Devotional Series from Acts: Watch out for 'Goodwill' Advice

Devotional series from Acts: watch out for "goodwill" advice
Devotional series from Acts: watch out for "goodwill" advice (photo: CCD contributor:Zhang Muen)
By CCD contributor:Zhang MuenJune 22nd, 2020

After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. (Acts21:10-12)

When many people see this chapter, especially the fourteenth verse, they may misunderstand that Paul went his own way to Jerusalem alone against the will of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul did not go his own way, nor did he want to violate the will of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, Paul was determined to obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because what the Holy Spirit revealed to the people in each city was the bondage Paul would face, not that they should stop Paul from going to Jerusalem (cf. 20:23, 21:11).

Before Paul went to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit had already indicated in cities many times that he would inevitably encounter chains and tribulations in the journey ahead of him, and even his life would be in danger. On the way to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit revealed people many times and finally revealed Agabus, the prophet who had predicted a great famine in Jerusalem. He told Paul about the bondage he would face in Jerusalem. So, there was such a scene, the people who loved Paul did not want Paul to be bound and urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

Paul knew that he was going to be stranded in Jerusalem, and even though everyone tried to persuade him, he was still unwaveringly obedient to the Holy Spirit and went to Jerusalem. Because Paul didn't care about his life and obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he had the opportunity to testify before the ruler and King Agrippa, and finally went to Rome to preach the gospel.

Paul's experience was very similar to that of Jesus. For the first time, Jesus told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. When Peter heard Jesus say this, he took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you." Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you don’t have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (cf. Matt 16:21-23) Because Jesus had the things of God in mind, he firmly obeyed God’s will. Although Jesus was arrested and killed in Jerusalem, God's plan was completed. He was the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Peter's dissuasion of Jesus seemed to be well-intentioned, but they had the things of man in the mind, and not the things of God. Similarly, those who tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem had things of man in mind, not the things of God. This kind of self-dissuasion also exists in our lives today. Although these people have good intentions, they often do not consider God's will. Counsel that does not consider God's will often prevent us from following God and obeying God's will.

Christians know that following God and serving Him will inevitably lead to many difficulties, and we may even suffer persecution and injury. So nowadays some young people know that if they serve God they will go through many difficulties, but they are still willing to dedicate themselves to serve God. Often they will be hindered by their parents who worry that their children have many difficulties if they serve God full-time. Although this is an exhortation of love, they have the things of man in mind, not the things of God. So they block God's will.

It is important to avoid being discouraged by these well-intentioned people because it will cause us to deviate from God's will. First of all, you must first seek God's will, and then clearly understand God's leadership. Only in this way can you walk in God's will, not by your own flesh and blood. After that, we should follow Jesus and Paul to obey God's leadership and follow God's call, even though the road ahead is difficult. When you firmly obey God's will, God will also be with you to help you complete His plan.

- Translated by Abigail Wu 

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