Faithlife Sermons

Acts: The Foundation Of The Church

Notes
Transcript
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Introduction

Growing up we used to go to the rescue mission once a quarter or so.
My dad would bring a message and we would spend time with those who were either living there or who came for the meal.
Information that is not shared, dies.
On one of these visits our family had something else going on and so my dad went by himself.
At a certain time they used to lock the doors of the facility so that no one could sneak out during the message or sneak in after it.
Dad is about half way through his message when someone starts banging on the door.
This had happened before so they just kept going.
Then the banging moves to a different door. That was a little odd. Then back to the first door. Then to one of the windows.
Finally, the director goes to see what the problem is.
He opens the door and a frantic man yells “fire! The side of your building is on fire!”
Someone had left a lit cigarette on a bookshelf around the side of the building and it caught fire.
Luckily, they were able to get the fire out and finish the service and have the meal.
Luckily, they were able to get the fire out and finish the service and have the meal.
Had this man not been persistent, things may have ended very differently.
He saw the need and he didn’t stop trying to get their attention until someone listened.
That is how we are to share the gospel.
Every believer should be sharing the gospel with passion, boldness, and persistence.
The Spread of the Gospel Message to a World of Unbelievers (S)
Fire outside - guy bangs on door.
The Spread of the Gospel Message to a World of Unbelievers
I have made this the subtitle of the book because I believe this is the purpose of the book.
That is what Luke states in the beginning of chapter 1 as we read in the Scripture reading. Luke gives us a three point outline of the gospel expansion.
Look again at v. 8.
Jesus told the disciples that they would be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Verse 8 serves as an outline for the book of Acts.
We have worked our way through the book of Acts for the last three years and three months.
In 92 messages there has been a repeated theme.
The child of God is to share the gospel at every opportunity to everyone possible.
Today, as we get an overview of the entire book of Acts, our passion for the gospel will be strengthened.
As we are passionate about the gospel, we will share it with boldness and clarity.
The book of Acts has three phases of gospel expansion.
Phase #1…

1. The Spread Of The Gospel In Jerusalem Chs. 1-8:3

A believe is expected to begin sharing the gospel with those closest to them.
Sometimes these are the last people we share with because they are the ones who know us best.
We are worried that if we tell them about Jesus, they will see our hypocrisy and reject Him.
Our world desperately needs to understand something.
Christians are not perfect, we are forgiven.
Christians are not sinless. We are redeemed sinners. We are saints who sin.
We must share the gospel.
As the gospel spread in Jerusalem we see a five step progression.
Step #1…

a. The Preparation Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 1

God will never call us to do something without equipping us to do it.
This first chapter displays two areas of preparation.
Spiritual preparation and physical preparation.

i. Spiritual Preparation 1:1-11

In this spiritual preparation what we have is the promise of power when the Holy Spirit comes (v. 8), the imparting of the mission (v. 8), and the departure of Jesus (v. 9).
Jesus had begun preparing the disciples for this earlier in His ministry. Look at what He says in (S).
John 16:7 NKJV
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Along with the spiritual preparation we have a second area.

ii. Physical Preparation 1:12-26

This is where the disciples deal with the Judas’ betrayal and death.
I want to note three important things here.
1 - The replacement of Judas is preceded by much prayer (v. 14).
This is a process guided by the hand of God.
2 - The requirements to be an apostle are no longer able to be met (vv. 21-22).
Therefore there can be no apostles today.
3 - Matthias is chosen by lot (v. 26) which says is controlled by God.
His placement was legitimate. Paul was not meant to be the 12th apostle.
With Judas’ spot filled we move to progression step #2…
Step #2…

b. The Enabling Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 2

They have been prepared. The ground work has been laid. Now they are enabled.
There are three requirements to be able to preach.
Requirement #1. You must be…

i. Enabled By The Holy Spirit 2:1-13

This is where the church begins.
The church is made up of believers. According to you cannot be a believer without the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, The coming of the Holy Spirit is what begins the Church.
A note about tongues. They were real languages spoken by the people present when the event takes place.
The purpose of tongues here is two-fold. To establish the authority of the apostles. To reach people with the gospel.
To preach the gospel you must be filled with the Spirit.
Requirement #2. You must be…

ii. Enabled By The Word Of God 2:14-39

When Peter preaches he quotes several OT passages.
His background in Scripture prepares him to preach.
To preach the gospel we must know the Word of God.
Requirement #3. You must be…

iii. Enabled By The Body Of Christ 2:40-47

The fellowship and community of the early church grows and expands the gospel.
They support and encourage one another.
To preach the gospel we need the support of a community.
Step 1 preparation. Step 2 enabling.
Step #3…

c. The Opportunity For And Opposition Against The Disciples To Preach Chs. 3-4:31

This is what happens as we share the gospel and it begins to grow and expand.
There will be more opportunities, but there will also be more opposition.
First we have…

i. Opportunity Presented Through Healing 3:1-26

Peter and John have compassion on this man.
Healing him draws a crowd and so they preach the gospel.
This leads to…

ii. Opposition Promoted By Unbelief 4:1-31

Even in persecution, there is opportunity.
This chapter has two amazing verses.
(S).
Acts 4:12 NKJV
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Intimidation and commands for silence cannot stop the gospel!
Instead of being silenced they pray for boldness in v. 29.
That prayer is powerfully answered in v. 31.
Acts 4:31 NKJV
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Step 1 preparation. Step 2 enabling. Step 3 opportunity and opposition.
Step #4…

d. The Problems That Burden The Disciples To Preach Chs. 4:32-6:7

There is an unchanging truth here.
As a church grows, so do its problems. :)
As the early church experiences rapid growth three issues arise.
These issues ultimately serve to strengthen the church and further burden the disciples to preach Christ.
Issue #1…

i. The Problem Of Lying To The Holy Spirit 4:32-5:11

The context of this story is everyone sharing with one another.
Into this wonderful time of mutual love and support steps Ananias and Sapphira.
This is possibly the most infamous couple in Scripture.
They sell property, give part of the profit to the church, and lie saying they gave it all.
The Holy Spirit ends their lives.
Two items of note here.
1 - Ananias and Sapphira were born again believers.
If you would like to discuss why I believe that, you can listen to the message on that section or just come talk to me.
2 - The result of their discipline is spiritual growth in the church.
Everyone knows that serving the Lord is serious business. God takes the holiness of His children seriously.
Issue #2…

ii. The Problem Of Arrest And Imprisonment 5:12-42

The persecution is escalating. From harassment to now arrest and imprisonment.
They are miraculously released, and they keep on preaching!
They are re-arrested and even beaten, but they keep on preaching! They even rejoice that they are considered worthy to suffer!
God’s message will not be silenced!
This passage has a very important reminder for Christians. (S).
Acts 5:29 NKJV
29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
Issue #3…

iii. The Problem Of Neglected Widows 6:1-7

The first issue was one of sin. The second was one of persecution. This final issue is an internal church policy and prejudice problem.
Because of prejudice, some widows were being neglected.
The solution to this problem was the establishment of what later became known as deacons.
With the management of the church divided, the gospel grows.
The gospel is growing in Jerusalem.
Step 1 preparation. Step 2 enabling. Step 3 opportunity and opposition. Step 4 problems.
Step #5…

e. The Persecution That Motivates The Disciples To Preach Chs. 6:8-8:3

It is this persecution in Jerusalem that takes the gospel outside of the city.
The church is growing and now it experiences the lengths to which our enemy will go in an effort to silence the gospel message.
Stephen is the focus of the next few chapters.

i. Stephen’s Miracles Inspire The Persecution 6:8-15

They see his miracles, try to argue with him and can’t, so they recruit people to lie about him.
Again we see believers take advantage of every opportunity to preach Christ!

ii. Stephen’s Message Incites The Persecution 7:1-53

This is a straight from the shoulder, hard-hitting, super blunt message.
Sometimes, as we are led by the Holy Spirit, we need to speak the truth in love with nothing held back. That’s what happens here.
Side note: Stephen gives us an interesting pattern for evangelism. Build common ground, start with the familiar and make spiritual connections, expose their need.
This isn’t the way to share the gospel, but it is a way.

iii. Stephen’s Martyrdom Intensifies The Persecution 7:54-8:3

Stephen dies calling on God and asking Him not to charge his murderers with his death.
Saul (soon to be Paul) is present and this event seems to fire him up to persecute the church.
He is said to make havoc of the church.
What’s awesome here is that the church doesn’t back down, it simply scatters.
Phase 1 is the gospel spreading throughout Jerusalem. Through Stephen’s martyrdom and the persecution afterward, we are driven to
Phase #2…

2. The Spread Of The Gospel In Judea And Samaria Chs. 8:4-11:18

This is how the expansion of the gospel is ment to go.
Those who trust in Christ reach those nearest them first, then they focus on the next town or city over.
The difficulty here is that oftentimes we assume someone else will reach them.
They have churches over there, we don’t want to get in their way.
We must stop thinking of gospel preaching as a competition.
Reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ is an individual mandate, not a church mandate.
We are not in competition with other churches, we are all working to achieve the same goal.
As the gospel message moves out from Jerusalem, there is an attitude that drives its expansion.
The attitude is that everyone needs Jesus, so we preach at every opportunity.
The spread of the gospel into Judea and Samaria is prompted by 4 events.
Event #1…

a. The “Everywhere” Preaching Ministry Of Philip Ch. 8:4-40

Philip gives us a fantastic example to follow.
He follows God’s direction and preaches Christ wherever he happens to be.
Three locations are revealed in Ch. 8. First, we find him…

i. Preaching Christ In Samaria vv. 4-25

Verse 4 gives us the result of persecution, the expansion of the gospel.
The church goes everywhere preaching the Word.
Many believe in Samaria including a sorcerer.
Peter and John are sent to Samaria and the Holy Spirit is given.
This is an important step in the church as Samarians were half Jewish and despised by most Jews.
God is demonstrating that no one is beyond His saving grace!
Next we find Philip…

ii. Preaching Christ In A Chariot vv. 26-39

Told by an angel to go to the desert, Philip goes. No questions, no explanations, he just goes.
In a Divine encounter he meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading in a chariot.
Asked what it means, Philip preaches Christ to him and baptizes him after he believes.
The gospel is not bound to certain skin colors or bodily functions.
The gospel is for everyone!
Finally we find him…

iii. Preaching Christ In Azotus v. 40

Philip is carried by the Spirit to Azotus.
While some of us would have sat and marvel at this, Philip just starts preaching in every city on his way to Caesarea!
The gospel is for everyone and needs to be preached everywhere.
That is exactly what Philip does.
Event #2…

b. The Miraculous Conversion Of Saul The Persecutor Ch. 9:1-31

God has already used the persecution led by Saul to spread the gospel as the church left Jerusalem.
Now God is going to recruit Saul to be a gospel witness.
We do need to to note that Saul is the same person who will later be called Paul.
That doesn’t start until ch. 13.
Saul’s story in ch. 9 has three parts.
Part 1…

i. Encountering Christ On The Road To Damascus vv. 1-9

Saul, on his way to further persecute the church, has an encounter with Christ and is converted.
This miraculous conversion will serve to catapult Christianity to the broader world.
Part 2…

ii. Encouraged By Ananias In The City Of Damascus vv. 10-19

Ananias knew what Saul had been up to. At first he is hesitant to be near him.
God reveals to Ananias the role that Saul will play in vv. 15-16.
Acts 9:15–16 NKJV
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
The obedience and faith of Ananias start Saul the persecutor on the journey to becoming Paul the evangelist.
Part 3…
We never know the impact we might have on someone else. Be obedient to the Lord and He will use us for His glory and our good.
Part 3…

iii. Empowered By Christ To Preach The Gospel vv. 20-31

I love how Saul immediately begins to preach Christ in the synagogues of the Jews.
Saul is said to prove that Jesus is the Christ.
The result of this is that the Jews plot to kill Saul shortly after his conversion.
God is already using him.
Barnabas brings him to the Apostles and he continues to preach and be threatened.
After Philips preaching and Saul’s conversion we come to event #3…

c. The Evangelistic Healing Ministry Of Peter Ch. 9:32-43

Acts is a book of transition and of description.
It shows what took place as the church grew, expanded, and was established.
It does not reveal what should be normative for today.
One of the ways God expanded the early church and established the authority of the disciples was through miraculous deeds.
In the rest of ch. 9 we find two instances where Peter healing people opens gospel doors.
First there is the…

i. Healing Aeneas In Lydda vv. 32-35

Peter states that Jesus the Christ healed this paralyzed man.
The result is that people see him and turn to the Lord.
This then is the purpose of the healing.
Secondly there is the…

ii. Healing Dorcas In Joppa vv. 36-43

Again we need to note that this was not intended to be normative.
This event demonstrates the power of God over death.
It emphasizes that Christ's death, burial, and resurrection give victory over death!
It is also important to note that Peter prayed before healing her.
The point of this miracle is found in v. 42 when it states that many believed on the Lord.
Now we come to the final event that spreads the gospel through Judea and Samaria.
Event #4…

d. The God Directed Conversion Of Gentiles Ch. 10-11:18

This is when we start to see a shift of focus from Jewish believers to gentile believers.
People needed to understand that salvation wasn’t just a Jewish thing. It is for everyone.
For Gentiles to be brought to the Lord there are 4 actions that He takes.
Action #1…

i. God Readies The Hearts For Conversion 10:1-16

God is all about preparation.
He first prepares Cornelius, then He prepares Peter, all before they ever even meet!
People cannot be saved apart from the work of God in readying their hearts.
Cornelius is instructed to find Peter.
Peter is learning that God’s will overrules our traditions and prejudices.
God readies hearts.
Action #2…

ii. God Removes The Barriers To Conversion 10:17-33

In v. 20 God instructs Peter to go with the men from Cornelius “doubting nothing.”
This instruction is explained as Peter is called to associate with Gentiles.
V. 28 is key to understanding all this.
Acts 10:28 NKJV
28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Prejudice and tradition can hinder the gospel! God breaks down these barriers and opens the door for Christ to be preached!
God readies hearts, He removes barriers.
Action #3…

iii. God Rescues The Lost Through Conversion 10:34-48

Peter begins to preach the truth of Jesus Christ to these Gentiles.
People that he has been taught to hate and forbidden to associate with, are now learning the greatest Jewish truth.
The Messiah has come! The Savior is Jesus! Faith in Him brings forgiveness of sin and eternal life!
While Peter is preaching, those present believe and are given the Holy Spirit.
Tongues are spoken here to demonstrate that God has indeed given His Holy Spirit to Gentiles.
They too are part of the body of Christ.
No one is excluded from the gospel.
God readies hearts, He removes barriers, He rescues the lost.
Action #4…

iv. God Restores The Focus Of Conversion 11:1-18

Here Peter is, obeying God, and he gets into trouble for it because of their Jewish traditions.
After walking them through all that has happened we find Peter’s closing thought and their response (vv. 17-18).
Acts 11:17–18 NKJV
17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
This is how God brought the gospel out of Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria.
4 events. The preaching ministry of Philip. The conversion of Saul, the healing ministry of Peter, and the conversion of Gentiles.
Phase 1 - Jerusalem. Phase 2 - Judea and Samaria.
Phase #3…

3. The Spread Of The Gospel To The End Of The Earth Chs. 11:19-28:31

This is the largest portion of the book.
It primarily deals with Paul and his ministry.
It is Paul’s passion to see people come to Christ that drives the gospel into the rest of the world.
As before God uses persecution in several instances to move the gospel from city to city.
Viewing the gospel as a church mandate the early church will send Paul as a missionary on multiple occasions.
There are people who need to be reached. People across the globe who have never heard of Jesus.
We have a mandate to get the gospel to them.
We must all consider how we will be involved in spreading the gospel.
There are six developments that drive the gospel into the rest of the world.
Development #1…

a. God Uses Circumstances To Spread The Gospel Chs. 11:19-12:24

God can use anything to accomplish His will.
Even seemingly bad circumstances can be used in positive ways.
That is what we see here.
The gospel is…

i. Spread Through Persecution And Famine 11:19-30

Those scattered after Stephen’s martyrdom see a great number of people turn to the Lord.
Barnabas finds Paul and they minister in Antioch as the church grows there.
When a famine is known to be coming to Judea, everyone sends what they can to help.
The gospel spreads no matter what.
The gospel is even…

ii. Spread Through The Violence Of King Herod 12:1-24

Peter is arrested and then miraculously released by God.
While he is in prison many people gather for a prayer meeting.
The result of this event is the strengthening of the church.
Herod is struck down by an angel for not glorifying God.
Verse 24 is so powerful.
Acts 12:24 NKJV
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Regardless of persecution, famine, and violence; the gospel grows.
God uses circumstances to spread the gospel.
Development #2…

b. Paul And Barnabas Are Called And Sent (1st Journey) Chs. 12:25-14:28

Since the very beginning missionaries have been appointed by the local church and sent out to proclaim Christ.
On this first missionary journey we find a pattern all gospel missions have since followed.
There are three distinct stages here.
Stage 1…

i. Preaching The Gospel Through The Calling Of The Holy Spirit 12:25-13:3

This is essential. It is the Holy Spirit who calls us. The church simply recognizes and affirms His call.
There are three important prerequisites to this calling.
1 - They are already teaching (v. 1) 2 - They are serving the Lord (v. 2) 3 - They are spending dedicated time with the Lord (v. 2)
2 - They are serving the Lord (v. 2)
3 - They are spending dedicated time with the Lord (v. 2)
Someone who is not already doing these things will not be called to go out and preach Christ.
Stage 1, you must be called by the Holy Spirit.
Stage 2…

ii. Preaching The Gospel In Cyprus And Pisidia 13:4-51a

Having been called and sent, they must find places and opportunities to proclaim Christ.
They preach in the synagogues. Go where the people are.
Here in v. 9 Saul begins to be called Paul.
God uses miraculous blindness to bring people to Himself.
Paul builds common ground with his audience as He preaches Jesus to them.
Even when faced with persecution we learn that the Word of the Lord spread (v. 49).
Stage 3…

iii. Preaching The Gospel In Pisidia And Strengthening The Disciples 13:51b-14:28

They have been called and sent, they have taken advantage of opportunities, now they encourage and strengthen those who have believed.
Paul and Barnabas teach us here that opposition is no reason to stop preaching.
Because there was opposition in Iconium, they stay longer and preach more boldly!
As they encourage those who have believed they exhort them to faithfulness teaching that trials and difficulties are part of the Christian life (v. 22).
Part of strengthening a local church is ensuring that it has good leadership. Specifically, a plurality of elders.
This is the pattern. A missionary is called by the Holy Spirit, seeks opportunities to share, and strengthens the believers.
There are our first two developments as the gospel goes out to the world.
Circumstances, missionary journey #1. God uses these developments to spread the gospel.
Development #3…

c. The Jerusalem Council Defines The Gospel Chs. 15:1-35

As the church grows and an ever increasing diversity of people become part of the body of Christ, tensions mount.
This will be true in any group of people.
We are all different. This is a strength of the church that can also be a source of contention.
A council is called to
God uses the leaders He has placed to deal with tension.
As we look at this passage we see a four step process to defining the gospel.
Step 1…

i. The Demand To Define The Gospel vv. 1-5

Some, still clinging to tradition, demand the Gentiles become more Jewish.
A council is called to address this issue.
This is a vital concern. Does the gospel require outward conformity?
Are works necessary for salvation?
These are questions that must be answered.
Step 2…

ii. The Decision To Define The Gospel vv. 6-21

Before any decision is made, all the facts are gathered.
The council is not inventing how one is saved. They are affirming what the Holy Spirit has already revealed.
This is made clear with Peter’s statement in vv. 8-9.
Acts 15:8–9 NKJV
8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
God has already accepted the Gentiles with no additional requirements.
Salvation is always and only by grace through faith.
James agrees with Peter and the decision is made to write to the Gentiles about practical Christian living.
We have the demand, and the decision.
Step 3…

iii. The Decree To Define The Gospel vv. 22-29

The leadership of the Jerusalem church doesn’t just send out a decree, they send out godly men to deliver it.
The decree is simple and direct.
It outlines some practical standards and that is all.
The demand, decision, and decree. Finally,
Step 4…

iv. The Delivery To Define The Gospel vv. 30-35

Once the decision has been made, people need to know about it.
The result of this delivery is rejoicing.
So we have seen circumstances, a missionary journey, gospel definition. All used by God to further the gospel message.
Circumstances, a missionary journey, gospel definition. All used by God to further the gospel message.
Development #4…

d. Paul And Silas Commended To Spread The Gospel (2nd Journey) Chs. 15:36-18:22

Having got the definition of the gospel out of the way, the way seems clear for more gospel preaching.
Paul and his companions travel to two geographical areas and spread the gospel.
Area #1…

i. Preaching The Gospel In Macedonia 15:36-17:15

Though the gpospel has been defiend and conflict seems resolved, we have an enemy.
Paul and Barnabas, who have worked together off and on since Paul’s conversion, have a serious disagreement.
Both are wrong. Yet even in this seeming tragedy, we see the Lord redeem it for His glory.
Now two teams go out instead of one.
Luke, the author of Acts, follows the work of Paul.
It is on this journey that Paul meets Timothy.
We learn in ch. 16 that the churches are strengthened and increase in number daily.
Though there is persecution, arrest, beatings, and mistreatment, the gospel goes out and churches are planted.
God blesses faithful, persistent, preaching.
Area #2…

ii. Preaching The Gospel In Achaia 17:16-18:22

In a now famous encounter Paul teaches those in Athens about their “unknown God.”
What is sometimes missed in this account is Paul’s motivation for speaking in the first place.
He was so burdened by their idolatry that he couldn’t keep silent! This should be us!
Leaving Athens Paul worked as a tentmaker in Corinth while speaking in the synagogue every week.
When he faces opposition there he begins sharing in a man’s house next door to the synagogue.
For a year and a half Paul preaches after the Lord tells him there are many who will be saved there.
No matter what he faces, Paul remains faithful in his preaching.
In our lives there will be good times and bad times. Regardless, we are called to be faithful.
Circumstances, missions, definition, and a second mission.
God is at work! The gospel is spreading!
Development #5…

e. Paul Strengthens The Churches (3rd Journey) Chs. 18:23-21:25

After spending some time in his sending church of Antioch, Paul leaves once again to strength the churches.
Paul is not content to leave these new congregations to their fate.
He visits them and leaves them encouraged and more able to face what lies ahead.
God uses three means to strengthen these churches.
#1…

i. Strengthening The Churches Through Proper Instruction 18:23-19:41

Apollos is instructed and he then instructs others.
Look at verse 28.
Acts 18:28 NKJV
28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
God uses the faithfulness of Aquila and Priscilla to strengthen Apollos who then strengthens the church.
In Ephesus Paul is used to baptize men in the name of Jesus.
He preaches for over two years, first in the synagogue and then in a school.
God works miraculously through Paul so that the gospel can grow.
As the gospel grows and lives are transformed, the opposition grows as well.
A massive riot takes place.
In the midst of blessing and growth, there will be opposition.
Be prepared for it.
The church is strengthened through the means of proper instruction.
#2…

ii. Strengthening The Churches Through Practical Teaching 20:1-38

Paul encourages churches through his teaching.
He encourages those at Troas through raising a young man from the dead.
The Ephesian elders are encouraged as Paul gives them some reminders.
Remember his example vv. 18-19, 25-26, 33-35
Remember his teaching vv. 20-21, 27, 32, 35
Remember his focus vv. 22-24, 31, 35
The Ephesian elders are encouraged as Paul warns them.
Pay attention v. 28
Spot the wolves v. 29
Check your motives v. 30
With these practical instructions, Paul heads to Jerusalem.
It is not enough to preach the gospel to the lost.
We must also teach believers how to live out Christianity on a practical level.
However, don’t just talk about it. Live it.
The church is strengthened through the means of proper instruction and practical teaching.
#3…

iii. Strengthening The Churches Through Perfect Commitment 21:1-25

Paul is committed to following God’s leading to arrive in Jerusalem.
He is working hard to get there.
Yet he is still committed to the fellowship of the body of Christ.
Even when it is revealed that Paul will face arrest and suffering in Jerusalem, he remains committed to the will of God.
He is ready to face imprisonment and even death.
When they arrive in Jerusalem, Paul places himself under the leadership of the elders there.
He is committed to the body of Christ and willing to follow.
Churches are strengthened when their leaders are committed to the will of God and not their own agenda.
So far we have seen 5 developments in the spread of the gospel to the world.
Difficult circumstances can by used by God to spread the gospel. The gospel being defined helps it to grow. Three missionary journeys have moved the gospel forward.
Difficult circumstances can by used by God to spread the gospel. The gospel being defined helps it to grow. Three missionary journeys have moved the gospel forward.
Development #6…

f. Paul Is Called To Preach The Gospel In Rome Chs. 21:26-28:31

This is the final section of the book.
Last year we spent 5 weeks talking about how God sovereignly worked through Paul’s circumstances.
No matter the difficulty we face, God is in control.
When He calls us to a task or ministry, He will equip us to do it.
Until He is finished with us, we are safe and secure.
God brings Paul to Rome through 4 specific situations.
Situation #1…

i. The Arrest That Will Lead Paul To Rome 21:26-23:22

Paul is being obedient to the leadership of the local church.
As a result, he is arrested and beaten. All because the Jews have made assumptions about him.
When given the chance, Paul preaches the gospel to those who were just trying to kill him.
That is faithfulness.
That is gospel passion.
That is the heart we all should have.
Paul gives them his background and testimony.
When they hear he was called to go to the Gentiles, they demand his death.
Paul uses his Roman citizenship to avoid scourging and gain an audience with the Sanhedrin.
When it becomes clear that he will not get a fair trial, he divides the council.
After the argument that comes from this a plot is hatched to assassinate Paul.
God allows his nephew to hear it and uses this whole situation to get Paul to Caesarea where the governor is.
In the midst of all this, God finally tells Paul what He is up to.
Look at verse 11.
Acts 23:11 NKJV
11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
What may look like a horrible situation to us, may be God placing us where the gospel is needed.
Rome was pretty much the capitol of the world at this point. The gospel needs to go there!
God is sending Paul.
That’s Paul’s first situation. His arrest.
Situation #2…

ii. The Accusations That Will Lead Paul To Rome 23:23-24:27

Having been brought safely to Caesarea Paul waits 5 days for people from Jerusalem to arrive and accuse him.
The only truth in their accusation is that Paul believes in Jesus. Everything else they say is a lie or a blatant distortion of the truth.
Paul sets the record straight and even admits to his deliberate division of the Sanhedrin.
Paul has several opportunities to give the gospel to Felix.
Ultimately, Paul is kept in prison for two years when Felix is replaced as governor.
In the face of false accusation, speak the truth in love.
Preach Christ at every opportunity.
Situation 1 - arrest. Situation 2 - accusation.
Situation #3…

iii. The Audience That Will Lead Paul To Rome 25:1-26:32

When Festus replaces Felix, the Jews renew their attacks on Paul.
The new governor wants to start things off right with the Jewish leadership, so he consents to hear their accusations.
25:7 tells us that they add more accusations against Paul which they couldn’t prove.
Paul, knowing God has called him to Rome, appeals to Caesar.
Faith steps into God’s will even when the future is uncertain.
Through an interesting series of events, God gives Paul the opportunity to preach Christ in front of a Governor, a King and Queen, and all the leaders of the city!
When he is talking to King Agrippa about it, the King offers to hear Paul.
God now gives Paul the opportunity to preach Christ in front of a Governor, a King and Queen, and all the leaders of the city!
Being in prison for two years sounds bad, but God has used it for His glory!
Never underestimate God’s power to redeem our circumstances.
Paul takes them through his whole life story while giving a very clear gospel presentation.
He gives a very clear gospel presentation.
Always take advantage of gospel opportunities.
Don’t fall victim to the fear of man.
Situation 1 - arrest. Situation 2 - accusation. Situation 3 - audience.
Situation #4…

iv. The Adventure That Will Lead Paul To Rome 27:1-28:31

One would think that God calling Paul to Rome would lead to smooth sailing and easy times all the way there.
God has other plans.
There is an island of people that need the gospel. So God shipwrecks Paul on it.
In the middle of this storm, danger, and fear, God tells Paul not to be afraid because He isn’t done with Paul yet.
This makes me think of everything our country is going through right now.
God has a reason, plan, and purpose. Our responsibility is to trust Him and serve faithfully.
Everyone arrives safely on the island, Paul is miraculously preserved, and he heals everyone who is sick while they are on the island.
Once they sail on and head toward Rome, God provides fellowship to encourage and strengthen Paul.
Arriving in Rome Paul is given a private dwelling where he welcomes the Jewish leaders.
He preaches Christ to them.
When they argue and fight, he preaches Christ to everyone else.
God has a place for you. He has a ministry for you.
He may get you there in a round about way, but He will get you there.
Along the way, preach Christ. When you get there, preach Christ. No matter where you are, no matter what you face, preach Christ!

Conclusion

There we have it. The gospel spreading from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the end of the earth.
Just a few thoughts to walk out with and we are done.
The gospel is God’s good news to a lost and dying world.
Three things here:
1 - The gospel is God’s.
Therefore He defines it. We simply accept what He says.
2 - The gospel is good news.
People need to hear about salvation from sin and the gift of eternal life!
3 - The world is lost and dying.
The gospel is desperately needed. It is the only solution to sin and death.
The gospel has been entrusted to us.
The gospel has been entrusted to us.
This is a huge responsibility.
In light of what has been entrusted to us, how should we respond?
3 realizations.
1 - Believers are called to share the gospel.
This is a truth we must accept. The gospel mandate is an individual mandate. Every single one of us is called to share the gospel.
In fact, God has already placed you in a position to reach people.
2 - Believers must be equipped to share the gospel.
While reading Scripture can do this, I believe it is the responsibility of the local church to make sure each person it ministers to knows how to share the gospel.
There are many methods. Your best starting place is your own salvation testimony.
3 - Believers need passion and motivation for sharing the gospel.
This comes from two sources. It comes from a proper understanding of God’s Word. It comes from spending time with people who need Jesus.
Final thought on Acts:
Preach Christ everywhere, to everyone, with passion, boldness, and clarity.
Acts 1:1–8 NKJV
1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
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