November 22/23

Main Text: Acts 28:17-31

After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

“‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people's heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, 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 listen.”

He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Jesus laid his humble ways and costly engagement with the world and all of its issues on His followers. He prayed to His Father in John 17:18:

As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are sent. So far, we have learned that we are:

We are sent to give God glory. Glory simply means, “dignity, honor, praise, and worship”. To glorify God is to rehearse over and over God’s characteristics such as His faithfulness, mercy, love, power, holiness, and grace. We rehearse them in our minds and tell others about them. We witness to the realities of Jesus, both in word and deed; this brings great glory to our God.

Our text contains the last words of Luke’s writing. It ends abruptly leaving us with the implication that the proclamation of the gospel in the first century began a story that will continue until Christ comes again. Paul has suffered much and had great success since his conversion recorded in Acts 9. He has traveled thousands of miles in the ancient world proclaiming Jesus to Gentiles and Jews.

Paul sets a great example for us in glorifying God.

 

Give God glory in hardship

This volume ends with Paul in Rome on house arrest chained to a Roman guard (verse 20). He has taken the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Now it has come to the most politically powerful city in the world. After recent failures of proclaiming Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem, Paul attempts to build bridges to the Jewish community in Rome. He quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and it caused them to leave (verses 26-27).

Paul has had one trial after another and he just won’t quit. He is faithful to keep doing what he knows must be done. He has been shipwrecked, beaten, falsely accused, put in jail, mocked, and driven out of cities. From the rest of scripture (prison Epistles), we know that this will continue until he is martyred for his faith.

Paul’s life speaks of faithfulness in hardship. God was faithful to the early church. They were persecuted and scattered but God still worked His plans and carried out His will. God is marching on with His plans today despite what we consider tragedies. We are invited to join the stream of His faithfulness by being active in His agenda. Success is obedience to God. Paul was obedient and God received much glory. We too must be obedient to our calling (Matthew 28:19-20) and therefore give God glory.

 

Give God glory by proclaiming the kingdom and Jesus

Luke ends the book of Acts by describing Paul’s ongoing gospel ministry as one of proclaiming the kingdom of God by teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ (verses 30-31). The good news is that the kingdom of God, promised and defined in the Scriptures, has now come through the person and work of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus (His ways, teaching, love, perfection, sacrifice, and character) embodies the kingdom. Jesus reigns and He is establishing His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

A focus on God’s grand active work in establishing His kingdom must be firmly rooted in our minds. This work is greater and grander than the precious work of Jesus’ meeting our personal needs. No doubt He does fantastic redemptive work in us and is our ever-present help in times of trouble. But if we merely focus on Jesus meeting our personal needs, we may forsake the Lord of the universe for a smaller, less powerful deity or force. The kingdom of God is the greater purpose of God. He is working out His purposes on planet earth. A great story of redemption and salvation is unfolding and we have been sent to be a part of it! (John 17:18)

Luke’s decision to close his book with a report of ongoing evangelism reminds us that witnessing must be the passion that ignites our activity. God has acted decisively in Christ to save the human race. This is the ultimate answer to the problems of the human race. If we love this world as God does, we will want to tell of this liberating good news. This kingdom business must consume our passion to the day we die – to God be the glory!


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8.

Apply to Life

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS Rhythms

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

Discuss the Message

Read: Acts 28:17-31

What portion of Scripture does Paul quote in this section? Why do you think he draws their attention to this passage?

What about Paul quoting this Scripture caused those gathered to disperse?

As you think about the Sent series, what have been some of the major impact moments for you?

In what ways do you think of yourself as a ‘missionary’?