cat lying in comfort

Conviction Over Convenience

Our passage today is from Acts 21:1-16. The church’s sermon is titled “Conviction Over Convenience.” This is a summary of pastor Earl Marshall’s sermon from Hope Bible Church in Oakville, Ontario. Here you can find a summary for last weekend’s message “Life-Giving Lessons in Leadership.” This week’s whole church service is available in the video below.

The church is unstoppable is the last section of our sermon series in Acts. Jesus promised that the church will be unstoppable in Matthew 16:18. The unstoppable church chooses conviction over convenience…obedience over comfort and safety. Below is a map of Paul’s last leg of his third missionary journey which ended in Jerusalem. This is a helpful map as you read the first few verses of Acts 21.

A map of Paul's Third Missionary Journey
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

Convinced of the Holy Spirit’s Leading

Acts 20:22-23. Paul knew through the Holy Spirit what awaits him as he goes to Jerusalem. However, Paul was constrained by the Spirit to obey and go to Jerusalem. This means that he was compelled and convinced of the Spirit’s leading.

‘And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ‘

Acts 20:22-24

Expect Misunderstanding

Acts 21:4, 12. The Holy Spirit is speaking to everyone not just to Paul. In verse 4, it says “through the Spirit.” Also in verse 10, Agabus acts out what will happen to Paul when he gets to Jerusalem. However, the disciples had a different response based on what the Holy Spirit had declared. The disciples pleaded with Paul to stop the trip and turn around. They loved him and didn’t want him to suffer. Paul answered and said, “what are you doing weeping and breaking my heart?” He was basically telling them that he loved them, but the Spirit of God compelled him to go. Sometimes our love for someone gets in the way of what God wants to do in their life.

What are your hopes and dreams for your inner circle of loved ones? What is it you long for for them?

  • Happiness?
  • Fulfillment?
  • Safety?

Our prayer for our loved ones should be to push past comfort and safety and go towards obedience and conviction over convenience. Ask the Lord to release them to do wherever He wants to take them. Then ask the Lord to give us the grace to do what the disciples ended up doing:

‘And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” ‘

Acts 21:14

Count the Cost and Be Willing to Make the Sacrifice

Acts 21:13. Paul said that he is ready. In 1606 the Spanish discovered a series of islands in the south Pacific called the New Hebrides. In 1839, the first missionaries arrived there. A few minutes after landing on the shore, they were killed and eaten by cannibals. 19 years later, in 1858, John G. Paton and his wife left to sail to these same islands. Not everyone thought it was a good idea. Mr. Dickson who was an elderly man said to John that he would get eaten by cannibals. Below was John’s response:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms.

John G. Paton

The gospel needs to grip your heart to go to this extent.

Gripped by the Gospel

Acts 21:13. Paul is not going to Jerusalem and die for anyone else other than Jesus. Jesus changes everything. The rich young ruler thought that he can be good enough to earn eternal life. People are not inherently good. Our hearts are set apart from God and are desperately wicked. We are not good enough to be with God. We deserve punishment from Him. God Himself made a way through Jesus. By grace and faith alone, God looks at me and He counts me to be righteous and to be good 2 Corinthians 5:21. Paul knew all that. The gospel had gripped Paul’s heart. As a result, he was willing to go to prison and die for Christ.

There is nothing greater in this life when every single day you wake up and the gospel grips your heart. May we choose conviction over convenience for the sake of the advancement of the gospel. The call on our lives is to make disciples, may we be willing to respond to that call.

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