Our text is Acts 21:37-22:29.
Paul begins his defense by identifying with the crowd, reflecting on his former life. He was born a Jew in Tarsus and had been brought up in Jerusalem. He sat at the feet of Gamaliel. He had been a strict Pharisee, indeed a Pharisee of Pharisees. His zeal was expressed in violent persecution of Christians, both men and women, whom he handed over to death. Paul wanted to destroy Christianity. The high priest and council of elders would confirm his story (22:5). They knew at one time Paul had even sought to travel all the way to Damascus to persecute followers of the Way. But then something happened: Paul met the living Christ, and that changed everything.
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught in the sermon. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on these links for a children’s bulletin and printable activity pages to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Citizen of Heaven Activity Sheet.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
1 John 4:9
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. (ESV)
Almighty God, sometimes we are overwhelmed by your love.
And we even think to ourselves, how can this be? It’s just not right. We’re not worthy to be here. We’re not good enough. We don’t know enough. We don’t care enough.
But Father, you show us sin, but you also point us to our savior and enable us to run to Jesus. And we see your glory.
And then the beauty of the gospel overwhelms us.
Father, we thank you so much for the privilege of gathering in your name, and for the many blessings that are so evident in our lives.
But Father we praise you this morning not only because of what you have done, but because you are infinitely worthy.
So, would you enable us through Holy Spirit to offer you worship that is acceptable and pleasing in your sight, as we offer ourselves through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the month of November, our congregation will be singing Psalm 89, it is set to the tune, Ode to Joy, from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “We have now reached the majestic Covenant Psalm, which, according to the Jewish arrangement closes the third book of the Psalms. It is the utterance of a believer, in presence of great national disaster, pleading with his God, urging the grand argument of covenant engagements, and expecting deliverance and help, because of the faithfulness of Jehovah.” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury/ps089.htm
Corporate Scripture Reading: Luke 18:9-14
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)
Loving God, your word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Even as you have confronted us this morning through this parable Jesus told, help us to see ourselves. Reveal to us the manifold ways in which we are guilty of trusting in ourselves and our own perceived righteousness. We often judge others uncharitably in our hearts, while we are quick to give ourselves a free pass. When we do, we trivialize your glorious gospel thinking that we can somehow gain merit with you by striving under the law. The truth is, our own righteousness is filthy rags when measured against your perfect standard in the law, and the perfection of your son Jesus Christ. So Father, forgive us we pray for the totality of our sin. Manifest true humility in our hearts and lives through the power of your word and Holy Spirit. Help us to stand before you clothed only in the righteousness of your son, as we rest in him in faith. And may ongoing repentance and faith bring us the true joy and peace you have ordained, for your glory and for our good. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
Hear the Good News!
4 Surely he [Jesus] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (ESV)
Through faith in Christ, we are forgiven. Glory to God!
Affirmation of Faith:
The Heidelberg Catechism
Question 49: What is true faith?
Answer: First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father. Second, we have our own flesh in heaven—a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven. Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee. By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.
Citizen of Heaven: Ambassador for Jesus (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Colossians 3:23-24
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (ESV)
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
Christian Henry Bateman was an ordained minister in the Church of England and wrote our hymn in 1843. The text of the hymn contains direct, uncomplicated language suited for children, very few of the words have more than two syllables. Each stanza begins with an exhortation—an imperative command to “Come” or “Praise.”
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: Paul’s Defense: Honesty and Loyalty
Our hymn written in 1719 by Isaac Watts encourages us to walk in the law of the Lord. The words come right out of the beginning of Psalm 119, and they encourage us to love God’s law, to keep his word and obey his statutes.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
- Generally speaking, what does Paul try to accomplish in his defense (Acts 22:1-21)?
- How is Paul’s calling similar to the callings of Moses and Isaiah? How is it different?
- Do you think Paul’s speech is effective? Explain.
- Take a few moments and pray for God to help you present the gospel this week. Ask him to bring your hearers to faith in Christ.
Citizen of Heaven: Ambassador for Jesus
Do you have a second citizenship?
Last week we began to look at what it means to be a good citizen, here on earth.
And we looked at some verses in Acts that talked about the Apostle Paul’s Roman citizenship, and in every verse of Acts 22:25-29 Paul’s Roman citizenship is mentioned.
But did you know the Bible teaches about another kind of citizenship, a second citizenship?
The Bible talks about being a citizen of Heaven.
Philippians 3:20 – 21 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (NKJV)
What does that mean?
First, how do I become a citizen of heaven? You are made a citizen of heaven if you love and trust in Jesus as your Savior and King. Right now, almost all of us have an earthly citizenship – but being a citizen in heaven is for everyone who belongs to God’s family by loving Jesus, by putting their faith in Jesus and asking for him to forgive their sins!
Second Question: What does a good citizen of heaven look like?
Good citizens of heaven:
• Love God with all their heart.
• They obey his commands.
• They pray.
• They read God’s Word.
• And they worship God in church or with family at home.
• And good citizens of heaven represent Jesus to others.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 – Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (ESV)
Ambassadors work at an embassy…
But WAIT, what is an ambassador and what is an embassy?
• An ambassador is a fancy messenger – who represents and tells others about what a country or an organization wants to do.
• An embassy is a building where an ambassador works.
The church is God’s embassy, and God sends his heavenly citizens as ambassadors for Jesus out into the world.
So, are you a citizen of heaven because you love Jesus? If the answer is yes, then you are also an ambassador for Jesus, so go tell others about what Jesus has done for you!