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Grace Notes Ministry:
Confidence in Criticism
23:1 “earnestly” = He’s looking them straight in the eyes, not ashamed, not afraid, and not about to back down. Paul used to be a member of their number…and now they consider him to be a turncoat…a traitor. There’s nothing this group would like more than to execute him. Yet he stands before them cool, calm, and collected.
To escape criticism: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing!
There is no way to live the Christian life in our modern society today and not be criticized. But we can have confidence in criticism and peace in persecution. How?
I. We have to be morally clean
v. 1 “good conscience”
Conscience is that inner voice which accuses us when we do wrong. It’s an alarm that sounds within warning us ahead of time, too. But be careful, as we said last time, because…
1. It can be defiled
2. It can be seared
3. It can be evil
We cannot avoid persecution and criticism, but we don’t have to be affected by it. I was badmouthed on the radio this morning because of what I said on TV Friday night…but it doesn’t bother me…why not?
Ill.--Sailors have noted that winds can be blowing in one direction, and iceburgs moving in the opposite direction. How does this happen? 9/10th’s of the iceburg is below the surface, so the ocean currents are in control…the little bit above the surface is not affected by the winds.
Our convictions…our roots need to run so deep in our lives that we are steered by the current of absolute truth, God’s Word.
We’ll never amount to much if we allow ourselves to worry so much about what others think.
Ill.—the first steamboat trip from NYC to Albany was a very short trip, but took 32 hours. Most of the people laughed and criticized, but the inventor did not give up or back down, because he knew in his heart he was up to something good.
Automobiles: when they first came out they were usually passed on the streets by horses and buggies.
First electric light bulb: when first demonstrated, they had to have an oil lamp on to see it because it was so dim.
First airplane flight: only stayed in the air for 59 seconds.
That’s what Paul was like. When he got saved, he got forgiven, and got a new outlook…that led to a clean conscience, and he operated on principle, not acc’d to the winds of public opinion. He didn’t take a poll or go w/ the majority…he went w/ the good conscience of being morally clean!
So, make sure you’re right, first…then, don’t be moved by the winds of criticism.
One guy couldn’t get anything done because he was so afraid of criticism:
Making a journey w/ grandson by donkey…only had 1 donkey, but had to go a ways thru 5 villages to get home.
He put the boy on the donkey and walked along beside. The 1st village criticized, saying, “look at that healthy young boy, making that old man walk.”
He couldn’t take the criticism, so he switched places w/ the boy.
2nd village criticized, “look at that…a healthy, grown man makin’ a little boy walk.”
He couldn’t take it, so they both got on the donkey.
3rd village said, “that’s animal abuse…2 of them on that one little donkey”
So, they both started walking.
4th village said, “can you believe it, 2 people walking when they have a perfectly good donkey…you’d think one of them would have sense enough to get on and ride!”
He had enough, so guess what he did.
Came to 5th village, and what did the people see? The boy was walking, the man was walking, and they were carrying the donkey!
Moral: you’re gonna be criticized, so make sure you’re right, and then take your stand!
II. We have to be theologically clear
v. 6 Paul knew w/out doubt that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. You can’t argue w/ that…you can’t convince me Christianity is wrong after that fact!
If a man has walked out of a grave, then He had power over death, and you have to deal w/ that! That cannot be lightly glossed over…and no one can be neutral about it!
If Christ is still in the grave, then Christianity doesn’t really matter, but if He came out of the grave, then nothing else matters!
Only 4 opinions you can have about Christ:
· He was a legend—a myth passed down thru the years. But even the university professors don’t hold onto that one anymore, because there’s simply too much historical evidence today that He lived. And this council Paul stood before didn’t hold this position, because most of them had seen Jesus themselves. They helped put Him to death. They had heard the stories about His miracles and teachings.
· He was a lunatic—He claimed to be God because He was crazy. Or, He just thought He was God, like David Koresh, “the wacko from Waco.”
· He was a liar—bold faced deception. He claimed to be God, but knew He wasn’t…claimed could rise from the dead, knowing He couldn’t…said He was only way to Heaven, knowing it wasn’t true…Well, let’s think about that one: everyone says He was a good man, just not God…but if a man makes these kind of false claims, is he a good man? No!
· He is LORD!
A. Christianity disturbs plenty
B. Christianity divides many
The world calls out for peace, and the ecumenical movement says let’s not divide, let’s be at peace. But Jesus said,
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
This isn’t saying believers would reject their families…it’s usually the other way around. Anyone know of any instances of this? Share…
Jesus did not come to blend everything together, but to separate right from wrong, truth from error, and light from darkness.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We need to decide if we believe that or not. If it’s wrong, we should run from Jesus, and if right, we should run to Jesus!
Let’s be theologically clear!
Disturbs plenty, divides many…
C. Christianity delivers any
Paul knew that the very thing that caused his persecution is the thing that gave him peace! And God gets great glory when we choose Him, and cling to the truth, no matter what anyone else may say!
To have peace in persecution, and confidence in criticism:
We have to be morally clean, theologically clear…
III. We will be personally comforted
v. 11 God didn’t dispatch an angel when His man was under attack, He showed up personally to stand by him. He put His arms around him and encouraged him. God is never closer to us than when we suffer.
Everyone in the room has had some great personal tragedy, and, if you let Him, God will personally comfort you, and you’ll know more than ever He’s real, and it’s all true, and no one can convince you otherwise.
Confidence in Criticism
I. We have to be morally c__________ v. 1
We cannot avoid persecution and criticism, but we don’t have to be a______________ by it
We’ll never amount to much if we allow ourselves to w________ about what others t________
Make sure you’re r________, first…then, don’t be moved by the winds of criticism
II. We have to be theologically c________ v. 6
Only 4 opinions you can have about Christ:
· He was a l__________
· He was a l____________
· He was a l______
· He is L______!
A. Christianity d______________ plenty
B. Christianity d____________ many v. 7, v. 10, Matt. 10:34-38, John 14:6
C. Christianity d______________ any
III. We will be personally c________________ v. 11
All Sermons and Slideshow Presentations ©Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries® unless otherwise credited.