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Bad Advice

Acts: Christ Builds His Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRODUCTION

Summary: Well-intentioned people sometimes give bad advice. That’s what happened to Paul on His way to Jerusalem This passage teaches us to listen to advice, but follow God’s will at all costs; and explains why Paul did not fear death.
TEXT:
INTRODUCTION
Advice can be a wonderful thing…or an absolute disaster. I bet that all of us can think back to some bad advice you RECEIVED or perhaps some bad advice that you have GIVEN.
Sometimes we don’t want to hear advice, but we should hear it anyway and pay heed to it. Erma Bombeck said, “When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”
says, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”
So generally speaking, getting advice is a good practice. But sometimes people are very well-intentioned… in giving very bad advice.
Illus. – Here are some examples of some really bad advice: -
Illus. – Here are some examples of some really bad advice: -
- (Slide 1: A women’s magazine cover that says, “NAG HIM…and he’ll be by your side longer.”)
- (Slide 2: A 1950s newspaper ad with a smiling mom and healthy baby that says, “For a better start in life, start COLA earlier.”)
- (Slide 3: Photo of a tire with a screw in it that says: “Instant snow tractions: Put a 2-inch screw in each tread.”)
- (SLIDE 4: Slide says, “If your girlfriend says, “I don’t anything for my birthday, don’t get her any. It will show you are a good listener.”)
TS: In our text, we see Paul’s friends trying to give him advice, and Paul continues to reject it. He steadfastly walks straight into the jaws of trouble and persecution. He was getting lots of advice and counsel, but was it good counsel?
Acts 21:1–16 ESV
1 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 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.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” 15 After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16 And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.
Acts 20:1–16 ESV
1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
In our text, we see Paul’s friends trying desperately to give him advice, and Paul steadfastly rejecting it, walking straight into the jaws of trouble and persecution. He was getting lots of advice and counsel, but was it good counsel?
0:1-16
I see two key things in this passage …

I. FIRST, WE SEE PAUL’S DETERMINATION TO DO THE WILL OF GOD

EX: Bad Advice
1st verse 4 they advised him he should not go to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:4 ESV
4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
They knew trouble was on the horizon
They choose to warn him against going.
Out of love for him, they tried to spare him.
They should have encouraged him to make him ready
2nd verses 10-12, a prophet named Agabus foretells the persecution Paul would face if he went to Jerusalem, causing the disciples to urge him not to continue.
Acts 21:10–12 ESV
10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Notice that Agabus was told what would happen
this was a prophesy from God
it was 100% accurate
However, the warning wasn’t from God!
It was the disciple’s reaction to the prophesy
So, if it was God’s will for Paul to go to Jerusalem, how do we deal with the warnings of the Holy Spirit in our text?
Shouldn’t we listen to the Holy Spirit?
Albert Barnes, gives this explanation:
[This] was not understood by Paul as a positive command that he should not go to Jerusalem; for had it been, it would not have been disobeyed. He evidently understood [them] as expressive of their earnest wish that he should not go, as [informing] him of danger, and as a kind expression in regard to his own welfare and safety.…Paul was in better circumstances to understand this than we are, and his interpretation was doubtless correct.…It should be understood, therefore, simply as an inspired prophetic warning, that if he went, he went at the risk of his life—a prophetic warning, joined with their individual personal wishes that he should not expose himself to this danger. The meaning evidently is that they said by inspiration of the Spirit that he should not go unless he was willing to encounter danger, for they foresaw that the journey would be attended with the hazard of his life.
AP: What truths are there for us to learn here?
1. First, we can learn that not all advice is good, even if it comes from people who love us or are wise and knowledgeable.
or the right advice, even if it comes from people who love us or are wise and knowledgeable.
Sometimes good people can give you the wrong advice.
v. 4 is an example
Greek scholars say that the phrase “through the spirit” in the Greek really means “in consequence of the spirit”—that is, the disciples were saying not to go to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit was giving advance warning of what was to happen.
Greek phrase “through the spirit”
literly means “in consequence of the spirit”
ly means “in consequence of the spirit”—that is, the disciples were saying not to go to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit was giving advance warning of what was to happen.
—that is, the disciples were saying not to go to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit was giving advance warning of what was to happen.
Acts 20:22 ESV
22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,
Not forbidden, sent
Sometimes the advice we offer others can be based more on what we desire than what is the will of God.
. Maybe the Holy Spirit revealed these things to these brethren so they would pray the more earnestly for him, or perhaps to test Paul’s will to see if he would follow God’s will.
Whatever the reason for these revelations, it’s clear from this passage that sometimes well-meaning, even spiritual people can take accurate facts but come to a wrong conclusion.
Also, sometimes the advice we offer others can be based more on what we desire than what is the will of
2. Second, remember, only those facing a decision know all the facts and are qualified to make the final decision and face the consequences.
God. This was the case with Paul’s friends when Agabus warned Paul about what was to happen in Jerusalem verses 10-11. Agabus himself didn’t try to stop Paul, but when Paul’s traveling companions heard Agabus’s prophecy, they began to try to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem. – Look at verse 12 again: “And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.”
Paul’s friends, including Luke, the writer of Acts, loved Paul and were concerned for his safety. But they didn’t know the big picture of what God was up to, which we’ll see in the weeks ahead. So, the first thing we can learn is that not all advice is good advice.
2. Second, though we should give counsel, remember that in the end, only those facing a decision know all the facts and are qualified to make the final decision—and will face the consequences of their decisions.
3. One more lesson is that God’s will should be paramount in our lives.
But once they saw that Paul had made his decision, they simply left the matter in the Lord’s hands. Yes, when asked for advice, DO give your insights and cautions, but in the end, a decision a person has to make is ultimately his or hers alone.
3. One more lesson is that God’s will should be paramount in our lives.
Even if his best friends opposed him, Paul would not veer from his determination to do the will of God in his life.
Even though he knew that it meant SUFFERING in Jerusalem, Paul would not turn away from God’s will.
Even if it led to his DEATH, Paul set his face to do God’s will. Paul was determined to do God’s will NO MATTER THE COST.
He says at the end of verse 13 –
Acts 20:13 ESV
13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land.
Acts 21:13 ESV
13 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.”
A
That is devotion
“I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” That’s the kind of determination we need to do God’s will in our lives!
We need the same devotion to God’s will as revealed in His word.
What is God’s will for your life? We tend to see “God’s will” as big choices we make in things like the right spouse, or the right vocation for our lives. But the only places the Bible talks about the will of God have to do with specific commands Christ has given us. That is, the will of God is to do what He has commanded us to do.
For instance, says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” What is God’s will for you?—Well, for one thing, that you give thanks in everything.
What is God’s will?
- It’s God’s will for you to be saved. Have you been?
- It’s God’s will that He be first in your life
- It’s God’s will that you love one another. Do you reach out to those in need and love the unlovely and forgive one another?
- It’s God’s will for you to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. Have you done so since you were saved? -
-It’s God’s will to be faithful when God’s people gather together in His name. Are you faithful to church?
-It’s God’s will that you tithe and give to God through your local church. Are you faithful to obey God in this area?
- It’s God’s will for you to serve Him. Have you found a ministry; a place to serve God in the local church?
Like Paul, make God’s will the top priority in your life above.

Next we Paul’s courage in the face of death.

– Look again at what Paul says at the end of verse 13 –
Acts 21:13 ESV
13 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.”
EX: Paul not afraid to face eternity
:
“…I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Why was Paul not afraid to face eternity? It’s natural for anyone to fear death, yet Paul seems immune to anything even approaching fear as he heroically sets his face toward Jerusalem. We have many illustrations of such fearlessness in the face of death by martyrs throughout the history of the church. Why were Paul and the martyrs of the faith so courageous in the face of death?
Paul seems immune to fear as he moves toward Jerusalem.
Throughout church history as well as in Scripture, we have many illustrations of fearlessness in the face of death.
Why were Paul and the martyrs of the faith so courageous in the face of death?
Because when a person is saved through faith in Jesus Christ, he has the assurance that his sins are forgiven and that his destination is secure.
Sin leads to fear, salvation cures sin!
1 John 4:13–21 ESV
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Illus. – In the sixteenth century King Philip II of Spain ruled Holland and in his hatred of the Dutch, he killed, tortured, imprisoned and exiled thousands. When the people of Rotterdam rose up in defiance, he sent a Spanish army under the Duke of Alva to put down the rebellion.
Remember when Adam and Eve sinned? God came to the Garden to be with them like He always did, and for the first time in their lives the Bible says they were afraid of God. Guilt brings shame, and shame causes the sinner to want to hide from God, and well he should because God cannot look upon sin.
Good works and religion are not enough to wash away our sin. It’s only the blood of Jesus that can sufficiently cleanse us from the guilt of sin.
says, “The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin.”
Twice in the New Testament, in and , Paul says of Jesus Christ, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
Illus. – In the sixteenth century King Philip II of Spain ruled Holland and in his hatred of the Dutch, he killed, tortured, imprisoned and exiled thousands. When the people of Rotterdam rose up in defiance, he sent a Spanish army under the Duke of Alva to put down the rebellion.
After a valiant defense, Rotterdam fell before the Spanish army. The victors went from house to house, ferreting out the citizens and slaying them wholesale in a horrific bloodbath of wanton killing.
In one house a group of men, women and children huddled together, fear gripping their hearts as the Spanish soldiers approached. Suddenly a young man had an idea.
Taking a young goat found on the premises, he killed it by the entrance, and then with a broom swept its blood under the door. Soon the Spaniards were banging at the door, but then they heard one of them say, “Look at the running blood under the door. Let’s go, men. The work here is already done!” Those people lived because a goat had died.
1 John 4:9 ESV
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
We can live because the Lamb of God died for you. Paul knew he might die physically in Jerusalem, but he would live forever because his sins were forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary. You can have that assurance also.
says, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
You can live because the Lamb of God died for you. Paul knew he might die physically in Jerusalem, but he would live forever because his sins were forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary. You can have that assurance also.

CONCLUSION

Let me wrap this up by bringing these two thoughts down to where you and I live.
1. First, as we saw, Paul was bound and determined to do God’s will for his life, despite the well-meaning advice of his friends.
2. Also, Paul was courageous to face death if necessary for the Gospel’s sake because he knew he was secure in his relationship with God.
As you live, do you live wholeheartedly for Christ?
Paul said, “for me to live is Christ”—that is, CHRIST is what he lived for!
Can you say, “Christ is what makes me tick” or do you have to say, “My job, or my spouse, or my possessions, or recognition is what I live for.”
And…If you died, would it be GAIN for you because you would be with Christ in heaven?
—Or would it be everlasting LOSS in hell?
If it’s the latter, come to Christ and have your sins forgiven forever by Jesus Christ.
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