I Must Go On


Ryan Hayden Acts

We are going to look this morning at the beginning of Acts 21. Acts 21.

There is a film coming out this weekend called Hacksaw Ridge. I haven't seen it. I'm probably not going to see it. But the story of it is fascinating. It tells the true story of this man named Desmond Doss, who won the congressional medal of honor in world war 2. Doss was a Christian. When he was a boy, his dad got in a drunken fight with his brother in law and almost killed him. Desmond made a vow to God never to kill or even touch a weapon.

Of course, this was a problem in World War 2, and so Desmond was labeled a "conscientious objector" even though he was granted a draft deferment and had volunteered. He wasn't against the war. He actually volunteered. He just had vowed never to touch a gun. He was made a medic and was treated horribly by his fellow soldiers.

He was a seventh day adventist and he took the sabbath literally, and he was hated for that. His fellow soldiers were allowed to do anything to him. They even tried to section 8 him and kick him out of the unit.

But at the battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss went unarmed into one of the worst killing fields in history, when everyone else was retreating, he was going in. Over 12 hours, he went into the mayhem and brought men out. It was a suicide mission. Bombs and mortars everywhere. He went in by himself and saved 75 men. 75.

One of those men was one of the leaders who tried to get him kicked out as crazy.

In another battle, he was hit with a grenade in the legs. He sat for 5 hours before other medics came to save with litter. On his way back he saw a man who was hit. He rolled off the litter and demanded that the other medics carry him back instead. While he lay there he was shot by a Japanese sniper.

He was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor.

It's a powerful true story. It begs a question: why in the world would a person push forward into almost certain death. Why would someone put himself in the position to be abused? Put himself in the position to be shot? Put others above himself. Why would he run towards the machine gun bullets while everyone else was running away?

What makes people go forward in the face of danger?

That is what our passage is about today. In our passage, the Apostle Paul is moving towards Jerusalem. All along the way, godly spiritual people are telling him he's going to get hurt there and begging him not to go. Yet Paul tells them he must go anyways because it's God's will for him.

So let's read the passage. Acts 21:1-15 and then we'll pray and I'll give you an outline.

"1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the [day] following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. 3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till [we were] out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. 6 And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again. 7 And when we had finished [our] course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. 8 And the next [day] we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was [one] of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried [there] many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver [him] into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. 15 And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem."

Ok. Let's pray.

I'm going to give you three points this morning on this passage. I think there are three things we can learn from how the people in this story acted. How Paul acted. Every one of those things is applicable for us today.

The first thing I want you to notice is...

  1. Paul's Counselors Notice in this passage as Paul moves through this story - travelling west to east from Greece to Jerusalem, that a certain pattern emerges. Everywhere Paul goes, he finds Christians, he finds a church, and he has intimate fellowship with him.

He starts in Miletus, where he is meeting with church leaders. Then they sail all the way across the Mediteranean to Syria and they land in the great city of Tyre, which is in modern day Lebanon, and the Bible says they find a bunch of believers there and they "tarried there seven days". They find these believers they didn't know and the stay seven days with them.

During this week, some of these people beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem. At the end of the week, they all take their families and go to the beach and they have a little farewell prayer meeting. An emotional goodbye to friends they only met a week before.

Then Paul continues his journey and ends up in Caesarea. He ends up in the house of Phillip, one of the original deacons and evangelists and he fellowships with Phillip and Phillips daughters for awhile.

Then this guy Agabus comes and does this little spiritual show and tell where he takes Paul's belt and wraps it around his arms and legs and says "The person who owns this belt is going to end up like this in Jerusalem."

Finally, in verse 12 the whole crew begs Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

So here is what I want you to see about the characters in our story this morning: Two Things are obvious in this story.

First, it's obvious that Paul was always developing these deep relationships with his spiritual brothers and sisters in the church. I mean, everywhere he goes, he's finding believers and he's fellowshipping with them. He's going over there house. He's spending time with them. He's eating at their kitchen tables.

What we don't see in this story is this kind of cold, professional church where its just "see you next Sunday." No. Even when Paul was a stranger in a new town he sought out believers and he fellowshipped with them.

I want you to turn with me to Romans 12. Romans 12. Famous passage. The "Present your bodies a living sacrifice passage." The "You are members one of another passage." But we are going to look at another part. Look at verses 9-16 with me. Remember, this is describing how we should act in the church.

[Rom 12:9-16 KJV] 9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Notice the description of how our church relationships are supposed to be. Obvious love. Obvious care for each other. Striving together for the same goal. Sharing in each other's hopes and dreams and pain and disappointments. Everywhere you look in the New Testament this is what you see. You see this intimate fellowship.

You see folks, here is what I want you to understand about church. Church was never intended to be this place where you just come once or twice a week and hear a message. Church was intended to be your second family. The people you live you life with, you share your dreams with.

We call it a "church family" for a reason. It should feel like a family. That's what we see here.

But the second thing we see here is that

it's obvious that those people had license to speak into Paul's life. Remember, almost everyone in this story is strangers. These are people Paul has known for less than a week or just a couple of weeks. Yet they are begging Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Over and over we see this. They were speaking into Paul's life and Paul's plans.

And here is the lesson for us church. I think we are very, very far from this in most modern churches. Church is something we do, but in the Bible Church was something they were a part of. Church was who they were. Church was their family.

I think you should have friends and family all over. I think you should get to know lots of people. Lost people. People in other churches. Whoever. But listen, I think there should be a special bond with God's people, with a church family and I think you should expect those people to speak into your life.

Look at one more passage with me. This is a pastors favorite passage. Look at Hebrews 10:25

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; "

Pastors like this verse because it says you should go to church. Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves. But notice what almost no one ever talks about. Notice the next phrase:

"...but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Notice, the reason why we are to "not forsake the assembling" is so that we can be "exhorting one another."

Paul's counselors were his Christian family. Who are you getting your counsel from? If some dear old lady in our church or some faithful Christian man came to you in love and said "I don't think you should do that" how would you handle it?

So we see Paul's counselors. Second we see...

  1. Paul's Commission The heart of this story is found in verse in verse 13

"Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

Paul's course was set. He knew what his orders were. He knew what God's will was for him and he wasn't moving off of it.

Notice what the church's answer was in verse 14

"The will of the Lord Be Done"

Ok, Paul, if that is God's will - so be it.

How could Paul be so brave? How could he go headfirst into danger? I mean, people, before this passage is over he's going to be having his head beaten by a mob in the Temple. How could he do that?

He lived with a purpose I think the answer is that he lived with a purpose. He lived with a mission that was bigger than himself and bigger than his comfort. In Romans, which Paul wrote just before this story, Paul said this:

"Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." (Romans 15:24-27)

Paul knew God wanted him to go to Jerusalem and he had plans after that. He was going to go to Rome and go to Spain. He was fulfilling God's will for him.

The reason why this seems so strange to so many Christians is so many Christians aren't living for a mission. There mission is to spend as much time on the fishing boat as possible. There mission is to get to bed before 11pm. There mission is get some new threads at the mall. They live completely self-absorbed lives and when you live a completely self-absorbed life the notion of sacrifice or putting yourself in harms way seems strange.

Listen, folks, what is your mission? What is the thing God has given you to do? Have you thought about it? Have you prayed about it? Are you living for it? Are you sacrificing for it?

When you have a mission - when you have your marching orders and you know they come from God - it makes it easy to sacrifice. Some decisions are made for you.

The amazing thing about that Desmond Doss story I told you about wasn't that Desmond Doss rushed headlong into danger to save people. It's that he made decisions every day for years that put him in danger and caused him scorn. His mission was living for Jesus, being a witness for him, and he didn't care.

The point here is that Paul lived for something bigger than himself. So the question is what are you living for?

One more point and it will be a quick one:

  1. Paul's Compulsion What made Paul do this? What was behind this? Look at the last phrase of verse 13:

for the name of the Lord Jesus.

He was doing it out of a love for God. That was the driving principle of his life. Turn with me to Philippians 3 and we'll close. Look at verse 15. This is Paul's compulsion. This is what was driving him:

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

Paul lived for a desire to please God and know Him better. He wanted to be like Jesus. Do you know that's the heart of being a Christian - being like Jesus. That's literally what Christian means. Little Christ. Like Jesus.

Did you know Jesus didn't have a cush life? People didn't always treat him well. He too had people he loved warning him not to go to Jerusalem and He went anyways.

All Paul wanted to do was be like Jesus - whatever that cost him.