The Resurrection of Hope

by | Oct 15, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Acts 26:12-23

All the hopes of the human heart find their fulfillment in the resurrection from the dead. We were created for a life with God that this fallen world can never accomplish. All our strivings for success, comfort, power, position, health, wealth, and prosperity are the result of our hearts longing for the power of the resurrection. The Apostle Paul found this hope in his own life and it transformed him. Has the light of hope dimmed in your life? Then come and find your hope renewed in the power of the gift of the resurrection through faith in Jesus.


Well it’s good to to be back with you all this morning uh and this morning we got a pretty heavy topic as we continue in our Series in the book of Acts and that’s that great uh existential problem uh that in question that we all face and that is why do we suffer why do we suffer they’re sugarcoating it uh there’s no I probably should have had a funny joke or something to enter into it but it’s a heavy heavy topic one that we all have to deal with in every religion and every philosophy in this world has always had to answer that problem somehow some way Eastern philosophy you know to them they kind of answer the question saying suffering isn’t really real It’s Just an Illusion it’s something that you’ve got to transcend above you got to come to a higher plane of being to overcome it to realize that it’s not really real other other philosophy other philosophies maybe blame other people or Gods on the suffering that we experience I think maybe the the secular mind uh makes sense of suffering blaming Society or maybe blaming the systems that exist uh in our culture that cause the suffering that we’re experiencing but suffering is something that we all every single one of us deals with and in fact most of us I think spend our lives trying to avoid it we spend a great deal of time we spend a great deal of money and of energy trying to protect ourselves from ever having to actually experience any of that suffering in our own lives I mean even as Christians we don’t like to have to deal with it and so what happens is the the main message that gets sold about Christianity is that it’s all about Victory it’s about living the Victorious Life living your best life right you hear that if you go into the self-help or the the books you’ll see on the shelves or if you turn on the TV and watch the televangelist who’s speaking they’re gonna sell You Victorious Life you can have it because that’s what sells that’s what sells but to take us back to Paul and acts 14 verse 22 if you’ll remember him Paul back in lystra uh he had been stoned and he had been left for dead outside the city but he got back up and he went back into the City and he continued to preach the gospel and then we’re told this that he encouraged them to continue in the face saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God

see as Christians we want we want to buy the Victorious Life we want to we want to buy it we we want to buy what’s being sold to us free from all hardships free from all sufferings but Paul he was selling the redempt of Glory of the gospel of grace he was certainly preaching it and proclaiming it but he was preaching a message that comes through what he called tribulation or as we would call it suffering

he didn’t sugarcoat it and he didn’t try to avoid it the Gospel Life it involves suffering but not only did Paul preach it and teach it Paul actually embodied it he embodied this message that the gospel of grace involves suffering acts are reading this morning from acts 21 verses 1 to 16 we’re continuing Paul’s Journey to his own great suffering and in these passages this morning in the Temptation he faces to avoid that suffering rather than to face it head on what God’s called him to and through these verses we learn a lot about the truth of suffering and just how Redemptive suffering actually works in our lives and so I want to invite you to open up your uh your passage either in your Bibles or in your uh bulletin this morning as we work through this passage uh as Paul’s making his way to Jerusalem uh and keeping this idea of suffering that he has been called to we’ll talk about more in just a moment and what he’s facing as he continues to make this journey we’re told and when we had parted from them and set sail we came by the straight by a straight course to cause and the next day to roads and from there to patara you notice that Luke is back with him and so we again so this is something the the Luke knows firsthand he saw it with his own eyes and so what he’s recorded is firsthand and what he deemed to be the most important thing to be able to communicate to us about this time and Paul’s life and in his journey

and having found a ship Crossing to phenicia we went aboard and set sail when we had come in sight of Cyprus leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed a tire for there the ship was to unload its cargo and having sought out the disciples we stayed there for seven days and through the spirit they were telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem so we’re told through the spirit these brothers and sisters these disciples entire were telling Paul not to go on telling him not to go on I wonder what Paul’s going to do is he going to listen to to what they’re telling him well let’s find out when our days there were ended we departed and we went on went on our journey and they all with wives and children accompanying us until we were outside the city this was such a this is a stirring emotional moment that they all cared about Paul so much that they went with them they followed him all the way outside the city they went all the way out to the beach and kneeling down onto the beach we prayed and said farewell to one another then we went on board the ship and they returned home what a beautiful picture what a beautiful picture an emotional picture how much they cared for for Paul and for what they perceived was going to happen they warned him not to go but he went anyway continued on the journey and you really feel it in that moment as they prayed together

and when we had finished the voyage from Tire we arrived at ptolemus and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day on the next day we departed and came to caesarea and entered the house of Philip the Evangelist who was one of the seven and stayed with them remember Phillip way back in the beginning of this series he’s one of the seven keep in mind this is 20 years after we last visited with him he settled here this is where he settled to raise his family but he was one of the seven deacons who had been who had been called and they stayed with them he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied we don’t know exactly what they prophesied we’re not told exactly but there seems to be a theme here that’s going to keep building about what prophetic word is being spoken to Paul and then in verse 10 while we were staying for many days now another Prophet named agabus came down from Judea

and coming to us he took Paul’s belt he bound his own defeated hands and said thus says the holy spirit this is how the Jews the Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles you know this activist this isn’t the first time we we encountered agribus in the book of Acts either back in Acts 11 agabus had come from Jerusalem to Antioch to to prophesy to them if you probably don’t remember but about a famine that was coming uh that came true that was a true prophetic word that was given and they were able to prepare for it and raise the money to help those who uh who are going to be suffering uh in this way and agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet in hands this kind of visual prophetic message it goes back to the prophets of old themselves

and said thus says the holy spirit this is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns the spell to deliver him into the hands of the Gentile this is the second prophetic warning maybe and even the third by the way if uh we don’t know exactly what those daughters prophesied when Paul was there but this is at least the second probably the third message that he’s gotten and warning and it’s through the Holy Spirit we’re being told attire through the disciples there at caesarea through agabus and then maybe maybe through Philip’s daughters as well

then going on when we heard this when we heard this prophetic word we and the people there urged him not to go to Jerusalem so they’re here in the prophetic word right they’re saying the Holy Spirit speaking Luke has been clear about this the holy spirit is speaking and they’re urging him not to go what’s Paul gonna do then Paul answered what are you doing weeping and Breaking My Heart for I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus and since he would not be persuaded we ceased and said let the will of the Lord be done

here what are you doing weeping and breaking my heart meaning what are you doing trying to trying to dissuade me from what I’ve been called to what I know awaits me would I know that I have to do

why are you it was the Holy Spirit it was the Holy Spirit who’s providing this word and they were hearing the word and they were deducting from that that uh that he shouldn’t go on should go on if they know the suffering’s coming right I mean what would you do if someone gave me a prophetic word that suffering awaited if I did this thing I’m avoiding that thing I’m assuming that’s why I got the prophetic word

but that’s not what’s Happening Here and then in verse 15 and 16 after these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem and some of the disciples from cesarea went with us and bringing us to the house of Nason of Cyprus an early disciple with whom we should Lodge so they went up to Jerusalem some of the disciples from caesarea who had been there who had warned him not to go they still went with them there’s this throughout this there’s this beautiful picture of the church at work and how gracious Hospitality caring for one another especially for Paul and these disciples as they go and they took on the home of uh Nason of Cyprus an early disciple and that’s where they lodged there so despite the holy spirit’s warnings Paul went anyway he went anyway so that brings up a question doesn’t it yeah is Paul disobeying the Holy Spirit

as Paul uh is Paul trying to suppress the Holy Spirit here he’s not listening if that’s what the holy spirit is doing but what’s happening because Luke’s telling us this account on purpose there’s something here that we need to know about but despite these many warnings Paul went anyway because he was prepared to be imprisoned he told us and he was prepared to even die for the name of Jesus now just to get an idea where Paul’s mind is at in here I think we can go to to his writing so we can go to the letters that he wrote to see kind of what what is Paul’s mind and all this think of Romans 5 6 to 11. he said Christ died for us but God showed his love for us and this that while we were still sinners Christ died for us we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation

Romans 6 5-11 or at least verses five and eight we’ve been United in a death like his we shall certainly be United with him in a resurrection like his now we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him this is the mind of Paul of what’s going on in him and in his own mind about the assurance that he has in Christ despite the suffering that’s before him and that he’s been warned about Romans 14 verses 8 and 9 for if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord this is one of the one of the main passages I’m sure lots of churches use we in our and our Anglican liturgy for the burial of the Dead this is one of the one of the texts we use for if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord so then whether we live or die we are the Lords for to this end Christ died and lived again that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living

Paul’s mind that’s Paul’s Assurance that’s Paul’s hope and then in Philippians chapter 1 verses uh in 21 to 26 but but specifically that this one verse that’s so powerful and yet so hard I think to really fathom to live is Christ and to die is gained that’s Paul’s behind that’s his Assurance that’s his confidence and the finished work of Jesus Christ the gospel of grace to which he’s given his life

that’s what Paul’s Discerning this voice of the Holy Spirit through that’s the lens but remember in Acts 20 I think you read it last week verses 22 to 24. this is what Paul in his speech said himself and now behold I am going to Jerusalem constrained by or Bound in the spirit he’s already declared he’s Bound in the spirit the spirit has made this clear not knowing what will happen to me except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me and every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me but I do not account my life of any value nor is precious to myself if only I may finish the course and the ministry that I receive from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God

he’s already recognized the holy spirit’s already told him what awaits him the suffering that awaits him in the Affliction but he knows he’s called to continue to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God to two times the Holy Spirit seemingly working through the disciples was working to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem so how do we reconcile it who’s wrong is the holy spirit wrong is the holy spirit contradicting itself here telling Paul one thing telling everybody the other the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed his mind the warning was divine

the warning was divine and was in keeping with what the holy spirit’s been telling Paul all along Paul knew what was to come but the her the human urging was fallible but it was natural of course they they hear the warning they don’t want they love Paul they don’t want him to go they don’t want him to suffer they don’t want him to die did you hear the Gospel reading how did Peter respond to Jesus when Jesus told him that he would have to suffer and he’d have to die and on the third day be raised again Peter said far be it from you Lord no this isn’t going to happen to you you’re you will have the Victorious Life everything will go well you’re King you can’t suffer and what is what is how did Jesus respond to him get behind me Satan your your mind is not on the things of God your mind is on the things of man the things of man is Victorious Life Comfort peace

that we’re going to have everything we want that we can name it and claim it God wants you to be to be rich beyond all measure he does but not in the way that not in the way that we think amen

and the warnings and of the suffering despite what God’s people heard Paul knew better he had heard the word himself and he knew it goes I think all the way back to to Paul’s own conversion if you could remember that far back remember how far back we go in Acts 9 15 to 16 uh when Paul’s been blinded but uh ASV has been called by Jesus uh and and God spoke to ananias and what did he tell him ananias was afraid to go and speak these words to Paul because Paul was this great persecutor of Christians but this is what the Lord said to ananias in Acts 9 15 to 16. for Paul is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and Kings and the children of Israel for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name

Paul’s heard this message from the very beginning that suffering is part of the deal suffering is part of what it means to be a follower of Christ now you we can mistake in that I think to sound like it’s some sort of punishment or it’s a judgment of Paul hey Paul because you were bad because you did these things uh you’re gonna suffer from my namesake you got to make it right that’s that’s not the message at all saying what you’re going to learn is how much you are going to suffer for the sake of my name because that’s part of the Gospel Ministry

entering in the proclamation of the gospel of grace as much as we hate it they go hand in hand suffering in the testimony of God’s grace and Paul is called to be a great witness to the gospel to Proclaim it not only in word but in his life to show it so can we learn about our suffering in this world from this passage and through Paul’s life well I think first of all the passage it reminds us that we’re living in the time of the already but the not yet is what my professors used to call it Jesus has come he has suffered he has died we have been forgiven and we have been raised to New Life in him but we’re still waiting and longing for the full Redemption the new heaven the new Earth Revelations 21 that paints a picture of the New Jerusalem where there’ll be no more tears no more pain no more mourning no more death in other words no more suffering the suffering will end that’s coming but at the in-between time we continue to suffer for you to suffer for the gospel so what does this passage teach us I think there’s there’s five things that the that this passage teaches us about suffering and I give credit some of this to an article by Joseph Schumann from the Desiring God uh website uh took some of these from him but not all of them uh suffering first of all and we see this in Paul’s life as multifaceted suffering is multifaceted uh it’s sometimes mental it’s sometimes physical it’s sometimes emotional and sometimes it’s spiritual sometimes it’s all of them at the same time

all suffering is going to be physical and he’s already experienced physical suffering that we’ve we’ve read about but think about the emotional suffering I think of In this passage the heart-wrenching goodbye is entire on that beach knowing in his own heart that he wasn’t coming back that he wasn’t going to see them again

it was deeply emotional for Paul and for the disciples the suffering but there was also that this in some sense the spiritual suffering that he endured and and caesarea when agabus the gave the prophetic word and the people were urging him not to go and yet he knew that he had to go God had called them he goes what are you doing weeping and Breaking My Heart because he was he knew that he was being tempted not to do it not to follow through to follow what they were saying the things of man and not the things of God suffering for us it’s multifaceted we all suffer and we suffer in different ways to different measures at different times we can’t judge someone else’s suffering that they’re going through but secondly we learned the suffering for for Christians In this passage it happens in community it happens in community we don’t suffer alone we’re not meant to suffer alone Paul in every community that he went to and you see how they welcomed him and they loved him and their Hospitality they invited him in and they loved them and they provided for him for people who say they don’t need Church to be a Christian you know maybe on on certain level that that’s true but you know what it does mean it means suffering alone I mean suffering alone we’re all called to carry each other’s burdens to offer Hospitality to offer Comfort love and compassion

and that is an incredibly powerful testimony and such a beautiful thing of testimony to the gospel of grace when the community comes around us when we’re suffering to love us and give us comfort and that brings us to number three because our own suffering it equips us for the gospel Ministry Paul’s own suffering Was preparing him for what he’s about to face in Jerusalem the trials that he’s going to undergo all the way to Rome in second Corinthians chapter 1 verse 4. we’re told this that God Comforts us Paul wrote in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any Affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God God’s grace in the midst of our own suffering it equips us it equips us to be able to minister love and compassion that we’ve experienced in God to others in the midst of their sufferings you know I think of my mom and my dad my oldest brother died before I was born when he was 10 of Leukemia and I can’t tell you throughout my life how many people came to my mom and dad or that they sought out who suffered the loss of a child that they were able to minister to in a profound way that others just can’t you’re not Redemptive level of of what’s happening in our own suffering equipping us to be able to minister and love and care for other people and then number four suffering prepares us for Glory that kid seems completely opposite of everything we think about suffering right but Paul wrote to the Corinthians and the second letter to the Corinthians chapter 4 verse 17 to 18 this light momentary Affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of Glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen But to the things that are unseen and eternal our suffering is not without purpose it’s not without Redemption our suffering is preparing us for the ultimate joy that awaits Us in the goodness of God that God has in store for us in his eternal glory

and I know sometimes those can seem like Hollow words in the moment when we’re deep in the midst of our own suffering

but it’s true it’s true

but then even in the midst of our own suffering

fifth thing that this teaches us truth that teaches about suffering is that our suffering always points us to the one who suffered for us

you know Hebrews chapter 2 verse 10 is one of my my favorite verses it says for it was fitting that he for whom and by whom all things exist and bringing many sons to Glory should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering they’re suffering and our suffering we were reminded of the one who loves us so much that he was willing to suffer for us we’re reminded that we are united to God in him through God’s suffering servant we’re United to him in a death like his reunited him in a resurrection a new life like his and our hope in him is secure not in the things or or the Comforts of this life

the finished work of Jesus is suffering of his death and of his resurrection

because no matter how much we want to do it to avoid it suffering can’t be avoided suffering can’t be explained away but suffering unto the gospel of grace it’s Redemptive preparing us equipping us and reminding us of who we really are in Christ is his beloved Sons and Daughters of God let us pray father we admit that we we don’t like suffering we don’t want it we avoid it we hear those words we hear the the prophetic words that were given and we too would have been just like those disciples who heard it and said avoid it God’s given you the word get away from the suffering because we struggle to see any Redemption at all in it Lord thank you for showing us that you were at work even in our own suffering you were equipping us you are reminding us of who we really are and pointing us always to our suffering savior who loves us so much you help us you give us your grace whether we’re suffering now whether there’s a past suffering that still is Weighing on our hearts and with the suffering that inevitably awaits us in the future will you Empower us and equip us with your spirit you always point us to Jesus that our hope may be sure and certain in him and Jesus we pray all this in your mighty name amen amen

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