Intro. Paul is returning to Jerusalem for the first time in three years. Much has transpired in his life in the last three years. He first met Christ on the road to Damascus, then he was baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. He spent three years in Arabia being taught by Jesus. He returned to Damascus where he preached in the Jewish synagogues. He then had to leave the city in a basket let down over the wall of the city because the Jews were lying in wait to kill him.
I. "AND WHEN SAUL CAME TO JERUSALEM, HE ATTEMPTED TO JOIN WITH THE DISCIPLES."
A. He no doubt was looking for fellowship with the disciples.
B. In Damascus he was hated by the Jews, who sought to kill him, and here in Jerusalem he is shunned by the disciples.
C. The reason the disciples shunned him was the fact that they doubted his conversion.
1. After the way he had so zealously persecuted the church in Jerusalem, I am certain that they thought that he was beyond conversion.
2. They possibly thought that he was a plant by the High Priest. That he was joining their company for the purpose to learn more about the membership, so that he could arrest them.
3. I personally have a problem here, and that is when Peter had such a wonderful gift of discernment, why could he not discern the legitimacy of Saul's conversion.
a. He had discerned the deceit of Ananias when he brought the proceeds from the sale of his property.
b. He discerned the heart of Simon the Sorcerer, that his heart was filled with bitterness.
c. How is it that he could not perceive that Saul had a true and genuine conversion.
d. Many times I believe that our minds can get in the way of the Spirit. We can be so head strong on an issue, that we cannot discern the voice of the Spirit, if it is contrary to our preconceived ideas.
II. THE INTERCESSION BY BARNABAS.
A. It is at this point that Barnabas, true to his name, (son of consolation) steps forward and brings Paul to the apostles.
1. According to Paul's account in Galatians, his visit was primarily with Peter, and he also met James the brother of Jesus.
2. It seems that there never was a truly close bond between Paul and the other apostles.
a. He had openly rebuked Peter at Antioch.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
b. As Paul was very aggressive in his persecution of the church, he was equally aggressive in the proclaiming to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
c. It would appear that a sort of truce had developed between the apostles and the Jews, so that the great persecution of the church had eased. This could be the result of Paul being away.
d. Paul's bold proclamations in the synagogues that Jesus was the Messiah could stir up a new round of persecution and the apostles were fearful of this.
B. These are the things that Barnabas told the church in Jerusalem concerning Paul.
1. How Paul had seen the Lord on his way to Damascus.
2. How the Lord had spoken to Paul.
3. How Paul had boldly preached the name of Jesus in Damascus.
III. SO PAUL WAS WITH THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM COMING IN AND GOING OUT.
A. His stay there was not very long.
1. He mentions in Galatians that he stayed with Peter 15 days.
2. We should not assume from this that his whole stay in Jerusalem was only 15 days. That is how long he stayed in Peter's house. He could have stayed in his own quarters for a longer period.
B. While in Jerusalem Paul spoke boldly in the name of Jesus.
1. He disputed with the Grecians. As we have mentioned before, the term Grecians is a reference to those Jews who chose to follow the Grecian culture.
2. These in turn went about to slay him.
3. In his short term as a Christian, he has already had two plots against his life.
4. It seems that his sermons always ended in riots or revival.
C. In Acts 22
, Paul tells about this visit to Jerusalem.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
IV. IN VERSE 30, WE READ THAT WHEN THE DISCIPLES HAD LEARNED OF THE PLOT AGAINST HIS LIFE, THEY BROUGHT HIM DOWN TO CAESAREA WHERE HE CAUGHT A SHIP GOING TO TARSUS.
A. This is the beginning of the seven silent years of Paul.
1. He has returned to Tarsus, his place of birth, and no doubt at least some of his family were there.
2. He probably returned to his trade as a tentmaker.
3. Nothing is heard of him during this time.
B. Thus between the time of his conversion and the beginning of his ministry is a period of ten years. They are often referred to as the silent years of Paul.
1. These must not be thought of as lost years however.
2. They were years of preparation.
3. It is true that God has ordained to use human vessels to do His work on the earth today, but it is also true that God prepares the vessels that He uses.
4. These were years of preparation.
5. I am always amazed and sometimes chagrined at the patience of God in preparing His instruments.
C. I spent some 20 years in the process of being prepared by God for the ministry that God had in mind for me.
1. I thought I was prepared when I was fresh out of college, I knew so much more then, than I do now. I thought I knew everything then, I had all the answers. I know now that I knew nothing and I am just now beginning to learn. He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool, shun him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student, teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows, is a teacher, follow him.
V. "THEN HAD THE CHURCHES REST."
A. I am not certain that that is such a good thing.
1. If they have rest because they are no longer confronting the world, then they are failing in their mission.
2. We can never settle for a peace at any cost mentality.
3. Peace at the cost of a compromise in our witness is never spiritually healthy.
4. Peace because we are no longer pressing the claim that Jesus is the Messiah and only Saviour is not good.
a. There are many churches who have taken this road of compromise in order to be accepted by the world.
b. You hear them say that all roads lead to God and it really doesn't matter which road you choose.
c. There is no place for political correctness in the church.
5. We try to shed the title of radical.
a. If to believe and proclaim that the Bible is the word of God, and sets God's standards for right and wrong; that Jesus Christ is God's Son who was sent by God into the world to die for man's sins; and that He is the only way by which a man might come to the Father; then I am a radical, a narrow bigot, or whatever other name you want to call me.
B. On the other hand, confrontation, just for the sake of confrontation, is never good.
1. Jesus told His disciples not to cast their pearls before swine, nor were they to give that which was holy unto dogs.
2. There are some people that just love confrontation and can become so obnoxious that they actually turn people away.
3. Once again, balance and moderation are the key words.
C. The preaching of the cross will always bring an offense, but we do not cease the preaching of the cross.
1. Many of the major denominational churches long ago removed from their hymnals songs that referred to the blood of Jesus.
a. Nothing but the Blood.
b. Saved by the Blood of the Crucified One.
c. Are you washed in the blood.
d. There is a fountain filled with blood.
2. People found these offensive. Paul spoke to the Galatians of the offense of the cross.
a. The reason why the cross is an offense is that it declares that there is only one path to God.
b. That goes against the grain of those who say that all roads lead to God.
c. In the garden Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." If what is possible? The redemption of lost mankind.
d. If all roads lead to God, Jesus did not have to die.
e. His death on the cross tells us that there is only one road that leads to God.
f. Broad is the gate and wide is the path that leads to destruction and many there are who take that path.
g. There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end of that path is death.