TO DIE IS GAIN: Acts 21:1-16

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SCRIPTURE

Acts 21:1-16 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. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, 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 at Tyre, 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 on to Jerusalem. 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 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 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. 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

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. 

BIG IDEA

In Acts 21, Paul is traveling to Jerusalem and ultimately to his death. Along the way, we get a glimpse of what the Christian views of both life and death are. First, the Christian view of life is not “self-preservation at all costs.” Rather, the Christian view of life is “Christ-exaltation at all costs.” Jesus is the supreme value in all of existence and the only mediator between God and man. He is worthy to be exalted in action, reaction, and with words over all the earth. Though it seems it would have been perfectly fine not to go to Jerusalem, Paul goes knowing he will die because he is most concerned with lifting up Jesus. No matter how hard it may be for him personally, Paul’s aim was to glorify Jesus. Second, the Christian view of death is first and foremost that it is an enemy. We were not originally built to die. Death is not a natural part of life, but a part of the curse God subjected the earth to because our our sin and rebellion against Him. For the Christian, however, death has been defanged and becomes a dear friend. Because Jesus lived for our righteousness, died for our sin, and arose from the grave, death’s teeth have been knocked out. Outside of Jesus, death will drag all to judgement, where everyone will pay for their sins in hell forever. Yet, for all who trust Jesus as Savior and King, death will bring them swiftly to His arms, the One we were built for. This why Paul was able to, despite his friends trying to persuade him otherwise, keep his eyes on Jesus and preaching the gospel, no matter the cost. 

DISCUSSION

1. Study through Acts 21:1-16 together. What stands out to you and why? 

The Christian view of life is not “self-preservation at all costs.” Rather, the Christian view of life is “Christ-exaltation at all costs.” Jesus is the supreme value in all of existence and the only mediator between God and man. He is worthy to be exalted in action, reaction, and with words over all the earth. Though it seems it would have been perfectly fine not to go to Jerusalem, Paul goes knowing he will die because he is most concerned with lifting up Jesus. No matter how hard it may be for him personally, Paul’s aim was to glorify Jesus.

2. In what areas of your life are you tempted to lean towards “self-preservation” rather than “Christ-exaltation”? (how you structure your schedule, use money, talk or don’t talk to people about Jesus, etc

Take a few minutes and watch this clip “The Supremacy of Jesus Christ” by John Piper. https://youtu.be/3wefwqXBn4k 

3. Which of these Supremacies stood out to you and why? 

The Christian view of death is first and foremost that it is an enemy. We were not originally built to die. Death is not a natural part of life, but a part of the curse God subjected the earth to because our our sin and rebellion against Him. For the Christian, however, death has been defanged and becomes a dear friend. Because Jesus lived for our righteousness, died for our sin, and arose from the grave, death’s teeth have been knocked out. 

4. In what sense does death become a dear friend to Christians? How is the different from accepting that “death is natural”?

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

5. According to 1 Corinthians 15, what will Christians bodies be like when we are raised from he dead? How can knowing the future grace you’re going to experience with Jesus empower you to live for Him—exalting him at all costs—here and now? 

GOOD WORD

Jesus lived, died, and rose for all who would come to Him through faith. So that in Genesis 3, God could not only promise that if we sin we will die, but also promise One will come to defeat death on our behalf. Jesus worked on our behalf, so God could say through Paul in Romans 6, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus was our perfect substitute, so God could speak through Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, saying not only is death an enemy, but “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • MEN’S WORKOUT / BIBLE STUDY (second and fourth Mondays of every month from 6–7am) – The Gospel Rescue Mission is hosting a men’s workout and Bible study. Pastor Brett will be there along with every other willing and able man. 

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