And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet from Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “the will of the Lord be done.” - Acts 21:10-14
Here in the book of Acts we have Paul who originally persecuted the early church, but heard from Jesus (Acts 9) and converted and became one of the early Christian missionaries. Paul is confronted by a prophet, Agabus, who has a message for him from the Lord. Paul receives the warning from the prophet Agabus that if he goes down to Jerusalem he will be bound and handed over to the Gentiles. (But notice in the message Agabus does not say that the Lord said not to go) Paul’s companions, which include Luke, the author of Acts, try to convince Paul not to go to Jerusalem but he responds by saying he is not only ready to be bound but to die for the cause of Christ. So even though Paul had heard from a man of God, he made a decision to continue onto Jerusalem. So this brings us to the question of how do we make spiritual decisions? How do we make decisions that line up with the will of God?
Let us investigate some other scriptures for some added insight. The situation facing Paul is similar to the situation with Jesus in dealing with His eventual crucifixion as illustrated in Matthew 16:21-23
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Just like Luke, Peter, a man of God, thought he was doing the right thing telling Jesus that He would not have to suffer or be killed. If we knew a friend of ours in the case of Paul or Jesus was about to suffer, go to jail, or be killed we would probably do everything in our power to persuade them not to go or to prevent it from happening.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” – Proverbs 14:12
Jesus knew the will of God the Father and that it was absolutely necessary for Him to die for the sins of all mankind in order for all of us to be saved from the penalty of sin and rebuked Peter from trying to convince Him otherwise. And Paul knew the will of God was to spread the message of Jesus Christ even if it meant being bound-up, incarceration, or death. As Jesus says in Matthew 26:42, “…thy will be done.” So even though it was noble what Peter and Luke were trying to do in persuading Jesus and Paul respectively to not go to Jerusalem, it was against the will of God and therefore was not a spiritual decision. If they would have not gone to Jerusalem they would have gone against the will of God and chosen to follow their flesh or their pride or their emotions instead of God. But the question comes along…How do we know the Will of God so that we can make the correct decision?
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” - John 10:27-30
Very simply put….To know how to make spiritual decisions we have to know Jesus. To know Jesus is the only way to know the true direction to take in life. As Rick Warren famously states in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, a cake can’t say why it was made or for who it was made…it is the baker who needs to tell the cake why it was made. If you want to know what direction you are to take in life, which decision is truly God’s will for your life, you have to have a relationship with God which only comes through His Son Jesus Christ. The closer you get to Christ the more you will know His will.
When I was in Kenya in June 2015 doing ministry at an orphanage I asked an 11-year-old child whose parents had been killed by Islamic terrorist, “Who is Jesus?” He simply said, “He is the one who saves us!” A very simple yet profound answer. And He has saved me from some very bad decisions by guiding me in the right direction. The Will of the Lord be done.
Quote: The more we fill up on Jesus the less we will be full of
Today’s Prayer: Lord help me to know you so that I may know your will.