- Sermon Notes
Thrive Wherever You Arrive
This morning we turn to the last section of the last chapter in the book of Acts where we see the Apostle Paul arrive, finally, to the city of Rome. Rome was a place that had been on Paul’s heart for quite some time. From Romans 15, we know that Paul’s desire to go to Rome was something that he longed for, for “many years.” Rome was a destination that Paul wanted to arrive at, it was a place, he wrote, that he wanted to be, a place he could go whereby he would enjoy the company of those who were living in the city. Paul’s longing to be in Rome is something that we see in the book of Acts as far back as Acts 19 where we read the words from Paul, “I must go to Rome…” and in Acts 23, the destination is mentioned again as the Lord comes to Paul and confirms that Rome is a city he must testify in!
Though Rome was a destination that had long been in Paul’s heart, the circumstances surround his conditions surrounding stay in Rome could have made him wonder why he ever wanted to go. Today we will see him arrive to Rome, but for his entire stay, he will be on house arrest while chained to a Roman guard. The way he had previously thought about his journey, was quite different than what it turned out to be. When Paul expressed his hopes and dreams about going to Rome, it seems he was thinking that he would be there as a preacher on mission, rather than a person of interest in prison. Still, what we will see is that Paul would thrive, despite the destination looking different than he may have once desired.
- Always Stay Connected to Christ
Acts 28:16-20, When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem. And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there were no grounds for putting me to death. But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, since I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”
Romans 15:20, It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. (NIV)
- From verses 16 and later in verse 30, we learn some of the details surrounding Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. What we learn is that though Paul was in fact, a prisoner, he is not required to stay in a prison with other prisoners, but rather, he is able to rent out a home in Rome and would be guarded by Roman soldier day and night.
- We know he is in chains and would have been chained to Roman soldiers who would take 4 to 6-hour shifts chained to him. It is ancient day house arrest.
- After three days in Rome, Paul calls for the leading men of the Jews in the city of Rome to come to him, since he himself is not able to go and visit them.
- Paul’s pattern in many of the cities we have seen him visit is to go to synagogues first. It was his mode of operation, he would go first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. In keeping with that theme, Paul calls for them to come to him personally.
- Upon their arrival, Paul begins to make a defense to them. He is recounting the story we covered in Acts 22, but he is thinking that they had heard all about it, and he is trying to set the record straight.
- He tells them, “They made some accusations against me, but I have not done anything against our people, or the customs of our fathers.”
- He continued to tell the story we have been covering, still they handed me over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem, the Romans examined me and they were willing to release me because there were no grounds for putting me to death, but the accusers in Jerusalem objected; I appealed to Caesar, and now here I am!”
- Paul is giving them the backstory. This is now his sixth time giving a defense, starting all the way back in Jerusalem over two years prior, before the Jewish supreme court, before two governors and a king, and now the synagogue leaders in Rome.
- Paul is in Rome to testify regarding Jesus Christ. And he wants to begin with those in front of him. He continued, “I did not have any accusation against my nation.”
- He did not want anything he had done to be interpreted as an attack on the Jewish people in Jerusalem, or toward the nation at all. He is simply making sure they all know that he did not have an issue with anybody, however, they had an issue with him.
- For this reason, I requested to see you, since I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.
- Paul was chained to a Roman guard, but it was all for reason, what does he say? The hope of Israel.
- When he says, “the hope of Israel,” he is referring to the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Because of his conviction and belief that Jesus is the Savior of the world, he is tied up in chains.
- In addition to his chains, the hope of Israel was another theme Paul spoke of frequently.
Illus. Before the religious leadership in Jerusalem, Acts 23:6; Before Governor Felix, Acts 24:14-15; Before King Agrippa, Acts 26:6.
- Paul wanted them to know that he was in chains and had been imprisoned because of his belief and conviction surrounding Jesus Christ as not only the Savior of his life, but the one sent to bring salvation to Israel.
- Trial after trial and time after time, no matter Paul’s condition, he makes the connection to Christ.
Illus. Paul’s Life.
Colossians 1:28-29, We proclaim Him, admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, so that we may present every person complete in Christ. For this purpose I also labor, striving according to His power which works mightily within me.
- This is important for you and me to see. The key to thriving in this life is to stay connected to Christ no matter the conditions.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- Paul called himself an ambassador in chains.
2 Corinthians 5:20, We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us.
- It is not then our conditions that should dictate our disposition and posture in any given situation, but rather, our connection to Christ.
John 15:4-5, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (NASB 95’)
- The word “abide” meant to not depart from, to continue to be present with, to remain in, or to remain as one.
- Jesus said abide in me!
Illus. Make the connection to Christ.
Acts 28:21-22, They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor has any of the brothers come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for regarding this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”
- Paul was thinking that the people had heard about all of the happenings in the Jerusalem, but they hadn’t.
- They had received no letters, no information about what was going on with him. It is surprising that they wouldn’t have heard anything bad about Paul, but many suggest that if there were letters sent along with Paul, they would have been thrown overboard during the trip over the stormy sea or lost during the shipwreck.
- Though they had not heard anything bad about him, they had heard some things spoken out against Christianity, which they called a sect.
- They were curious about Paul’s views, and so Paul was going to share with them.
- His sharing in Rome, would follow a similar form to what he experienced in previous cities, some would believe, and some would not believe. And the response given from Paul is helpful as we consider people those who thrive for Christ wherever we arrive.
- Don’t Get Derailed if Some Don’t Believe
Acts 28:23-24, When they had set a day for Paul, people came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things said by Paul, but others would not believe.
- The people who are curious regarding Paul’s views on Christianity, come and meet him at the house he is staying in.
- Upon their arrival, Paul spends an entire day, from morning until evening, pointing them to Jesus Christ as the way of Salvation.
- It reminds of Acts 13, when Paul, after being asked to speak in a synagogue service, goes through biblical history, tying it all to Jesus Christ, and the opportunity they the people had to choose Him personally
- In verse 16 to 23 of Acts 13, eight verses, Paul provided a survey of Jewish history, the importance of history, who history pointed to, and the Gospel message, the Good News.
- In eight verses, he gets to Jesus. Noting God’s choosing of Israel, God’s hand in their exodus from Egypt, then to the judges that were given to lead the people, then the first prophet in Samuel, then the first king God gave in response to their asking for a king, then God’s removing of Saul, and raising up of David and from David, he points to the promised Savior, Jesus.
- He went onto talk about the promised forerunner, John the Baptist, His life, execution, burial and resurrection.
Acts 13:30-32, But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers.
- They wanted Paul’s views and he gave his views by pointing them to the good news of Jesus Christ.
- I would love to know exactly what Paul spoke of in Acts 28, as he testified of Jesus Christ all day.
- In similar fashion to what we have seen previously, Paul, before a Jewish audience, applied the Old Testament Scriptures to the life of Christ.
- Paul approached this like he did in the synagogue, he was a Jew speaking to Jewish people. He, spoke from the Scriptures, the law and the prophets (Old Testament). Like he did so many times, he would have used the Scriptures to prove to the Jewish audience who Christ was.
- When he went to Mars Hill, the Areopagus, when speaking to philosophers, he quoted a pagan philosopher. He said, for it says in your writings, “in him we live and move and have our being.” And then he quoted another pagan philosopher, “We also are his offspring.”
- Paul was preaching it, tying biblical prophecy to Jesus Christ.
- It is said that there are over 300 prophecies regarding Jesus Christ that God gave in detail and have already come true.
- The people heard Paul testify and give testimony regarding Jesus Christ from morning until evening, and some would end up hearing and believing, but others would not.
Acts 28:25-28, And when they disagreed with one another, they began leaving after Paul said one parting statement: “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, and will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, and will not perceive; for the hearts of this people have become insensitive, and with their ears they hardly hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, 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 also listen.
- Some would believe, and some wouldn’t, and just like he had in other cities (Acts 13:46; 18:6; and 19:8-10), Paul would turn from the disbelief in the synagogue to give the Gentiles the same opportunity in the city.
- Oh how easy it could have been for Paul to think that he had responded to the call, and the floodgates would of ministry would open in city of Rome. But it wasn’t so.
- Like in every other city, some believed, some didn’t.
- Though they didn’t, Paul was not derailed from his mission for Christ. He just moved along to those who might be willing to listen.
- He did not stop, he continued on according to His commission for Christ.
- This is critical for you and me. Because when you choose live your life according to God’s word, and follow Him in your life there will those who agree, those who disagree, and those who disagree strongly….But don’t let that derail you.
Matthew 10:24-27, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he may become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they insult the members of his household! “So do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.
- Jesus goes on to say in that chapter, that those who receive you, receive me. And in Luke 10, at the sending out of the 72 for service, those who listen to you, listen to Me, those who reject you, reject Me.
Matthew 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Acts 1:8, 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.”
- A witness is one who tells, or gives testimony of what they have heard and seen.
- Paul knew that there was hope for the world, it was Jesus Christ, and so he did all he could do, to testify, to witness to the ends of his world.
III. Share Christ with Whoever You Are “Chained to”
Acts 28:30-31, Now Paul stayed two full years in his own rented lodging and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching things about the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
- Many have noted that the book ends abruptly and have asked the question, why?
- Why wouldn’t the rest of Paul’s life be revealed? He has become the minister that is followed for most of the book. We have seen him, through Christ, shake much of the known world.
- While true, Paul is not the main character. The main character is Christ, and the commission given goes not end in chapter 28 of Acts.
- Jesus told his followers to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth, therefore, the story continues today…When you and I take Christ to the part of the earth that have yet to see the light.
- Paul was able to preach the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with openness, unhindered.
- It seemed his chains would have held him back, but the last word of the book says differently…It regarding Paul sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, it reads, unhindered.
- The word would get beyond Paul’s prison walls, and from his other writings we get the indication that the Romans guards chained to him, because to believe the message of Christ spoken through Paul (Phil. Ch.’s 1 and 4).
Illus. Paul shared Christ with those he was chained to, how about you?
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