SERIES: The Book of Acts
TEXT: Acts 21:18-36
MESSAGE: “Gospel Integrity”
“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.” — Psalm 25:21
The word for “integrity” can be found 16 times in the Bible and can be defined as “complete”, “undivided”, “whole.”
“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” — Acts 9:15-16
“Often, if there is no risk of loss or painful consequences, one will never know if one has integrity. One will never know if what motivates you is moral conviction or moral convenience until you are forced to suffer loss for standing your ground or keeping your word.” — Sam Storms
TEXT: Acts 21:18-36
“For the last decade of his life Paul has intentionally engaged strategic centers with the gospel during his three missionary journeys. (Now) The apostle becomes a prisoner and the rest of his ministry recorded in Acts is basically a set of reactions to opposition and assaults.” — Tony Merida
Q: How do we see God shape Paul’s integrity?
It’s when he…(1. Chooses to thank God 2. Sacrifices to unite others 3. Obeys despite personal attack)
1. Chooses to thank God (v. 18-20a)
“On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God.”
“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” — 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
v. 19-20a — After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God.”
He chose to focus on what God was doing and they glorified God.
2. Sacrifices to unite others (v. 20b-24)
“And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.”
“He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.” — Clement
3. Obeys despite personal attack (v. 25-29; 36)
“As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. 27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)…36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”
TAKEAWAYS: How will God shape integrity in us? Let’s ask…
- How can I specifically thank God no matter the circumstances?
- How is God calling me to sacrifice for the sake of others?
“Missionaries are not heroes who can boast in great sacrifice for God…They have discovered a hundred times more joy and satisfaction in a life devoted to Christ and the gospel than in a life devoted to frivolous comforts and pleasures and worldly advancements. And they have taken to heart the rebuke of Jesus. Beware of a self-pitying spirit of sacrifice! Missions is gain! Hundredfold gain!” — John Piper
- How will I obey God beyond popular opinion?
“Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as You command, and command me to do what You will!… O holy God…when Your commands are obeyed, it is from You that we receive the power to obey them.”
GOSPEL: Ultimately, how did Paul have the integrity (wholeness, undivided heart) to obey God when chaos ensued around him? It was because his integrity was a gospel integrity. Here’s what I mean, it wasn’t built upon what Paul could do, it was built upon what Jesus had done.
v. 36 “Get rid of him!”
Luke 23:21-25: “But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.”