Press on with the Gospel – Regardless (Acts 21:1-25)

Here are my notes from a sermon preached at Bearwood Chapel, Smethwick.


We recently spent an evening at the Commonwealth Games athletics. One standout moment was the 3k women’s Steeplechase. As the frontrunners competed for medal positions, one poor lonely athlete was well back from everyone else and struggling.

I wonder what was going through her mind? I’m sure there were voices telling her to give up, that it wasn’t worth it, that she should quit. Maybe even a coach watching on would be signaling for her to stop. If she was carrying an injury -and that is possible – then the pain would have been telling her to give too.

But she didn’t. She pressed on, struggling over every hurdle, limping through the water jump. Down but not out. And as she did, something incredible happened. The crowd began to roar her on. Willing her to get to the end. The loudest cheer of the evening was perhaps reserved for her as she made it over the line. She finished the race.

The Central theme through this bit of Acts summed up 20:18-24

 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God “

Acts 20:24

I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith

CF 2 Tim 4:7

We are to press on with the Gospel too. This means being faithful to what God has called us to do whatever the circumstances.

This includes:

  • being called to live for Christ in a tough neighbourhood
  • Seeking to show Christ in your love for non Christian family.
  • Being a witness for Christ in a hostile workplace

Pressing on does not mean that we are to ignore or disobey the Spirit

Four points of guidance in the passage

  1. The congregation at Tyre . They were guided by the Spirit to warn Paul about going to Jerusalem. (v3)
  2. Philip and his daughters. This is implicit. The text doesn’t report what they said to him but takes the trouble to highlight that the daughters had the gift of prophecy. (v8)
  3. Agabus, a prophet warns Paul he will be bound in Jerusalem and those with him plead with Paul not to go on(v10)
  4. The Jerusalem elders advice Paul to join in the purification ceremony at the temple to show he isn’t trying to overthrow the Law of Moses. (v18)

 Paul is not disobedient to the Spirit because he knows that he must go to Jerusalem and on to Rome (cf 19:1).

We need to distinguish  revelation, interpretation and application. This is best seen in the Agabus example.

  • Agabus delivers the revelation: Paul is seen bound
  • Agabus interprets it (correctly) This is what will happen in Jerusalem
  • Others apply it (incorrectly) They advise Paul not to go

Paul accepts the revelation but disagrees with the application because he has the bigger picture of God’s revealed plan and purpose.

It is important for us to know that whatever we may experience in terms of intuition, dreams, prophecies, pictures etc that everything must be submitted to the authority of Scripture.

Pressing on means that we are ready to face what ever may come

Paul follows the elders’ advice to him even though he knows that it will lead to pain and harm for him.

Why?  Because he knows his past, present and his future (19:1; 20:22)

And we do too -through Scripture

  • Past -The Cross -Christ died for you
  • Present – Christ lives for you and in you through the Spirit
  • Future – Christ will bring you home.


Example: My dad had the opportunity to pursue promotion when we were young. It would have involved a move from one Rowntree’s factory in Halifax to another up in the North East. But, first of all, the new manager was clear that Dad’s first loyalty would be to the firm and secondly, it would have meant uprooting the family from the church we were part of. This wasn’t just about comfort but it was clear that we as a family were called to serve the Gospel in that church. So Dad said no. Turning down promotion not only means you lose out on the pay rise and perks then but it can also set your career back later if you are not seen to have ambition for the top jobs. But Dad knew it was the right thing to do.


‘Cause You have reached down to me, You have rescued me
You have shed Your blood for my soul
And I live now knowing that the sky and not the grave will be my goal
And just as in life, also in death, this truth will comfort and console
That soon I will see Your face and hear Your voice
And I will know that it is well

Brenton Brown, Well with my soul


  1. What is it that Christ has called you to?
  2. What reasons might you have for giving up?
  3. What will help you to keep going?
  4. How are you helping one another to keep going?
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