Faithlife Sermons

Acts: Ch27-28

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Text

God is faithful, we have weak faith
Acts 28:11–31 ESV
After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Introduction

Acts 28:11
Acts 19:21 ESV
Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
Acts 23:11 ESV
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
Paul has finally made it to Rome
Paul has finally made it to Rome
Paul has finally made it to Rome
He had expressed a personal desire to go to Rome in
Jesus promised he would go to Rome when he appeared to Paul in , just after facing the Jewish council and before he was sent to Felix - ““Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
Jesus said they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth - Rome was the beginning of that
If we had to describe the events that have lead to this point - “Progress Despite Pain”

1. Progress Despite Pain

Paul is all about progress
He has been proactive in taking up Jesus’ call to be His witness
and Jesus call to his own life
He’s embarked on 3 mission trips
Deliberately entered every synagogue in every city
Preached, taught, equipped and discipled
He’s engaged in discussions of theological truth and doctrinal accuracy
Now he’s progressed to the next season - Rome
Not without difficulty or pain
Arrested and beaten many times
Spent years in prison
Had to defend himself against the Jews before the Roman rulers 3 times - Felix, Festus and Agrippa
Felix couldn’t find fault, but kept him in prison hoping for a bribe
Festus couldn’t find fault, but kept him in prison hoping not to upset the Jews
Agrippa couldn’t find fault, but found an escape by permitting Paul’s appeal to Caesar
But that’s not all...
Ch27, gets onto a boat, and it doesn’t get any better
Recording the events of the journey to Rome, Luke lists their hardships...
He uses certain phrases repeatedly, like “with great difficulty” and “the winds were against us”
V4 - Leaving Sidon, they had to sail close to the shore of Cyprus because the winds were against them
V7-8 - “We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.”
Luke then goes on to say that the journey had become quite dangerous
Acts 27:7–8 ESV
We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
Paul even stands up and says in V10: “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
But the centurion and owner of the ship decided that the harbour wasn’t suitable to spend the winter in, so they took their chances back out on the open sea
Then just as the wind started to push them along nicely, a strong wind drove them off course
Luke mentions time and again that their going was difficult
and eventually the storm was so severe that they started to throw their cargo overboard to try and get the ship to float higher on the surface of the water
In verse 20 Luke captures the mood of the ship.
Acts 27:20
For many days, they were stuck in that storm, hadn’t seen sun or stars, had no food, and all hope of being saved was abandoned
Then Paul had a visit from an angel, and Paul described to the men on the boat that the message given to him was that there would in fact be no loss of life, and that he would make it to Rome, but they would lose the ship
Had no food
Sure enough, having endured 14 days without food, the ship struck a reef and they had to swim for shore.
But that's not all
Most of the occupants of the ship were prisoners - including Paul
and the soldiers wanted to kill them all to prevent them swimming away and escaping
Fortunately the centurion in charge wanted to save Paul, so he prevented them from doing so
But that’s not all
Acts 27
Now in chapter 28, we see that Paul had landed on an island called Malta
While gathering wood for the fire, a snake latched onto Paul’s hand and he shook it off into the fire
It must have been a venomous one, because when he survived, the locals thought he must be a god
This was a fulfillment of Jesus promise to the disciples in : “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:17–18 ESV
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:18 ESV
they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
But that’s not all.
in verse 11, we learn that Paul was stranded on the island another 3 months before they finally set sail and came to Rome
And so, finally, through months of hardship and suffering, Paul progressed to his next destination - to Rome.
He had suffered much pain, but in spite of all resistance, the gospel had progressed to Rome

2. Spirit-Empowered Life in the Church

Even before arrival in Rome we see the unifying power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church
In Puteoli Paul found brothers - other Christians, who let Paul and his companions stay with them for 7 days
And when Paul came into Rome, more brothers came from far to meet him
Acts 27:10 ESV
saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
And when Paul met them, Luke says he thanked God and took courage
This is testament to the unifying power of the Holy Spirit in the Church -
that Christians who have never met and who lived miles and miles apart from each other, would have this kind of love for one another and be willing to show such hospitality
But there’s more to it than even that
When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage
The closeness that we have in the Church is a gift from God.
We are a gift to each other, given to each other to build each other up and to encourage one another through the hardships and pain
Every one of us can remember times when we have gone through the storms of life, but had support and encouragement from our church family or even Christians on the other side of the world that gave us the strength to push on
But again, there’s even more to it than that.
Having just gone through such a terrible ordeal -
weeks of hunger, months of difficulty and suffering at sea,
escaping being killed by nature, snakes and soldiers,
and then still more months of toil and ministry on an island...
You would expect Paul to be thoroughly exhausted
But just 3 days after arriving in Rome, what do we see him doing?
Calling together the local leaders of the Jews, telling his story, preaching the gospel.
This can only be described as supernatural strength, and a Spirit-empowered compassion for the lost
Its quite incredible that after all that Paul has been through - not just over the recent months, but years - years spent in prison because of the accusations of the Jews, - after all that is why he is in Rome...
commitment to the proclamation of the gospel and compassion
that he would again engage the Jews with the very same gospel that got him in trouble with them in the first place
He doesn’t even take an easy approach - but look at the message he preaches to them
He doesn’t give them some soft, ear tickling message that he thinks will make them like him - he loves them too much for that.
He challenges them with the Scriptures and allows the Holy Spirit to do His work of convicting people of their sin, and drawing the elect to Christ
He preached the gospel
He preached Jesus
From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
“From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.”
As with every time the gospel is preached in Acts, we see some believe and some reject
To those who walked away, Paul quotes from and applies it directly to the Jews
He quotes from and applies it directly to the Jews
“ ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Acts 28:26-27)
“ ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ ()
Wow! Had he not learned from years of persecution, prison and pain?
He knew very well what he was doing - only Paul feared God much more than he feared men.
This is the power of God in him - the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in every believer -
that not only gives us faith in God and the fear of God,
but compassion for the lost and the strength of will to be willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake, and the sake of trying to win souls.

3. God’s Sovereignty in a Hostile World

After all the epic adventure, danger and excitement of the last 2 chapters, and Paul at last arriving in Rome, Luke brings his second book to an abrupt end
And so we come to the end of Luke’s second book
“He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”
We don’t get to see any of Paul’s adventures in Rome, how they played out, and how it all ended for Paul
What we do see is a reminder of the sovereignty of God in a hostile world, and Jesus continuing to fulfill His purposes and direct the events of the world to His purposes
See Paul now in Rome - exactly as the Lord promised when he called Paul to be His apostle on the Damascus road
See him testifying to the Gentiles there for 2 years - at his own expense - a man who is a prisoner with no means of income, but the sovereign Lord provided
But more relevant still to the theme of Acts - see the proclamation of the kingdom of God and the witnessing of Jesus Christ continue in Rome with boldness and without hindrance
Acts 28:23–24 ESV
When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
Acts 28:30–31 ESV
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
This leads me to this conclusion after everything we have seen and studied in Acts:
Acts 28:26–27 ESV
“ ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

“Even in the most hostile of places, there is nothing that can stop the progress of the gospel of Jesus, through Spirit-empowered Christians, under the sovereign direction of God.”

And so we come to the end of Luke’s second book
The first book,

The Purpose of Acts

So let’s reflect on these things as we summarize the book of Acts.
Firstly I hope that after the past few months of walking through Luke’s second book, that the Lord has used it to grow your understanding of the gospel, and your knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ
Acts 28:26-
Acts is so much more than a book about the Holy Spirit and supernatural signs and wonders
Acts is so much more than just a model for church government
And it is so much more than a church manual providing a biblical foundation for things like water baptism
In misunderstanding the purpose of this letter, this book has been called:
the Acts of the Holy Spirit - by some who might see it as primarily about the supernatural wonders, healings and signs exhibited by the Holy Spirit on such occasions as Pentecost
or the Acts of the Apostles - by some who might see it as primarily about the casting out of demons, the healing of the sick and the preaching of the Apostles and the government of the Church
Acts 28:23-24
but in actual fact, what I hope you see and appreciate after having worked through this book is that
although Luke the historian records the works of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles,
the book is primarily about the continuing work of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ
the book is primarily about the continuing work of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ
It is the Continuing Acts of Jesus
Remember how Luke opens his first book - the gospel of Luke:
saying that he has undertaken the task of compiling a narrative of all that has been accomplished through Jesus and the Church,
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.”
The second book, then, Acts, is all about what Jesus continued to do after he was taken up
And as I have said many times now, the story isn’t finished.
It continues with us, and the whole Church today
We continue to live and experience the continuing Acts of Jesus in the world today.
And we can take the lessons and outline of this sermon today for the lesson of the book

1. Progress Despite Pain

A primary theme of Acts is of course progress
The central verse that kicks off the narrative and tells us Jesus’ commission for the Church in these last days is ...
Acts 1:1 ESV
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The goal and outcome of Jesus’ continuing acts in the world is the ultimate progress of the gospel, being spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:2 ESV
until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
The progress of the gospel is inevitable and unstoppable
Matthew 24:14 ESV
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
BUT - it will not be without cost, pain and suffering.
Mark 13:10 ESV
And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.
Reality check: we are not living in paradise yet
Mark
The world we live in is not neutral to the gospel or to Jesus Christ - it is hostile to the gospel and to Jesus Christ, and by default then, hostile to Jesus’ Church
Luke 1:1–4 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
From the get-go, once the apostles received the Holy Spirit in and began proclaiming the gospel in Jerusalem, the threats started
They were ostracised, beaten, chased, and even killed - as we saw in Luke’s accounts of the first martyr Stephen, and later James
We see it again when Jesus saves Paul on the Damascus road in , and Jesus tells Ananias:
““Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
And suffer he did
Acts 9:15–16 ESV
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
We don’t have to go through all of his sufferings again, but we all know how Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel
The story and narrative of Acts is completely contradictory to the false premise and promises of the prosperity gospel
Jesus never promises progress without pain
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
How Peter encourages us in that all who suffer for Christ’s sake will be blessed
John 15:18–19 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
How Paul reminds us in that although we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, we share abundantly in comfort too
Know that our calling comes at great cost
The only question that needs to be answered, is, is Jesus worth it?
Is He worthy?
Do we count it joy to suffer for the sake of Jesus, the Lamb who suffered and was slain so that we may live?
John 15:18–20 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
IS HE WORTHY?
It is in answering that question that missions are born
John 15:18-
that apostles preach boldly in Jerusalem
that Paul goes
that Paul faces the Gentiles in the Aereopagus
John 5
that Paul goes to Rome
that missionaries go into the jungles, to China, to Iraq, Iran and Syria
Knowing the dangers they face and the threat on their own lives
It is in answering that question that in 1732, two young missionaries, Johann Dober and David Nitshmann,
willingly sold themselves into slavery and became slaves
so that they could proclaim the gospel to slaves in the West Indies
and as the ship they were on set sail for the West Indies, they shouted back to their families on the shore:
“May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
He is worthy!

2. Spirit-Empowered Life in the Church

Jesus has not left us alone
Even as Jesus warned the disciples that they would have to suffer for His sake, He promised they would never be alone
““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
We saw this immediately in Acts
John 15:26
John 15:26–27 ESV
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Just 40 days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost
And immediately the apostles began to proclaim the works of Jesus with boldness
Everyone of us has received the same baptism of the Holy Spirit in the moment of our conversion
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”
Eph 1:
Being filled with the Holy Spirit, the church is equipped with courage and strength for our calling
Given wisdom to know what to say at every opportunity we get to witness to Christ
Ephesians 1:13 ESV
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
And unified together with each other into one body,
so that we also care for each other as we saw the early church do
so that we can encourage one another, and build one another up and give each other strength, and care for the weak among us

3. God’s Sovereignty in a Hostile World

and finally, we can take comfort in God’s sovereignty in a hostile world
Yes, life is tough and the world is against us
but the sovereignty of God over all things is the pillow upon which we can rest our heads at night and find comfort
Even when the worst was happening in the narrative of Acts, God was in control
God was orchestrating all things and working all things together for the good of those who love Him
And no, it didn’t always LOOK like and FEEL to the people like God was in control
I would imagine that it was very scary for the Church when they were being persecuted and chased out of Jerusalem
And yet God was sovereign over that - using it to ensure that the gospel went out of Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria and to the Gentiles
I would imagine that it was scary for Paul to have to sit for years in prison and face trial after trial
And yet God was sovereign over that - using it to ensure Paul went to Rome and the gospel with him
I would imagine that whatever situation you are in right now, and whatever fears you have about the country and the world right now...
you might also be afraid
But take comfort - God is sovereign. God is in control.
Ultimately, God’s purposes will be fulfilled.
Not because WE are faithful,
but because GOD is faithful
and that which God promises, He delivers.
Remember Paul, having been promised by Jesus on more than one occasion that he would go to Rome,
still stands up on a ship in Ch 27 and tells the centurion that he fears they won’t live
Even the great apostle Paul struggled with his faith
But praise be to God that ultimately, it is not on the basis of OUR faithfulness, but HIS faithfulness to His promises, that GOD will do what He has promised
And all these things together -
nd these things together -
the unstoppable, unhindered progress of the gospel and the continuing acts of Jesus
the empowering of the Holy Spirit
the sovereignty of God over all things
should both encourage us and motivate us to continue with our own calling here from Cambridge.
Let us go and be His witnesses. Because...

“Even in the most hostile of places, there is nothing that can stop the progress of the gospel of Jesus, through Spirit-empowered Christians, under the sovereign direction of God.”

Related Media
Related Sermons