GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD

Speaking Boldly for the Lord

Acts 28

Jerry A Collins

11/23/03

SCC

 

        Should we expect our ministry to benefit others?

        Do our trials make us more useful to God?

        How are Godís purposes vindicated through us?

 

A necessary characteristic of all followers of Jesus Christ is the courage and conviction to speak out boldly in His name. The reason why this is a necessary trait is because of the need to do so. The need arises from the natural opposition that exists in the heart of man against this name and all it stands for. Speaking boldly for the Lord is required for us. The world around us, the relationships amongst us, the society we live in, must hear this message and it will demand courage and boldness in order to deliver it to them. Not so that they will believe it but so that they will hear it. That is our job. So, appropriate to the priorities of the book of Acts, we have one more bold proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One last courageous and bold proclamation risking rejection yet again. Should we be relentless in our proclamation as well? Why? How is God at work through this bold and courageous activity?

1. A FINAL PAUSE BEFORE THE CLIMAX 1-10

The description of events on Malta furnishes a final pause in Lukeís story before the city of Rome is reached by way of climax.

(1-4) Fresh mercy from God is now found in the hospitality of the people of this island. The rain & cold; the wet & chilled are relieved by the warm fire and provision of the natives. Interesting that though the apostle has been the voice of God throughout, he is now serving in the simplest of ways collecting sticks to cast on the fire. This is a Christ-like quality by the way. The same Saviour who washed His disciples feet and who could say I have come not to be served but to serve is again visible now in His servant here. If you become too big to do little things then you are too little to be much use to God! The incident with the fire and the snake was misunderstood by the natives. First the expected him to die and then determined him to be a god when he did not die from the venomous snakebite. Paulís calmness conspicuous but he had faith in Godís repeated promises to deliver him to Rome. Therefore he knew he would not die there. The point of this miracle is to authenticate Godís message and messenger.

(5-6) Somehow the carnal mind cannot grasp the actual realties involved and misreads these in one way or another (1 Cor 2:14). Yet Luke wants a true assessment of Paul to be made as the book draws to a close.

(7-8) So with the trials of the voyage past and the attack of the serpent over, from now on the comforts of God will prevail for Paul! It begins with the hospitality of Publius who welcomed and entertained them for 3 days. Here he also heals his father.

(9-10) This miracle attracted others with physical needs who were also healed. So Paul and his party are benefited by the natives and every provision is made for the continuation of the journey. As those on board the ship owed their lives to Paulís presence, so then his presence on Malta meant health to many. And so the follower of Jesus Christ while deeply concerned for menís spiritual condition, has time to also minister to the needs of the body. As we have opportunity let us do good unto all men Gal 6:10.

2. A FINAL TOKEN OF GODíS GOODNESS 11-15

(11-14) The remainder of the journey recorded here and fully marked by the help and encouragement of God. Interesting that the ship they now take hails again from Alexandria is a reminder that Godís resources are more than adequate to supply us again with whatever has been lost in the storms of life! There is nothing however insignificant which cannot be replaced when lost in the pathway of service to Him. No trouble awaits them from here on.So with measured progress they advance to Rome.

(15) Rome is reached and a cordial welcome of these Christians is a final token of Godís goodness to Paul. The man who had cheered others in the darkest hours of the voyage is now cheered in a special way by the Lord. Even strong men of faith are only men and need to be given personal and timely encouragement. You may serve and give and sacrifice fin your service for the Lord but the Lord always takes notice of this and brings appropriate support to you. 3. A FINAL VINDICATION OF A DIVINE PURPOSE 16-31

Here in this final segment is a focus on Paulís concluding witness to Jews.

(16-17) The lightness of Paulís confinement is a new mercy from the Lord. God is arranging the circumstances that enable Paulís witness in that city. After 3 days he summons leading Jews to establish good relations showing he has no antagonism toward them tho the Jews have toward him. The truth of God has now passed into Gentile custody.

(18-22) The legal course was forced upon him by Jewish antagonism. He has no intention of accusing their nation before Rome. He could have gone the other way considering the unfairness and the immense difficulties, dangers, this antagonism has caused him. Instead he sees the chains as a means of liberating hope for the nation. A paradox indeed! Tho no adverse report about Paul had come to them the same could not be said of the Christian faith which everywhere is condemned. Amazingly they are willing to listen to Paulís presentation despite their awareness of condemned Christian faith. So with an open mind, no animosity toward Paul, no negative information keeping them from any preconceived notions, they want to consider this. What will be the outcome? Here Luke drives home the major lesson of his historical record.

(23-24) The day arrives and he explains, solemnly testifies about the kingdom of God, trying to persuade concerning Jesus! Not brief or superficial either. The situation furnishes an ideal test of Jewish receptivity to Godís truth. All day scriptures opened and expounded by one of Godís ablest servants and under these circumstances only some were being persuaded.

(25-27) The gathering breaks up in disagreement and once again here in Rome is detected the spirit found everywhere else. The message should have united but in fact divided. This perception prompts a parting word by Paul from Isaiah 6:9-10. In effect these are Lukeís parting words n hinder!on exactly the same point Paul now raises. Isaiah, Paul says, foresaw what his hearers just demonstrated. Paul now stands in Isaiahís place. A desperate blindness and dullness of heart is clearly exposed. It is not the messageís fault but the dullness lies within the heart of the hearers. The unbelief in Israel is traced to a fulfillment of prophecy. The reality emerging is that men unprepared for Godís truth & unwilling to accept it, that truth only serves to diminish their spiritual faculties, & prevent conversion it can bring to a receptive heart.

(28-31) Due to this blindness the Gentiles acquire their own opportunity to hear and that is Paulís real purpose for being in Rome and these Jews validate Godís wisdom in sending Paul here. After all Paul has passed thru, his bold and unrestrained service to His Master is a profound encouragement to us that like him we serve a sovereign Lord in whose name we may dare to be bold and in whose purposes no man can hinder.

(1) So we continue to preach His kingdom during extended age for which Book of Acts simply furnish a challenging introduction.

(2) Determine not to be deterred.