2019-04-07 – Acts 27-28 – Paul’s Courageous Finale – 3
Bible Text: Acts 27-28 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts |
2019-04-07 – Acts 27-28 – Paul’s Courageous Finale – 3
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
(Lottie Moon Missionary Offering; Lord’s Supper)
Today we are concluding our study of the book of Acts. The great missionary the Apostle Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem, taken to Cesarea and appeared for trial in front of two different Roman governors in two years. Paul knew that he was not treated fairly and felt he was innocent of the crimes he was accused of, so he exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal his case to Caesar.
Last week we also read how Paul presented his case to King Agrippa, and in doing so, he took advantage of this high profile hearing to even evangelize or present the Gospel to the King and all that were present during that event. The governor and the King were amazed that Paul had so much confidence and bold character. They thought maybe he was crazy even, as Paul was more concerned about spreading the Gospel than he was even about his own personal welfare and security. We should all have such confidence. Trusting, as it says in Romans 8:31, that “if God is for you who can be against you.
Please turn now to Acts 27, verse 33, page 994 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
Have you ever taken a cruise on a cruise ship? I have had that pleasure, out on the open waves I find it generally relaxing even though the accommodations might be a little cramped. I certainly enjoy the entertainment and the food that normally comes with the affair. I like feeling the sea breeze, and watching the seagulls, and waking up each day in a different port to discover. Well today the First thing we are going to read about is that Paul is taken on a cruise ship journey that will eventually get him to Italy and then the city of Rome. But unlike my experiences, Paul’s journey is anything but pleasant and relaxing.
This whole chapter 27 is much like a Sailors’ guide to nautical terms – weighing the anchor, northeaster wind, taking soundings, and boat parts like rudders and sails, bow and stern, and the leeward side of an island. They spent most of their time sailing on the Mediterranean Sea, where there are only certain times of the year that it is considered safe, other times it is rather treacherous and you should think twice before you undertake such a journey. On this voyage to Rome Italy, Paul and the others travel on four different ships, in forceful storms and high waves. It is in the middle of one of those storms where our text here in verse 33 takes off:
33 When it was about daylight, Paul urged them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been waiting and going without food, having eaten nothing. 34 So I urge you to take some food. For this is for your survival, since none of you will lose a hair from your head.” 35 After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all of them, and after he broke it, he began to eat. 36 They all were encouraged and took food themselves. 37 In all there were 276 of us on the ship. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing the grain overboard into the sea.
This was a grain ship that they were on that also took passengers. The storm was so bad that with the rocking of the waves, nobody felt well enough to even eat. That is one diet (I’ll call it the Mediterranean diet) that I will pass on. Paul had received a message from Jesus telling him not to fear and that nobody would be lost. The crew and passengers didn’t listen to Paul at first, however he eventually gained their confidence as they saw that he knew what he was talking about.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land but sighted a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship ashore if they could. 40 After cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach. 41 But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow jammed fast and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves.
They saw the island shore, so they cut the anchors and hoisted the sail to get as close as they could to the beach. The ship ran aground, and the chaotic waves were tearing the ship apart. As the storm raged, they were in fear of their lives.
42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that no one could swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, and so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, everyone safely reached the shore.
This must have been one heck of a storm. They survived, but I am sure they were also shaken up and beaten. Sometimes our lives are like that too isn’t it? Where we find ourselves in a treacherous storm of some type, maybe everything seems to be coming at you all at once. Where you are hanging by a thread, all the money is gone and things seem hopeless. But just like God was with them and saved them in the middle of the storm, we can rest assured that God is with us in our storms as well. Reach out to Him and maybe He will give you a life-line.
In this next Chapter 28, they made it to the island of Malta. In summary, just when things are started to be looking up, while Paul is gathering wood for a fire, a poisonous snake latches on his hand and everyone thought for sure he was going to die. Well Paul didn’t die, and thus the natives thought he then had to be a god. So they started sending sick people to Paul, and he was used by God to show healing mercies. They all made it through winter, and the natives helped them acquire another ship in honor of their respect for Paul. It is no doubt that the Roman soldiers were grateful themselves at what Paul had done for them all.
They finally made it to Rome and the Christians there had heard about all that Paul had been doing and they rushed out to meet him. Paul was again put under house-arrest, however he was allowed to live by himself only with a soldier to guard him. Paul was allowed visitors and comforts, but he was still a prisoner.
I wonder what that Roman soldier thought as he was chained to Paul while he witnessed and preached to the visiting Jews and Gentiles every day. How could you not be amazed at the stories he told and the Gospel testimony he shared.
Now starting at verse 17 we see Paul’s First Interview with Roman Jewish people:
17 After three days he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered he said to them: “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 After they examined me, they wanted to release me, since there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 Because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar; even though I had no charge to bring against my people. 20 For this reason I’ve asked to see you and speak to you. In fact, it is for the hope of Israel that I’m wearing this chain.” 21 Then they said to him, “We haven’t received any letters about you from Judea. None of the brothers has come and reported or spoken anything evil about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, since we know that people everywhere are speaking against this sect.”
Again Paul is talking to Roman Jews now, and they considered Christianity a sect. The definition of a sect is “a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.” So make no mistake, we were part of the Jewish religion. That is also why our heart should be connected to the Jewish state, it is like our Christian father-land. The Bible says we are adopted son’s that are grafted into the vine. They had heard about the sect of “The Way” Christianity, however they didn’t know about Paul yet, so they were interested to know more. Verse 23 continues:
23 After arranging a day with him, many came to him at his lodging. From dawn to dusk he expounded and testified about the kingdom of God. He tried to persuade them about Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
24 Some were persuaded by what he said, but others did not believe.
Jesus spoke so much about the kingdom of God. Look it up sometime, how many times Jesus started a parable with “The kingdom of God is like, The kingdom of God is like, The kingdom of God is like”. We too have this built in curiosity about such things, like Heaven and Hell and the Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon, the Millennial Reign. I am sure the Jews couldn’t get enough, so much so that I believe Paul was even growing weary. I base that upon this next verse where Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9-10, he said:
25 Disagreeing among themselves, they began to leave after Paul made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah 26 when he said, Go to these people and say: You will always be listening, but never understanding; and you will always be looking, but never perceiving. 27 For the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.
28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Verse 29 is missing in some bibles. It is missing because it is not original, it was added by scribes afterwards. Verse 29 reads “After he said these things, the Jews departed, while engaging in a vigorous debate among themselves” Although I am sure it is correct, it wasn’t in the earliest copies so it was removed.
But can you imagine being there in the audience that day. The prisoner Paul was amongst his fellow Jews in Rome. They gathered to hear what Paul had to say. Maybe thinking he would put up a great defense for himself so he would not be sentenced to death. They probably thought Paul would appeal to the Jewish authorities there for compassion and mercy because of his situation. But instead, Paul effectively tells them that God was not happy with them, and that because of their heard hearts and heard heads, the Gentiles would instead receive salvation. They were insulted and so they left. Sometimes God wants us to deliver tough messages too. It may be the last time you have to get some folks to think, to make an impact upon their lives and maybe their eternity. Paul knew that he didn’t have the luxury of coddling them to consider any longer. So he gave it to them strait.
Sometimes we too will have that situation, where we have coddled the relationship for so long, but now the time has come where we have to give it to them strait. Brother, if you don’t get ahold of yourself, ask for forgiveness and repent, you are going to hell. I don’t want that for you, I love you, please listen and accept Jesus as your savior and Lord before it is too late. If you love somebody enough you must do this sometimes. It is tough love, but love indeed.
Our final verses of this book of Acts written by Dr. Luke start at verse 30:
30 Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
During this two year period of captivity Paul wrote the letter-books of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. God gave Paul this time to write some wonderful instruction to the churches and for us here today. Paul was bold and brave. He was a tried and true Christian Soldier. He, like Jesus was willing to live and even die for the church, which is the bride of Christ. The theme for the songs we sung this morning are a tribute to Paul for which we will now say goodbye to for a while. The offering song we sang is called More than Conquerors by Rand Collective. In that I will now read again the refrain as we close in honor of Paul the Apostle. It says:
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation
Let us sing: Amazing Grace.. “A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”