Sunday, June 23, 2013

From Acts to Revelation Part 79 – Paul Preaches While Under Guard

From Acts to Revelation
Part 79  – Paul Preaches While Under Guard
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
We are about to wrap up the Book of Acts, today being the last sermon for Acts. A quick catch up of where we are at today, and where we will be picking up next week as we begin the Book of Revelation.

Paul had returned to Jerusalem at the leading of the Holy Spirit. In order to build a bridge between the Believer's and the Jews, Paul agreed to take the Nazarite Vow, shaving his head, and entering the Temple to prove to the Jews he had nothing against the Law of Moses or the Prophets.

Jews from Asia recognized Paul, and caused a riot, in which they were going to kill Paul.

The Roman soldiers stepped in, and put Paul in custody.

The Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law pressed charges against Paul, and he was put in prison to face these charges.

After appearing before Felix, no ruling was made, and Paul sat in prison for two years. Festus then took over as Governor for Felix, and the Jews pressed charges once again to have Paul put to death.

Festus, not being able to find a charge against Paul, took Paul before King Agrippa, in hopes of understanding if Paul had actually committed a crime. Once again, no crime was recognized, and Festus gives Paul the opportunity to face these charges in the religious courts of the Sanhedrin.

Paul refuses, and demands an audience to plead his case before Caesar.

Now in Rome, Paul is under arrest, and this is where we pick up from last week.




SCRIPTURE REFERENCE
Acts 28:17-31
17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

 [29] After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

In today's scripture we will see;
        Sometimes it's easy to get people to listen, if they have not already formed an opinion about what you believe.
        The willfully blind will remind blind, and the willfully deaf will remain deaf.
        Nothing can hinder the Gospel, or God's Will to spread the Good News.


       I.            WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS
a.      The Jews knew nothing of Paul
                                                             i.      No letters from Judea
                                                          ii.      No word from travelers
                                                       iii.      No bad report about Paul from anyone


b.     We want to hear your views
                                                             i.      This was a great opportunity for Paul
                                                          ii.      People everywhere are speaking against this sect, Christianity
                                                       iii.      True Bible Christianity continues to be "everywhere spoken against."


c.      People still speak against Christianity today!
                                                             i.      The Obama administration is attacking followers of Christ.

                                                          ii.      MILITARY - Court martial's and non-judicial punishments now handed down to soldiers who share their faith (including Chaplains)
1.      Attacking the 1st amendment, freedom of religion.

                                                       iii.      IN THE CHURCH - Pastors are told not to preach about homosexuality being a sin, because that will be considered hate speech.
1.      Attacking the 1st amendment, freedom of speech and religion.

2.      They even threaten Pastors with taking the churches status away if they preach this.

                                                         iv.      Freedom of religion only seems to apply to non-Christians now

                                                            v.      WHILE IN IRELAND - Obama attacked the Catholic and Protestant churches for having schools, saying it was modern day segregation.


   II.            STILL BLIND AND DEAF
a.      They agreed to meet, and a larger number showed up


b.     Paul preached (while arrested) from morning until evening
                                                             i.      Explaining the Kingdom of God, from the Law of Moses and Prophets to Jesus.

                                                          ii.      Paul tried to persuade them

                                                       iii.      They heard the Word as they had never heard it before, and how the Word points to Jesus.


c.      Some listened
                                                             i.      There is usually a small number in a large group who will believe.

                                                          ii.      Some embraced Christ as Lord, Messiah and Savior, some did not.
d.     Paul reminds them of Isaiah's Prophetic Word
                                                             i.       Isaiah 6:10 Hebrew; Septuagint ‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; / you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ / 10 This people’s heart has become calloused; / they hardly hear with their ears, / and they have closed their eyes

                                                          ii.      So says the Holy Spirit! This is the sixth of seven times this is recorded in the Word of God.

                                                       iii.      This is a WILLFUL rejection of Truth, which brings about a willful judgment of the hardening of the heart.

                                                         iv.      vs. 28, Paul makes it clear to the Jewish leadership, that Salvation of God is only found in Jesus.

  
III.            TWO YEARS OF PREACHING WHILE UNDER ARREST
a.      The verse actually says, "30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

b.     He was allowed to rent a house

c.      He welcomed all who came to see him

d.     He taught WITHOUT hindrance for 2 years!
                                                             i.      It is even said that some from Caesar's own household were converted!

                                                          ii.       Philippians 4:22 "All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household."


CONCLUSION
        Sometimes it's easy to get people to listen, if they have not already formed an opinion about what you believe.
o   This is why I don't call myself a "Christian", rather a follower of Christ.

o   This takes most people off guard, and negates the negative perceptions of Christianity, faith and God the listener may have already formed.

        The willfully blind will remind blind, and the willfully deaf will remain deaf.
o   There's an old saying, "You can undo stupid."

o   There are many who have formed an opinion, and refuse to listen to reason.

o   They are willfully ignorant of the Truth, and will be judged as so by God.

        Nothing can hinder the Gospel, or God's Will to spread the Good News.
o   Isaiah 55:11 "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."




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