Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Did Paul disobey God by going to Jerusalem (Don't let the fear of making a wrong decision paralyze you)

Paul's ongoing trial (Acts 23-24)

    Paul continues to defend himself against the false accusations of the Jews, before Roman officials. There are many things that could be drawn out of these passages, but one thing that stands out to me is how Paul continues to say that the real issue is  the hope of the resurrection. I think Paul claims this as the issue because it really was, but also if he let's it be the issue rather than some side issue he gets to witness every time he gives his defense. Genius!

    But some would say that Paul should not be in this mess in the first place. God told him not to go to Jerusalem but he stubbornly decided to go anyway. Paul said that the Spirit testified in every city that when he got to Jerusalem he was going to face some very difficult circumstances, but he wasn't worried because he really believed he was supposed to go (Acts 20:22-24). In Tyre, Paul was told by those disciples through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4). Then he was warned heavily again about all he would face if he went at the house of Phillip, but he said even if he died there he was going (Acts 21:8-14).

    Now if all we had were the passages were people warned him of the trouble and he said in spite of that he was going to go, then we would have nothing to question, but the Acts 21:4 passage where they told him through the Spirit that he should not go, gives us the opportunity to question what he did. Some say that the passage in Acts 21:4 clearly states he should not have gone so the case is closed. Others say that the Acts 21:4 passage is just like the other ones where the Spirit revealed what would happen to Paul and naturally the disciples told him he should not go.

    I do not know if Paul obeyed or disobeyed, that will all be sorted out at the Judgment Seat. I do know that if it was disobedience it was out of a pure motive and it was blessed anyway. He got to witness to many people and was greatly used even in his imprisonment. Could he have been used even more if he had skipped Jerusalem and went straight to Rome? Perhaps, but we don't know.

    In our current day situation, I warn all of us against thinking we know God's will for another persons life. Of course the things that are directly stated in scriptures we can speak boldly about and encourage people to follow, knowing these things are the will of God. However, many decisions we make are not spelled out specifically in the Bible, and there are no current day prophets to give us a direct revelation from the Lord on these issues. So we must trust the leadership of the Holy Spirit on these issues and we can not look into another persons life and say, "No, the Holy Spirit did not say that to you, he said this". Which by the way, most people make those kind of comments after the fact, when things did not turn out the way they thought they should.

    I can tell you for sure that I have made decisions for the Lord that I really struggled with and just had to do the best I could. I have made decisions for the Lord that later I wandered if I had made a mistake. However, I can look back on these decisions that I am talking about and say for sure that none of them were direct rebellion against God, they were all efforts to follow him the best I knew how. If I missed it, if I was wrong in those situation, the good news is God blessed anyway and wonderful things happened for his kingdom. Don't let the fear of getting it wrong paralyze you. Do the best you can to hear God's will through the Holy Spirit. Move out in the confidence of that direction, knowing that even if you missed the perfection of God's will, he can still bless.

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