Intro. Paul has called for the elders from the church in Ephesus to come to the coast to Melitus to meet him as he is on his way to Jerusalem. These are men that had labored for the Lord with him while he was with them for three years. Close bonds of love had developed between them.
I. PAUL'S DESIRE TO GO TO JERUSALEM.
A. In his heart his great desire was to witness for Christ in Jerusalem.
1. Since his conversion Jerusalem had not been a friendly place for Paul.
a. In his first visit after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, the church was very wary of him some of them even questioned his conversion.
b. He was there again with them to settle the issue of the gospel of grace that he was preaching to the Gentiles.
c. Paul seemed to have his differences with those in the church in Jerusalem, he had withstood Peter to the face, as he rebuked him for his vascilation.
d. Yet Paul seemed to have a great love for them and a desire to be accepted by them. Even now he is carrying money to them that he had collected from the Gentile churches.
2. The Spirit has been warning Paul that bonds and afflictions are waiting for him there.
a. There is a question as to whether or not it was God's will for Paul to go to Jerusalem.
b. Were the warnings to keep him from going? Or were they just the faithfulness of God to let him know what would happen if he went, and did God leave the decision to Paul?
c. In chapter 21 verse 4 certain disciples in the church in Tyre told Paul by the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
d. In Caesarea the prophet Agabus again warned Paul that he was going to be bound and turned over to the Gentiles when he went to Jerusalem. When the brethren there sought to talk Paul out of going, he asked, "Are you trying to break my heart with your tears? I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for Christ in Jerusalem.
e. We read at that point when they saw the determined stubbornness of Paul they ceased saying the will of the Lord be done.
f. We are not quite sure what that means. Did they cease saying the will of the Lord be done, or did they cease seeking to dissuade him and just said, "Well the will of the Lord be done."
3. Paul had an extremely strong will. This was one of his strong points. He could have never undergone the work for the Lord to the extent that he did unless he was so strong willed.
a. Yet as is often the case the place of our great strengths can be a blessing and also a hindrance in our service for the Lord.
b. The stubborn will keeps him going on his purposes even though the Spirit may be seeking to warn him otherwise.
B. Paul declared that none of these things move me. That is the warnings of the trouble that he will experience in Jerusalem.
II. WHY DID THEY NOT MOVE HIM FROM HIS PURPOSES?
A. He did not count his life dear to himself.
1. Paul figured to live is Christ and to die is gain.
2. He spoke of his desire to depart and to be with Christ which was far better, it was only for their sakes that he saw the Lord keeping him around.
3. He had already visited heaven for a short time and was anxious to go back.
4. If we only knew how glorious heaven was, we would never wish our loved ones back on this sin cursed earth again, that is if we truly loved them.
5. It's my love for myself that would cause me to ask God to send them back.
B. One of the greatest hindrances to the work of the gospel is the fact that we count our lives dear to ourselves.
1. We are so concerned what man is going to think about us, or say about us that we keep silent about our faith.
2. We often are afraid of a little ridicule, and thus are cowed into silence.
C. Paul was anxious to finish his course with joy.
1. He looked at life as a race.
a. He was running to win. He wrote that though many may enter the race, only one receives the first prize, he encouraged them to run to win.
b. He was willing to lay aside every weight that might slow him down.
c. The goal of this race was heaven.
d. The prize was the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The joy of dwelling in His presence, in His kingdom forever.
2. When Paul was approaching his martyrdom, he wrote to Timothy, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness that the Lord our righteous judge shall give, not only to me but to all that love His appearing.
III. PAUL DESIRED TO FINISH HIS MINISTRY.
A. This ministry he received from the Lord Jesus.
1. When Paul first met Jesus he asked, "What would you have me to do Lord?"
a. Here he is still acknowledging Jesus as Lord.
b. Jesus was truly the Lord of his life.
c. The question is: "Is Jesus the Lord of your life?"
d. Jesus said, "Why do you call Me Lord, yet you do not the things I say?"
e. Jesus said, "Not all that call Me Lord, Lord are going to enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of the Father."
f. Is it possible that you fit into this category?
2. When Paul was first converted the Lord said that he would show Paul how great of things he would suffer for the sake of Jesus.
a. In his letter to the Philippians Paul mentions that the knowledge of Jesus Christ cost him the loss of all things. Some believe even his marriage.
b. Paul believed that what he had gained was of such far greater value that there could be no comparison.
c. When Peter said to Jesus, "Lord we have left all to follow you." Jesus responded,
Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
B. Paul's ministry was to preach to the Gentiles the gospel or good news of grace.
1. He wrote to the church in Ephesus, "By grace are you saved through faith."
2. To the church in Rome he wrote,
And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace:
3. To Timothy he wrote,
Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
4. The gospel of grace declares that salvation is a gift of God to those who receive Jesus Christ His Son as the Lord of their lives.
5. There is not a single work or combination of works that you can do to save yourselves.
6. However when you are once saved, and begin to know the riches of His love and grace toward you through Jesus Christ, you will find that you will want to do all that you can for Him.
7. As a Jew, Paul was seeking to be saved by keeping all the works of the law, but with all his efforts, he was still conscious of the presence of evil in his nature.
8. No matter how hard he tried to be good, evil was still present.
9. His mind was never at rest as he sought to keep the works of the law.
10. Upon finding Jesus Christ as Lord, he discovered that Jesus had kept the righteous demands for him, so that by believing in Jesus God had accounted him as being righteous.
11. The issue is no longer his work for God that really counted, but is was God's work for him that mattered.
12. Finding this good news, Paul immediately dumped all the points he had gained in keeping the law, and opted for the righteousness of Jesus Christ accounted to him through faith.
13. He then began to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in his life giving him the capacity to do the right things as he yielded to His influence.
14. These tireless good works that Paul was now doing, did not save him, they only proved the genuineness of his confession that Jesus Christ was Lord of his life.