the world the power of the gospel of Christ. This was Paul’s experience.
It was a Richard Baxter who penned the words to this hymn long, long ago in 1661.
Lord, it belongs not to my care whether I die or live;
to love and serve thee is my share, and this thy grace must give.
If life be long, O make me glad the longer to obey;
if short, no laborer is sad to end his toilsome day.
Christ leads me through no darker rooms than he went through before;
he that unto God's kingdom comes must enter by this door.
I don’t know what crises you may face this week. But I do know that the Lord will put across your path some very interesting people with whom you may share the love of Christ.

2. Crises Call For Clearing of ConfusionI suppose that every Christian is faced at times with the dilemma of how to give a positive testimony in a negative situation. I imagine that all of us are in negative situation. Now, some of us have been in those situations where we have sort of let out a little peep about our faith and the whole world seems to clamber after us and try to shut us up. And then we face the battle about whether we ought to say anything else.
Now, maybe on the job, you have given indication that you're a Christian, and somebody has drained down fire and brimstone, and so every time the opportunity presents itself to open your mouth, you sort of struggle a little bit inside. Or maybe you're out, and just run into someone and you see the opportunity. Like when evry other word out of their mouth is about Jesus, its sometimes a little hard to talk about Jesus Christ.
But you know, all of us have those times we struggle, and it isn't necessarily a negative situation, but it can be created into a negative situation when we fear our ego may get stepped on. But there are some really negative situations. Some of us get into situations where great disaster occurs and then the whole world watches to see whether our faith is any good or not. How do you give a positive testimony in a negative situation? Well, I think a good way to learn how is to watch a man who did it. But as we come to the Apostle Paul, we see a man who knew how to take a negative situation and make it into a positive testimony.
There Are Cultural Myths To Be Busted.
The Myth that Christians Were Insurrectionists!
Acts 21: 37 As he was about to be brought into the barracks, Paul said to the commander, “Am I allowed to say something to you?” He replied, “Do you know Greek? 38 Aren’t you the Egyptian who raised a rebellion some time ago and led 4,000 Assassins into the desert?” 39 Paul said, “I am a Jewish man from Tarsus of Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Now I ask you, let me speak to the people
Real Christianity Is Not Just Your Grandmother’s Religion, Its your grand daddy’s too!
I told someone the other day I had a pirate ancestor that used to insist on holding divine service twice a day on his ship, and woe betide the pirate that didn’t turn up!
There Are Religious Myths To Be Busted. Like, That Christians Are Narrow-minded Uneducated Bigots.
So they first accused him of anti-Semitism. Acts 21: 27 As the seven days were about to end, the Jews from the province of Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has profaned this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple complex.
They accused him of being abusive. He brought Greeks into the temple and polluted the holy place. "How do they know he did that?" Well, verse 29 says, "They had seen with him in the city Trophimus, an Ephesian who they supposed Paul had brought into the temple." They didn't see him in the temple, they just assumed and supposed that. That was another lie. They had no evidence. You say, "Maybe Paul did bring him in." No, he didn't. You say, "How do you know he didn't?" Because that would really be stupid. You mean Paul just spent seven days going through a Nazarite vow to convince the Jews that he honoured their customs, and then he turns right around and hauls a Gentile in there?

3. Crises Call For A Clear Confession
Paul had the gift of poetic fire. Read the first -- the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. He had the gift of religious imagination. Read the 4th chapter of the Book of Galatians.
And yet as he stands there, there is nothing in his defense of rabbinical discussion, casuistry, hair-splitting, argument. Nor is there any reference to all of the things to which he had been introduced in Greek philosophy and literature. Nor is there any gesture toward peroration. He stands there and recites as a child would what had happened to him when he was converted. There is no intellectual argument. There is no penetrating analysis. There is no show of erudition. He just recounts his experience of grace. What happened to him when he journeyed from Jerusalem to Damascus. And after all, isn't that the greatest defense of the Christian faith? A man's experience. A defense, not in argument, but in life. Not a defense in the presentation of speculation, or forensics or syllogisms or hypothesis, theories or philosophical meanderings and wanderings. But a man standing up saying, "This, I know." It’s what the Lord Jesus commanded of him to give witness to: 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.
As a fine Christian doctor in the heart of Africa said, "I was going from Jerusalem to Damascus in the medical school fulfilling my internship in the hospital. And as I made my journey, I met the Lord Jesus. And he called me to this mission in Africa to which now, I devote my life."
Or a businessman could stand up and say, "I was going from Jerusalem to Damascus. And my goals were monetary. I was seeking to be rich. And I was working toward material and earthly ends. But my heart was restless and my life was empty. As I went on my journey, I met Jesus. And now my life is full and rich and blessed in the presence of my Lord."
Or a professor in a school. And he says, "I was on my way from Jerusalem to Damascus. And I was seeking in science and in chemistry and in biology and in astronomy the answer to the meaning of life. And I despaired. It seemed that life was nothing other than a lesson in futility, in sterility, in barrenness. And the end of it was to fall into the grave and to be food for worms. And on that journey, I met Jesus as my Saviour and now, I have found life full of meaning and purpose and glory."
Or as an addict, as an alcoholic. "I was on a journey from Jerusalem down to Damascus. Down and down and down and down. And as I sank in the miry pits in despair of my very life, I met Jesus in the way. He lifted me up. Set my feet on a rock. And now, I glorify His name everyday."
Tell me, what could a philosopher or what could an agnostic or what could an infidel or what could a scoffer answer a defense like that?
I was on a journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. And on the way, I met the Lord. And now I live a new life. I have turned in another direction. And I have found peace and meaning and purpose and glory every step of the way. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.
To destroy Paul's defense, you must destroy Paul's life. Destroy his character, destroy his experience, destroy his work. It is unanswerable what God is able to do with a man's life. It is marvelous, the change. The conversion. The experience of grace.
A Pastor was seated in a room with several University professors in the oral examination for his doctor of philosophy degree, all of those professors seated round the table and he in the midst. An intimidating situation to think of it, much less be in it. One of the professors said, "I am sure that in your reading and in your studying, you have come across the avowal of the skeptic and the critic that the conversion of Saul, Paul, was a sunstroke under the hot meridian Syrian noonday sun. His conversion was a sunstroke." And he said, "Further, I am sure you have read in your studying that the scoffer and the critic says of the trances and of the vision and of the conversion of the Apostle Paul that he was an epileptic and that these things were seizures in his life." The pastor answered, "Yes, sir. That is correct. In my studying I have come across that several times. The skeptic and the infidel and the critic and the unbeliever say that the conversion of Paul from Jerusalem to Damascus was a sunstroke. And I have read that these trances and visions and revelations that he had were seizures. They were epileptic fits, yes, I have read that."
So the professor said, "What do you think about that?"
The Pastor said, "Sir, a very plain and patent and apparent thing. I have here in this Holy Bible thirteen letters from that man. Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. I have here in this Holy Bible thirteen letters written by that man. They are unlike any other literature in the world. They are beautiful in language. Poetic in flights of imagination. Precious and beautiful as they exalt the soul, as they glorify God. Sir, if the result of a sunstroke and if the result of seizures could ensue in something like that, then may God grant all of us sun strokes and seizures."
The experience of a man's life is unanswerable. And that was the defense of the Apostle Paul. As he stood there in that dramatic hour, on the steps of Antonio, he just recounted what God had done for him. This I know. This is my experience. I met the Lord and I have walked with him in these days and years since. And he has been my friend.
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, and be always ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you...” ~ 1 Peter 3:15
3 Aspects of any Testimony:
Our Life Before Christ (Acts 22:1-5). Our Conversion to Christ (Acts 22:6-16). Changes in life after Conversion (Acts 22:17-24). A testimony is different from a gospel explanation. It puts flesh on it.
Your testimony needs to be Based on Facts (Acts 22:1-5).
Is this a credible witness… this happens in court. How many times have you been in jail for being drunk? What other things have you seen? Make sure you are telling the truth. Accuracy and honesty.
The Importance of Truth … Truth is important in Christianity, unlike other religions. It depends on truthfulness and accuracy. In Christianity if its not true its not worth believing. Other religions have a philosophy of life. 1 Cor 15 500 witnesses. If Jesus isn’t risen your faith is futile.
Christianity is based on truths of facts! Thomas.. its based on evidence. I won’t believe unless I put my fingers and hand.. Christianity isn’t afraid of evidence
The Test for Truth … What is the test of truth? These things can’t be proven scientifically? Can you prove Captain Cook ? Science .. experimentation. But you can’t do that with history.
Historical legal method rests upon the credibility of testimonies. The test for the truthfulness of Christianity is to look at the witnesses are they credible and consistent witnesses?
And now too? Can people of all different backgrounds walks of life etc can they show its true today.
The changed and transformed life. Holiness is important, to the degree that we don’t lvie a credible life destroys our witness.
The Reason for Truth …
Truth matters a lot because Christianity is a truth based religion, its not a philosophy. The reason we believe is that it testifies about God. God never lies. Titus 1: 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
Paul always uses truthfulness… 1 thess 2: 5 For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— Don’t change your testimony. Its truth that is the issue.
We need to hear dramatic testimonies and not so dramatic testimonies. We need to put the facts exactly as they are.
Acts 22:1-5 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense before you.”
2 When they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even quieter.
3 He continued, “I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today,
4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women in jail,
5 as both the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. Having received letters from them to the brothers, I was traveling to Damascus to bring those who were prisoners there to be punished in Jerusalem.
You just tell what God has done in Jesus Christ to change your life.
Mike Warnke book “Satan-seller” the story of a man who becomes a high priest in Satanism. The only problem was he made it all up! And his witness was devastated.

4. Crises Call For A Clear Confession Of Christ (Acts 22:6-16).
6 “As I was traveling and near Damascus, about noon an intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 “I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the • Nazarene, whom you are persecuting!’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10 “Then I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything that is assigned for you to do.’ 11 “Since I couldn’t see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 Someone named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good reputation with all the Jews residing there, 13 came to me, stood by me, and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of His voice. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.16 And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.’
1 Peter 3:15 but set apart the • Messiah as Lord in your hearts, Walk with Christ. Speak of Christ and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
The Basis of SalvationJesus Christ alone. 14
Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of His voice.
The just one? Who is that? Not us! We have all sinned. There is none righteous no not one. 2x in Psalms.
Who here could say that? None of us. Only One , Jesus Christ the righteous One.
Our salvation is not based on our righteousness, but His righteousness. If you try and pick yourself up by your bootstraps you fail He is the only Just one, who could pay for our sins 1Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
There is only one way to get to heaven.
Or is there? Yes you could do one thing to get to heaven. Never ever sin. But it’s a little late for that.
Being righteous would get you in, but none of us are. So we need a Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ!
Romans 10: 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
The Baptism of SalvationThroughout Baptism is pic of salvation.. 16
Is baptism important? Back then they would have said its very important. But not saving.
Baptism is an identification with Jesus Christ. It’s the identification with Him.
There is one baptism. Initially, introductively, it is the baptism in water, burial and resurrection. Symbolically it came to be used to depict baptism by the Holy Spirit. We are taken out of death and we are added in life to the body of our Lord, thus buried and raised. My persuasion is, however, that whether the baptism is in water or whether it is by the Spirit, there is one baptism. There are not two, there are not three, there are not half a dozen, but there is one baptism as there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of us all.
The consequences of being baptized were serious. It was the setting aside of the old life. It was the beginning of the new. For Jews and Muslims, they may go to a Christian church. They may be involved in a bible study. They may do all sorts of things , they may become believers, but once they are baptized it si no longer an issue of being a muslim interested in Christian things. It is an out and out confession of one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an out and out allegiance to Christ. And then their families hold a funeral...
baptism is dividing line I want to be fully identified with his death and resurrection and I want everyone to know I am going to heaven because of Jesus Christ.
Have you been baptized? Have you demonstrated that you are out and out about being a Christian?
The Way of Salvation
But is it salvation? No. It’s a picture of salvation. Washing away.
Baptism is a picture of burial and washing sins away.
Psalm 51: 2 Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Having washed away and having called upon the name of the Lord.
The one thing you are asked to do is call upon the name of the Lord.
You don’t have to be baptized to be saved but you do have to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.
We need to be clear that we are not saved because we went to church, got baptized or did anything. We must be sure to say that if you’ll come to Christ everything
You must be saved in order to be baptized.

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